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tko
02-06-2012, 08:52 PM
I've heard a few cases where an author was noticed because of their blog. I've got to think that this is pretty rare. If agents don't have time to read queries, how would they have time to go surfing random blogs? None the less I've been advised by a well-published author to start a blog and all.

Wouldn't the effort be better put into writing?

J. Koyanagi
02-06-2012, 09:11 PM
I did once receive a manuscript request from a reputable agent based on a description of the novel I had on my website. Not a blog, though--just the basic query.

I don't think not having a blog hurts, usually, but I have heard that having a rarely-updated blog can look a bit bad. I found I wasn't interested in posting to a blog and had some concern about leaving a dusty blog up, so I closed mine and now just maintain a basic writer website.

Calla Lily
02-06-2012, 10:41 PM
I still don't have a blog. I didn't even get a website till I got my first book's cover art.

<--- not a Luddite, just very busy. :D

kaitie
02-06-2012, 11:05 PM
I know a lot of people recommend one, but I personally don't have one and won't (well, maybe as part of a website once I have a publisher).

My reasons:

I don't have anything interesting to say. Well, I do, but it'd be about controversial topics and that's not what I want to build a writing career around. I'm a professor, so I can't talk about work, and my hobbies (origami and kung fu) are so far removed from the sorts of things that I write that I don't think having a blog about them would do anything to encourage people to buy my books.

Most unpublished writer blogs I've seen are about writing or the submission process--concerning both of which I've seen agents actively say "DO NOT WRITE ABOUT THIS." It's not a good idea to talk about submissions in general, number of rejections, etc. If you complain about it you can come across as someone the agent/editor doesn't want to work with. It can make your books look not good enough (if you see someone has a hundred rejections and no requests, you'll assume there's a reason why). And, perhaps most importantly, other writers only make up a small percentage of readers. You're writing a blog that will appeal to a small group and not your actual future audience.

In other words, unless you have a blog about something interesting that isn't related to writing, you probably aren't doing yourself many favors.

Two: I think most blogs suck. I'm not trying to be rude here, but think of the fact that 99% of books out there are being rejected because they aren't up to par, and it seems to me that blogs are about the same. Most aren't very good. They're either not interesting, poorly written, or the author has no voice. Even of those that do, if the blog is just a rehash of other stories or someone stating their opinion as the only truth that exists, it turns me off.

Even of the blogs I read that were great, there are only a couple now that I still check out. Most have gone downhill. I think it's just difficult to maintain over long periods and it takes a certain kind of writer and talent to make one that's really fantastic and has staying power. Considering that I don't like to talk about myself, have nothing interesting to say that wouldn't be controversial, and coming up with something new on a regular basis would drive me crazy, I doubt I'm one of them.

Three: I've actively not bought books because of writer's blogs. Several times. Most recent example would be a book by JA Konrath. It was an earlier one that didn't find a home that he self-published. When I heard about the plot, my first thought was that I wanted to read it. I added it to my wish list, knew it was exactly the sort of book I'd love, and couldn't wait to get an ereader to read it on.

Then I started reading more of his blog. As he's become more inflammatory and arrogant, his personality has turned me off to the point that I no longer have any desire to read his book. The plot still appeals to me, but when I think of the author, the excitement is gone.

I'm not kidding when I say this has happened several times. Sometimes it's political. For instance, an author ranting on about a political issue that I personally disagree wholeheartedly with makes me less likely to try out his books (even when I wanted to). An author who is a complete douche (I've seen it more than once) is going to make me not want to read his/her books.

I actually am at a point where I prefer to know as little about the author as possible because it allows me to enjoy the books without the interference of knowing negative things about the author distracting me from my enjoyment.

I mention this one because I'm not entirely convinced that having a blog always works in your favor. It's always touted as a must have and the only way to sell books, but I can honestly say I've been turned off about books I'd normally have bought more often than I've actually bought a book based on a blog. And those I have weren't the author's blogs, but other people who recommended them.

I might be unusual in that, but I imagine I'm not the only one. I actually saw an informal survey done once where a significant number of voters had also said that they had chosen not to buy a book based on an author's blog. In other words, I'm not convinced that every person will benefit and I think there is a serious possibility that for certain people it might actually be a detriment.

There's no hard evidence that having a blog helps the majority of people. None. Trust me, I've looked, and even proponents have told me that they don't have any and it's just common sense/anecdotal.

People bought books for decades before the internet even existed without any problems. I'm sure for some people it can be a great marketing tool, but I've seen enough people stating that it's had no effect and is just a huge time sink to doubt it's effectiveness for the average writer.

Personally, I'd rather focus on marketing techniques that might actually make a difference. That being said, I've heard agents and editors say that having no web presence can actually encourage a rejection, but my agent didn't ask.

I know I'm a minority voice here, but this is just my skeptical take on the situation.

Cyia
02-06-2012, 11:11 PM
I have a blog. I am an awful blogger. I had several agents read my blog and make requests based on what I had there.

It's not a matter of "random" blog reading. What usually happens is this:

Author has a blog/Google account that comes with blog.

Author participates in discussions on Agent / Editor blogs / websites.

Author says something insightful/witty/complimentary to the right sports team, and the agent/editor clicks their profile, then on over to their blog.

Agent/Editor reads blog, thinks "This is what I'm looking for!" and contacts author.

Agents and editors are like anyone else - they click when something catches their attention. If you catch their attention, and have a blog, then that attention goes to your blog. (It also, occasionally, gets you called out by an agent who is disappointed that you haven't blogged in far too long, but that's a different story.)

areteus
02-07-2012, 12:14 AM
I don't think it is very likely that an agent or publisher will contact you based on seeing your blog. It is possible (it has happened) but I think these are the exceptions. Publishers and agents have enough in their slush piles without actively seeking any out (as has been mentioned a few times in these forums).

However, your social networking is important to many publishers and agents because they do like to see how you interact with the world (i.e. are you a controversial troll who is likely to bring them disrepute) and how you would manage publicity. Some publishers even ask for an 'online publicity plan' which includes your blog address, twitter account, facebook account (if any) and so on.

So, you may not get an agent because of your blog but you may retain them (or lose them) as a result of what you write in it...

thorjansen
02-07-2012, 12:17 AM
Blogs are for your potential readers, and sometimes other writers, if you're cataloging your journey. Agents and publishers don't have the time or inclination to seek out potential authors that way.

Jamiekswriter
02-07-2012, 12:55 AM
I think a lot of agents and publishers will google your name and/or e-mail address to see what type of web presence you have. If someone is a total douche canoe in their posts they might think twice about offering.

thorjansen
02-07-2012, 01:00 AM
Interesting thought, Jamie. I guess it could happen, given that employers now routinely search the net for potential employee's posts. It could have further merit in that if a writer is truly a "douche canoe" then he/she would turn off potential readership, which would be bad for a publisher looking to make money. But again, I think it's just conjecture. "They might" is still a long way from "they do".

Cristin_B
02-07-2012, 11:19 AM
I've had an agent request a look at my manuscript based on my blog (which isn't about writing, though in one post I described what my book is about). Unfortunately, my WIP isn't finished yet, but I have an open door to send it when it is.

I think an agent would be crazy to offer representation to an author without googling their name first, and a well-written, regularly updated blog absent of offensive political commentary or descriptions of criminal behavior can only work in the author's favor. I don't think it essential, though.

jeffo20
02-07-2012, 04:25 PM
Agent Rachelle Gardner has a lot to say about social media on her blog (http://www.rachellegardner.com/). The message I've seen at her place and elsewhere suggests that Good Blog > No blog > Bad blog. Same goes for the other social media. But good story/writing trumps all.

Anne Lyle
02-07-2012, 04:44 PM
I think a lot of agents and editors are going to look askance if you have no web presence, but that's mainly because all authors (whether self-published or commercially published) are expected to do a good deal of self-promotion these days. It doesn't have to be a blog, though - it's best to use whatever medium you enjoy most.

Actually I started a series of blog posts on establishing your web presence, aimed specifically at writers:

http://www.annelyle.com/blog/technology/web-presence-101-lesson-1-claim-your-name/

Momento Mori
02-07-2012, 05:01 PM
At the SCBWI Winter Conference a number of acquiring editors said that a solid and active web presence can help an acquiring editor push a book past their acquisitions committee because it goes to potential audience and the author's ability to market themselves. At the same time though, a good book is a good book and they also said that you should only do the social media you feel comfortable doing - so if you're not comfortable in blogging, then don't blog but find something that does suit you, e.g. Twitter, FB, Tumblr, YouTube etc.

MM

shaldna
02-07-2012, 05:17 PM
I have a blog. I am an awful blogger. I had several agents read my blog and make requests based on what I had there.

It's not a matter of "random" blog reading. What usually happens is this:

Author has a blog/Google account that comes with blog.

Author participates in discussions on Agent / Editor blogs / websites.

Author says something insightful/witty/complimentary to the right sports team, and the agent/editor clicks their profile, then on over to their blog.

Agent/Editor reads blog, thinks "This is what I'm looking for!" and contacts author.

Agents and editors are like anyone else - they click when something catches their attention. If you catch their attention, and have a blog, then that attention goes to your blog. (It also, occasionally, gets you called out by an agent who is disappointed that you haven't blogged in far too long, but that's a different story.)

Just to add that I've found some great blogs and sites by this very process, and I've seen, though my own site stats, that a lot of folks find my blog that way too.

tko
02-07-2012, 08:16 PM
I thought it was just me. I've read thousands of book, I'm a pretty good researcher and internet user, but never needed or wanted to look at blogs until I tried this writer thing.

Sure, now I'm searching everywhere, scouring the web for info an help, but I can't imagine anyone doing this who wasn't desperate.

I don't think there's a single reader who's NOT in the industry who uses blogs to find new authors. There may be a few industry people who do. Most people I know are too busy in the fields to randomly scourer the internet.

To add to everything you say, there is nothing worse than a stale blog. If you come back in a month and nothing has changed, it just gets crossed off.

Anyway, this has been my opinion for some time, but I just wanted it confirmed.

Origami is a cool hobby. When I was a kid I had a book called "Paper Magic" (Robert Harbin) and spent classroom time making every figure in it. I don't do karate (hey, I might get hurt) but I do shoot for the U.S. Taekwondo team, you can see my photos on their web site.

My hobbies are running, photography, and travel, and everyone of those does tie into my writing, so I think I COULD make a cool web site (the photo that inspired every scene??). And then it would just sit there, unloved and ignored, and sooner or later bore everyone.

kaitie
02-07-2012, 09:43 PM
At the same time though, a good book is a good book and they also said that you should only do the social media you feel comfortable doing - so if you're not comfortable in blogging, then don't blog but find something that does suit you, e.g. Twitter, FB, Tumblr, YouTube etc.

MM

I think this is the most important point. So often the advice given is any author has to have a Twitter account, a Facebook account, and a blog. Not everyone is going to be good at or enjoy all of those. I think it's more important to find something you can enjoy and do well than to do something because everyone else says you should.

Similarly, I wonder sometimes if the fact that everyone now does these things erodes their effectiveness. Are the people who stand out going to be those that do something new and original?

I've always thought it would be fun to do a Facebook page for an actual character, or perhaps a series of web videos that go along with the story. I have several ideas that I think would be fun, but for me the thought of using Twitter is...well, less than desirable. ;)

I do think if you enjoy what you're doing, though, that it will show.

Sheila Muirenn
02-08-2012, 05:01 AM
Origami and Kung Fu. Hmmm.

Interesting....

MysteryRiter
02-08-2012, 05:03 AM
So what if you are a pretty active blogger, tweeter, etc.? Should that be mentioned in a query? I never thought to mention my blog, twitter, facebook author page before but now I'm curious.

Anne Lyle
02-08-2012, 11:22 AM
I wouldn't mention it in your query - you're trying to sell the manuscript, not yourself, at that point. I put my web address and Twitter handle in my email signature, as it's a discreet way of signalling your online presence.

Momento Mori
02-08-2012, 02:38 PM
MysteryRiter:
So what if you are a pretty active blogger, tweeter, etc.? Should that be mentioned in a query? I never thought to mention my blog, twitter, facebook author page before but now I'm curious.

I agree with Anne UNLESS you have a spectacularly high following on your blog or Twitter (by which I mean that you've got several thousand people following you who you're not automatically following back) or your blog is in some way related to your book and has a high enough hit rate to suggest that there's a potentially strong market for your book.

Once you're agented though, I think it is worth having a chat with your agent about your social media presence if it's particularly strong because it's something that they should mention when they approach editors.

MM

Cyia
02-08-2012, 06:57 PM
So what if you are a pretty active blogger, tweeter, etc.? Should that be mentioned in a query? I never thought to mention my blog, twitter, facebook author page before but now I'm curious.


At the bottom of the query, where you put your contact information, stack your blog URL below your email, and your twitter handle below your blog. That way, the fact that you use social media is implied, but doesn't take space in the actual query, and if the agent is inclined to check you out, you've made it convenient for them.

backslashbaby
02-08-2012, 11:01 PM
...

To add to everything you say, there is nothing worse than a stale blog. If you come back in a month and nothing has changed, it just gets crossed off.

Anyway, this has been my opinion for some time, but I just wanted it confirmed.

Origami is a cool hobby. When I was a kid I had a book called "Paper Magic" (Robert Harbin) and spent classroom time making every figure in it. I don't do karate (hey, I might get hurt) but I do shoot for the U.S. Taekwondo team, you can see my photos on their web site.

My hobbies are running, photography, and travel, and everyone of those does tie into my writing, so I think I COULD make a cool web site (the photo that inspired every scene??). And then it would just sit there, unloved and ignored, and sooner or later bore everyone.

I'm putting together a static website, because I hate blogging. Hopefully a static page won't ever look old and stale.

I am rethinking the section I put in for 'News' at the moment, though. The dates are bound to look stale with the small amount of real news I have about me at any time.

Any thoughts are welcomed, y'all!

Polenth
02-08-2012, 11:24 PM
I am rethinking the section I put in for 'News' at the moment, though. The dates are bound to look stale with the small amount of real news I have about me at any time.

Any thoughts are welcomed, y'all!

I'd suggest putting news on the main page. That way, when you have no recent news, you can simply remove the news section.

shaldna
02-09-2012, 01:41 AM
I will say that when it comes to hiring in my day job I always Google candidates and check out their FB etc before offering them a job.

The fact is that someone can appear totally and completely professional in a 20 minute interview but be a jerk the rest of the time.

MysteryRiter
02-13-2012, 12:38 AM
I'm a little late getting back to this thread but thanks for the additional input! I guess I don't have enough of a twitter or blog following to mention it in a query, but I like the idea of keeping it in your email signature. I think I'll do that. :)
I always thought that I should forget everything not related directly to my book when querying an agent but just wanted to be sure. Thanks!

kaitie
02-13-2012, 02:54 AM
I'm not sure if this is a factor in terms of books, but for job hiring I know it is--I wouldn't even link if my twitter/facebook/blog accounts were...well, normal stuff, particularly if I was younger. Most people I know who have accounts like that aren't using them professionally, but as just a casual way to keep in touch with friends and goof off and gossip.

If that's the case, I wouldn't even include a link because I would worry that it would give the wrong impression. I guess I'm just thinking if all I had was something where I talked about video games with friends I wouldn't, or where I posted silly pictures with friends or something of that nature, but if I had something a little more professional I would.

Is this something people consider? I'm just thinking that the quality and nature of the twitter/Facebook/blog account could make a difference.

MysteryRiter
02-13-2012, 06:05 AM
Haha. The blog/twitter/facebook page I would link to in an email signature is all under my pen name that I "live". So it's really of talk about writing and publishing - mostly self-publishing. If you check my blog you'll see there are actually professional posts and my twitter isn't just about video games. I try to act profesional under this pen name and through a lot of reading the threads here, research, minor experience, etc. I feel like I at least *mildly* know what I'm talking about. Anyway, forget me since I'm really driving this thread off topic but just wanted to clarify. Read some of my blog posts if you don't believe me. :)
ETA: But if your main focus is the question you asked at the end, never mind what I said.

kaitie
02-13-2012, 08:07 AM
Yeah, I actually checked out your stuff before I said it. It was more a general opinion sort of thing. To me it's common sense not to link a website unless it's relevant, but I might actually be wrong on that, and so my reason was two-fold: to make sure I'm right about my presumption, and to also clarify that it's not necessarily blanket advice for any lurkers if I am right.

popmuze
02-16-2012, 11:15 PM
I think a lot of agents and publishers will google your name and/or e-mail address to see what type of web presence you have.

I have positive proof of this, but I still don't know what to make of it. A day after I queried a certain agent, I noticed that agent's web address popped up on my list of which websites logged onto mine. It took the agent about a month to reject my query however.

I'm just wondering if an agent is on the fence about taking on a writer, they might analyze the website and/or blog to check for clues as to why they should turn down said writer.

OohLaLaura
02-24-2012, 08:37 PM
I've been curious about this topic, too.

I have a personal blog where I discuss all sorts of things...books, movies, cooking, children, art, etc. I post frequently...3-5 times per week on average. It is, however, not a blog geared toward promoting a novel.

If I DO start an author's blog, do you think linking to my personal site is a good idea? Or do you think, like Kaitie mentioned, that the personal nature of the blog would seem too unprofessional?

The upside would be that I have a small but regular group of personal blog followers, whereas I would probably be starting with none for an author's blog.