Recently, one of my publishers/editors has expressed concern about my blogging. Never mind that I've been at it for as many years as just about anyone, they're worried about me. They want me to promote my blogs more, to send out notification e-mails when I post, and generally follow their lead in the fascinating topics they put out.
(I don't think notification e-mails are a good idea. They irritate people. If they feel like reading blogs, and they like to read my blog, they'll occasionally check it. Now and then I might make a reference to my blog. My e-mail sig has the URLs for both of the big blogs. That's all I think people are interested in. You don't want to irritate them and get into their twit filter.)
Also, I am not sure who reads those promo pages and round-up posts done by various publishers, such as Tor. Does anyone go over there to see what new releases are out? And what their authors are up to? Really? I'm afraid most people will just see that as "more advertising," and they don't go voluntarily to see ads. They'll get recommendations for books from reviews (on Amazon and elsewhere), from word of mouth (the BEST KIND), and from just looking at what people on the train or at lunch are reading or carrying around. E-readers have cut down on that last way. A lot.
I could be way off on this.
I'll be the first to admit that my blogs are rather personal, and they won't interest everyone. I get traffic, but mostly it's other writers, old friends, and people I've met and gotten acquainted with through other 'net activities such as NaNoWriMo or LJ Idol. I suppose I might get traffic from people who read my books and follow the links on the last page, "About the Author." But these are people who are curious about me, already know me somewhat, or are seeking writing advice or amusing personal anecdotes or whatnot. I'm not going to turn my blogs into the Buy My Books radio station because that would be counterproductive.
I do wonder sometimes about the topics that other writers who seek to promote themselves, create a brand, and sell their books CHOOSE. Yesterday I saw that one of my fellow authors had created a blog thingie (not a tour, and I dunno what they called it) where they all wrote on the same topic and posted that on their blogs, and then put in the links to everyone else's blogs (there were ten authors, I think, cross-linking there) at the end of their essays. I think that could have worked to drive more traffic to each of their blogs, had there been some reason for readers and other netsurfers to stop there.
I'm sorry if this sounds callous or nasty or whatever, but what did all these people choose to blog about? Was it "How to Make Your Own Christmas Ornaments That Don't Look Handmade"? "Cheap and Popular Gifts You Won't Be Embarrassed to Give"? "Gift Wrapping Strategies"? (Now, I would be an authority on that--if you asked the PR firm that does the Scotch Most Gifted Wrapper Contest--because as a result of being in the finals of the contest some years ago, I am STILL ranked as the eighth most gifted gift wrapper in the USA! That would be a cool blog topic for me. I mean, I would be an ex-spurt on it, and on the contest and strategies once there, in a way. I would talk about making your package look like what it's not--such as wrapping a Frisbee to look like a fried egg, which I did once for a birthday gift. BUT I DIGRESS.)
No. Their blog topic is "Why I Became a Writer."
Now, *I* know a number of these authors from the private mailing list that one of my publishers sponsors for its authors, and a few others I've become acquainted with by other means, and *I* am a writer and thus obsessed with everything about writers and writing. So *I* read all the blogs with interest and chuckled. So that's how Sol fall into writing novels! So tht's how Hermione got her first agent! So this is the driving force behind Jacob's prolific output! They want to illuminate the eternal human condition, explore the depths of man's inhumanity to man, entertain and inform, be remembered on Earth long after their passing.
*I* was interested.
But . . . most readers won't be.
No, I'm serious. Unless you're a Big Name Author such as Jennifer Crusie, Stephen King, Lee Child, or whoever, your readers probably aren't all THAT interested in your personal life and whatnot. They might be mildly curious to hear a detail or two while they're reading other things, but mostly not, not until they've made your acquaintance somewhat. Most readers come to a blog to be amused, to learn something new, to keep up with a friend, or something like that. (There are two blogs right here on LJ that I read just to watch the trainwreck. That's probably not the reason you want people reading your blog.) There has to be some percieved benefit for the reader.
Now, some of these blogs had contests where if you commented, you could win a free book. That might be a draw, a little bit of one, but nowadays books are out there a dime a dozen, free downloads and all. I see people offering jewelry (!), ipods (!!), and all sorts of prizes in their blog contests. So really, a contest might draw someone over once, but it's not likely to make her a long-term reader who puts you on their blogroll.
I'm sorry if this is harsh. I'm just saying that most readers don't CARE why you became an author. That your teacher in school told you to keep at it. That you have that universal need for story to help you make sense of the world. That the Muse touches you, and if you didn't write, you'd go crazy.
They don't care. At least not much, anyhow.
They want to be entertained. They've heard all that before from every author ever. They're not interested in reading about your long tough path to publication, either. (Other writers are, but not readers in general.) They want to know what YOU can do for THEM in terms of entertaining or informing. They need a laugh.
So I don't think this strategy will win tons of new blog readers who will buy their books someday. I could, of course, be wrong. It happened once before (in August of 1993).
Your average websurfer who runs across your site or follows a link in an interview or whatnot will tolerate a little bit of that stuff in your blogging and in interviews as long as you give them something else that's interesting. I realize that sometimes I drive people away by oversharing, but that's generally only over here, and LiveJournal has a tradition of oversharing, so I don't care. (LOL) If you don't like to read those sorts of posts, you'll just skip them. And that's normal.
I do a lot of introspection and whining and history-blathering here, but this is a personal blog. I don't do a lot of that over on the "official" blogs. I try to give content or do promo over there, disguised as a normal person. It's only here, among OLD FRIENDS, that I dare to bore. And I don't spend a lot of time on those posts.
But this one is Mama's Special Favorite.)
So anyway. If I wanted to cross-drive traffic among several blogs, I'd have a topic that people are passionately interested in sharing THEIR views or opinions on. Such as the one that I saw Earl Staggs doing the past week or so. He's asking about what publishing will look like in a year, five years from now, and so forth. The changes over the past two years or so have been astonishing and have changed the very face of publishing. His topic is one that many people will want to chime in on. He's having various guests come and post on his blog about this. Now, THAT is a strategy to get some new readers, I believe. Another blog circle asks people to post their five top books of the year, or of all time. That's something people are always eaget to tell you about. They'll list their top ten movies, favorite recipes, best songs or bands--in a heartbeat.
But no one really cares why you became a writer. I have told people my motivations, but they haven't given much of a hoot. (LOL) And why should they? When they come to me for a story, they're there for the story. If within that story they see something that they need, or that resonates, or that charms them--that's all they care about. If they get interested enough in me to find out why I became a writer, they'll come to my webpage and look for some kind of origin story. I don't believe it's a topic that will draw people to your blog circle.
You'll also draw mostly writers when you have lots of "Craft of Writing" and "How to Get Readers" posts. If you want to draw READERS who have money and will download or buy your books . . . you have to offer something they are passionately interested in. Something besides a constant stream of "buy my book now" and "my new book is coming out tomorrow" and "I have a book signing coming up" and "how great I am, la la." Well, you can't avoid the occasional crowing about how great you are, no more than Peter Pan could. Cock-a-doodle doo! But you will have to think of topics that draw READERS, not just promo posts. And I don't know what those topics are. Good luck with that.
Just don't expect writing-related posts to draw too many people who are not aspiring writers or published writers.
I could be wrong! Hope I am.
Also, I have been told that a post of 250 to 500 words is the longest anyone will tolerate. Longer posts are TL;DR. Do as I say and not as I do.
Tell me: what's a topic you would like to see me cover? How about the gift wrapping tips? I'm not sure if I can tell people anything they haven't heard millions of times. But there must be some topic that would interest y'all.