Blog Archives

Writing Instead of Blogging

futureWe know it’s been awhile since our last post. Where have we been? Writing. Books, that is, not blog posts.

We were originally committed to writing one blog per week, and we did for a few years. Then we noticed how much time it took to prepare a blog post. Time to think of a topic. Time to write it and rewrite it. We began to ask if blogging was worth all the time we were spending on it.

We occasionally cheated and posted memes or book covers. Then we stopped posting every week. The time between posts grew longer. Soon, the habit of writing a post was gone. Yes, blogging is a habit, as is writing. If you don’t commit to doing it on a regular schedule it simply will not get done.

As the work on our current novel wound down, we thought of our languishing blog. We talked of our preciously rationed time and had discussions about whether time spent writing was better than time spent blogging. After all, the point is to write a few novels, which, ironically, are about time. Was our time better spent thinking of plots or engaging blog topics? Were we novelists or bloggers? Could we be both and still have time to make dinner, feed the cats, and clean the house?

The final decision was tenuous compromise between writing and blogging. We probably won’t be posting weekly, but we will be posting more often. Our hiatus from blogging has given us a small but renewed flame for writing new posts. The weary cries of  “what will we write about this week?” and “but we’ve already written about that!” will, we hope, be stifled.

On the plus side, our seventh book in the Time’s Edge series is being published this December. We may not have been blogging but we’ve been writing books like crazy. So apologies to those who wondered where we were and raised eyebrows to those who didn’t notice.   😉

Too Much Book Promotion, Not Enough Writing

BalanceOh, the time suck of promoting a book. Facebook. Pinterest. Twitter. Amazon. Etc., etc. etc… Everyone knows the players.

The amount of information on the Internet is infinite. The craving for new information is insatiable. The chances of readers finding a particular author’s information is infinitesimal.  (Like all those “I” words?)

Trying to keep up with the changes in Amazon’s algorithms, the constantly shifting rules of all the social media platforms, the newest must-be-there-or-be-square sites is overwhelming. (Bet you thought we were going to say impossible.) All the social media management sites on the Internet do not seem to reduce the time drain of maintaining a social media presence.

The sad truth is we now spend more time promoting than writing.

We’ve read many articles on how to reduce the amount of time spent on social media. We’ve tried management tools such as hootsuite and pingraphy. And they help. A little. However, there is no getting around the fact that even management sites require data input. An entire day can be spent setting up one month’s worth of scheduled tweets, posts and blogs, and no management software can take the place of the genuine interaction that is necessary when responding to comments and messages. Also, different platforms require different input. It would be counter-productive to simply post identical information across all sites. We have followed authors who do that and the constant repetition made us decide to unfollow  pretty quickly.

The really worrisome thing is that we have a sneaking feeling that all this time is wasted time. We have not seen a significant correlation between all our social media efforts and sales. Repins, retweets, and shares by the dozens do not seem to turn followers into readers. There are so many authors out there doing the same thing that our additions to the clamor seem like peeing in the ocean. Who is going to notice?

We could have blogged about “How to Successfully Promote Your Book in 10 Easy Steps”.  A quick Google search would have provided us with plenty of material.  But like the self-help books that try to show the path to enlightenment or the you-can-be-a-millionaire-too titles, the method that works for one person does not work for everyone, or even most folks. After all, how many blogs do we all need saying: Have a Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter/Tumblr page? Post regularly! Interact! Connect! Use a call for action! Be visual! We all know how the game is played by now.

We’re going to keep plugging away at it. We are also going to try to write more and promote less. Just as soon as we get this blog posted.

Twas the Night We Were Blogging

computerfix‘Twas the night we were blogging, when all through the house

Not an idea was stirring that would inspire a mouse;

Our manuscripts were flung by the chimney without care,

In hopes that inspiration soon would be there;

We wished we were nestled all snug in our beds,

While visions of blog stats danced in our heads;

And my wife in frustration and I in despair,

Were beginning to think we had nothing to share.

When out of the blue I got a great notion,

I sprang from my chair in a whirl of commotion.

Away to the computer I flew like a flash,

And opened the program but the thing promptly crashed.

I pounded the keyboard, right-clicked the mouse

Then uttered a yell that was heard through the house.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a Microsoft message that wasn’t too clear.

It’s an outdated driver, so slow and so sick,

I knew in a moment this wouldn’t be quick.

More rapid than eagles our curses they came,

We stamped, and we shouted, and called it some names;

“Now, Damn it! now, Darn it! now, How do we fix this!

Oh, Blast it! How stupid! oh, How do we nix this?

This is taking too long! We’re climbing the wall!

Just go away! go away! go away all!”

As frustration did grow and our tempers did fly,

We met with the obstacle, and said “Do or die!”

So back to the keyboard my fingers they flew,

With determination, and disk repair, too.

And then, in a twinkling, I saw on the screen

Another message from the hateful machine.

As I threw up my hands and was starting to frown

Error messages appeared with a bound.

They made no sense to me and no sense to my wife,

And had but one purpose; to cause us much strife;

A bundle of codes, which took us aback,

And made us believe we were on the wrong track.

Our eyes — how they twitched! our faces weren’t merry!

Our cheeks were like roses, our noses like cherries!

My wife’s little mouth was drawn tight as a bow,

And the look on her face as cold as the snow;

I turned to the screen and gritted my teeth,

The steam from my ears circled my head like a wreath;

I felt a sharp pain deep in my belly,

And was beginning to shake like a bowl full of jelly.

I grabbed a manual from off of the shelf,

And mumbled and murmured and read to myself;

My wife caught my eye and then shook her head,

Which let me know I had plenty to dread;

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,

And fixed all the problems; then turned with a jerk,

And giving the finger to the stupid machine,

I started it up and it worked like a dream!

My wife sprang to the keyboard and began typing away,

Creating a blog to post the next day.

But I heard her exclaim, as we finished that night,

“Blogging can be quite fun, but sometimes it bites.”

(With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

Why Book Promotion Sucks

1. It’s tedious. Not at first. At first it’s new and exciting. Kind of like falling in love. But as time passes, monotony sets in. How many ways can you say “buy my book”? How many times do you have to say it? The answer? Forever! It’s an endless Groundhog Day of tweets, blurbs, and blogs. (Groundhog Day. The movie with Bill Murray where he lives the same day over and over. Just rent it and watch it. You’ll see what we mean.)

2. Everyone else is doing it. Yep. Me, you, our plumber, your mother-in-law, and everyone else on the block. The result? A cacophony of white noise in which nearly everyone’s attempts to be heard are lost. Like The Cricket in Times Square. (A book by George Selden. Go to the library. Borrow it and read it. You will see what we mean.)

3. It’s time consuming. Hours and hours every day. Must post. Must blog. Must check stats. It eats loads of time. Time that could be spent writing. Most authors are aware that the more books you write, the more income you bring in. And writing is what authors love to do. But who has time to do it? (Yes, we can already hear the writers who will say, I network, raise children, sew my own clothes, bake my own bread, and write ten novels a year. We admire you. We also promise to send flowers when you drop dead from over-work.)

4. It’s painful. In several ways.  Physically. (Repetitive strain injuries from being on the computer too much. Also headaches from banging one’s head on the desk. ) Mentally. (I can’t possibly think of one more blog/post/tweet. Plus my head hurts from banging it on the desk.) Emotionally. (Riding the roller coaster of feelings as we watch our stats rise to new heights only to tumble back, dashing all our hopes. And the drama of restraining each other from banging our heads on the desk.)

5. We suspect it is not quite as necessary as everyone believes it is. Do our tweets, blogs and posts really make a difference? Probably not. We don’t have enough followers on any site to claim that we have reached a broad range of people. And yet our books are selling; sales are steady. (Phew. We can stop banging our heads on the desk.)

The bottom line? Ratings, reviews, and pricing seem to matter the most in promoting a book. What do authors do when they want their books to be noticed? They cut the price and have a sale. Some give a book away for free, knowing this will draw attention to their work. The hope is that if readers like the free book, they will be willing to pay for other novels by the same author.

We are going to try an experiment. (Actually it is already underway.) We are cutting back on all the social networking. Not abandoning it, just reducing the amount of time spent on promotion so we can spend more time writing. for when it comes right down to it, a good quality story is the best promotional tool of all.

 

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Usual Chaos

Last winter, as a blizzard approached, we planned to stay inside, all nice and cozy, and write.  (See How to Write a Book During a Blizzard for details of that fiasco.) Now, as Hurricane Irene nears, we have once again resolved to spend our time writing. This time, we had plenty of warning. We have already gone shopping, the lawn furniture is safely inside, batteries have been purchased, cell phones and laptops charged. Nothing left to do but plot, edit and write. Right?

Well, first we have to check our email because we won’t be able to do that once we lose power. And we’d better take a look at our Facebook page, too. Oh, look a new friend! And a few people have liked our new book trailer. Wait! That’s not the new one. Yes, it is. No, it’s not! Hmm. Maybe you’re right. We’d better upload the new one. (Upload, upload, upload, why is it taking so long?!)

Now Twitter. A bunch of new followers. Better follow back. Some mentions. (TY, TY, TY). A retweet! (TY!). Need to tweet about the new trailer. Hey, that’s a good one! Retweet! And some hurricane info. Retweet that, too. Start scrolling. Interesting… Yada, yada, yada, Hey, that one’s cool! Hmmm, let’s click on that link… Look, some new tweets have come in! Oops! Have we really been on for an hour?

Enough! We’re supposed to be writing. But wait! We haven’t written a blog this week! Can’t we just skip one week? Just once? No! (Horrified look.) Think of something. (Silence.) Well? (More silence.) Well… Umm… (Extended silence.) Are you sure we couldn’t just skip… NO!!

So here we sit writing a blog about how hard it is to find time to write. (Or how easy it is to be distracted from writing. Take your pick.) And now that we’ve finished, we are going to work on our next book.

Right after we take a nap.

Twas the Night We Were Blogging

‘Twas the night we were blogging, when all through the house

Not an idea was stirring that would inspire a mouse;

Our manuscripts were flung by the chimney without care,

In hopes that inspiration soon would be there;

We wished we were nestled all snug in our beds,

While visions of blog stats danced in our heads;

And my wife in frustration and I in despair,

Were beginning to think we had nothing to share.

When out of the blue I got a great notion,

I sprang from my chair in a whirl of commotion.

Away to the computer I flew like a flash,

And opened the program but the thing promptly crashed.

I pounded the keyboard, right-clicked the mouse

Then uttered a yell that was heard through the house.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a Microsoft message that wasn’t too clear.

It’s an outdated driver, so slow and so sick,

I knew in a moment this wouldn’t be quick.

More rapid than eagles our curses they came,

We stamped, and we shouted, and called it some names;

“Now, Damn it! now, Darn it! now, How do we fix this!

Oh, Blast it! How stupid! oh, How do we nix this?

This is taking too long! We’re climbing the wall!

Just go away! go away! go away all!”

As frustration did grow and our tempers did fly,

We met with the obstacle, and said “Do or die!”

So back to the keyboard my fingers they flew,

With determination, and disk repair, too.

And then, in a twinkling, I saw on the screen

Another message from the hateful machine.

As I threw up my hands and was starting to frown

Error messages appeared with a bound.

They made no sense to me and no sense to my wife,

And had but one purpose; to cause us much strife;

A bundle of codes, which took us aback,

And made us believe we were on the wrong track.

Our eyes — how they twitched! our faces weren’t merry!

Our cheeks were like roses, our noses like cherries!

My wife’s little mouth was drawn tight as a bow,

And the look on her face as cold as the snow;

I turned to the screen and gritted my teeth,

The steam from my ears circled my head like a wreath;

I felt a sharp pain deep in my belly,

And was beginning to shake like a bowl full of jelly.

I grabbed a manual from off of the shelf,

And mumbled and murmured and read to myself;

My wife caught my eye and then shook her head,

Which let me know I had plenty to dread;

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,

And fixed all the problems; then turned with a jerk,

And giving the finger to the stupid machine,

I started it up and it worked like a dream!

My wife sprang to the keyboard and began typing away,

Creating a blog to post the next day.

But I heard her exclaim, as we finished that night,

“Blogging can be quite fun, but sometimes it bites.”

(With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

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