The weekend before last, I attended a publishing panel at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto during which literary agent Andy Ross of the Andy Ross Literary Agency said, “Publishers say they expect you to blog and to use social media. I blog and I get about 100 hits a day, and I’m relatively famous, and that’s not enough to impress a publisher.”
So, of course, I wondered, “What IS enough to impress a publisher?” I e-mailed Andy to ask him, and this is what he said:
“It is going to take quite a bit to impress a publisher on how many hits you get on a blog. Probably 100,000 unique views a month is the ball park. But even that isn’t good enough. You are still going to have to convince the publisher that you have a good book in your head, and that it is not just recycled material from the blog that people can get for free. That said, regardless of the size of your blog, if you are trying to sell a book to a publisher, they really expect you to blog and to mine the social media. Even if you only get 100 hits a day (which is more than most people get).”
100,000 hits a month? I don’t know any writer/bloggers who get that many. Are we all wasting our time? I decided to ask Daniela Rapp, editor at St. Martin’s Press, what she thought. Here is what she said: “A hundred hits a day is indeed small potatoes, but I would argue that 100,000 is way more than we generally expect or see. Somewhere in the middle, I think. Twitter followers upwards of 10,000 are impressive. FB fans in the thousands.”
Hmm. Somewhere in the middle. So that means somewhere between 3000 (100/day) and 100,000 hits/month. So let’s say 30,000+. That’s at least a thousand hits a day (I’m talking page views, not unique visitors). I bet every blogger with 1000+ Google Friend Connect followers gets that. That’s achievable. But 10,000+ Twitter followers? Thousands of Facebook Fans? You have to be Nathan Bransford to make those numbers. So are we all wasting our time?
Roni Loren wrote a post last week titled Is Blogging Dead? And she drew her inspiration from a post by Wendy Lawton at Books & Such Literary Agency titled What’s Not Working? in which Wendy lists beginning a blog as one avenue writers should not pursue as a means to market their books. Her rationale is that the market is already so saturated, it will be nearly impossible for a new blogger to make waves in the blogosphere.
Yet there’s a difference between having a platform so tall that you can snag a book deal based on your reputation alone and having a really well written book with a little social media behind it to show agents and publishers that you’re out there making connections and that you’re book-marketing savvy. The key is to make sure the book-writing comes FIRST and the blog, Twitter, and Facebook second. I say this to remind myself more than anyone because there are weeks when I feel like I’m spending more time on social media than I am on my book, which is counterproductive. Because without a great book, what’s there to market?
I don’t think blogging is a waste of time. I think blogging poorly is a waste of time. The key is to find your niche and delve in. Don’t just write about writing. Write about what interests you, what makes you unique. If that’s rock painting and speaking Swahili, then that’s what you should blog about because people with those interests will find you and follow you and read your work. As someone who writes about writing, I don’t practice what I preach, but I think about it every day. I think about the things I would blog about if I were to expand the subject matter of this blog: parenting in Berkeley, my previous life as a fashion model, rock climbing, speaking French, Geocaching, Settlers of Catan. What about you? Do you blog about writing, or do you have a particular niche, something that makes you a little different from all the other writer/bloggers out there? What makes you unique?