Monday, February 1, 2010

Blogging: Where Does it All Lead?

This week I'm thinking and posting about blogging as a writer. Today, I want to talk about where blogging leads for us writers--both published and unpublished.

A Platform
Agents say you need to have a platform before you approach agents. This is really true only for nonfiction writers. But for fiction writers, when you dip your tootsie into publishing, it doesn't hurt to have a professional web site and blog, and I would even say that having followers looks pretty good too.

Not everyone who is a writer blogs for a platform. Some do it as a personal journal of both their writing process or publishing journey. Here are the reasons I do it, straight up:
  • To establish my name and brand
  • To give outlet to further writing urges (I like blogging)
  • To work through various aspects of writing and publishing that I may not understand fully until I blog about it
  • To build community
Building Your Site
Because I work in marketing, marketing myself as a writer before I am published feels like a necessary and normal step. My friend Meghan Ward and I were talking about this a while ago. She's written a memoir and has different reasons for blogging but both of us are very interested in the personal marketing aspects of it. I know that it was a big step for me to build my own web site and get this blog started. I've been blogging since 2006 on a private blog for family and friends, mostly about my whippersnapper. Meghan said she knew a published writer who had three books out (or a three book deal, one of the two) and the writer didn't blog, have a web site, do Facebook, or any of it. We both agreed that writer was missing out on reaching readers and building community. How much was she missing out? We don't know. But we thought it was a heck of a lot better bet to do those things than not.

How public is public?
Some of you blog about your query trials and I'm pretty sure you don't use your real name. Perhaps you do this so you can maintain the freedom to say what you want. A good example of this kind of desire for anonymity is a certain self absorbed nutcase's blog in which almost all his commenters post as Anonymous. But when that hurts you is when your blog is really good, like the INTERN's. INTERN is publishing a book and judging by her blog writing, it's probably pretty good. She's smart and has a way with words. But she'd built up a huge audience and no one knows who she is! Will she announce her book and her identity when it is released? Who knows!

So here's what I want to know. For those of you who blog with your name all out there: what are you hoping your blog will do for you? For those of you who blog under an assumed name: do you do it for the freedom of speaking your mind and what will happen when your book is published?

7 comments:

Matt said...

Since I'm a long way from published, I've given this minimal thought. When I blog, sometimes I don't hold much back about people in real life. That's the only thing keeping me from really identifying myself. My first name's real, but I've never printed my last name anywhere. When I blog about writing it's all about writing. Whether it's any good is up to my readers. I guess when publication is around the corner, I'll consider just a writing blog that won't get me in trouble with friends and family or work.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

In my case, I started the blog right around the time I started writing my novel (I'd already been researching for a while). I wanted another writing outlet and to be able to talk about some personal stuff. I wasn't thinking of marketing. I've done very little to publicize my blog. I definitely enjoy having some readers - especially among fellow writers - but that's it. I don't plan to work too hard to get followers/platform/whatever. I figure if an agent/publisher is interested, there is plenty of time for me to start and build up a blog/general internet presence in my real name before the book is published. In the meantime, I like the freedom to say what I want confident that no stalker from my high school days or boss or potential employer or whatever is reading it and knowing it's me.

My guess is that in INTERN's case, she could go public without any harm done. Indeed, you can actually hire her to edit or critique your work through her blog - it's probably difficult to maintain anonymity in that kind of arrangement.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thanks for the weigh in guys. Lt. -- INTERN, as I understand it, has set it up so you'd only ever have to deal with someone called INTERN. It's possible to set up a pay pal account with no identifying names (which is how she takes payment for editing services, I believe).

Travener said...

I plan on remaining a cipher until I get a book contract. (Perhaps I should say "unless.") It's one thing to parade my failures anonymously, but publically I'd like to show off only my successes, if any.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

Re: INTERN...that's interesting. Thanks, Sierra. I guess the cost-benefit of be-yourself-get-platform vs. be-INTERN-get-other-stuff works out in favor of the latter.

KLM said...

I blog with my name readily accessible to all. My feeling is that I shouldn't be blogging, talking about, or doing anything that I would be ashamed of. It tempers my tirades somewhat, but really, not all that much. My hope is that people will come to my blog and have a chuckle. That is all. Oh, I guess I also hope that readers will come to the conclusion, "Hey, this is someone I'd like to have a drink with." One of the great motivators in my life is simply this: FUN. Being an unsuccessful writer does have its advantages, and one of them is not having to worry about savvy marketing strategies. :) PS: Love your blog, Sierra.

Sierra Godfrey said...

I have to agree with you, KLM! (and thank you!)

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