I promised a follow-up to my ‘slow burn‘ article so here it is.
Life and the internet these days are all about speed – right? But it can still surprise us when things – sometimes quite big things – come together in the blink of an eye (see how I did that?)
For me the most amazing thing was in 2016 when I found a newspaper article describing the St Andrews Photography Festival and failed to find a website to tell me more. But there was a Facebook page – a poor relation IMO to a website! – but as I ran my eye over it I mused how wonderful it would be to be involved and my errant fingers added a post about my work in progress (untitled at that point) and inviting the still rather mysterious festival to contact me. Afterwards this struck me as ridiculously brazen! I was an ‘unknown’ writer with a novel lying around in fragments – what exactly could I offer? I comforted myself with the knowledge I was unlikely to hear back.
Imagine my surprise when I had a response via Messenger which couldn’t have been more positive from Alan Morrison who I don’t think will mind my dragging it out from the archives:
Hi Ali. Thanks so much again for sharing the news and your links. Will you be able to come to this at some point? It’s on Aug 1- Sep 11. We’d love to have you be part of it and have a cunning plan for an awesome event featuring you and your stories.
I got this late one night and had to pick myself up from the floor. Alan is a PR guy but he directed me straight to the festival organiser. In a matter of hours I had gone from a writer with a moribund project to planning a ‘one woman show.’
I’ve described that trip elsewhere but let’s just say it in terms of my work and the book that has ensued, it was a game-changer. And all it needed was a two-line message on Facebook.
I know now that where a website contact form will often disappear without trace, a social media contact is more likely to bear fruit and I understand why a Facebook Page is a more nimble publicity tool than a conventional web presence.
In fact I had a similar – if less cataclysmic – experience this year when a friend alerted me to a local literature festival I hadn’t heard of. All I had to go on – again – was a press article.
But I also found a Facebook page which I messaged, still with low expectations but a bit more optimism than two years previously. And this time I was a bit better prepared for a positive response. Again, it worked! A few days later I met Mark Lloyd, of Cotswold Edge Events and we are now deciding the final shape of a showcase event for a group of local published writers, so watch this space!
There’s always a degree of luck in these things. I happened to catch both these organisers just as their programme was taking shape. And yes, a degree of self-confidence or even effrontery is necessary. But leaving a note on a Facebook page takes less courage than a phone call and can have just as exciting and immediate a result. And really, what do you have to lose?
So this is not just about the speed of social media but how it is developing as a business tool. I know there are a lot of Facebook refuseniks out there who worry about privacy and/or the sheer waste of time it can be. These are legitimate concerns, but I suggest that writers who want to engage with communities, events and ultimately readers, ignore this vital new platform at their peril. In the case of these two festivals it was the only communication channel.
Meanwhile a piece of real-world news. In the Blink of an Eye has arrived! So far a single proof, but proof is the operative word. It’s all happening. I’m trying to contain my excitement. No, I’m not even trying!