Back when I started blogging in September 2009, it was the thing to do. Anyone who wanted to be published needed to blog to be visible! and present! on the Internet. (I’ve thought so often how lucky I was to start writing in 1998, long before blogging had taken hold. Back then I didn’t know anyone who was trying to get published. In many ways, it was a lonely time, but the solitude gave me the room to explore and grow and learn to write at my own speed, without added pressure.)
That mandate to blog sounds quaint now. Blogging, we hear, is pretty much dead. It’s social media where authors are hanging out (or where we’re told we need to be visible! and present!). Some of us have moved from blogging to author newsletters. (I’ve got one of those, too. Check it out!) Few people I first met through blogging are still at it. And that’s totally fine — better than fine because I think the directive to regularly post was probably misplaced. The idea was that blogging would establish writers as authorities. It would draw an audience who would be certain to buy future books. It might even make publishers sit up and take notice.
I can think of a handful of non-fiction authors who got book deals based on their blogs’ strong presence or who were outright discovered by publishers via their sites. I’m not sure if it ever happened for novelists (please tell me if you know otherwise). Blogging hasn’t made a measurable difference in my work, if by measurement we mean publisher sales. The seven books I’ve sold to date came from a twelve-year self-led apprenticeship of submission, rejection, trial, and error, followed by submission and rejection alongside my agent. Nothing remarkable there.
But blogging has brought me plenty of things, like my dear critique partner Valerie Geary, (who gets the prize as most quoted person in this Internet space) and other friends, whose publishing journeys I’ve witnessed play out in real time, like Jessie Oliveros, whose The Remember Balloons I shared a few months back, and Paul Greci, whose The Wild Lands will be featured here later this week, and Karen Strong, whose debut novel, Just South of Home, I’ll share with readers this spring.
Blogging has given me the quick satisfaction of publishing on the spot with the immediate potential for feedback. Imagine that! It’s infinitely satisfying to connect with readers in real time.
Blogging has allowed me to work through my thoughts. It’s given me the discipline of a regular, self-imposed deadline. It’s reminded me to actively find new books and authors to read and to showcase for teachers, librarians, parents, and most importantly, young readers (who don’t visit this site but whose grownups do).
Ten years in, I’m still reaping these benefits.
Writing trends come and go, but blogging is one I’m happy to stick with. I hope you’ll stick around, too.