Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Blog Or Not To Blog

To blog or not to blog? Right now, that is the question.

Whether ‘tis nobler as an author to suffer the slings and arrows from that nagging little demon-voice saying: days and weeks and months are going by, you and your book are invisible, you can’t expect a following if you don’t post (not that there are any comments when you do anyway, ha!), and what’s the point since you obviously have no ideas in your empty head!

Or to take arms against that sea of troubles, and by closing my blog, end them. To sleep blog-free -- ‘tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To sleep... perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the rub. For in that sleep of bloglessness, what dreams may come?

Suddenly ideas would arise that cry out to be shared but have no place to live. Joy-visions or nightmares or something in between, they need an audience. Suddenly a void would yawn open where once there were words, where once there was an author and a book. Not even a grave would be left. The horror!

So there it is... the dread of something after blog-deletion, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will, and makes me rather bear those ills I have than fly to others that I know not of. And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought....

Okay, enough.

Certain internet marketing gurus would say that absolutely, blogging equals being. You don’t blog, you don’t exist. To be or not to be is really the question.

But that’s bull. My blog is definitely part of my attempt to let the world know about my book, The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility, and maybe future books -- but it is more than that. It has a personal soul-value. It’s both a mirror and a record of my inner life. It allows me to test my own ideas, to hone sentences, to make cogent points. It’s a bulletin board where I can tack up my latest thoughts for myself to look at, if no one else. And if someone does read and comment, that’s gravy.

It feels good to offer a connection to others, and to occasionally get a very nice response. Sharing ourselves is the essence of community. My blog is a step toward you with a hand out in welcome. I enjoy your response, but I don’t depend on it.

There’s no reason for me to feel pressure about blogging. I’ll post a blog entry whenever there’s that wonderful conjunction of the arising of an idea with the time to explore it in writing. It will be “occasional.” There may be gaps, but there will not be a gap forever. And that’s okay.

It will be what it will be, and whatever it will be will be good.

Fine. I’ve decided to keep my blog. Happy New Year!


  1. I think the answer here, as usual, is: It depends. Just having a blog won’t do you much good if you don’t promote it and if you don’t promote it you’ll only end up with a handful of visitors and we all know that only a tiny fraction of those will hang around long enough to even read the post from beginning to end let alone think about buying one of our books. Blogs are free so why pay, eh? You also need to consider who fits into your demographic and, like it or lump it, we both have one and I would suggest as neither of us writes genre fiction, a fairly small one. And, again, only a fraction of that demographic will actually have found us or will ever find us. I read a lot about how to market online. There is, frankly, not a lot to say on the subject that’s not common sense and it all boils down to who you want to make contact with. If you’re writing 99¢ ebooks about vampires or werewolves then there is a market out there but just having a blog isn’t going to pull in much of a readership. You need to be on Facebook and Twitter and literally in the face of these people all the time. The thing is, are you satisfied with what blogging brings you and—and I think this is a more important question—is the ratio of effort to return a favourable one? If you’re writing posts for yourself then any readership or feedback is a bonus. If you have expectations beyond that then you need to adjust your mindset accordingly.

    There are two ways to market: do something to distract people, to get them to look away from the shiny thing that has their attention or, and I think this may be the more effective one, take notice of where they are looking and go and stand there and do something interesting. I have been putting a lot of effort into promoting the ebook version of my first two novels of late—a single omnibus edition called The Whole Truth—and I’ve been doing interviews and guest blogs and I’ve only sold a handful of books probably because there are no vampires of werewolves or sex or car chases or things blowing up. The problem is that I’m posting stuff on sites that only get a handful of readers a day and I suspect that that’s the case with most sites. I get circa 7000 hits a month now but once you take a good look at those 7000 the vast majority only hang around for seconds, just long enough to realise that there are more than 250 words in my post and, put off by the fact I’m asking them to actually read, they bugger off.

    It’s a tough game trying to sell a book online these days and although I have a new book out which I’ll start promoting in January I’m not going to kill myself. We ordered 45 books and if I get rid of most of them I’ll be pleased.

  2. Jim, thanks for the insights. I am in the process of adjusting my mindset (working it out on virtual paper...)and feel good about letting go of the marketing expectations and just enjoying the occasional blog. I've learned that I'm not cut out for the promotion circus, and even if I was, I'm too busy being a husband and father and homeowner and breadwinner, so it what it is. I'm grateful for my few readers and their feedback. Best wishes for your new book.

  3. Judith, thanks for your vote. I will!

  4. Brent, you're spot-on about blogging being an individual's choice. And I'm glad you continue with our intermittent posts. Yours is an important voice and perspective.

    In developing 3 blogs for 3 different sites and in working with a slew of creatives around the country - authors and non-authors - I've discovered a few things true to my situation and that can be slightly generalized: 1) Whenever I blog consistently, my book sales take a notable jump; 2) Whenever I blog consistently, I maintain an internal motivation and momentum to keep serving my tribes with good ideas, information, and - sometimes - products & services (this is generally true for the people with whom I work); 3) Whenever I blog consistently, I amass a lot of fresh ideas for new material and gauge what is resonating with the virtual strangers and friends out there (generally true for most writers); 4) I need intentional breaks - and my business, blog visits, and book sales don't suffer irrevocably. Usually, twice a year I take a 4-week hiatus. Sometimes people notice; sometimes, no one seems to. But readers return, and because I have established enough strong SEO content, my archived blog articles continue to get visits. (I take intentional breaks from other big creative projects, too.)

    All that said, I write my blogs pretty much with the same spirit I write my poems, stories, essays, and books - "Resolved, write without regard for outcome, open to success or failure. This equanimity is authentic writing."

    Inspired action; surrendered outcome.

    You've figured out what works for you, Brent - and THAT's what matters. Better to perform your blog's duty imperfectly than someone else's perfectly.

    Okay, enough copping of the Gita.

    Peace, my friend,

  5. Thank you, Jeff. I really appreciate your interest and generous input -- I know it's the wisdom of experience.

    And cop the Gita all you want, I dig it!