September 23, 2011

An ‘80s Girl in a Techie World

By Nancy Gideon

Things were simple in the ‘80s. It was a time of excess in publishing: a host of houses (Harlequin and Silhouette were competitors!), hundreds of wholesalers and distributors instead of a handful, several bookstores in every mall. Newcomers got a 150,000 print run. Romance was in its heyday. But man, oh man did we have to work for it.

Writing was laborious and time consuming business. Research was done at the area library (I had more library cards than credit cards!) and notes were taken by hand. Rough drafts were done on notebook paper and kept in a binder before being typed (complete with correction tape or White Out) on my trusty Smith Corolla electric. Promotion consisted of Xeroxed newsletters with cut and paste clip art to those who mailed you letters at your PO Box with an SASE. State of the art was bookmarks! The only contact you had with readers was through those scribbled letters and face-to-faces at book signings. The only contact you had with other authors was your local writers group or conferences. It was a very isolated existence.

Then came the’90s and the first bloom of technology. Word processors that would display three to five lines of text and store up to 15 pages (but not permanently). The World Wide Web was born with communities such as Prodigy and Genie giving writers a chance to communicate…slooooooowly on cumbersome bulletin boards where your dial-up connection always seemed to go down in the middle of an important conversation. Out of it arose the wonder of instant communication: e-mail and writers groups like Painted Rock. The world was a-changing. And I wasn’t sure change was good.

I’ve never been the first one on any bandwagon. I’m a watcher. A waiter. Ever cautious. When I started on my road to publication back in the 1980s, I didn’t know any other writers lived in the state of Michigan. I’d never spoken to a real author. I’d never been to a conference or a critique group. All my information (some of it wildly misinformed!) was gleaned from an out- of-date copy of Fiction Writers Market and what I saw on the bookshelves (which was, of course, at least 18 months past the start of any trend). When I look back, I find it’s amazing that I ever got a proposal into the right hands, let alone got published! I wrote my first six books in long hand. I resisted a computer for years (what was I thinking!), fought putting up a website, couldn’t understand why I would ever need to blog. Times are different now. There are more options than ever, more need than ever to reach out and connect, especially with digital product beginning to surpass traditional print venues. What’s with this Social Media thing, where so many say so much about so little? I had to be pushed into the mainstream. I’ve come a long way, baby.

Welcome to the Tech Revolution!

All aboard the bandwagon: Website, blog, Goodreads, FaceBook, Twitter, Pocket After Dark, guest blogging, chats, contests, video interview, widgets, whatsits, giveaways. I had to draw a line somewhere…and chose texting. I do not text. Yet.

I hate to think any aspiring author has to work as hard, as uninformed, and as counterproductive as I did when starting out on my own and all alone, so I made it my personal mission to mentor new writers by doing critiques, answering questions, giving workshops and writing articles (putting those journalism and communications degrees to work. Thanks, Mom!). When approached by Wise Words to write a book on writing, I hedged. When would I have time to work on my fiction projects? Who would care what I had to say? I’m not an educator or a media specialist. My only professional kudo is a Romantic Times Magazine award for unique self-promotion. There’s so much information available these days . . . And then I realized that was the problem. There is SO much information out there. That’s where I could be of assistance. I am a professional researcher. I love to dig up and organize facts. I DO have an honors degree in some drawer somewhere that was forgotten when I signed my first contract. What I could do was the leg work for authors who are too busy writing or don’t know where to begin to look. I could assemble the information, present it in a readable fashion with examples and go-to references so new or uber busy writers wouldn’t have to spend their time sifting through hundreds of pages of Google searches.

Getting It Out There: PR and Social Media for Writers is unique in that it’s going to be presented digitally, a topic at a time, over the next 18 months then released (with updates because Social Media never stands still) in book form. That gives writers the option of just getting what they’re interested in or the whole package. There’ll be interactive extra content every month such as additional examples, contests, polls, quizzes, Q&As where writers can learn more and share their experiences. Topics will range from budgeting time and money, book trailers and swag bling to conference battle plans and making reviews work for you. Something for everyone. Branding: What’s in a Name seemed the logical place to start, because writers need to establish their professional platform logically and efficiently.

To prove that this older wiser dog can learn new tricks, come visit my website at and my blog at to check out my tricked out widgets, my book trailers, my Goodreads bookshelf, my scrolling book list, Romance Trading Cards and additional content. Quite a step up from sit, stay and roll over. 

Nancy Gideon is an award-winning bestseller with over fifty romances published in genres from historicals and contemporary suspense to paranormal and non-fiction (and even horror screenplay credits on IMDB!) With degrees in journalism and communications, she’s never met a topic she didn’t want to research and write about. Working full time as a legal assistant for over 11 years, she’s an expert in time management, organization, and in making every minute and effort count. Visit her at or Her first non-fiction project, Getting It Out There: PR and Social Media for Writers begins on September 23rd, with Branding: What’s in a Name?


  1. Great insights already, Nancy. Thanks for sharing. --Elizabeth

  2. You say you're not an educator, Nancy, but I've always learned important writing information whenever I've heard you speak or read your blogs. Thanks for generously sharing your experience and wise words!

  3. Oh, you smooth talker, you. You have the BEST blogs! Looking forward to Getting It Out There!

  4. I so agree with Loralee, you educate with such panache. Thanks for the clarity. All writers have an opportunity to hone their craft with your instruction.

  5. I really enjoyed this post and seeing how writing and publishing have changed. It is amazing to think back to the times before computers. I look forward to learning more from Nancy! (It takes me a while to embrace new technology- and I have jumped in- but I don't text either.) :)