People begin blogging for all kinds of reasons. My friends blog for two reasons: for the fun or satisfaction of being able to communicate with a wide range of people, and to expand your range of people who might want to know about your products. In my circles, that means books. But a blog is a commitment, and some of my friends are unable to keep it up. They’re a bit discouraged. [Read more…]
Elana Johnson, writer and teacher, has figured out her own way of allocating social networking time here. She says we have to make up our minds, because time is finite. Have a goal, and then decide how much time you’re going to spend on which SN sites to reach that goal. Her system is too simple for me, but she’s way more accomplished than I am, so what the hey.
Frances Flynn Thorsen, who I’ll quote in my next post, said something smart about it: pick a few SN sites in which to “go deep”. That’s a good idea, and I’m paying attention right now as I flit from SN flower to flower, as random as ever. Soon I hope to pick the SN sites where I’ll spend the most time, and the ones that I only check maybe every third day. Do you have an idea about this? Let us know.
A lot of us just started blogs, and we’re all excited. I check out each and every one, because I want to be a good cyber-citizen, but I will be honest with you: when I see lots of paragraphs, I go away. Darren Rouse, who writes about blogging for actual $$$ (!!!) said that 250 words is long enough. He also said 9 other smart things about good blogging. Read it here.
In She Writes, a new community for writers created by Poets & Writers magazine, author Lauren B. Davis expressed what a lot of us are feeling about having to do all the marketing and selling of our books:
“… just about everything these days seems like advertising or marketing. So much LOOK AT ME!!! LOOK AT ME!! Twitter. Facebook! It’s so… well…. gosh, dare I say desperate? Dare I say vulgar?
“For me, this is a question of how I wish to live my life. William Zinsser once said that he wanted to be a person first, and a writer second. I agree with him, but would add that I want to be a self-promotion-machine not at all.
“The publishing industry is in transition at the moment, trying to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, and during this petulant adolescent phase it seems to be throwing authors up in the air (while not paying for their airfare) and telling us it is our responsibility to market/promote/sell our own books. Well, maybe. Maybe not. Just because they say that doesn’t mean we have to buy into it.
“I think we must, each of use, decide what we want to be, and what we’re capable of being. Do we want to be writers who use writing as a way to make meaning in our lives, as a way of connecting to some deeper center, or do we want to be Authors, more concerned with the sales figures and market share?
“…I have no training or expertise in marketing and/or sales. Didn’t people used to go to school and get degrees in such things? I have studied for years to be a writer. Not an author (which implies publication), but a writer. As it happens, I am an author, with four published books behind me, but they’re just that… behind me. Like all writers, I must accept the fact I may never publish again. There are no such guarantees for any of us, ever. We are not entitled to anything. So if I am going to find a way to sustain myself as a writer, it must come from something deeper than the public/publishing industry’s fickle affections.
“I’m happy to do readings, and love book groups, and if invited will happily show up. The same goes for radio shows and print interviews and anything else that comes my way. But I will not spend more time marketing my work than creating it. Not even close. I am a writer, not a rock star. I am a writer, not a publicist. I am a writer, not a public speaker. I write essays and novels and stories, not tweets. I put my essays up on a blog because, frankly, I can’t think of what else to do with them, and it’s a nice way of connecting with people and having occasional contact. (We do spend a lot of time alone, as writers!) But in the end, I’m a writer. I write. And that, when all is said and done, must be enough. When it stops being enough, when I become obsessed not with the words but with the sales then, for the sake of my sanity, I’ll quit. Simple as that.”
My first blog was a tester. I wanted to get comfortable with the idea of blogging, so I started Any Shiny Thing and proposed to write about anything my hyperactive mind found attractive. I assumed that other people would find my topics attractive, too.
Brrrrrt! Wrong assumption. Let Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist tell you why it’s critical to make your blog about something specific.
Do you know that there are now more than FIFTY MILLION blogs on the Internet? With all those choices, why would anyone read yours (or mine)? I began to suspect Any Shiny Thing wasn’t a good idea when I’d explain what it was about, and my listener’s eyes would glaze over with polite boredom. “Oh, just anything I find interesting” is not a compelling reason to go there. Denise Welch of Computerworks, Inc. has a related viewpoint. “You tell me, ‘Read my blog! read my blog! I don’t want to read your blog,” she says. Unless you are going to make it worth her while. In her view that means you have to GIVE something to the reader (beyond the pleasure of your company).
I hope I have given you a tool today for making your blog more effective.