Holtzbrinck is starting a blog initiative
The program will launch in October, and they are now looking for ten authors from each of the trade companies (Holt, SMP, FSG, Tor, and Picador) to be part of the launch of the pilot program this autumn.
The company’s email to potential blogging authors who they have invited to be part of the beta launch says:
“And of course the blog will act as promotion for them and their books (in addition to any kind of press we get when we unveil the program).”
With over 50 million blogs in existence, this should be a widely noticed effort. But sarcasm aside.
While I really do admire every publisher who is looking for new ways to market books, I don’t believe that putting yet more pressure on the author is the right way.
Nor do I believe that blogs sell books for the average blogger in any way that justifies the time it takes to keep the blog going.
First – and I quote from that email invitation again:
“In terms of effort on the author's part, a successful blog needs to have at least three posts a week, and it only takes a few minutes post a new message, so it won't take them much time.”
I don’t know any successful blogger in the world who takes a few minutes a post. And it’s not just simply a “post” anyway.
For a blog to be successful it has to have passion, voice, commitment, creativity. It takes a lot for the writer to bring fresh ideas to a blog on a continuing basis.
2.The blogs written by writers tend to be read by other writers because most writers wind up blogging about process, craft and the industry.
And we do not need to market ourselves to other writers but rather to readers.
3. And readers – even our own passionate fans – can be turned off to our books if our blogs don’t measure up. Blogs don’t sell books when that is their intent. They sell books as a by-product when we engage the reader and the reader gets to know us. Eventually, in time, over months, we build a relationship.
Readers are savvy. They see the difference between a blog and a flog – my word for blogs that exist to flog a product/book.
3. The very last thing every author should be doing is starting a blog.
Not just because the very act of writing the blog draws on the creativity energy that it takes to write our books but because only a small percentage of us have something to write about three or four times a week, week after week, that readers crave – other than our books.
A handful of fiction authors have made it work.
Jennifer Weiner has. But her style of fiction and her diary style blog go hand in hand. Plus she was a journalist and knows how to that kind of reportage style even when its about her own life.
4. Even group blogs – or glogs as I call them – which should work better then to still focus on industry and craft and process and not to attract the general reading population.
A blog like Backstory does. (Some news on Backstory will appear later today so check back.) That glog is for readers and that’s working.
Non-fiction authors have a better shot at making this “blogs sell books” idea work. Because the can blog about the non-fiction issues as reporters/commentators on an ongoing basis without it appearing to be hard sell.
Seth Godin is a great example of a writer whose blog works and does promote his work to his reader base. He writes books on marketing/business and his blog covers those areas on a daily basis.
Like I said, I’m all for great initiative on the part of publishers, but not when that initiative falls, yet again, in our laps. We tour, we blog, we have myspace pages, we have Amazon plogs, we have websites… and somewhere in there we’re supposed to also crank out great writing.
(This post took 55 minutes to write, 5 minutes to proof and I’m still sure there are typos in it, 5 minutes to find the links and 5 minutes to post - total time 70 minutes and I’d bet not a single reader of it will hop over to Amazon or stop in their favorite indy - just to hightlight one of my favorites - today to buy my latest novel because of what I’ve written here.)