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The purpose of the blog

July 29, 2012

I read a couple of weeks ago that writer’s blogs shouldn’t really be about writing, that they should be about the writer. Evidently we should be selling ourselves as if we, not our words, were the product. In fact, there’s a notion kicking around out there suggesting it’s as important to have a “platform” as to actually produce written work, even for fiction writers. For non-fiction platform as a concept is old school, but fiction?

I must be doing this wrong. And by “This” I refer not only to blogging, not only to writing, but reading, and perhaps even participating in society. I’ve never in my life picked up a book by an author I’d not read before because I felt I’d somehow engaged with the author outside of the text. Good reviews, whether from critics or friends, have prompted me to pick up most books. A clever cover and jacket blurb have done the trick more than once. Research into the state of markets has driven a few purchases of late…but I simply don’t understand the idea of buying a book solely because I have a relationship with an author’s blog or Facebook presence or Twitter stream.

Now, here’s the exception to the rule: if someone has an excerpt of their work on their blog, and it’s good, it might prompt me to look for their stuff. That’s sort of the equivalent of a jacket blurb, I suppose, or a inside the front cover excerpt. But at that point I am in fact engaging with the text, not the author-as-author.

I do think, and empirical evidence supports the idea, that authors with whom I already HAVE a relationship can help maintain it via social media channels. That’s a valid, even essential part of promoting the authorial brand name. But here’s where I think the idea I’ve been describing with some degree of confusion above breaks down: the brand is not the product. An initial purchase of almost anything from an unknown producer is going to be product-centered, not brand-centered.

In other news, revision has been difficult enough that I started another, unrelated novel project to give myself something to do when I can’t stand to paw my way through the older text any more. It’s a SF/F idea, pieces of which have been kicking around in my head for a year or more, mostly in the form of visuals. Also, a short I wrote is in the current issue of The First Line, a hybrid print/online magazine.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2012 3:03 pm

    I think about the writer-blogs I follow on a regular basis. I am excluding writers who actually know who I am. Most of them do write often about their lives and non-writerly thoughts. However, they also write about writing.

    I think the idea is that the blog is there to entertain the current reader, and show the potential reader that you have the ability to write entertainingly. Readers of blogs expect frequent posts, and will get bored if the posts are always about the same thing.

    Both the current reader and the potential reader want to know when they can expect to read your next work, but posts about the process of writing and publishing are mostly interesting to other writers, and unless you are the author of how-to-write books, your readers will likely include people who aren’t really interested in the writing process.

    I am always surprised when well-published authors blog about politics. It is inherently risky. Most of those whose blogs I read do have political leanings similar to my own, but that’s the point. I would not be likely to follow a blog by an author who often wrote political posts with which I disagreed vehemently. I do wonder whether I will continue to blog my political thoughts when I have published material I am trying to promote.

    • July 29, 2012 5:25 pm

      John–The question is, how many of the writer-blogs that you follow (again excluding ones you know personally) are by writers who aren’t already on real or virtual bookshelves?

  2. Jet permalink
    July 29, 2012 4:02 pm

    Things are so different now with social networking through the internet. Different and foreign. It’s frightening and exciting all at once. I’m old fashioned. I go to the library and pick-up a book if I like the title, cover, then the first page. Competition out there is tough. I admire your dedication to editing. I believe it’s the hardest part of writing. CRACK ON.

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