Friday, July 27, 2007

Blogito, Ergo Sum

Why do we blog?

Let me tell you why that question has been rolling around the inside of my skull. Tuesday night I went to the Giants game to see Barry Bonds hit a home run or two. A failed mission. But between innings, the scoreboard had a quiz. Who is first baseman Ryan Klesko's favorite actor: A) Tom Hanks, B) Mel Gibson, or C) Jim Carrey? Then on came a video of Mr. Klesko in which he declared for B. The entire episode was sponsored by Hebrew National Kosher Hot Dogs. That seemed a little incongruous to me, given MG's anti-semitic rant of last year. So I blogged about it over at Dot Dead Diary.

Thanks to some instigation from my godson, and linked to my posting. Holy mackerel! I had more hits on my blog Thursday than I typically get in a month. Thousands.

But so what? Did it mean I was selling more books? I don’t think so, at least there was no effect on my Amazon ranking. So I started to wonder whether my more typical postings did anything for sales. Do I myself buy the books of the bloggers I read every day? Yes, but largely because they are friends whose books I’d buy anyway, not because they blog.

If blogging doesn’t lead to more sales, then why blog? As Dr. Johnson once famously said, "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

Maybe we blog because it’s a way to keep in touch. When I lived in England years ago, I corresponded with friends via airmail. Blogging gives me the same kind of feeling of keeping in touch, but it’s more efficient since one posting goes to everyone I’d write to.

Or maybe we blog because writing is a solitary vocation (except for Joe and Lynn) and this is our way of crying out, “Hey out there. We're alive.” Descartes wrote, “Cogito, ergo sum,” or “I think, therefore I am.” Maybe we’re saying “Blogito, ergo sum” or “I blog, therefore I am.”

I’d like to know why my fellow bloggers blog. And I’d like to hear from readers what they get out of this blog or the individual blogs of any of us Inksters. Finally, if any reader has bought a book – even one – because of the witty prose that shows up here five days a week, please let us know via a comment.


Mark Combes said...


Time to come clean. I blog because it's therapeutic. It gives me a chance to off-gas things that I'm thinking about. So, you might say, it's a bit of navel-gazing. Anyone else? Free cookies and coffee....

"Hi, I'm Mark, and I've been blogging for 6 months...."

Bill Cameron said...

Here is my profound, considerably well-thought-out answer:

I dunno.

I think I'm a bandwagon blogger myself. You get a book deal and so you gotta start blogging, because, well, people must care. Right?


I tend to doubt blogging sells books. Maybe a few from time to time, but in terms of cost/benefit, probably not worth the effort.

So if you're going to blog, I think you have to do it for reasons that have little or nothing to do with book promotion. Mark's reason actually makes the most sense to me --personal and existential.

I have tended to blog less and less. To keep in touch with folks, I'd almost rather email. There are so many places to visit on the internet, and it just gets bigger every day. I can't keep up with my own life most of the time, so when you pile on blogs with things like crimespace with everything else, well, it overwhelms me.

Still, a few blogs, a couple times week -- that's okay. And I will post, occasionally. But only because it's something I feel like saying, something personal and existential. Beyond that, meh.

Mark Terry said...

My initial and most honest response is, "Beats the fuck out of me."

I'm inclined to parrot Keith Snyder's response on my blog when I asked the same question: "I just like to write about myself."

Julia Buckley said...

Interesting question, Keith. I suppose some of my blogging is rooted in the egotistical notion that there are people out there who might care what I have to say. :)

But in a way it's no different than keeping a diary--a way of expressing one's daily thoughts. I rarely think of it as a way to boost books sales.

Joe Moore said...

If I had to maintain a personal blog and attempt to come up with something interesting or cleaver or soul-searching every day, I would not blog. Doing it here on InkSpot once a month or so is enough for me. But to answer Keith’s question, here’s my take. As writers, we have virtually no control over anything other than our words in draft form. Once our manuscript is emailed off to MI or whoever, we have no more control. It’s pretty much out of our hands. But with blogging, we can totally control what we say, how we say it, when we say it, and whether to use italics or bold text. I think it’s a small taste of freedom and control in a writer’s life to be the master of our own bloggery.

jbstanley said...

I'm goin' with the masses, I guess. Every author now has a blog and a website and answers emails, etc., so I figured I'd better join in the fray.

I remember someone asking my mother a while ago if she read any of my blog postings. She replied, "No way. I've got real books to read instead." (And she didn't necessarily mean mine).

So if my mom's not even reading my blog, what does THAT say?

Bill Cameron said...

My mom isn't allowed to read my blog posts. I use potty talk.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Interesting question, Keith, especially since I started blogging because my good buddy Keith Raffel told me I should blog.

Within a month of starting I was embroiled in a controversy with a shock-jock radio program and received TONS of controversial comments on my blog to the point I had to monitor the comments and delete many. (I can only read the "c" word so many times.)

I enjoy blogging, but only do it a few times a week as time and inspiration permit. I've been invited to join other blogs but feel Inkspot and my personal blog are enough. Reading the comments when I have time is fun. Many of my blog readers e-mail me directly about my blog, so I know people read it. Friends and family have told me it keeps them posted on my activities.

Do people buy my books because of it? I know some do. During and after that brouhaha, my sales numbers had a definite spike. And from time to time someone writes to tell me a friend referred them to my blog and my books. But as marketing tools go, it's not a major one.

In the end, I blog because it keeps me in touch with my readers between books and I often use it to promote books and authors and causes that are dear to me. It's my public soap box, my public therapist, and my public stage.

And it all started because of Keith.

Keith Raffel said...

Sue Ann, Did I lead you astray? Am I not allowed a moment of existential doubt?

J.B., Don't feel bad. My wife doesn't read my blog. (My two oldest daughters do though.)

Felicia Donovan said...

Keith, at a quick glance I thought it said "Blotto, Ergo Sum" and I was heartily prepared for another alcohol-themed discussion. Damn.

With the Black Widow Agency series, I'm trying to attract a more technically-savvy market, so I'm pushing the technical limit by maintaining two blogs (in addition to contributing here), two websites, MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube, Technorati, blah blah blah. All while still holding down that day job and being on call round the clock.

There are tools that make the blogging process less painful. I've geeked it up a bit and can e-mail my blog in which will not only display the entry on the blog, but on the website ( so the content stays fresh and I only have to send one e-mail. I swear by the adage of "make the technology work for you." I'm doing it because, as Sue Ann said, I do think blogging can be an effective marketing tool. I'm getting e-mails from folks who want to read the book and it hasn't even been released yet, so somebody out there is reading this stuff. I do believe that.

And I know my Mom is reading this...

Deb Baker said...

Joanna and I maintain another blog with 4 other craft-related mystery authors. Killer Hobbies is theme-based and attracts a significant following. I get at least fifty hits every month from the blog to my personal website. Does it sell books? Who knows?

JD Rhoades said...

I blog for a number of reasons. One, of course, is to reach readers and potential readers. Another is to share things that amuse me. A third is to vent about things that piss me off.

spyscribbler said...

Well, before I started blogging, I didn't have a TBR pile. Since I've been blogging, my TBR pile is to the ceiling!

So yes, I buy TONS of books from bloggers whose posts I enjoy.

Why I blog? I don't know. I've had blogs since 2000. It's fun. I like connecting to people, and, um, it's kinda fun to talk about whatever I feel like talking about, and get feedback that day.

I don't know why I read so many blogs. Maybe I'm nosy?

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

"A third is to vent about things that piss me off."

Me, too, J.D. And to prove my point, read my blog today.

Anonymous said...

There is a blog out there, worth your time to at least check out:

It is a book, turned into a blog...Given away for free. Do you see this becoming a trend?

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Wow, the timing of this is spooky. I was just reading through all the book promotion ideas I've been collecting. One group of ideas was from RWA, and believe me, those Romance Writers know what they're doing. The suggestion? Whenever possible, include the name of someone more famous than you in your blog. That will increase your hits because, say, if I put Barry Eisler in this comment or in my blog (which I just did at then anyone looking for info on him, pulls guessed it...MOI.

I don't want to practice deception, but if the point is to introduce ourselves to our would-be readers, this makes a lot of sense.

So why do I blog? To keep my readers and potential readers informed, entertained, and connected. As Deb says, we know our blog gets hits. One woman emailed me to say she starts her week by reading my blog.

And, she's NOT my mother! I know because my mom isn't that comfortable with computers.