6 Tips for Writers for Dealing with Icky Technology


There are a lot of talented, creative writers out there who are great with all that left-brained, complicated, technological stuff.

I am not one of those writers…

As an indie author, I still have to deal with graphic design for book covers and advertisements, formatting for eBooks and paperbacks, and lots of other icky techy stuff like that. I’m serious about self-publishing, so I’m doing my best to attack that kind of thing head-on, rather than try to avoid it. I truly believe that embracing the business side of self-publishing means the difference between success and failure.

I am generally a fairly patient person, but when it comes to dealing with technology, it takes precious little for me to absolutely lose my damn mind. I am just no good at it! Give me a cooking recipe, I can follow it and make a delicious meal. However, if you give me plain, step-by-step instructions on how to use a computer program, I just do not get it. Not the first time. Not the second time. Sometimes not even the third or fourth of fifth. This usually results in a lot of yelling things like “I am so STUPID!! I just CAN’T DO THIS!”

Believe it or not, I’ve found that completely flipping out and screaming doesn’t usually make me understand the technology any better. However, I have developed some coping mechanisms that I have found helpful, and maybe you will, too.

  1. Give Yourself A Damn Break – If you’re like me, you’re just not good with technical stuff. Well, guess what? You’re not good at it, and you’re tackling it anyway. Good for you. Good for me. Anybody can do what comes naturally to them, but it takes hard-working folks to master things that are difficult. Give yourself a cookie and a pat on the back.
  1. Decide You Can Do It – You already know it’s not going to be easy, but you need to make a conscious decision that you can and will do it.
  1. Baby Steps – Yes, you should decide that you can do it, but you shouldn’t give yourself a super-short timeframe. My recent frustration was in learning how to do a Facebook Ad. I really wanted to sit down for an hour or two, learn how to do an ad, and have it up and running before I got up from my desk. It didn’t quite work out that way… I needed, once again, to remind myself that this is tough for my airy-fairy right-brainy self. It works best for me to learn anything technological just one or two steps at a time.
  1. Ask Yourself – Do I Know More Today Than I Did Yesterday? If the answer is yes, give yourself another cookie. Sometimes my baby-steps learning sessions still end in tears, but I’ve learned to ask myself that question. It’s incredibly frustrating to spend an hour trying to learn how to do something, only to run out of time before you get it figured out. Still, I take a deep breath and ask – do I know more than I did when I started? The answer is almost always YES, even if I only learned what didn’t work.
  1. Stop When You’ve Hit a Brick Wall –There were many times when I was trying to figure out how to put together an ad that I got to a point when I was totally stuck. I just didn’t know the answer. I’ve learned that that is the time to stop for the time being. Now is the time to ask for help. If you don’t have a technology expert in your house, ask fellow writers on KBoards, Facebook groups, message boards, or reach out to tech support. Yes, you might have to wait a few hours to get a response, but it’s likely that somebody else has a quick answer, thus saving you hours of frustration. It’s not admitting defeat to admit you need help. It’s a lot wiser than banging your head against that brick wall.
  1. Don’t Give Up – This is simple, not easy, advice. It’s great to say Rah-rah! You can do it! But it’s hard to keep going when you feel like you’re never going to get it. If you give yourself reasonable time to accomplish a goal, ask for help when you get stuck, and just keep going until you get it, you really can do it. You’ve worked so hard on your books, and you really owe it to yourself to master the business side so you get the word out about your stories.

Remember, each time you master something, you own that knowledge forever. Be sure to take ample notes – notes in plain language that you can understand – so you can refer to them time and time again. It’s taking me forever to figure out the tech aspects of preparing a Facebook ad – but once I master it, I will use that knowledge for every book I write and publish. Plus, the more I master techniques that once seemed impossible, the more confident I become.

What’s most difficult for you? What are some of your coping techniques?