Too blog or not to blog…

That is the question… well, at least for this week.  ;o)   Over at Dear Author there was an interesting question about whether or not authors should get more involved in blogging.  PBW did a post on self promo and I’ve seen several other posts in that similiar vein go up over the past few weeks.

My less than organized view is that it has to be up to the author.

I don’t think an author should go bloghopping with sole purpose to promote herself.  Especially not if she’s just visiting Author A’s blog, or popping into to comment once in a blue moon on Reader B’s blog.  It’s rude.

But if you have a blog, if you circulate through other blogs, even if it’s just to lurk, then the author has to make the call whether or not to join in the discussions. I originally got into blogging when the Vamps and Scamps got together.  Dianne Castell and Luann McLane invited me and several other authors to join their yahoo group, rename it to suit the bunch of us and start up a blog.  Yes, we wanted to use it for promo and for contests, but also just a place to chat with the readers who hung out in our yahoo group and other bloggers.  We talk about our books, we talk about books we like by other authors and we do interviews.  We let the readers pick the questions we’ll ask the authors and we try to throw in a contest with the interview as well.  Light reading for the most part and we steer clear of negative stuff, which does include reviews.

One comment I’ve read, voiced by several different people, is that readers don’t want to go to an author’s blog where it’s nothing but a cheerfest for books their friends have written.  But something that’s not always easy for readers to understand is how touchy a situation it can be for authors when it comes to their views on another author’s work. It’s a dicey situation.  Plain and simple.  Why is it dicey? Wwwwwweeeellllll…. several reasons. 

One, it can look like we’re picking on the author. No matter how nicely we phrase it, no matter that we had absolutely no purpose in mind other than sharing our opinion. If it’s a popular author, it could be construed as jealousy, pettiness, spitefulness or all sorts of other -nesses.  This can lead to readers not wanting to visit the blog, especially if they absolutely adore the author who got the not so great review.  For all the reader knows, the two authors could be great friends.  You can be friends with another author and not care for their books.  I know several people I adore but I don’t really care for their writing.  It’s not a reflection on that person, just my personal tastes.  But if a reader reads the less than great review and they adored the book, they could decide to never ever not in a million years read that blog’s author again, or buy their books, no matter what…sounds kind of extreme in my opinion but I have seen it.

Two, authors can take their books very personally.  I mean, yeah, I think we should, by all means, take the book personally.  We wrote them.  For however long it took to write that story, that story became our world, in some limited sense.  Or unlimited, depending on the author.  But that doesn’t mean if a fellow author doesn’t like my book I’m going to slit my wrists with one of my bookmarks.  I’m not going to find a picture of her and draw a moustache on it or write her name and email addy on the restroom wall of the local bookstore, Call for a good time…We’re not in high school.  But I have seen authors take other people’s viewpoints so personally, you’d think some stranger walked up to them in the mall and said, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.  

Needless to say, I try not to let myself get that worked up over it.  But posting less than great reviews on books can lead to a world of trouble for authors and frankly, it’s not worth it.  Doesn’t mean I’ve loved every book I’ve ever read.  I haven’t.  But when I read a book I don’t much like, I just don’t post my opinions about it. So by default, if I talk about a book I’ve read in my blog, chances are I’ve enjoyed it.  The ones I haven’t enjoyed, I simply don’t mention.

About authors visiting blogs other than their own, that’s got to be up to the author.  I lurk on quite a few.  I post on just a couple.  Some are more reader-oriented and I try to make note of the general atmosphere before I decide to comment.  If it seems more geared towards readers, I don’t want to go in wearing an author hat.  It’s been made clear in a couple of different places that readers aren’t always comfortable discussing books if an author is around. That’s fine with me…I understand perfectly.  There are some things I discuss among authors that I wouldn’t discuss on my blog so I can see where readers also want their own ‘home’.

But there are blogs where authors seem welcome, for example Dear Author, It’s not Chick Porn, Karen Knows Best, & The Good The Bad & The Unread, although I wouldn’t go to any of those blogs if you have the I am the greatest author ever mindset.  Actually, if that’s the mindset you have, you’re going to have a hard time fitting in anywhere, IMO.

Other reasons some authors might not blog…  time constraints, not familiar with blogs… (technophobic~blogs may seem pretty easy to some of us but for some, they are probably pretty intimidating.  I know some people who are still scared to death of the www.) or they just don’t see the need for it.

Blogging can also be very addicting time consuming… back to the Art of Procrastination deal I posted on Vamps and Scamps a while back.  I could spend hours hopping thru blogs.  And get absolutely no writing done.  Since I get paid to write, not blog, I have to limit myself.

Author blogs do tend to come and go. A few that I enjoyed a year ago haven’t been updated in weeks/months.  I figure that blogging is the ‘new’ thing right now and some blogs are going to be here for a good long while, but others will just sit, stagnate, get out dated and basically do nothing more than take up space. Me, I plan on using mine and I’m going to keep visiting the blogs I like.