By Steve Weddle
So the HuffPo did this thing the other day about whether Twitter helps authors sell books.
The author of the piece and some of her partners took a close look at the connection. "After tracking over 20 books during a 6 month period, we realized that the correlations are there but they are unpredictable."
Well, that's interesting. So it might help, but understanding how is confusing. Oh, by the way, the author of the piece is "Founder and President of FSB Associates, a web publicity and social media firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors."
Ain't that helpful?
I'm not interested in whether the post was meant to send business the author's way. They were clear about the fact that this was a post by someone who makes a living at this sort of thing, so I don't think it was in bad faith at all. Though, you know, that was my initial reaction, which kinda gets to the point of Twitter and blogging that I want to look at. Do folks blog just to be self-serving?
I've seen many authors who have blogs that lie dormant until the next book comes out. Then, lo and behold, the author is a blogging tsunami. "Hey, look at me. I'm a real person with a daily life. Buy my book." My first thought on this was a cynical one, thinking that author was just trying to pitch a sale and get you to his or her reading. You know, the tabs at the top of the page: "Bio. Books. Blog. Dates. Contact." Yes, buy the books and come to the readings. And contact the writer through a form on the Web site. But, you know, I understand a little more about how this works than I first did.
We have a difference between a blogger and a novelist. Some folks write a blog post every day and do a nice job. Some write a blog post every day and suck. Sometimes, it's hit and miss. Still, this is the medium that person writes in. The give-and-take with the audience. The immediacy of it all. Instant gratification. For a novelist, the gratification is years in the making. And it comes in bursts, doesn't it? A novelist writes by the word, not the post. "Hit 1,000 words already. Going for a walk." That's a novelist's Twitter update, isn't it? A blogger would update "Today's post is live. Swing by and comment."
The blog ain't the novel. Ain't supposed to be. Not that a novelist can't blog or a blogger can't write a novel. Heck, I'm not even sure you have to be in one camp or the other.
But if a novelist is supposed to Twitter and blog, what the heck is he or she supposed to tweet or blog about?
Is a novelist supposed to blog as a reader? Saying how she just read this great book or discovered a new author? Only glowing reviews? Most novelists wouldn't want to insult other writers for fear of being stabbed at Bouchercon. "Hey, Stringer? You're the one who said I write like I'm rubbing a turd on a wet sidewalk? How's about we step outside?"
Is a novelist supposed to blog as a "regular joe"? Saying how he just took the kid's to the dentist and now is heading out to mow the yard? Is that how Samuel Beckett did it? "Just put up with more of Joyce's babbling bullshit about his eye and how he can't get his own drink. What am I? His secretary? Oh, yeah."
Is a novelist supposed to blog as a working writer? "Working on more revisions because the editors like my writing, just not the book I've written." Great idea. Then someone sees a writer complaining about the business and the writer ain't got so much business any more.
Is the novelist supposed to blog as an enthusiast? Used cars? Gun collection? Old movies? BBQ? Scary pictures and freaky collectibles?
Is the novelist supposed to blog at all? Why? To connect? To time away from writing the novel?
The question of whether what you've blogged and what you've twatted helps sell books is certainly worth considering. Another question: "why?" (Another is why Weddle is allowed to write such clumsy sentences. Sheesh.)
I'm all for connecting with readers -- I've been known to tweet a bit in my day. I don't question why, usually. I just kinda chat with folks because I like to chat with those folks.
Maybe those FBS folks can help do the publicity for me. Maybe they can blog for me and get me something viral going along the Internet. Or, if I really need a good virus spreading around, I can call this HOPA/HPOA. Nothing like a good fake-out for the fiction writing.
Are you a novelist who blogs? Do you have a "thing" you do? Why do you blog?
Are you a reader who goes to an author's blog with regularity? Is it good stuff? What do you look for?