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Why do you blog?

Like most writers, my long term goals are simple: Get my books published, and have as many people read them as possible. I haven't yet managed the first part, but I've already started work on the second.

Even though I don't yet have a book deal of my own, I set up the New Jersey Authors' Network, a free to join, free to use online database, where authors can get together for multi-author signings in New Jersey.  I did it, partly to help other writers sell their books, but also because, one day, I hope to use it to sell mine.

I designed the network to function without me, and it's already doing just that.  People I've never met use it to organize events at places I'd never been to, with other member-authors who I don't yet know.

Then there's this blog. I thoroughly enjoy reading other writers' journals and posting my own thoughts about the craft, but for me, a blog is more than just a social networking tool. I believe a writer's journal can have a huge impact on his or her book sales. Sure, the book has to be worth reading, but isn't getting the word out the biggest challenge for an unknown author?

If that's true, then the bigger the blog's readership, the better. Now I'm sure there are examples of previously unheard of writers whose blogs were an overnight success, for most of us, it takes time, effort, and a definite plan of action.

How do you develop a large readership?

I would say the answer is "On purpose."

I don't know about you, but I apply the same logic to my journal entries as when I'm writing a story ie: if I can make it entertaining enough and/or interesting enough, people will want to read it. Of course, unlike me, that's not as simple as it appears. You have to promote yourself too, otherwise you could write the most brilliant blog entries the world has ever seen, but no-one will know, so I'm working on that side of things too.

Am I being presumptious by assuming I'll get published? Possibly (I know my old gran would think so), but if I do ever get to hold a book deal in my hot little hands, I plan on having the benefit of a successful journal to help me launch my novel on an unsuspecting public.  Even if that never happens, I'm having great fun with my online friends.


How about you?

What are your long term plans for your journal?

Why do you blog?




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Comments

( 94 comments — Leave a comment )
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bogwitch64
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
I blog, at the moment, only to keep in touch with my LJ friends. I know it's important to have an online presence even before you publish. I have one--just not under any name an agent will take seriously! I do plan on changing that.
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
Speaking of LJ friends, I'm expecting to meet some of mine for the first time at PhilCon, including your good self :)
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bondo_ba
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC)
I am in between: I use it a little as a personal record and another little as a "presence" and a thirld little as a way to hear the opinions of intelligent people whom I friend.
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
There's a wealth of knowledge and experience available on Live Journal. I wish 'd discovered it years ago :)

I know you're working on a novel at present. Not that you need to, but do you plan to change your approach to blogging when it's finished?
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dferguson
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
I've actually been thinking of starting another LJ or blog that will be totally devoted to my writing as the one I have now is pretty much a scattershot project: I post just about anything and everything that comes into my melon of a head.
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC)
Interesting. Is there a reason why you'd start a whole new blog, rather than just focusing more on writing-type posts?

Mind you, I could be wrong, but I don't think all posts need to be about writing.
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jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
Lol, is that a comment on society's fickle attitude, or do you not expect to finish your novel for a loooong time? :)
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rowanda380
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
I know I am much more likely to read a book, and prioritize it over other books, if an lj friend wrote it.

But I have no intention for my blog other than as a personal outlet and a way to connect with other people. I blog to connect, and I read blogs to learn :0)
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
That's the great thing about a blog, you can use it in many ways, and they're all good :)

By default, building up a popular blog creates lots of connections, which is always good, though I don't think using your blog just as a sales outlet works. I think the best a writer should hope for is a someone thinking, the guy (or girl) who writes that blog I enjoy has a book out, I wonder if it's worth reading?

It's interesting that you'd read an lj friend's book over an unknown.

Thanks for sharing :)
catephoenix
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
Why I started blogging? No idea - must have been mad.

Why I blog now? Because it's helped me to make friends with the most amazing, generous writers. Plus, if I didn't blog, I guess Olive Lemon would have sold one or two copies at most.
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
And it wouldn't be up for a Puddle either ;)

I'm with you on the friendly writers thing too.

If you don't mind sharing. Can you think of any specific instances where your having a blog has affected your book sales?
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jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
I should think it's hard work trying to keep two blogs going at once. I'm glad you chose LJ :)

As for non-writerly things, I don't know what the ratio should be, but I think it's good to post about other stuff - though I'd say most entries should be on the bloggers 'chosen subject', as it were :)
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sarah_prineas
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
I blog (ahem, when I do blog, and I'm almost ready to get back to it) for the sense of community and not to sell books. Yes, a few gateway readers (teachers and librarians) read my blog, but my primary audience, kid readers, does not.

Frankly, I don't think an author blog sells many books. I also think that many author blogs actually hurt the author's chances of selling to their blog readership. There are certainly blogger-authors on my LJ list whose books I wouldn't pick up just because, for one reason or another, their blogs suck.

I like your blog, though.

My long term plans are to keep on blogging once a week the same way I do now, with a hiatus now and then when I need one.
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
I agree that a blog doesn't directly sell books. I think the benefit is more subtle than that.

If I'm browsing the shelves in my local book store and see your name, I'd pick the book up - especially now you said you like my blog ;) Would I then buy it? I don't know, it would depend on the blurb etc. I wonder though if the real question should be 'Would I have picked up the book had I not known you from LJ.'

I'm with you 100% on the possible negative effect a blog can have. There are several LJ authors whose attitude makes me determined never to read one of their books, so I guess blogs are a double-edged sword.

Thanks for the input :)


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cathschaffstump
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
I blog because my fans demand it! ;)

Honestly, this journal is all about my writing and it keeps me accountable, especially when things are very busy at work, as they are now.

Catherine
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! A blog can make us accountable.

For starters, I'm going to look a right twit if ten years from now, I still haven't sold a book :)
mongrelheart
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
I have this LJ blog (mostly friends-only) which I use as a tool to motivate myself, mark my progress, and keep up with other friends who write. I also started a public, "I'm a writer" blog, where I occasionally post in a more, er, professional manner. I think it's important for a writer to have an online presence to help them connect with their readers. Even if I hardly have anything published and/or many readers yet, I feel like at least I'm getting prepared for the possibility ;)
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
That's a good point about self-motivation.

Also, you have two blogs? Where's the other one?

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karen_w_newton
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
I started a blog because I had heard (and my agent agreed) that it would help to have a "web presence." Editors do look online when they are thinking about buying books.

That said, I went with LJ rather than Blogger because I like the "community" functionality of LJ. I like the ability to connect with other writers. We tend to be interesting people.

On the other hand, I made a conscious decision not to blog about the process of writing because it seemed to me there were already a lot of blogs that did that. Instead I blog about the other things I care about, like spec fic, ebooks, and publishing.
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
You have a lot of interesting stuff about kindles and so forth.

So long as your blog's readers know you're a writer, I don't believe it matters what you post about. Hopefully, they'll still remember your name if they see it on the back of a book.

Thanks for sharing :)
cedunkley
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
I started blogging here on LJ as a byproduct of reading the LJ blogs of authors I like. I think it was through George R.R. Martin's Not A Blog LJ (which he has embedded in his own website) where I stumbled upon the SFF genre writing community here.

My initial impulse to have my own blog was to be able to communicate with authors as an identifiable person. I was already interacting with a couple of the same writers through their own group writing website anyway and much of their own writing advice and anecdotes found their way more prominently onto their LJs.

After that I decided to use my own LJ as a motivator to push myself to keep at it.

I'm not sure what my LJ will look like once I become published (hey, you have to believe you can to succeed) but I hope I'll find my blogging niche before then.


(When doing a spell check is it always tickles me that LJ doesn't recognize any variation of the word blog.)


Edited at 2009-09-16 06:55 pm (UTC)
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised how many of us use our blogs (at least in part)as a motivating tool.

By the way, until you mentioned it, I didn't even know LJ had a spell-checker. Thanks, I shall use it from now on :)
mylefteye
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
I started blogging simply to stay in touch with many of my online friends -- and to make new ones too, of course. And like Cate, a few sales of my collection can be attributed to my flist, which is nice. Primarily though, I blog to be part of a great community.
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
'... I blog to be part of a great community. ...'

I think that has to be the main reason most of us blog. That said, my plan is to be a good online friend who's part of a great community AND work hard to develop a popular blog :)
brian_ohio
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
I blog for many of the same reasons as you. Basically I started my journal to connect with other writers. Let's face it, we're spread out ALL over the world... without the journal we'd never have the chance to meet and talk.

I also try to be entertaining and informative on my blog, as well as share my trials as I try to get published. It's a good outlet for that, most of us have gone through this to one extreme or another.

I'd read your book when it comes out. Well... at least I'd read the ARC you'd surely send my way.

jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 05:04 pm (UTC)
Well, thank you kindly. Great new icon by the way :)
ailsa_cf
Sep. 16th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
I feel different! Although recently I've started talking more about the Book Bundle, my blog was never intended as a promotion-thingumy-bob-jigger.

My blog is a diary, I guess. I started it when I was 15, because I'd heard about this livejournal thing, it seemed like fun, and although I wanted to keep a diary, I'd had a lot of failed attempts.
So, lj is my diary. Even when I was just writing in a notebook for myself, I wrote like people would be reading it. Lj is good because I know it's not just spitting in the wind - people talk to me! I love the feeling of community here.

LJ has become very important to me. I like to think of it as something of a mini support network. If I'm having problems with something in my life, I know I can talk about it here and get help, advice, or just hugs. Hugs make a lot of difference sometimes.

As for long term plans. If When I get published (let's try and think positive here!) I think I'll set up a separate one, and keep this to personal things. I want to keep it as a diary, because it gives me so much more incentive to keep writing. And it's very sociable, I've met some amazing people through livejournal.
jongibbs
Sep. 16th, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
'...I started it when I was 15...'

Suddenly I feel reaaaaaaaally old :(
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Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


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