Wednesday, October 10, 2012

To Blog Or Not To Blog

I love a rollicking dialogue on the web.

Last week Rachelle Garnder posted about the need  for authors to have a platform, the hot topic of 2012. The first commenter was none other than James Scott Bell, author and writing teacher and a man on the forefront of the churning waters of the changing publishing seas.

He opined that writers should focus on writing to build their quality, publishing short stories and books. He suggested that blogging was the biggest time-suck for authors, especially unpublished ones. The return on blogging was perhaps there in 2007, but not in 2012.

Another well-known writing blogger, Jody Hedlund, answered with a post on this issue. She took a more measured approach to blogging, relating side benefits that can come from blogging: networking with other writers, finding a voice, and learning about the industry. She couldn't point to her blog being a major reason behind her success, but felt it did play a role.

The irony of this discussion being played out on blogs is not lost on me.

Bell answered back on Jody's blog, conceding that there are ancillary reasons for keeping up a blog. He held to his main point about a blog being a poor option in creaing a platform. He noted that Rachelle and Jody have created strong platforms through their blogs, but that is a rare position to create a new blog that really puts someone's name out there.

I'd have to agree with Jim. I've been blogging since 2006. The advice at the time was to start blogging and build a base that would end up following you into publishing.

Well, I've been pretty consistent through the years. I wish I could say I've created a large tribe that would spread my message hither and yon. Alas, that's not the case. I did have Anne Rice comment on a blog post once. Whoo-hoo!

So if I was only doing this to build a platform, it hasn't played out very well.

The thing is, I also agree with Jody. Blogging has done a lot for me even if it isn't counted by numbers.

Through blogging I've been introduced to several people online that have continued to encourage and challenge me in my writing life. It has kept me disciplined in writing regularly, even when my fiction writing sat idle for a couple of months at a time. I've reviewed a lot of books through here, so it has fed my reading habit. I would suggest it helped open some other doors, like writing a column for the local paper.

I've seen some friends develop a platform through their blogs. Mike Duran started around the same time. He's managed to build a healthy community of commenters that make it an intelligent site to follow. Becky Miller is a go-to person in the realm of Christian speculative fiction since she works tirelessly to promote it. Jordyn Redwood found a niche by answering medical questions on her blog, which plays into her primary job as an ER nurse and her medical suspense. These folks have managed to build something special.

But the common thread here is that I've interacted with each of them through the years because I have a blog.

If I were talking to a brand new writer, I probably would point them to Jim's advice about putting their effort into fiction that they can start to get out there. I've been doing this too long to quit, although I've tried to do a two posts a week schedule this year to stay consistant but not as pressured as when I tried to do 3-4 a week.

Most of my opinions are similar to the comment threads of the blog posts by Rachelle and Jody. If you're interested in the discussion, check those out.

As someone who has done the blogging thing for a while, I couldn't resist throwing out my experience. If I had to do it over again, I wish I had spent a little less time blogging and more time on writing, but I don't think I'd say I wouldn't blog at all.

What say you? What value does blogging have for a fiction author over other writers or professionals? Do you lean toward Jim or Jody?


  1. Jason:

    Blogging for me is the auxiliary power unit that I need to get going before the real work of writing can take place. If you don't start the a.p.u. the big jets never hit the runway.

    I use as my platform to fling out thoughts that really don't fit into my "writing" and would make my head explode if I tried to contain them.

    It lets me comment on everything from restaurants to veteran's suicide. And I find that on those days that I "don't want to write" it helps me meet my commitment to write something every day. It keeps the pump primed to throw in another metaphor.

    Finally, it is building that platform. I've gotten comments from readers wondering when my books will be published so that they can buy them. If nothing else, that has provided hope in some bleak moments. So I will keep writing, keep growing that base of interested people and keep amusing myself if that's all it winds up doing.

    Besides, my mom's a subscriber and this way I don't have to write her letters. It gets me off the hook.

    Keep up your work on the blog, I really enjoy what you write. And, when your book is published I'll buy that as well. (See, it is encouraging!)


  2. Jason, it's a tough go after years of posting with so-so results. However, if we hadn't ventured onto this avenue, you and I and countless others wouldn't have the friendship we have and perhaps the perspective you've given in articles like this one. I know a lot has changed for me since the day I decided to start a blog. A lot of the "advice" in how to "succeed" in the publishing industry is, well, flush-able in spite of being given from well-known, celebrity-status professionals. Some is very good for those who desire to write within the status-quo. And some is just more of the same.

    Blogging is demanding, taxing, and requires consistency and diligence. Sometimes it's just flat hard. Other times it's addicting. And sometimes it's a total drag. Results? Negligible. Terrific. Mediocre. Sensational. All over the map. But just one of many choices available in the social stratosphere.

    No one can decide for you what is best for you, what will truly help you, or what will propel you to where you want to be. That's an individual decision. Spiritually speaking, it's prayer-worthy. I don't lean toward anyone's recommendations because they speak from all different levels of the publishing realm. Let the Lord make the decision. Then you can't go wrong.

  3. Joe - Ha! I love your sense of humor. I'm glad your mom can get these glimpses into your life. I'm pretty sure she doesn't see my posts, so your comment is safe here. I'm glad to hear your perspective on it. It is a good outlet.

    I always make it a point to enjoy September 19th on this blog - Talk Like a Pirate Day. Just because it is awesome to say "Arrrr!"

    Nicole - you, Mark Harbeson, and others are why I say the relationships are reason enough. I think you can take sage advice from "pros" like Rachelle and Jim and use that in your decision and discernment. If I had heard the no blogging advice in '06, I probably wouldn't have done it. As it was, Brandilyn Collins's recommend got me into it. And it helped me have a connection to her when I met her at the conference.

    Thanks to you both for your thoughts.