Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gone Blogger Gone

I know I have to redo my sidebar; there are at least a dozen links over there now for blogs that have closed their doors or gone static. According to my somewhat nebulous blogging rules these should all be removed (Writeminded is the latest to close their doors) but it's too depressing to acknowledge how much of my blogroll Twitter, Facebook and all the other social media trends have eaten alive. Thing is, I keep thinking how Rosina Lippi came back to blogging, and Romancing the Blog is supposed to be eventually returning, and then I don't want to delete anyone's links, just in case.

I've been keeping some form of online journal for nearly ten years, almost as long as I've been a professional writer. As a result I've watched a lot of trends come and go, evolve, get snatched up by Google, etc. From what I've observed over time, the very nature of an online presence trend virtually sentences it to eventually be abandoned en masse for whatever new/shiny/improved thing that next comes along and catches everyone's fancy. Remember when every author simply had to start a blog, and then create a MySpace page, and then do a podcast, and then make a book video? Not so much anymore now that the herd has stampeded their way to flood Twitter and Facebook. No doubt the next leap from there will be Buzz or Vook or some Publishing variation of FourSquare.

For obvious reasons, I'm not going to be named the poster child for traditional online author self-promo. I've never been cool enough for LiveJournal; articulate enough for podcasts, or technosavvy enough to do book videos. I've always felt far too old to intrude on MySpace; same goes with Facebook now. Even if I liked it, which I don't, Twitter is for people with keyboard phones and working thumbs. I've tried lots of other things over the years, too, only to discover that web sites, list-servs, chat rooms and writing communities are huge time sinks that don't justify the time or cost involved, or for other reasons were impossible for me to maintain.

I'm not all about my limitations, though; sometimes I think I get it right. Back in 2000 when everyone was predicting that e-books would kill print, and squabbling among their writing organizations about segregating e-pubbed authors, I guessed that electronic books were going to be a big part of the future of Publishing. That's why I started self-publishing free original e-books online as promo for my print novels, and subsequently founded most of my readership on that free content.

Ten years ago I also suspected online journaling by authors would be big someday, which is why I've been a blogger for so long. The power of free print books has also helped build my readership, and the blog has given me a chance to identify interested readers and put real books in their hands.

I want to keep moving forward instead of resting on my laurels and stagnating, so I constantly think about how I need to change. The keyword here is think, not leap -- I'm not a bandwagon jumper. I want to build the bandwagon myself. And drive it. And decide where it goes. And get off when I decide it's not taking me anywhere I want to go. Which, yes, makes me a huge control freak, but it also keeps me from wasting my time. I've looked at taking some new directions with self-promo that haven't been done yet and that might work really well, as long as I can figure out how to do them myself (again, I have control issues, I admit it.)

One of the great things about blogging is that I get most of my ideas right here on PBW. You guys know how much I love to give away books. Thanks to your thoughtful comments on my Time to Read post, I packed up a bag and paid a visit to the local hospital this week, and (after getting permission from the charge nurse) handed them out on the maternity ward. I'd have never thought to do that without you ladies reminding me of how much I used to read when my kids were babies and I was nursing every couple of hours.

You would not believe how grateful the new moms were to have something to read other than those boring handouts they give you in the You Just Gave Birth! bag. Plus I got to admire some adorable little ones. Tomorrow I'm going to hit a couple of tattoo parlors (yes, I know, how did I make that leap? You guys made me think about other captive audiences.) What do you do when you're sitting there being inked for an hour or two? Reading a free book might be fun, especially if the characters are tattooed, or tattoos are an integral part of the plot, as they are in my Kyndred novels.

Anyway, you have to change with the times or turn into a fossil; I get that. I wouldn't still be in print if I didn't. Not matter how unfashionable it becomes, I'm not giving up blogging; I enjoy it too much. That said, I'm also ready to try some new things. I still believe not following the herd gives you the space you need to be innovative and original -- and even more importantly, noticeable. While everyone is busy doing what everyone else is doing, focusing on what you can do on your own actually gives you a better chance of standing out. Combine that somehow with doing something that you love, and you won't mind the work involved. In fact, you'll probably look forward to it.

What do you guys think will be the next big trend for author self-promotion? Let us know in comments.

15 comments:

  1. I have no idea. Haven't got a handle on the current ones.
    But yes, please. Keep blogging.

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  2. I'm still here. I still read, tho not so good with the comments! and still proud to be on that sidebar.

    I haven't promod my writing, but we've done gorgeous postcards and stickers for events for my chainmaille.

    ( and lo, husband is actually pestering me to oh, finish that novel. I think that's a hint.)

    Still tuff.

    Nico

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  3. I have no idea what the next big trend will be, but I still read writers' blogs every day (yours included) but I never got the hang of Facebook, and I haven't touched my Twitter in months (ooh, dirrrrty). I do like Goodreads because it's easy to maneuver and I've had a few good conversations with readers there.

    Would this be a good time to mention that the link to my blog in your sidebar is incorrect?

    New addy: http://selahmarch.com/blog/

    Thanks. :)

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  4. Hell, I dunno. I do the basic promo I need to do, and the other, fun promo I kind of enjoy do-I keep up a facebook & myspace page because I do get regular interest from them and it doesn't take much time from me once I've set them up.

    I will admit I do love twitter, although I have to cut back on much I'm there.

    Beyond the stuff that I enjoy and that stuff that doesn't take too much time away from writing, I'm not going to worry about self promo.

    Promo is a never ending thing and if we get too caught up in it, it will eat us alive.

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  5. My blog and site are still my focus. Twitter is no replacement. What'll be next? I don't know. I know that my site and blog will continue to evolve and so will my work. I think that offering real content is never going to lose appeal.

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  6. I still prefer blogs. You can get tons of tips on twitter, but it's truly a *social* media - my main purpose in using it is to network, and I'm trying to find crit partners so right now that's important to me. But for helpful content, and a smaller community of like-minded readers, blogs are still best. You can EXPLAIN things on them! Woah!

    I love your book giveaways. I have a box I was going to go trade in at the used book store to fuel my next wave of reading but maybe I'll donate some instead. :)

    And now I need to look for posts about After Midnight because that does not look like a Kyndred novel and I can't remember what it IS.

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  7. I love blogs.

    I blog. (this is where I learn the most about books.)
    I tweet. (this is where I stay abreast of my authors.)
    I FB. (Mostly used for friends and games.)
    I Buzz. (not sure how I feel about this at the moment.)
    I am a techy at heart.

    I recently became aware a great book Broken by Shiloh Walker - how she posted Snippets of the book on her blog and announced them on twitter and her blog. I loved this and found myself checking back everyday to see what else was up. It got me to buy the book and the previous Fragile too.

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  8. Considering I'm still waiting for that acceptance from an agent letter, I do keep my eye on things, but really have no idea what the next big thing will be. I do see online courses now on how to make your own book trailer. I'd have never thought of those to begin with and I still pay little attention to them. They remind me too much of a movie.

    I let everything go this winter though. My depression hit me really, really hard. I haven't posted on my blog in months. But I've started redoing it, have a few drafts I'm cleaning up to post and the most important thing, I'm writing again on my WIPs. So I'm thinking I need to concentrate on those things and let the next great thing happen on its own. At least until I'm back into the swing of things.

    In the meantime, I'll just stop here every day and pester you! ;o)

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  9. Couldn't tell you what the next hot promo wave will be. But I love your blog, Lynn, and I can tell you what attracts me to blogs. It’s the personal touch. Blogs where the author connects with me, I visit nearly every day. And though I may not always comment, I glean book recommendations (and the like suggestions) that drive my spending choices.

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  10. Please keep blogging! I love your blogging voice, and have since I stumbled on to your Starlines blog about six-seven years ago and spent several days reading through the archives (*blushes to admit she's a stalker*).

    I don't think blog are going to go way soon. You just don't get the same kind of thoughtful content on social media sites that you do on blogs. Call me old-fashioned (at the ripe old age of 29 :P), but I like to *read* content, not hear it or watch it. My mind starts to wander if I turn on a podcast, and my recent Farscape binge used up the rest of my video-watching quota for a half-year, at least. :D

    The next big promo wave? I guess I could take a wild guess at it. Maybe going multimedia with e-books? Partnering with other creative people to include original music, art, and animation in e-books? That would be expensive (and hard work!) but I can see that the Internet and going electronic makes it easier to mix creative endeavors in this way.

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  11. I love reading your blog, it's one of the only ones I read every day. The personal touch and applicable (pretty!!) content is where Facebook and micro-blogging can't compare. I agree with Rabia re multi-media; Shooter Jennings has a project coming out with Stephen King and it sounds really interesting. That could easily lead to cross interest from either side. If it doesn't suck. ;-)

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  12. I love your blog too, so don't go away.

    I wondered if you could get your freebies listed or a pointer to them on these free ebook listing sites:

    Online Novels and Finding Free eBooks. It would be a chance to give them more exposure. Besides your blog, they are two others that I visit every day.

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  13. Jeez... I've followed your work and blogs since your Forward Motion days (Think Tank was great!)

    What more can be done? Are future generations going to want more flash fiction? (Can't help but think of Demolition Man where the music trend was of popular commercial jingles.)

    We're bombarded by the noise of information every day, the immediacy of it all. People want sound bites, encompassing snippets, highlights.

    I think you'd have to do a quick study in social trends to answer the question.

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  14. As a lover of great books I admit I do blog, tweet, facebook. I also love good reads. It is a way for me to connect with other readers and get book recommendations. I also visit authors forums because I know fans of the books I love will probably recommend great books for me to read.


    For me it doesn't matter about the medium the author uses as long as I can find out the booklist of released books. And find out information on books that will be coming out from those series.

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  15. Finally got around to reading this post (I saved it on my RSS feed), because I'm needing to do promotion, and I haven't updated my blog in awhile.

    I can't believe you've been around this long, but then we got Internet access sometime in the mid-90s and that's when I found Lilek's site (and he's still at work at the homestead).

    I suspecting now that the fads can help you reach new fans. They will come and go. Flash and fade. But you always need a home for people to come to, so blogging and your web site will always remain a fundamental part of any marketing strategy. (Next Powerpoint please? Whatddya mean you can't see it? *grumble*)

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