SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
The first hundred people to visit my website could win a Ginsu knife set! Yeah, I'm totally making that up.
I have a web site. With my name on it.
And it’s weird.
For those who don’t use that newfangled internet thing – and there are still some out there – a website is simply a theoretical location on the World Wide Web (does anyone call it that anymore?) where you can set up your own little place. Call it a shop, or newsletter, or maybe a little front porch where you can sit and comment on the world going on around you.
My little place is called MarkRHunter.com, and I suppose it’s all three. It’s a shop because eventually I’ll sell my books from there, along with other things. A t-shirt saluting my column, with Slightly off the Mark emblazoned on the front? Why not?
It’s a newsletter because it will include – wait for it – news. News about all that stuff that hasn’t happened yet: publication dates, (breaking news – June of this year!) book signings, the availability of t-shirts, whatever. It also has a link to my blog. That’s just a journal, and in this case it links to my long-time LiveJournal site (five years or so -- a long time by internet standards).
There’s also a link to the web sites for both the Albion New Era and the Churubusco News, because there needs to be some anchor to the real print world, after all.
It’s a place to comment on the world because that’s what I do in my blog and column (which is archived on the ‘Busco News site). People can comment back, because that’s what communications is all about: There’s a link to my Twitter feed (I wouldn’t begin to know how to describe Twitter to a non-net person, except that it’s the modern equivalent of conversational small talk), a guestbook people can sign, and a way to contact me by e-mail.
Um, everyone knows what e-mail is … right?
There’s a gallery of photos taken by me (and photos of me, but the less said about that the better), and even a list of my writing projects that I haven’t sold yet. In theory, agents and editors could drop by, see the blurbs for unpublished stories, and seek me out for a possible work relation. In reality … well, let’s just say it happens, but it’s unlikely.
There are also details that haven’t been released to the public yet about the story I have sold, Storm Chaser – including the book’s opening scene – and a video blurb for the novel, which Emily put together. (Have I mentioned how wonderful my fiancée/web master is?)
There’s a link to the Albion Fire Department’s website – after all, I’m writing the history of the department. Also, although I haven’t told anyone yet, two of the characters from Storm Chaser are fictional members of the AFD. I haven’t decided when to reveal that connection to reality. Maybe next month.
Finally, there are links to a Facebook website set up in my name (and isn’t that weird) and to the Town of Albion’s website, ‘cause I’m all about the home turf.
Yeah. That’s cool.
There are two purposes for creating an author’s website: To sell the writer’s work, and to keep in touch with the reading audience. I think the site, which was created by Emily, does a fine job of both.
So, what’s weird?
What’s weird is the idea of seeing a website with my name on it.
By the way, if you decide to visit it’s www.MarkRHunter.com, and you have to type in that R. (Reliable is my middle name. No, honest. Or is it Recluse?) That’s because there are 7,839,274 Mark Hunters on the internet, and over twelve thousand of them are writers. In fact, if you type that web address in without the middle initial you’ll get the website of a Mark Hunter who starts by explaining he’s the other Mark Hunter – and not one of those others is me. (I just discovered that there's even another Mark R Hunter on Facebook -- my R has the period after it, and his doesn't.)
On the other hand, here’s something cool: I just typed “Mark Hunter writer” into Google, and the first hit was my website!
Anyway, it’s so odd to sit in front of the computer and see an entire website, which Emily plugged away at creating for weeks, dedicated to … me. Oh, it’s necessary. The days when a writer could be a recluse, holed up inside his house and letting other people do all the publicity for him, are over. Publishing houses can’t afford to push any writer who’s not already established, and boy am I not established.
So here I am, heavily involved in my own publicity regardless of whether I’d rather be writing, and in the 21st Century you can bet publicity starts with a website. Basically, I’m plugging myself. Telling everyone, “Read me! Read me! And keep a space on your shelf for my first book because I’m awesome and worth your time and money!”
It just doesn’t sit well with me. It feels like it’s bragging, probably because it is. It’s an open question whether my mother will be proud of me or slap me upside the head for being so full of myself.
Still, my long term goal remains to become a full time writer. Not like now, as a second full time job, but as my only full time job. That means not only hard work and selling myself, but writing an entire novel every year just to pull in enough money to pay for postage, computers, and the internet bill. And the web site fee, of course. And you don’t get paid, ever, for writing a novel – you get paid for selling them.
So there I am, with my web footprint at www.MarkRHunter.com (Why, yes, I am pushing that, why?) Our goal (“our” because Emily knows how to do this stuff; I just write) is to keep people entertained and interested, and eventually to sell them books. It’s nice to have a goal.
So stay tuned. Or, um, plugged in. Or wired. Well, just keep reading.