Call Me ‘Gram-pa

Dispatches from my new IG adventure.

Call Me ‘Gram-pa

In December, I wrote my first-annual end-of-the-year column. Well, here’s my first-annual start-of-the-year one. Before my train of thought leaves the station (I’m 79 and thinking of running for president), I want to share some insights on social-media book promotion.

Many of you know that I write thrillers and mysteries, as well as book reviews. But I was once a movie critic, stockbroker, and New York Times reporter. I also ran a large nonprofit and dabbled in public relations.

I say “dabbled” because that position lasted only a year before I went to the S.E.C. about some improprieties I wasn’t supposed to notice. Long story short: Many of my “bosses” went to prison (including the chairman — for life!), proving you can take the reporter out of the Times, but you can’t take the Times out of the reporter.

Now, you may be thinking I can’t hold a job. Be that as it may, I take my literary cred seriously. I watch many (free) self-publishing webinars on my computer. One of the best is provided by New Shelves Books, which I’ve mentioned in this space before. Its “Free Advice Friday” offering last week was devoted to posting on Instagram.  

The episode featured an author who posts short clips on Instagram devoted to archaic Japanese history — lots of stuff about ancient royal houses, Samurai warriors, intrigue, and the like. It is, to state the obvious, a niche topic. The fellow is an expert on Japan and self-publishes nonfiction books about that country, but he never mentions those books in his posts, which are purely informational. His hashtags and links are also designed solely to impart knowledge of his subject.

While his posts haven’t gone viral, he’s garnered thousands of followers — who knew there’s such an appetite for the subject? — many of whom have since tracked down his books.

So, I’ve now started posting on Instagram. What’s my field of expertise, you might reasonably ask? Well, as I noted, I was once a movie critic. And I think I know my way around books by now. My IG posts are about books and movies I like. Some of the books have been made into movies. Not all of them were good, but some were great and vastly improved on the novels that spawned them — usually after years languishing in Hollywood’s development hell.

(If you want to understand what that hell feels like, stream “The Offer” on cable. It’s a fictionalized account of the making of “The Godfather,” and it’s riveting.)

Here’s an example of a screenplay that improved on the book it’s based on (although the book is still good): “Die Hard,” which helped launch the big-screen careers of Bruce (John McClane) Willis and Alan (Hans Gruber) Rickman, started out as Nothing Lasts Forever, a thriller written by the prolific Roderick Thorp. (Thorp also wrote The Detective, which became a great film by the same name starring Frank Sinatra.)

I could go on and on. And on. But I’ll save my “gems” for Instagram, where I’ll hopefully avoid commenting on politics and current events.

But no promises.

Lawrence De Maria has written more than 30 thrillers and mysteries, none of which he mentions in his Instagram posts. But they’re visible on the bookshelf behind him (hint, hint).

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