Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blog Host Behavior When You're Big Time

You know the old line about writing a letter to a celebrity and getting back a "personalized" autograph with a letter saying "Due to the volume of mail, [celeb] cannot personally respond to your letter, but believe me, she's really pleased you wrote"?

I think that celeb-type bloggers/tweeters must go through this with commenters.

Yesterday we talked about comments and how a blog host should handle them. Roni at Fiction Groupie wrote a whole post about it yesterday, with further interesting discussion in her comments. What I got out of that was that people want some form of acknowledgment for their comments, but not necessarily personal or specific.

Readers just want to know their efforts are appreciated, too.

I put forth that bloggers have a responsibility to the community that they create to interact, moderate, and continue it, in as much as blogging is a responsibility. And before we go any further, let me just say that when I speak of bloggers, I mean those in the writing community, because that's the sandbox I play in.

But what about bloggers who are published authors, or editors, or agents -- that is, those who are afforded a more celeb status? Tawna Fenske had an excellent post on this topic a few weeks ago, saying that there is a perception of writer-cliquishness that she's seen. It's true that when you have loads of adoring fans, it becomes difficult to personally respond to each.

What do you think about this? When you become Big Time, do your responsibilities change? What happens when Roni, who gets a ton of comments every day, gets and agent and publishes her books? Do her "obligations" as a blog host change?


Simon C. Larter said...

Tawna's on the fast track to big time, isn't she? Watch her blog and see what she does over time.

I think her responsibilities definitely WILL change over time. She'll go from being a newly-published author to being a successful author, and then the actual book writing will begin to take a higher priority. I could see her, at that point, begin responding via email to those people with whom she's already fostered a connection--those who knew her when, so to speak. But for new followers and commenters? She just might not have the time in the day.

'Course, Tawna doesn't have kids, so she has a leg up on us in the free time department. Who knows? Maybe she'll still respond individually to all 342 comments in a couple years. I have no idea what people without kids do. I don't think I understand them anymore....

(The usual caveats apply re: this comment and non-nemesisy sounding stuff. False sense of security, la dee da, blah, blah....)

Christine H said...

I have a family member who works with a rising celebrity. He got us free tickets to their concert recently, and the tickets included a "meet and greet" session with the lead singer.

I'm kinda hoping we get the same privilege for the upcoming concert in which they open for a really well-known celebrity, because I'd like to meet him.

Anyway, my point is that in the "real" world, there are different layers of association and communication. In the writing blogging world, I think it's not that different. We make contacts by doing critiques for each other, emailing on specific topics or to ask specific questions, posting reviews of others' work (which then obligates us to them a little), etc.

And of course we all have to write!

So I don't expect any more from a "big time" blogger than I do from a "small time" blogger - a lot less, actually. Unless I have something to contribute in some tangible way other than my brilliant, pre-morning-coffee analyses like this one.


Christine H said...

P.S. Love the photo of Barbara Eden! Can Jeannie come over and finish my manuscript for me with a blink?

Yvonne Osborne said...

Thanks for the subject matter. I have to know what to do when I get 342 comments at a time. :)

I'm checking out Tawna's.

Tahereh said...

yea.. this is really interesting, and something i've thought a lot about. as it is i really struggle for time. i think if i were to publish a book, i'd have to cut back on blogging everyday, and maybe blog only 2-3 times a week. i don't want to cut ties with my readers, but i'll need more time to focus on my writing.

and i can't respond to all the comments individually anymore. i try to reciprocate on the READER'S blog, as opposed to responding in my comment box -- because i'd rather return the favor. so i try to keep up, and I'm really trying, but it's a lot to juggle.

Jamie Grey said...

Great post. I try really hard to respond to all comments on my blog (not that I'm getting hundreds or anything). I can only dream of what I'd do if I made it that big time!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

You know, I've had to cut back on the amount of blogging I do in order to keep up the same level and quality of writing that I've been doing. And commenting on other's blogs ass well as responding to comments still remains a major time-suck. But I enjoy doing it, and I want to keep doing it. So for as long as I can, I will. And I'd imagine even after selling books, I would do what I could. But yeah, not always easy. I'll be sure to check out Tawna's post.

Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks for the link to Tawna's blog. Nice to see somebody's publishing some new romantic comedies.

The problem here is that blogging is a continuum. When we start, we have only a few followers and have time to befriend them all. But as blogs and careers grow, time doesn't (we all have those annoying 24 hour days.) So something has to go.

I notice blogging activity usually has an arc. Eager beginning--growing traffic/activity--frantic traffic/activity--slowing down--petering out. The great Miss Snark blog lasted three years. That might be the norm for a blog that reaches 1000s of followers. I keep wondering how long Nathan Bransford will be able to keep it up.

Blogging can be full time work, but it sure doesn't offer full time pay (or any, unless you "monetize" which is so cheesy) And for fiction writers, the importance of "platform" is often over-stated. (According to a great interview with Donald Maass on Victoria Mixon's website yesterday.)

When we let social networking take time from the real business of writing (and reading) we tend to lose the plot.

Meghan Ward said...

I don't think any blogger has an obligation to respond to commenters - it's a personal choice - but commenters do like it, so if you want to keep your commenters, you probably want to respond to their comments now and then. And someone with a ton of comments couldn't POSSIBLY respond to every comment. And once people get a book deal, they are overwhelmed with other tasks - editing, promotion, etc. for their publishers. If they can at least continue to make some regular comments on each post (and to continue to post regularly), props to them!

Tawna Fenske said...

Hey, thanks for the blog shout-out!

I agree, it's a delicate balance. I'm lucky right now that I not only have the terrific agent and wonderful book deal, but I've got more than 14 months to build a potential readership using my blog and Twitter. You bet I'm going to respond to comments and make friends every chance I get, not just because I see people as potential readers, but because it's a helluva lot of fun. Will something have to give at some point? Probably, and that makes me sad. I'm hopeful it won't be seen as snobbery if it comes to that, but it's tough to control people's perceptions of you.

Love this blog post!


Sierra Godfrey said...

Awesome discussion guys and thanks Tawna for weighing in. Maintaining your community is super hard and Anne Allen's blogger ar (Eager beginning--growing traffic/activity--frantic traffic/activity--slowing down--petering out) is very apt, isn't it? I too have always wondered how Nathan Bransford has time to answer/look at/read most of his comments, and also his forum that he's got going on.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Okay, I'm still hung up on the question of what happens when Roni gets an agent and gets published? Answer: I won't be able to respond to blog comments for at least a week--as I will be running around my house dancing and jumping like a fool.

Anyhoo, thanks for the linkage, and I do have lower expectations for published authors and celebrities with regards to interaction. Although, when I do get a tweet or comment back from an author I made a comment to, I'm giddy like a school girl. So I think it's important to remember that when WE get published, that reaching out can really can make someone's day and make a fan for life.

Jean at The Delightful Repast said...

There are bloggers in my niche who get hundreds of comments on every post. I don't expect them to respond to every comment. On the other hand, there are those who get no more comments than I do who neither respond to comments nor reciprocate, things I like to do whenever possible. I blog just once a week, on Friday morning, and cannot comprehend how bloggers who have other work (as I do) or a job can blog every day or nearly every day. How do they do that? Have they learned how to thrive on no sleep at all, or have they had themselves cloned?!

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