Thursday, September 13, 2012

Being an Author in the Digital Age



I actually meant to discuss this topic as part of my “Author/Reviewer Controversy” post a few weeks ago, but since that post was getting a little long, I decided to do it separately.  It’s definitely related though: it’s the internet that allows indie authors to publish and promote themselves, and it also allows traditionally published authors to promote and interact with readers in new ways.  With these opportunities, though, come obligations: it’s pretty much a requirement for authors, whether they’re indie or traditional (or both—I’m hoping to become both myself, and I certainly don’t think they’re mutually exclusive), to blog, tweet, facebook, etc.  And navigating these fairly new digital waters, handling relationships with readers and reviewers, can prove challenging.  Authors make mistakes, which has led to so much of the drama in the book blogging/GR community lately.  Also, some people are just batsh** crazy.  (STGRB, anyone?)

So, anyway, if you’re part of the online book community, particularly the YA community, you already know all this.  What I really want to talk about is my personal experience with blogging so far.  The thing is, I KNOW I need a blog, especially since I don’t have the budget for a professional website right now, but blogging is actually very difficult for me.  (I swear this isn’t a whiny post—I have a point!)  My issues are:

1.       I’m naturally a pretty private person, and I’m not naturally inclined to write about myself several times a week.  Yeah, I know, I can do book reviews, profiles of other authors, writing tips, etc….but all of that still IS writing about me, in a way writing novels is not.
2.       (related to 1) It’s hard for me to come up with interesting stuff to blog about. In fact, I’ve already convinced myself this blog post will put everyone to sleep, but I started writing and I need to blog, so it’s going up!
3.       As much as I think about what I’m blogging before I post it, I’m sure I’ll get foot-in-mouth syndrome at some point.
4.       Writing is draining for me, and rather than blogging I could be working on my manuscript reading awesome books watching Arrested Development.

So that’s why I find blogging difficult, but there’s something else, too, and I know I have a very unpopular preference here: I actually don’t like to read other authors’ blogs.  I LOVE book blogs, but I feel like when I read author’s blogs I get too much of a sense of their personality, and it interferes when I read their work.  At the very least I try to stay away from authors’ blogs and twitter accounts until AFTER I’ve read their books.  And there are a few very high profile YA authors whose voices are so loud on multiple blogs, vlogs, websites, etc. that I really can’t get their voices or faces out of my head while reading their work.  This does make it much harder for me to get into and enjoy the book, especially if it’s a male author writing a female POV or vice versa. 

Now again, I know my opinion is not the norm and that most readers love following author blog/vlogs/etc., and authors love being able to share their opinions online.  I know that I can just stay away from the author blogs, and that they’re doing much more good than harm.  Just wanted to  share my experience—and if there’s anyone else out there who shares this quirk, I’d love to hear in the comments!

So, the (sorta-kinda-does-she-have-one) point of this post…blogging may seem like a chore, and may create potential problems and drama.  HOWEVER, I also think blogging and interacting on twitter and goodreads can be key to avoiding drama, and that’s why I’m ultimately so grateful that I have these opportunities to express myself online.  Authors interact with readers all the time.  It’s a fact.  It’s a different dynamic than movie star/fan (except for JK Rowling and Stephen King, and maybe a few others…).  Therefore, I think both traditionally published and indie authors have a responsibility to use these online resources available to us, and, through them, to show that we are reasonable people who won’t attack readers or reviewers for expressing an opinion.  That we as authors appreciate readers whether they buy our book or not, whether they like it or not, whether they review it or not.  Because without readers, we’d be out a paycheck and a purpose—and that’s more true in the digital age than ever before.

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