Recently I've been looking at my blog. For while now it's been bright and cheerful. All happy little clouds and primary colors. I liked that look. It made me smile to look at it. But let me bring you in on a little secret... The look of my blog didn't reflect me as a person in the slightest. It also didn't reflect the type of stories I want to write at all.
That's a problem. As I'm sure you all know, there's this thing called author branding. Now, I hate the term "branding". It makes me feel like a commodity. Still, the principle behind the term is solid. Branding is all about how you present yourself to your potential readers. It's important to send a clear message about what readers can expect from you as an author.
And the simple truth is that I am not one of those cheerful, carefree bloggers that are always relating amusing stories and making people laugh. That's just not me. Sometimes I wish it was, but I have to accept who I am. I'm a thoughtful, introspective, often philosophic person who only talks when I have something worth saying and always, always, always fact checks any statement I make on any subject for dread of being wrong. When I'm humorous, it's usually sarcastic humor. I'm a somewhat serious and old fashioned person who sometimes wishes I had been born in another age and always wishes I had been born an Elf in Middle-earth. I'm not bright, cheerful colors and happy little clouds.
That's why I've decided to go for a new look. Something that reflects me and my writing better. Yeah, I'm definitely more of an earth tones person. The picture I've chosen for my new header is by Scottish painter David Roberts who produced many images from his tour through Egypt in the 1840s. It's no secret that Ancient Egypt is a passion of mine and a strong influence on my worldbuilding.
I've also chosen a new title for the blog. Truth be told, I've never been happy with "The Aspiring Subcreator". There's something suggestive about using the word "aspiring". It subconsciously gives you permission to stay aspiring forever, to never quite meet your goals because you can always reach higher. Well, I'm tired of that. I want to accomplish something this year. I'm not giving myself permission anymore to keep putting off achievement.
I do love the term "sub-creator" coined by Tolkien. But the term "mythopoeia" (which also come from Tolkien, in the context of fantasy literature) is probably more descriptive of the particular way in while I want to write. And the structure of the word gives me a good opportunity to use it to make a geeky reference to Babylon 5, my favorite Sci Fi TV show. (The phrase "Falling Toward Mythopoesis" is a shameless paraphrase of the title of a season 4 episode of Babylon 5, "Falling Toward Apotheosis".) And we geeks love our little in jokes and references, don't we?
To match the new name and new look and new everything else, I think I'd also better change the blog address. As far as I know, if I change it nothing should get screwed up. Everyone who follows me under this address will still be following me under the new one. Please tell me if I'm wrong about that before I do anything drastic. My intent is to just use my name, since this will probably have to serve as my author's website for some time after I finally begin publishing. In fact, that's really what this whole overhaul is about. Getting serious about my goals and preparing for the day when I'll be using this site to present myself to the world as an author.
The ContentBut the main thing about a blog is the content, right? No matter how pretty it looks it still needs to be engaging to those reading it. And now I'm going to talk about an observation I've made recently that may be a bit... unwelcome.
I took a long break (again) from the blogosphere. Actually, this past year I took a couple. Every time I stepped back and stopped watching my blog list and then came back... I've noticed that the list of blogs I follow becomes more and more about a relatively small group of writers constantly promoting each other to each other and little more. Which makes me wonder... Who are we even talking to here?
Most posts that show up on my blog feed are all cover reveals and blog tours and new releases. And I see the same ones over and over and over. Do readers see any of this? Or is it mostly fellow writers? Is that even slightly effective? I'll be honest, I follow a lot of fellow writers because they are writers and I am a writer and I'm interested in writerly fellowship. However, most of the time I'm not at all interested in their books because I'm not going to force myself to read something that doesn't suit my literary tastes just because I like the author's blog. I admittedly skip over the blog tour posts and the cover reveal posts and the release date posts and all the other promotional posts. It means I end up passing over most of the posts that show up on my blog feed everyday. There are few enough that have any real substance outside of promotion.
The other major category of blog posts I see is inexperienced, amateur writers dispensing writing wisdom to other equally experienced amateur writers. Now, maybe it's just me, but this bothers me. I think that if you're going to act like an authority on a subject you should actually be an authority on that subject. If you're going to say things like "This is how you should ____" then you should have at least 10 published novels under your belt. Now, it's fine if you're clearly just talking about what your personal opinion is or describing your personal observations of the writing process. But all too many unpublished, short term writers blogging around here act as if they know exactly how all books should be written and their posts come across as if they think their way is the right way or that they've discovered the one secret to good writing. Perhaps it's just bad communication, but I expect better than that of writers.
I don't say these things to call anyone out or to tell you you're doing it wrong. Whatever brings you happiness and success as a writer and blogger is what you should do. But I'm not happy with this blogging atmosphere. And I don't want to fall into that trap. The trap where all I'm talking to are fellow writers who probably don't want to read my books anyway because they simply enjoy different genres. The trap where all I do is promote myself and those fellow writers to other fellow writers or the trap where I talk as if I know everything about writing stories even though I haven't accomplished anything on a professional level.
I think I do have worth while things to say about writing and books, but they are only my opinions. I do think that blogs are a good venue for promotion, but only in moderation and I have doubts about how effective so-called blog tours could possibly be. I realize that it's hard to reach beyond the writing blogosphere to the actual readers (who aren't writers), but that's where I want to be headed. And I want to start making my blog right now a place where readers and writers can glean near equal value from reading my posts.