Sunday, March 27, 2011

Author blogging yes or no

I've been thinking since my last post, wondering exactly why it might be that I'm reluctant about blogging my life as a writer. The lovely Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe, wrote about social media the other day on her blog, and her message first and foremost is this: You don't have to do anything.

"The analogy I use is this: social media is like a cocktail party. Come to the party if you want to. At the party, meet new people, reconnect with others. It's a business party, so it's okay to talk shop, but it's not okay to monopolize the conversation and push yourself or your product on other people. Be polite. You can be a social butterfly or a wallflower; you can come with a thousand friends or not. It's up to you. You don't want to come to the party? Don't. You want to leave early? Do."

I agree with that. I like the actual social aspect of media. The meeting people bit, the person-to-person contact. But my reluctance, or rather fear, stems from something else. Something I can't quite articulate. Luckily, another writer, Ilona Andrews, managed to find the words to express what I fear on her blog. She writes:

"There is a curious shift that occurs sometime around the publication of your first book.  You stop being a person and become a representative of your books.  For all intents and purposes, you are a business entity."

Suddenly, the whole person-to-person interaction changes. Now, for some readers, interaction with you becomes author-to-reader, a relationship with entirely different rules and expectations. Andrews shares a story about an interaction with a reader, who, having been offended by Andrews (over her simple objection to a facebook game), told her she shouldn't be so quick to anger the people who bought her books.

"Look at the wording here: ‘people who bought my books’.  To her I am not a person.  I am a collection of books and entertaining status updates.  She is defining our relationship in terms of me as the content provider and her as the consumer.  And consumer is always right.  I am supposed to make her feel good, not point out her thoughtlessness.  My mistake was attempting a person-to-person interaction, while she was clearly on reader-to-author basis.  (Facebook, unfortunately, blurs this line a bit.)  As a representative of a business entity, I am not allowed to have my feelings hurt or to be angry. From her point of view, in this relationship, she holds all the cards, because she purchases the product I provide."

A very, very interesting point. And not one I take lightly. I am, by nature, a person who craves intimacy and understanding. In most of my daily interactions with others, I am usually the one trying to form some sort of bond, however tenuous and immediate, just because that's where I'm happiest. So the idea of becoming something other than just a person, just me, scares me a little. It seems like a lot of pressure to be a representative of anything - even my own work - rather than just a person like anyone else.

I realize I am jumping the gun here in a spectacular way. The grand assumption that anyone will even bother to read my work, let alone seek me out on the Internet - yeah, I know it's a jump. But I am slightly neurotic and over-thinky. This is what I do.


  1. Hi. I hear ya on this. I'm they type of person who likes to make contact and it mean something. A bond or a connection. I like to be social, but I may take things too close to heart.
    I see the change from reader to author. I've seen it plenty of times, but we never know until we are in that postition. I hope I would continue to bond with people.
    Congrats on starting your blog, and getting back into writing. I can't stop thinking of my stories. They invade my brain, and seriously, I want to write constantly, but I've got two monsters and house to deal with. Good luck with your story and I look forward to more interesting posts.
    Have a great day!

  2. Very interesting post. I do understand the disconnect that might be felt by an author towards a book blogger, but so far it has been my experience that almost every time I have dealt with an author through this media, I have felt they have treated me as an individual.

    I like your thought process and am looking forward to reading more posts.

  3. Personally, I think it's important for an author to develop a social media presence so that they can direct and steer the tenor of the author/reader relationship. This is why I started interacting with this persona MONTHS before my book came out. I wanted to be seen as an entertainer and as approachable--but also to establish that while I take my WORK seriously, I do not take my SELF seriously. I think that's an important and fun tone to set for the readers and other authors I interact with.

    But that's just a personal thing--there's no right or wrong here, you've really got to make your own rules.

  4. Keyboardhussy, I like what you've said here - the idea that you want your readers to understand that you take your work seriously, but not your self. Such an important distinction, especially as writers tend to take both entirely too seriously! My problem is more that, on a personal level, I try not to take myself seriously (it's a struggle! Cos I'm crazy like that!), but on a public level, I start to, a lot, and I don't like it. A personal neurosis, no doubt.

    I can certainly relate to you through your blog on a personal, fun level - I like that a lot. And it does make me want to read your book, because I know it will be funny. So yeah, I'm a bit mixed up in my thinking about things. Maybe it's because I worry I won't be able to pull off what you have? That I'll get too thinky and weird about everything, start taking myself awfully seriously, all that nonsense? I'm like an analytical torpedo in print. Maybe I should just drink before I blog.