Wednesday, 4 March 2009

SIDEBAR ALERT: Writers' Blogs

If design is an elegant solution to a problem -- art is one person's interim solution gone looking for trouble.

When I started building this blog I filed all writers' blogs, irrespective of genre, in a neat list. "You're not stupid," I thought. "You're a writer, you'll recognise the names, or titles, and take it from there."

But then I thought back to my original intention of creating a user-friendly resource for creative writers and asked myself the question, "What do writers want?" The answer is money, or failing that, market information. I can't give you that -- but I can, and will, signpost sources for such.

So, what else do you want from this blog?*

Lacking any research data I have assumed that you are a writer** and want a site that's easy to use, that clearly signposts links to information you need when you need it, points up potentially useful resources you hadn't previously known about. And, perhaps, if you have the time, and are in the mood, somewhere you can sound off about your experiences, or otherwise throw in your two ha'ppence or two cents' worth.

This led me to trip over another question:

Why do we read writers' blogs?

What do we want, what do we need from them? Inspiration? Tips 'n' tricks? Insider gossip? A sense of connection? Daily commentary on the struggles and joys of wrestling with a work-in-progress? An introduction to their editor or agent? Possibly a mix of all the above plus.

Non-writing readers' needs are different; they're possibly looking for giveaways, signed copies, dates and venues of appearances, news of re-issues and future projects, movie and TV spin-offs, or the opportunity to ask the author a question, or thank the author for their efforts. Most of them are satisfied with access to a well-designed website.

And bookblog reviewers visit writers' blogs possibly in search of background, or in lieu of one-on-one interviews.

Should I be more discriminating when linking to writers?

After considerable thought I came up with the following:
  • I will genrify*** writers – other than those writers (such as David Isaak and John Baker) whose blogs I consider offer something of value for all writers. I believe this will make it easier for you to link up with other writers in your genre, and make it easier for you to find writers in your genre you may not have encountered before.

  • I will only link to writers who are already published, in the process of being published, or unpublished writers I think have something interesting, intelligent, useful or witty to say.
  • I will invite writers to post guest blogs.
  • I will consider hosting visits by writers on blog tours.
  • I will link to writers writing in languages other than English.
  • I will not categorise writers by gender, age, ability, nationality, creed, sexual orientation, diet preferences or star-sign.
  • I will not link to dead writers, unless their name is Eric Blair or Manolo.
I have spoken - though I can always be persuaded (but not bribed or bullied) to change my mind on any or all of the above.

All of which is a long way round of saying, "Expect to see changes in the writers' blogs sidebar as of now."

*This isn't a rhetorical question -- please let me know your thoughts.

** Long and short fiction writers of all genres, creative narrative non-fiction writers, including travel writers; poets, dramatists, screenwriters, et al.

*** vb. to classify, to categorise, or to pigeon-hole, a product of imagination or artistic endeavour, or an entertainment product, and the creators of such, by assigning certain characteristics to the product or person, thereby aligning the product and creator with other product and creators, in order to sell such product to distributors and consumers.

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