Monday, August 1, 2011

Blogging Pointers for Hermits

My name is Chris and I'm a hermit. Not really, but I actually fantasize about it. To hermit my life away, to become a real, honest-to-goodness, guy-whose-front-yard-is-way-too-overgrown dude: this is what I pine for. The way some people fantasize about walking the red carpet? I fantasize about being a shut-in.

So it makes sense that I'd self-publish my WIP, which I'm about halfway through writing. I've been to enough author readings and book conferences to know I would hate being a part of them as an author (it's hard enough to will myself through them as an annonymous attendee). All the hand-shaking and reading from my book as though I enjoyed orating to a bunch of grown adults? Frederick Douglass I am not. No thanks.

If I don't want to go on physical book tours, then that leaves me with virtual book tours and blogging/tweeting/Google Plus-ing/facebooking to promote myself. Which, honestly, sounds tedious as well. And I haven't 100% decided that I'm going to choose that route; I may query some agents just to see what happens. But being a realist, and excited about the prospects of hocking my book in a way where I won't have to meet anyone face-to-face (which is huge), here is how I will mentally prepare myself for digital promotion in a way that will let me keep my humanity intact.

1.) Authors don't owe anyone anything -- This is a big one. Books are unlike texting or instant messaging or emailing because as a medium of communication, they are a one-way street. It's very important to preserve this balance, this one-way street, because, once the author is done writing a book, it becomes the reader's turn to take the raw materials supplied in the book -- words and images and character names -- and use them to fashion their own worlds of meaning.

This is just me, but I don't want to know much about a given author. Because it's really beside the point. I don't want to read a well-turned sentence and then immediately send a tweet to the author asking what inspired them to write it. No, because as a reader, at that point, whatever image I've crafted out of the author's words is mine and mine alone.

I often see self-pubbed authors scrambling to reply to dozens of comments left on their blogs and tweeting the holy bejeezus out of twitter in a mad attempt to get people to follow them. Or, more accurately, to get people not to un-follow them. None for me, thanks. I'm not trying to set the world on fire here. I'm just trying to make a living. I don't owe anyone a huge chunk of my free time except for those who are closest to me. And once I'm done writing, I don't want to influence how my readers construct their own worlds out of the raw materials I've given them. I don't want to be an imagination dictator.

2.) You're allowed to write rubbish sometimes -- This blog post is living testimony to this point. It's good to post a good deal on your blog, and the majority of your articles better be helpful or at least entertaining. But sometimes, the well is dry. So if I get blogger's block for a few days, I'll just blog about whatever minutia is happening in my life, and hopefully people won't avoid buying my book because of it. I've read enough swag blog entries to know I'm right here.

3.) Set aside a dedicated block of time for digital promotion and don't exceed it -- This is a big one. Given the fact that I have a full-time job and other responsibilities, I won't be able to fritter my time away on twitter or log a ton of time on my blog or debase myself on facebook or doodle away on Google Plus. There's just no time to do that. So I won't. And if I don't have a bazillion followers/friends or whatever, then that's fine. Over the long haul you don't get a lot of sales through having truckloads of friends; you sell books by writing a lot of books. So work and writing take first priority. This is inviolable.

4.) Don't promote on the weekends -- This is where I may lose those I haven't already lost. I won't be blogging/facetweeting/google tumbling on the weekends. That time is just too precious, and I want to live my life instead of being tied to a computer all the time. Weekends are my opportunity to LIVE, which is imporant for a writer. We have to have experiences, and that's hard to do when shackled to a laptop staring at status updates.

I hope these tips help. I don't have a product to sell at the moment, so I haven't implemented all of these rules into my own life yet. But I'll try to stay committed to them going forward even as, doubtless, my follower/fan numbers fluctuate. It's important to live as balanced a life as possible, especially for us writers, who tend to the dark side unless we really watch ourselves. And for the hermits among us, we have to preserve time for...hermitage.

If you have any tips to add, please let me know in the comments section. Good luck!


  1. Like you, (maybe a little more extreme) I often fantasize about having a Sanford and Sons front yard filled with booby traps and a shotgun loaded with beanbag rounds to deter people from visiting.

    As a first time (self-pubbed) author, I'm discovering how important it is to get the word out, to get people interested in your product. Otherwise you may turn into a 4 books sold per month statistic.

    You're right though, it is important to have time for other things, to not get caught up in the social media hubub. I'm still trying to find a nice balance that I can live with.

  2. Sanford and Son! That's a great image, but a little too extreme for me--I'm afraid I'd cut my foot on a rusting lawn mower blade or something.

    I hear you. And I know that's the inevitable truth: you've got to get the word out or no one else will. I definitely don't want to end up a statistic.

    Yep, finding a balance is the most important thing. You're one step ahead of me, having published your book. Once I get a Kindle, which I hope to do soon, I'll def buy your book.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hi fellow hermit. Im writing to you from the depths of my cave so i can say that most assuredly, i can relate to this post. My first book was written on commission and launched with a lot of media interest because of its subject matter. I found al the launch activities and travelling and interviews very draining.(the smiling alone was a killer) My next book will be self-pub on amazon etc and Im enjoying the distance and hermit-nature of social media promotion and networking. Its impt to put limits on our work. I dont do social media on weekends either. And im not interested in a million followers on twitter. The followers that read my blog are there because they are genuine readers of my blog - not 300 random blog hoppers passing through just to grab numbers. And i like it that way.
    An interesting post thanks

  4. Thanks for your comment, Lani. I'm considering the traditional-pub route as you did for your first book, but your comments make me even more wary than I already was of following that path. Yeah, social networking is probably the way to go, and it may be the only route open to non-published writers like me going forward. I like the idea of a community of readers and commenters, not just random blog-hoppers as you say. Anyway, thanks for your helpful insights!

  5. Although I'm far from a hermit, I definitely adopt this attitude when I'm actually writing. I don't have a set time for social media, but I try to keep it all on my phone, which is in the next room during writing sessions. Distractions like that are mojo killers.

    I'm totally with you on all that book tour stuff. Not only do I hate standing in front of people, I have 2 very small kids and a wife. Traveling the country without them doesn't sound fun, it sounds lonely and depressing.

  6. Keeping it all on the phone sounds like an excellent idea. I should try that. Yeah, touring around without people you care about surrounding you would suck. I don't want to go through that. Thanks for your comment!

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