I had a new post up on The Criminal Element yesterday – Dynamic Duos: Remington Steele and Laura Holt.
I had a new post up on The Criminal Element yesterday – Dynamic Duos: Remington Steele and Laura Holt.
(No, this is not an April Fool’s post!)
Public Service Announcement:
Starting this month, I’m reducing my weekly blog posts from seven to four – in general, I plan to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, though the weekday posts might move around a little due to circumstances, or increase for special occasions (for instance, if I have photographs from a conference).
Sundays will still be poetry days for the near future, and I’ll be continuing with World War One poetry for a while.
I enjoy coming up with blog posts, so writing the posts isn’t a problem; but I am frankly curious if the frequency change will affect this blog’s traffic.
And for your further enjoyment, Issue 1.2 of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies is now online, featuring an interview with Joanna Russ!
I first met fantasy writer Shveta Thakrar when her writing group invited me to give a reading or talk about my writing. I chose to answer their questions about writing and my experiences with publishing, and a good time was had by all. My life is the richer for the friends I made that day.
I was thinking about Shveta’s journal recently as I gave advice to someone about their blog. Shveta sometimes posts interviews with other writers, like this one with Amal El-Mohtar. If blogging is community as well as personal platform, I can’t think of a better way to show that than to establish new links, new connections, like when friends of friends of friends meet at a party. I’ve often found new blogs to read in that way, and even made new connections.
I’ve been thinking that, after I’ve done the major promoting for The Duke and The Pirate Queen, that I should work on my skills as an interviewer, perhaps featuring some of the people I’ve met over my years online.
For those who are interested in non-Western folklore, I highly recommend Shveta’s article In Search of Apsaras in Cabinet des Fées. “I love faeries. I grew up reading all about them, believing in them, dreaming about them. I collected all the drawings, books, and winged figurines I could, I gobbled up lore like forbidden faerie food, I made wings out of poster board and glitter. I could rattle off bits of trivia like how the use of iron kept away unwanted visitors, that the fey inability to lie didn’t preclude trickery, and that a brownie accepted gifts of food in return for cleaning a house. When things got bad, I told myself I was fey. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that it even occurred to me there might be faeries outside Western Europe–specifically, outside the Victorian take on the Celtic and British traditions.” Go, read!
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1. Blog about My Five Favorite…. This could be your five favorite romance novel plots, or your five favorite movies of all time, or your five favorite reviews of your work, or anything really. I’m doing that right now. *cue Twilight Zone theme* …I suppose you could also do “My Six Favorite…” or “My Seventeen Favorite….”
2. Blog about your News. Don’t have any? Are you sure? You don’t have to have made a recent sale. You can blog about the accomplishment of finishing writing a story. Or finishing reading a book. Or passing your driver’s test. Or finding topics to blog about. It’s okay to write about something other than your writing or reading every once in a while.
3. Be inspired by pictures. Collect a folder of pictures, either print or digital, and use them to get you started. Bonus points if you include the picture in the post.
4. Use the Headline technique. Visit CNN.com or any site that has lots of headlines (this also works with magazine covers). Choose some headlines that appeal to you. The object isn’t to comment directly on the headlines, but to see how you can make the ideas or topic of them relate to your writing and/or reading.
5. Post links. You know all those useful links you’ve been collecting? Post them, preferably in some sort of topic-related group, or with commentary that helps link (heh) them together. You won’t be the only one who thinks they’re useful.
Writers Never Run Out of Blog Topics.
Since I’ve begun this blog, I’ve started to notice more and more bloggers who complain that they don’t have anything about which to blog.
My first thought is always, “then don’t blog,” but of course that isn’t a good answer if you’re blogging because you’ve set yourself a goal, or because you promised to write a guest post for someone, or some other reason that makes blogging feel more like a necessity than something fun.
For the record, I think blogging is fun. I wouldn’t bother, otherwise. I’ve been blogging since I opened a LiveJournal account in the summer of 2001, though that journal is much more personal than this one, and encompasses a wider range of topics. I’ve made over 4,000 posts (not all of them are public). (Admittedly, some of those posts are just statements of the previous night’s wordcount.)
Here are my thoughts on what to do when you can’t think what to write in your blog. Some are less serious than others. Some of my suggestions that aren’t terribly serious can actually be treated as serious suggestions, and might result in interesting posts. Also, these topics can be used more than once. Your answers will change over time, as I’ve noticed from looking back at how I wrote about writing before and after I first sold, and as I gained more confidence as a writer.
1. What are you working on? How do you feel about it? Are you attempting anything new with this project? Is the new thing difficult for you? What made you attempt the new thing?
2. What inspires you? What do you do when you are having trouble starting a project? (See how this one ties into having trouble blogging?) What keeps you going while you write? How do you make it through to the end of a project?
3. Pick a specific issue of writing craft and describe how you handle it, the parts that are easy for you and the parts you haven’t yet mastered.
4. Where are you now? Where is that, in comparison to where you were six months ago? A year? Five years? Ten? How have your goals changed?
5. Write about books or writers that have influenced you, either through reading or through direct contact. Who are your mentors? Who are your mentors whom you’ve never met? What book do you wish you’d written? What book do you wish you could write that isn’t quite the book you wish you’d written?
6. And now for something completely different: spend a day or a week or a month writing about your research trip to Grand Rapids or Paris or Nairobi. Write about stories your family told. Write about strange experiences you’ve had.
7. Tell your own story. Most writers have blogged about their path to publication, often more than once. Find a new angle. How did others help you achieve that goal? What happened after your first sales? What do you wish you’d done differently?
8. Query your audience. You don’t have to ask them about writing or reading. Ask them if you should henna your hair. Ask them what their favorite food is. Ask them what they want you to blog about. And answer the question yourself, as well.
9. Picspam! Choose a selection of pictures, and write about them. They might have a common theme, as when I post World War One research photos, or you might make the connections yourself. Write your thoughts. Write some facts. Write a story.
10. Invite guests. Your friends have unexpected knowledge or talents. Show them off.
Related post: 5 Blogging Inspirations.
There are all sorts of guides to help an author through the process of promoting their book online and to tell them how to keep that effort ongoing. I find them all a bit depressing. The reason? I know how big the internet is.
“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” –Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The internet may not be as big as space, but it’s much, much bigger than I can comprehend. There are blogs and websites that I will never, ever encounter, no matter how many odd searches I run. True, a lot of those sites won’t be relevant to my book, so aiming publicity in those directions wouldn’t do me any good. But it only drives home to me the sheer number of people who use the internet every day. Beyond that, there are billions of people who never use the internet at all. Anything I do online, therefore, is a drop in the bucket. Even blogs with traffic in the thousands every day are tiny, when you think of them in comparison to The Daily Dish or Mashable or BoingBoing.
And, of course, the number of bookbuyers who never even peek online is much larger than the number of bookbuyers who do. An author will never hear a single word from most of the people who read her book. The number of people who post reviews of even some of their reading is, in comparison to the total numbers of readers, vanishingly small.
There are ways to reach a bigger audience on the internet, but I’m not sure I want to do that. It takes time and money to promote via an author newsletter and contests and the like. The time, especially, I grudge. I don’t want to take time away from writing fiction to promote so extensively. I don’t think it’s necessary to familiarize the entire internet with my name and book titles, only those who might want the information (or that I assume might want it). This is especially true because I write erotica. There is a very large audience who don’t like erotica whom I feel it’s useless for me to approach. Some readers from that audience really, really don’t want me to approach, and I am fine with leaving them alone.
I promote online anyway, to some extent. I’m, hopefully, promoting to an audience already disposed to be interested in my writing, which makes the effort more valuable in comparison to the time spent. I write guest posts for other people’s (relevant to my writing) blogs, announce my publishing news on various social networking sites, and have an author website. If nothing else, those things mean that readers who might want to send me email have an address where they can send it. The excerpts and information I provide on my books might persuade a reader to buy my book. It might not make a difference to the masses of people out on the internet, but it makes a difference to those few. If I’m lucky, some of those few will like my writing enough to recommend it to others, whether online or otherwise.
However, online promotion makes a difference to me, too. Promoting is doing. It’s an aspect of writing which is under my control. When so much about publishing is not under my control, that’s perhaps the most important reason to promote online.
As for this blog, it’s not really a promotional vehicle, though I do promotional things on it. I just like to talk about writing and publishing and books…if people read it, that’s extra. If readers comment, that makes blogging more fun, but it isn’t necessary. I needn’t fear I’m forcing my opinions on anyone, as they can read or not read as they choose. Most importantly, I enjoy it.
So what do you think? Do I have it all wrong? How has the online promotion business been for you? Good, bad, indifferent?
Today’s silent film star, if you haven’t already recognized him, is Rodolpho Alfonzo Rafaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla, also known as Rudolf Valentino.