Murderati is a little more than a month old now. It’s a perfect time to reflect on, well, just about anything.
Me? I’ve been thinking about blogs and why authors take time away from writing their novels to pen nonfiction on a regular basis.
Part of my recent interest stems from discussions on various listservs where reader-respondees avow that they’ve never read blogs, won’t consider looking at them, and never will. I’ve also encountered authors who are adamant in their disapproval of this new form of communication — as if it’s a cheap or stupid way to spend time.
There’s also the sheer number of web logs; it’s enough to make your jaw drop on the floor and slink out of the room. In his missive summing up blog activity for the 1st quarter of 2006, David Sifry, founder of Technorati, brings up several points. Here’s the one that caused my oral catastrophe: "On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day."
Sheesh. That’s just too many to think about.
In an entirely nonscientific way, I decided to ask around to see what authors might have to say on the subject. I posted on listservs and got responses from folks I know and some I don’t. My questions were:
1. What were your goals for starting/participating in a blog?
2. Has the blog met those goals?
I’ll admit — given my 20+ years working in pr/marketing — I thought I knew the answer to question #1. Obviously, people blog to sell their novels. This goal, I was certain, was misdirected. M.J.Rose has written extensively on the pitfalls of creating blogs solely for this purpose on her own blog. Still, I knew my cohorts in mystery marketing had it all wrong.
Picture me with raw egg inching its way down my face and plopping onto a nice new silk blouse . . .
" . . . Our books are listed in a side panel, so there is a little PR there for them, but he [Eric Mayer] feels a blog people visit to read for interest is better than one set up purely for advertising." Mary Reed
"Well, if someone like my agent, or my editor, or perhaps my mother asks why I spend time blogging, I would, of course, assume an air of virtuous industry and explain that it is a form of promotion . . . a way to connect with my readers between books . . . " Donna Andrews adds with a grin in her tongue-in-cheek comments.
"I started a blog because I imagined my readers wanted to get to know me as a person, at least a little bit . . ." Charlaine Harris
Samantha Ling notes the same goals. Sandra Ruttan, whose book won’t come out until this fall, is making all kinds of great contacts even as I type. She started a blog simply to begin to log her experiences trying to get published.
So, yeah, I think that connecting with readers — telling them what you’re up to, what you’re thinking — is, indeed, a form of promotion. It’s a good method to build community and loyalty. However, it’s pretty subtle; you’re not going to fill any off-shore bank accounts this way.
Authors gave additional reasons for blogging. Ami Reeves comments that blogging gives her ". . . an outlet to do some ‘fun writing’ (i.e. Who cares if it’s not perfect? I don’t have to sell it, there’s no pressure)." That’s also why author and publisher Dindy Robinson does it.
Like them, I like having to write nonfiction on a regular basis. It hones my skills and keeps me fresh. (Harley Jane Kozak also commented on this, but more about her in a sec.)
Blogging also creates community amongst authors (who, lest we forget, had better be readers, too). I know this is true of my experiences with Murderati. Both Harley Jane and Judy Clemens find this satisfying. Judy writes, " . . . It’s also a great way to link to other authors’ blogs and help other authors in that way. Another fun thing has been to have guest bloggers . . . hopefully it’s a nice little plug for the guest."
Marcia Talley brought up a practical reason for blogging. She posts about trips, her reactions to life and about family. "For this kind of stuff, the blog is perfect, because it allows me — through a blog link on my webpage — to keep my info. fresh and current without having to go through my web maven."
But, do you know the number one reason the authors blog? It’s why I blog too — even though some of my topics (this one, for example) take a hell of a lot of work.
FUN. Yep. That’s it. That’s what authors kept telling me. Blogging is fun.
"I started my blog four years ago this coming August," writes Bill Crider. "I did it for my own amusement . . . Doing the blog is fun for me, and that’s the only reason I do it."
Frankly, I hope that blogging increases the number of people who’ve heard of me — of all of us at Murderati — and everyone else who takes the time to post their thoughts/experiences/perspectives on a regular basis.
But even if it isn’t doing much of that, it’s still a blast.
———— Enough of the serious stuff.————-
I got blogtagged by Donna Andrews last week and since I can only respond on Mondays . . . here it is. Unfairly, I’m tagging my listmates — other than J.T. because she already did this on Friday.
4 movies you would watch over and over
The Little Princess (The most recent version: I love the scene with the Indian servant and the little girl greeting the wonder of the snow.); The Princess Bride (Wit, period.); Fanny and Alexander (What a visually rich, emotionally layered movie.); Spirited Away (I can’t get enough of this marvelous animation.).
4 places you’ve lived:
Tours, France; Hong Kong; Ann Arbor, MI; Takoma Park, MD.
4 TV shows you love to watch:
Medium, Law & Order SVU, reruns of Roseanne, Without a Trace.
4 places you have been on vacation:
Carlsbad, NM; Morgantown, WV; Macau; Antibes, France.
4 of your favorite foods:
Japanese squid salad, green chile, dark chocolate, bulgoki with kim chee (damn, I’m getting hungry).
4 websites you visit daily:
Nope. I don’t have four. I use Google daily and visit Murderati as often as I can . . . everything else is much less consistent.
4 places you would rather be right now:
Actually, I adore New Mexico . . . but I won’t cop out on this. Antibes, France (eating fresh strawberries, overlooking the Med. Sea and hanging out at the Picasso Museum); Virgin Gorda (snorkeling); Washington, DC (at the Freer); Puerto Rico (swimming at night in Phosphorescent Bay)
4 people who you think will respond (sorry, guys)
Deni Dietz, Naomi Hirahara, Elaine Flinn, Jeff Cohen (he answered some in J.T.’s comments–but not all), and Simon Wood . . . Okay, that’s five . . . but they didn’t know I was gonna do this.