Has finding time to write and maintain your blog become a juggling act? Have you neglected your manuscript because you’re busy pounding out daily blogposts and commenting on other people’s blogs?
Today, we welcome back author and blogger extraordinaire Anne R. Allen who enlightens us on the advantages of slow blogging and explains why it’s important to put your writing first.
Welcome back, Anne!
I didn’t start out to be a Slow Blogger. When I started my blog three years ago, I was simply too busy bloodying my knuckles on the doors of the publishing industry to have time to post more than once a week. I hadn’t even heard of the Slow Blog Manifesto.
But it was pointed out to me by one of my readers after I blogged a complaint about the pressure to blog daily. It’s given me permission to continue my “slacker” ways and concentrate on writing books instead of thousands of blogposts.
Thanks to that decision, I’m about to launch my seventh book in fourteen months—eleventh if you count anthologies and singles. (And no. I don’t intend to keep up that pace. I’m about to take a well-earned vacation.)
My blog has also won dozens of awards. It made the list of finalists for Best Publishing Industry Blog in the Association of American Publishers/Goodreads IBBA contest, and was named one of the Top 50 Blogs for Authors by Tribal Nation Daily.
And I’ve never blogged more than once a week. In fact, thanks to a wonderful blog partner (the spectacular Ruth Harris, who also contributes here at RU) plus some fabulous guest bloggers, I usually now blog only twice a month.
Which is why I get really annoyed when I see new authors getting hammered with advice to blog every day.
I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, a blog can help a new author establish a Web presence and is an important part of an author “platform”. But a Slow Blog can do all that and leave you time to actually, um, write books.
Okay, so what is the Slow Blog Manifesto?
It’s an essay written in 2006 by Canadian software designer Todd Sieling at the height of the everybody-must-get-a-blog frenzy. Slow Blogging is modeled on Alice Walker’s “slow food” movement (the opposite of McBurgerish “fast food.”) The point is quality over quantity.
“Slow Blogging is the re-establishment of the machine as the agent of human expression, rather than its whip and container. It’s the voluntary halting of the light-speed hamster wheel dictated in rules of highly effective blogging.”
He urged people to write a few thoughtful posts per month rather than daily blabber. A number of influential journalists, technicians, and academics joined his movement. It built steam until mid-2008, when it merited an article in the New York Times.
But unfortunately, not everybody has got the message. The standard advice to new authors still tells them to blog at least three days a week.
This is because the search engines pick you up faster if you blog more often.
But here’s the thing: Search engines aren’t the biggest factor in driving most writers’ blog traffic. Out of the nearly 25,000 hits our blog got last month, less than 1400 came from Google searches. Most of our traffic comes from “word of mouth” on Twitter, Facebook, the Kindleboards and other blogs. So why put in all that time just to please the Google spiders?
I think new authors, especially, need to limit their distractions. Yes, an author benefits from a blog—it’s more dynamic than a static website (and free) and it’s a great way to interact with readers and fellow writers. But it’s not your best sales tool, especially when you’re starting out—it’s more like your Internet home where people can come and visit. Most people are too busy to come calling every day.
And, in order to get a readership in this saturated blogosphere, it seems to me we should be stressing quality over quantity. Nobody I know is starved for blogposts to read.
Of course there are people can blog brilliantly every day and my hat’s off to them. But I don’t know a lot who can sustain that pace for the long term while writing several books a year, which is now what publishers and readers expect.
(If you aren’t quite sure what to blog about, I’ve written some suggestions in my blogpost on HOW TO BLOG PART 3: WHAT SHOULD I BLOG ABOUT . You’ll find all of my “how to blog” advice—plus a huge amount of helpful, positive information in the book I’ve written with Catherine Ryan Hyde: HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE—And Keep Your E-Sanity!)
So yes, if you don’t have a blog yet, it’s a good idea to start one, but resist the know-it-alls who tell you to blog more than once a week
Here are some reasons for resistance:
1) A slow blog has a longer life-span.
The average life span of a blog is three years. But you want your writing career to last longer than three years, don’t you? A neglected blog hanging in cyberspace is worse than none.
So you’ve got to plan a blog that’s going to beat the odds. A slow blog is more likely to do that.
2) You reach more people by commenting on other people’s blogs than by madly posting on a new blog nobody reads.
Author/publisher/social media guru Bob Mayer pointed out on his blog recently:
“One of the best networking tools is to go to people’s blogs and leave cogent comments.”
Think of it this way: would you reach more people by sitting in your basement making a thousand signs, or by making one sign and taking it to a place where tons of people hang out?
Use your blogging time to visit other blogs, and only post on your own blog when you have something to say that you can tell people about on other blogs. Then they’ll seek you out. See how that works?
3) Busy people are less likely to subscribe/follow a blog that’s going to clutter their email inbox/rss feed every day. I sure won’t. I don’t read ANYBODY’S blog every day. I’d be so glad if they’d only send notifications of the good ones. Or—even better—only write the good ones. (Which, um, is called “slow blogging.”)
When you write mostly good posts, people will know a visit to your blog is a valuable use of their time and they’ll spread the word. Then maybe an agent or publisher will visit and like it so much they’ll ask you to send them a novel and you’ll end up published. That’s what happened to me—twice.
Seriously. Both my publishers contacted ME because they liked my blog.
4) Everybody has bad days. When you have to think of something to say on the day you got that nasty/clueless review/rejection, your emotions could leak out.
On the day you vent about how all agents are spawns of Satan, you might have a visit from a wonderful agent who loved your query and was about to ask for pages. Oops.
5) Nobody can come up with that many interesting posts.
When you slow blog, and you don’t have anything to say, you don’t have to say it.
But if you succumb to pressure to blog every day, you’re in danger of blather-blogging. You might talk about your stupid boss who’s been acting like b**** in heat since the hot new guy joined the department. But what if your boss’s husband is an aspiring writer who subscribes to your blog?
Can we say “pink slip”?
6) Writing nonfiction—which is what you should be writing on your blog—uses a different part of your brain from fiction.
When you’re on a roll with a novel, and have to stop to write something perspicacious on the subject of sentence structure, you can stop that flow dead. It can take weeks to get back into the novel—as your left brain takes over and you start organizing all the paper clips in your drawer by color and alphabetizing your collection of floaty pens.
Writers’ Block time.
7) You write fiction–remember? The blog is supposed to be about getting your name out there as a creative writer. It’s an aid to your serious writing, not a substitute for it.
If you spend every day working on your blog, you’re going to neglect your novel. When you neglect your novel, you’ll forget why you wanted to be a writer.
Slow blogging helps you hang on to your dreams.
8) Trying to blog every day is impossible to keep up, so you’ll constantly feel guilty. When you feel guilty you eat/drink/smoke too much and then feel guilty about that too.
See where this is going…?
Yes, I am aware there are always the superpersons who can do it all—and I’m in awe of them. But if you’re not one of them, don’t succumb to the pressure.
And the late, great pseudonyminous agent, Miss Snark was a fan of slow blogging, too. In spite of all the pressure to “build platform,” she advised new writers to always put their writing first:
“Your job is to write…
…There’s a lot to be said for sitting down with your ownself and writing. Nothing, literally NOTHING replaces that. Focus. You’re wasting time.”
Okay, RU Crew, parking yourself in a chair on a daily basis to write is difficult enough, so how do you find the time to work on your manuscript, read blogs and comment, and keep your blog updated? Have you sacrificed writing time to maintain your social media presence? Share your tips, your gripes, and your stories of woe. We’re here to listen!
Anne R. Allen is the author of six romantic-comedy mysteries published by Mark Williams international Digital Publishing.: FOOD OF LOVE , THE GATSBY GAME, and the Camilla Randall Mysteries: GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY , SHERWOOD, LTD, THE BEST REVENGE and NO PLACE LIKE HOME (debuting in December 2012)
Anne blogs with NYT bestselling author—and RU regular—Ruth Harris at Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris
Anne has also written a guidebook for authors with Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of the iconic novel Pay it Forward.) HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE…AND KEEP YOUR E-SANITY! is full of practical info about what you need to be a professional writer today, plus advice about how to take care of yourself as you navigate the wildly changing landscape that is today’s publishing world. To learn more about Anne, please check out her website and Amazon author page.
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- Weekly Lecture Schedule for July 9 – July 13, 2012
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