Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Breaking the Blogging Bubble (an IWSG post)

I think blogging is somewhat essential for a writer these days. Well, non-literary, non-bestselling writers, anyway. I'm sure Stephen King has no need whatsoever of any kind of blogging or anything else. But it is probably especially essential for new writers. That's the theory, anyway. And it's what publishers and agents seem to be saying to writers. Get online. Okay, so maybe not necessarily a blog, but some form of online presence, and, as far as I can tell, a blog, tied with twitter or facebook or whatever, seems to be the best way of doing that.

But blogging seems to also create a... bubble... around the blogger. Not a soap bubble, either; a hard, impenetrable, survive-out-in-space kind of bubble. Initially, this bubble is a good thing, because it does allow the blogger to survive out in space, which is what it feels like when you start blogging. Like you're out in space and no one can hear you scream. Or talk. Or type. Or whatever. But, after awhile, if you do it correctly (check my "What Your Blog Says About You" series), you'll actually wrap yourself in a bubble of other bloggers. A nice, comfortable, safe bubble.

Now, if you're just a blogger, this bubble is kind of cool. You have friends. People that know you. People you can count on to comment when you post. Whatever, you know. It's all good. As they say. However, if you're a writer, this bubble can be kind of dangerous, because, basically, whatever it is you're writing will just stay confined to your own personal blogging bubble. However big that happens to be.

For me, at this moment, that's not really all that big. For most of us, it's probably really not all that big. Also, it's not gauged on how many "followers" you have but on how much interaction you have going on. If you have 700 followers but no one ever comments, you probably don't really have 700 followers, just 700 people who, at one time or another for one reason or another, clicked your follow button. If you have 700 followers, but your only getting a couple of dozen page views a day, you don't really have 700 followers. Your bubble isn't as big as you think it is.

But that's not really the point. The point is, as a writer, if you're just depending upon your "followers" to support you and your book (or whatever it is you write), then you're not going to get very far. The truth is is that most people that read books do not also read blogs. But it's those readers you need to get to. Those readers you need to make aware of your existence. And, somehow, you have to break out of your blogging bubble to get to them.

I do know what this is like as it's happened once or twice, like I talked about back in this post when I got listed on a site that suggests books to readers. Readers who are not bloggers and who do not read blogs. It's a hard thing to do, though, to get past the confines of your bubble and make other people aware of you.

I think some people are satisfied with their bubbles, but I'm really not. Nothing against you guys that stop by here and read and my stuff and comment and all of that, but my real goal is to burst my bubble. To get past it. Out of it. To get to the point where Neil Gaiman was at when he said "my job had become answering email, and I had to stop doing that." Not that I want to not have interaction with people or to say "well, I don't have time for you guys anymore," but, if you want to be successful as an author, that's the place you have to get to. And I want to be successful as an author, not as a blogger.

So, yeah, I love all of you guys, but my plan is to... go beyond. Break my bubble.
As soon as I figure out how.


  1. Well, let me in on the secret when you break your bubble :)

    I get what you mean though. I'm not writing to sell to bloggers - although bloggers are also readers. But, we're all also writers, and we can't buy every book that every blogger/author writes.

    My daughter and my sister are just getting into the ebook craze, and I asked them if they buy only famous authors. They both said they read the recommendations of "similar" books, and if they like the blurb, they buy it, without ever checking out the author. And if they really like a new author they discovered, they will look for more of their books.

    Kinda like going to a bookstore to read in a specific genre and finding a cool book you never saw advertised. Never know what your book can do out in mass market if you write for specific readers.


  2. I think it's a balancing act. Unless you have the sponsorship of the Big 5, you have to market yourself, and that includes social media. But you don't have to do it all the time or let it make you crazy.
    Good luck bursting your bubble. :-)

  3. It's important to burst your bubble and leave your comfort zone. But only when you're ready.

    June 2013 IWSG Co-host

  4. Very good advice for those of us newbies. I'm always interested in learning ways people have had success.

  5. My bubble gets any bigger it will explode.
    I have gone past it a few times. Just don't know how I did it. Makes it difficult to repeat when you have no idea what you did the first time!

  6. It seems like a difficult thing to do, but I do see what you mean. Best of luck bursting out of your bubble.


  7. Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Fortunately writers are also readers, so they do buy books, but there's a wider audience out there that needs to be tapped into. For me, I know there's a Welsh society here in Colorado and other Celtic organizations that I want to get in touch with when my novels are done. I think that's part of the strategy is to identify groups that would enjoy the novel and then reach out to them and let them know what you have to offer. May not amount to much, but you never know unless you explore those options.

  8. Ooh, and I did have one small bubble bursting moment on my blog. I had the Native American Encyclopedia lift one of my blog posts for their online Wiki a few months ago. That was kind of cool. :)

  9. Excellent point. Break away, brother :)

    Sometimes I remind myself that this blogosphere is not reflective of most readers. My parents, for example, are very big readers (adult fiction/non-fiction), but they would never get on blogs for recommendations. They hear from friends, from newspapers, from bookstores, from television, from libraries.

    There are other outlets that involve interacting with people in person (gulp! social anxiety activated!) that very well might get a writer better results in terms of getting word of their book/books "out there." Best of luck breaking the bubble, and sorry I've been a slacker in terms of blog commenting lately :)

  10. Hey, as soon as you figure it out, pass the info along, eh? ;)

  11. For me, I find it very interesting that the book I'm writing now will not be bought by the majority of my readers. They just don't have the need for it. So, eventually, I will have to break my bubble too.

  12. It's so true! Most readers don't read blogs at all. I usually pick new books to read from the newspaper books section, wandering around in Coles, or listening to CBC Radio One's literary programs.
    I do enjoy reading certain blogs too, but I couldn't just read blogs all day long. My brain would turn to paste.
    It probably is necessary to be online in some kind of way these days...with the exception of Stephen King, like you said.
    My bubble is way little. I do like the interaction with people here, but I would love to break out of my bubble as well.

  13. I like my safe little bubble. Don't want to choke for lack of oxygen...but I totally get your point. I'm just not there yet...once I get out, where do I go?
    Tina @ Life is Good

  14. Donna: It's not just that we can't buy everything, it's that when you only sell to the people reading your blog, you just sell to the same 10 or so (or however many) people over and over again. That's pretty limiting, all things considered.

    Lexa: Even if you have the big guys, they are not likely to market for you.

    Sheena: Oh, I don't think you should ever wait till you're ready.

    JKIR,F!: Yeah, me, too. Although, mostly, people seem to kind of stumble upon it.

    Alex: I know how I did it one of the times, but it's not something I can choose to repeat since I didn't actually do it.

    Jo: It is difficult.

    L.G.: Well, they do, but you won't sell many if you stay limited to that circle.

    I've had that kind of thing happen a few times, and it is cool.

    Jess: The good about blogs is that a recommendation from a blogger can be the equivalent of a recommendation from a friend. However, that means you have to spend time on blogs and most people just don't do that.

    Crystal: I certainly will!

    Michael: I wish that's all it took. heh

    Elsie: I bet some of them will read it anyway.

    Eve: See, that's the thing; most people don't figure out what to read from blogs.

    Tina: I don't know... out?

  15. I like what you said about the idea of bubbles. It can feel like a sense of comfort -- having people you talk to / comment with feels like a micro-community.

    I guess it depends on where the blogger (or writer) is at, at their career. For me, I'm a freelance writer. I write for a living, independent of my blog, but sometimes for it, too. I have yet to feel like I've had my epiphany or enough true life experience to write a novel. So, for me, blogging feels right. It does feel like community, in short article bursts. I'm not at a place where I am trying to promote my work -- is that the bubble you are trying to break?

    But, you brought up Neil Gaiman. To me, that man is so talented and multi-faceted with his novels AND Doctor Who scripts, I can see how emails would just bog him down. And for writers who have achieved a place where they have self-published works that they want the world to read, I can see how blogging might feel confusing, because they want to promote their stuff, but not doing so as to feel like they are selling. I don't know, that's how I interpreted it, a frustrating balance of creating content and trying to get people to read your stuff.

    I like your reading recommendations! I like to read new stuff and don't always want to go NY Times Best Seller lists.

  16. Jean: Well, if you're already getting paid to write, you're kind of already out of the bubble.

    There is a particular balance, but the real issue is that a blog just isn't going to reach the vast majority of people that might be interested in reading anyone's book.

    I should have some reviews coming up over the next few weeks. Glad to hear you like them. :)

  17. Totally agree, Andrew and this was a great post. (I hate to sound cliche'...but it really was a great post)

    I know exactly what you mean in breaking that bubble and moving on. Not that I'm -at- that point, right now, but I can just imagine how it might be if I were successful in any way.

    It's definitely something to remember and I look forward to the day when I see my blogging pals break their own, respective, bubbles.

  18. Absolutely! I mean, that's why we started this gig in the first place, right? To be honest, I think Twitter and Facebook are where it's at in terms of being seen and "bursting the bubble." That's where the interaction and recognition starts taking off. Not to say blogs aren't important. As writers we need to nourish our communication skills and maintain this invaluable network of other writers. But like you say, if you wanna reach the readers, we need to be elsewhere as well. Never underestimate the power of Twitter. :)

  19. Blogging has helped me in so many ways with my writing, but I know we have to go beyond it.

  20. Mark: Me, too!

    Pk: I don't get a lot of movement from Facebook as far as I can tell. I could be wrong about that, though. One of these days, I'll have to step onto Twitter. I can't manage the thought of how much of a time suck that will be, though, so, so far, I have stayed away from it.

    MP: It has certainly kept me writing on a very consistent basis. All writing is good practice, right?

  21. Glass ceilings are made to be broken and bubbles are made to be popped.

  22. M.J. I've always loved popping bubbles. Unless I was the one blowing them.

  23. I get where you're coming from and I agree. Blogging has its time, place, and function, but when it becomes the all in all you're missing some import options. Blogging is just one tentacle of a marketing octopus that has more than 8 reacher-outers. It is a great place to establish a tentacle-hold though.

    Wrote By Rote

  24. Well,
    I understand exactly what you mean, in that you can't expect it to be HOW you gain followers.
    It's a good way to connect with them, though.

  25. The blogging community is awesome, but my brother's talked about this as he's ramped up his writing and launched a new blog. He says the key is outreach and going beyond the blogging community.

  26. Lee: I knew there was a reason I'm not fond of octopuses.

    Hayley: Well, yeah, but most readers never bother or care about a connection. They may know you have a blog (or a whatever), but they're not gonna seek it out. Although they may be willing to "like" you on Facebook.

    Maurice: The blogging community is a great place to start, but it can't be the goal.

  27. Valid point, for sure. I have become quite comfy in my happy little bubble. For now, I'm going to stick with that, but I also don't have a book to market or anything. Good luck to you as your figure out how to burst your bubble.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  28. Shannon: Does it have throw pillows?

  29. I've been blogging for a little over a year now, and I'm totally feeling what you're saying. It's been a good learning experience, figuring out different kinds of reaching out to people, what works and what doesn't. But the stuff that has connected most with people - writing about my kids on my dad blog - is not really what I want to do forever. In the near future, I'm going to be shifting the balance of things to make sure my creative aspirations don't get stuck in the rut of blogging; because while that's not a bad thing, it's a bit stifling of other creative endeavors, at least for me. Ah, balance, you slippery fish.

  30. neal: I don't think blogging is something a writer should just quit doing, just to say it. I mean, Gaiman still blogs. It's a way to let fans have a peak into your life, and I'm pretty sure fans like that.

  31. No, I didn't think you were saying quit cold turkey. And I won't probably ever quit myself. But it's easy to sink lots of energy into it, and forget about other stuff. Balance, that's the thing.

  32. neal: What is this balance of which you speak?

  33. Andrew, I think it's a town in France.

  34. neal: Oh... well... then, I certainly don't want that.