Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of blogging, is brought to you by mystery author Anne R Allen.
The Slow Blog Manifesto: 7 Reasons for New Authors to Blog Slowly
I’ve loved Morgen’s blog ever since I ran across it by clicking on a Facebook link to one of her great interviews—and I was so pleased when I saw both our blogs were named in Tribal Nation Daily’s “50 Top Blogs for Authors” last September.
But I’m the opposite kind of blogger from hard-working Morgen. I’m a slacker, Slow Blogger. I only blog once a week. Well, actually twice a month, because I have a blog partner who takes over duties every fourth Sunday, and we usually host a guest blogger once a month as well.
I didn’t start out to be a Slow Blogger. When I began, 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 whined about the pressure to blog daily. The Manifesto gave me permission to continue my slacker ways and concentrate on writing books.
Thanks to that decision, I just launched my seventh book in fourteen months—twelfth if you count anthologies and singles. (And no. I don’t intend to keep up that pace. I’m about to take a doctor–ordered much-needed vacation.)
But I don’t like to see new authors being told they MUST blog every day.
Yes, if you’re trying to establish a big platform quickly the way Morgen has, blogging more often is a must. This is a true “destination blog” you can spend hours reading.
But a Slow Blog can establish a solid web presence and strong platform for an author if you keep at it. You just need a little more patience. I spent my first year getting maybe 17 hits a post, but three and a half years later, I get 7000.
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 the “slow food” movement (the opposite of McBurgerish “fast food.”) The point is quality over quantity.
Todd wrote: “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 theNew York Times.
It’s a principle that’s caught on. I see a lot of publishing industry bloggers cutting back on their number of posts—even uberbloggers like Nathan Bransford, Joe Konrath and Jane Friedman.
But unfortunately, not everybody has got the message. The standard advice to new authors is still 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 30,000 hits our blog got last month, only about 1500 came from Google searches. Most of our traffic comes from “word of mouth” on Twitter, Facebook, the Kindleboards and other blogs.
I think new authors, especially, need to limit their distractions. Plenty of successful authors don’t blog at all.
However, I do recommend it. A blog is more dynamic than a static website (and free) and it’s a great way to interact with readers and fellow writers. It’s not a great sales tool, especially when you’re starting out, but it’s useful as an Internet home where people can come and visit.
But most people are too busy to come calling every day.
In order to get a readership in this saturated blogosphere, we should be stressing quality over quantity. Nobody I know is starved for blogposts to read.
If you don’t have a blog yet, or blogging has taken over your life—not in a good way—do consider the slow blog route
Here are some reasons a slow blog might even be better than a daily one for the beginning author:
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: “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 make friends, and only post on your own blog when you have something to say. Then your new blogfriends will seek you out.
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 posts. 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. That’s what happened to me
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.
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 the paper clips in your drawer by color and alphabetizing your collection of how-to-write books.
7) Making time to blog every day is incredibly difficult, 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…?
The late, great pseudonyminous agent, Miss Snark was a fan of slow blogging. 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.”
Morgen: 30,000 hits a month… wow. When I started my blog (March 2011 so I have a year to go before the three-year bell rings!) it was recommended to blog once a week minimum. Little did I know how many guests I’d have and you’re right, it takes up most of my life, more of my writing time than I would like and I’m cutting down on the interviews in July (from seven to five a week!) but then I’m replacing the two ‘missing’ interviews with author spotlights. Blogging is a marketing tool and whilst writers have to market themselves, I wouldn’t recommend them going to the extreme I have… unless you’ve done what I’ve done and swapped the day job for two lodgers. Thank you again, Anne.
Right now, her previous Camilla Randall mystery, SHERWOOD, LTD is free on Kobo and Smashwords. It is also available in paperback from Amazon. It’s inspired by Anne’s own mis-adventures with her first publishers, an outlaw band of Englishmen following their own self-styled Robin Hood.
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! She blogs with NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris at Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris.
Anne’s new book, No Place Like Home, is free on Amazon Jan 1-3 so hurry before the offer finishes!
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with autobiographer Debz Lowry – the six hundred and second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words). Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.