A couple of weeks ago Sarah Weinman talked about blogging. Her whole post was interesting (Sarah is always interesting), but then she said: "Think of it this way: if the entire population of my native Canada – roughly thirty-three million people – each had a blog, that’s still less than the total number actually out there…"
Sarah started me thinking. First I thought about the population of [my adopted country] Canada. Only 33 million? What’s the population of California? Anybody Know?
And then I thought about "when I was a kid."
When I was a kid I hated writing essays, so I didn’t. There would oft be essay contests with subjects like: "What Memorial Day Means To Me" (it meant riding in a parade, in my dad’s Impala convertible, along with my fellow Girl Scouts, my beauty-pageant-banner badges gleaming in the winter sun, and — the best part — being rewarded for being a "good scout" afterward with bubble gum and an ice cream soda, not necessary in that order). Or the essay would be called: "Why your Teacher [policeman, Lifeguard, Best Friend] is your Best Friend."
The winners would be published in the Bayside Times.
Friends, especially adults, would come unto me and say, "Deni, you write so good, why don’t you enter the essay contest?"
And I would respondeth, "Jeeze, I hate writing essays.’"
It has now suddenly occurred to me that I write an essay every week.
So…why am I doing this? Certainly not because I "write good." Hey, maybe there’s a dim hope in the back of what’s left of my mind that people will like my "voice." And maybe if they like my voice, they will check out the excerpts on my website, then call their libraries and request one of my books and try it on for size.
This week my Quibbles & Bits designation is: DO BLOGS SELL BOOKS?
That very question was asked on one of my email loops by, I presume, an author who was thinking of starting up a blog [well, duh!] and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Do they? Sell books, I mean?
Or do the people who read my weekly Quibbles & Bits already own my books? Or borrow them from libraries, which is great — as you may have noticed, I pitch libraries as often as I can.
Blogs are hard work — at least writing mine is. I try to be somewhat amusing week after week (which, in truth, keeps me from being politically hostile), so I keep setting the bar higher and higher. In the olden days, it would take me 24 hours to write and edit a letter to my mom, and unless I’m pissed off — whereupon I almost always open mouth, insert foot — I "draft" every email I write. Which is to say that I start writing my Tuesday Murderati blog on Wednesday. So…
Do blogs sell books?
Or do they have the opposite effect and over-hype an author?
I’ll be honest. I usually read blogs by authors whose books I already own [and adore]. Case in point: Paul Levine. If I ran into an author I adored in a public place (oh, say, the ladies room – well, I probably wouldn’t run into Paul there, so let’s add an elevator), I’d either be tongue-tied or gush. I shared an elevator with Walter Mosely, just the two of us, and I was tongue-tied; I ran into Susan Isaacs in a restroom and gushed (poor Susan).
But reading a blog by one of my favorite authors is different. I’m rarely tongue-tied because I write my comments rather than talk out loud, and gushing is limited to how many words I can fit into the "comments square" before my fingers tire or my brain fries.
So, let’s do an informal poll. How many people have bought — or borrowed — books because they like an author’s blog?
And/or how many people have been tongue-tied [or gushed] if/when they’ve met a favorite author?
And what the hell IS the population of California?
Next Tuesday, just for fun, I think I’ll blog an essay about a real live actress — my sister Eileen — who played The Demon and many of the possession scenes [for Linda Blair] in The Exorcist. And I’ll include photos. And a movie poster for Eileen’s latest film.
Maybe the Bayside Times will print it.
Over and Out,