I will be writing a more professional and less personal blog weekly over at this site. I will continue to write this blog on a near-daily basis because it gives a more personal touch to writing. I will move a few selected entries over to the new site, but the site will focus more on writing and less on personal experience.
This is all part of making a professional presence. Wish me luck.
I’m working on the principle of hope —
I’m putting together an author’s website (not really a blog like this one). It would be helpful if I get published, either traditionally or self-published. The way I see it is “if you build it, they will come”. This is my notion, anyhow. I won’t post the URL until the site is ready to go live, which will be if something happens on the publishing front.
In reality, right now is a holding pattern. I am waiting for more news on one novel I’ve queried, and I may even query another (the new improved version) before I decide to self publish. I just like to have something to do, to work toward. I like to feel like I’m creating my own destiny. I am creating hope, by preparing for a future where I am published.
Hope is what keeps me going when I am feeling down, as I am in this pandemic. And accomplishing things gives me hope.
So, I have a blog now. Do I just write?
Not exactly. You have to think about what you write. It needs to fit your theme and audience — if you’re writing to writers about writing, writing about politics will probably feel “off”. You can be an essayist in your blog and write about whatever crosses your mind, but it may be harder to convey a theme in your blog. On the other hand, John Scalzi, a science fiction writer with a multi-book contract, writes about everything from writing to politics. His blog, fittingly, is called Whatever. If you’re as big as John Scalzi, you can write whatever.
How do I know what to write?
If you have a theme and an audience, you’re doing them no favor by just free-writing. This is your personal/professional presence on the Internet. If you’re a writer, it’s a chance to market yourself. You can compose directly on the screen, but compose. cut and paste to make the document flow. Proofread. Read it aloud to yourself like any other document you want to write to impress people.
The blog should not be too long, in order to cater to today’s readers. I’m divided on how excerpts of novels and short stories should be presented in blogs, but I think that short excerpts are the best.
The 29th Annual Edition Guide to Literary Agents 2020 (Brewer, 2019) suggests that one should have a list of topics for six months or a year. This works great if one writes weekly; I write daily (which is insane, but so be it). I do have a list of weekly topics, but intersperse those with more personal observations about being a writer.
Other suggested tricks
The 29th Annual Edition Guide to Literary Agents 2020 (Brewer, 2019) has a chapter that presents several other reader- and SEO-friendly suggestions for blogs:
- Short paragraphs and headings, as you see here. This works well for informational blogs; not so much for narrative.
- An SEO tag in the title. I have a few that I use for my blogs, although I sometimes forget these because they’re new to me.
There are probably more tricks, but I haven’t learned them yet. I am still working on getting readership for this blog, but it may increase after I get published (I hope).
Brewer, R.L., 2019. The 29th Annual Edition Guide to Literary Agents 2020. Writers’ Digest Books.
Time to celebrate!
This blog has hit a milestone I didn’t ever think I would hit — my thousandth post! How does one celebrate 1000 blog posts? By writing a blog post!
I started the blog a little over three years ago with the aim of developing an author’s social media presence. Its secondary purpose was, however, to warm up my mind for a day of writing. Thus, writing in the blog became an almost daily event.
The content of the blog echoes the header above: “A blog about being a writer, believing it, honing it, living it.” As a theme, this has afforded me a bit of flexibility, and I have written about my writing, my struggles with writing, writing tools I’ve discovered, and occasionally examples of my writing.
Most writers don’t write in their blogs daily. I’m pretty sure this makes me an overachiever.
Changes in the Blog
The blog hasn’t changed much in the past 1000 posts. At first, I didn’t post every day. Occasionally, I whined about my lack of progress; those posts have been deleted.
I recently began formatting posts with headers to make the blog more friendly to readers. I hope this has helped readers find meaning in the blog.
I’m not sure what’s in store for the blog over the next couple of years. I have thought of moving it to a weekly blog and focusing on writing tools and the like, but there are many blogs that already do this. I want this blog to be accessible to writers and people who like writing, so I will probably continue with the daily posting and the variety of posts I make. This has the added bonus of making the blog more fun to write.
Here’s to 1000 more blog posts!
Learning something new
I have been reading through Robert Brewer’s Guide to Literary Agents 2020 (publication date 2019), and I discovered a treasure trove of information on building one’s writing platform.
What’s a writing platform?
According to Writers’ Digest, a writing platform represents a writer’s visibility through their identity, their personal and professional connections, and social media (Carpenter, 2012).
I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what a writing’ platform was when I was asked by a hybrid (traditional with self-publishing elements) publisher what my platform was. I didn’t get the contract there.
Thirty Days to a Writers’ Platform
Brewer’s book contains a thirty-day path to your platform, I have to admit I’ve done the beginning steps already not knowing they were part of a platform. My blog, my author account on Twitter. But now I’m stepping it up.
More about this as I get more established.
Brewer, R. (2019). Guide to Literary Agents 2020. Penguin Random House.
Carpenter, C. (2012). The Basics of Building a Writer’s Platform. Available: https://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/build-a-platform-start-blogging/building-a-writers-platform [January 5, 2020).
These are the things that I’ve learned in writing this blog.
- My blog gets an average of 20 hits a day. I would like to up that, but that might not change till I have a product (a published book). Let me know if I’m wrong.
- The national origins of my readers will always surprise me. The other day, a reader from Vietnam showed up. I’ve had visitors from Singapore and Egypt lately. Among my regulars are Germany, Poland, Portugal, India, Ukraine, and Russia.
- I know virtually nothing about my visitors. I know what time of day they visit, how often, what they’ve read. I do not know who they are or why they’ve decided to visit. As far as I know, I know nobody from Portugal, Ukraine, and Russia. I don’t assume that my Polish, German, or Indian readers are the people I know there. I know that either Russia or Ukraine houses that annoying SEO bot that occasionally drops me URLs to webcam girls. (I don’t go there).
- I will keep writing this blog. It may change direction as my needs as a writer change, but it will probably always be a combination of creative writing, musing about writing and being a writer, and the occasional “this is what my life looks like right now.”
I’m down to twenty readers, but I am assured that all of you are real people instead of bots or that the CIA is no longer reading this for hidden messages — just kidding. I think. Thank you for following me.
I’m at a loss as to how to get more readers. This is my big worry about embarking in self-publishing as well. In a world where everything is screaming for attention, how does one actually get attention? Quality is not enough, as is evidenced by many industries — music, books, movies — where the hyped gets more interest than the small shining gem of a creation.
What’s enough? I’ve never stopped to consider this.
Expectations have a way of expanding. At the beginning of this journey, I didn’t know if I could write 50,000 words. Then, as I reached that point, I expected to be able to write whole novels which grew to 80,000 words or more. Then I expected to get published, which hasn’t happened yet but could happen if I self-published. Yet now I expect to have more than twenty people read my blog. And I expect them to comment occasionally.
Maybe I should scale my expectations down. Maybe twenty faithful readers are enough. Maybe self-publishing, with its potential of only a handful of readers, is enough.
For those of you who have been following me, you know that I write this blog almost every day, sometimes twice in a day. I write first thing in the morning, right after breakfast, before tending to the other duties of the day. Usually, I write this sitting on my living room couch, lap desk in lap, typing on a Microsoft Surface. There’s usually at least one cat nearby — today, Buddy is taking up Richard’s seat on the couch.
There are many reasons I write this blog daily. The first reason is because it’s a writing habit, I haven’t written on a novel in a couple of months because I’ve been editing prior novels for developmental edits, but I’m still writing. I’m still keeping my fingers limber and my ideas fresh for when I start noveling again. (Is ‘noveling’ a word? My spellcheck doesn’t think so.)
A second reason is because I feel a rapport with my readers. I estimate there are only about 20 of you regular readers, and that most of you are people I know. A few of you I’m pretty sure I don’t know, given that you come from places I’ve never been to like Germany, France, and Portugal. I like to write for you, and I’m glad you’re reading.
A final reason is that I hope to be published someday, in which case I’ll need to have a blog, because it’s what writers do. You regular readers know that I fret about whether I’ll be published, and some days I feel down about it. I feel down about it today, as a matter of fact. Keeping a blog helps me hope that the rest of the trappings of being published — readers, recognition — will come to me.
Thank you for reading this blog.
I know you as data — what country hits come from. I know what posts are being read (but not who is reading what posts), and I know what times random people are posting. Here’s what I know about my readers:
1) I have about thirty hits a day on average. About half of those are from the United States. The rest are from a variety of countries, with Germany holding second place. Other regulars have been from France, Canada, Ukraine, Portugal, and Unknown Region are the most regular.
2) Some of you find me through Facebook, which means I probably know you. Some of you find me from Twitter, and I don’t know if I know you or not. Some referring links are from bit.ly and IFTTT. I’d love to know how the IFTTT link works.
3) Some of you are probably bots. For example, I get about three hits a day from a web address that specializes in “web cam girls”. I don’t follow those links anymore.
4) I don’t know WHO you are. I would love to know who you are. If you’re a regular reader, you know I have said this before, because I mean it. I’m the sort of person who would not only like to sign autographs for readers someday, but chat with readers.
Please, if you know someone who would like this blog (writers, readers, my aunt Edna*) please amplify this and pass it on to them!
* I don’t have an Aunt Edna.
My name is Girly-girl, which I find a ridiculous name because I am a cat. I answer to Girly, of course, because that’s a good way to get petted.
I have a favorite human — the female one who lives in the house. She usually sits on a specific soft place in the gathering room, and makes clicking noises on the flat surface. It gets enough of her attention that I want to sit on it and get attention too. But she usually pushes me off it, making swears when she does.
I do not sit on laps. I sit near them. I’m sitting on the arm of the soft place next to my human. I try to look vaguely disapproving of everything, It goes with not being a lap cat. But when I get petted, I purr. No sense in playing completely hard to get.
I’m starting to get on in years. I don’t feel the need to feel charming anymore, not like that smarmy little Chucky who wants to play all the time. I do not play. But I get along with my human just by being me.