In 1992 an imprint of a major publishing house brought out my Jewish holiday book "Seasons for Celebration" written with Rabbi Karen Fox.
However, I unsuccessfully struggled for years to get a traditional publisher interested in my novel "Mrs. Lieutenant," based on my first few weeks as a new Mrs. Lieutenant in May of 1970 right after the Kent State shootings.
As I approached my 60th birthday I decided I couldn’t wait any longer for a publisher to say yes to me. I went the self-publishing route with Amazon’s POD (print-on-demand) unit BookSurge (now merged into Amazon’s POD unit CreateSpace).
I knew that, no matter who published "Mrs Lieutenant," I would have to do the marketing myself, because Karen and I had to do the marketing for our Jewish holiday book.
And I also knew that, like any marketing campaign, if you have tons of money you have tons of marketing options. Only I didn’t have tons of money.
At the same time I entered the novel’s manuscript in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, and "Mrs. Lieutenant" was chosen a semi-finalist. Amazon gave each of us semi-finalists our own Amazon page. And someone had something I didn’t have — a blog.
That was my epiphany moment — the moment I realized that the Internet had leveled the playing field. For example, an author no longer had to wait for someone to write a book review in order to get publicity for a book. Authors could have their own blogs and write about their books themselves.
I threw myself into learning everything I could about online marketing. And here is where I was lucky, although I didn’t know it at the time: I have inherited an open mindset to learning new things, even if trying to learn those new things at first makes me feel stupid.
Only later would I read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and understand the gift I’d inherited: The willingness to feel stupid in order to achieve a specific goal.
What did this open mindset mean practically? I did NOT say,“I’m 60 years old and thus too old to learn new things on the computer.” Instead I said, “Yes, this does not come naturally to me, but if I persist and come out the other end, I will have learned some very powerful tools and techniques.”
Now I could be the “poster child” for encouraging older people to have an open mindset to learning how to benefit from social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
In May of 2008 I co-founded a social media marketing company with my younger daughter, Yael K. Miller. First we learned how to build WordPress websites and use social media for ourselves, then we started doing the same thing for clients.
And suddenly my 1980 M.B.A. from The Wharton School came in very handy. It helped set our company apart from other social media companies because everything Yael and I do for our clients is from a marketing perspective. Plus we’re especially good at working with people who have no previous knowledge of the power of social media.
Since Yael and I both love learning new things, we are constantly discovering new rabbit holes to scurry down. One of our current journeys is learning more about e-book publishing for ourselves as well as my 86-year-old father, whose short stories we plan to publish. Plus we just self-published a novel for a 92-year-old woman ("The Ednalor Mysteries").
In conclusion, if you have convinced yourself you can’t learn new things on the computer, read Carol Dweck’s book "Mindset." And if you have a business or are a service professional and have convinced yourself you don’t need to use social media, get Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book "The Thank You Economy. He’ll set you straight.
The Internet is indeed a brave new world, and every new addition is an undiscovered planet to explore for fun and profit. Come join!