The Point

Anyone remember “The Point”? The 1971 animated TV movie written by Harry Nilsson (who wrote and performed several songs in the film) and voiceovers by Ringo Starr, Bill Martin and Dustin Hoffman? Not exactly a kid’s movie, it hit hard then and still does now. “The Point” is the story of young Oblio, a boy with a rounded head in a land where everyone else’s head has a point. Being banished (and wearing an orange pointed hat to hide his uniqueness) Oblio and his dog, Arrow, search for the Pointless Forest. During their travels they come across Rock Man (who we all really know is actually stoned) and receives some very significant advice. “You don’t have to have a point to have a point.” Profound, huh? 

Pondering the internet and the desperate efforts of writers to create a web presence, I couldn’t help but think of Rock Man and Oblio. We’re all wearing garish pointed orange hats hoping to hide our inadequacies at creating a cyber presence to stand next to other writers’ and authors’ sites … but we honestly don’t know what the hell we’re doing. I mean really, what’s the point of an author’s website? Of course the main goal is to showcase the author; use a nice photo and polished bio. Naturally we want to feature our work, offer a sneak peek and hope for the best. But really … WHAT IS THE POINT? 

The bottom line is we really do have to be there. Without a web presence we’re back in our own stuffy home offices, sitting at the keyboard and clacking away at nobody. Everyone wants a website. It’s like bellbottom jeans and tennis bracelets, trendy but valuable. The important thing is to be unique, something Oblio didn’t discover until the end of the movie. We need to embrace our inner Oblio, but instead what are we all really doing? 

Frantic to have the mother of all sites, we scavenge for ideas. We look at everyone else’s site, from Barbara Kingsolver to Mary Sue Blue, unpublished newbie from Amana, Iowa. We digest what we like and discard what we don’t. Now it gets really hairy. I mean jeeze, we’re writers, not web designers. 

Those of us who know amateur web designers, drive that valued friend nuts with our vision. After that sort of fails, we gather together the savings and decide that a professional is required. Holy moly when I think of the boom in the web designer business I shudder, knowing that they are buying tennis bracelets with money taken from starving writers. After that, guess what? The site still isn’t what we envisioned. If we can afford it, we try again, pay again and the cycle continues. And all for what? WHAT IS THE POINT?  

The point is that we must have a web presence. It’s a vital part of our platform. Luckily there are a ton of wonderful professionals out there to advise and direct. Blessedly there are template programs at reasonable prices that can help a writer created a good website. But in the entire process, we need to pay attention to the reason we’re doing this. 

Think about it. You don’t have to have a point … to have a point. Like Oblio, our uniqueness is our message. One site I really love belongs to author Jeremy Shipp, http://jeremycshipp.com . His bizarre, strangely skewed point of view shines not only in his writing but also in his site. It’s subtle but oh so clearly there. There is no question about his point. 

For me, I am rather eclectic, so my goal was to create a visual universe for each of the novels I’m featuring. That’s my point, versatility and vision. 

Find and define your point and everything will get easier when determining your web presence. Everything will fall into place. You don’t have to have someone else’s point, you only need to have yours and make it. 

So when preparing to plunge into the internet world and build a site of your very own, take a few moments to know where you’re going. Avoid the Pointless Forest … and remember that you do have a point and it’s an important message. It will impress your friends, family, prospective agents or publishers and your readers. 

Embrace your inner Oblio! 

And now, me and my Arrow are heading off for a visit with Rock Man.

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About Deborah Riley-Magnus

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Since 2010, she had two novels released. In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Deborah has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years. View all posts by Deborah Riley-Magnus

12 responses to “The Point

  • angie

    Nice!! I love pointy heads and variety. 🙂

  • Deborah Riley-Magnus

    Hahah, me too. I had to laugh, my roommate had never heard of “The Point” and I had to go to IMDB to proove the TV Movie actually existed. We even watched a few of the vids. Too funny! (I’m getting so old!)

  • sulci

    I haven’t heard of “The Point” either. I’ve heard of “Point Blank” however and liked the movie so much, I wrote a british version of it. Lying unproduced on my shelf along with my novels needless to say…
    I know what you’re saying about websites, but I other than the obvious visual plugs for one’s own POD book, and a list of places you can buy it, I’m struggling to think what else to put on it. Everything is in the book. I don’t really want to give away the secrets of writing it, because, well there aren’t any secrets really, just a great deal of stone polishing of the facets. A slow, gradual process. I don’t have the panoply of characters “Cold In California” h(for example) has, so I can’t be as creative in creating a life around the book like you have.
    I want to make it (my blog) more interactive and offered visitors the chance to set me improvisation writing challenges. No one wants to come and play…
    So I guess I’m saying my personal approach is more about the writing than the book. The process and the play than the product. Still, a direct link to the videos I’ve made might come in handy.

  • Deborah Riley-Magnus

    You’ve confirmed my point (no pun intended) exactly! Every author has their focus and their point for having a web presence. You want to play (and I appologize for not getting over to play words with you! Really I do and I swear I will!) but you also want to focus and feature your work style and development process. I don’t know anyone who does things like you and perhaps more writers should take a serious look.

    The POINT is, your web presnece is set up to expose the message you as a unique writer wishes to make. BTW, would you consider doing a guest blog here?

    Deb

    • sulci

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean by hosting a blog, but yes I’m up for it. I’m supposed to be hosting a webchat on “give it away for free day” dec1st on the subject of reigniting the modernist project. Don’t know what I’m sposed to do on that either! How tech am I?

  • pattyjansen

    I’m wondering that if you have nothing to say on a website that showcases the brand ‘you’… do you deserve to be a published writer? A true writer should always see something in daily life, in the newspaper, in politics, during a walk around the ‘burbs, to write something about in their own words. If you don’t, or if you don’t think people should want to read this… then how boring are your books going to be?

    You’re writing for YOUR AUDIENCE, never mind the medium your using.

    Ooohh! Controversial.

    • sulci

      My point is all the things I see in daily life or the news media that spark my interest, I will use at some point in a book somewhere. I don’t want to deplete it by blogging on it in a dry, instantaneous way. I like to let it swirl around in my kind so I can distort and deform it and turn it into something creative and metaphorical. By the time it appears in fictional form, I’ve probably forgotten the original story it evolved from. I’m far more interested in what lies beneath and in the cracks and negative space. To bore on about the mechanics behind that, I think takes away most of the original power of the fictional representation.

      I got plenty to say, just want to save it for the sustained assault of a novel.

      Having said all that, I did actually post a response to a news item on my blog today. But even then it was a subversion of the original story.

  • Deborah Riley-Magnus

    Hahahaha, aren’t you always?

    My point (ah-hem) was to say that since writers need to have a web presence to assist in their plateform, they should be careful to make SURE their website is well focused and features their voice … not simply a flashy, colorful and shiny show piece for audiences who aren’t yours.

  • Patricia Stoltey

    Now I have to find The Point and watch it.

    As for the website, I was doing fine with mine until I started the blog. Must do something about that soon, because I’m still convinced I need both.

  • Deborah Riley-Magnus

    Personally, I think you do need both. I use my site as the polished showcase for my books and I do regular updates, adding some kind of information every week … and I use the blog to filter traffic to the site. One thing I am considering is imbedding the blog into my site. That way I’ll only have one address for viewers to use. Efficiency is a good thing!Ahh, another point.

  • kat magendie

    Visiting from Angie, Gumbo Writer’s site – Great post! I have a website, a blog, twitter, facebook – egads! But, each have their own functions, yes. And I make sure they don’t suck up too much of my time. The website is pretty static; I add things as they need to be added only – the blog is a daily thing, though…

  • Deborah Riley-Magnus

    Welcome! And wasn’t Angie’s recipe on her blog yesterday fantastic???

    I do understand what you mean. I write entries in this blog twice a week but because my site is where I’m trying to be more polished and professional, I make sure I update SOMETHING on it once every two weeks. It may seem static in comparison to the blog, but for agents I query and publicity clients I work with or hope to work with, they see it as a showcase for how I would work for them.

    I’d love a really good advice column on social media time planning. You are so right, it can all suck you day right down the drain!

    Happy writing!

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