As I was going through some of my earlier posts to create an archive page for this blog, it really struck me how different the tone and content of my posts were in 2008/2009 vs. these last few years as an author/agent. I think the shift started with the dissolution of Google Reader and the smaller audience of people that moved to another RSS reader. (After Google Reader shut down, I did move to another RSS reader – but probably did fall off from following RSS feeds shortly after that as it was another service to log into, and by then I was using Twitter.)
Anyway, reading my posts from the late 2000’s, they feel much more like I’m talking to a specific audience and that I’m telling a bit more of a story or really hosting an on-going, casual discussion about what was changing in publishing at the time. A lot of those posts have been deleted – partially because ten-year-old news doesn’t have much value for today’s readers, and also because those posts don’t really stand alone as much any more. Or they’re more appropriate now for tweets – but of course, back then most people weren’t on Twitter yet.
In 2010, when I was exploring self-publishing, I also thought about my blog a bit more like the “news” tab on a website – and used it a lot to link to other guests posts I’d done or quick book news as an author. But I guess a lot of these posts fall into the same category as above – people were on Twitter, but my blog was being used like a Twitter feed, too.
Today, blogging feels more like putting out a single issue of a (very short) niche newspaper every post, where it’s more likely that one issue will cause a stir but then the next few issues may not see much change at all from your normal traffic pattern. Now that social media drives traffic to smaller blogs, instead of blogs themselves being the traffic initiator, it feels like you’re reintroducing yourself with each post. And maybe that’s why the tone of this blog has shifted too over the years, to be a little more professional and a little less “here’s a cool link and some off-the-cuff thoughts.” Especially as social media has become that venue for off the cuff thoughts and conversations. (Also, to be fair, I’m ten years older, so there should be some change in tone, I would hope!)
(I know in some ways – particularly with agent news – I do still use posts a bit like a news/Twitter feed. But I feel like the value add here is that if you’re considering me as your agent or you’re a reader that’s a fan of my clients’ books, you can easily click a tab and see what’s been going on lately for my authors and illustrators.)
All that said, it’s also interesting to blog while being both an author – where you would want to be a little more open and friendly – but also as an agent, where you’d want to be more professional. As an author I could tell you that I once had a folder specifically for pictures of ducks I had taken in the wild (“the wild” usually being some sort of creek or marshy area by the library), but as an agent it feels like too many of those would end up with a reader’s first thought being, “Ah yes, the duck girl!” (Okay, I’m actually totally fine with that – as long as the follow up is “Ah yes, the duck agent… with great client books!”)
Anyway, I’d be super interested to hear about how authors who started blogging recently are thinking about their blogs (or if this is a big part of your marketing plan at all?) I’d also be very interested in hearing from authors who plan to engage solely with readers, and not writers.
And for readers who drop by, I’d love to know how many and/or if you regularly follow author blogs currently?
(Finally, if you don’t regularly read blogs but would like to keep up to date on my books, publishing advice and work from my clients, you can sign up for my monthly newsletter, The Quacktory.)