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365 Days. 365 Posts. 1 Nerd. [Edit: Now With Additional Nerd!]

As usual, I love the way bookshelfbattle thinks. This post is well worth reading if you’re interested in goal-setting, finding readers, or developing a writing practice. Before I send you on to the original post, a few thoughts and responses:

1. I love that this is concrete, actionable, and attainable. You can’t decide whether someone follows you, but you can decide whether you’re going to post; make your goals in terms of things you can do.

2. Quantity and consistency are worthy goals. It seems there’s some debate about whether it’s worth pushing for quantity instead of quality. My stance is that if quality is your goal, quantity is a great path to it.

3. I like that bookshelfbattle isn’t shy about trying to get readers. That’s the whole point. Writers want readers. And readers want good stuff to read. If you don’t think your stuff is worth reading, write better stuff before you go public.

If, however, you think your writing is worthwhile, why would you not want to give it to as many people as will benefit from it? Applying strategy and focus does not make this evil, it makes it effective.

4. I’m joining in, but more cautiously. (Caution™! Putting the boring back into success!)

I’m planning to post every weekday, holidays optional, through the first quarter of 2015. I’m still figuring out where blogging fits into my overall career strategy as a writer, but I’m enjoying it so far and I think three months will make a good baseline.

Also I really appreciated bookshelfbattle’s willingness to share stats, so for the record:

  • After about 2 1/2 weeks of posting consistently, I currently average something like 10 visitors a day, with about 40 people following.
  • End of March will be (let’s see…math math math) 42 more days of posting, so by then I’d like to see at least 100 following, with 25-30+ visitors a day.

Really what I’d like to see is more people reading my stories, so in addition to posting I’ll probably be experimenting with new ways to make those more visible and fun.

Anyway, enough from me. Enjoy. And if you have any thoughts on what you’d most like to read about here, I’d love to hear it, so leave me a comment and let me know.

Cheers!
—Ben

PS – It will be especially hard for me to write quick posts without worrying too much about quality. I think that alone will be a useful discipline to develop.

Bookshelf Battle

If you have the time, you can check and see that every day in the month of January 2015, I made at least one post per day.  I’ve been thinking about challenging myself to making one post per day on this blog in 2015, but wanted to get through one month before committing to the idea.

So, consider me committed.  And frankly, for agreeing to do this, I should be committed.

My theory:  Daily posts = more readers = more site traffic = an overall stronger platform.

Your theory probably = do less posts, idiot, and the posts you do, make them quality.  Quality is better than quantity!

And it is!  I’m not disagreeing.  A great feature of Word Press is that you are allowed to schedule posts in advance.  Many of my short posts are written and scheduled to appear on different days.  I write a bunch in…

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The Problem of Writers Writing About Writing to Get Readers

Oh, man, guys. Bookshelfbattle just put it perfectly.

Sometimes with all of the blogging, twittering, and social media-ing, I just wonder if all writers are doing are talking to other writers. It’s like we’re all door-to-door salesmen, knocking on a door, “Wanna buy my book?” And the person answers, “No, but do YOU wanna buy MY book?” [link]

This made me so happy! It’s exactly right, with a brilliant mental image thrown in. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, especially as I’m getting into blogging properly for the first time in a while. I’m already slipping into writing as a writer for writers to attract writers to my writing blog so they’ll read… my… stories? Well, that’s no good.

My real goal is to find a huge band of brilliant friends and fans who love reading what I write and talking about things I’m into and doing cool stuff to make the world a better place. So I start writing about whatever I’m currently obsessed with to draw the people that will align with it. And I’m obsessed with writing, self-publishing, generous marketing, etc. And other stuff, but it’s taking a strange degree and style of discipline to get into other headspaces in the context of blogging.

So I end up writing a blog for writers rather than readers. Which might work out, because writers are mostly thinking people who love great stories and read a ton, so that’s cool. But even so I’m engaging them as writers trying to get better at writing, not as readers looking for a good story.

So then I figure I need to be writing stuff my (potential and actual) readers would enjoy. Not content about creating content. Just…you know, content. Except I write novels, and that’s not great in blog format. So I can write supporting bonus materials and behind-the-scenes stuff.

Tricky bit there is that only a few dozen people are familiar with my work at the moment, so if I give excerpts, backstories, fun tidbits about the story world, character profiles, and that sort of thing, nobody will know what I’m talking about, and if I talk about other stuff it’s a different form of the original problem. I’m just talking to game-lovers about games or communal people about living in community or spiritual people about our invisible friends, and I can occasionally tack on a mention of my books and people might read them, but it’s still not really engaging with readers as readers.

I’m still figuring this out. The easy first steps are to be very generous and to actively be a reader, not just a writer. At minimum this opens up a dicey little quid-pro-quo with you other aspiring writers where I’ll try out your story and read/buy/love/recommend it if I like it, and maybe in a few cases you’ll try mine out too. But I don’t really enjoy that arrangement. Setting aside the fairly low readership numbers it’s likely to garner, it also just feels a little fakey and weird. I love reading peoples’ stories, but I don’t want it to be so they’ll read mine and I don’t want to feel pressure to respond a certain way because I want them to like me and I don’t want them to feel obligations and all. At best, it’s a strange and roundabout way to find one of the aforementioned brilliant friends.

More fundamentally, I want to get better at providing all kinds of cool things that I like and that my aforementioned brilliant friends would like. Sometimes writing, sometimes game design, sometimes kerning or sea monsters or metaphysics. And sometimes my actual stories, either bonus materials or just actual chunks of story. And sometimes exciting announcements that the next book is out or that I have a cool bundle of fun available. (Speaking of which…)

What’s scary about that is it means constantly re-breaking the mold. I’m theoretically all for losing readers rather than redirecting my writing to cater to a perceived audience’s perceived expectations. But already, a few posts in, I find myself hesitant to write posts that are much shorter or longer than what I have, or in a different format, or about a different kind of thing, because I’m already finding really cool people who like what I write about writing, and if I write about sea monsters maybe it will break the spell and you’ll all leave. (Which is irrational, of course, because who doesn’t love sea monsters?)

So all that to say, this blog isn’t going to just be writing tips. Might be a little while before I get it out of my system because the art and business of writing are what I think about for dozens of hours a week. But there might also be tea and mythical beasts at some point. Some of you find that exciting, not disappointing, and I’m really, really excited that you’re here.

Thank you, bookshelfbattle. Really great phrasing of an important situation. Everyone else, do you want to buy bookshelfbattle’s book? I think you should buy bookshelfbattle’s book. (Bookshelfbattle, do you have a book? Blast. Should have thought this through.)

But seriously, at least check out the blog. I’m enjoying it a ton. Finally someone who’s putting out engaging ideas for discussion, not just writing writing tips for writers writing for writers.

Cheers!
—Ben