Michelle Sagara has written some very fine posts about promoting oneself online as a writer: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. In a nutshell, don’t be an ass and don’t expect to develop a Scalzi-like following without a decade of hard work put into it. Only she says it better, so you should go read what she said while I investigate my navel.
I freely admit to envy over Scalzi’s followers. I also clearly haven’t got a *clue* how to get that kind of following, since I’ve been keeping an online journal since long before ‘blog’ was a word, and I think at most there are maybe a couple thousand people reading this. (Which is actually sort of mind-boggling, but it’s not the fifty thousand or so that hit Whatever daily.) Michelle rightfully points out that starting a blog with the purpose of getting 50K readers is probably useless, because then you’re doing it for the end game, whereas Scalzi built Whatever out of love of the job. Which is also why I blog (that, and because I kept seeing friends I hadn’t seen in months. We’d say to each other, “What’ve you been up to?” and “Oh, not much,” seemed like a ridiculous answer, so I started keeping a journal so they’d know what I was up to, if they cared to read.)–but that’s what my ‘blog’ is: a journal which more or less recounts the days of my life. That is, indeed, what most people’s blogs are, although I tend to think of those as journals because in my mind blogs have a specific focus or purpose or topic.
And really, I don’t have any idea why I know some writers who have thousands of LJ followers (I mean, ursulav, yeah, I get that: you come for the art, you stay for the hysterically bizarre weft and weave of her life, or sarahtales, who pens outrageously funny write-ups of the absurdities she gets up to, but there are others who, as far as I can tell, heap abuse upon their readership and people line up for more), and others who have at most a few or several hundred followers despite being a friendly, cheerful public persona.
There are days–more than I care to admit, perhaps, although it’s not like it keeps me up at night–when this bothers me. Partly because of the popularity contest aspect of it, I suppose, but just as much because it leaves me with this uncomfortable feeling that I’m doing something wrong. That I ought, somehow, to be doing something else, something better, something wittier, something cleverer, in order to draw more readers to the blog. Except this is just my life, and it’s not that exciting or strange, and I’m not clever enough to make it seem like it is.
There. This is my version of writer neuroticism, displayed for all to see on teh intarwebs. And it’s just not dramatic enough, is it? A few years ago somebody said “Your picture makes you look like some kind of broody cyberpunk goth chick, but really you’re just really wholesome and nice, aren’t you?!” (It must be noted this was said with relief, although it did sort of feel like a double-edged sword. :)) And I am, but as the reality-TV episode of Doctor Who said, “Does this seem like a world where the audience is going to vote to keep the nice girl in the house?” So I quite doubt I’ll ever get much beyond the nice-girl level of blog readership, and I will continue to be vaguely neurotic about it, but I promise not to do so in public again.
Or maybe I should. :)(x-posted from the essential kit)