"Writers have to be promoters if they believe in their work. Blogs are a way for authors to communicate directly with readers and establish a personal connection. It's a way to reach readers who may not attend bookstore events, and it's more convenient for authors, too. I haven't met too many writers who were eager to fly to Houston for a day -- though I'm sure Houston is lovely this time of year."First of all, as someone who grew up in Houston and who has been back in August of almost every year since (this particular August having been one of the notable exceptions), I had to snort at Mr. Karp's remark about Houston being "lovely" this time of year. He must not be talking about the Houston that's snuggled down there in the nation's armpit, which is otherwise known as the Texas Gulf coast. I've got nothing against Houstonians, but even they don't call their sweltering, traffic-clogged city "lovely" in August.
But back to that stuff about authors needing blogs. Do they really?
I don't believe so. Blogs may indeed be "a way for authors to communicate directly with readers and establish a personal connection," but the jury's been out for quite some time on whether--apart from a very few notable exceptions--the typical author's blog has any appreciable impact on book sales. It's easy to believe that they must, especially if the blogs in question get good traffic, but there's actually no way to determine how many people read a blog and then rush out to buy the author's next book.
Why do it, then?
I do it because it's good writing practice. And it's fun. And hey, it might sell six or seven more books next spring; who knows? But I wouldn't blog if I didn't enjoy it. Frankly, this would be an awful lot of work just to sell an extra handful of books. So I can't help but think most authors would do better spending their time writing more books rather than jumping on the blog bandwagon. If they don't really have time and their hearts aren't in blogging and they aren't going to learn how to promote their blogs and get good traffic, what's the point?
When I started blogging eight months ago, I encouraged many of my author friends to try it. Now I wish I hadn't. Blogging takes so much time and effort, I'm not surprised that so many authors who begin blogs allow them to fizzle out. Even the authors who have continued posting regularly don't seem to have the time or energy to go through all the hoops required to entice new visitors to their blogs. And I hate it that my friends feel guilty for not doing something they "should" be doing.
So I'm going to disagree with Mr. Karp. Authors don't need blogs. Or even websites. An internet presence is not the only promotional tool in the box. And rather than use tools that feel clumsy in her hands, each author should consider her own abilities and desires and then promote her books in the way that works best for her.