About a week ago, I bumped into an old writer friend of mine in a local Target store. After complimenting me about this blog, he said he planned to start his own writing journal and asked for advice on how to build a fan base for it.
I told him I had no idea.
“Don’t get me wrong,” I said. “I’ve got plenty of helpful tips for building an online friend base, but fan base? Sorry, haven’t a clue.”
““I want a blog not a chat room,” he said. "Besides, I’m too busy writing to waste time making ‘internet’ friends.”
I didn't argue, and he soon went on his way, seeming a little peeved at my answer.
Afterwards, as I wandered around Target, I found it hard to understand his point of view. I mean, of course your writing comes first, but the accepted wisdom is that if you’re looking to make a career out of it, you need a strong, positive online presence. Unless you’re already famous (or infamous), that won’t happen overnight. It takes years to get it to a level where it can have a positive impact. If that’s the case, then it makes sense to get started on it as soon as you can. It’s certainly not something you tack on to a ‘To do’ list after you sell your first book.
How the heck would an unknown writer build a fan base anyway?
I’ve thought a lot about that conversation since then, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that there are some writers with journals on LJ who treat their blog readers as if they’re fans. They ignore most comments; they don’t friend people back; they use their blogs as little more than notice boards, and generally talk at their readers, rather than to them.
I guess if you’re already a fan of that person’s work, you might not care, and it’s certainly not for me to say how people should use their journals, but I find it hard to see how this kind of standoffish behavior would make someone who wasn’t a reader want to find out more about that writer or his/her work. I know it has the opposite effect on me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you have to swap BFF bracelets and send their children birthday presents each year, but blog readers are people, and if there’s one thing people have in common, it’s that we all hate being taken for granted.
Then again, maybe I’ve got it wrong.
How about you?
Fan or friend? How do you prefer to be treated by other bloggers?