Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Power of an Author Blog

I was curious about your take on author blogs. First, do you think author blogs sell books? Second, do you think revealing personal information, even when presented humorously, is appropriate? Over time I’ve found myself disenchanted with some authors after reading posts about the inner-workings of their marriage, as an example. I understand the need to entertain and for blog readers to feel that they are seeing a slice of an author’s life, but is there a fine line between professional promotion and too much information?

Confession time. I don’t read that many blogs. I read a few here and there and I love it when people clue me in to an interesting post (hint, hint), but I don’t spend a lot of time surfing other blogs (although I do check out Nathan Bransford daily, because he is extremely clever). I’m not part of author fandom. Actually I’m not much of a “fan” in general. I never hung posters from Teen Beat on my wall and I never wrote fan letters to the Duke Boys. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is probably a question that’s best put out to readers. Do you read author blogs? Do they make you buy books?

My opinion. It can’t hurt, but it needs to stand out. You need to provide readers with something more than just a daily rundown of your life to make it interesting. I do think readers like getting a personal taste of who you are, but no one wants the minute details of your life. When asked by my own clients if they “have to” blog, my answer is always, You have to want to blog. I don’t care if you blog, but if you do you need to commit. You either need to join up with a group or you need to decide that you are indeed going to blog every day. Let me ask you this? Would you come to this blog regularly if it wasn’t daily? Probably not. You’d forget.

I think this is an interesting post for regular blog readers. Do you read author blogs? What do you like to read in them? Do you prefer individual blogs or group blogs? And for those authors who do blog (great time to promote your blog) do you have any parameters for yourself and your blog? Do you think it helps your sales?

Jessica

77 comments:

Diana said...

I love author web sites, even if I don't visit more than every other month (with the exception of Janet Evanovich, who posts new stuff every week). I like to learn a little more about the author or the book, and will check in after several months if I hear rumors that there is a new book coming out.

I'm not a big blog fan. In fact, this is the only blog I visit religiously. What is sad is when you see the fizzled-out blog: the blog that launched a week before the book came out, then was posted to daily, then weekly, then just died off. Sadder still is when no one else is posting comments, which makes it look like no one is reading the blog at all.

I think the reason why the Bookends blog works is because it is run by people committed to offering topics that allow a community of readers to ask questions and respond to each other. Unless an author wants to keep that kind of conversation going, a weekly or monthly update to the web site would probably do the job just fine.

Christine said...

I have found that author blogs are the ones that I unsubscribe from the first. I subscribe because I like their work, but unsubscribe because they come to seem trivial or too try-hard. I am going to just stick to their novels from now on.

I prefer blogs that either give me a real laugh or those with an incredible 'voice', or those that teach me something professionally.

Have a look at the French Laundry Cookbook blog. Great voice, laughs, learning.

Dead Man Walking said...

My life's just not interesting enough to put a new post out every day, or even every week for that matter. Instead, I go for quality over quantity.

I'm not into author blogs so much, but there are a few agent blogs I try to hit every day or once every weekend, just to catch up. Besides yours, there seem to be two or three I visit daily. And if a blogging agent has my partial or full (yeah!), I'm also a faithful visitor. Hmmm...that reminds me, I gotta go!

December/Stacia said...

I love blogging. It's fun for me. I don't tend to blog too much about the details of my personal life (although for reasons I still can't fathom, a post about my terrible winter dry-skin problem last year got more comments than I've ever gotten). Mostly it's my opinions, and stuff about writing and publishing. I did a series about finding a reputable epublisher over the summer that did extremely well as far as hits and links went but I have no idea if it made a difference in sales.

I blog regularly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and Tuesdays at the League of Reluctant Adults which is fun.

But I honestly don't know if any of the blogging has mattered in sales terms--my gut feeling is it's maybe helped a little in terms of getting my name out there, but not enough to make it a necessity. I just like doing it, so that's why I do.

And I love agent and editor blogs, too. I love all blogs.

Kris Fletcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kris Fletcher said...

I know nothing about blogs selling books, and I gave up my own blog a year ago when I realized I had nothing to say :-). But I can give you a very powerful example of what good can be done with a blog.

There is a woman who writes knitting books, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, more commonly known as The Yarn Harlot. Her blog can be found at www.yarnharlot.ca. Steph firmly believes in the good work being done by Doctors Without Borders. She encourages people who read her blog to donate to them, then let her know how much was sent. She keeps a running total of the donations on the blog, to show how much the blog community has given, total.

Last year, on Dec. 15, she issued a challenge to her readers. Over the years they had given $120,000+ to DWB. She wanted to double that amount. The call went out on her blog.

On Dec. 19 - just 73 hours after issuing the challenge - it was met. Yes, in just 73 hours, by the power of ONE blog entry, another 120,000 had been given to DWB.

And the giving continued. And continued. At the moment, if you check the total on her sideboard, the community that reads the Harlot's blog has given over $434,000 dollars to Doctors Without Borders.

That's a whole heck of a lot of goodness being wrought in the world - all because one woman wrote one blog entry that shared her dedication with her readers and challenged them to pitch in.

Aimless Writer said...

I read some author and agent blogs. Mostly because I write. Konrath, Mark Terry, Spyscribbler (and Bookends) I check with my morning coffee. Mostly because they talk about the publishing/writing biz and often have good tips. And yes, this makes me buy their books. When I see something is coming out I can put my order in. I read agent blogs for the same reason. To get information. There was one agent I've decided not to submit to due to the ego that came through her blog. (Not you Jessica! Although I think Jacky might be more in my genre-hopefully you'll see it by spring) I have a blog but it is hard to think of something to say every day. These things are work! I work in a weird industry in my real life so there are seasons when I barely have time to think, let alone blog.
Now seeing what Kris said about the Doctors without boarders I'm wondering what I could do for the Humane society????
What a great idea!

Mark Terry said...

I've been blogging for a couple years now and although I wouldn't call lit a big time-suck, I wouldn't call it a particularly effective marketing tool, either. I enjoy doing it. I like reading other writers blogs and I honestly never know which type will catch and keep my attention. Author blogs that I checked daily I rarely check now, although some have held on.

My take on it for writers is, do it if you want to, don't sweat it if it becomes a chore.

I had to laugh, because I went through one of many periods of "let's-ditch-this-pain-in-the-butt-blog-and-get-on-with-my-life" and asked a bunch of authors why they blog.

I thought the most honest answer was by filmmaker, novelist Keith Snyder, who said, "I like to write about myself."

Amy Nathan said...

I read some author blogs, but more emerging authors than NY Times bestselling authors. I like when authors write about writing and publishing - and sometimes about other things. As a published writer and one-day-published author, I like to follow these authors' paths.

I have my own blog, and I have for two years. I don't write much about writing, but it was how I started writing again after a 15 year hiatus.

My goal for 2008 is to write a bit more about writing -- but my blog tends to be a leisurely read for those who stop by -- not an information source. So I think in blogging you have to pick your way of communicating.

It doesn't hurt anyone to blog - or to try it. If your posts are substantive enough - once a week is really enough.

This is me: Kvetch Blog
www.OrthoticContessa.com

Bernita said...

I read many writer's and industry blogs, mainly for information, tips, writing advice.
I prefer those I can learn from, though some I read for humour, or for the pleasure of their prose, as Christine describes.
I enjoy blogging. I believe the discipline of discussion helps develop skill.
I have bought books based on blogger recommendations and certainly my blog has sold a few.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I read lots of author blogs. I've made a lot of very cool contacts and hopefully have been able to spread the word about lots of neat authors.

The one thing I have to confess to not being a fan of, though, are the group author blogs where the authors talk about nothing but the technical end of writing. You can only read so many posts about how to create a good character before your eyes glaze over.

I like it when the author puts more of him/herself into things and makes it fun.

Kimber An said...

Blogging is an excellent way to reach readers...IF you're suited to it. If you're not, you'll turn them off.

For the authors who are trying to figure it out, I suggest visiting some good authors blogs.

Patricia Wood, author of LOTTERY, keeps an excellent one.

pkwood.blogspot.com

Michelle Moran, author of NEFERTITI, travels too much for regular commenting, so she keeps a read-only blog.

michellemoran.blogspot.com

Pat can give you a taste of Hawaii. For a taste of the East Coast, try the blog of Gwyneth Bolton, author of SWEET SENSATION.

gwynethbolton.blogspot.com

For authors who can't make the time or who don't feel suited to their own blog, try a group blog. Here is one for Science Fiction Romance:

aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com

I've been blogging for over a year now and have written a couple of articles on what I've learned from observing authors. Click on my username and go to my Star Captains' Daughter blog. On the right hand side, you'll find a link entitled 'Wooing Readers.' Those articles have more information on this topic.
;)

Jaye Wells said...

I read a lot of writer blogs and have bought books based on those. However, most of these are blogs by writers for writers. It's important to remember that any blogger must identify their audience and play to if they want return readers.

Anonymous said...

I don't blog and don't want to. I'm not that interesting and am more of a private person by nature. Some author blogs are incredibly well done, but I find I don't actually care. It's like watching a favorite actor -- I don't want to know who they are married to, what they ate for breakfast, or the name of their child's grade school. I want the read the BOOK, for the book's sake, not think about the author.

I read the Bookends blog, Kristen Nelson's blog, and Nathan Bransford's blog, and the Blueboards at Verla Kay's (I'm a YA writer) everday as part of my ritual of internet stops before I commence with my own writing. These sites do an incredible job of making me feel like I am not so alone in this lonely business.

spyscribbler said...

I enjoy so many different authors' works, that it's hard for me to remember them all. If they are on my blog-reading circuit, then I remember when they have a new book out. Otherwise, I rarely visit an author site.

As far as discovering new authors go, about 90% of the new authors I've tried in the last year or so have been from bloggers.

Jenna said...

I regularly read agent blogs but only read two author blogs regularly. Agents update often and are providing great information and tips. I read author blogs if the provide the same thing, i.e. writing tips, publishing info, their path to publication, their writing process, etc.--things I can use. I get bored super fast with authors who ramble about their boring daily life.

My cousin, an aspiring writer, writes about her daily life but it's interesting because she had to move to Mexico over a year ago and writes about all the weird, odd-ball stuff she encounters there--plus she's funny.

When I started my blog I took a tip from JA Konrath and gave my blog a specific topic (the journey of writing a novel) and have not ventured into personal unless it absolutely pertained to writing (well expect when I was tagged :).

Josephine Damian said...

I find that blogging helps keep up the discipline/habit of writing regularly.

It's not so much that I talk about my own personal life, but I do talk books and writing in a strong voice (hopefully funny) voice and am not shy about offering a strong opinion. I mix it up with book, writing talk, and reportage from my writers groups, especially sharing what ever advice a guest speaker had for us.

I think being consistent is more important than daily, as long as you establish an average number of posts/week or month and stick to it, you should keep readers.

While agents may not actively read author blogs, I think they google a potential client, and blogging will provide you with a ton of google links. I call it the "Paris Hilton effect" creating the illusion that you're a "somebody" - it's a sad fact, but hype seems to matter these days.

I prefer individual blogs to the groups, and I like industry tips more than personal stuff (a lot of male authors talk politics on their blogs - it's a big turn off for me - I'd rather hear about their path to publication or tips on surviving the book biz) - and agent blogs are the best - my most favorite and the ones I read the most often.

Diana Castilleja said...

I have a blog, but I don't put personal information on it. You'll never see me posting pics of the boy, or ranting about the man. I do occassionaly post writing life stuff, but 97% of it is writing related, not writing life. I might post once to twice a week. I don't get a lot of traffic and I don't expect a lot.

Authors or anyone for that matter who puts up anything personal in minute detail is a turn off for me. I don't need to know the writer to love the book. My TBR pile can attest to that!

Most of my reading is done by list, and I only comment where I feel strongly enough in my thoughts. Even posting comments to the blogosphere where anyone and their uncle can see me, gets unnerving. So even if I'm not commenting, chances are, I am reading.

Anonymous said...

I do read some author blogs...but beware! I have stopped reading and lost interest in buying authors' books because of some posts. Sounds superficial...however, too much political debate or ranting can really turn me off. Better to stick to writing topics and your books...stay away from taking sides.

Becky Levine said...

I've been doing an author/life blog for about a year (http://beckylevine.livejournal.com). I really enjoy it, but I do think that most of my readers are other writers! I try & keep the writing & my process at the forefront, but life does slip in!

I have a strong sense that when my book gets out there, the blog will need to change. As I said, right now its mostly for other writers. The book I'm trying to sell is a mystery for kids, and I'd like the blog to turn into something they'd like to read. I'll post entries about the town where my characters live--a very fun town, so there should be lots of material. I also want to start reviewing other kids books, for my readers--I'd really like to have a section called FUN BOOK ALERT, where I talk about books that are just that--really well written, but just a great, fun read, without any particular message.

Lisa Yee (http://lisayee.livejournal.com) blogs often--some stuff about her appearances, some stuff about her writing process (always funny), but a lot of stuff for the kids, too. (She blows up Peeps candy.) I think she does have a lot of kids come to her blog and read and comment.

Anonymous said...

I love author blogs too! I read them, not as much as agency/publishing blogs, but quite a bit. I most enjoy when the authors blog about their writing and books they enjoy. Melissa Walker, author of "Violet on the Runway", blogs about marketing and publicity for her books as well as events in her life that connect to her novels. (MelissaCWalker.com) I also love Shannon Hale's blog (squeetus.com).

Colorado Writer said...

I love reading Meg Cabot's blog, Melissa Marr's and also Cynthia Lord's. A little personal info mixed in with the writing stuff is nice, in my opinion.

Laura Kramarsky said...

I "subscribe" to some blogs, even though the posts are irregular, but not many. (If you don't know about subscribing and feed readers, there's some information at the end of this post.) I used to have a personal blog, but I will be retiring it at the end of this year. Now I blog with a group of women at Women of Mystery and when we started blogging, we decided to limit ourselves to writing posts that somehow relate to writing.

But that means we've had posts on health, on the weather, on the economy--all those things affect our writing in some way shape or form.

I don't think it's possible to write on a regular basis without offending someone unless the posts are so bland as to be virtually meaningless. But that's apt to be true in books, too.

I don't believe blogging sells books. In fact, I've posted on that fact a couple of times. But I think it helps to keep in touch with readers you already have, and it gives you a public face in case someone "Googles" you for any reason. (Which is a good thing, provided you're not insane.)

Besides, I'm a writer. I write. So it's natural that I also blog!

Anonymous said...

Dianacastilleja --

Re: people blogging about "The Boy" or "the Man" in their life... I completely agree -- for the love of God and all that is pure, I hate that! It's like every dang writer is trying to copy everyone else and make themselves out to be some goddess contsantly referring to the alternatly annoying/charming/sex-god/asshole in their love life.

Sorry, people's relationships just aren't that interesting, and even less so when you don't actually know them...

AmyB said...

There have been several occasions where I've subscribed to the blog of an author I'd never read, because the blog itself was fun, and later bought one of that author's books. There have also been occasions where reading an author's blog made me less interested in their books (generally because of political ranting).

I mostly stick to LiveJournal blogs, because they are convenient to read and I don't have to remember to visit them--all the entries are listed together on my friends page. LiveJournal is probably the way to go for anyone who's not planning to post daily. I read only a handful of non-Livejournal blogs.

Christine Fletcher said...

I have to admit when I started my author's blog, I was hazy on what it was really for. Pushing my own book? Bleah. Rambling about my day? Please. Not even my dog is interested in my day, not unless I have leash in hand and am heading for the door.

I post about what interests me, which is mostly writing and the the publishing process. Over the last couple of months, I've written about editorial letters, revisions, copyediting, titles and covers, etc...and I'll have a new post this week on first-pass pages. The blog is also a great venue to post pics of book events.

Daily posts sound great, but I knew I couldn't keep it up -- not with book deadlines looming -- so I didn't start that way. To be honest, I don't have enough material, either. Many of my favorite blogs don't post daily, and I'm OK with that. I want to be consistent and keep having fun. So far, so good.

Anonymous said...

Let me say that while I like a lot of agent blogs, there are a few popular ones that I can't stand. And I'm at a complete loss as to why any writer would query those agents.

They ramble about their stupid cat or are constantly telling their blog readers how gosh darn busy they are but took time to attend a writer's conference anyway, as a form of "giving back" (which is in its own way of saying, see how IMPORTANT I AM?) More than once these aforementioned blogs have (in backhanded ways) referred to their own clients as if they are something they "have to deal" with.

Not good advertising.
Thank the stars I already have an agent.

L.C.McCabe said...

Jessica,

I use Google Reader to keep up with the various blogs that I am subscribed. That way I do not have to physically go and see if any have been updated.

I'm grateful that Blogger now allows for follow up comments to be sent to my inbox. Previously I had to consciously go back later to see if a conversation in the comment trail had developed which was worth watching.

I have over one hundred blogs that I follow and they cover a wide variety of subjects. Frankly, unless there is something substantive in a post I am quick to go onto the next one.

That means I wind up skimming posts when I have twenty or so updated at any time. I do not care for people updating daily unless there is something worth reading.

I hate it when bloggers post just for the sake of posting. Too much of that and it will lead me to unsubscribe as a reader. I don't care for blather and the cult of celebrity is nothing that I am interested in.

BTW, my two favorite author blogs are J.A. Konrath's and Tess Gerritsen's. I learn a lot about the industry from them as well as rethinking my assumptions of what life is like for full time authors.

Linda

L.C.McCabe said...

P.S. I would also like to mention my favorite blog for writers on the craft of writing. That distinction belongs to Anne Mini's "Author!Author!" blog.

www.annemini.com

If you have ever wondered exactly what constitutes standard format for manuscripts and whether or not you need one space or two spaces after periods, you should check out her blog.

Anne goes into great detail about things that while they may appear to be arcane might be the difference between having your work read or summarily dismissed due to it looking wrong to professional readers.

Linda

Merry Jelinek said...

For me, personally, blogging is more about networking than promotions... I've thought about how it is I would use a blog to promote book sales, once I get there, but the truth is, my blog mostly covers writing and books. And, as Jaye Wells said earlier, writers are not my audience.

Eventually I'll want to think about a website and regularaly post there about the book and odds and ends for my readers, but I don't think my writer's blog will be of much interest to most of them.

Now, I have bought a number of books based on recommendations from other bloggers - so I do think blogger reviews are a good thing for authors. And I know a number of people have bought books from my recommendations. I just hosted a book club blog on Lottery by Patricia Wood, and Ms. Wood was kind enough to participate... I just emailed her through her website to ask permission and she offered to participate which was great.

I don't know how much it amounted to for her in sales, but I know the first entry had almost forty comments, and the second and third were widely read as well... in essence, I think blogs can be a great way to interact with your readership, which is a great way to build permanent readers.

Christie Craig said...

Very interesting post, Jessica. I belong to the Killer Fiction blog: http://killerfictionwriters.blogspot.com where I post every Tuesday. Yesterday my post on was on Lap Dancing and Sexy Santa Underwear. It’s not what you think. 
I'll be honest, I hadn't planned on becoming part of the blog universe. And yet, I've been pulled into it hook, line and sinker. I got invited to join a group of Dorchester writers and after giving it some thought, I decided to go for it. Blogging once a week seemed much more doable than trying to do something daily. And because I write for magazines, a lot of essay type of pieces, which basically is what most blogs are, I found it fairly easy to write the posts. I even did a humorous column for a national publication for two years, so writing the humorous pieces, which match the tone of my book, isn’t too much of a stretch for me.
But does blogging really make a difference in the big scheme of things? Probably not that much. However, I know that on most Tuesdays my post gets over a hundred hits and at times I’ve gotten as many as 50 comments. I know that I’ve been asked to guest blog at over five review/reader websites, most of them asking me after they stumbled across my regular blog. Tomorrow, I will be guest blogging at http://novelthoughts.wordpress.com.
I know that my book has made it on a list of the top 100 selling romance novels two weeks in row, and has since been taken back by Dorchester for another reprinting. Again, I don’t think blogs played a big part in this, but maybe combined with the other promotions it helped a bit.
I think the key to blogging is the same key to writing essays—meaning to find the universal appeal/universal emotion. But I know for some writers, blogging may be too time consuming and I think every author needs to find what works for them.
CC

Melanie Avila said...

Wow, my blog's already been mentioned here. (Hi Jenna!) As she said, I'm an aspiring writer and started my blog a few months ago for several reasons.

I'm writing my memoir about my life since my husband & I moved to Mexico, and so many bizzare-o things kept happening I needed an additional outlet.

This outlet now keeps my family in the loop on what we're doing, which cuts down on repetitive emails to all of them.

It keeps me writing every day. I write my blog in the same style as my book, so it helps keep me focused while editing.

And, as someone else mentioned, I like to write about myself. My husband is mentioned now and then, but only because he's the only other person I know down here.

I read 10-20 writer/agent blogs daily (including BookEnds & Nathan Bransford) but I get bored, too, with the writer blogs that turn into a whiney mess.

Erik said...

I find that my blog definately increases sales. When I was nominated for best lit blog two months ago, I sold several copies. However, I'm self published, so with a total of 712 sales or so every bit of PR makes a difference to me.

I write something 3 times a week, and I try to make it particularly interesting and relevant. I started doing it for the small fan base I have here in Saint Paul; it keeps me in touch with them and offers something up to keep them interested. That's important to maintaining a reputation at my stage.

I do not use the blog to relate just how many cups of Prince of Wales tea I've had. I explain my peculiar outlook on life and solicit comments back. These posts are meaty and from an unusual perspective. I use the authors den site because it allows space for articles and stories as well as a nice plug for my book.

Having said all of that, it's at http://www.authorsden.com/erikhare To get to the blog part, there's a tab at the top.

Jeannie Ruesch said...

I have an entire page of my yahoo "home" dedicated to blog feeds. Some I visit the minute I see a new post (BookEnds, Kristin Nelson's, Flogging the Quill). The multitude of other blog feeds are author blogs or group author blogs. I read a few of them during the week, but it depends on the title....if it engages me. If I'm in the mood. (If I feel the overwhelming urge to procrastinate just a little more on my work.) But it's rare that I read those blogs every day.

That said, I started my own, which I'm still a little befuddled as what to do with. Given my own practices in reading them, I have to wonder at my sanity at starting one.

Anonymous said...

I used to read a lot of author blogs but realized I was spending far too much time on the Internet. And frankly, most blogs are kind of dull. (I'm not interested in reading about an author's search for the perfect pie recipe or the antics of their cat.) I enjoy Tess Gerritsen's, Mark Terry's, and J.A. Konrath's because they focus on the writing business, and I always learn something.

I was invited to participate in a group blog with other writers, but I'm still unpublished and honestly, I'm not that interesting. So I declined.

Faye Hughes said...

Great post, Jessica. Lots of different perspectives from the other posters, too.

I agree with Jaye Wells - identifying the audience of your blog (or book) is crucial to its success. Readers (I mean "pure" readers and not readers-who-also-write) aren't interested in industry stuff, just as readers-who-also-write usually aren't interested in the strictly-for-the-fans type of posts.

And as for Christie Craig's molestation of Santa Claus...girl, seriously, you should be ashamed! LOL.

Faye

Angie Fox said...

I usually read blogs when I'm trying to blow off a little steam before writing, or when I'm relaxing after the kids go to bed. They're fun, but I'm only a regular visitor here, at The Midnight Hour and over at Killer Fiction blog. Otherwise, it's hard to find time.

And yes, I have bought books based on hearing about them here, or on the other blogs. It's a great way to learn about new authors. I also appreciate getting a reminder when someone I read and like has a new book coming out.

Anonymous said...

I bought a copy of LOTTERY b/c of the author's blog, which is just terrific (the book and the blog) - but I don't think blogging is a good idea for most authors. I think she's more the exception than the rule. And I hate to say it, b/c it sounds mean, but I agree with anon 11:27.....almost all of the agent blogs are terrific - even when they don't talk agenting....but there is the one - the one with the cat - that would turn me off if I was querying....which is unfortunate, b/c I'm sure she's a fine agent, and a nice person, but maybe she shouldn't blog as an "agent"....

Christine said...

I enjoy reading author blogs. I don't think I would have come across the book I'm enjoying now (Enchanted, Inc) had I not come across the author's blog. She was upset about the covers looking like a different genre, and I have to admit, if I saw this in a book store, I wouldn't have picked it up because it doesn't look like my type of book and wouldn't have caught my eye, but after reading more about it on her blog, I went to the Simon-Schuster website, read the first chapter, then drove over to Borders and picked up the series.

Christine said...

Plus, reading other people going through the same thing helps keep me writing!

Adrienne said...

I have an author blog that I post to a minimum of twice a week, and a small but lovely group of readers (most of us all are part of the same region in the blogosphere, and we go back and forth reading each others' blogs - LOVE the blogging community!).

It didn't take me long before I realised that I didn't have enough material for a daily blog, and that if I kept up at that pace my entries were going to start to come across as trivial.

What I decided was to write entries that for the most part would have been entries I would have wanted to read (and did read) when I was aspiring to be published. I wanted the inside scoop, I wanted to know what it was like to be a published writer, what the publication process was like, what was going on tour like . . . etc.

As such this is what I look for in other people's blogs as well, and to be honest I get turned off (even by agent blogs) if things get too personal. I am really a glutton for insider information. Love that stuff!

At any rate, I don't think a daily blog is necessary, but I do think you have to post a few times a week at least. And also respond to comments. The act of blogging is engaging in a dialogue. Besides it is so cool hearing from people from all over the world!

Kaleb - kalebnation.com said...

I blog for the practice, to get a feel for what works and entertains and what doesn't, so that in the future when my site generates regular readers I have had the experience and don't let them down. Plus, it's a great place to have up for in the future, where you have a history of posts behind you.

Heather B. Moore said...

I completely agree with everything you said, Jessica. I've also had people argue with me over your exact points.

I just don't think a blog should be a journal. Too personal. There are some that I love for informational purposes (like this one). Others I'll visit because the person is a good friend. The rest I leave alone.

Kimber An said...

I don't understand the disregarding of aspiring authors as readers for authors' blogs.

The simple fact is writers have lots of friends and love stories. This means when they love your story, they're going to be talking to their friends about it.

Ka-ching!

Anonymous said...

I read your blog and Janet Reid’s blog (she may have laid the Miss Snark moniker aside and moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan but she still has the wit.) But that’s it. There is really nothing else out there worth reading. I think Nathan Bransford is a crashing bore. I have never seen anything on his site worth reading, and scratched it off my list long ago. As for “writers,” I don’t read their books, let alone their blogs. I’d much prefer to watch movies. The screenwriting may be dreadful beyond description, but at least the actors have talent and they frequently save the show, as do the directors and editors. Movies work because there are few produced in a year and because they are a collaborative effort, meaning some hack writer cannot screw it up single handed. Movies are much better than books can or ever will be.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 4:51 about Nathan's blog - I deleted it months ago.

Janet Reid is a Miss Snark wannabee, trying desperately to be funny, but she's not. Give it up Janet. You're not the snark.

I ready this blog because it contains very good info.

Agents who talk about their personal lives (mostly) should not blog as agents. It's a huge turn-off and very unprofessional.

So there.

Amie Stuart said...

I guess I like reading author blogs because I'm an author and it's kind of solitary. It's nice knowing there's folks down in the trenches with me *smile*
I used to blog pretty regularly but because of issues I've really cut back and the only two places I'm consistent are the two group blogs I participate in ( http://naughty-and-spice.com and http://southernfriedchicas.com )

I've definitely bought a new to me author because of their blog and like others have stated, been turned off (and not bought) because of an author's blog.

I also read agent and editor blogs --obviously!--but I use Kinja to track them so it's not near as much of a timesuck as it used to be.

Anonymous said...

totally agree on bransford. the guy is on a major power trip. people think he's so clever and witty and everything he says is funny just because they want to be published. and he makes them fawn over him. that's what the blog is for.

so many of these agents are nothing but a big power trip.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it curious that Janet Reid does NOT permit anonymous comments. What is she afraid of?

I like this blog because they're smart, they write well and they're not afraid to hear criticism, thus the opportunity to post a comment anon.

I agree that many others are just on a power trip. I sometimes wonder if they have forgotten why they have jobs.

And the poor, fawning writers who come to the blogs thinking their grovelling matters. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with being a nice person, but writing a great book is what will get you an agent, not a bunch of kiss-up comments (although I'm sure the Nathans of this world love those comments.)

Angie said...

I read quite a few blogs, by various kinds of people, as well as a fairly huge number of journals on various journaling systems. I've bought books because I heard about them online -- usually because someone whose taste I trust recommended something, or because a writer I know and like mentions on her/his journal or blog that she/he has something new coming out.

About posting frequency, though, I actually prefer it when people don't post every day. It's one thing if someone can be funny and interesting and informative every day, but I really don't need to know what someone's doing in their everyday life, every single day. I read a lot online and if I see that someone posts every day, I'm much less likely to add them.

And if you're manually checking someone's blog every day to see whether they have something new, you're doing it wrong. :) That's what feed readers are for -- subscribe to someone's feed and there you go. Whenever they do post something new, you get it automatically.

I have to main blogs in my pro-writer persona -- the one I link to most of the time, which mainly talks about writing and sometimes related news or subjects, and my more official writer's blog which is mainly announcements right now. I haven't done much with it, so I don't advertise it very much; I only have two shorts and a novelette out and that's not much to work with when it comes to Cool Stuff for readers to want to follow on a regular basis. Once I have more material to work with, I'll do more with it and get it out there more. For now, my more nuts-and-bolts blog will do, and it gets a decent number of comments. :)

Angie

Tammie said...

I write maybe 3 posts a week usually on the writing process or a book review.

I try to make it pleasant to the eye - thats why I like blogger - livejournal - sorry is a turn off for me. I like being able to add widgets that provide great info and its easy.

I stay away from "having" to post every day because I don't want to right about my personal day to day life - it ain't that exciting.

But I read several agent blogs daily and I seem to rotate thru a slew of authors but always keep them in my favorites.

I've picked up great books to read that were suggested on different blogs and it's helped in the idea area, it's neat to see what others are into in the writing realm.

I also like to see what authors have blogs that are represented by agents I might be interested in - you never know what little bit of info you might pick up.

Lee said...

As an aspiring author, I read several agent blogs, particularly Jennifer Jackson, Jenny Rappaport, Bransford, and Reid. All of them provide great insights into the biz. The only author blog I've found that I've stuck with is the one by Cherie Priest. She is interesting enough, even without a lot of mention of her writing, to hold my attention.

Jeff said...

I'm a new nonfiction author, and I try to post something to my blog at least twice a week, but I'm sensitive to the fact that most readers don't really care about the details of my rather boring life. Fortunately, I write about medieval history and literature, so that's what I blog about. My online readership is always growing, and I doubt I'll ever run out of material.

Has blogging sold any books? Yes, definitely, but most of those sales have been indirectly related to blogging: someone finds one of my blog posts because they follow a link from Google or Wikipedia, for example, or someone in my blogroll suggests that I give a book-talk at a school. In fact, those real-world connections are one of the most satisfying consequences of being an author who blogs. I've had a blast participating in an online community of medievalists that's broad enough to include nonfiction authors, novelists, scholars, teachers, historical re-enactors--and, of course, ardent readers.

Michele Lee said...

Author blogs do sell because I've bought several books this year because I liked an author's style!

Mary Witzl said...

I don't read any author blogs on a regular basis, though I have certainly bought books after reading the recommendations of other blogger/writers.

Personally, I don't want to read about the intimate details of others' lives, but I enjoy reading about screw-ups and personal foibles. I write my blog for my own sanity, and because I want at least SOMEthing I've written to be read. I read the blogs of other author-hopefuls because this is a solitary business and it helps to connect with others in this world.

And may I just say to your anonymous blogger/s that their comments would be taken much more seriously if they were backed up by a name.

L.C.McCabe said...

I wanted to reinforce Jeff's comment because it was due to the blogosphere that I discovered his blog and his book.

I stumbled across a link to his blog one day, once there I followed a link to his website describing his book, I ordered it from my library, then afterwards I liked it so much I bought a copy for to always have on hand for reference.

I read and post on Jeff's blog regularly as I do on this blog.

His posts are targeted to an audience interested in medieval history and Charlemagne related items. (BTW, his book was just released in paperback on Tuesday of this week!)

I would also like to concur with Mary Witzl regarding some of the nastygrams written by anonymous posters showing disrespect towards Nathan Bransford.

Honestly if you do not care for someone's style that your perogative, but it is in poor taste to insult someone in public. Especially in a forum where the hostess has specifically singled someone out for praise. It's like going to a party and openly complaining about the food being served. It's just rude.

For the record, I like Nathan. I met him in person this past year at the San Francisco Writers Conference and he is friendly, personable, and enthusiastic about his job. All are admirable qualities.

I also read Nathan's blog because I enjoy his insights as well as his humor.

Chumplet said...

I post once or twice a week on the blog I started when my first book was released. I try to avoid boring personal stories, but can't help talking about my neurotic dog.

If something inspiring or amusing pops into my head, I jot down a note to myself and post. I don't know how much traffic I have. I average about 6-8 comments per post, and I do know that visitors have ordered my book. Whether they liked it or not is another matter!

I've signed up for a group blog that I'm very excited about. It's due to launch in January.

I regularly visit a half dozen or so blogs - John Robison's, Pat Wood, Church Lady, Holly Kennedy, dear Bernita, Adrienne, Lynn Price and the Canadian Writers' Collective. All offer advice, inspiring stories and companionship.

The important thing is networking - to visit and comment on other blogs, whether they be writing blogs or just interesting people blogs. That brings readers back to you and possibly a new friend or a sale.

It also helps to title your post with a catchy phrase that'll show up in search engines.

Anonymous said...

One thing that I think people are forgetting about is that your GENRE matters a lot as to whether your blog is effective. Without having any numbers in front of me, I would hazard a guess, for example, that science fiction or young adult would generate more sales from blogs than say, literary fiction.

We're pretty much all writers here, so of course we're interested in blogs that talk about the writing process, but I think there are certain kind of readers who DO want to get to know their authors . . . like teens, who are just more plugged into the blogosphere in general.

*Anonymous because I haven't updated my blog in a month after writing religiously every day for a year, and I'm embarrassed!*

Kimber An said...

Nathan Bransford is young and young is a very good thing.
;)

ORION said...

vdfldtmWow this is amazing. I had no idea author blogs were so controversial!
Why do I blog? I enjoy it. I post approx. three times a week -- because to me the comments are a continual conversation and I like to extend it- I enjoy the networking. I generally stick to writing, the publishing process, and my muses (Touloose has literary aspirations). Because I know my father, relatives, editors (foreign and US), agent and all respective assistants read my blog I am very very careful.
You will not hear me moaning about how i hate a particular cover or in any way skewer somebody.
I try to show the humorous side yet remain professional...BUT it can suck enormous amounts of time out of your writing life. I hope it sells books but yanno that's not the real reason I do it- it's to get to know other writers and readers...
anon-4:51 to 7:37 Being disparaging about other blogs is unnecessary. It's easy - Just don't subscribe or read them. There are plenty of blogs for all tastes. I for one found all agent blogs interesting as it allowed me to see they were people and understand the phrase "I just didn't love it..."
Why I read bookends? When I read hooks/queries it allows me to see the mistakes I make and lets be go back to my writing refreshed. Even though I have a great agent I read other agent's blogs so I get familiar with what's happening.
Much aloha to you all - fyi it's 78 degrees here.
( I was compelled to say that)

Merry Jelinek said...

Kimber An,

I didn't mean to disregard other writers in promotion, most of the writers I know online are a very supportive group and when they like a book by a fellow blogger, they're the first to write up blurbs to help in any way to promote.

I only meant that my key audience wouldn't be interested in my writing blog, and I think a lot of readers don't necessarily want to read about writing... but I'm writing middle grade fiction and my blog deals with writing process and a lot of adult fiction...

And I have to say, I was a bit disgusted by all of the snipey anonymous comments the last time I stopped in, but I love that so many of you, signing with your real names, responded.

There is a way to criticize without having to hide your identity and if you fear what you have to say might damage your reputation, then perhaps you should spare us the trouble of reading it...

And I agree with Mary Witzl, when I read those comments by anonymous posters they carry absolutely no weight. I've read Janet Reid, and I like her blog. I read Nathan fairly regularly and I know a good many writers who have queried him and find him to be the nicest guy ever. And agents don't have to blog, I think it's great that so many take the time... if you don't like their subject matter stop reading them... but a lot of very savvy writers want as much background about an agent as possible to decide if they would make a good working match.

Kim Lionetti said...

I was going to keep my mouth shut, but I just can't anymore.

I'm really disappointed to see the derogatory comments regarding other agency blogs. Fact is, these are busy professionals who take time out of their day to shed light on the inner workings of the publishing industry. If you're not a fan of the tone, then why don't you just stop reading? There's no real justification for bashing them in an open forum.

I, for one, will continue to read Nathan's blog every day. I've never met the guy, but he's posed some really thought-provoking discussions that I've found refreshing and enlightening. I often find myself wishing I'd thought of his topic of the day. I'm always looking forward to hearing what he will say next....

Nathan Bransford said...

First off, thanks so much for the shout out, Jessica! I appreciate it, and needless to say, this is a daily stop for me as well.

And if any of the commenters here who don't like my blog would like to e-mail me about what turned them off/how the blog could be better I'd really welcome their feedback! Please feel free to e-mail me at nb@cbltd.com. Honest thoughts welcome.

Anonymous said...

L.C.McCabe does not know what she’s writing about. Nathan Bransford is a bore and a snore. I just visited his blog and, as usual, THERE IS NOTHING THERE. Nothing at all. If L.C.McCabe does not know what she is writing about to blogs, what does that say about her commercial writing?

I think she is Bransford’s secret identity.

Angie said...

Gotta love it when the spiteful anonymice start accusing other people of being sock puppets. [eyeroll]

Angie

Erik said...

Wow, this went to Hell in a hurry!

I think a discussion of blogs brings out the worst in people because they are so very trendy. There's a competition inherent in trendiness to be one step ahead of the other person, and that includes being more "genuine".

I realize that there are a zillion things that someone is supposed to do to promote blogs, including catching titles and digg buttons and all the rest. I want to let all of you in on the secret of being cooler than everyone else:

Don't care.

That's right, it's High School all over again - and most writers weren't members of the elite posse so you may be unaware of the rules. But what counts is doing your own thing and not caring the slighest bit about what people say about you.

If you're out there begging for links, you're just not cool. If you're doing a lot of stuff to "promote" your site, you're never gonna be A-List.

And dissing other bloggers? Sheesh.

Now, I realize that by part of my definition I staked a claim as one of the cool kids, because I clearly don't care about anyone except my fans and they find me on their own. So let me renounce that claim now: I'm not cool, and I never will be. But dumping on other people is way, way not cool.

Just have a good life and enjoy it, OK? I've been at this internet thingy for 22 years, before it was even called the "internet', and I was blogging before that word came around. I'm too old to be cool, but some of you are too freakin' spastic to hit the mark.

ORION said...

I think the thing is to not engage the anonymous individuals who choose to disparage rather than participate in what is an interesting and informative interchange. I enjoy Nathan's blog because I am a published author and see the usefulness of not only his blog posts but the comments as well. The same can be said for all the other agent's blogs. When you learn more about a person you start to sense their likes and dislikes. If someone blogs about their cat - send them a non-fic proposal on cats or a cat cozy mystery...someone blogs about wired or reality shows or manga? Well, use it to your advantage.
AND IF IT BOTHERS YOU?
DON'T READ IT.
Okay. There.
My rant is done.

Erik said...

Just a quick note:

I used the word "spastic" in my previous rant because it is used as the opposite of "cool" by local High School kids. I hear this all the time at my local coffee hutt (and am frankly surprised that this aspect of their language is little changed from my day - I am 42).

Please forgive any slights felt above and beyond its use as generic lingo by kids. They were unintended. My methods of writing are akin to method acting, and when I get into character I often say things inadvertently that I regret later. This is one of them. I regret any hurt I may have caused.

pomo housewife said...

I don't tend to read personal author blogs as they usually don't have enough to say of interest, and with people I know fairly well, I feel like I'm eavesdropping! So I might drop in occasionally to see what they are up to, if I haven't been by for a while.

My favorite blogs are the group blogs, which are often fairly personal but include regular topics of interest or guest authors - harlequin authors pinkheartsociety.com and Blaze authors loveisanexplodingcigar.com are two that I regularly visit.

I've read somewhere that in a few years nobody will be blogging anymore! I know quite a few fave blogs have died off becase the author felt they had no more to offer. A regular website format with a 'news' page would be much better in these cases.

cheers
Helen

Bryan D. Catherman said...

It's nice to learn about the news, but sometimes author blogs need to be about more than the author or the newest book. That's what makes them not as good as most blogs.

Julie Weathers said...

"totally agree on bransford. the guy is on a major power trip. people think he's so clever and witty and everything he says is funny just because they want to be published. and he makes them fawn over him. that's what the blog is for.

so many of these agents are nothing but a big power trip."

I'm quite sure you aren't interested in querying him. I hope not anyway. (I suggest trying a few capitals here and there when you do query your agent of choice.) I enjoy his blog because, in addition to some valuable insider views, he also does it in a light-hearted manner.

Do I need to fawn over him to get him to read my manuscript? Not so much, since he plainly says, "When in doubt, query." Will me reading and commenting in his blog occasionally get me signed? Hardly. If you read his blog, you would notice several people who comment there are ones he rejected.

My book will sell because it's a good story and written in an interesting fashion. It's not going to sell because I haunt an agent's blog.

Julie Weathers said...

Now that I have vented, let me ask a question if anyone is still reading.

Do blogs help writers who are just starting out?

I think the comments made about what you all look for in a blog are interesting. I'd like to see more of that. Not because I want to do the "cool" thing, but rather because my curiosity is piqued now.

Chumplet said...

Regarding commenting on blogs to get an agent's attention -- well, I still comment on agent blogs after they rejected my work because I'm interested in what they have to say.

I comment on agent blogs when the agents don't represent my genre because I like their style.

I visit blogs because I'd like bloggers to visit me in return. Okay, it may be high school all over again. It's fun, unlike high school.

L.C.McCabe said...

An anonymous poster suggested earlier today that I did not actually exist except as Nathan Bransford's secret identity.

As if I were merely a "sock puppet," but since we are talking about Nathan it would be more appropriate to say "sock monkey."

Ahem. For the record, I would like to state that I am a separate entity from Nathan.

I don't understand the animosity being expressed toward him, but I must say that this Anonymous poster did not seem to read the entire comment trail or s/he would have realized that I had posted previously on this topic and praised other blogs.

I shall at this point restate the ones I recommended as well as their links to ease anyone finding them.

As for author blogs who blog about the craft of writing and the business of publishing, I enjoy:

J.A. Konrath's
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/

Tess Gerritsen's
http://www.tessgerritsen.com/blog/

Anne Mini's
http://www.annemini.com

As for an author blog whose topics deal with the subject of his book, I enjoy reading Jeff Sypeck's blog about Medieval culture and literature:

www.quidplura.com

His book Becoming Charlemagne was just released in paperback on Tuesday of this week and if you look on Amazon.com you will see that I posted a review of his book last July. That would be difficult, if not impossible, to create retroactive dates for reviews if I was merely a phantom sock monkey knitted today on the sly.

In order to make this post into something more than a matter of Revising and Extending My Remarks in the Blog Record I shall mention how an author's website actually led to a book being published. That same author then created a blog to help promote her book and because of her blog she was interviewed on ABC's "Nightline."

The author? Joan Price.

The book? Better Than I Ever Expected: straight talk about sex after sixty

I blogged about her speaking to my writers club nearly a year ago. Hers is a great success story about why it is so important for writers to make themselves available for the proverbial Opportunity Knocking at your door.

She was ready and prepared when those knocks came. Here's the link to that post entitled "Sex, Blogs and National TV"

http://tinyurl.com/ywy93v

That's another piece of evidence against the idea of my being Nathan's sock monkey created only to defend himself in this forum because that would mean he went to an awful lot of work. Because I've been blogging for just over a year now.

Isn't it easier to believe that I chose to stick up for someone who was being treated with discourtesy? Or is that concept so foreign to you because you have never been willing to defend anyone but yourself? Possibly even worse if in your lifetime no one has ever come to your aid.

In this holiday season I hope that you will find some happiness and joy. Assuming that you are a writer, I wish that your muse will treat you well. I also wish that you will let go of your anger. It is unattractive and detracts from whatever message you are trying to impart.

Be well,

Linda C. McCabe

WitLiz Today said...

To: Anonymous 2:09pm

Darlin', you need to shut the fuck up.

And I say this with all due respect to your right of free speech, AND with only your best interests at heart. Because, I KNOW you write better than this.

Don't waste your God-given talent demeaning other people.

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