Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And Then There Was Ask Allison

Question of the day: Why did you decide to start a blog (which I enjoy very much!)?

Whew! To answer this, I have to really think back to nearly two and a half years ago! I cannot believe that I've had this blog for so long. Wow.

But I started the blog for several reasons. The first - and most altruistic - is that I was tired of reading Ms. Snark (or was it Miss Snark) who anonymously offered advice that I sometimes thought was mean and also sometimes thought was wrong. I thought, "Hey, I've been in the trenches of publishing for long enough that I might be able to offer some advice of my own." Only I wanted to do it with, well, less snarking, and with accountability. If you disagree with me or want to take me to task, at least you know where to reach me, what my background is, and whether or not my experience is relevant to yours. As far as the snarking goes, I'm all for snarking. Some would say that in my real life, I'm maybe even a tad too snarky. But this business is tough, and I've never seen the need to be snide to newcomers or fellow writers...there are plenty of other people in the industry who will do that all on their own.

The second, less altruistic reason that I started the blog is that I'd just sold my first book, and I knew that a blog was a great way to self-promote. And this has been proven true. Not because I cram my books down your throats (at least, I hope I don't!), but because I've made countless friends in the blogosphere who are always more than happy to help me spread a word when I need it spread. In this sense, the blog has been invaluable.

So, to make your question a more universal question: if you're thinking of starting a blog, consider why you're doing so in the first place. Try to make yours unique in that it actually offers something to readers rather than just posting about your belly-button lint or what not. A blog requires a lot of upkeep, and I'll admit that lately, when I've been really, really busy, writing a blog post has been the last thing that I've felt like doing. So be sure that you like your topic: I've found, for example, that once I tackle a new question for a reader, I forget about the fact that I was dreading carving out some time in my day to do so. I'm sure that other frequent bloggers out there know what of what I'm speaking.

So readers, tell me: why did YOU start a blog and what do you think you've gotten out of it.


Anonymous said...

It's a great question, Allison. I started a blog about 3 years ago because someone said "your writing is really very well suited to blogging." Well I'll be darned I went right home to find out what a blasted blog was! I started Kvetch Blog soon thereafter and had it up and running until just recently. It led to a path of writing and publication - not a blogger who turned author, but to a writer who used blogging as a way to write, not to document poopy diapers and such (although many people love those blogs).

I now have a blog about writing, since that is where my head is all the time. The essays about my family that used to appear on my blog are now the ones I pitch and publish. The anecdotes about life that I ponder I don't blog, I write an article.

Blogging also introduced me to a huge community of writers that I don't have where I live.

I can see it also as a marketing tool down the road, but I am often put off by blogs that only say "buy my book." Yours is not like that and as a writer, and aspiring author...I really appreciate your "down home" and "get real" approach. I think it is probably more successful in creating good will toward your books -- and therefore more sales.

Let's hope!


Maddy said...

I used to read Ms Snark = terrifying!

I started a blog as a means of providing myself with 'free' therapy with the added advantage of not having to actually leave the house.

I still think that blogging is a great idea for anyone who lives an isolated existence, for whatever reason.

Anonymous said...

I found my blog was a great way to sort through eight very chaotic years of living abroad in Asia in a way that was entertaining to others and helpful for me.

Quite unexpectedly, it has helped me refine web and marketing skills that I am now using with a book I just finished and the website I set up for the book.

I also think the blog has helped me WRITE the book because the discipline it takes to write the blog - to just write everyday - is extremely useful in writing something much larger.

All told, I think blogs are a great tool for aspiring writers (and established ones - thanks for helping us out!)

Trish said...

I started a blog because someone also said I had a good blogging writing style. I've been writing mine since 2006. But recently, I've decided that blogging for myself is my only chance to just spout off about whatever is on my mind (usually book- or writing-related), be it gossip or motivating myself to stick to my goals, or even to try to explain myself to a larger audience. I don't get much traffic, but my blog showcases so much of my personality that I am now a professional blogger and get paid to blog for other people. I like having someplace to just go off without pressure. As I get more and more blogging clients, I hope it can stay that way. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Allison,

Thank you for answering my question. I started a blog recently for two reasons: I felt like the only person who didn't have one, and I missed being able to write in first person. I used to a lot at my magazine job, and when I left a year and a half ago I took on freelance assignments where I can't "be" in the article. Now that it's fall and the kids are back in school I hope to go full speed ahead with the blogging.

Best wishes with your busy schedule!

Kristen at

Anonymous said...


I started my blog earlier this year to help me work through my own writing issues. I meant to keep it just as a "personal" record of my journey as I attempt to write my first novel. I was pleasantly surprised when friends & strangers started reading it. Having them take the time to just read my thoughts on the writing process, my issues with it, and my rants when things don't go as smoothly as I'd like, turned out to be a great motivator for getting the first draft of my novel done.

Alison said...

I started blogging as a means to start writing again after four years of not. It worked. I've started writing again and I believe the discipline of blogging has provided me with a benchmark to keep my novel writing on track, as well as providing a forum to write about other things.

The unexpected bonus has been finding blogs like yours that provide great advice and inspiration.

Trish Ryan said...

I started my blog once I knew I'd be writing a book--I'd seen Jennifer Weiner's blog and loved how it gave me a chance to get to know her, and I thought (hoped) that someday I'd have readers who might want to know me, too.

What I didn't anticipate was the amazing community. Blog friends have been so supportive--not just about my book (although that's been wonderful) but also about cheering me up when I've had a bad day, or offering encouraging words when thing are tough. Not to mention practical help, like how to pick a good hair dryer :)

Jewel Allen said...

I started my blog because my friends seemed to have fun doing it. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love being able to reach the audience I have. Someone not only reads, but comments on what I right, almost instantly!

I hate the pressure of having to come up with something good to post out there, although so far I am about a couple of posts ahead. And the compulsion of checking to see what people think of my posts.

That said, another thing I love about blogging is being able to distill some sort of wisdom from everyday occurences. And when people, absolute strangers, leave comments that say, "Hey, I've been there..." it's quite the payoff.

I appreciate blogs like yours that don't make snarkiness your trademark. Thanks for the good read.

Anonymous said...

I like your blog and I think its great that you're friendly to the readers. I didn't like reading miss snark either.