Welcome to the Blog Home of Tabula Rasa, Indie Author

Welcome to my blog. What you see is what you get.

Anybody that reads my blog with any frequency knows what an eclectic mess of random subjects and styles and curse words it is. Everything is just strewn around everywhere, making my blog a hoarder’s living room. Exercise reviews lay piled up on NFL season discussions, writing “advice” tossed all over a collection of Walking Dead reviews so filled with vitriol that a puddle of green ooze is slowly spreading from them, all with an occasional sprinkling of excerpts from my work like rat droppings behind the cardboard boxes of everything else. It’s a mess. And like any committed hoarder, I refuse to clean it up. I don’t care how many experts tell me I should. I am going to remain here, squatting in the fetid morass of my own filth. Well, filthy collection of random thoughts, rants, reviews, and bouts of whining.

Oh, and it’s all my opinion, just like this piece here. It might be wrong, but it’s wrong with a string of eff-words splattered all over it.

Of course, this means I’m Doing It Wrong.

I’ve touched on this subject before, when I was wondering if I should heed the advice of the great unwashed Internet gurus who tell us How to Run a Successful Blog. I wondered if I should rein the extraneous crap in, focus it more on building my Brand (whatever the fuck that is, besides generic) and/or Platform (again, whatever the fuck that really is besides a cool little buzzword to throw around to make it seem like the user knows something you don’t know). I decided against it, for the simple reason that the only things that ever end up being popular on my blog are exactly those things that are Extraneous Shit, which I would make a Category but would encompass 99% of everything on here.

So why am I back to thinking about Author Blogs and Content and Footprint and Platform and all the rest of that horseshit? It’s Kendall Grey’s fault, actually. See, she wrote a mini-rant about authors and the self-imposed rule that we all live under, which is this: Thou Shalt Not Say A God-Damned Thing (I Can Say That, I Am The Lord) That Might Hurt Thy Book Sales. Controversy? Bad. Off-platform or off-brand? Bad. Opinionated? Bad. Not in some way a promotion of your work or the promotion of someone else’s work for the express purpose of getting your own work promoted on their site? BAD BAD BAD. I’ll let Kendall have the money shot, since I know she’d prefer it that way:

We’re supposed to be all business and no bullshit. It’s all about numbers. Make every one count.

#1: I think that’s a sad, claustrophobic way to live.

#2: People who pull that shit give themselves WAY more credit than they deserve.

I’m sorry, but I was born a Homo sapiens, not a Superius twaticus. I have really loud feelings. I can’t help it. I have a need to get them out of me, lest they eat me alive. That’s WHY I’m a writer. Telling me to smile and bite my tongue doesn’t make my emotions any less explosive. Keeping quiet usually has the opposite effect. That’s why I’ll say anything. It’s a compulsion.

Now, if there’s one thing I always say, it’s this: Why let someone’s concise, poignant, and funny point go without turning it into a bloviated mishmash of whatever spur-of-the-moment shit decides to spew itself all over my keyboard?

And yes, my introduction to what I’m trying to get to is longer than her entire perfectly-crafted point. Brevity is something I admire in others but possess none of myself.

You see (ah-ha! Getting to the point!), there is a lot of advice out there for blogging authors. Much of it is generic to “what makes a successful blog”. Other parts are more specific. Nearly all of it is contradictory. Update your blog frequently. Don’t update your blog too much. Establish a schedule for posts and stick to it. Don’t schedule your posts. Write regularly. Write when you have something to say. Stay on theme. Be creative.

No, none of that is helpful. In fact, it’s advice without giving advice at all, like telling someone to cheer up when they’re unhappy. Oh, great, thanks, I never thought of that! It’s a waste of time, but there are as many blog posts about how to create a good blog as there is actual original content on every other blog. Other advice/rules center around the kind of shit you’d hear at a corporate project kick-off meeting. List the goals you want to accomplish with your blog. Don’t go off-message. Tailor everything on the site to your work or tie it in somehow. Develop a clear, consistent theme. Synergize your blog with other social media outlets. Network with others to cross-promote.

There are an awful lot of people who follow these rules. Not all of them are bad, of course. Hell, I post my shit to Twitter and Facebook, I network with other people. I am happy to do an interview or discussion with another author and share shit back and forth and guest blog and all that. But again, my blog is a scatterbrained hodge-podge of what is essentially the intellectual equivalent of beef trimmings. I like it like that. Because the alternative is awful.

Let’s go to the blog of Tabula Rasa, Indie Author. Her site is nice. It’s cleanly presented. There are links to purchase her apocalyptic urban-fantasy mummy romance novel series. Good, since she’s an author trying to sell books. There are links to Twitter, and Facebook, and whatever other social media thing is “important” at the moment. Fantastic, since it gives her fans ways to interact with her. Tabula is very good at following the rules. She posts regularly (but not too often), her posts are exactly between 300 and 600 words long (to avoid Too Long, Didn’t Read syndrome), and her content is on point. One post is an excerpt from her work. Another is a review of a different mummy romance series. Another has to do with interesting historical facts about mummies. She also does regular short story installments based in a romantic mummy apocalypse, teases of content, giveaway contests of her work, polls about her work. She responds to every comment with positive words and a big thank you for the feedback. Tabula Rasa has built the most perfect author’s blog site.

Tabula Rasa’s blog site sucks all sorts of major ass.

It’s the perfect site for people who love mummies in apocalyptically romantic situations. It offers absolutely nothing to anyone else. And the biggest problem is this one: there is nothing of Ms. Rasa on the site at all. Yes, her work is there, but there is no personality beyond the occasional picture of a cat doing something cute with a witty statement superimposed on it. The main problem is that there is no there, there. Because the most important thing for authors is NOT selling one of their books (blasphemy!). It’s selling themselves. Their personality, their viewpoint, the way they perceive the world, and how well they can articulate it in words. THAT is important. All of those things are the big filtering system that produces an author’s work. Tabula’s website will attract mummy aficionados, but what if she becomes inspired to write a novel about a donkey’s journey of self-discovery? What then? The fans she’s built go to her site because of mummies. It’ll be tough to attract donkey enthusiasts to her site when everything has been carefully honed to one specific, jarred, preserved, and ultimately lifeless purpose.

I’ve come across a lot of Tabula Rasa blog sites in the last couple of years. They all feel exactly the same, like a website produced for an author by a publishing company that the author has never seen. They are dull, they are boring, and unless the book subject is something I am unequivocally interested in, I ain’t buying it. I’ve been shown nothing about the author themselves. Is their sense of humor wry and quirky? Do they like to spend 4 hours and 97 paragraphs getting to a haphazard point (a plus in my book, but that’s just me)? Do they adore rainbows and pink fonts? Do they like to write dark poetry about love being like the crushed dusty petal of a long-dead rose? This is what I want to know before I spend a dime on someone’s work.

So this is a plea, from me to every other author out there who has a blog: for fuck’s sake, be yourself. BE YOU. Sprinkle in some personal stories of your kid puking into your bowl of Cheerios without you noticing until you took a bite. Entertain me. I guarantee that if you entertain me, make me smile or laugh or think or cry or ponder or something, there is a much better chance that I will buy your shit, even if it’s in a genre I normally wouldn’t touch or think I’d have interest in. Hell, be controversial. Can you imagine what the blog of a young Kurt Vonnegut or Harlan Ellison or Mark Twain would have been like? I doubt it would be one of these sanitized boring-ass things that creep up on the Internet every day. There is nothing wrong with a vigorous debate about something. Hell, I would love to have someone come on here and tell me I’m full of shit and tell me why. Debate is good, unless it involves sports, religion, or politics, because those subjects are all about faith and no one ever really changes anyone’s mind about any of them. Anything else – say what you feel, what you think, what you believe. Be wrong. Be righteously wrong. Be right. JUST PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BE SOMETHING. And don’t apologize for it. If you decided you want to post a top-ten list of your favorite beers to funnel, don’t apologize to me about going off topic. There is no such thing as off-topic. It’s a fucking blog, not an encyclopedia entry. Post a goddamn vlog consisting of you pretending to talk with your ass. Because if you keep it “on-topic” all the time, that’s really all you are doing.

Please, for fuck’s sake, don’t be Tabula Rasa.

And yes, I have now finally gotten a use out of 3 years of Latin in school. Well, actually, it’s a common phrase. Elephantus non capit murem. There. Now all that time wasn’t wasted.

About Alan Edwards

An indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.

Posted on March 15, 2012, in Philosophizin', Rantin' and Bitchin' and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Yes YES YES!

    Also, yes.

    Excuse me now, as I must away to the chiropractor, as I have injured myself with all this head nodding.

  2. Alan Edwards, with the goods.

    Great shit, dude. It’s easy — REAL EASY — to let trying to sell books distract you from just posting entertaining blog content. Which I suck at. But anyways…

    This is great advice. I’m looking forward to posting some ridiculous, nonsensical stuff as soon as my brain rebuilds itself from the past two weeks.

    Now get on those Walking Dead reviews. I haven’t watched an episode in months (I just read your reviews), so get on it!!!! ;D

    • Nah, that’s not true, because you’ve managed to mix in things that don’t have anything to do with the book series, which brings me great joy.

      And yes, I know, I know. I’m haven’t been deliverin’ the goods here lately. Shit, I can’t believe it’s Thursday already. On the plus side, I’m almost done with ME3 for the first time. I imagine things will be getting back to “normal” afterwards.

  3. Thank you for this rant! I hope every fuckin’ Tablua Rasa reads it!

    We need more real blogs in the world. And yes, fine, pimp yo’ shit. I’ll be pimping mine soon, it’s what authors do. But be real first. It should be the golden rule for authors. How can we write characters readers can connect to, and yet personally fail to see how we don’t manage the same transparency?

    (Not suggesting everyone needs a birds eye view into our lives, but whatever segment of us we’re willing to share, we need to share with clarity!)

    I have a few rants on my blog about my epilepsy and although I’ve been anxious to post them, the feedback I’ve gotten has been wonderful. Why? Because people have connected with ME. Not some sanitized brand of me.

    • I definitely think there is something to be said for portraying yourself as human. You are dead-on when you talk about the ability to make characters seem real if you can’t manage to make yourself seem real. It doesn’t give me much comfort if I can’t make that connection.

  4. I am so glad you are not that type. I never would have even read your blog or become interested in your books if you were. I enjoy the NFL talk, the exercise talk, the Walking Dead talk, the polidiks talk, the book talk, zombie talk. All of it. I read pretty much every post, and laugh often. I think that maybe the difference between you and other talented author/bloggers like you, is that you guys all are more “real” and know how to talk to the audience/readers.

    Sorry bout that Redskins stuff. Wrong on so many levels.

    • I very much appreciate that, because being as real as possible is important to me, even if I do kind’ve turn my personality up to 11 for the purposes of the blog. I’m not nearly as ravingly eff-bombing in person. Until the second glass of rum, anyway.

      I still keep thinking every day when I wake up that I’ll see the headline “NFL Apologizes, Takes It All Back”, but it keep not happening. Heh.

  5. I have a theory, Alan. You and I once shared a womb. It might not have been in this lifetime, but somewhere along the time-space continuum, our theta waves clicked on simultaneously and synced up. We still share that weird, primitive, organic connection, man. Like, totally. 😉

    Whenever I (and maybe you too–since we share brain wires and all) shoot my word jizz in a bloggerly rant induced by some perceived injustice or a ridiculous observation, one of the following happens:

    1) No one replies (which makes me think everyone hates me or I’ve finally crossed the point of no return and now no one will touch me with latex gloves). This is bad. Like, *real* bad. But sometimes it happens because people get busy in oddly synchronous cycles, and ALL blogs take bad hits during those times. Usually, the posts that I think are my best ones – the ones I put a lot of thought and time into – are the ones nobody reads. Go figure.

    2) My most vocal readers raise their pitchforks in my defense and hop on the bus to hell with me in the driver’s seat, whilst the quiet blog readers wave cautiously, say, “I’m good,” and wait for the next bus.

    3) Readers from both sides of the topic of discussion find something to like (or dislike) and speak up. I think I prefer this reply to my posts because, like you said, it shows that people are *thinking* about my words. They’re engaged for whatever reason. They don’t have to agree with me. It’s kind of fun when they don’t. I love having *discussions* more than anything, and the more people who comment, the more you can learn from each other.

    I’ve read a few Tabula Rasa blogs, and though they’re executed perfectly, I don’t enjoy them. Like you, I want to be entertained, not put to sleep. Funny thing is, there are so many bloggers out there who have *gazillions* of followers. I honestly don’t get it. If the authors’ books are anything like their blogs, how do they sell? Yet, Joe & Josie Sixpack eat this shit up like crack straight out of a streetwalker’s unwashed bra. It truly baffles me.

    I could go on about how books are the same way. In fact, I think I shall… 😉

    People want to know why I don’t read books. It’s true, I have no time, but honestly, NOTHING I PICK UP IS WORTH A FUCK. Every story is the same shit, different characters. The movie “Idiocracy” NAILED our society: Feed the sprawling, ignorant, child-bearing machine. Doesn’t matter WHAT you feed it, as long as you do. Keep the masses happy, and make more while you’re at it. There’s plenty to go ’round, kids!

    I equate most books and writer-bloggers to a sort of Literary McDonald’s. Fuck you, Ronald. I didn’t like you in those commercials with your creepy red granny wig and white face, and I find you boring as fuck on your Tabula Rasa blog and the NYT best seller list. If fast food causes heart attacks, then today’s shitstick excuses for “literature” cause acute, prolonged periods of cranial diarrhea with occasional inner ear oozing. The more you feed your brain this drivel, the dumber your ass gets.

    Okay, I’m stepping off my police horse now. Don’t let any brain fluid splash on you on your way to the bookstore, dumb ass. Move it along!

    • And whatever womb it was had a higher concentration of booze in it that would normally be called “optimal” or “healthy” or “life-sustaining”.

      I personally tend to get a lot of #1 or #2. I’m not sure I’ve ever had anyone disagree with me very much in a comment. On Twitter, once, and that was for this post. Heh. It can definitely be disheartening, but I try to keep in mind that this blog is for me, and even if none of you awesome people read it and commented on it, I’d still do it, because if my wife had to listen to me bitching incessantly (or more than I do now, anyway), she’d murder me, cook my remains with rice, and feed me to our dogs. You should see how resigned she looks when a certain commercial comes on the TV, because I have to rant and rave about it every time. I should put it in a blog post to get it out of my system, since I am sure she’d be grateful.

      Sometimes I think that there is an element of success begetting success. If my book suddenly hits the top 100, people will buy it because other people have bought it. Then more people buy it and it just gets rolling, not necessarily because it’s great, but because it’s popular. Are the popular kids in school popular because they’re cool, or are they cool because they’re popular? Anyway, at that point, having a generic, faceless outlet to the world to go along with an OK book seems to be enough, especially when a fan decides to create a fansite that IS interesting and funny. I have no idea if any of that makes sense since I just made it all up, but I’ll go with it for now.

      And I won’t disagree with you about the quality of books nowadays. There are amazing books out there, but no one hears about them because they tend to get ignored in favor of the latest Celebrity of the Month’s “book” or by whatever has just been optioned for a shitty Hollywood film. It does give me acute pleasure to find the good ones, though.

  6. Epic post. I love your Blog, because you write as chaotic as I think. I love my Blog, but I am seeing your point, lucky me, my blog has little to do with my fiction writing which is very much adult. Sex, blood and drugs. I lose me a lot in writing my posts. I don’t Blog me enough. You are fast becoming one of my favorite bloggers. You and Kendall rock. I love you guys, or your blogs anyway.

    • I’m really glad to hear that. We chaotic people need to stick together, just to give all of the orderly rule-abiding people a sinister-looking corwd on the virtual street corner to be afraid of and warn their fans against. I’ve always wanted to be part of an unruly mob!

  7. I think I’m in love. Can you make that ‘viral’ to go please.

    • Hahahahaha – I’ll do what I can! Actually, I’ll sit here and do not much of anything, which is my specialty, but if it DOES go viral I’ll quickly rise up to take credit. =P

  8. I just spent the last 20 minutes typing up a comment to this, and gravatar gave me some error message and deleted my comment. (woo?) So I’ll just say my comment was brilliant and inspiring (LOL) and I agree with this post.

    • That kind of thing leaves me mind-numbingly shaking with rage.

      Thank you for your brilliant and inspiring comment! Heh. Too bad the Interet ate it.

  1. Pingback: Holy Crap! I Got A Major Award! | Reflections of a Sopping Wet Desert Rat

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