Friday, October 03, 2014

Promo Friday: To Blog Or Not To Blog

I've been blogging for twelve years. As far as I'm concerned, there is no question as to whether or not I'm going to blog. I do have doubts as to whether new writers should start blogging now, though.

When I started, I found six children's literature blogs on-line. Now, between review sites and children's/YA authors, I'm guessing there are thousands. Just look at the litbloggers who have registered with Kidlitosphere Central. And the writer bloggers who have registered with it. Oh, and here are some more bloggers with Kidlitosphere Central. And how many children's lit blogs of all kinds are out there who haven't heard of Kidlitosphere Central? Yet we're all competing with one another for readers.

The number of blogs has escalated. The number of readers, not so much. Many blogs that have been around a while have seen a decrease in activity. Blogging is like publishing. You hear about bloggers with readership that skyrocketed in just a few months. But then there are all the others.

Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, which does "theme-based marketing for children’s authors, illustrators, and publishers,"  is well-known in New England, if not the country. She is definitely a fan of blogging for writers. In her blog post, SCBWI Whisper Pines, she answers questions from participants in last winter's Whispering Pines Retreat. Over and over again, she says things like, "Gosh, my answer is always to blog" and "I hate to sound like a broken record, but I guess if you have very limited time and have to focus on one thing, it would be blogging deeper."

Actually, she's kind of encouraging, making points that a blog post has the potential of reaching more people than a public appearance and is out there waiting for people to find it while an appearance is done and over. I don't know how often that happens, but right this minute I'm kind of pumped up.


Ms. Yingling said...

I still find it hard to find blogs with a narrower, book related focus. I like to read book reviews, because that's really helpful, but I don't care as much about other library related topics. I guess the questions bloggers need to ask themsevles are "Wh are my readers? What d they want?" Hmm. Maybe nit exactly your topic, but now I will ponder!

Gail Gauthier said...

I think that people who write advice for bloggers suggest asking those very questions. I think it's particularly hard for writers to find a focus. Writing? Marketing? Reading other writers' books? My personal life?

It's unlikely we'll find a lot of readers who are interested in all that, but at the same time, if you narrow your focus, you eliminate all the people who would have been interested in something else.

What to do? What to do?

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Great questions! I've seen my blog traffic increase over time, and this is still the case. It may be, as you've said, in part because I launched Cynsations early in the blogging timeline.

As for focus, I'm fairly broad under the umbrella of children's-YA literature, creation and publishing.

However, I have a "More Personally" section and "Personal Links" as part of my Friday roundups (toward the bottom) and do now and then post separately about my own big children's-YA author news. And links about my geekier interests.

But I don't do a separate post to announce every interview link and review quote I'd like to share. Those are folded under the "More Personally" part of the roundup.

Also, I feature tons of photos of my contributors' pets. In my experience, my readers love pics of pets and food most of all.

Gail Gauthier said...

Cynthia, I also think that in addition to being early, you've been consistent with posting, and you do a lot with the children's lit community in Texas, which appears to be large and active. In fact, I've been trying to do more with Connecticut writers (the monthly calendar, in particular), inspired by your blog.

I've tried to include more images (covers, for instance) over the years, but I have been thinking recently that I need to increase use of real photographs. I'm not crazy about pets, but, hey, I could do food. Hmm. You've given me another idea.

tanita✿davis said...

Despite the fact that it seems like blogging has no more room in it, publishers are daily encouraging debut writers to reel out a blog. I know someone struggling with this same question - because she has been on the blogger/reviewer side of things in the kidlitosphere for years - now faced with trying to come up with a blog.

While for many authors it's almost automatic to blog about How To Write YA, I personally feel it's wasting my time to blog about writing in that way - frankly, if you can write, you write, and don't try to teach others unless you're getting paid - but I see a lot of value in writing specifically, as Cyn does from time to time, about ISSUES in children's literature, such as diversity, types of readership, what librarians say they're looking for, etc. Frankly, I just babble along about whatever piques my interest - I'm sure no one is reading it, but I can at least say that I'm fulfilling the request of my editor, to have a blog.

Gail Gauthier said...


1. Publisher Expectations: My blog is so old that I can't say I ever experienced expectations from publishers regarding me maintaining one. However, I definitely get the impression that it is an expectation, without much evidence to support its value. As Kirsten Cappy says in the post I linked to "...there are ALMOST NO ways to connect marketing to sales figures." I assume that is true of blogs as well as everything else.

2. Wasting time blogging about writing: I agree with that to a great extent simply because there are so many writers blogging about writing. I think there's an awful lot of repetition on this subject at writer blogs. Do I really have something to say about writing that the bulk of my readers won't have seen before?

3. If I do have something new to say about writing: I think I should consider writing about it in an article or essay and trying to publish it elsewhere. I will be exposing my name to a new group of people, beyond my own readership, and there's a remote possibility I could get paid.

If I blog about that new thought on writing and publish it here, I've lost that opportunity because many venues will consider it as having been published. Yes, as Kirsten said, it could be discovered here years from now. But realistically? I've been blogging for over a decade. I haven't had much experience with people discovering me through my old blog posts.