I follow hundreds of amazing bloggers: gents, editors, writers, reviewers, readers. Then there are subject blogs: history, BDSM, etc. All of this funnels into my writing, and it’s been a huge help for me.
Not that I am a mega-star or anything, but the things I have achieved thus far: writing my books, signing it with Loose Id, landing an agent, were accelerated by what I learned by following these blogs. I would go so far as to say that I couldn’t have done it without them. At least, it would have taken me many years to accomplish the same thing. Here are some things that I learned from blogs:
- Writing craft!!! From grammar and line editing type-things to larger scene/story development, there is plenty of advice about how to write better, and boy did I need it!
- Where my books are positioned in the market, which agents/publishers would work well for me, how they worked, and how to write a good query/synopsis.
- Access to critique auctions, editing services, workshops, classes and other resources I used. They helped me, but I never would have found them if I hadn’t subscribed to all those blogs in the first place.
Lately I’ve been struggling to keep up.
The “unread” count in my RSS reader is continually high. And sometimes it feels like I spend more time reading these blogs than I do reading books for fun or writing.
I knew I needed to trim the fat, but like any diet, it’s freaking hard! How will I know what the publishing trends are? How will I see what other authors are up to? How will I find that magical piece of craft advice that will fix my book? How will I How will I How will I?
I looked through my list, and it was surprising how many I didn’t even recognize! Oh, if I went to the website and saw their books (or whatever) then I’d probably remember. But how useful can it be if I don’t immediately remember them? Delete.
Next came the folks that used to help but are no longer as relevant. That is mostly agents, especially ones that focus their blog topics on querying. Well, I have an agent and I’m no longer querying. It hurt to do this, because their advice is still valuable. They know what’s happening in the industry. And hey, writing a good query is like writing a good blurb, which is still a useful skill! But something had to give, so unsubscribe! Then I did the same for some other writers, organizations, etc.
Which blogs did I keep?
Ones that had actionable information. This is a business-speak term, but basically it means that reading a post gives me something I can do to make my writing better, my life easier, etc. Sometimes we say “useful” but sometimes we say, “oh that’s good information, I can maybe use that later.” That’s not actionable.
Ones that made me smile. Okay, also ones that made cry. Ones that moved me, which is about how I pick books as well. Also authors and agents who I really like and respect, and maybe even know in an online community sort of way. This is one area where being on twitter and responding to comments helps. It’s not enough to just spew content, I think. We’ve got to interact as well.
And lastly, anyone in my inner circle. Authors I interact with, my own publisher, stuff like that. Usually they already fell into the previous categories anyway, but they would have gotten an exemption if they hadn’t.
The interesting thing was that not once did I unsubscribe from a blog for not posting often enough. Plenty of the blogs I still follow rarely post, but when they do, I usually want to read it. I actually prefer this. However, this flies in the face of the advice we get to update our blogs regularly. If anything, in this time of information overload, posting schedules may actually hurt us.
It does occur to me that if take action on this blog post, you might end up unsubscribing from this blog. But then, if you did that, you’d be breaking the rule, since that would prove this blog was actionable. And if you don’t take action, does that prove this isn’t actionable and therefore you should unsubscribe? But you can’t because then…
And now I’ve opened a blogging wormhole. You’re welcome.