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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dueling Agent Advice on Blogging. Who the $!%# Do You Believe?

You’ve probably been reading a lot of conflicting advice recently on the subject of writers and blogs.

Some experts are telling us blogging is dead.

Agent Wendy Lawton wrote a post on September 15th called “What’s Not Working” and asserted that blogging—and most social networking—is a waste of time for debut authors, because the market is already saturated.

“I wouldn’t recommend a writer start blogging in order to publicize his book in today’s climate. It would be tough to picture a scenario where the outcome would justify the means.”

Indie author Scott Nicholson also de-emphasized the importance of blogging last week with his post on the Writer's Guide to E-Publishing. He presented the following surprising facts:

  • John Locke hasn’t blogged since June 22, and hardly ever gets comments. (Scott says “Locke’s genius can’t be reproduced, nor can his timing, situation, and luck.”)

  • Amanda Hocking had maybe 200 blog followers at the time she got her seven-figure book contract. Scott attributes her success to “timing, Amazon algorithms, and luck.”

  • J.A. Konrath admits his blog doesn’t sell books. He also rarely shows up on Twitter and Facebook. “And he’s the first to admit he got lucky.”

Yeah, I know. All that surprised me too.

Also this week—Nathan Bransford’s forums had a discussion about how blogging is sucky idea for writers. 

However, the blogosphere is mostly filled with the opposite information

Not only do most experts agree that blogging is thriving, but some agents say prospective authors need to be überbloggers with stats like Nathan Bransford’s in order to be publishable.

Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote a post on platform on October 3, saying the minimum we must do is: 

“…shoot for 500 fans on your Facebook profile page and 15,000 monthly page views to your blog.”

Agent Andy Ross went even further in a comment on Meghan Ward's blog He seems to think you need the readership of the HuffPo and the Klout rating of Justin Beiber if you don’t want spend your life in the slushpile:

“It is going to take quite a bit to impress a publisher on how many hits you get on a blog. Probably 100,000 unique views a month is the ball park. But even that isn’t good enough.”

This is mind-boggling. Getting even 15,000 hits a month would be miraculous for a new blogger. I don’t always get that many, and I have an Alexa rating of 363,000 (most writer’s blogs are in the millions.) Roni Loren says she sometimes doesn’t hit that number either, and she’s one of the most popular author-bloggers in the business, with thousands of followers on several blogs.

Then, just to heap a little more pressure on us, agent Janet Reid told us last week:

“if you blog…don’t blog about writing.”

Meghan Ward and Kristen Lamb  posted similar advice.

So here we are, a bunch of blogging writers, mostly—oh, the shame—blogging about writing, and none of us have anywhere near the hits corporate marketers say we should.

So what should we do—give our blogs last rites and lumber back to the writing cave? Maybe plan to sell our books from our cars in the WalMart parking lot or make paper airplanes of our cover art and shoot them through the subway at rush hour?

Or should we forget about the WIP, the day job, the family, and those embarrassing self-indulgences like eating and sleeping, and blog, FB and Tweet 24/7 until we become Kings of all Social Media?

I don’t think we should do either. I think we should shut out all the noise and figure out what works for us, individually. Life is not one size fits all. Neither is social media.

If you’re blogging because you think you’re going to make money from the blog itself—by “monetizing”—like the guy who sparked the forumdiscussion on Nathan’s blog, you’re wasting your time. If you’re a published author who’s never blogged before and you’re doing it because your publisher told you to get out there and hawk your wares, resist the pressure. Blogging is not about direct sales. You’ll fail miserably.

But if you’re blogging because you like it and you enjoy connecting with other writers and potential readers, then by all means keep it up. And don’t listen to marketing experts or worry about your stats.

There are two major things wrong with listening to professional marketers when they talk about selling books.

1) Marketers don’t know you can’t sell books as if they’re meatloaf pans.

Bookselling isn't about broadcasting a message to hundreds of thousands. It's about hand-selling to people who like and trust you. Bookstore clerks used to do that, but we don’t have many of them any more. Writers who come across as smart and trustworthy and approachable are going to sell more books than some guy walking around wearing sandwich boards that say “buy my book”—even if he’s walking in the middle of Times Square.

2) Marketers don’t understand the writing blogosphere.

Aspiring writers who blog are part of a community. We make friends with each other. We get support. We network. A lot of us talk about writing and publishing. Because, um, that’s what we have in common.

Friends are very important in this business.

Without my writing/publishing blog, the following things would never have happened:

  • I wouldn’t have heard about the Literary Lab, who published me in two of their anthologies—keeping a spark of hope alive during the dark days of endless rejection.

  • I wouldn’t have met a publishing insider like Nathan Bransford, who gave me a guest post on his blog that showcased my writing and opened a lot of doors.

  • I would never have dreamed I could meet a NYT bestselling author like Ruth Harris, who is now my blog partner.

  • I wouldn’t have got to know Catherine Ryan Hyde as an equal as well as a fan—and she never would have invited me to collaborate with her on a book.

  • I never would have met either of my publishers.

  • I wouldn’t have friends who write book reviews, do interviews and invite me to guest blog.

In fact, without this blog—and the support of all my wonderful readers and fellow bloggers—I’m pretty sure I would have given up fiction writing by now. I might have given up writing altogether. Not only would I not have five books coming out this fall—I’d probably have been an out-of-print has-been forever.

“You’ve got to reach readers, not writers,” the gurus keep telling us. But newsflash: Writers read! Probably more than most people.

Do we want to reach readers who don’t write? You betcha. But there’s time for that after we get published.

And that’s what I want to tell all these “gurus.” Things take time. There’s a continuum. First start blogging for community—and after you’re published, your blog can evolve to include fans.

Nobody jumps into the blogosphere and becomes Neil Gaiman with a first post—especially somebody who isn’t even published yet. Anybody who expects you to do that doesn’t understand blogging.

The problem is that marketers are thinking of a blog as a storefront—a writer/merchant sitting alone in a little shop waiting for customers to show up.

But that’s not how it works. A blog is more like a place at a writers’ conference.

If you’re an unpublished author and you go to a writers’ conference expecting to make a six figure deal the minute you walk in the door you’ll be majorly disappointed. But if you go to learn and connect with potential readers and make friends who will be supportive of your career, you can have a fantastic experience.

If you’re a published author and you walk into a writers’ conference hauling a cart full of books and push them on everybody you meet, you’re going to have a pretty bad time, too. But if you go to share information, connect with people and have fun, you’re going to sell some books. (The booksellers at our local Central Coast Writers conference said they had fantastic sales during the two days of the conference—much better sales than at the reader-oriented book festival the next day.)

So don’t let people dis you for “preaching to the choir.” Or steer you into establishing a niche blog where you can only talk about one subject. If you’re interested in jelly doughnuts or Byzantine history or extreme cage fighting—certainly, blog about them. But if you’re interested in writing and want to meet other writers, blog about that, too.

Later, when you’re a published author, you can decide if you want to keep blogging about writing, or if you want to change focus. Most writing blogs alter a little after the author is published.

But if you start out with a blog entirely devoted to jelly doughnuts, what happens if you write a book about extreme cage fighting? I see no point in painting yourself into a corner at the beginning of your career. Or in starting a whole bunch of separate blogs for each subject you end up writing books about.

Blog about what makes you unique—all the stuff you have to offer. Blogging isn’t about screaming “buy my book.” It’s about presenting yourself to the world as an interesting person whose stuff might be worth reading.

Should all writers blog? No. Some very fine authors don’t have the knack for it, or just don’t like it—and it shows.

Should you let somebody pressure you into giving up valuable writing time in order to pump up your blog stats? No way.

“When I feel like I’m spending more time on social media than I am on my book…[that’s] counterproductive. Because without a great book, what’s there to market?”

Some other great bloggers weighed in on this subject in the last couple of weeks:

Romance author Roni Loren wrote an insightful post on September 21 titled “Is Blogging Dead” and said that even if blogging is dead, she’s going to blog because she likes it—plus it’s a great way to connect with readers.

Lawyer/author Passive Guy continued the discussion on Sept 24. He agreed with Roni that a blog is a good way for published authors to connect with fans, but repeated that it’s not the answer for everybody.

 Blogging isn’t dead, but blogging is an art and a skill that needs to be learned”

And I especially liked author Lydia Sharp’s response:

“We will always need blogs for writers as long as there are new writers looking for a place to start, and as long as there are veteran writers looking for a fresh take on something, and as long as there is a venue for blogging. 

I think in the end it’s up to you and your own gut feelings. Is blogging rewarding for you personally? Do you enjoy the process of writing posts and interacting with commenters? Great. Keep blogging. Are you feeling pressured to start a blog, but don’t feel sure about making the commitment? Get your feet wet first as a commenter and guest blogger. Have you been blogging a while, but feel burned out? Take a break and turn it over to guest posters the way Konrath is doing, or just shut it down and make room for new bloggers.

And if anybody tells you it’s impossible to get published unless you’ve got the stats of Snooki or Justin Beiber, give them your pity and move on. Corporate publishing marketers have a 90% failure rate. That’s right: 90% of Big Six books lose money. So shut out their noise and do what works for you.

As the great man the world is mourning this week said in the speech that has now gone viral:

“Your time is limited. Don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”


What about you, scriveners? Do you think blogging is dead? Or that every aspiring author should have the blogging stats of the Daily Beast? Do you feel pressured to have a blog even though you just don’t wanna?

Next week we’re going to have an insightful guest post from Rick Daley, Mr. Public Query Slushpile his ownself. If you want more from me, I'm interviewing with Jennifer at Books, Personally on October 10.

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Blogger Sarah Pearson said...

Thank you so much for this post. I'm one of the many unpublished writers who has a small blog. I don't have this blog to help with sales (I won't have anything to sell for a long time). I have it to find other people like me, to get to know people and be part of a community.

When I stop enjoying it, I'll stop doing it.

October 9, 2011 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Joanna said...

Great post and I loved the encouragement. I am like Sarah, unpublished writer who started blogging 6 months ago. So far it has been great for two things; meeting some wonderful people and practicing writing. So far so good :)

October 9, 2011 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Excellent post, Anne. Blogging, for me, has gone in cycles over the past 3 1/2 years, but the last thing it will ever (or has ever) become is a place to sell my books. It's a place for me to share a part of myself in my posts, to help other writers, and to connect with other people - writers and reader, and that's it. It's connected to my author site, which is simply a place for readers on the web to find out more about my work if they're interested, and get to know me a little better.

Honestly, I don't know where my book sales come from, but I don't think it's from my blog, and I hope it never is. I hope it's from word of mouth somewhere completely free of the Internet.

October 9, 2011 at 11:04 AM  
Anonymous mark williams international said...

Possibly the best post yet written on this subject, Anne. I'm afraid I can't be quite so detached and reasoned when I see agents play with future writers' careers in this way.

I can't decide whether these agents just pluck figures from the air to sound authoritative, or deliberately set out to discourage new writers from straying from the old route of agent-publisher. Increasingly I suspect the latter.

Agent Andy Ross, PLEASE tell us which of *your* authors have blogs which get 100,000 unique views a month.

PLEASE tell us which publishers even ask if you have a blog, let alone that you have these fantasy visitor numbers.

And PLEASE tell us how on earth *your* authors sold books before blogging took off, and how thousands of self-published authors are now outearning average advances by self-pubbing despite having nowhere near these sort of blog numbers.

October 9, 2011 at 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I feel pressured! and I also feel confused about the most savvy and effective path(s) to take and a bit overwhelmed by the e-learning curve required, and the hurry hurry hurry push behind it all. Bless you for promoting a toned-down message on the issue!!
Ever your fan - Sharyl Heber

October 9, 2011 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Clarissa Draper said...

Just when I think that major bloggers are taking rests and fewer new blogs are starting up, I find the bloggers start blogging again and I get comments from bloggers stating they're new. So, I don't know.

Why do I blog? I love the community of writers. They are a great support and I like blogging. Blogging is one of the few social media activities I participate in but I like it.

October 9, 2011 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Elle Strauss said...

I think people should blog because it's something they enjoy doing. Period. And they should write about what they want. It's their blog. For me, blogging helps me feel connected to something bigger than myself. I can't afford to go to conferences, but I get much of the same rewards (friends, connections, education, information, sales, support) by blogging and it doesn't cost me a thing. As they say, no man is an island, but writing alone can make you feel like you are living on one. Blogging helps to keep me sane in a field so full of crazy making!

October 9, 2011 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

I think blogging is like any other form of writing: it's a labor of love, and up to each blogger to decide how he/she wants to do it. Just be realistic about your expectations.

October 9, 2011 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Great look at both sides, Ruth and I agree, we have to do what works for us as individuals. I have a blog, but mostly to share excerpts of books other authors submit to me so readers can find new authors. I don't have a huge follower base, but hope to build it over time. Besides those excerpt posts, I have Whatever Wednesdays when I post about things in general. I don't post much about writing because I feel that others can say it so much better than me and it's probably been said anyway.

October 9, 2011 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, that's a lot to consider!
And I'm just over half the page views I'm supposed to be getting. Crap.
I rarely blog about writing. I found my groove early when I started talking about my passions, and while movies and music aren't the usual fare for an author blog, it gives me the opportunity to be genuine.
Yes, it does take time. Sometimes too much. But I've learned so much and made so many great blogger buddy friends. My friends have given me so much support and I want to do the same for them.
Outside of the announcement Friday for my Catch Fire launch event, I rarely mention my books. That's just not me. But my blog does sell books, because I get a comment or email every day from a fellow blogger telling me he or she just purchased my book. I guess it's because they got to know me a little through my blog and thought I was all right.
That's my thoughts anyway...

October 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

I'm a long-time member of Bill Goldman's Church of Nobody Knows Anything and I have zero idea about whether or not blogging is dead, undead, alive, in a coma or awaiting-other-instructions. From a sales POV, I don't know if blogging works, doesn't work or maybe once-in-a-while sometimes works.

Meanwhile, until someone figures out the current vital signs of blogging, I want to make a point about your last reference to Steve Jobs. Of all the many things said about him, one thing I've never read is that SJ was an absolutely brilliant editor.

He knew what to put in, what to leave out, how to build excitement, how to create drama, how to tease and how to drag out suspense until the final twist. Steve kept the pages turning & the world in breathless anticipation. If that isn't a definition of what an editor should help a writer do, then I don't know what the h*ll I've been doing for the last umpty-ump years.

October 9, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Patricia Gligor said...

I'll admit that, at first, I was a little skeptical about the whole blogging and social networking experience but you couldn't tear me away from my blog or the sites I visit now.
I have "met" and gotten to know some incredible people (writers and readers) through commenting on other sites and from reading their comments on mine.
When someone says to me, "I can tell from reading your posts that I need to read your novels," I think that says it all.

October 9, 2011 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sarah—I’ve visited your blog and I think you’re doing it just right. I love that you have a “Books I want to read” page.

Joanna—Your blog is great too. I love the window on diverse cultures. (And talk about how blogs lead to forming new communities. Sarah is in England, and you’re in France. How cool is it that you’re networking on a California blog?)

Michelle—Yours is one of the first author blogs I ever visited. I saw a comment you made on Nathan’s blog and had to go over and find out more about you. And I kept going back for your honest, original take on things.

Sharyl—I feel your pain. There’s so much pressure right now that the only clear message we’re getting is “whatever you do is wrong.” So I guess we just have to please ourselves. If a blog sounds too scary to you, there are other ways to network. (Like going to conferences.)

Clarissa—I love your blog partly because you have such diverse voices commenting there. It’s obvious you enjoy blogging.

Elle—The same goes for you. Your blog took off because you’ve got so much information and you’re obviously having a good time.

Rick—You’re the perfect example of somebody who has a service blog that has paid off. You run the Public Query Slushpile as a service for beginning authors. It’s really helped to get your name out there.

Stacey—I haven’t visited your blog yet, but I sure will. It sounds as if you’ve got something great going—posting excerpts of other writers work to promote them is going to make you a lot of friends.

Alex—Thanks so much for letting us know that even you don’t get those numbers. You’ve won major blogging awards and you get more comments than any blogger I know except Nathan Bransford. I love that you’ve got a site that’s not just about books, but movies, games and everything sci-fi. I think it’s an example of the perfect author blog—creating balance with writers and fans. If you can’t get those stats, who can?

Ruth—I love “the Church of Nobody Knows Anything.” Socrates must be its prophet: “I only know that I know nothing.” And what a great point you make about Steve Jobs—more than anything, he knew how to create excitement. He was a master of drama and timing.

October 9, 2011 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Lani Wendt Young said...

Thank you for an excellent discussion - i like the links and references to diff viewpoints as well. I started my blog 2 years just because I wanted somewhere to write about stuff, somewhere to offload and rantnrave about life as a slightly demented Domestic Goddess. Last month i had 18,000 reader visits and yes, my FB fan page has more than 500 followers. But my blog is not about writing and I didnt start it because I wanted to sell books. ( I didnt have any books to sell LOL) The best thing my blog has done for me, is get me into a daily writing habit, build me a network of awesome blogging friends and readers and Im also sure its the reason why I havent totally lost it with my five children yet...In the past 2 years being in writer/blogger mode has translated to good writer productivity. Ive had two books published, sold numerous short stories and pieces for children and just won a Pacific fiction award with a collection of my short fiction. Last week I was in a dream come true position of having to consider two contract offers from two diff publishers for my collection which is based on a lot of my blog posts. NOne of this would have happened without my blog.
I agree that you shouldnt blog if you hate it. I love writing stuff for my blog 'Sleepless in Samoa' and I think that readers can connect with that enjoyment (and of course alot of people can connect with the demented domestic goddess drivel too)

October 9, 2011 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Emilia Quill said...

I started my blog about two months ago when I wanted to take part in a blog challenge. I received several encouraging comments about my stories and decided to continue taking part in blog challenges.

By posting stories on my blog and receiving positive comments I've started to believe in my work. I am terribly shy and showing my stories to another person was out of the question for a long time. I've started to gain confidence and I'm closer to giving my work to be critiqued.

I've also found friends and advice through other people's blogs. Instead of knowing there's something wrong with the story, but not being able to pinpoint it I can see what's wrong and fix it.

Some of the stories on my blog are set in the world of my WIP (Fantasy) and one goal is that the readers want to learn more of the world and buy the book when it's out.

October 9, 2011 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Mark Williams posted this comment, but somehow it made it into my inbox but not this thread. Very weird. But here it is:

mark williams international has left a new comment on your post "Dueling Agent Advice on Blogging. Who the $!%# Do ...":

Possibly the best post yet written on this subject, Anne. I'm afraid I can't be quite so detached and reasoned when I see agents play with future writers' careers in this way.

I can't decide whether these agents just pluck figures from the air to sound authoritative, or deliberately set out to discourage new writers from straying from the old route of agent-publisher. Increasingly I suspect the latter.

Agent Andy Ross, PLEASE tell us which of *your* authors have blogs which get 100,000 unique views a month.

PLEASE tell us which publishers even ask if you have a blog, let alone that you have these fantasy visitor numbers.

And PLEASE tell us how on earth *your* authors sold books before blogging took off, and how thousands of self-published authors are now outearning average advances by self-pubbing despite having nowhere near these sort of blog numbers.

October 9, 2011 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Kamille Elahi said...

I just find that blogging means I can feel people who are a lot like me. I don't meet many writers in my day to day life. and plus, writing a blog teaches me discipline as a writer.

October 9, 2011 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Spook said...

I use blogging for a lot of stuff, mostly for my own and my readers (all 23 of them LOL) entertainment. I like to show them fun stuff I find on the internet, or tell them stories, or just amuse them with things - I only really ever mention my writing in passing, if I'm honest, unless I do something really exciting and want to tell them about it.

Blogging is fun, that's why I do it. Blogging is a good way to share, to make friends and to have lots and lots of fun.

October 9, 2011 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Judith Mercado said...

"...if you’re blogging because you like it and you enjoy connecting with other writers and potential readers, then by all means keep it up."

Amen and amen and amen.

Let's keep redefining what publishing is.

Another great post from you.

October 9, 2011 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

Absolutely FANTASTIC post, Anne. I feel so much better after reading it. I started blogging about 5 months ago and although my following is small, it's consistent and after my two books are published in 2012 I hope to connect with my readers. Right now I blog about whatever interests me and might be of interest to others and it's pretty varied but it's fun for me and people seem to enjoy what I write. I'm not quitting blogging either. I don't think my blogs will metamorphose into huge sales, but I've gained virtual friends and that means something to me.

October 9, 2011 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Caroline Starr Rose said...

This is why I'm not on Twitter: I have no desire to learn a new way to lose writing time. It doesn't interest me in the least.

Blogging works for me. I enjoy it and the people I've met through it. But as much social outreach as we're involved in, it will never equate the personal touch. It's wise (if possible!) to have tangible ways to interact with readers outside of the Internet.

October 9, 2011 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Mikki said...

A very insightful post, Anne, thank you! I took your workshop at the recent Central Coast Writers Conference, and learned some things to do, that I haven't, as well as some not to do ( thankfully, I haven't done any of the nonos!)

I HATE being pressured, and would surely like to know whose blogs get 100,000 views a month. I blog. Mostly about writing. I like to post about things I've learned from conferences, from reading learned authors,and from writing courses I've attended. I don't know what my "stats" are, and frankly, I don't care. I blog because I want to, and I've met some good writing friends from blogging. I don't have a book to sell...yet...but I'm published in short stories, NF, and poetry. But to quote one of your commenters, WHEN my first novel sells, I hope the sales come from outside the Internet, from friends' recommendations, word of mouth, and so on. I will publicize my book on my blog, but not with the intent to sell. As for Facebook and Twitter, I don't "tweet", and I rarely visit my FB page, especially now with so many changes. For me, that particular type of social media is a waste of time. I'd rather be writing...or blogging!
Hope you'll visit me some day!

October 9, 2011 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Gosh, the internet is *such* a deadly thing- every two weeks something is dead- publishing, reading, now blogging. Scary!

In all seriousness... I've been blogging for about five years, and I don't blog about writing. Part of it is that I'm pretty sure my readers (those poor, small few)) would be bored and wouldn't read. The other part is that I'm not connected enough to be a good resource for information and I wouldn't be able to promote myself as a "value add" to your blog roll. On one of my blogs, I instead focus on book reviews and author interviews, with my occasional analysis of what's out there.

As for monetizing my blog, I'm semi-disgusted with a lot of the books that have been birthed by blogging, especially the ones that have a reality show flavor. I never got into blogging so I could get a book deal about what I blog about- I'm just not that interesting.

It's funny- I thought everyone just assumed most writers blogged, to the point where I've read agents advise not to bother mentioning your blog.

I like Twitter and LinkedIn- I despise FB and G+ and deleted my accounts- and using those venues I've been able to grow my readership and even get a little work. But 15k per month? Yeah... that's not going to happen unless I spend all of my time blogging and promoting. I'll just stick to this :-)

October 9, 2011 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Lester D. Crawford said...

I blog for the same reason I write: I have something to say.

While I hope someone reads what I write, the writing itself gives me pleasure. Placing the writing where others can read it gives me a feeling of purpose.

While my work-in-progress is an epic tale that is taking a long time to tell, my blog posts are mostly moments of intense emotion that desire to be shared. I feel good in the sharing and hope someone somewhere feels the same when they read it.


October 9, 2011 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Lani--You've got such a great blog-and what a fantastic niche. There aren't a lot of Samoan blogs out there.

Emilia--It sounds as if you're doing some fun things on your blog. Just be careful you don't post more than little snippets of your WIP or anything you want to publish later, or you may run into copyright issues. It's best to post mostly nonfiction on a blog, except for contests and blogfests.

Mark--You really got riled up by those agents and I don't blame you. They're obviously listening to some idiot marketers who have no idea what they're talking about. Loved your post at WG2E on the subject today!

Kamille--It sounds as if you blog for the best reason-community.

Spook--Blogging because it's fun is great, too.

Judith--And another amen to "Let's keep redefining what publishing is."

Patricia--So glad this made you feel better. I did worry when I read those stat demands that they could create needless anxiety.

Caroline--One week the experts say we all have to Tweet. The next we all have to be on Google+. Nobody can do it all, so we have to choose what we like best.

Mikki--I've just been over to your blog. Lots of fun stuff there, including reviews. We all love reviewers. And I'm so with you on Facebook. Those pop-ups drive me insane.

Deb--I think the trick is to pick one or two social media and stick with them if they work or move on if they get unpleasant.

Lester--You bring up a great point: when we're working on a big project, we get very little feedback, so a blog allows us to get out of the writing cave.

October 9, 2011 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Delaney Diamond said...

I have nothing to add except to say "Well said!"

October 9, 2011 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Cynthia Lee said...

This is the best post I've read on this subject so far.

I had to laugh at those stats I'm supposed to aim for. That's hilarious!

I'll continue my little blog for the time being because I'm enjoying it and I'm learning from it. But I'm going to spend most of my time working on being a better writer.

If the corporate guys are right and my small following means that I'll never get published, well then so be it. I will never attempt to put a book out there in the world that I don't believe in. In order to do that, I have to devote nearly all of my free time to the writing itself, not to spreading inanities on Twitter or Facebook.

That's the bottom line for me.

October 9, 2011 at 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Florence from Ramblings, checking as "anon." I agree with Rick. If you love it, then why not. Let us not all get dotty and forget that only two years ago JA Konrath not only blogged like crazy, he zig-zagged all over the country in search of booksellers. While I applaud his success, and those of others who are now too busy, or suddenly think it is a time-suck, I also get tired of the old sheep chanting in the barn yard, "four legs good, two legs better." Hopefully someone will know where that quote is from or as they say ... take it from whence it comes and do your own thing. It should not be rocket science for anyone to notice that the most successful authors do not always have blogs or tweet or engage in most social networking outlets. One lady who is a NYTBS and has sold a series to TV blogs on her own site and guests on another ... Tess Gerritsen.

At the point I have dozens of best sellers out there and Hollywood knocks my door down, I might decide to do things differently.

Does it actually generate readership? In the end, I don't think it does. Do it only if you can spare the time and really love it, or find your own way to readers. Most of our blogs are to other writers and they are the smallest percentage of readership.

Thanks Anne. Keep the books coming ... since that is what this is all about :)

October 9, 2011 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger Ranae Rose said...

This is a great post, Anne. Thank you for writing it. I hate being bombarded by advice from the 'experts' who try to tell writers why, how, when and on what to blog (or more often, to not blog about).

I enjoy blogging and post about a variety of things related to romance, romance reading and romance writing. I'm not trying to come up with some secret blogging formula to sell a million books, because it just doesn't exist, no matter what the latest 'expert' says.

I'm happy just blogging about relevant romance-related things that interest me and even *gasp* my writing. :)

October 9, 2011 at 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Kathy Dalle-Molle said...

Hi Anne, This is another knock-out post. Thank you. I look forward to seeing your new posts each week. There is almost always a helpful takeaway for me each week. Great conversation in the comments section, too. Really appreciate what Mark Williams said and so glad you shared with us.

I started blogging in late March 2011 after not writing at all for about five years. Once in a while I will do a Q&A post with an individual doing something publishing-related that interests me, but primarily I post my cleaned-up "free writes" that sometimes become part of longer pieces I am in the process of or hope to publish in literary mags, and eventually in book form. Posting these pieces on my blog a few times a week and seeing that even a small group of people is reading them and sometimes commenting is a great feeling and keeps me moving forward with my writing -- makes me feel that I am not working in a vacuum, and gives me an incentive to keep working. "If you want to write, then why not write and show your words to somebody" is my motto. I know there can be "cons" to what I am doing re: not being able to publish some of these pieces in more final form in the future because they have appeared online previously or people seeing what is on the blog and thinking that is "all there is -- that I consider these free writes final, etc. I have to admit that these and other "cons" get to me once in a while, but that is when I am thinking too much instead of focusing on what I love to do.

So I say if you love to blog -- on whatever subject and in whatever way and with whatever concept -- then blog. Sometimes, we need to think a little more with our hearts than our heads, especially in this crazy, unpredictable, fascinating world of writing and publishing. Let's all have some fun!

One of my biggest thrills recently was when an old high school friend saw my blog, liked what I was doing and was inspired to begin a blog of his own. Just one more reason for me to continue to do what I love.

Thanks again, Anne, for your words and inspiration.

October 9, 2011 at 6:44 PM  
OpenID ninabadzin.com said...

Excellent post as always. I SO agree that blogging is not a once size fits all endeavor. And I like your examples of how certain connections through blogging helped you though the dark days. Blog posts and comments help ME stay motivated. I love the connections I've made, and I wouldn't care if my blog readers never read my short stories or the book I will hopefully some day complete. You're right--it's not about marketing . . . blogging is its own worthwhile activity IF the writer enjoys it.

October 9, 2011 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger J.L. Campbell said...

My blogs have evolved over time. The first one I had was to track what I was doing as I got closer to publication. That got phished and I picked up on another I was using solely for discussions on character.

That same blog has evolved again and has allowed me to meet some wonderful writers who I've learned from and who are helping me on the journey.

Nope, I don't think blogging is dead by a long shot. Something I want to ask is, if it's dead then why are so many people still blogging?

October 9, 2011 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger widdershins said...

My first time here and I love what I am reading ... of course we blog, and we blog about all sorts of things ...
(I'm sure those 'marketeers' were convinced the earth was flat, that the sound barrier couldn't be broken, and nothing can travel faster than light - they are gatekeepers and as such are jealous of their prerogatives)

If our community was small enough, I'm sure we would hang out at the local ale-house, swapping stories and contacts there, but we are a global community, that is connected to every other sort of community imaginable.

Our blogs are our hearth-fires, taverns, chalk-boards, talking-sticks, our quill-pens-and-parchment.

They are our voices and we will not be silenced by some idjit with a bee up his/her bum about statistics. That isn't the world we choose to live in!

October 9, 2011 at 8:05 PM  
Anonymous D August Baertlein said...

Anne, I don't know if my blog is worth continuing, but I'm oh so glad that you and others like you are out there spreading information. Don't you quit! (Not that you are even thinking of it.)


October 9, 2011 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger TK Richardson said...

Anne, my blog keeps me connected to my community - a group of people who love reading and writing as much as I do. It's our version of meeting at Starbucks for coffee, having each other over for dinner, and staying up to date on each others progress, books, and lives. It's so much more than selling books - it's about who we are as people and as writers. Let the 'gurus' say what they will, but I'd venture to say they're wrong. Oh, and I bet they said it in a blog post. :)

October 9, 2011 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Tonya Kappes said...

Hi, Anne. Blogging seems to be the new topic that the Big Six is hitting on. They couldn't put a dent in self publishing, so they go to the next thing under the belt.
I don't blog for agents to find me, I blog to pay it forward to my Indie friends on my grog, The Writer's Guide To ePublishing. I started that blog ten months ago with a platform of helping other writers. And I check the stats once a month. September WG2E had over 1.5 million page views a month. That is specific people looking around, not just hits.
Blogging does work!
For my personal blog, I do it for the 10k readers who have bought my ebooks over the past five months since I've been published. I listen to my readers and I enjoy connecting with them. I do for my career what is best for my career. The rest is all noise....buzz...do you hear that?

October 10, 2011 at 4:17 AM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

I'm a little late to the party, but I love my blog. I love my friends who I've met, who listen when I talk, and share advice, and comment. I don't know what I would have done without them over the last three years on the road to publication.

As far as I'm concerned, no one can tell you what's right in this industry anymore, because it's changing so fast, what's right today may be wrong tomorrow, and back to being right again the next day.

I'll blog until I don't want to anymore and that's that.

Thanks Anne for another great post.

October 10, 2011 at 6:10 AM  
Blogger Emilia Quill said...

Anne - I don't post things straight from my WIP and I'm not planning to publish the stories I post on my blog. Personally I think it is a good idea to post stories that you're not going to publish on your blog or website, because that way people get an idea of your writing style.

October 10, 2011 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger SBJones said...

Blogs are not where customers are at and will not by itself generate more than a small handful of sales. However it is free, world wide exposure. It also builds the search platform. A lot of authors if they did not have blogs were to Google their name, they would not be in the search results.

Every little tweet, blog post, facebook picture etc builds up over time. It can take years but eventually it can pay off.

While its true a new author will be more successful spending time selling their book in the Walmart parking lot than blogging. The blog/facebook in the end will be why we won't have to anymore.

October 10, 2011 at 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Susan Tuttle said...

Great post, Anne. I am one of those writers who have been kicking and screaming about "having" to blog - until I spoke with Laurie McLean at the Central Coast Writers Conference. I'm now excited about revamping the blog I started - halfheartedly, I'll admit - last year and have barely kept up with. I'll soon launch my writing classes on my blog and I am so excited about it. I AM aiming specifically for writers, because they ARE also readers - voracious readers - who just might be interested in my books. But this blog is more about connection and community, and helping writers continue to improve so we have really GREAT writing to read. Too bad marketing departments can't pull themselves from the Medieval dungeons into the clear light of social media and make real connections with people. Maybe their failure rate would go down...

October 10, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Roni Loren said...

Obviously I love this post. I actually have a ranty post already cued up for Wed. that I wrote last week on the same topic.

It's beyond maddening--the conflicting advice, the pressure, etc. I blog because I want to. Maybe I'm doing it all wrong. But it's worked for me. Like you, I've gotten a lot of opportunities via my blog, so it's been worth it for me.

October 10, 2011 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Lydia Sharp said...

Very well said. Thank you for this. :)

October 10, 2011 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Thanks for introducing me to so-o-o many new-to-me names⎯including those in comments. And for offering permission to write about multiple topics. (I was the failure in blog class because I couldn't/wouldn't dedicate myself to writing on only one topic.) It isn't about selling myself; it's about having an outlet for the writing I can't do without and that hasn't 1yet made itself into a book. I'll be returning to your blog

October 10, 2011 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Alicia Street said...

Great post, Anne!
I just want to second your point about community. Writing can be a lonely business. I have met so many great peeps through blogs. And learned so much from them.

As to selling books -- everything on my Kindle I found through a blog post.

October 10, 2011 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Delaney—Thanks! (You have a great name for an author—very memorable.)

Cynthia—I’m with you—it’s got to be about the book first.

Florence—I think Konrath deserves a break. And he’s probably tired of saying the same thing over and over. Love Tess Gerritson—so glad you turned me on to her!

Ranae—you have a great niche—romances: it’s broad enough to give you plenty of material, and it appeals to readers as well as writers.

Kathy—Thanks a lot. Yes—Mark is a smarty pants. I think “free writes”—creative nonfiction or even fiction pieces are becoming more acceptable in blogs. Even Jane Friedman hosted a guest with a piece of creative nonfic today. (She’s another blogger who seems to be a little burned out. Mostly she has guests now.)

Nina—Me too. Blogfriends like you have helped me get through a lot of tough times.

J.L.—It’s been fun to watch your blogs evolve. I think you need to do that or you stagnate. I’m not the same person I was 2 years ago, and my blog reflects that. I’m not so slavishly quoting agent dogma any more. (Neither are a lot of agents.)

Widdershins—What a great comment! I totally agree “They are our voices and we will not be silenced by some idjit” The Irish have contributed to the global culture in so many ways, but my favorite Irish thing right now is the word “idjit”. I think we should all adopt it.

Dawn—You have a lovely blog, so I’d certainly encourage you to keep it up. Unless you’re not enjoying it. Remember SLOW BLOGGING (blogging once a week or less) works for me.

TK—I like the idea of a blog being like a table at a cyber-Starbucks. And yes, they’re talking about the death of blogging—on their blogs.

Tonya—Thanks so much for coming over from your hugely successful blog WG2E. That’s an example of the power of networking—an that blogs are still very much alive.

Anne—You did a smart thing and took a summer off from blogging. I think we all need breaks sometimes or anything will seem like an odious chore.

Emilia—I’m sure what you’re doing is great. I’ll go over and check it out. Just wanted to warn people that posting parts of a WIP can lead to problems later, especially if you publish with the Big 6.

S.B—Great point. One of the most important things a blog can do is raise your profile on the Interwebz, which is hugely important when you’re looking for a publisher.

Susan—Sounds as if you’re going to start a wonderful new adventure in blogging. Laurie does have the effect of energizing you, doesn’t she?

Roni—I’m looking forward to your Wed post!

Lydia—thanks for the wise things you said on this subject.

Mary--this blog is a great place to network, because I have such a diverse readership. Glad to have you here.

Alicia--thanks so much for saying that! I've discovered most of the writers I'm now reading through blogs myself. So blogs do sell books--as long as you do it through community, not hard-sell tactics.

October 10, 2011 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Meghan Ward said...

Amen, sister! You summed everything up very nicely. I do advise my social media students not to blog EXCLUSIVELY about writing but to write about what makes them unique. And I plan to expand my own blog soon to include the subject of my memoir. But I also plan to keep blogging about writing. Because I'm a writer. And I love writing about writing.

October 10, 2011 at 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Jaye said...

Thank you, Anne, wonderful post. I love blogging. I love reading other blogs for entertainment, information and education. I think some people run into problems because of unreasonable expectations. When blogging doesn't meet those expectations, they're disappointed.

I see blogging as a means to achieve two ends. The first is to improve my writing skill. Blogging gives me instant feedback. The second is to connect with readers. Not sell to them, connect with them. That means honing my sensitivity to what readers want.

Readers are very good at finding what they want. They're also very quick to turn up their noses when something is not to their taste. Successful bloggers (however success is defined) are those who focus on reader expectations rather than their own.

October 10, 2011 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Julia Munroe Martin said...

Great post! And I've read so much recently that says blogging IS dead that I am happy to read something that encourages the "one size does not fit all" philosophy. I started blogging to get myself writing everyday and to build a platform, but now I do it because I enjoy it, I've made wonderful writer friends, and it really helped me get writing everyday to the point that I finished a draft of one of my WIPs. The only way I'd stop blogging is if it stopped motivating me to write! Thanks again for this post!

October 10, 2011 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Wonderful post!

I've read the same conflicting opinions and advice, but you know I really enjoy blogging. I enjoy reading what other people have to say and taking part in a great online writing community. Even if it doesn't do a thing to help my writing career I'll be happy knowing that I had a good time.

October 10, 2011 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Susan Kaye Quinn said...

This is a brilliant post! And I recently stopped listening to the "experts" trying to give advice, and started listening to my gut. Taking risks, doing what felt right and good and fun.

I'll keep blogging because I enjoy it and (as you say) the benefits are manifold, even if some of the business types don't quite get it.

October 11, 2011 at 6:21 AM  
Anonymous Laura Pauling said...

I came to the conclusion that blogging truly is about connecting with friends, and in the future - fans/readers. I see writers with big book deals and a small blog. I see writers with a big blog but they don't make the best seller list. I truly believe a book's success is about the book and how readers respond to it. I think social media gets the ball rolling but can not make a book successful.

The conflicting advice out there just proves that there is no right answer that fits every writer. :) Great post!

October 11, 2011 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Meghan—Right—how can we not blog about writing, when it’s what we DO? I guess that advice was meant mostly for beginning writers who write “how to” posts about stuff they don’t really know much about, but still, it sounds too dogmatic to me.

Jaye—Connect, don’t sell; focus on the readers’ needs and not your own. Exactly—those are the only real rules of blogging.

Julia—I think the support and connection with other writers we get from blogging is the #1 reason to do it. Glad to hear it’s worked so well for you.

Caitlin—Having a good time is an awfully good reason, too.

Susan—Business types have the opposite attitude from good bloggers—they want to make everything into “hard work”. Good bloggers are having fun.

Laura—Very nicely put. There’s no one “right answer.” People who need to follow rigid rules will be very disappointed with social media.

October 11, 2011 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger J.A. Beard said...

I started blogging at first because everyone said you had to have a "presence". I struggled to write content because I just didn't really feel my particular insights about writing or even writing samples were enough to draw people in.

I shifted the content of my blog. I started connecting a lot more with other writers, doing interviews, et cetera. Then I started writing specialty entries of topics of personal interest (mostly history) that are tangentially related to my future work. These end up being fun. I do tons of research anyway, so it isn't even extra work really.

Now, I'm actually having fun blogging, more people are stopping by, and I feel like I'm offering something that is interesting in of itself and, at the minimum, at least establishes I can string a few sentences together.

Also, with my interviews and what not, I'm helping other people out with, really, a bare minimum of effort. So that's fun, too.

October 11, 2011 at 1:28 PM  
Anonymous jeffrey hannan said...

My recently liberated philosophy on blogging is this: I blog because it allows me a platform to present my work – some facet of my work, a few carefully selected bits and tastes of my work. I have no expectation of bringing ten thousand ready and willing book buyers to a publisher’s table by virtue of the fact that I blog. Nor do I feel obligated to post the equivalent of a novel-length book of content free to the blogosphere each year.

It's completely freeing to remind ourselves, as writers, that the internet is a platform for us to use as we choose. The only 'must' is to write.


October 11, 2011 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger D.C.Gallin said...

Fantastic entry, thank you so much! Just to show how out of touch the publishing industry really is! Let them demand "500 followers and 15000 visitors". These numbers are pulled out of thin air and totally unrelated to quality writing. The publishing industry is going under for one main reason: Except for the few money makers, it never really nurtured talented authors. The average author in the UK was only getting a 3000 pounds advance anyway. An art industry that doesn't support, nurture and pay their artists properly has no real right to exist. As authors we have to concentrate on our writing. By all means blog, do the social media, have fun, but keep the real goal firmly in mind. Then with a bit of luck and perseverance, we can get there all by ourselves. Meanwhile let them demand whatever they want. These ridiculous numbers are just the last attempts to control authors, while not really offering anything viable in return. Let's go outside and get some exercise for a balanced existence, see our friends and enjoy life when not writing. Sorry for the rant :)

October 12, 2011 at 2:17 AM  
Anonymous Christy Farmer said...

Hi Anne, this post is fabulous. For me blogging is about community and a wonderful community it is. This is a great post and just wanted to add that I also enjoy reading your tweets. You are doing a great service to the writing community. I blog because I love it.

October 12, 2011 at 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Stacy Green said...

Another wonderful entry. I'm an unpublished author who started blogging as part of my platform but quickly realized that unless I was big name, it would be a long time before I saw big numbers. So I try to approach it as a way to network and write about things I enjoy. It does help with setting deadlines and keeping me writing.

By picking topics that interests me and work with my genre, I'm enjoying blogging. It's good to hear so many other authors/writers out there agree that blogging isn't going to sell books and that we can't get so caught up in the numbers.

Thank you!

October 12, 2011 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Jami Gold said...

I love this post! And I love your list of everything blogging did for you. I think you've got it right. Blogging isn't about creating a storefront for direct sales. It's about having a homebase for making connections. Thanks, Anne! :)

October 12, 2011 at 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Kristen Lamb said...

I love Mark Williams' comment and I totally agree. I think the problem with a lot of agents and publishers is that they are thinking in terms of the old marketing paradigm. Everything is linear and resembles direct marketing.

This is why I need 20,000 Twitter followers to have an impact. There is only roughly a 1% rate of return. What these guys don't understand is social media--done properly--is a TEAM. We are part of a collective and this is how word of mouth epidemics start.

Word of mouth epidemics never started with direct mailings or e-mail spam...they started with people. People connecting in community.

I love how blogging is supposedly ineffective. How about crappy blogs are ineffective. Too many writers are blogging about narrative structure and their journey to find an agent and then can't figure out why they aren't connecting to readers. Well, good grief, try TALKING to them.

If every writer out there has a writing blog and we are all selling to the same pool of people and sounding alike, then of course the blog's power will be limited.

Blogging is not a linear process, like you said. And, what many writers fail to see is the real purpose for the blog. I recommend blogging because it makes us professional. Writers write. Blogging makes faster, cleaner writers who can adhere to self-imposed deadlines.

No "Blogging Police" will haul me away for failing to blog. But blogging teaches me to be good at meeting deadlines.

Blogging creates self-discipline and that is a quality all writers need. There are a lot of talented writers who will never be published simply because they lack the ability to knuckle down and work.

There are so many benefits to blogging beyond pushing books.

And the stats they gave are just retarded. My second book hit #1 on Amazon's best-selling list less than 18 hours after release. I don't have a fan page. My web site is...okay. I had 900 FB friends. I had less than 4000 Twitter followers and at the time, my blog had only 1,200 hits a day (far less than what these folk are asking for).

The difference is that I had an amazing and wonderful COMMUNITY of people who rallied to support me. I don't sit and "friend" thousands of people. I work hard to invest in relationships.

Blogging is wonderful at creating a 3-D person who happens to be an author. Our blog is the "fireside chat" where we connect as humans. We are living in a Reality TV generation. Our blog is our reality show. It opens us up as people and connects us as humans.

If reality TV can make us care about Ice Road Truckers or tattoo artists, then the blog can make a larger audience care about us (and our books) too.

October 12, 2011 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

J. A.—Using your blog to post bits of your novel research is a fantastic idea. I recommended that over a year ago, then forgot my own advice. It’s a two-bird stone. And so much more interesting than one more blog on novel structure.

Jeffery—Interviews are always good content. I’m thinking of doing some here, actually. And you’re so right about giving away free fiction content—especially serialized novels: don’t do this, people! If your book is worth writing, it’s worth publishing as a real book, for real money.

D.C.—I think you’re on to something with the industry’s “attempt to control authors.” They seem to want a master/slave relationship.

Christy—I agree: It’s about community. (And I’m so glad you like my tweets.)

Stacy—Very true about how blogging helps us set deadlines.

Jamie—Yes. A blog is like a home where you invite friends in—not a shop where you put big advertisements in the window.

Kristen—What a fabulous comment. It’s a blogpost in itself. I hope everybody will read it. You make a lot of great points—including some I forgot—like how blogging helps you become a professional. We learn the self-discipline that’s absolutely essential to becoming a professional writer. (I was just over commenting on your blog when this came in. I couldn’t figure out how you’d written such a great comment so fast.) :-)

October 12, 2011 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Lena Corazon said...

Another wonderful post, Anne! Like so many who have commented (and it warms my heart to see the number of people above that I've gotten to know and consider to be friends of mine), I began blogging in order to find a community of like-minded people who would support and cheer on my endeavors. I'm nowhere close to having a book finished, but the encouragement that I've received from people, both writers and readers, has given me the confidence to push forward.

October 12, 2011 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Sonia G Medeiros said...

Wonderful, encouraging post! It can be so scary to hear that we don't have a chance of getting published or of selling our books if we don't meet some seemingly impossible criteria. I'm still working on my first book. I started my blog because I thought it might be kinda fun to chronicle my journey as a writer seeking to be published. Very soon, I came across Kristen Lamb's ideas about building a community and discovered that there is an amazing community in the blogosphere. I've encountered so many generous, supportive people and learned so much more about the craft of writing. Even if my blog doesn't directly translate into my being a NYT bestseller, I've gained so much more than that in relationships and education.

October 13, 2011 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Wayne Borean said...

Before my body fell apart I used to be a Major Accounts Sales Representative. I was the guy who busted in the doors of the accounts that looked impossible.

The thing is that with sales, you aren't selling your product, as much as the company things you are. You are selling yourself. If you can get the customer to believe in you, they will buy from you.

This is true whether you are selling books, forklifts, barbecues, racing cars, or computers.

Your blog is your sales platform. It is where you sell yourself. What sort of a person are you? Do you have a good sense of humor? Do you do the Don Quixote de la Mancha routine and make people laugh?

Or do you come across like a Vogon?

That is why blogs are important. Relative numbers mean nothing. If a reader once touched my blog, thought, "I really like him," but didn't come back, and the reader later remember me and bought my book, my blog did its job.


October 13, 2011 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Lena—For me it’s all about those names—our community. I love to see familiar ones, and I love to see the new ones. We’re all helping each other.

Sonia—When I started a blog, I really didn’t expect more than a few people to read it. I had no expectations—that’s why meeting this warm, supportive community really blew me away. Suddenly the blog had a purpose. And it wasn't direct sales.

Wayne—Thanks for the enlightening comment. Most of us haven’t had your experience in the marketing trenches. It’s interesting to hear that everything is sold through human connections, not just books. (But of course that’s what Arthur Miller said in Death of a Salesman, isn’t it—you have to be “well-liked.”)

And most people would rather do business with Zaphod Beeblebrox than any number of Vogons. :-)

October 13, 2011 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I started blogging because if you wanted to be a writer you were supposed too. I had no idea how much it would affect my life. I've met so many supportive writers and non writers through blogging. My critique partners have quadrupled. I occasionally blog about my writing. I post about traveling, my pets, life management, books, and people. I usually post once a week now. When I started I was doing it three or four days a week, but as my followers grew I needed more time to respond to them. So I post less and am able to read more blogs. :) I hope blogging is not dead...I'd miss it terribly. :(

I popped over from Susan Quinn's blog. She spotlighted you as a great blogger. :)

October 14, 2011 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sharon--I've had the same experience as you--I expected very little from blogging but ended up getting so much. Also--I'm a big advocate of once-a week posting. Quality over quantity.

Thanks for the heads-up about Susan. I'll head on over right now.

October 14, 2011 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Pat Hatt said...

Wow wonderful info, and yeah it really is a two way street. I think the blog helps, but you can't just go and say buy this now because. You have to build up an audience on other things, relevant stuff or insane stuff and then just pop one in there every now and again.

October 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Pk Hrezo said...

This is something I've been considering for awhile. As Nathan said, it's about blog fatigue and choosing to spend your time on other more important things like fam or friends in the real world. However, with that being said, I'd never give up my blogging completely. It has helped connect me with so many other writers, some of which have become great friends. And these are peeps I'd never connect with otherwise. So yeah, it may help sell a few books that you wouldn't otherwise, but it also opens so many doors and windows too. And blogging is so much like anything else... if you love who your doing it for, then it's worth while.

October 14, 2011 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Sandy Nathan said...

Once again, a supremely well thought out and presented blog article. Here's my experience. I currently run two web sites and four blogs.

I started "blogging" in 1998 when we set up a website for our horse ranch. Blogging didn't exist then, but I carved out a niche for myself, Spurs Magazine, and wrote about stuff that interested me. Topics ran from recipes to Little India in Artesia, CA. I also presented our sale horses and wrote about horses and ranching and my feelings about both.

Every horse sale we've made since then has come through that blog/web connection. (And now with videos on YouTube.) These are big ticket items. We even had someone come all the way from Australia as a result of my writing. He bought three horses. So, there's no doubt you can sell over the net with blog-type writing.

My personal web site came when a consultant told me I needed one to sell books. It's a nice hub now, a place for people to go to learn about me and my books.

My personal blog is where I rant. Not really. I'm too polite for that. But I talk about things that matter to me, like the film Inside Job, which everyone who wonders how we got in the economic mess we're in should see.

My writers' blog is aimed at writers/authors attaining success and sanity. When I entered the literary world, I went, "Whoa. Not good." The psychological system in which writers/authors find themselves is one of the most toxic I've seen. (My husband's waving his hands, saying I should write about this. Yeah. I will very soon on Your Shelf Life.) My writer's blog offers remedies and other stuff.

Then I've got two blogs for my two book series. The idea was that they'd function as billboards for the series.

How does all this work for me? Pretty well. I write about what I care about when the feelings are present. I've learned to use Twitter to get articles out to readers and recirculate older writing. I've met really cool people and I'm having fun.

Sales? That isn't what I'm aiming for, except obliquely. I AM SO SICK of being bombarded by emails that go: "I just got another 5 star review!" "Read an excerpt from …" "My new contest!"

This is a total turn off and getting more irritating all the time. I can see review once in a while, but … On-line, I want to get to know people and have them react to my articles, whether about economic collapse or dog rescue. I don't want my life to be an obsession with book sales.

So thank you, Anne, for providing such a wonderful forum.

October 15, 2011 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger D.C.Gallin said...

What causes blog fatigue amongst other things?
Here I would like to give another example of how authors and creatives are being put under pressure by numbers: I call it the tyranny of the like button!
When the like button came up, I felt nothing but irritation… So now you can superficially like someone's page without even having to have a look at it? Although it may indicate where consumers tastes lie, what does it really mean for us creatives, writers, musicians, painters…?

It means, we have to spend precious time to make people like our fan page, and drive traffic to Facebook instead of our own site or blog. After all, how can you possibly be any good if you haven't accumulated a few thousand likes by now?

Who are we trying to impress, especially as the like button doesn't mean people have actually looked at our content?

I reckon Facebook is on its way to turning itself into the 'perfect marketing tool'. It wants to monetise itself through advertising: You can determine your demographic very precisely. Age group, location, you name it. Facebook knows it all. We've given them all the information already, for free.

This is the whole drive behind the like button and nobody seems to realise that we are being used so Facebook can start making money with selling advertising space to its users. The same users who are not allowed to advertise, or blow their own trumpets on their homepage (for free). People with 5000 followers trying to plug their stuff have been closed down. With that in mind we, creatives and consumers alike, should really not pay too much attention to all the pressures and numbers and remember that it is all a big distraction from our real work and aspirations… and that can it cause paralysis through analysis of all the different (marketing) options...

October 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM  
Anonymous DC Gallin said...

P.s. I also forgot to mention that Facebook at any time can change groups and content.
For example, I had loads of videos of readers talking about my book on my group and when they 'archived' the groups these simply simply vanished from the site. So yes, let's keep blogging in a relaxed and fun way on sites where we OWN the content. I know this is a whole new can of worms, but I'm convinced that blog fatigue stems from too many options and possibilities.

October 16, 2011 at 12:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Pat--I agree it's OK to pop in a plug for your book now and then--stupid not to--as long as your content is mostly aimed at giving information or entertaining. People who say you should never self-promote on a blog are as unrealistic as those who say you should blog "buy my book" 24/7.

PK--Blog fatigue is very real, and it's the reason most blogs only last three years. The solution is to blog less often and network more. Slow Blogging rules!

Sandy--you're one of those super-bloggers who can maintain multiple sites. If I did that, I'd go nuts, but you've been doing it a loooong time (Wow--in 1998 I was only using my first Mac for word processing. Don't think I was even on the 'Net) Another example of how different approaches work for different writers. But I think psychological burnout is a dangerous threat to all creative people and we need to work hard to resist pressure and take care of ourselves first.

D.C--That's a brilliant piece. "The tyranny of the Like button" is so true. It's why I've backed off Facebook a lot in recent months. Not only is it harder to use, but it's meaningless. (Esp if they're eliminating your groups for no reason!) Your blog is a much more important sales tool than FB, IMO. It's about YOU, not making more money for Facebook

Too many options is also a major source of fatigue. There are so many great blogs, and no matter how many I visit, I'm always missing somebody. I think that's why, even though my Alexa rating is better than ever, I'm getting fewer daily hits. Everybody's stats go down when we're forced to spread ourselves so thin,

October 16, 2011 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Sher A. Hart said...

This is the most comprehensive post I've seen concerning the value of blogging and what to blog about. I'd never read those opinions about blogging being dead. Personally, as another unknown trying to get my foot in the door, I'm overloaded. I'm not getting any manuscript writing done for all the blogging, and I'm not getting any younger. I waited far too long to make the jump from reading to writing.

I had blogged occasionally since January when I sent my first batch of queries to big agents. The rejections came within hours, so fast I was convinced they laughed their heads off at my measly 6 followers. Then I received a blog award from a member of an organization of women writers with common beliefs. From one of them, I found Rachael Harrie's campaign and finally made it over 100 followers due to that and joining twitter. 100 blog followers was my goal to start querying again, and 2 weeks later I'm still blogging instead of querying.

I have to admit there's a definite attraction, plus immediate gratification in reading the comments. And in the process, I got great query critiques from my followers in a critique contest. After I rewrite, maybe the next batch of query rejections won't shoot me down so fast. If they do, I have a few more shoulders to cry on because I don't get support at home. I'm going to have to ration my time, cut back on blogging and twitter. I rarely use FB and just started on Google+, but my tweets post to FB and I know some of my blog followers came from there. Now I'd better get started revising my query.

October 17, 2011 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Sophia Chang said...

Tell it, girl!

Thanks for coming by the blog! And your comment makes absolute sense - you have a ton of followers and comments! lol Small fries like me still have the time to visit every commenter (though the surprising popularity of my last post has me still slowly playing catch-up.)

October 18, 2011 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Kate Dolan said...

This has been a great discussion - even three months later. I, too, have been wondering whether blogging on its way out. But I started blogging to keep fresh interesting content on my website and even if I don't have many followers, my reason for starting is still reason enough to continue.

January 9, 2012 at 5:54 PM  

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