Stop blogging. It's a giant waste of time.
It's 2009. If you're a writer, you already have a website, and you
probably have a Facebook page and a MySpace page. Maybe you Twitter.
Maybe you're LinkedIn. There are other social networks as well;
Shelfari, Goodreads, LibraryThing, RedRoom, Crimespace, and more
appearing every month.
It's obvious why we have websites: they're 24 hour ads for our books.
Granted, the best websites are more than just ads. A good author site
provides information and entertainment, with things to offer fans and
readers other than a giant beacon the blinks BUY ME!!! over and over.
The social networking sites also serve a purpose. Linking like-minded
surfers together allows writers to be discovered. Anyone who looks for
JA Konrath will find me easily; that's not a victory. But if someone is
on a friend's Facebook page, sees I'm also a friend, clicks over to my
Facebook page, clicks over to my website… you get the picture.
Your website is for people who are already looking for you. Social
networks allow people to meet you while they're looking for something
But why the hell are we blogging?
As an experiment, visit your top ten favorite blogs. Read a month's worth of posts, and then read the comments.
Chances are high the same 200 people are the ones commenting on every single mystery writer blog on the Internet.
This isn't gaining new fans.
This is incest.
So why do we bother? Why do we keep wracking our brains to come up with
ideas for blog posts that are read by the same 200 people who buy our
Is it because we think we have to blog? Because our publishers tell us
to? Because we have no control over our book sales, so we might as well
try do do something?
Why are we doing this? Do the majority of our readers even know what a
blog is? Is this just a writer substitute for water cooler
conversation, because our professions are so solitary?
Be brutally honest: If you stopped blogging, would anyone actually care?
The answer, surprisingly, is yes.
Yes, your blog is helpful. Yes, your blog is needed. Yes, you should continue blogging.
It's natural to think that you're just spinning your wheels. It's
normal to doubt that your words are having any effect at all. And if
you use a tracker, like FeedJit or Statcounter, you might even think
you have the low numbers to prove how useless this blogging thing is.
But it isn't useless. And here are some reasons why.
1. Self-promotion is intangible. Unless we physically put a book in a
reader's hand and watch them buy it, we don't see the effect we have on
our own sales. But we do have an effect. I know this for a fact,
because I'm on this blog tour, and every time I post someplace new I
watch my Amazon numbers spike.
2. The Internet is permanent. Your words on your blog can be Googled
three years later. Every time you blog, it's one more road that leads
to you. That means more chances to be discovered. It's cumulative.
3. Blogging isn't really incest. Sure, the same people comment over and
over, but the ones that really count are the lurkers. The people who
visit, but don't post comments. You have them. You probably have a lot
more than you think.
4. It's helpful. We were all newbie writers once. Sharing what we've
learned, giving back to the community that helped to spawn us, is just
So next time you think blogging is useless, that no one cares, that
you're wasting your time, I point you to a lowly midlist writer who
never got front-of-store coop, never got a large promotional tour,
never got an advertising budget. But his seven novels are all still in
print, and if you Google his name you get over 60,000 hits.
That writer is Stephen King.
Ha! Kidding! That writer is me, JA Konrath.
Now run out and buy all my books. The new one is called AFRAID, written by my pen name, Jack Kilborn, and it comes out March 31.
Kilborn only has 3000 hits when you Google him.
But give him time. 🙂
Many thanks to Joe for sitting in today. I'm at the beach – (and you can stop cursing my name now, thank you very much…) I'm taking a long overdue break, and I'll be back next Friday. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
JT – enjoy the beach (probably raining there anyway).
Joe – Man you aren’t kidding about the lurkers. I’m not really sure my blog is even all that helpful, but when I got a version of Feedjit when I saw it on your sight (I’ve stolen other shit from you that you don’t know about, too, heh heh heh), I started finding that I’ve got people coming in from all over to read what I put up there. Few answers when i pose a question, but it is slowly rising.
I also think a lot of us blog, published or unpublished, because this is such a solitary profession like you said. I hang out with other teachers in the hallway between classes, so why wouldn’t I want to hang out with other mystery writers (especially when I can learn from them and maybe one day join their ranks professionally)? It’s just a nice way to connect with someone in the field who isn’t a voice in my head.
I thought we blogged because if we didn’t JT would kill us.
It’s always great to have Joe here because he’s such a great writer. I swear, four paragraphs into this post he had me convinced to stop blogging. And then, what do you know – he turns around and has me even more convinced that blogging is the greatest thing since sliced bread and I’m not doing enough of it.
It’s so true about blogging and all the rest of it being cumulative (and about lurkers!). I’m always stunned at how many complete strangers come up to me at conferences in all genres to tell me they read my blog.
You did leave out one hugely important, if perhaps completely obvious, point, but are completely forgiven because the schedule on this blog tour of yours is INSANE.
But it must be said. Blogging doesn’t cost anything. That makes it gold.
AFRAID is scary as hell, different and memorable.
I might just go straight for Jack Kilborn.
Thanks, JT, for having me here, and thanks to all the Murderati authors for putting up with me today.
Jake-Thanks for the kind words, and looking forward to visiting you later in the month.
Alex-Indeed, free is good. But when I visit your personal blog, which is basically a free Master’s Degree in fiction writing for people who follow it, and think about the time it takes you to construct such thorough and informative posts–well, it’s not really free anymore. In fact, it’s a lot of time spent writing for gratis when that time could have been spent writing for money.
That said, I send newbie authors over to your place all the time, because it is so helpful, and I’m sure there’s a trickle down effect and some become fans. As well they should, because you’re a terrific writer.
Joe,Thanks for being here.
One other thing about blogging is the community it creates. Sure, it may be the same 200 people who comment, but I’m always amazed when I run across people at conventions/conferences who feel they know me — AND want me to succeed — because of this blog.
Book sales are critical to a career; friendships and rich, satisfying emotional support are critical to a healthy life.
Hey, Joe – I lurk and comment on a few blogs (including yours), hoping that even our close-knit commune will start to recognize my name and want to buy my book, when it comes out (this September). I’m also one of those insecure bloggers who checks their stats constantly and wonders who I have to sleep with to get more visitors.
Recently, I got an email from a fellow lurker on Lee Goldberg’s blog. She said she was just finishing her first novel, so I pointed her toward your blog and Alex’s for writing/publishing tips. This is part of her reply:”I never thought about writing being a community effort before recently finding some professional writers blogging about their experiences…. having you respond to my email and wishing me luck in my endeavors and giving me EVEN MORE writer’s blogs to look at just reaffirms my belief that there are a lot of writers who are generous with their time and resources.”
So blogging is free publicity AND good karma!
Gayle Carline (aka GeeCarl)http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com
I lurk on other sites, yet find myself commenting here more often than not. I think the sense of connection blogging can foster, also builds better advocates.
A couple of months back, I found myself chatting with the manager of my local Borders (sold off to the locals here in Australia now.) It started with me trying to find Killer Year and finding it on the front entry table, and ended up with us discussing the books we liked…which then lead to us talking about strong female characters. She said she liked to find more for her own reading, but also because it was a common request from readers.
Because I read here so frequently, I was able to say well you stock JT Ellison now, have you read her work…? Although she said no, I was able to give a short synopsis…with a recommendation and you could see she was interested.I also mentioned this site, as a good collective of authors she could easily recommend.
So blogging keeps you fresh in our minds not only when we’re out there purchasing, but also in a position to recommend.I’d also say I’ve grown in my appreciation of what goes into creating a novel from reading blogs like Murderati. I’m more informed all round. It adds to my reading experience.
Thanks author bloggers.
Hey Joe,The newbie writer that Gayle Carline quoted was ME! That killed me. I hope she reads this comment and knows that thanks to her I have been good and thoroughly KONRATHED. Loving the tour.
And Jake Nantz said:”It’s just a nice way to connect with someone in the field who isn’t a voice in my head.”
I get some of my best ideas from the voices in my head…….
Catherine,You just kill me. You ALWAYS have something relevant, thoughtful and encouraging to say.
I’m so glad you found us at Murderati!
I vacillate between “Why am I wasting time blogging?” and “This is so much fun it can’t possibly be worth much.” But I keep at it because readers keep telling me they enjoy my posts. I haven’t really seen any of the Amazon spikes yet though:) Patience and tenacity.Ljhttp://ljraves.blogspot.com
An author and non-blogger here, and a writer who really needs to get her blogging act together. Too damn bad she doesn’t have enough brain power to write books and sound smart on blogs, too.
Love you all at Murderati though. And I’m going to buy JA’s book, because . . . well, he blogged me into it.
Good Lordy, Don’t scare me like that! DON’T BLOG indeed. Made me look! 😉