Welcome to the Blog Home of Tabula Rasa, Indie Author
Posted by Alan Edwards
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 EdwardsAn indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.
Posted on March 15, 2012, in Philosophizin', Rantin' and Bitchin' and tagged Annoying Things, It's About Platform People. Or Is It Brand? I Can Never Remember, Shitty Advice, So META!, Speechifyin'. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.