Saturday, 9 July 2011

To Blog or Not To Blog - Anne Cassidy

Two years ago I saw an article in the Bookseller which argued that writers did not make enough use of blogs in order to promote their books.

I, myself, had previously tried a blog attached to my website. At first I thought I’d blog a couple of times a week. Pithy articles and insights into the life of a writer. How hard could it be? Thirty minutes each time. An hour a week. What kind of commitment was that? None at all.

I did try. And it wasn’t that I didn’t have good ideas for blogs.


But the days slipped by and I didn’t blog. It became like that exercise bike you once bought and parked in the corner of the dining room. You were sure you’d use it but week by week it gathered cobwebs and then turned into a giant hand pointing a finger of reproach at you.

Wracked with guilt I would blog diligently for a while. I would feel good about it. It became a kind of barometer of my general attitude to work. If I did blog then all was well. If I didn’t then I became disgruntled at my fictional output.

There was another problem with blogging. Who was I reaching? I sell a few books but I don’t have a hungry band of followers awaiting my every word. I began to wonder what was happening to my words of wisdom. Who was reading them? I began to view it like a message in a bottle which I had tossed over the side of a boat. I was sending my words, my thoughts into the blogosphere and I had no idea who was actually receiving them.

So I gave up. It was a great relief and I carried on my daily business.

Then I saw the article in the Bookseller. I decided then that the only way for a blog to work for lesser known writers was for them to join together and pool our words, out time and our contacts. As a single blogger I had X contacts. As part of a joint blog I had X multiplied by the number of bloggers. My post would be seen by many more people. It was a bit of self promotion that seemed worthwhile.

I belong to the Scattered Authors’ Society and I know a lot of writers. I contacted them and we started off with about ten people. We blogged about three times a month. Every day (apart from Sunday) we had a fresh post. It meant that other writers reached my contacts and I reached theirs. We were timetabled and the fact that we knew in advance which dates we had to blog gave us deadlines that were easy to fulfil.

The blogs improved and we increased our number of followers. The blog itself was eclectic and this, I think, is the secret of its success. It’s not just a self promotion tool but it genuinely acts as a forum for discussion, a chance to reveal more of ourselves not just as writers but as people AND it tells readers about what we are working on.

Individual blogs are great if you’ve lots to say and lots of followers. A joint enterprise like ABBA is better, I think, because with very little imput you can reach a much bigger audience.

26 comments:

Elen C said...

Hooray! The party's started.
Thanks, Anne for telling us how this site began. It has become part of my daily routine. At breakfast, I make toast and coffee then sit down to read the latest post. It's a great way to begin the day! So, thank you for having your brilliant idea!

catdownunder said...

Hello from Downunder - I will be catnapping in the middle of the festivities so I am purrowling in now to say "Have a wonderful time!" and "I am very glad that an Awfully Big Blog Adventure exists because I genuinely learn a great deal from listening to humans with so much experience in the world of writing and books".
I purrobably have too much to say Anne - I manage a blog post most days - but your idea of getting together and doing it was a stroke of genius!

Penny Dolan said...

Agree! I love reading all the different writers ideas and thoughts: their inspirations, concerns, experiences and - as it ssys on the tin - ramblings. A really great idea!

Lucy Coats said...

Yes, the ABBA experience gave me the courage to start blogging on my own too--but I do love being part of this group of writers. It's fab, friendly and fun to blog here! Now, off for some virtual cake and fizzy stuff to celebrate our first festival posting!

Jenny Alexander said...

Wow - great start Anne! I feel inspired to find my people now...

JoMacdonald said...

Thanks Anne. I'm new to ABBA but think this is a great idea. Recently I've been thinking a lot about whether to start a blog, whether I'd have enough to say and if anyone would actually be interested. I think getting together with other writers and sharing audiences is a fab idea.
Looking forward to more tips and inspiration this weekend!

adele said...

Good start to the Festival, Anne. We're all in your debt. Joint blogs are the way to go,clearly! Looking forward to seeing all the other stuff on here and thanks to Elen, Sam, Lucy and Penny etc for organising this so well.

Nicola Morgan said...

Hooray! Happy birthday ABBA and congrats Anne for a great idea. Xx

Sue Barrow said...

A brilliant opener - thank you Anne, inspiring as ever. On my way to family wedding but will sneak into the loo to catch up on postings through the day!

Dave Cryer said...

Good morning festival goers. Good to see it all under way. I'm off to a wedding today, but will catch up and follow events tomorrow. Great start, Anne, and good luck to Lucy and everone taking part.

Linda Strachan said...

Great start to the ABBA Lit Fest, Anne.

I love the thought of the blog being

'like that exercise bike you once bought and parked in the corner of the dining room. You were sure you’d use it but week by week it gathered cobwebs and then turned into a giant hand pointing a finger of reproach at you.'

Blogging is great fun but it can take over and leave less time and energy for writing, which is hardly the point, is it? But it is also a great way to communicate with like-minded people worldwide.

I think ABBA, and other group blogs, like CRIME CENTRAL, GIRLS HEART BOOKS AND THE HISTORY GIRLS, work so well because of the different voices and the wide variety of subject matter- you never quite know what your are going to find, and it is always fascinating!

Rebecca Brown said...

Great start to the Festival! ABBA is one of my favourite blogs and I'm so grateful you came up with the idea! Thanks to all the bloggers who keep it going.

GirlsHeartBooks said...

Hurrah! We love group blogs. ;)

ABBAlitfest is a fantastic idea, from an already must-read blog. Thanks in advance for all the perspiration and inspiration!

Jazz said...

Though not an author, I have found the same issue with regards to my blog; I know I am not posting nearly enough. I think you have made a great argument here for joint blogs for authors that are perhaps not the most interested or experienced in blogging, or perhaps don't have the time to keep a blog completely up to date and readers engaged. And of course, the ability to reach a new and wider audience through a joint blog is increased manifold.

Great first 'event'. Thank you!!!

Dan Holloway said...

I love being part of group blogs. I'm delighted to be part of Kindle UK Authors, and for over a year at Year Zero Writers, we were able to post new poetry, articles and fiction every day - such an exhilarating experience.

My absolute favourite is Book View Cafe, the steampunk collective.

Looking forward to following the festival!

Nicky Schmidt said...

Great post, Anne - collective blogging certainly makes more sense as it allows far greater reach - which is what a "marketing" objective, such as blogging, is all about!

And YAY!!! for the ABBA litfest!

Kay Woodward said...

Excellent idea and a FAB post.

And this is going on ALL WEEKEND?

Excellent!

Kay

Sam Mills said...

Yes, Kay! All day today (a new post appearing every half hour)until 7pm and it will start again tomorrow at 10.30 am. So the treats are only just beginning...

Stroppy Author said...

Great start to the festival, Anne - thank you! I love being part of ABBA. I blog on my own, as StroppyAuthor, but that has a theme and ABBA is a wonderful place to blog about things that don't really fit well on there. I love reading all the diverse views and approaches and interests, especially on areas very different from my own writing. Horray! Happy Birthday to us!

wendymeddour said...

Oh, the guilt!! Great post Anne.

bookwitch said...

And here I am slogging away on that 'exercise bike' morning noon and night, with no time for life's bare necessities...
Perhaps I really should get some exercise and not sit in front of keyboard for too long every day.
Authors should write books first. Blogs only if there is spare time.

Miriam Halahmy said...

I did the same. Started and ran my own blog for two years and came to the same conclusion. Much better to be in group blogs. Now I blog for ABBA and The Edge and contribute to others like Crime Central and life is SO much easier.

Luisa Plaja said...

Hurray for group blogs! Congratulations to ABBA.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Congratulations to the ABBA Blog on its birthday and its festival.
I spend two hours a day writing for my blog and I have to double that commitment if I take an extended tour of other blogs. The writing verses networking balance is a hard one.

John Dougherty said...

I found myself constitutionally unable to blog daily, so being part of An Awfully Big Blog Adventure is great for me. And now we're three! Happy birthday to us, and thanks, Anne!

Keren David said...

I love being part of ABBA - both as a blogger and as a blog-reader...a big thank you to Anne for starting it up.
For authors who do blog on their own behalf, may I suggest Twitter and Facebook as useful ways to promote your blog - your publisher can also promote it on your behalf - and www.statcounter.com to find out a bit more about who's reading it and where they come from. If you find blogging a chore then invite others to guest post...or lower your expectations!