I was looking for the list I was working through and mostly mocking last year as I’d misplaced where I’d copied down the ones I wanted to do. I couldn’t find it, but I did find some spectacularly dumb ideas.
And, yes, all of these were from lists allegedly targeting authors.
- “Hijack the news . . . avoiding horrible stuff of course.” I guess this could actually be effective, but it seems a little too cold and calculated for my tastes.
2. “Moments and pictures from your vacation.” First of all, look at the built in class/income assumption! Who the fuck can afford a vacation any more? Secondly, most of the time when I read or even here people talking about their vacations, it’s very much a “you had to be there” thing. Some events really lose something in the re-telling.
3. “Day in the life.” Every single list I found suggested this! I don’t fucking understand it! Look, authors are generally pretty boring people. I’m pretty sure that even if I was ever Rowling or King famous and rich, my ordinary day wouldn’t be that different than it is now . . . except maybe it wouldn’t have been a store brand English muffin I had for breakfast.
I got up, I played with the kitten, I had tea I let steep too long and an English muffin for breakfast, I played with the kitten again, I thought about writing a different blog post and decided not to, and now I’m writing this post . . . this is fascinating stuff, truly.
4. “Pics of household improvements.” What the hell?! I thought that was a specialized niche of blogging. Unless it’s something really cool. And who needs a list to be prompted to share something really cool on their blog? Which reminds me, I have a picture where my kitten looks like an eldritch horror. (I caught him mid-stretch in bad lighting.) I should post that some day.
5. “Craft-y stuff you’ve done.” I hate the assumption that just because someone is good at/interested in one art form they are good at/interested in all others. I write. I take pictures. I sometimes dabble in cover design . . . and generally end up swearing at Photoshop in languages that may or may not actually exist. That’s the extent of my artistic skillsets. Oh, I can draw stick figures. That’s it! I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.
6. “Talk about and show pictures from your weekend.” This assumes you have interesting weekends. I guess I could post screenshots from whatever video game I was sucking at that weekend, or the cover of the book I was reading, or pictures of the grocery store I went to, but that really doesn’t seem worth the time and effort.
Also, this . . . as well as most of the ones above . . . if followed would make a blog much more a lifestyle blog than an author’s blog. I guess I could post cat pictures every weekend. That’s a thing author’s do.
7. “What you wear while writing.” Why is this a thing anyone cares about?! I mean, I’m amused to discover — via Twitter and across several unrelated conversations — that I’m far from the only author who has to change out of jeans before they write to be comfortable, but a whole blogpost about what I wear when I write?!
8. “Best free apps.” For what? Or just in general? And if so, why is this specifically a thing on a list of things for authors to blog about? Again, this seems like really generic blogging advice.
9. “The eulogy you want read at your funeral.” Because that’s not creepy and morbid!
10. “Photos from hometown.” I haven’t been to my hometown in over a decade and have no intention to go back any time soon. So why the fuck should I do this? I mean, I could make a post about my hometown and how it’s affected how I turned out . . . but that’s mostly going to be a post about why I don’t trust the criminal justice system and how stupid I find evangelical Christianity and how stupid the whole Satanic Panic thing was. I don’t think that’s what this sort of advice is going for. (Google “West Memphis Three” and you’ll at least understand what I’m talking about.)
11. “Photos from family reunion.” First, not everyone has or goes to family reunions. Second, it’s not cool to share people’s pictures online without their permission. Third . . . how is this author blog related?!
I get the feeling that a lot of these are supposed to be “things you can blog about besides doing constant book promotion” but they seem way too generic to be on a list that’s specifically for author blogs.
12. “How to set up a blog.” I am not google.
13. (This one is a direct quote). “How to research keywords for effective blog post SEO.” I’m not even one hundred percent sure what this means. I understand that there are a lot of self-pubbed authors who for some unfathomable reason think that having a blog that is likely to come up high in searches for various things will lead to book sales. I don’t understand how this is supposed to work though. I suspect it’s about as useful as the “follow other authors on social media and increase your sales” advice.
14. “List of things to do when bored.” More generic blog advice! Also, if I’m bored, I write. Or go see what the kitten has gotten himself into because I shouldn’t have the opportunity to be bored if he’s awake. He’s a rather mischievous and clever little dude.
15. “Pre-moving checklist.” First, I don’t understand people who need checklists for every goddamned thing they do. I like making checklists, but I don’t need them. Second, how in the hell is this related to an author blog?!
16. “What you’ve learned during a move.” Again, generic. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever learned anything during a move beyond “moving sucks” and “We own a lot of books.”
Oh, no wait. During a recent move I did learn something useful: Dropping a box of hardback books on your toe can bruise the nail so badly that it takes most of a year to look normal again. I don’t think I can make that into a whole blogpost. Maybe if I’d taken pictures documenting it . . . but I really don’t think that’s anything anyone would want to see anyway.
17. “Photo a day for a typical week.” Sunday: picture of the cats. Monday: picture of the ten zillion inches of snow outside. Tuesday: picture of the cats sleeping. Wednesday: picture of the ten zillion inches of snow taken from the office window. Thursday . . . you get the idea, right? My typical week is not exciting.
Now, I do take pictures most days, but I understand that not everybody is as fascinated by things like “the way the light was shining through that glass onto the tabletop” as I am, so I don’t inflict them on others.
18. “A to do list from your daily life.” What is with all these generic and boring as hell ideas?! I don’t want to read anyone else’s to do list, and I don’t assume anyone else wants to read mine!
19. “Using astrological signs to create deeper characters.” Okay, this one is author specific. It’s just also stupid.
20. “Explain analytics.” I cannot write a blogpost about something I don’t understand, nor have no interest in. Also, I’m not google.
21. “How to write the opposite sex.” I could, maybe, write a blogpost about how obnoxious I find the idea that people need advice on how to write characters whose gender is different than theirs. But the last time I tried it turned into me pretty much doing nothing but swearing and abusing caps lock and bold. So I probably won’t.
Also, what’s the opposite of nonbinary? Gender has more than two options, people!
22. “Capitalize on Twitter trends.” Same as with the very first thing in this list, I can see how it would be useful, but it feels too cold and calculated.
Besides, let’s go see what’s trending on Twitter right now, shall we? “#St.Patrick’sDay”. Nope, don’t have anything interesting to post about that. “Cambridge Analytica.” No idea what that’s about so can’t blog about it. “BetsyDeVosSchoolImprovements”. That’s probably one of those allegedly funny hashtags where people make really dumb jokes. Not interested. “#EvacuationDay.” Don’t know what this one’s about either. “McCabeFired.” I don’t do politics except in the general sense on my blog. “John Dowd.” Don’t know who this is. “John Brennan.” Don’t know who this is either. “#powerofculture.” Don’t know what that’s about, but maybe it could be something that would make an interesting blogpost. I’ll investigate in a minute. “#crdh.” No idea. “#ImLuckyThat.” This is either a sarcastic or saccharine hashtag. Sarcastic, it’s better suited to something tweet length. Saccharine, I’m not interested.
So, “#powerofculture” is the only one that might, possibly, be a trend I could capitalize on. So I’m going to go see what it is. It’s about some event going on near-ish by. Can’t capitalize on that either then. Also, twitter trends change much faster than I write blogposts, so this is useless advice anyway.
Really, given how short posts for most of the ideas in this list would be, I wonder if they aren’t assuming much, much shorter posts than I write.
23. “Create a cartoon about writing.” See above for rant about assuming good at one art form equals good at all.
24. “Bookmark design.” I know that giving out bookmarks is supposed to be a good form of marketing. I also know that most people who are going to give a self-pubbed author a chance read mostly ebooks, and that most readers have plenty of bookmarks anyway. And there’s that whole “good at one art form does not mean good at all” thing again too.
25. “Business card design.” I’m pretty sure authors don’t need business cards. I know they’re supposed to be useful as a promotion tool, but I’m pretty sure that whole idea was made up by someone who makes business cards. And . . . do I need to say the other part again?
In addition to these stupid ideas, one site specified that author’s should never rant on their blogs, they should always try to keep things inspiring or no one would come back.
I, obviously, think that’s a bunch of bullshit. I’m not interested in inspiring anyone. I’m in the business of entertaining people, and my “brand” (for lack of a better word) is sarcastic and ranty. It’s what my narrators are like for the most part too. If I wrote blogposts that were all inspirational and shit, what you’d get when you read my books would be a totally jarring experience.
But my reasons for blogging so many rants and so sarcastically isn’t a calculated marketing thing. That’s just who I am. I’m not sure I could be inspirational if I tried, honestly.