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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Time... There's Never Enough of It!

If you read my post on Monday, you know that social networking has been weighing heavy on my mind. One of my goals for 2010 was to expand my activity in this area, and I've regrettably gone backwards. Or have I? I'm not so sure that it's a huge priority right now. Obviously, marketing is important when it comes to selling a book, but what about for those of us who don't have a book to sell yet? How important is social networking? Some of you will remember a series of post I did about a year ago involving using social networking as a marketing tool. I still stand behind every single one of them, but I have some additional thoughts to add. For those of us who are not published yet, building a platform is a daunting task, and reasonably so. I think this is because, in part, we aren't ready for that yet. How do you market something that isn't for sale? Ever since I came back from my five week blogging break, I've noticed an increase in people stepping back from social networking because they are overwhelmed by the time it takes. I'm so glad I'm not the only one feeling the undue pressure. My blog isn't going to help me sell books. I mean, seriously, unless I wrote a book about shoes, how in the heck would this be a good marketing tool? Maybe, if I wrote women's fiction, it might work, but for young adult... I don't think so. My point is this: each and every one of us needs to define what blogging means for us. After we do that, we can decide how much time we should devote to it. If you are an unpublished author like me, the majority of your time should be spent honing your craft, not socializing here. Now, that's not to say that interacting with others who are learning as you are isn't helpful. I'm just saying don't beat yourself up about not blogging regularly. Writing should be your priority. Blogging is an enjoyable pastime that helps me associate with others who are in the same place as me. When I start feeling too much pressure, well then, it's like the bad friend who sucks me dry because she's too needy. When it feels like that, it's time to take a break. If I didn't, my posts would be ridiculously boring, and who wants to read that? I love you all dearly, and the decision to start blogging was one of the best I've ever made. I hope to feel that way in years to come. Thank you all for sticking by me during my inconsistent blogging period. So, you tell me, why do you blog? Are you feeling undue pressure? I hope not. If so, let it go, because there are much more important things to worry about.


Faith said...

I used to feel a lot of pressure, and would avoid my blog for weeks on end... but at this point, I've realized that if I don't blog, so what? I'd rather be an irregular blogger than a panicky regular one, and often that blogging time can be put to better use elsewhere -- like writing my novel. :) You're so right... there are plenty of more important things to worry about!

Mohamed Mughal said...

I blog to share ideas. No, I don't feel pressure to blog. Writing (blogs, novels, poems) is my indulgence in creative expression. I will never let my indulgences take on a sense of pressure; they must and always will be a source of intense pleasure.

BTW, love the shoe on your 4th of July post!

Mohamed :)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I have a whole slew of reasons listed on my sidebar, "Dissecting the Blog." I like to keep in the practive of writing, especially when I'm editing. I love connecting with other authors. I enjoy being understood when I write things like POV, MC and WIP. I like this world. I fit here.
~ Wendy

Nancy said...

I enjoy blogging because right now, it is my outlet for creative writing. I just love how blogging keeps you in contact with like-minded people. This week I am busy so I'm only posting once. That's the way it is and the way it should be. You have a very good perspective on it all.

Stephanie Faris said...

I don't think I feel obligated to blog. In fact, most of the time if I'm blogging, I'm putting off working on my novel. I just enjoy the instant gratification of posting a blog.

jbchicoine said...

I couldn't have stated it better, Susan.

Elana Johnson said...

I like your direction, and I agree with most of it. Here's where I think you might reconsider. When you say your blog isn't going to help you sell books, I think that's wrong.

Your blog does one thing: BUILDS YOUR BRAND.

And what's your brand?

Your name.

So the more people who know your name, who know your blog and what to expect, who are familiar with YOUR BRAND, the more people will buy your book.

They'll be out at the store, and when they see your name (your brand), they'll go, "Oh, I've heard of this person."

And that may get you in their basket over someone they've never heard of.

And that's why I blog. Not only do I enjoy it, but I'm building my brand. And I do believe that it will help me sell books.

Anissa said...

I tend to blog in spurts and have to curb the guilty feelings when I neglect it. I think you've nailed it here. The writing must come first. And the children. ;)

I hope your revision is chugging along. Or are you finished? I've been a bit absent.

Kaye Dacus said...

I started blogging in 2006 as an outlet for teaching and connecting with other readers. Now that I'm published, it's one of the main ways in which I connect with my readers. Sure, I don't always blog about stuff that everyone who reads my blog is interested in, but within a two week span, I'm bound to hit upon some topic or another that will capture my regular readers' attention.

I talked at length with a publicist at ICRS about social networking, and one of the things she confirmed for me that I've been thinking about for a while is that most writers start blogs before we're published and we connect there with other writers. Yes, they're also readers and will be some of the best word-of-mouth marketers we'll have. But the hard part after getting published is changing that focus from connecting with other writers to connecting with readers who don't have/want to have anything to do with learning the writing rules.

So if you can figure out a way to blog/use social media so that you're connecting with a wider audience than other writers, you'll be far ahead of where most published authors are now!

Natalie said...

YES!!! You are brilliant Susan, you know that right? I do think blogging is important if: 1. You are actively looking for an agent 2. Your work is on sub with editors 3. You have a book to sell

And it's probably good to build and create new relationships in between these times too, BUT writing always has to come first. I've finally realized this. I think it's healthy to take breaks every couple months. Then blogging feels like less of a chore and more of a fun diversion.

Stephanie McGee said...

I started blogging as a means of chronicling my journey to publication. Those early posts were filled with much randomness. Now, I blog to express thoughts and concerns, explore issues within the craft and within my writing, and to connect with like-minded people. I don't know anyone in my offline world who writes, except for those whom I've met through blogging. It's nice to have a support group for those down times in this process. That's what blogging has brought me and I keep up a regular schedule to keep that conversation going. But everyone understands fully when I need that break.

lotusgirl said...

I agree with you completely on this. When blogging gets too much I step back and take a break. I have nothing to market right now but myself. I've used blogging as a means of finding writing friends online up to this point. Someday that may change, but for now it is enough.

#167 Dad said...

I've decided to self publish and I think my blog will help.

I have enjoyed your blog. I am part of your your considerable audience...

Lydia Kang said...

This is an interesting discussion. I've loved making new friends, practicing my writing, and opening up discussions on various writing topics. But I agree with Elana--ultimately, it is a kind of brand-building, if you want to sell your book. Luckily, the perks are so much fun it hardly feels like work!

Carolyn V. said...

I started blogging to get my name out there. Now I blog to keep in touch with my writer-bloggy friends. It's nice to know we are all in this together. =)

Diane said...

If it is a chore or dread for you, then definitely step back. When the time is right, you will move forward again with more vigor and passion and God will be behind it to give it the extra momentum. Hugs!!!

Jade said...

I used to put all this pressure on myself. I had to blog every day. All my posts had to be really funny and informative. I had to visit everyone who visited me. It just gets too much.

Now I post when I want to and get around to other blogs as much as I can. I think my posts are probably more interesting when I'm not forcing myself to blog.
I figure that if people like my blog (god only knows why!) they'll keep coming back even if I don't comment on every post they do.

I have to remind myself that it's MY blog and I started it to chronicle my writing journey as well as to make writing friends.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Until a few months ago, I wasn't really into blogging, bt that has changed. I've met some amazing people through blogging, and some of them have given me some great feedback on my wip. It's much better because of them. Plus I've learned so much about from writing while studying the posts that my skill level has improved big time.

However, right now I'm reducing my blogging time since the kids are home for the summer. I'd rather be editing than spending all my time reading blogs. It's hard though. I'm afraid of missing something great. :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Your post is very refreshing. I constantly feel the pressures of blogging and even though I've cut back on it, there are still times when I feel guilty for not being as consistent as I was for a year. But establishing that writing is my priority right now has helped. Mostly blogging is a learning tool for me now, a chance to help improve my work and maybe share some of what I've learned with others.

Laura Best said...

Why do I blog? That's a very good question. I haven't figured it out for myself. Honestly, I don't expect to have a large number of followers all clamouring to read my latest posts so it certainly can't be for that reason.I know I'm really not THAT interesting.

I started my blog so that anyone who was interested in looking me up, after the publication of my book, would have a place to go should they want to learn a bit about me as a writer. But it is time consuming and I still feel that my time would be better spent writing fiction.

Perhaps oneday I will decide I've had enough until then I guess I'll keep going.

Nice to have you back, Susan.

Laura Pauling said...

My writing time always comes first. I blog to have a place for hopefully a potential agent or editor to learn more about me. And I blog to connect with other writers.

But, it's always about the writing and the story. I think a blog and social networking helps create buzz but it won't push you onto the bestseller list. I'll purchase a book because It's something I want to read not just because I recognize the name. I'm a firm believer in that a great book and word of mouth is the best marketing tool there is. Everything else can only get you so far.

I think its a personal choice. When you have it figured out let me know! :)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I don't mind if the bloggers I read take a break, I don't read every day, only when I have time. And if you've got a new post at that time, I'll read it.
I also don't pressure on myself to post regularly. When I have time and something to say, I blog. I try to keep it fun. I enjoy the social benefits I get from blogging. The writing community is awesome and the support and things I learn are worth the time.

Jamie D. said...

I blog for two reasons - because I like to, and to connect with both other writers, and potential readers. To that end, I have content for both readers and writers on my's not just about writing.

I'll admit, i don't really "get" the stressing out over blogging thing...because I enjoy it, even when it sometimes feels like work. For me, the pros far outweigh the cons.

But if it's causing that much stress, better to back away and not push. It may indeed help sell books, but we all have to choose how far we're willing to go for that. ;-)

T. Anne said...

I think blogging will help with networking within the industry and it certainly can't hurt if it makes people aware of your novel once it sells. I've order plenty of my online friends novels and plan on pre-ordering the ones who will be published soon. I also pass books along to my reader friends. I'd like to think every little bit helps. BTW, I think you absolutely should write a book on shoes!

Tabitha Bird said...

Honestly, I blog because enjoy it and I have met some cool people. I give it the time I have. i feel good about that.

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Midlife Jobhunter said...

Blogging goes up and down for me. At first, felt pressure to post every three days, while watching some post 1-2 times a day. I decided I wanted something different. Now, with a busy life, I hope to post something of substance at least once a week. If more comes up, so it goes.

And when I finish my book and it goes up for sale, you all better buy it. Period.

Jeanette Levellie said...

My sentiments exactly. Thanks for illuminating them in a better way than I could, or have time to do!

I blog because it's fun, and I learn so much about writing and writers. And when I have something that needs to be said, I don't have to wait to get a book or article published to say it. Like Stephanie, I enjoy the instant gratification it yields.


Karen said...

I blog for the fun of it. I'm not a writer with a blog. I'm a writer who also blogs. I like the connections. I like challenging myself to write something just about every day. I like meeting people and learning from them and not just learning about writing. I enjoy learning about their lives and their pastimes and what is meaningful to them.

I know blogging might be a good tool down the road. But that's not what I'm using it for now.

Heather Sunseri said...

I read Friday's post before I read this one (I know I'm a cheater). I'm finding there are so many reasons that people, especially writers, blog. Selling a book is just one of those, and I agree with you. That becomes a great reason to blog once you have a book to sell, but I still don't think it should be the only reason. Until then, we must really break down the reasons we blog and make sure it's the best use of our time. There are many reasons I blog and they change and evolve every day.I know it is one of the best things I've done since I started writing because of people like you, who I have met and connected with for different reasons. Thanks, Susan, for your insightful post!

jenheadjen said...

So, you know I love this new world I've discovered in blogging, but I hear you. Some times it's just like that needy friend you mentioned. The funny thing was, I tried reading this the other day, and the link to it was exactly what I had been thinking (no time for everything!), but the page wouldn't load. It made me laugh, the irony of thinking there was no time, reading the heading to your post on no time, and then blogger timing out trying to load it! Made me laugh. ha!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Great topic and discussion in the comments. I've blogged five days a week for a year as of tomorrow. At times it has felt like an obligation, but 95% of the time, it's fun and I enjoy connecting with others.

It can be a time suck though and hard to balance. Where I drew back was with my commenting on other blogs. I used to be a reciprocal commenter and tried to make it to most of my followers blogs. But once you pass a certain number of followers, it becomes impossible. So, I'm not as good of a blog buddy as I used to be, but if I was, I'd never get any writing done. Like you said, writing has to come before blogging.

Glynis said...

I consider my blog as my writing group. I have stepped away from Twittering and Facebooking on a regular basis.
My writing has become my priority, along with my author blog. I consider the two part of my platform, for the future.

I no longer feel overwhelmed each day, with trying to keep up socially and it is so much better.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

My blog is not nearly as prolific as your is, Susan, and I've still managed to fall behind my goal.

I have tried to post twice a week, and feel horribly guilty when I miss a post. But I thoroughly agree with you, the writing MUST come first. Add to that vacations, high school sports practice schedules, and college preparations in the works for my oldest, time is just more limited. As much as I adore corresponding with my fellow bloggers and writers, there are only so many hours in a day. Priorities! said...

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