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Here’s the second part of my thoughts on the results of the poll about what might put people off from reading a blog, along with suggestions for how folks - particularly writers - who want to use their journal as a self-promotional tool might put those results to good use.

Aside from top three ‘sins’(which I covered in last week’s post) the two biggest no-nos as far as the 151 voters were concerned, are posting spiteful things about other people (58%) and ignoring most or all comments (56%).

Frankly, other than to recommend not doing it, I can’t think of any helpful suggestions about the making spiteful remarks thing. Ignoring comments, on the other hand, is a different matter.

Imagine you watched a great conference panel and afterwards went up to the speakers to tell them how much you enjoyed it. What if they simply turned their backs and walked away? I don’t mind admitting that if that happened to me, I’d be tempted to never read anything they wrote again.

I don’t think ignoring someone who comments on your blog is quite that insulting, but it still seems a tad rude.
Suggestion from a self-promotional point of view:
We’re all busy, but engaging with your readers makes blogging much more fun and (I believe) is a big help self-promotion wise. If hundreds of people comment on your posts, I think folks would understand if you didn't respond to each one, but if you have less than (say) fifty people leaving their thoughts on your latest blog entry, take a few minutes to reply. If you really think you’re too busy, or just don’t want to, then disable the comment option altogether, that way you won’t ruffle any feathers.

Less important, but still useful information to take from the poll is that almost a quarter of people who voted thought less of a blogger who didn’t friend them back.
Suggestion from a self-promotional point of view:
If you’re an unknown writer (and by unknown I mean: If you stopped ten people in the street and less than eight said they’d heard of you) then, frankly, if someone friends you, check out that person's blog. If he/she is a real person, and you share a common interest eg; writing, why not friend them back?

Finally, it’s worth noting that more than half of those who voted have unfriended people for doing one or more of the things covered in the poll, and that almost 40% no longer read posts by friends who did those things, even though they hadn’t yet taken them off their friends list.

I hope you’ve found this useful. Next week, I’ll be talking about writers’ websites and among other things, why I’m not convinced it’s a good idea to have a blog there.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a minute, I’d appreciate you answering a quick question:

Poll #1492439 Writers' websites

Blog or website: For a writer, which do you feel is more important?

Blog
7(24.1%)
Website
7(24.1%)
Both equally vital
12(41.4%)
Neither - the writing should sell itself
3(10.3%)


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Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
the_faery_queen
Nov. 30th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
unless that writer is on lj, i won'y read their blog. i don't want to have to visit lots of sites in tyhe hope that someone has updated it. and, to be honest, even some of the writers whose journals i am on, i don't read (george rr martin i only skim, for instance) im more interested in struggling writers, like me, than famous ones. but won't go seeking them if they're not on lj. for famous writers i want websites. im more interested in their work, than in them, i guess
jongibbs
Nov. 30th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
That's interesting. I think websites are important, but blogs are far more interactive, which is why I think they need to be a seperate entity (and preferably amongst other blogs), though of course, they should point the way to a writer's site too.

Thanks for sharing :)
bogwitch64
Nov. 30th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
A website is important if you're a published author, but I don't find them more informative than interesting--like a flier on the windshield vs. a letter in the mailbox. I don't visit author websites unless linked to their LJ, to be honest, and most of the time, I don't even do that. Then again, I am not a young hip sort of person who's life automatically includes all things cyber. :)
bogwitch64
Nov. 30th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
oops, that should read, I FIND them more informative than interesting.

D'oh...
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temporus
Nov. 30th, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC)
While I do think both a decent website, and a decent blog are of equal import to a writer, I voted neither. Because I think that the single most vital aspect is the writing itself. It's great if someone has a good blog, or a well laid out and informative website. But if I'm going to buy your story, either as a reader, or as an editor, it's going to be due to the writing.
jongibbs
Nov. 30th, 2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
Absolutely, though I'd have to say you need to make people aware of the writing in the first place. I'd be willing to bet there are thousands of great books published every year which I would thoroughly enjoy reading, but chances are, I'll never even know they exist :(
asakiyume
Nov. 30th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
A website has always struck me as a static thing--I might go to a website for information (bio, bibliography, that sort of thing), but I don't think I'd make regular stops at one... unless it had content that was continually updating--like a blog.

But blogs I read for their interesting content, not for their relationship to the author's work. I have one or two well-known writers on my reading list, but it's because I like what they do in their blogs, not because I like their writing (which isn't to suggest that I don't--it's just not why I read their blogs). Even if a writer is someone I admire tremendously, I don't think I'd read their blog unless the blog itself in some way interested me. And in a way, it's easier to ignore the blog of a famous writer--s/he isn't going to notice or care whether I read or not.

If you’re an unknown writer (and by unknown I mean: If you stopped ten people in the street and less than eight said they’d heard of you) --That made me giggle. I think almost no one, even the well-known (by my standards) writers on LJ, could pass this test. Yay for the cold hard light of the real world! (or something...)

Edited at 2009-11-30 07:33 pm (UTC)
temporus
Nov. 30th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
I have to agree here. There's plenty of big writers in my genre that I think wouldn't pass that test in the general populace. Or to flip that, I'd be very hard pressed to name more than a handful of Romance authors, and I would never claim that it meant they weren't either real writers or successful at it. I just don't follow that genre, and so, the ones I know are either the huge names (like Danielle Steele) or people who write in multiple genres and I've run across their names at Cons.

Honestly, before the Lord of the Rings movies, bringing up Tolkein in the general populace might not have reached that 8 out of 10 mark. I know I encountered many people who'd never even heard of him, never mind read anything by him.
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mary_j_59
Nov. 30th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
Actually, this is a tough one for me! Because, ideally, I think the writing should sell itself. On the other hand, I do look for the websites of writers I enjoy, and I consider a blog an added bonus. But there are two fallacies that we need to be aware of. Writers don't have to be web-savvy in order to be good and relevant, and (sad to say) writers don't have to be nice, pleasant or even interesting people to write good and interesting books.

As far as the general public goes, though, my gut feeling is that a website is more useful in marketing yourself than a blog. As far as I'm concerned personally, I'm thrilled to discover the blogs of authors I like - and it's really terrific if they interact with their fans, as I just found Megan Whalen Turner does!
jongibbs
Nov. 30th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
'... writers don't have to be nice, pleasant or even interesting people to write good and interesting books.'

A valid point, but I believe writers who aren't pleasant would sell a lot more books if they were.

Thanks for sharing :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Nov. 30th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
My pleasure. Thanks for reading :)
mongrelheart
Nov. 30th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
I voted for the website... but, after thinking about it, I'm sort of confused by the question. I don't tend to think of it as being an "either/or" proposition. I tend to think of a blog as being one component of a web presence. Along with the "about me" page, the "published works" page, or whatever else the person chooses to put online. To me, a basic web presence with info about the person and their work is a necessity. If they have a blog, that's icing on the cake.

As for the writing selling itself, the website & blog are there to help the writing sell itself, aren't they?
jongibbs
Nov. 30th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Naturally, I have my own ideas about what's more important, but I wanted to get a handle on other people's viewpoints.

I'm not even sure there's a right or wrong answer - there's just what works and what works (or might work) better.

As for the site and blog helping the writing to 'sell itself', I couldn't agree more.

Thanks for the input :)
meredith_wood
Nov. 30th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
When I first began exploring the web I would Google authors I liked and was always more pleased with the ones that had a blog. I really wanted to know what made them tick.
jongibbs
Nov. 30th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
To me, a good blog (like Jim Hines's for example) should make you feel like you're being talked to, rather than talked at, which is why a website, which is often little more than a glorified C.V. with pretty lights, pictures and internet signposts can't compete - though I do think it's absolutely necessary.

Then again, I could be wrong, Lord knows it's happened enough times already ;)

Thanks for sharing :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Dec. 1st, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)
True enough. I think it's good to have both, if only because you can dress up a website more than you can a blog, but an online presence of some sort is a definite must these days.
clarionj
Dec. 1st, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
You make a good point about disabling commenting if you know you're just too busy. This way, the reader can choose whether to continue reading or not and doesn't feel slighted. There are some blogs I follow due to interest but that I no longer comment on because the comments weren't acknowledged. It's true that there's something weird about saying something to someone and having it just hang there. You're never sure (writers with their self-doubt) whether you might have offended the blogger, whether you're being a pest, or whether they're really just too busy.

There are also some blogs I follow by more established writers who have not friended in return. I completely understand that they're trying to manage their time. They'd have to stop writing their own work if they tried to read every post out here and answer every comment offered. Sometimes we'd like to be friends, but can completely understand the boundaries people have to establish.

Thanks for all your research/polls on the subject!
jongibbs
Dec. 1st, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
My pleasure. I love taking things apart and seeing what makes them tick :)

With the comments, I absolutely agree, but again, if you post something which asks for some kind of response, it's only good manners to acknowledge those readers who give it.

As for the not friending back thing, I've seen more than a few blogs where the mutual friends list is not that big (less than 100), and I have to wonder how much of it is down to lack of time and how much of it is down to an inflated sense of inportance.

Then again, that's just my opinion

Thanks for sharing :)

karen_w_newton
Dec. 1st, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
Well, I really think it depends on what you mean by "writer." If you mean published author, I think you absolutely have to have a website AND you have to update it every month or so. If you mean someone who is trying to sell that first book, I think a blog is the more important tool because it is interactive and allows you to connect to other writers. It also provides a place to link back to if you comment on someone else's blog.

Writing well is a given (I are a good riter, two!) but promoting yourself these days is important because even if you get a publisher, they're not going to care if your name is out there nearly as much as you will.
jongibbs
Dec. 1st, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
'...even if you get a publisher, they're not going to care if your name is out there nearly as much as you will.'

My thoughts exactly. If my first book bombs, the publisher will likely chalk it up to experience and move on to the next new writer. When I get my chance, I want to make the most of it :)
therinth
Dec. 1st, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
About the commenting thing -- i hardly ever respond to comments on my own blog, because i never know what to say. But i do try to respond on other people's blogs in a regularly-irregular fashion ;).
jongibbs
Dec. 1st, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
If that's true I haven't felt ignored, so I wouldn't worry :)
( 39 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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