Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Lifespan of Blogs

Recent months have been rough times in the blogosphere. First Girl On Demand announced her retirement. Then Grumpy Old Bookman decided he'd cut back to only occasional posts. And finally, Miss Snark decided she'd answered every agenting question to the best of her ability and closed up shop. (And I note that Lucy McCarraher has been maintaining radio silence since early May--though perhaps she's just on vacation.)

Then, on top of all that, when I was chatting with Roger Morris he mentioned that his blog (or rather 'plog') was becoming less active, and that he could see a day when it might wind down, and this led into a brief speculation on whether blogs by their nature have a natural lifespan.

(Of course, Roger, in the style of someone out of Beowulf, took a rash vow when he started out, stating he would restrict himself to plugging his books rather than just writing about whatever came to mind. Even though he's had two books out in less than two years, and a ton of reviews, this presents a problem in finding subject matter for frequent posting.)

Arriving back home, I discovered that Matt Curran had been blogging about how his blog would probably be winding down in the foreseaable future.

Now, I'm not the sharpest tack on the bulletin board, but even I can recognize a breaking wave (usually about ten seconds before it knocks me over). Even a chatterbox like me can imagine a day when he might have nothing to add (though it's likely that someone will pay me to shut up first, which has been my secret goal all along).

One of the problems with blogs is that unless the content keeps arriving, the readers stop coming by. If you update your blog, say, once a month, most folks will stop checking in.

So Matt and I have been wondering about the idea, in the longer term, of setting up a group blog of sorts, where, as we abandon our individual blogs, the members of the MNW crew could drop an occasional post. Collectively, this might be enough traffic to keep a lively blog, without requiring anyone to post too frequently. In the comment trail on another post here, Matt wrote:

I've replied to your idea of a central MNW blog for writers to post entries, news etc. and I reckon it's a good idea. I'll probably look to set it up after I wind down my blog. But I suppose it all depends on whether Roger, Cate, Jonathan, Sam, Lucy, Brian, Michael, Faye, Aliya etc. will use it to whether I expend much time getting it up and running. But it would be fun. Like you said, it would also negate having to think of something to blog every week or so, and wouldn’t it be a fantastic marketing tool (question for Roger and Jonathan)?

Check the Comments trail on Matt's post for more of his thoughts on this (including posting the entire pantheon of books, past and upcoming, on the sidebar.)

Another advantage I could see is that MNWers who've (probably wisely) never wanted to establish a blog might want to drop in an occasional post.

Any thoughts?


Faye L. said...

I think public blogs have a shorter lifespan than private or friends-locked ones, at least in the main. It might be tricky to come up with something relatively interesting to say on a regular basis, but it's even trickier to come up with interesting things that you're happy to broadcast to anyone with access to the internet, so I can understand how people get fed up.

Partly as a safeguard against this, and partly due to my inherently secretive nature, I keep things relatively relaxed in my blogs (MySpace and Blogger - they're identical, except for the fact that the Blogger's younger). I don't bare my soul or discuss anything overly sensitive, because the idea of anyone being able to read them makes me feel somewhat terrified.

I don't know whether I'll get sick of blogging-as-book-promotion or not. I hope that the measures I've taken will prevent it from happening, but either way I would be interested in a communal blog if one were to be set up, although I'm not sure yet what I'd post in it, unless I used copies of my own blog entries. It could be useful for the public to have a one-stop place to read blog entries from several MNWers, too, if they were so inclined.

David Isaak said...

Hi Faye

I think Matt and I are we're envisioning this as a place for MNW bloggers to go when they no longer have enough to say often enough to support a blog of their own. And also as a sort of running showcase for the MNW series.

For those of us at MNW blogging who haven't even hit pub date yet (meaning roughly, as far as I can tell, only you and I), there will be quite a while before we need to be put out to blog pasture.

But when that day comes, we ought to have someplace to toddle off to, rather than simply vanishing. Think of it as a combination clubhouse and War Memorial ("Lest We Forget"), if you like.

Finally got to see the MNW preview anthology, BTW. Liked your opening pages--and have been showing them around to writer friends as an example of a killer first line.

("...and partly due to my inherently secretive nature..."--oh, you Scorpio, you.)

Suroopa said...

Hey David,

I think the idea of a MNW blog is brilliant. I am an avid fan of your blog and though I rarely leave comments believe me it sets me thinking all the time. I follow all the other blogs and it feels good to be part of a community. Most of the books never reach the Indian shore but I ask Macmillan India to send them to me. They are slow but I have managed to get a few. I know that reading the blogs gets me interested in the books as well. If there is an opening where I can send in my thoughts, I for one would grab the opportunity to do so. I am just not techno savvy enough to start my own, and I guess I am plain lazy! And the idea of an MNW coterie is deliciously appealing! Besides I think getting published once seems such a miraculous thing, and that too in an imprint that encourages first time writers, gives us a sort of responsibility to reach out and talk to people. By the way, I think I will be typing the last sentence of my new novel today!

David Isaak said...

Yow, Suroopa! It's been months! I'd assumed you were lost in the wilds of academia, but now that I see that you've been hammering out a new novel I feel less sorry for you. Congrats.

It would be wonderful to have a place where you and some of the other non-blogging MNW authors could drop the occasional post. As I mention in my next post, some of the MNW writers seem to be out there somewhere--but I'm not sure where.

Have you got a working title?

Eliza Graham said...

In America friends of mine belong to a kind of cyber round-Robin: The Girlfriends'. Each month another person's book is plugged and a link to their web/blog is given. I've often thought it was a good idea--substantially increasing traffic to each individual's site.

So, for the launch month of a particular author they would be given prominence and links--esp. in the first week of each month. For those of us already published, we could perhaps have special updates in the second, third or fourth weeks of the month.

Anonymous said...

Hi David

I'd be up for the idea of a MNW blog. Certainly I never felt I had enough of interest to say on a daily, or even weekly basis, but several people contributing sounds like a fine idea.
I guess its also a way for everyone to keep in touch. I know a lot of the writers meet up at launches and stuff but for us distant cousins (India, US, Ireland and South Africa (?)) it would be a nice way to be part of the MNW community. Oh, Hugh Paxton does have a website. I'll send you the link when I find it - though you can source it through our old friend Grumpy Old Bookman's posts on Hugh's book - which he loved.


Brian McGilloway

David Isaak said...

Hi Eliza

The Girlfriends sound as if they're on to something. I'll have to go hunt down their blog.

In the longer term I can imagine I might retreat from a blog to a website, but it would be nice to have something to, as you say, steer traffic there. And, since MNW has a book a month, that does give at least one steady event to cover...

David Isaak said...

Hi Brian

It would be great to see occasional posts from you, as I know from your comments elsewhere that you often have something incisive to say--even if you don't want to be bothered with posting at the frequency needed to sustain a blog.

As to Mr Paxton, I'm another admirer of his book--a truly original blend of brutal and funny. I'll look in Grumpy's archives and see if I can find his site.

Faye L. Booth said...

Aye, that's fair enough. If I ever did decide to put my blogs out to pasture, I'd more than likely be interested.

Thank you kindly for your comments on the CTM snippet! Also, it's off-topic, but I know you've been debating the British/American English thing, and I noticed that you were collecting UK slang terms for 'irritable' - how does 'nangy' grab you? That's 'nangy' with a hard G sound, as in 'gate', not 'nanjy'. I'm pretty sure it's a Northern term, and it might be specifically Lancashire, although I'm not so certain about that. Another one for the collection, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Thanks David

Willing but lazy - that's me.


David Isaak said...

"Nangy," like "tangy"? That's marvelous.

Since at 26 you're our reigning enfant terrible, I'd guess your pasture days are far in the future. I'd also not thought about this before, but seeing as you're a Scorpio and your launch date is Nov 2--does the book come out before or after your birthday? Will you still be 26, or are you not published until you're 27?

David Isaak said...

Hi Brian,

Lessee, now. "Borderlands" came out in April, 2007. Looking it up, I see that "Gallows Lane" is due out in April 2008...

For a lazy guy, you're pretty prolific.

Faye L. Booth said...

Yes, like 'tangy'. Rocks, doesn't it?

Since at 26 you're our reigning enfant terrible...
Am I, though? I've never asked if I'm the sproggit (another Brit-ism for you - it means 'baby' or 'small child') of the bunch.

...does the book come out before or after your birthday?
A week after. My birthday's 25/10.

David Isaak said...

Good lord, I hope you're the youngest!

There's some consolation in knowing that you'll be a doddering 27 before you get published--fishing for mints in the bottom of your reticule and muttering to yourself, no doubt.

David Thayer said...

Great idea for your MNW crew. This is sort of how the Rap Sheet works in theory at any rate.
I'm hoping Tony Blair will take over my blog now that Don Rumsfeld is too busy.

Anonymous said...

Hi David

Okay, okay - willing to be lazy, given half a chance. As promised, Hugh's website is:


David Isaak said...

David T--

I understand that Tony Blair is going to be the new Mideast Peace Envoy, which is roughly like appointing Keith Richards to be an anti-drug spokesperson, but I'm guessing that should leave Tony some time to handle your blog.

Whether or not he is up to the job is another matter. Having the role of sounding smarter than George W. has been a pretty cushy posting.

David Isaak said...

Gracias, Brian! (Darned if I could find it one my own.)

Roger Morris said...

This is a great idea. I will try my damnedest to take part though I don't have much spare time or energy at the moment.

David Isaak said...

Hi Roger

I'm hoping that in the long term this will work like a large balloon with a rock-concert audience--every so often you need to punch it, but most of the time it just bounces around the audience without needing any help from a given individual.

Well, okay, it was a pretty awkward metaphor. I think I'd better address this in a post--as soon as I do the math.