Here we are at post #256!
Things that happened between SotB 27 and now, not necessarily in this order:
- This blog started to gain quite a bit of traction — or at least, it feels like it has.
- I stopped checking my blog stats. Like, pretty much completely.
- I spoke a lot about the the SFF controversies that went on during 2013 (and the beginning of ’14).
- I released my first book!
Some of these things are related to each other, I am sure! To analyze a bit more closely:
Against the advice of some who tell writers not to be opinionated, it’s always been important to me to speak out on this blog, particularly about issues that matter to me. I’ve also always been determined to blog as myself, and to be stubbornly and opinionated-ly genuine — not to be a persona, a brand, or a salesperson. I think it’s because of this that I’ve been able to build up such wonderful relationships and friends through blogging and Twitter. (A lovely side effect of all of this was that I realized I truly love my online interactions for themselves, and that if I’d never published my book, I wouldn’t have stopped. I value the online relationships I’ve built too highly!)
And you know what? I’ve already been floored by the number of people — people I didn’t know — who have expressed interest in my book because they like my blog. And also by the number of people who do know me — who got to know me through the Internet, through my blog or through Twitter or through Absolute Write (where I am also very opinionated) — who’ve been excited about my book, or reviewed it, or helped me promote it.
It was never something I expected, and still not something I expect — I mean, I just don’t think that way, the “what can this person do for me” way (something I’m very grateful for!). It would feel like I was bending my brain in half if I tried to think about people like that, particularly people I know and respect. I’d so much rather just talk to people I like about things I like to talk about! But from the response my book has gotten so far, it appears that by being, I don’t know — a real person and whatnot — that I have accidentally Done Social Media Right from a business perspective.
Which makes me want to say IN YOUR FACE to those people who preach about exactly how one must construct a Social Media Promotional Persona. ;)
And the reason I’m talking about it here is to encourage authors who are just starting to blog: Be yourself. Talk to other people, and listen. Interact. Have opinions. Engage with other people about their opinions. Be thoughtful, and sincere, and passionate, and talk to people you like about things you like, and make friends you will have such a gangbusters time laughing with on Twitter that you won’t know or care whether they bought your book or not. In other words, you don’t have to be a one-person Promotional Machine of Social Media Blitzing — and perhaps, speaking with my own humble experience as a Twitter user, it’s entirely possible that is exactly what you don’t want to be. ;)
Incidentally, as social media began to feel much more like a conversation and much less like essays being thrown into the wind, I stopped checking my stats. I just . . . didn’t really care anymore? The quality of my interaction became so much more important than the quantity that I just sort of stopped thinking about it. Which has been kind of wonderful for my sanity, and also wonderful training for my book release, because I have so far been surprisingly successful in parlaying that attitude into not checking my Amazon numbers. (How many books have I sold so far? I honestly don’t know. I’ve been working on Book 3!)
Since I suspect it will interest people, however, here are the top nine most-visited posts of all time (everything that ranks higher than my “About” page):
The SFWA ones are not a surprise, and the gun guide posts always get a fair amount of love. I honestly didn’t know the one about actor backup plans was that popular — it must have gotten linked somewhere, but I have no idea when or where! The story about my afternoon of being hopped up on a Sudafed/Synthroid combination has always seen a slow and steady stream of search engine hits. I wrote it for exactly that purpose, as something people could find when they searched for it, but I’m still surprised to see it ranked that high; perhaps it got linked somewhere as well.
Now, elephant in the room: I kind of have to talk about my posts regarding SFWA, don’t I? Several of them went viral at the time, and as you can see, half the top-posts-of-all-time are related to those issues.
Thing is, if we’re talking blog stats — as far as I can tell, those posts matter, and they also don’t.
The two posts that went viral didn’t give me an uptick in overall hits or subscribers. My blog certainly got visibility from people linking to it, and eventually the length of the ongoing discussion gave me a certain amount of name recognition, but I don’t think those links, in isolation, matter terribly much if we’re aiming the discussion at the staying power of my blog. Instead, I think what matters to my overall traction is that I write consistently about issues of representation, and I have since I started blogging. I didn’t write about SFWA to sensationalize; I wrote about it because it fell in the intersection of two things I care about deeply, the SFF community and problematic institutional prejudice. And I write about both of those things a lot, independent of each other, because I do care.
In other words: I do not think that one can from two viral posts a blog make. ;) Having a post go viral was surreal — that was back when I was still checking my stats daily — and I was glad that particular post had impact, but as far as impact on the overall blog goes, I’m extremely skeptical a viral post is something that it matters for bloggers to strive for.
Now, in checking my stats page, the really interesting thing is that my subscribers number — which had stayed pretty static for a long time — seems to be climbing since my book release a week ago. But you’ll have to wait for State of the Blog 29 to see how being a Real Live AuthorTM is affecting my status as a Strange Mad Blogger!