Nancy and I are gathering and polishing our favorite posts for a publishable book of essays. Research tells us we need to create an author’s platform before we reach out to literary agents. Most editors advise boosting our social media presence. Some say using WordPress sites (like sittinuglysistahs.com) are worthless unless you have at least 20,000 followers. Our blog has 269 subscribers, and it takes longer for me to “publish” an essay than it takes me to write and revise it.
On comic Hasan Minhaj’s The King’s Jester special, he asked an audience member, “What are the most likes you ever got on a photo?” When the guy hesitantly answered, “86,” Minhaj exclaimed, “If I only got 86 likes on a photo, I’d kill myself!”
Should I start stockpiling sleeping pills because I’ve never had more than 32 likes on a photo?
For Nancy and me, building a decent author’s platform is as scary as scaling Yosemite’s Half Dome at midnight in winter without a harness, safety cables, or climbing rope. I have no interest in Pinterest; I’ve never been on Instagram on purpose; I don’t know how to get on TikTok, and I joined Twitter ten years ago because a tweet was limited to 140 characters and I could read actual quotes from my idols Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler. Also, I didn’t join Facebook until all the cool kids got off of it.
Create a platform?! I’ll never create more than an author’s stepping stone in a Texas creek during the August drought with nothing but snakes and grackles as my audience. Or considering my Cajun side, I’ll try balancing on a cypress stump in Bayou Fou-Fou where mosquitos attack so fast I can only remain on that wooden platform for three minutes before I’m weak from blood loss.
I yearn to, like Walt Whitman,’“sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world,” yet I cannot get used to not being heard. Our Sittin’ Ugly Sistahs posts may get twelve likes and seven comments on our blog. Facebook may get over fifty likes and twenty comments. I treasure our regular readers, and I keep on writing because I love to write. However, we lack the skill to boost our numbers.
Last week Nancy and I got advice from a social media expert – someone under thirty-five who knows his way around technology. We weren’t sure what plug-ins were and didn’t know how to delete info. on our blog that was just taking up space. For a large cup of coffee, our guru convinced us to expand our outreach with Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. When I suggested trying TikTok, both he and Nancy gave me “you got to be kidding” stares.
Therefore, I’ll balance on my stepping stone in the rushing, murky waters of social media and post more content, and I’ll hope for new followers and settle for not embarrassing myself worse than the time I asked my high school students to explain hash tags. “But why smash all the words together? What do hashtags accomplish and why include a list of them?” The freshmen had tried giving me examples, modeling how to create them, and even retaught me how to use them on a blog post. In a teacher-becomes-the student moment, I blinked at their excellent teaching methods but lied when I said, “Thanks. Now I understand.”
Today I will boldly step onto my next social media stepping stone. I may not ever get across the bayou because I’ll likely splash into the murky water; however, I will not drown. I’ll float on my back and let the Instagram pictures and YouTube videos carry me to new places. Maybe I’ll pick up friends and followers along the way. And against all odds, Nancy and I may write something that gets a three digit number of likes! #ItsWorthAShot #WeBelieveInMiracles