Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Blogging – a Godsend to writers

No doubt about it, blogging and social networking are inescapable and will be for a long time to come. But if you’re a writer, you need to know how it works and how you can make the most of it. So this is what happens.

First, you have to write your novel, of course, or at least jot down a few paragraphs – enough to put extracts online now and again. But you can probably get away with just a few pages. You’ll be telling the world you’re a writer and, with no evidence to the contrary, who’s going to contradict you?

Just to be safe, though, prepare a few snippets of writerly wisdom. Mix and match them a bit because you want to tap into as many potential readerships as possible. Intellectuals are the easy ones. For them, just look up some huge words and juggle them into sentences. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what they mean; if they sound obscure enough no one will dare question them because that might suggest inadequacy on their part.

Another easy target is the literary snob. To satisfy them, just check the Wikipedia entries for a few of the big hitters – depending on your genre, that could be Tolstoy, H G Wells, Brett Easton-Ellis, Balzac, Nietzsche, Jane Austen, whoever. Find out what their particular stylistic or thematic tics were and add little parallels to them in your own works. No need to point out these parallels yourself – a reviewer will find them, congratulate himself on how clever he is, and want to be first to point them out. This will make other reviewers hunt for similar echoes and you’ll soon be on the Man Booker short list.

Then there are the more difficult, easily-offended demographics, such as the gender-specific readerships, the gay community, and Jehova's Witnesses and their ilk. Apart from slamming a metaphorical door in the faces of the fundamentalists, my only advice there is to maintain a balance. Talk and write winningly about ‘sensitive machismo’, ‘pugnacious fragility’ and 'caring conservatism'. (Forgive me, I had to pause there to snigger at that final, curiously British oxymoron.)

And remember the size of the relative markets; the largest English-speaking readership is in the USA so make sure that you don’t offend any Americans. I know that’s easier said than done, but there’s no room for pride in today’s successful writer.

If you do all of that conscientiously, this is what will happen.

You’ll get followers. Some of them will actually like the books you’ve written and/or the things you write in the blog, but you’re looking for someone more specific. Favourite would be the major player in the movie industry who reads a couple of your pages, flies you first class to Los Angeles for lunch and buys the rights to all your works for several million somethings. (She's so impressed that she lets you choose the currency yourself.)

The news gets out that your income from the books has already got people feeling sorry for J K Rowling so the critics are desperate to sneer and scoff and rank you alongside Dan Brown in the ‘who-the-hell-told-this-guy-he-could-write?’ stakes. But your imagination, creativity, command of language and style disarm their criticisms, and their glowing reviews open up new, more highbrow audiences.

The ensuing popularity draws even more followers to your blog (which is now ghost-written because you’re busy swimming in the pool of your new home in Barbados) and many of them have lots of money and thousands of friends. They buy your books to give as presents to all their acquaintances and family and they mention you to their friends. So word of mouth brings in even more punters until your books are required reading in every school and university on every continent.

You appear on chat shows with a ready-made set of answers (ghost-written, of course, and tailor-made for the show’s demographic). For example, to the question ‘What’s the secret of your popularity?’ your answers might be:

• (on a late-night, highbrow arts programme) ‘I hesitate to indulge in hubristic speculation. I prefer to think I’ve tapped a vein in Jung’s collective unconscious which facilitates individuation as a liberator of synchronicity and posits stability as a regenerative thesis.’

• (on a popular but low-brow show) ‘I … well, dunno what to say really. Big surprise, but awesome, wicked, mega … really, really cool.’

• (on any Simon Cowell vehicle) ‘Who gives a shit? It’s making me millions.’

So it really is that easy. Thanks to networking, you could soon sack your ghost-writers and give up writing altogether.


  1. I love waking up to a good laugh, and a sigh. Are we Yanks really that easy to offend? I mean...taps foot, hands on hips.

  2. My dear DragonLady, thanks for laughing, and extra thanks for sighing. (I hardly remember what making a woman sigh was like.)

    As for offending Americans, I must make it absolutely clear that every single American who reads this is beyond reproach, above suspicion, tolerant, sophisticated, and altogether an admirable representative of our species. I hope that's cleared that up once and for all.

  3. Well, this is precisely my plan for the nearest future! How did you know??
    With my...what is it today...112 followers I am convinced my book deal is around the corner. :) You forgot T-shirts though. I want to start selling scary azeri T-shirts and mugs first. :)
    Make a little bit of money on my way to Barbados house with a pool.

  4. 112 followers? You'll be in Barbados long before I make it. That's OK, though, I can come and stay with you when I'm house-hunting there.

  5. from your mouth to Simon Cowell's ears.

  6. @Bill: Dont forget my twitter ones! :))

    @Michael: Somehow, this sounded pervy to me. Is it just me? Is it because you mentioned Simon Cowell? :)

  7. Michael, nice ambiguity there - I hope both sides of it come to pass.

    OK Scary, I've added your twitter followers and changed my strategy. You can buy the house for me. And I'll leave Michael to answer the 'pervy' question.

  8. @Bill: Not sure what it is, but in my blogger dashboard, where all the blogs I follow appear, yours seems to have two postings in one day. this one shows up when I come here, but the other one disappears? very odd? is it me? :)
    it has a title "welcome to blog joggers" or smth like that. when I arrive to your blog, it is not here?

  9. No, Scary, it's not you. It's yet another example of my technological incompetence. It's a mini-blog I scheduled to appear automatically - but it's not supposed to happen until 11 this evening. It's part of Blogjogday. I think I posted it by mistake when I first set it up. The lesson to be learned from it is - if anything ever appears weird here, it's my fault - always.

  10. You are scheduling automated postings and you are saying you arew technologically incompetent? :)))
    It is a clever way to get more hits, actually. Like me. I came once to see where the heck it is? then double-checked again? then now that I know, I will come back later tonight or tomorrow. Perfect! Just me alone brought 3 or 4 hits. hehe

  11. Scary - I'm not a tee-shirt person, but love mugs. Let me know when yours are available, I'll be the first to buy!

    Bill, I truly love the words you use. My favorite one today was "oxymoron." (P.S. Not only am I an admirable representative of our species, I'm a thankful one. Nice to know I'm loved...)

  12. Scary - I know now why we never meet - you're always here and I'm always at your blog.

    Linda, I'm with you as far as words go. Even after all these years I still find there's a magic in them, the way you have a vague, drifting thought and it only forms clearly when you find the words to capture it. Or else you put some words together and suddenly find something you didn't know was there. I think words make our world.

  13. So you're actually in Barbados, and Michael is writing this blog? Amazing how he sounds just like you. Seriously, like Linda said, this is just another example of your fabulous imagination.

    I DON"T live in Texas! Grrrrr. I'm not mad, really. I'm all for making you a US citizen. Better yet, bring us all over there. We are after all, you're FOLLOWERS.

    Scary, with a name like that I'd love to wear one of your Tshirts!

    Hmm, there was a time when I was called the Dragonlady. (Before I had a hysterectomy,LOL)

  14. Thanks for the giggle. Do I detect the faintest whiff of cynicism in your post??? Surely not. Heh.

    ::heads back to the poolside:: er, oops, I mean washing-up bowl

  15. Marley, your final comment carries so many complexities and sinister implications that I'm afraid to respond to it. But the more compliments you send, the larger the cheque becomes that I'll eventually be sending you (from Barbados). And keep up the good work, Michael.

    As for coming over here, Michael and I are still deciding where to build the hut for the coven - sorry, I mean group - to meet.

    Fiona - cynical? Moi? How could you imagine such a thing?
    And your choice of venue is smart - 25 lengths of the pool is tiring, but the equivalent in a washing-up bowl is a breeze.

  16. Barbados, eh? This American is offended that I wasn't invited along. :) As for words, I love them. I was never good at math, so I polish my prose whenever possible.

    You faithful follower,

  17. Cool, so I have (hypothetically) sold one mug and one t-shirt already! I have(hypothetically) made 50p! Cool! :)

    Bill...that blogjog posting never showed up. you know that, right? :)

  18. Jean, I think your blogging skills will get you to Barbados even before Scary makes it. And as for being my follower, remember who started me doing this. At the risk of offending some readers, I might suggest that you were the John the Baptist to my ... no that's going too far.

    Scary, make that 2 t-shirts (I already have more mugs than I can use.) And, true to type, I got the dates of the blogjog wrong. It's tonight that it's supposed to appear - but it's not a normal blog, simply a couple of sentences to welcome anyone who's new to the place.

  19. Too funny Bill! I hope you have that house with the pool now. But do yourself a favor: do not get a ghostwriter--they might not adequately represent you! Thank you for the satirical view from the top. I'll remember it when I become famous just so I can stay grounded! ;-))

  20. Hi Kelly, thanks for dropping by (and for the ghost-writer advice). Not sure where you're situating 'the top' - these are just the bitter ramblings of a geriatric wannabe.

    Oh, and when you become famous, will you send me some money please?