Monday, May 20, 2013

To Blog or Not to Blog


Some years ago—I can’t remember how many—we writers were first told to set up a website. Then we were instructed to blog. “Blogging is an essential part of your marketing arsenal. You will attract readers this way.” I took an online course in blogging. I started my own blog, which I only wrote sporadically. I joined a group blog. It disbanded. A few years later, I joined another.

I blog. Almost every author I know blogs. But like many of my fellow writers, I’m beginning to wonder if blogging gets me new readers or sells copies of books. Most of the people who respond to my blogs are my fellow writers. Most of them are my friends. Of course they’re all readers, but I’ve no idea what to blog about so that readers who aren’t writers will read what I’m writing,

Every day I receive notices via Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo groups of new blog posts. I don’t have the time to read most of them. Everyone’s blogging, but who’s reading them? The posts I read and comment on fall into three categories: 1) the topic is interesting, 2) it may prove helpful regarding marketing, and 3) it’s written by a friend. One of the best reasons for blogging—though not its original purpose—is to keep in touch with writing friends.

But maybe I’ve become too pessimistic. I think blogging is here to stay as a means of communicating with others. I don’t blog very often on my own blog, Tides and Tidings, but when I do, it’s about a subject I care deeply about. A few weeks ago I blogged about “Life Changes” and how life changed for me after my husband died. Many people responded to it. And I’ve won several books by leaving a comment. How cool is that! Most recently, I left a comment on one of my cyber friend’s blog, and her editor emailed me regarding my books. The upshot is, I’ll be sending her a manuscript.

And so, for now I’ll continue to blog. Who knows? Soon another social media may arise, one we can’t even imagine. What do you all think about blogging?

23 comments:

Palmaltas said...

I have not blogged at all this year except for one in January about the books I read last year. I have mixed feelings about blogging and only read a few written by friends. I'm beginning to think that the word "blog" should change--that it turns off many people. I like to blog or as I prefer to day, write articles, about things that interest me or humorous anecdotes about my family history or silly things I've done. And I like to write about books. But at the moment I'm not doing any of that.

Patricia Gligor said...

I have mixed emotions about blogging too. Sometimes, blogging is fun. At other times, not so much. Like you, I can't help but notice that most of the people who leave comments on my blog are other authors and/or friends. But then, I look at how many people visited my blog that day and I realize that my posts are reaching a lot of people. Surely, some of them are buying my books. :)

Marilyn Levinson said...

Pat--both of you--thanks for visiting. I agree, blogging takes away from our writing. But it can and often does reach people. I wish there were a way of our knowing who and when.

Polly Iyer said...

I'm one writer who never blogged. I'd been asked to join a couple of groups, one with my best writing pal alone with her, and the thought broke me out in hives. (Euphemism) I can't imagine I'd have enough to say, often enough, that hadn't been said better by so many others. Every time I have a blog to write for someone's blog, I panic. What if my blog isn't interesting? I agonize over it for a long time. I'm agonizing now over one I have to write in July. Whenever I've written one, it took me forever. I put as much thought into a blog post as I do my books. Why would I do something that causes me so much angst? So I never blogged. I agree with you, Marilyn. I see great blogs with little or no comments, most frequented by other writers. I can name on one hand the blogs by an individual I think are terrific. Group blogs have a better shot at being interesting because of the number of people and the different input. Maybe if I ever have thousands of fans, I might blog. The possibility of that is nonexistent, so I'm safe.

Patricia said...

I'm another skeptic, and I just started blogging last month - because my first book is coming out in July, and authors are supposed to blog. I don't think my blog will do much for my book, but it has had another happy result. As noted, the world has no shortage of blogs about writing. My heroine restores old houses, something my husband and I have done. I started blogging about the houses we've restored and quickly realized I was really sharing family history. My grown children and maybe even grandchildren are an interested audience; ditto my sisters. We've talked about other family members contributing. If people outside the family find it interesting too, that's frosting on the cake.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Polly,
Having read two of your books so far, I'd venture to say you'd have plenty to talk about in a blog post. If you ever consider blogging, I'd suggest you do a few guest blogs. Do an interview. Then all you have to do is answer questions:)

Marilyn Levinson said...

Patricia,
Actually you're doing exactly what the blogging guru -- can't think of her name right now -- said we should be doing: writing about topics that interest us.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I also have mixed feelings about blogging, which I've been doing since 2008 on five separate blogs (three of them my own. Two of them, Mysterious Writers and Writers of the West, feature my fellow scribblers. And I hope their interviews and guest blogs have gained them sales and new readers. I was able to publish two books of the interviews, which have sold moderately well. If nothing else, I've learned about various aspects of writing from blogging for others, so it's not a waste of time, although it does compete with my writing.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I hope to connect with other people through blogging. I know it's mostly other writers. But that's okay because we share the same interests. And I'm not just a writer. I'm a reader too. So I love finding out about the work of other writers. It's healthy that we share thoughts and ideas.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Jean,
I wish there was a way to find out how much social media pay off in terms of getting us more readers.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Jacqueline,
I love being in touch with our fellow writers, too, but that's done so much easier via Facebook. Blogging is time consuming. One blog I was involved in--and this was my idea--was to have two writers holding a dialogue on a subject related to writing mysteries. It was fun for a while.

Elaine Will Sparber said...

I feel much the same way as you, Marilyn, as well as everyone who's left a comment here. I've just started blogging as part of two group blogs. For each, I blog every other week, and luckily, the weeks alternate, so in effect I blog once a week total. That's all I can handle. Like Polly, I worry about having something to say. But even more than finding the time and a topic to write about, I don't have the time to read blogs, which makes me feel guilty about asking people to read my blog posts.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I love to write so I love blogging. I do think I've gotten some new readers from blogs--and I enjoy reading some blogs and have tried books because of posts on blogs.

Blogging in itself won't help unless you have followers and you promote each blog. I'm sure I drive people crazy with my promoting of my blogs. I love having guests and I've noticed some guests don't promote at all--so of course their particular post is not going to sell books.

Will I keep dong it? Probably, because I enjoy it.

Valerie Horowitz said...

Marilyn, I've been reading your blogs for quite a while, and have been moved by them. But I'm a bit of a lurker and don't comment very often.



Valerie Horowitz

Heidi Noroozy said...

Marilyn, I've thought about many of the issues you raise, and discussed them with my blogging pals. On the group blog I belong to, we sometimes have a person comment on every single post for a couple of weeks or even months and then disappear forever. Other followers read regularly but only leave a comment when a post really moves them. I don't agree with the idea that there are too many blogs out there. Yes, everyone seems to have one these days, but there are also lots of books out there, and that doesn't stop us from reading them. People (like me) who love blogs will always find the time to read them. But if you're blogging because you think you should not because you enjoy it, it would be better to find another platform. It takes up far too much time!

Ellis Vidler said...

I have a blog. That sounds like a confession in a 12-step program. For me, it's closer than I like. I posted articles and interviews and guest posts regularly for almost three years. At first I read others' blogs and tried to leave comments (often a challenge in itself), but gradually that dropped to a very few.
Now I've come to the point where don't have anything left to say and it takes time to get guests.
Last month I put mine on sabbatical. I may go back but right now it's 50-50. Since then, I've started reading other blogs again--a much better plan for now.

B.K. Stevens said...

I've had a lot of the same doubts you've had, Marilyn. That's why I've never started a blog, although I do write guest blogs occasionally. And I feel guilty if I don't respond when someone in one of my online groups promotes a blog, but there's only so much time--it's too easy to let writing get crowded out altogether.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Elaine, Marilyn, Valerie, Heidi, Ellis, and BK:
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feelings about blogging.

Valerie, thanks for reminding me that people do read one's blogs and may find then of value, even though she/he doesn't leave a comment. I try to discuss topics that are relevant and worthy of discussion.

Heidi, Some blogs I really enjoy writing. I think it's doing so many guest blogs when each new book comes out, that's daunting.

I love having guest bloggers, though some don't bother to respond to comments.

Marilyn, I think you're a natural blogger.

Ellis, I think taking a break from blogging sounds like a great idea.

marja said...

Marilyn, The way I look at it is a blog might be kind of a showcase for our writing style. It may not be the same style as our books, but it let's people know we can write a sentence that makes sense. Plus, for the most part I have a bit of fun with it.
Marja McGraw

Jim Cangany said...

Great topic, Marilyn. I hope that someday I'll have time to blog. Between family, a full-time job and my writing the hours just aren't there...yet. So I'm keeping hope alive that there's at least a little blogging in my future.

city said...

thanks for share...

Jana Richards said...

Marilyn, I know where you're coming from. I actually like to blog; it's my favorite social media. But it takes a lot of time to do it well. My hope is that if I keep putting stuff out there, readers will notice me. Or that's what I tell myself anyway.

Morgan Mandel said...

For a while, I blogged every day on my personal blog. Now, I still blog on my group blogs, and occasionally on my personal one, for special occasions. These days, so many social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, nag for attention each day it's hard to keep up with them.

I try to spread the networking around and hope somehow I'll connect with readers and other authors.

Morgan Mandel
http://www.morganmandel.com