Is Blogging Dead?
Posted by Jeannie Lin Nov 6 2012, 12:01 am in blog tours, blogging, social media
You know how it goes…
- You spend hours writing a thoughtful post and no one sees it
- You’re giving away free books, gift cards, candy and your first born child, and there are only two comments
- You’re guest blogging somewhere and you have to BEG your friends and family to go over and comment so you don’t look like a LOSER
- You blog with a group of people and every week you find yourselves scrounging around and to fill empty slots
There was a time when blogging was supposed to be the thang. Everyone was doing it. Publishers were holding seminars on how to blog effectively. Unpublished authors were told it was important to blog and build a platform even before selling. But now, more and more of us are wondering, is it really worth it?
“Is blogging dead?”
Here’s the lightning round from various authors, agents, and book bloggers:
- “You know. I’m not sure. If anything, I wonder if blogging is once again becoming more specialized. It’s no longer something that everyone is doing, but something that only an elite few are continuing and having success at.” – Jessica Faust, agent & president of BookEnds, LLC
- “For me, I’d have to say yes, blogs are mostly dead. I do the bulk of my interaction with readers on my FB page, the rest on twitter. Social media has just changed the landscape of how authors are accessible.” – Kristen Painter, author of Out for Blood
- “I think it’s changing–unless you have a platform for something other than your authorhood.” – Gwen Hayes, author of Falling Awake and Ours is Just a Little Sorrow
- “It is definitely waning, but I still think there is a niche for it. It allows the blogger to go into more depth in a topic than Facebook or Twitter, which are short and quick.” – Diane Gaston, author of A Not So Respectable Gentleman?
- “No. I just…..no. As long as there are “personalities” in Romance Novel Land, I think blogging is a viable option. You can also very easily tailor blogging to fit your needs.” – Wendy the Super Librarian
The Effect of Social Media
The prevailing thought is that social media such as Facebook and Twitter have changed the face of social interaction on line. Wendy Crutcher aptly compared blog posts to magazine articles: “You read some articles, skip others, and maybe write a letter to the editor over others.” Twitter and Facebook posts have been compared to the quick “water cooler” conversations one might have at work. Sometimes you can get into a prolonged back and forth, other times it’s quick and light. You’re able to reach out, make a connection, then move on to make another connection.
Wendy has found that blog traffic hasn’t necessarily suffered with the rise of social media. A plus side is that Twitter can be used to drive more traffic to a blog post where a more in depth topic can be discussed.
Author and Ruby Sister Tamara Hogan pointed out that the power of Facebook is in its format and that the “one thing it does brilliantly is centralize information, and create community via tooling. It’s one-stop shopping. I think one of our biggest challenges over the next decade – and I mean “our” in the species sense – will be finding ways to effectively manage the deluge of information coming our way. In a time where everyone wants a slice of my attention, I need to filter stuff out. Go fewer places, not more.”
One of the challenges in the crowded blogosphere is remaining relevant and continually generating interesting and engaging content. Long time review sites like Dear Author and All About Romance continue to be popular, featuring reviews as well as industry information and active discussion about relevant current topics. Both have large and active communities with over 15,000 unique visitors on average per month. (figures are from Compete.com).
Agent Jessica Faust, who ran the very successful BookEnds blog for many years, commented that “There are so many things trying to capture our time that bloggers need to be extra special these days to build an audience.” It seems like it’s a combination of building enough of a following to foster conversation and community, but keeping content fresh and relevant as well. “It’s about how effective you are with the following you have,” according to Faust. “2 million followers is amazing, but isn’t doing you any good if you aren’t engaging and they don’t engage with you.” Those words are just as true for Twitter and Facebook followers as it is for bloggers.
Like many authors, Ruby Sister Autumn Jordan questions whether avid readers are truly blog followers. Sure blogging reaches some readers, but does it truly reach enough readers to be worthwhile? “Blogs are the equal of yesterday’s booksigning,” she points out. “I think every published author I’ve ever spoken to about scheduling book signings, said don’t waste your time. Your time is better used writing.”
The trend currently seems to be toward consolidation. In the crowded blogosphere, it’s more difficult for an individual to draw a following. Though group blogging between a small circle of authors with a common background (such as the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood) also seems to be on the decline, making way for larger juggernauts.
Major review venues have added prolific bloggers to their roster — Barbara Vey was a pioneer in this arena with the PW Beyond Her Book blog in 2007 under the umbrella of Publishers Weekly. Kirkus Reviews also picked up several book bloggers with established followings: Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books for a romance column & Ana and Thea of The Book Smugglers for a Science Fiction & Fantasy column.
As publishers go, Harlequin has had a long established digital presence including a user forum and blog. Newcomers to the publisher blogosphere include: Heroes & Heartbreakers (Macmillan) launched in 2011 and and Discover a New Love (Sourcebooks) launched in 2012 which features an online readers’ club. Is this an example of traditional publishers jumping onto a trend just as it’s dying out? Or does it show that the blogosphere has thinned out in Darwinian survival of the fittest fashion, leaving space for megaliths with big followings only?
To Blog or Not to Blog
Author Dalya Moon put it rather eloquently: “As a writer, putting a lot of time into blogging is like being a bakery and focusing all your effort on free cookie samples while never baking a wedding cake.”
Should an individual author, especially one just starting out, or even a small group of authors put their efforts into blogging to build their reach or platform? Or is it a waste of time?
And what about the pressure to do a blog tour? Some readers discover authors through blog tours, but do enough readers reach you to make it worthwhile?
Special thanks to the netizens who answered our survey and helped contribute to this post: