To Blog or Not To Blog


Should you blog? Yes.

What, you want reasons? (sigh) Okay, here are a few good reasons why you should immediately—or close to—start your own blog and what you should put in it.

First of all, as I said last month, everything’s changed, especially in the writing world. Understand that these days, in this new world, anyone can be a writer, which is the good news as well as the bad news.

While publicity and exposure have never been things a writer could ignore, or did so at their peril, they’ve now become absolutely essential. You have to find some way—any way—of standing out from a growing throng of people who are also yelling at the top of their literary lungs for the attention of editors, publishers, and readers.

Blogging is a great way to do just that: it’s free, easy, fun, and a good way to show off your work and build an audience. Frankly, there isn’t a reason not to blog, aside from the seduction of spending too much time on it, thereby keeping you from what’s really important, which is your fiction writing.

Two things to think about before you start: one, decide on a program or platform. Some people like WordPress but many (like me) don’t like the HTML headaches. Others (like me) prefer Blogger since it’s amazingly easy to set up and use, and also features a lot of cool features that WordPress does not.

Two, you have to decide what your blog’s about. It’s tempting to make it a personal thing, a site to show off your writing. Although that approach is fine and good, those types of blogs can (at best) sometimes be a bit dull or (at worst) make a writer feel obligated to constantly post new content. I recommend either a blog mixed with a hobby as well as your writing, or two separate sites, one for your writing that you don’t update a lot and one you post a lot of fun stuff to. Say, for instance, that you like food. Then do a sex and food blog that mixes your work with food-related stuff. (Donna George Storey does this well with her Sex, Food, and Writing blog.) Or you could do sex and movies, sex and travel, sex and … well it’s really up to you.
Just do what you feel comfortable doing because that’s the only way you’ll continue to blog.

Personal experience time! I’m not an expert but I’ve had a lot of fun with my own blogs—and they seem to be going fairly well. I’ve created three separate blogs:

  • is a site where I post my writing stuff (reviews, stories, essays like the one you’re reading right now, book announcements, and such)
  • Meine Kleine Fabrik is the site my brother and I started to share the fun and weird stuff we’ve collected over the years or just stumbled across
  • Frequently Felt is where I post funny and strange sex stuff as well as work by writers who I’ve either contacted or who have sent me great things to post (and you can do the same— just write me).

I recommend posting at least once a day, and consistently; people forget very quickly about dead or slow sites. You have to keep things flowing to keep people interested and reading. Once a day works for me, as I can post to all three blogs in about half an hour, which leaves me a lot of time to work on my fiction writing. I also cheat a bit in that I rarely write fresh content for my blogs, preferring to repost older material instead of spending precious time writing new stuff. I’m fortunate to have archives bursting with material, but I realize not everybody will be in a similar position. Basically, do what you can to prevent the blog from sucking time away from your “real” writing!

There are lots of sites out there with hints and techniques for running a successful blog so I won’t go into much detail about that topic here (besides, as I said, it’s all new and changing anyway). Here’s a quick rundown of things to remember, though, when you’re blogging.

One of the biggest, and most confusing, things about running a blog is posting content that isn’t your own. Technically, and legally, you should always get permission from the original source but that’s too often a huge headache and/or impossible. This is where what you should do (legally) and what most people go (realistically) part ways. Since I always try to be a law-abiding citizen … stop laughing … I must advise you to follow established procedure. There’s lots of sites out there that can help you with your copyright questions. Check out the U.S. Copyright Office‘s list of resource links for more information. I feel Creative Commons offers some of the best (and simplest) solutions and resources to make this topic less confusing.

Beyond the fun of figuring out what’s legal, a common mistake bloggers make is not putting an email address on their site(s). Yes you’ll get spammed (we all do) but what’s worse: spam or not hearing from some editor, publisher, or reader? I’ve tried to reach out to many writers only to find no way of reaching them on their site—and so they’ve lost an opportunity. These days writers can’t afford to lose any possible gig or connection.

It’s also important to play with gadgets and gizmos. Blogger has all kinds of cool modules you can add to your site: video clips, sound clips, RSS readers, you name it. People expect multimedia these days—pages and pages of text is a kiss of death for blogs.

Checking out other blogs and sites is essential. There’s nothing wrong with learning from other’s successes and doing to your own site what they’ve done to theirs. As long as your content is different, no harm done. And the afore-mentioned gadgets and modules make it very easy to add or subtract features. Just experiment and see what works, or doesn’t, for you.

I could go on (and I will in future columns) but this should at least give you a start. Think about what you want to do with your blog, settle on a focus you can play with for a long time, and then set it up. Once it’s done and you feel good about sticking with it, then you can begin to reach out. Again, more on that very soon.

But in the meantime always remember that blogs are like writing and life itself: if it’s not fun, if you’re not enjoying yourself, then you’re doing something wrong. So have yourself a blast with this great exposure and publicity tool—and blog away!

M. Christian
December ’08 – January ’09

“Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker” © 2008 M. Christian. All rights reserved.

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