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The Internet Is Shiny

Posted: January 14th, 2010, 8:21 pm
by marilyn peake
A few days ago, Scott who is a writer and active participant on Nathan’s Blog and Forums started a discussion within the Forums about how to build a writing career by thinking outside the box. I joined in and realized I have a story to tell about kicking away the cardboard box, networking instead in virtual space.

In the Ancient Year 2003, I did not have email or know how to use the Internet. I didn’t even know that “Internet” is supposed to be capitalized – a huge transgression, I know, considering its overall awesomeness and mystical power. So. Not knowing how to find an agent, I self-published my first novel and then crawled onto the Internet. And I mean crawl. At the time, we had dial-up. In a race against a baby crawling on hands and knees, downloading a web page would lose every time. Eventually, I found a small press publisher on the Internet who offered me a contract for my self-published novel plus additional books.

And. Then. The. Marketing. Began. We replaced dial-up with high-speed Internet. For me, it was like standing late at night in Times Square, New York City with the lights turned off (although I don’t think they ever really turn off those blinking-twinkling-whirling lights) and suddenly having the lights turn on all at once. I got email and a shiny new website. And Oh-My-God!, the Internet is a freaking candy store combined with a toy store combined with whoa-that’s-a-whole-lot-o’-shiny-stuff. Here’s how one shiny thing led to another in one particular marketing campaign.

After discovering that Yahoo! on the Internet is not a hillbilly cry of exultation, but a system of online groups through which people share information, I used Yahoo! Groups to publish a newsletter that could be read online or magically appear in subscribers’ email inboxes. I started out by writing about my own books, but then realized it could get real-old-real-fast if every month subscribers were opening a brand new newsletter to realize: Oh, look, it’s the same topic once again, Marilyn’s Books. I asked other authors if they would write articles for my newsletter. So many talented authors graciously accepted my offer, I was soon able to schedule articles months in advance.

After a few articles were published and more readers subscribed, it became easier and easier to interest people from a variety of entertainment industries to write for my newsletter. Eventually, I published articles by a TV Producer, a Hollywood Writer-Producer-Director, a coach for background actors, and a top Hollywood photographer. The publicist for the screenwriter of a movie starring Jon Voight contacted me to ask if I would accept an article from the screenwriter to help publicize her book based on the movie. I was deeply honored and said, "YES".

The articles were so good, my small press publisher agreed to publish two years of articles as two separate books, FROM HOLLYWOOD EXPERTS AND PUBLISHED AUTHORS: WORDS OF WISDOM FOR STARVING ARTISTS and INSIDE SCOOP: ARTICLES ABOUT ACTING AND WRITING BY HOLLYWOOD INSIDERS AND PUBLISHED AUTHORS. Both books went on to win awards, even in competition against official books about Hollywood movies.

What I learned: The Internet is shiny. And all things are possible on the Internet.

Re: The Internet Is Shiny

Posted: January 14th, 2010, 9:01 pm
by Ryan
I'm glad you reposted this as an official story. I think a lot of people might have missed it in Scott's post. Seriously, the internet is amazing. I love the way it shrinks the world. That gay or lesbian kid in a small conservative town can instantly access a community of people like themselves. How many times did we hear you can donate to the Redcross by texting yesterday? I also like the way it makes people WRITE because it's free and they can harness an audience. Very cool. Not to mention all the people I've "met" who inspire me.


Re: The Internet Is Shiny

Posted: January 14th, 2010, 9:23 pm
by marilyn peake
Thanks, Ryan! I agree that the Internet absolutely shrinks the world and brings people together. The information on the Internet about how to text donations on a cell phone to the Red Cross was wonderful. Following news people and rescue organizations on Twitter, I’ve learned so much about the situation in Haiti. News stories and pictures continue to pop up at a fast and furious rate on Twitter. It’s heartwarming to see the whole world pulling together to help the suffering people of Haiti, and amazing to see how technology is being used to get the word out.

Re: The Internet Is Shiny

Posted: January 15th, 2010, 4:34 pm
by Andrewauthor
It can be very intimidating.

Re: The Internet Is Shiny

Posted: January 15th, 2010, 4:42 pm
by vacuumqueen
Very cool, Marilyn! I see your name all of the time in the comments on the blog, but it's nice to know your backstory. Far more exciting than mine. I love it!

Re: The Internet Is Shiny

Posted: January 15th, 2010, 4:52 pm
by marilyn peake

I agree. The Internet can be very intimidating. I found that it became much easier when I took one small step at a time. Nathan's Blog and Forums are great places to take small steps. I've met so many friendly people here. If you click on links that Nathan, writers and other publishing people provide on his Blog and Forums, you can take lots of small steps to branch out and explore the Internet. There are also lots of unfriendly places on the Internet. After a while, it gets easier to spot negative places and to exit them quickly. :) Good luck with your journey!

Re: The Internet Is Shiny

Posted: January 15th, 2010, 4:56 pm
by marilyn peake

Thanks so much! Like you, I've really enjoyed the contest and getting to know more about the contributors to Nathan's Blog and Forums. There's been a whole lot of creative energy in this contest!

Re: The Internet Is Shiny

Posted: January 18th, 2010, 3:53 pm
by rose
What a wonderful story of how you went from luddite to techno-leader in seven short years. You are an inspiration to us all, Marilyn.


Re: The Internet Is Shiny

Posted: January 18th, 2010, 4:22 pm
by marilyn peake
Thanks so much, Rose! That's really nice to hear. :)