All Blogged Out: A Rant (Fair Warning)

Scream--Annemarie BusschersThe other day a fellow writer from way in my past—semi-famous, author of many highly regarded books—friended me.

It was so exciting. To be remembered by someone I had admired long ago but hardly knew, someone whose books I have on my shelf.

As soon as I accepted her friendship I was invited to like her author page. Then read her blog. Which explained everything.

I don’t want to be a partypooper here about the self-promotion mandate. Really I don’t. I know that publishers these days demand that writers have author pages and blogs and followers and all that. I try to be, in fact, dutiful, in my way. But it must be said. Something about all this facebooking and author-paging and blogging just stinks.

It reminds me of how, at my university, some colleagues and I used to convene every year to plan women’s events. Multiple times, meeting upon meeting, to schedule and scheme and come up with funding and talk about decorations and cookies and such. Then, when the day came for whatever it was to happen—the reading group, the tea, the birdwatching we had so arduously planned—there we’d be again, the five of us, the only attendees.

How does one find time to write books when there’s forever a blog post due? Not to mention reading all the other writers’ blogs that I say I’m following—and that, if I were  truly friend-worthy, I would be commenting upon. Confession: the only blogs I willingly visit are the ones I land on after a Google Images search for a very specific recipe, one that looks like a dish I remember from my childhood, or some stew of lentils I’ve been fantasizing about, or some bizarrely complicated goodie I said I’d cook up for one of my ever ravenous daughters.

All this to say—am I the only one who feels this way?—that blogging, which appears to be de rigueur in the world of publishing these days, slurps up my writing time like an old dishrag, and sometimes I fear that the only ones who read what I write are fellow writers (more generous ones than I am) obliged, as I am, to squeeze it out when I should be working on my current writing project and between all the other things I do to actually support myself. (That sentence doesn’t work, I fear…) Those who follow me—I’m sure of this—do so for the same reason I follow that writer acquaintance of mine: because I was asked. I’m not going to buy any more books of hers than I’ve already bought. Having heard an interesting writer interviewed on Fresh Air, I’ve never gone to his author page or read her blog. If I’m interested enough, I ask for the book in Barnes & Noble. And when they don’t have it—they never do!—I order it for cheaper anyway on Amazon.

Here’s how it goes with buying books and me. In the ideal world that used to be, I heard about a book or picked it up from a bookstore table or shelf, I read a few pages, I bought it and brought it home, eventually it made its way to my bedside table and into the stack to wait its turn, and then, one happy day, I turned over and reached for it and started to read. In that perfect world, it is a perfect book, and I can’t stop reading till it’s finished. Then I tell my sister, off in Colorado, about the book on the phone. And in a few more days I lend my copy—though it has a swollen edge from my having accidentally let part of it sag into the bathwater—to one of my colleagues. Then I assign it in one of my classes. No blogs or author-pages or anything like that. Just hear about it, buy it, read it, lend it.

I’m not feeling very encouraging today, I’m afraid. Maybe this post will generate some useful discussion among us writer-blogger-authorpagers, though.

(Feel MUCH invited to chime in if you’re not a writer. It would cheer me immensely.)

6 Replies to “All Blogged Out: A Rant (Fair Warning)”

  1. I just recently entered this author-blogger-self promotion world. I agree with your evaluation of this scene.

    I also don’t want to be considered someone author’s minion or kitten or any other pet name because I followed their blog or accepted their friendship on Facebook. I find new books and authors by chance or seeking them out more than from a response to self promotion.

    I wrote a book. I sent my query emails to 50 agents and publishers. I sent samples of my manuscript to interested agents and received the normal responses about them not having space on their list for my book. So, I fear that I have to participate in this world in order to get my book out there for people to read, right? It looks like self-promotion is a necessity.

    Maybe there could be a guidebook to respectful self-promotion?

    1. I’m sure there is such a guidebook. Probably there are many out there. (Michael Hyatt’s Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World comes to mind.) I think, in many ways, this blog operates as such a guidebook. Even so, I fear no amount of respectfulness training or training in general will solve the sheer time-suck problem (not to mention, the potential giftedness-deficit) posed by the self-promotion mandate.

  2. Thank you for your rant. I think it’s great. (Have you seen “Frozen”? Sometimes, it is best to “let it go” and not hold it inside) 🙂

    It is exhausting trying to balance blogging (even though I love it) and work on an actual project, not to mention family and day job. That said, something about the whole writer-self-promotion/social media thing makes me sad (even though I do it too, like we all do), maybe because it can make us so focused on ourselves, numbers of “likes,” etc. From a spiritual standpoint, the focus on self-promotion can steal time from quiet time or prayer or reflection or playing with my kids or reading a book I love. All those activities actually fuel my writing, so if I’m ditching them in favor of my social media profile, I’m not sure how helpful it really is to me as a writer.

    It’s kind of like high school students who feel like they need to have a resume of activities a mile long to get into a good college. How many of those activities do they really take joy in? Wouldn’t it be better just to focus on the ones they love? But that perceived need to keep up with the person next to you can drown out other, maybe wiser voices.

    I’m not sure what the answer is, really . But I’m glad you asked the question.

    1. And I’m glad you entertained it. And you’re right. It helps to get it out. I’ve been doing blogwork all day, and it doesn’t seem half bad. Just, I can’t do anything else. 😦

  3. Actually, your post IS encouraging, Patti! Many of us ARE blogged out, trying to find our way in this publishing world. Some days it just makes me tired thinking about it all. That said … now, on to my book proposal … must focus, must focus, must focus … :/

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