Friday, February 09, 2007

The Distance Of Promotion

There's often talk around the blogosphere on how much promotion is enough or too much, how writers should be spending their time writing and leaving the promotion to someone more qualified, and there's even more talk without a lot of figures about the need to have an author blog in the first place.

Like many of the writers in my neck of the sphere, my blog isn't much of a promotional tool other than encouraging some brand recognition of my name. Its main purpose is to help me connect with like-minded writers and learn about the publishing industry. Maybe along the way, people who read my stories will ask me to contribute to anthologies or other projects, and that can only lead to more reasons to write.

Thing is, if I ever get to a point where I have a few novels behind me and I'm starting to see Steven King, Michael Connolly or even John Connolly sized sales numbers, I doubt that I would keep this blog in the same format.

Unless I'm out there providing a service like J. A. Konrath or Sarah Weinman, the only reason for maintaining a blog like this would be to provide a connection for my readers. The personal side of my internet presence would shift over to community forums and email. With large numbers of readers, I think a forum would be a better fit, kitted out with an 'ask the author' section. Main news would be shifted to the front page of the author website (okay, enough fantasising already). Part of the reason for a change like this would be privacy and security related (I'm just so tired of all these nymphomaniac stalkers), but the other reason would have more to do with image.

And professionalism.

I desperately hope I don't offend any of my fellow bloggers with this comment, but I don't see it as extremely professional for a big name author to be detailing personal issues in a public forum, unless it happens to relate to their status as an author.

Different methods work for different authors. Michael Connelly has his forum as does Mark Billingham and Steven King. All of these authors are blogless. Janet Evanovich has her own questions and answers page, and as far as I can tell, maintains her entire website herself. Tess Gerritsen is one author who I think gets the balance just right. She blogs enough to stay in touch with her fans, gets out there and promotes, but is always aware of the writing.

I find the idea of a reclusive and enigmatic author rather appealing: it lends an air of mystery to their work and lets them stand on that work alone. I recognise their name because it's already plastered all over their book, and when they bring a new novel out I have a good idea of what it will be like, based on their previous work.

All that being said, the flipside is that I've found more than a handful of authors through their blogs, looked into their work, and decided I want to read more.

I love the crime and writing blogging community. Without it, I wouldn't be tackling a writing career with anywhere near the dedication I have now. I'd still be floundering on my own, probably turning up to writer's groups composed of fellow flounderers, and learning the ropes through an unnecessary amount of trial and error.

But if I make it big, you'll probably see me keeping just a little distance.


angie said...

Most "big name" writers are simply too busy to worry about blogs or forums. And rightly so. As for the amount of personal detail given on blogs...well, that's really up to the individual. Some are quite comfortable talking about personal shit & others are not. I don't blog for any reasons other than a) I like it, b) I get to meet other writers at various stages/phases of their careers and process and c) I like it. There's plenty I don't choose to trot out for the masses, though I can't think of a thing I've said that I wish I hadn't made public. Guess it's just whatever works/fits for you. There is no one size fits all concept of image and professionalism. Nice to see you've given the issue some thought, though!

Daniel Hatadi said...

You're totally right about the busy factor, and yes, maybe I gave it a little too much thought. About 700 words total. :)

Sandra Ruttan said...

I've thought about this quite a bit.

The best I can conclude is, there's no one perfect way.

I stay on the blogs for two primary reasons. 1, it's easier for me to spread Spinetingler news that way, and 2. I like keeping in touch with everyone.

But as a promotional tool? The only thing I think the blog covers there is some of the "fan" mail. Maybe I should do a newsletter... I'm nowhere big enough for a forum, and ultimately, given some of the problems with forums, if I ever have one that's all my own author forum I want to have it moderated, like Mark's.

I've heard from a lot of friends they're under pressure to blog from their publisher/publicist/agent. Honestly, I don't think anyone should do it if they aren't completely comfortable... and I still don't think blogging sells books.

But the jury's still out on that, so meanwhile authors will keep blogging, just in case, until the proof comes in for or against.

One question I'm left with is, if I pull back on the blogging front, will I seem snobby?

See, things you should think about before blogging...

Daniel Hatadi said...

Sandra, I'm pretty much on the same page with you when it comes to blogging (although I don't have a mag or novel to promote). And it was some of your thoughts on the subject that got me thinking about it too, as well as Anne's post some time back.

I don't think you could ever come across as snobby. The way I see it, if a writer doesn't blog so often, it's because they're too busy writing or doing all the other things that come with the job.

We want writers to write, so how could we hold it against them if that's what they're doing?