Monday, November 22, 2010

Column: To Blog or Not To Blog by Linda Rohrbough

The Business of Writing: To Blog Or Not To Blog

by Linda Rohrbough

I get asked all the time, should I blog? My answer usually is, “How much time do you have?” But successful blogging is about more than time. Let me explain.

One of my friends, New York Times best-selling author Jodi Thomas, who spoke at PPWC last year, jumped on blogging. She’s the sort of person everyone loves. She tells interesting stories, writes great books, and is an up and comer I expect will become a bigger name as time goes on. If you missed hearing her at PPWC, here’s a YouTube video of Jodi talking about writing.

Jodi, myself, and Dusty Richards and about six other writers, including one of my interns, were sitting around last weekend on folding chairs in the community room at a resort property in Red River, New Mexico. Jodi organizes a very loose writer’s retreat, invitation only, where we talk about the business for a weekend. Most of the writers who came are published, and we were celebrating that Dusty Richards, a two-time spur award winner, had finished his 104th western.

And Red River was gorgeous. I grieve every time I have to leave. The aspens were doing the yellow dance as we munched happily in a warm meeting room on the various treats we’d all brought to share. (Including slopping chips into some killer queso my intern made.)

That’s when the subject of blogging came up. A couple of the New Mexico gals, prolific writers and very tech savvy, talked about the over one hundred people following their blogs. One author, Gabby Stevens, said she got to know a bookseller via her blog who keeps in touch via Facebook and promotes her books in Florida, even though they have never physically met. Another, Barb Simmons, who writes under the pen name Belle Sloan, said blogging was working for her.

But Jodi tried blogging. And faithfully almost every day posted something. But she quit. She said after a year, about ten people followed her blog. Now keep in mind her last book hit number sixteen on the New York Times list in the fall when the big boys released their new titles for the holidays. And she has a book currently featured in a special breast cancer promotion “read pink” from the Penguin Group with authors Nora Roberts and Christina Dodd. At past conferences, Jodi has asked me to run crowd control interference so she could get back to her room to rest after her talk. People simply adore her. But evidently not on a blog. I recalled reading it. It was flat. It didn’t sound like Jodi - it didn’t have her down home flavor or the inside track, like I’m giving you here.

And really, that’s what blogging is about – the inside track. It’s intensely personal in a way some people aren’t and never will be comfortable with. It seems best when it has humor, especially jokes on yourself, if you can manage it.

Do you have to blog as an author? No. Some authors pay others to blog for them. In fact, that happens in a lot of places and not just with blogging. The last time Paris Hilton got in trouble she posted on Facebook she was doing something homey like popping corn and snuggling up with the DVD player, when she was actually in jail in Vegas, I think it was. Clearly, she wasn’t writing those posts.

Now, having said that, I need to say I’ve avoided blogging. Until now. PPW pushed me over the edge. You have treated me so warmly and with such respect for so many years, that when Fleur Bradley contacted me to say please stay on as the NewsMag transitions to a blog, I said yes. And here I am. Let’s hope I do better than Jodi.

Linda Rohrbough has been writing since 1989, with over 5,000 articles and seven books along with a number of national fiction and non-fiction awards to her credit. Her latest book, co-authored with her surgeon, is Weight Loss Surgery with the Adjustable Gastric Band from Da Capo Press. She is also under contract for an iPhone App of her “Learn to Talk About Your Book” workshop, scheduled for release Spring 2011. Visit her website

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