Thoughts on Web Presence

Yesterday RtB had an interesting post on whether or not aspiring authors should establish a web presence.  In a nutshell, there are pros and cons to doing so just like there are to doing anything.  Everyone has different reasons for creating a webpage or blog.  When I began this blog a year ago, I didn’t really have any thoughts about establishing myself a web presence.  It was mostly just an inclination to put down all of my thoughts on writing in one place rather than sprinkled throughout my everyday blog.  As I have made writing a bigger and bigger priority in my life this last year (as opposed to the irregularly indulged in passion it had been for years), this blog has become my everyday blog–not in that I spend all my time here talking about “this is what happened today”, but in that I find the only thing worth writing about is the writing.  At the end of the day, the only part that normally matters to me from a posterity standpoint is how much I got written–hence my Daily Progress Reports, which I expect are far more interesting to me than my readers!  I like tracking my progress and seeing the dramatic changes I’ve made over the past year since I decided to really make writing a daily priority–as how else will I ever get published, right?

Sprinkled throughout, I have numerous posts about my thoughts on the writing life, the writing process, my own methods, research, market trends, etc.  But as I made the decision earlier last year to up my daily word quota, I had to cut down on my daily writer’s blog surfing to compensate.  And from a productivity standpoint, that’s been great.  I routinely write 1k plus a day (which I consider to be darn good given the fact that I’m working two real jobs and have family commitments to juggle with the writing–I cannot imagine throwing kids into the mix, but that’s another consideration for some point in the future).   However, I find that I frequently don’t have as much to say on the writing life as I did before.  So much of what I talked about was a reaction to what I read.   I feel like I ought to pick back up some of my blog surfing.  It would have to be an abbreviated sort of list because I really don’t have time just now to go back to the full list of writer’s blogs I read on a daily basis before (I used to spend an hour or two a day!).  But I figure maybe I could add a half a dozen to my daily routine again (between checking my own blog stats, reading For Better or For Worse, and a quick scan of my friends’ pages).

Another “do” that was brought up in that RtB post was that

Samples of your writing are probably the most important. If your query or partial interests them, they might visit your site looking for more excerpts.

I’m torn on this one.  For quite a while last year I participated in the Friday Snippets meme, which highlighted blurbs from various projects.  It generated quite a bit of additional traffic, and I made some great writer friends because of it.  But it largely was other genres than romance or romantic suspense, so Pot and I decided to try to start up WIP Clip Wednesdays, which ended up not ever taking off.  Then I just kind of–stopped.  So I have been debating about how I want to approach this aspect.  One possibility would be adding a page that has sample chapters.  Obviously I wouldn’t want to post a full anything.  Paranoia about plagerism aside, there’s the issue of how posting anywhere on the web in a public forum can impact one’s publication rights and whether or not you’re able to sell your work for a first publication or as a reprint–which I have a post about somewhere but can’t seem to find.  But I could, theoretically post the first chapter or three chapters.  I just…don’t know.  Of course at the moment with my current project there’s the fact that I’m technically titleless 188 pages in.  What began as House of Cards needed a new name once I took out the playing card aspect (to save for another book).  The file name then became House of No Cards–which was obviously never intended as a serious title.  Well then I decided to put in that loooooooong insert in the middle and the filename became House of No Cards Insert Section…and well, it’s starting to get to the ridiculous.  And I still don’t have a CLUE what to call it.  Nothing is jumping out at me as a possibility.  Anybody have thoughts on this?  Other writers out there–are you posting samples of your work on your blog or website?  I do know that one thing I am going to do when I finish this nameless project is to post the summary I’ll be sending out to prospective agents–which, of course, means finishing the manuscript (slated to happen in May sometime in conjunction with the end of the Sweat, then be edited and polished)!  I’m not really wigging about this, as there’s no point in seeking representation until I have a finished, polished manuscript I want to show them, but it’s just been on my mind lately.

5 thoughts on “Thoughts on Web Presence

  1. I’m in the same boat, it seems (though a different genre: fantasy). I recently switched journals over to wordpress and made my blog more focused, but while I was still on livejournal I made a habit of posting things every now and then. It didn’t seem to make any impact. I never really had extra comments, and after a while I started taking them down because as the novel continued to grow and change my (unedited) excerpts seemed more and more primitive. I would love to have people comment and challenge my work on my blog, however. Perhaps if it’s public interest in general that you’re looking for it should be saved until the very end near publication, market like crazy over the internet, and point everyone back to your ‘public friendly’ presentation. But professional interest and casual socializing (among writers) seems to be two very different animals.

  2. Well, perhaps I should clarify. I’m not looking for critique–that’s what crit partners and critique groups are for 🙂 Nor am I looking for a–well a fan base, I suppose would be the best term for it. I’m definitely not looking to put unfinished anything up, since, as you’ve pointed out, things change a lot! I suppose I’m not sure precisely what I’m looking for–just sort of checking in with my general readership to see what they would like to see.

  3. Usually, when I go searching for writing-blogs, I’m usually half looking for confirmation that other people are having the same problems that I am. And then I want to see how they fix those problems. It’s not quite critique so much as it is a way of commiserating. On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than writing about something that’s giving you trouble and having it just sit there doing nothing. It feels akin to mockery: a testament to a problem that hasn’t gone away.

  4. I think what you’re looking for is discussion of craft–how to deal with particular problems or make your manuscript better–which is sort of related to critique, but not quite the same thing, as you said. I think craft and community are the things that really draw me and keep me in the whole writer’s blog world. It’s wonderful to know that there are others out there facing the same challenges I am and still managing to do it–because writing is often a very solitary undertaking! I’m not sure at what point in the last year I determined to elevate myself out of obscurity and make an effort to write some intelligent and hopefully interesting posts. And one of the things I discovered could really bring traffic in was reading and commenting on other blogs and pinging those posts I found thought provoking enough to write about myself. Which is, I suppose, how I first got so into the world of blogging. It’s easy to get sucked in! And when you do find good discussions of craft, it’s definitely worth it to come back for more!

  5. Hi,

    I certainly don’t classify myself as a writer – yet – but hope to one day. I started my blog around the same time I started a writing course. My aim for it is for it to be an online diary of what I’m doing for the course.

    Now I’ve been on here for a while I’ve found myself reading more of what other people are writing – rather than just writing my own blog. At the moment I feel like it is getting me more into the mind set of being a writer by reading about their writing, how they’re doing it etc (and indeed their actual work). I find it inspiring. Also like Elizaw I look for people going through what I’m going through. I’ve just started writing down my dreams – and found someone else that was doing the same.

    I say, put your work on here (limited of course)- show the world what you’re doing. Hopefully one day I’ll do this too 🙂

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