Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Your Professional Blog

In a continuation of yesterday’s post about making the decision to start a blog, I wanted to take from a number of discussions I’ve had lately, both live and online, about what a blog should be, especially those belonging to professionals. Having a blog has been an interesting experience, and while I think a number of writers enjoy the inside look at an agent’s world, I know there are just as many who feel that the inside peek into an agent’s world and, sometimes, an agent’s head, leans toward the unprofessional.

So what should your blog be? That depends entirely on what you decide to use it for. Is it a family blog that you’ll use just as a way to share family news, photos, and events? Or do you intend for your blog to be another way for you to market your work? And by the way, if you are an author who is writing a blog under your pen name, you should assume that’s nothing less than a professional blog. As an author your name is your profession.

If you decide that your blog (and your blog name) is meant for professional purposes, then is it really appropriate to discuss your children, the state of your underwear, or whether or not you’ve cleaned the house? Since this is a very, very new medium it’s still being tested, and what’s right and what works can only be proven by the reader. My belief is that a professional blog is a way for people interested in you, your work, and your business to get to know you better: it is a little peek into your soul. There’s a fine line though. I think that the blog needs to remain professional, and that means that you should only post the same sorts of conversations you are willing to have when pitching your work to agents and editors or talking with booksellers or fans. In my case, it should only be information that I would be willing to discuss with my clients or talk about in front of a room full of aspiring authors and colleagues. In other words, is this group really interested in your laundry pile or would you be better served discussing your writing?

When making the decision to blog you need to always keep in mind why you made that decision and who your audience is. I really don’t think visitors to the BookEnds blog would be interested in hearing about my efforts to create the greatest chocolate chip cookie ever. No, if I want to write about that I should probably start a food blog. My assumption is that readers of the BookEnds blog are interested in hearing about Jessica Faust the agent, not Jessica Faust the cook, the mother, the dog owner, or the traveler.

So, when starting a professional blog, bear in mind who your readers are and why they are there. What do you really want to know about literary agents, editors, or your favorite author? Is it her day as Girl Scout leader, soccer coach and mom, or is it her day as a writer with maybe a little mom thrown in?