Thursday, February 19, 2009

First anniversary

One year and 142 posts ago (starting with this one), I launched this blog.

As is my tendency, I was late in keeping up with a cultural shift. (I didn't get a cell phone till 2002, iPod till 2007, BlackBerry till late 2008. I still don't have a Wii.)

I might be pelted with pixels for admitting this, but I don't read any blogs regularly (though I do pop in on a few publishing ones as often as possible, including the fellow-author ones I link to from my blog). I felt writing a blog would take more time than I could justify for what I'd get out of it.

So taking an accounting a year in, here is what I have gotten out of it:
  • Promotion. Blogging introduces new potential readers to my work by creating an ever-growing body of possible search terms. It is also a means to regularly engage existing readers of my work in between new books, particularly by dropping hints about my future projects. I don't blog only for the people I write for but also the people I work for. Blogging is a platform to show editors the regular efforts I make to promote my work. Before, I'd have to try to convey this in short e-mails. Now the rundown of my marketing madness in the form of short, often photo-illustrated, easy-to-digest posts is running in the background at all times.
  • Networking. This is a subcategory of promotion. I have heard from many kind people who have found something of interest here and want to be informed of new books. They in turn help spread the word about my work.
  • Focus. Blogging can help me determine what is and is not important to do in the course of my career. If I come up with a marketing idea that I do not seeing myself blogging about, it's probably not worth doing. In a way, blogging may actually improve my marketing because it challenges me to maintain a steady stream of marketing so I can have a steady stream of blog content! Finally, blogging is good practice for my perpetual goal to write quickly yet constructively. I don't have time to take too much time for any one post so I try to work on expressing myself in short order.
  • Enjoyment. It is indeed fun to take a break from writing books, magazine content, and presentations to write something that has no restrictions.
Here are some things I've learned:
  • Some have seen this as a superhero blog. While the majority of my focus this year has been Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman and my research on Batman co-creator Bill Finger, my next three nonfiction picture book manuscripts are not about superheroes. In fact, I probably won't write any other books on superhero creators (though I did poke around to see if there were any such stories I wanted to tell).
  • Simple, unemotional statements of fact can be interpreted as an attack.
  • More writers than I realized are doing nonfiction with a vision similar to mine, namely unconventional and often previously untold stories presented in picture book format but aimed at all ages. And all of the ones I've been in touch with have been so very nice.
  • A seemingly ordinary phrase I used in one post is a pornography term that inadvertently leads inappropriate people to my blog on a regular basis.
  • Despite what I wrote above, I often do spend too much time on a post...such as this one. But thanks for participating in this experiment this past year and hope you will stick around for Year Two.

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