Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tip of the week: blogging and doing it right

A while ago, I posed a question on a forum, to find out if readers visit authors' websites or blogs and what they expect to find. The reactions differed from, 'I can't be arsed', to 'Only to find out if there are other books, the private life doesn't interest me' to 'Yes, I want to know who the person is if s/he doesn't write'. The general consent was: if it's a blog/site boldly advertising the writing only, then readers lose interest quickly.
I share those sentiments. But how to walk the thin line of being a professional author and the private person without compromising each side? The answer is variety, I believe.
Recently, I made my book pages private, as well as the more serious short stories, for only a few visitors would look at them. Visitors to my blog seem to be more interested in my posts, so that's what they get. If they wanted to read samples, they could easily click on the pretty pictures to the left and find out about the books.
It also makes the blog look neater, less clustered, if you will. I have to say, I hate nothing more than clicking on a link and the site takes ages to build up or is full with pictures left, right and centre; I've got a short attention span and will immediately walk away. Tidy is the new black, you see? At least to me, it is.
Then there are topics that interested me. Some writers/authors add tons and tons of excerpts with their posts, sharing either their WIP or maybe a whole book, written in instalments. If you haven't read the beginning, you're lost. You can, however, get a picture of their writing. I admit, I don't bother with such blogs, they're for their audience and probably doing the trick. I'm not sure, though, if authors are aware that people can easily copy and paste their stuff and nick it. Copyright breeches are common in some countries and the cases are accumulating in the UK/US, too.
But, you will now protest, you post excerpts, too and indeed that's correct. I do post excerpts among other posts, whether they're informative, just a story of my sometimes, rather funny, everyday encounter with people, iguanas or recipes, as well as educating posts for new writers. The latter, by the way, is giving me a reason for concern recently. As I have lost the ability to engross in books without wanting to edit, I wonder if my posting about the craft of writing might have the same affect on the poor unsuspecting reader who comes to see what I'm up to. Do they read the post and start picking books apart like I do?
I hope not. Does it bore them? Does it interest them? What do readers really want? I wish I knew. My rants are the most popular, so are many of my Tip of the week posts, though I suspect it's mostly other Indie authors who come to see who I'm slapping now. And I love the discussions that develop from the comments they make. I pride myself to have very reasonable people popping by to leave their opinions, which is nice. There's a mutual respect and I'd like to keep it this way.

Talking about mutual respect; a fellow author who also likes to speak his mind, is Derek Haines, an idiot who left the warm, with plenty of beaches, Australia to live in Switzerland. We made a pact to promote each other after a recent rant.
One of his books, HAL, is free this weekend. Maybe you'd like to take a look and see if it's for you, dear reader.

NB: Just to be clear here: he's not an idiot per se, just for leaving OZ.

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