Monday, January 08, 2007

Blogging Isn't Temporary

Stay tuned! After some brief commercial messages, JA will make an important point about the Blogosphere...

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My friends Marcus Sakey and Sean Chercover have debut novels coming out this month. You've no doubt heard about them on KILLER YEAR and THE OUTFIT.

Visit THE OUTFIT today to enter their pretty cool writing contest. They're offering seven signed books to the winner--one from each member of that blog. I'll also throw in a signed copy of THESE GUNS FOR HIRE. But you have to tell them that JA sent you. ;)

If eight free books isn't enough, I encourage you to sign up for the free ITW newsletter, where you'll have a chance to win 150 thrillers by the top authors in the field. I'm not one of them---I was on tour when they collected the books. But you should have already bought my books anyway, so that shouldn't matter. Besides, there are plenty of other great books in that collection, and you know you want it. Visit www.150thrillers.com.

Can you stand another blog about mystery publishing? Even if you can't, go check out HEY, THERE'S A DEAD GUY IN THE LIVING ROOM. Jeff Cohen promised he'd give me a dollar for every person that goes over there and comments. So tell all of your friends, because I already spent the money on beer and tacos.

For the thousands who frequent this blog but still aren't sick of reading about the importance of self-promotion, check out JANA OLIVER and you can hear me preach about it in a podcast. A whole hour's worth. Normally, I try to be funny during live interviews. This one is more of a "beating reality into the heads of newbies" interview. Besides, how cool is it to get your daily dose of inspiration on your iPod?

Finally, if you live in or near the Big Apple and want to harrass me in person, go to Unbound: Advancing Book Publishing in a Digital World. It's an all day conference, sponsored by Google, at the New York Public Library on 5th and 42nd. Hear me wax prolific about the future of publishing, then hear some really important people disagree with me. Should be fun.

Coming soon: an annotated index for A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, with over 200 useful entries described, detailed, and organized. Thanks to Rob Siders, who must be some kind of masochist, for doing this. You'll no longer have to hunt and peck your way through dozens of previous blog entries to find the one paragraph you're looking for.

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Okay, the commercials are over.

Blogging, like newspaper and radio, is often mistaken for a disposable form of information. Yet I get lots of hits from Google on old blog posts, and many of them continue to accrue comments.

Pay attention to what you're posting today, you bloggers of blogland. Because it will still be around tomorrow. If your posts are topical, or without purpose, you're not doing yourself a service.

Let me repeat that: Blogging Isn't Temporary. What you do now may one day be surfed by someone who isn't even born yet, and that path will lead back to you. Do you want that path to result in interest or apathy?

Think about why you blog, and what purpose it's serving. Look at your last fifty entries. Will they be of any interest to someone in 2017? If not, why do you think they are of any interest to anyone now?

That's why I don't do memes. That's why I don't blog about personal stuff. That's why I don't push my own books constantly---no one ever seeks out ads. And that's why, except on rare occassions, I don't blog about events, peers, friends, family, or what I watched on TV last night.

Your blog is a tool. But too many people are using hammers to scratch their asses rather than drive nails. If you blog as a form of entertainment, that's no problem--have fun. If you blog to increase your name recognition, you may be doing more harm than good.

Now I'll take questions.

Q: But JA, if this blog isn't about promoting your own work, why are you doing it?

A: Go to www.foodnetwork.com. What do you find? Recipes. Lots of recipes. Do they help raise the Food Network's Nielsen ratings?

Q: What exactly are you saying?

A: If you provide a service, or information, or entertainment, it leads to brand association and name recognition in a positive way---much more positive than you could ever get from a commercial or an ad.

Q: I still don't get it.

A: People have so many choices concerning what to buy and what to do with their time that they've become very selective. They don't want to be sold anything. They prefer to cater to their needs by seeking out information without being battered with it. Then, once they find something that works, they stick with it.

Q: How does this apply to author blogs?

A: It's about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell. Content brings people back, makes them talk about you, and continues to be relevant years later, leading more people to you. And unlike advertising, you don't pay for it, and it lasts longer than a few newspaper issues.

Content leads to name recognition, and more opportunities to promote yourself. A certain number of these people who discover you will become your fans, and help spread the word. You don't link to an ad. You don't tell your friends about this cool billboard you saw. But you pass along content, and how to find content, all the time.

Q: I've often wondered why only a few people link to my blog, or post comments...

A: Are you telling the world something they want to hear? Or are you telling the world something you want to say?

Q: Has this blog helped you sell a lot of books?

A: I've sold a few books thanks to this blog--books that I wouldn't have sold otherwise. I've also gotten a lot of press, speaking opportunities, and publicity from this blog--opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise.

You can travel the world and spend a lot of time, money, and energy hunting for mice. Or you can bait some traps, sit back, and the mice will come to you.

Q: You keep ragging on advertising. Doesn't advertising help spread name recognition?

I don't believe that name recognition alone sells books. I can name hundreds of authors, and thousands of products. That doesn't mean I buy them.

But name recognition PLUS a positive experience does sell books. And that's what I'm trying to do with my blog, my website, my MySpace, my newsletter, my articles, my free e-books, my short stories, and my career; provide a positive experience.

Advertising isn't a positive experience. Sales isn't a positive experience. Climbing to the top of a pole with a megaphone and shouting "ME ME ME!" isn't a positive experience.

Offering content in the form of information and entertainment is a positive experience. Personal interaction is a positive experience. Word-of-mouth is a positive experience. Providing a service is a positive experience.


Take a close look at your blog. What kind of experience are you providing?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Never mind discussions about writing, publicity and so on. I did a post about happy toast.

Top that ;-)

Bernita said...

Yet I get lots of hits from Google on old blog posts
So do I - especially the one titled Medieval Porn
~dies~

Anonymous said...

You can count me as one who bought your books because of your blog.

Jeff Cohen said...

I don't remember that $1-a-comment deal, Joe, but thanks for the mention. So far, I guess I owe you a buck. But I don't know if I have the doe.

Tasha Alexander said...

Joe, great post. As per usual...

Bill Peschel said...

"If you provide a service, or information, or entertainment, it leads to brand association and name recognition in a positive way---much more positive than you could ever get from a commercial or an ad."

This is also all about schmoozing, which is my way of seuging into this Guy Kawasaki post that I found enlightening.

Even more so if you look at the date: Feb. 1, 2006. I didn't realize when I read it yesterday (referred from someone's blog) that it's over a year old.

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Julia said: All of your books are on their way to me (taking their damn time because I live overseas), the result of a friend directing me to your blog.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Very few people can do what you do with your blog, Joe. It is entertaining, educational, provocative. And it lifts my spirits as a writer when I go to your blog and get reassurance that I'm not alone in the struggle.

And another thing about those archives of posts. They are all content. If a blogger is posting regularly and has tons of posts on his site, Google notices.

Google loves it when you have lots of unique content on your site, because it means you are offering a large volume of information to users. So, it helps your Google Page Rank, which translates into better search engine results for your site.

Keep the great posts coming, Joe.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I started out blogging as a kind of diary about my experiences with finishing a novel and trying to get it published.

When I made my deal, the blog evolved into a chronicle of my adventures in publishing, along with some tips for writers.

Now that I'm a month away from publication, I ask myself, what am I blogging about?

I'm simply blogging about me. My experiences, my thoughts, my feelings about things related to publishing and books.

I probably break a number of your rules.

But I've discovered that blogging isn't all about book promotion. It's merely a form of expression that I enjoy and a way to stimulate conversation -- which I also enjoy.

I sometimes wish I could simply blog for a living. I have a great group of people who regularly contribute and whether any of it translates into book sales seems less important to me now than it once did.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't love to sell a ton of books, but the blog just isn't all about that.

It's about having fun.

JA Konrath said...

I'm all for having fun, Rob. I have a lot of fun on this blog.

If you blog for fun, keep at it. But also know that you're leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that could last for years, and that could be very helpful to your career.

I believe things can taste good and still be good for you, and things can educate and still be entertainment.

One of my goals when I blog isn't to make anyone feel bad about what they're doing. It's to make people question why they do the things they do, and what they hope to acheive by doing them.

We all want to sell more books. But the methods we use to reach that goal are often vague and ineffective.

spyscribbler said...

But please do tag on reminders about your books. They're not content, and I don't read blogs that exclusively deal with release announcements, but I do want reminders.

If I'm reading the blog, I'm loyal enough that I want to read the book. (And I usually bookmark the blog or read by feed, not the website.) I'm also forgetful, and need more than one reminder. :-)

Rob in Denver said...

HA! Masochist. Yes.

You also forgot rube!

Anonymous said...

Offering content in the form of information and entertainment is a positive experience.

Good point, Joe. Unfortunately, there are lots of people out there who use their blogs as launch pads to personally attack and insult other people. Recently, I stumbled across a blogger who referred to a book reviewer as “prolific as diarrhea” and a “fraud.” Congrats to you for staying away from that type of stuff and for keeping your blog positive, friendly and filled with legitimate content.

Mary R said...

I think the Food Network recipe site adds greatly to their viewership. Why? Because if you watch the show and think the food looks tasty and doable, you can download the freakin' recipe! Unlike the PBS cooking shows where you have to buy a fancy hardcover cookbook.

I don't think I'd watch it at all if I couldn't get the recipes easily. And the shows refer you to the website for further instructions or variations all the time.

Lisa Gates said...

Joe, lovely post.
As much as I love the thought that our words, our posts may come back to us from the digital dustbin now and then, I also love the idea that blogging is, er, forgiving, if you will.

Right or wrong, I like putting the cart before the horse, otherwise I'd never do anything. So when I started my blog, I wasn't exactly sure what I'd focus on, but I just stacked one letter next to the other and bit by bit I've been finding my way.

So, do you think early missteps will also find their way back to us (she said, swallowing past the monster truck tires in her throat)?

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe!

Great post. I even enjoyed the ads--I'm really looking forward to Marcus Sakey's debut. He's a fellow Michigander, and The Blade Itself sounds like one exciting book.

I'm with Rob--I primarily use my blog to detail my experiences trying to find an agent and publish my novel. While I don't update it nearly as frequently as I should, I do try to talk about things that I think will help other writers who are also trying to find an agent or get published.

That said, I also use Blogger as a networking tool. I e-mail the authors of blogs I read, and establish a connection with them--which often leads to more hits on my blog. Most of the time we trade links, too, which helps both of us.

Anyway, I just read there's a giant stench floating over New York (yeah, seriously), so I figured you might be there. :P

JA Konrath said...

And let the recent Blogger outtage remind all of you that if you consider your blog important, back up your entries as text files.

Tom Schreck said...

I consciously chose not to blog.

I couldn't think of anything new and I didn't want to chronicle the book writing experience.

If I did more situps I'd do some beefcake photos of me to drive traffic but my most people haven't thought that would be a good idea.

Anneliese said...

Your blog totally got me to buy your books. For my boyfriend, and now, for friends. I buy to give, or, I give a referral to someone needing a read. I love the authors' community that you present here; the reading about writing. Keep on doing what yer doin'!

the insect said...

Oh, thank you! Sometimes I despair at the sheer number of pointless, drivelly, memegasmic writers' blogs out there, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who recognizes that no, most people do NOT care about what a struggle it was to meet your wordcount goal today!

Dawud Miracle said...

Personally, I'm interested in finding ways to help newbie bloggers and nonbloggers find their way into the blogosphere. There's a number of barriers for people, especially the non-techie types. But I wonder if the biggest barrier isn't us. Is the blogosphere too cliquey? What do you think? You're certainly welcome to view the post I've written and add your two cents to the conversation.