Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The W-List

NewYorkMetro.com has a long but interesting article on those who have (and haven't) turned blogging into big bucks. Definitely worth a read if you're interested in how much money the A-List makes (where do writers come in alphabetically on this list, I wonder? At W?)

I started PBW mainly for friends and a small circle of acquaintances, and as it grew beyond that have tried to keep it primarily a resource for writers. If I help another writer, I score one for me. As in, if I can do something positive for every rejection letter, every scam attempt, every unfair deal, every hatchet job and every act of envy or malice I've seen or experienced, then I balance the scales. Publishing's scales are seriously out of whack, so I think I'll be doing this for a while yet.

In return, most of you guys have stopped in here daily, cheered me on, taken me to task, applauded my highs, commiserated with me on my lows, shared ideas and info, and otherwise provided a constant connection with a community that has never before accepted me. The road-to-hell paving of my good intentions aside, I've benefited from your presence, your comments, your weblogs, and this connection. Someday I'll get all soppy and tell you exactly how much. Until then, thank you.

Many of you have also gone out, bought a lot of my books and made this a very popular place. This is supposed to be how it works, and I'm grateful for this, too, but I'm not exactly comfortable with it. I don't think of you as my market. I think of you as a hundred other variations on me, out there slogging away at the job and in need of that same connection. The only thing that eases my guilt is that I'm not constantly shoving my books in your face and demanding you buy and admire them and, by extension, me. I want to give back, not take. If I somehow forget my purpose and start doing unattractive things like that, please, God, boycott me.

I still have fun doing this, too; it's a pleasure every time I log in (tonight especially; I've ditched my revisions for an hour to give my brain a break.) I got to sneak over and congratulate Stephanie Tyler on her first sale, MacBride on his birthday and turning, what, twenty-two years old? as well as catch up on a little e-mail. The timer just dinged so I have to log out, but tomorrow I'll be back. The business of blogging will always be a factor whether I like it or not, but it's the pleasure, those scales, and you guys that keep me posting.

Your turn: should we writers blog for business, pleasure, to keep those connections hooked up, to pay it forward, balance out the scales, or all of the above? Tell us what you think in comments.

32 comments:

  1. I think it partly depends on the personality of the writer. I hate to have someone forced into blogging but I really enjoy blogs where I learn something, I get other perspectives on the business of writing and I hear about the writer AS A PERSON.

    I don't read blogs beyond the first time or two if all I ever see is a sales job on their latest book.

    As an aspiring writer, I really appreciate those writers who take the time to teach and offer insight. If I become published, I intend to try to do that too - I've learned so much that *I* feel a need to try to give back.

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  2. I love your blog and learn a lot as well as have fun. To my mind that's the perfect blog. And I'm intrigued by your statement that the timer had gone off so you had to log off. Do you use a timer to limit the time you're on the net? I'm thinking of doing this.

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  3. A writer should blog because they enjoy it. Anything else comes across. It's up to the reader to decide if they want to follow the bog and whatever the writer is offering...
    I enjoy your blog for a lot of reasons: the recommendations on books, your sense of humor, your total respect for all things revered in the writing industry, your glimpses into what is important to you, your writing pointers... the whole package. I enjoy Holly's blog for many of the same reasons.
    Mostly though, I enjoy them because when I've finished reading them I often find myself thinking.

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  4. nico on night shift6:00 AM

    You've been a terrific inspiration for me, and the knowledge that you have my address should I ever toss my manuscripts in the ocean is a powerful motivator.

    I read your blog because it's a great one, full of information and strangeness and thoughts and honesty.

    I buy your books because I'm HAPPY to. And I finally got Blade Dancer to its happy recipient, for which he was delighted.

    Giving back, you've done for me in spades and I am grateful.

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  5. I'm reading your blog because I found out you were blogging--by this time I was already reading your books--somewhere on the internet.

    The reason why I'm still here is that you write a great blog. Pure and simple. I read plenty of other authors, but I don't stick with the ones who are all promo, promo, promo.

    I agree with Keziah. It's perfect. :)

    Thank you, for taking time to share with us.

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  6. I blog because… well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s a pretty lonely job being a writer and I think the blogging thing helps with that. Gets us a nice sense of community we wouldn’t otherwise get. Stops us from going MAD!!!

    And I like stopping past Casa PBW for a cup of tea of a morning. Next time I’ll bring cookies.

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  7. You should do what suits you best!

    Writers blogs are a bit like the patter of musicians between numbers.

    I benefit when you talk about the craft or the industry. It also makes me keener on reading your books, which seems fair.

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  8. I think writers should blog to be themselves. If that means they impart advice or share horror stories or even just encourage people to try a new author, so be it - it's an insight into what kind of person they are. I don't think there's any "business" in it, other than that you may gain new readers who like your wit/sarcasm/humor/whatever and want to see if it comes across in your books. Attracting people to who you are is a better benefit - makes you a human being who writes, as opposed to some lofty author who sits on their millions and ignores the world.

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  9. I think it's all of the things you mentioned, but I agree with Stuart that it also gives us a chance to get out of your heads for a bit and be 'social'. Well, as social as us writers can be *grin*

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  10. Thanks for the congrats, Shelia!! I"m still floating :)

    As for blogging, I think it should be done for all the reasons you mentioned - I've heard more and more stories straight from writer's mouths about how agents / editors found them because of their web prescence - but the reason I blog is because it's fun for me :)

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  11. I've recently become aware of the line between "writer with a blog" and "blogger." And I've pulled back from crossing that line. There's a point, if you're linked enough or have enough buzz, when you're seen by a lot of people, particulary PR folks, as simply an online billboard. You get deluged with requests to blog about products, events - heck, I even was asked to blog about a certain reality TV show that involved trading spouses.

    Then, too, there are the many additional blogging opportunities that a lot of people do - doing group blogs in addition to their own, writing content for sites, attending conferences. It turns into a job description, an identity - these are Bloggers - but to what end? That's the thing that puzzles me. What's the pay off? Where will it take you? And most important - does this keep you from achieving your real goals? Because it's been my experience that a lot of Bloggers want to be Writers - that's often the reason they started blogging in the first place.

    Recently one of these Bloggers - with a capital B - emailed me asking how on earth I managed to find the time to, you know, WRITE. Because she's so frustrated that she's yet to finish a manuscript, or start querying agents, etc. And I responded to her by saying, simply, "Well, I just do it. Because I'm a writer. Not a blogger."

    I think it's important to remember why you're doing this, and what you hope to accomplish. Me, I just wanted to have a place where I can talk with women like me, and yes - hopefully get a wider audience for my books. But that's it - it's not who I am. I'm not sure, in the long run, how much satisfaction I would get by being a blogger, not a writer with a blog. For sure, I wouldn't get any more books published.

    (Although I would get a lot more free products from the people who keep asking me to blog about them!)

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  12. I started blogging because my editor asked me to and sometimes I'm still self conscious about what I key in and post (or don't post, as the case may be). I try to be myself, not a marketing machine. I run into marketing driven blogs from time to time - Buy my book! Here's the latest review! Buy my book! Aren't I great? I'm a kick ass writer! Buy my book! - but they turn me off. I'd rather read about, and hang with, real people.

    Blogging is sort of like having guests over to your home in a weird kind of way. Do you treat them nicely? Maybe offer a snack? Slam the door in their face and be short tempered? Never let them past the foyer, or take their coat and say, "C'mon, let's sit in the kitchen and talk over cocoa." I hope folks who visit tamboblog regularly can feel comfortable just coming over and have no qualms about helping themselves to a beverage and whatever's in the cookie jar. I'm friendly and I hope the blog is friendly, too. I make a point not to be political, although sometimes it's difficult, and I also never talk crap about another writer. As far as I'm concerned, we're all in this together and there's enough stress, strife and venom in the publishing world without me adding to it. Mostly I keep to my three main topics - writing, quilting and life, and play nice while I do it.

    Since I'm still learning the publishing ropes myself, there's not much paying forward I can do, but I do try to share my philosophy, my work ethic, and the struggles I face as I move from Iowa housewife to pro writer. There is more to my life than writing - it's what I do, not who I am - and I try to show that as best I can.

    I've met some great folks while blogging, made lots of friends, and learned more than I ever thought I would. So, in the end I think I'll have to say "all of the above" from your list, just in my own quirky way.

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  13. What Melanie said. My blog supports my marketing efforts, but it's the work itself that pays the bills. By recognizing that, I'm able to avoid the constant self-promotion and/or begging for money that makes the "A-list" so irritating.

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  14. I'm with Mr. MacBride. :) This is my first stop of the day, coffee in hand. (Please pass the cookies!) Your daily entries are not only informative, but also entertaining. I think author blogs give a sense of who the writer is in a fairly intimate way. It's a bit like getting a personal letter every day, each one with a small glimpse of "life as a writer". That you choose to share so much of the cogs and wheels of the industry with us is a gift.

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  15. I blog because ...

    A. Though I do not make a living as a writer, I think other writers who are hoping to make a living as a writer need to know a few things about their career of choice. By nature I am cynical and thus other writers seeking publishing happy thoughts and sage advice should avoid my posts on writing. An example of the advice I might offer? "Learn to love cat food, because on the income you will bring in as a novelist that is probably all you will be able to purchase for the pantry." Nina Bangs woke me up to that financial reality although I believe she is eeking out enough now to actually own a cat AND the cat food.

    B. I am a computer geek with opinions. I feel compelled to share that the City of Salt Lake is injecting employees with RFID tags and your job could be next. I feel compelled to share that technology has advanced enough to self destruct an email you don't want floating all over the web forever and to track a document like your manuscript to phone home to you with the identity of who's reading it and who is not. Non-geeks might need to know these things.

    C. Every now and then I sense that I need to get out, even if it's just online, so I post social chat and a rare update on my family. For some weird reason, posts about my husband seem to be the most popular.

    and

    D. Once in a great while I accidentally finish a manuscript or an article and someone publishes it. The resulting guilt drives me to do at least the minimum to get the word out. Fortunately this is a rare occurance. Still, even anti-social, writer-computer-geeks need to network so I joined up with the GCC and twice a month I help out a fellow author by sharing their latest book release info and sometimes my own opinion on their work if I've read it.

    I blog. Anything pretty much goes on my blog. I have guilt because I probably should do more on my blog to sell my book and push my published articles, but such is life.

    The blog I sign on PBW with is a driving blog for my 80 mile each way commute to work rants. The blog I am describing above, Computer Colonics, is at www.FerfeLabat.com and a donation of catfood is required if you want to read it. Fancy Feast Salmon if you want access to the good parts.

    ~ Ferfe

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  16. I have blogged on and off for years, but without much of a direction. I'm a pretty boring person, why should I blog?

    But after reading blogs from other writers, I found out that your boring stuff is still interesting to me. So I thought my boring stuff may be just as interesting to someone else.

    I do find lovely comments on my blog from others, which is really the best part about blogging. Connecting with others and sharing the ideas. I have learned more about the life of a writer from reading other's blogs than I have from all these books I read on the art of writing. I even got back into writing every day. (Early, I might add. Funny how I was so reluctant to wake up for work when I had to be there at 6am but I have no problem rolling out of bed for 2,000-5,000 words. ;))

    As a writer, I do feel lonely at times. A lot of the work I do is solo. I couldn't imagine doing this alone without any feedback or reading such wonderful blogs every day for inspiration and advice.

    Thanks PBW, and thanks to everyone who keeps a blog on here. Do know that I pop in often, even if I don't leave a note. I'm still reading.

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  17. I love to blog. For me, it's a form of self-expression and as a writer, very natural.

    The inevitable self-revelation terrifies me though. I was constantly worrying about the effect on my writing, so I made it registration only.

    Really took a huge bite out of blog traffic, but that's fine. I know everybody who reads my words wants to be there.

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  18. A timer? A TIMER?

    I am just starting to think I may be able to get a grip on the OUTLINE and you throw a timer in there.

    I am dashed.

    Why I blog? Because when I'm writing I like taking breaks and that's how I do it. Kinda like opening up the door and waving hello at the neighbor walking by with his dog.

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  19. I started blogging for many reasons, including the opportunity for yet another small writing/artistic outlet. My blog also provides me with a means to share my love of trees and forests with others. A big part of why I blog is to provide my audience with something enjoyable to read each day.

    My hope is that my little blog offers readers a smile, a little inspiration, a good thought, a good memory, or at least a brief respite from the endless gurgle of hype in the communication world.

    I never intend to use my blog as a revenue-generating tool. In addition, I detest online advertising – especially anything that flashes, moves, or pops over, under, around, and through!

    If my blog were ever to rise in popularity and purpose to such a level where it became a revenue-generating tool by default, all such revenues would go 100% to supporting not-for-profit tree/environment related organizations.

    Speaking as an as-yet-unpublished writer, your blog and others like yours are so helpful to me! They provide me with something good to read each day, and they connect me with others in the writing process (both as an art and as a business). Blogs like yours encourage me to keep trying, and provide me with new ideas and inspiration.

    Thank you for blogging Lynn – it’s always a pleasure to stop by the PBW.

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  20. I started my blog for a simple reason: I like reading writers' blongs, so I thought someone somewhere might be interested in reading mine.

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  21. PBW, I hope the end is in sight for those revisions!

    I love your blog, whether you write about the holier-than-thou Sisters, or how you envision a story scene by scene, or direct us to terrific new books. I found your blog before your books, but I would have been reading the Darkyn series anyway. Now I'm hooked on StarDoc. :-)

    Mostly, I'm so very thankful for your "pay it forward" and words of inspiration and encouragement. I hope I can someday offer even a fraction of such support to struggling writers and will count myself lucky and honored.

    My own blog is just me. Monster incidents, writing vs. dayjob, my struggle to find my voice and niche. I try not to go on and on about the kids or dayjob. It's a recording of the journey for myself, but if anyone else tags along and reads occasionally, I'm very grateful. :-)

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  22. I like what you do here. I say do what you like and you'll attract the kind of readers who like what you do.

    As for me, I run the 1st Novel Project in conjunction with my blog. The blog is about me and the things I'm doing. The 1st Novel Project is about the actual writing of my first novel. It's a member-by-application place where I store all the writings of my first novel. Perhaps it'll be useful when I get to writing my second novel. Who knows.

    What's important is that it's me. I don't get too many hits there, but that's not a problem. I can't cater to an audience if it means turning my leisure writing into a chore. Besides, I'll attract the wrong kind of people if I do.

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  23. All of the above. Or because you love to. Want to help. Share your thoughts with the world.

    My personal only *caution* is for marketing. If you want your blog to MARKET your writing only--then make sure you tell your vistors up front. Like newsletters--and then we can gauge if we want to come back. :-)

    But for everything else--do what you love. And you will gain readership (of course, if that is what you want).

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  24. All of the above. Or because you're bored. I always think being bored is a good enough justification for doing most things :) I started a blog so I could have a place to rant, rave and ramble. Otherwise I start talking to myself (in public!), which worries my mum and which I'm sure you'll agree is not a healthy habit. :)

    By the way, I wouldn't feel guilty about making money off the blog, if I were you. You've put in so much work and effort into your books and blog, why shouldn't you enjoy the benefits? I actually ike the fact that I can find links to your books through your blog because it saves me the trouble of having to look elsewhere. I would probably not have heard of you if I had not come across your blog, so I'm glad I did. Your blog is great, your books are great so keep up the good work!

    PS: good luck with the revision

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  25. There's an A-list? Why am I always last to know these things?

    My answer is all of the above. I want to share the things I've learned if it can be helpful to somebody else. I enjoy the sense of community and connecting with readers and writers alike. It's fun. And I do believe in balancing the scales and sending out good vibes.

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  26. I think it takes a very skilled hand to blog for publicity without seeming like you're doing just that. Blogging is like writing; you should blog what you know, and what you love. To do otherwise is tacky.

    Also, I can absolutely say that if not for this blog, I'd have never been stuck in my bedroom this morning reading one more chapter of If Angels Burn and then cursing you for making me late for work. So in the marketing sense, this blog has succeeded on me in that I know who you are and I know to look for new books by you (under your various known names) when I go to Borders.

    And finally, while I'm always thrilled to hear about a published author blogging, I am not so thrilled to read bad blogging authors. Some writers write books, and some writers write blogs, but the two are not necessarily the same, and it's dangerous for an author to assume that just because they can whip out a 900-page epic in six months they can also write compact, enlightening, and interesting blog posts. Writers who are bad bloggers often turn me off to buying their printed offerings, even though I know that they're two different things.

    I blog about my writing because I've been blogging for seven years or more and it's just an extension of myself anymore to keep a running log of what's going on in my life. It's a way for me to chart my own progress, and it's fun (and humbling) to find a post from five years ago and remember who I was then. I don't want to teach people; if someone comes away from my site with a new insight, that's great, but I'd prefer not to be anyone's sherpa. I like to think that the people who read my site do so for two reasons: they are fellow unpublished novelists who want to hear another voice in the wild, or they are observers who are fascinated by my inch-by-inch descent into madness. :)

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  27. I started blogging because a bunch of people kept asking me if I had a blog. I liked doing it, so now I do it because it's fun. If it's not fun, I won't do it, so I don't see it ever becoming something other than a mishaculanza of whatever I feel like posting about. :)

    Linda

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  28. I started out blogging because the VP of Marketing at my publisher said strongly recommended it. I could see that blogging was a great way to connect with readers, supply fresh content on the Internet, get exposure for my name and books, etc.

    I quickly discovered that I really LIKE blogging. I call it getting in touch with my inner Erma Bombeck. I enjoy coming up with posts, love the reader comments, and really like feeling so connected to a community of writers and readers.

    I blog to entertain. If someone thinks that I'm entertaining and tries my books, that's a bonus. In the meantime, I'm thrilled that people enjoy my posts.

    Blogging's fun. That's reason enough!

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  29. I started a LifeJournal in Dec. 2004, basically in order to be able to read Friend Locked posts of other FM members with LJs. Then I thought that since I had an account I could as well use it. That was my undoing. *grin*

    I got a Blog in May 2005 because it has some features LJ has not, and because I wanted an 'official' net presence besides the more private LJ one. Now I'm a lot more active on my blog.

    I blog to entertain and sometimes, as in writing related posts, to start discussions about writing problems. I also love the Historical Fiction Writers 'blog community' I found via all those sidebar links. Before, hist fic had been a niche genre for me, there were few others I knew who wrote it. Since some months, I can have all sorts of interesting discussions on several blogs, including mine.

    I've met a bunch of cool people outside the hist fic group as well.

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  30. If I help another writer, I score one for me.

    I just wanted you to know that you have. Score one for you.

    I don't have sufficient time this morning to address your real question, but I think it an interesting and important one.

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  31. I blog for all the avbove reasons. ANd I Blog Hop for them too. I think a blog shoudl help people who read it get to knwo the blogger better. That means I blog about writing, abotu life, about ups and downs in my personal world. I don't often blog about writing how-to's or such because I really don't feel qualified to. I'm doing it all by the seat of my pants, so I try to show my personality. Show that as much as my stories are important to me, there's more to me than just them.

    When I read blogs, I read them for all different reasons. However, I go back to the blogs where I feel peopel are putting a bit of themselves out there, not just a business /promo one.

    It's a community that I feel a part of, and thankful for.

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  32. Oy, I'm late to the game, and I fear it has all been said.

    First and foremost, blogging is FUN. Beyond that . . .

    It keeps me sharp, since I am writing for an audience every single day.

    It's the only way I can network, since I can't get to any of the cons, and I have doubts about the worth of cons anyway.

    I usually don't think of myself as being in the pay-it-forward category, but I know I have managed to motivate some of my friends to write more. If nothing else, they're blogging now, which is better than not writing at all.

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