Author Weblogs

by john on March 3, 2003

A good author sculpts characters that makes you care about them. Good writing invokes some passion from within the author that is surfaced through their characters and embraced by the reader. The worst books I’ve read are ones where I could care less what happens to the protagonist. The best are filled with characters that I yearn to know, understand and care for. By extension I come to care for the creator of the character. This is one reason for authors writing book after book featuring the same characters. Getting readers to care about a character and then feeding that by writing book after book containing the same protagonist – what a great recurring revenue stream.

The new frontier of the Internet (yes, it’s still relatively new) has changed the game regarding authors and their relationship with their readers. At least it is starting to. I look at someone like William Gibson who has gone on-line and has gotten perhaps closer to his readers then ever before as one of the leaders in this new brand of author. By going on-line and talking about his personal life (today he explains the heritage of why he uses CAPITAL LETTERS to spell out book titles) Gibson generates interest in new and old readers alike. I harken back to my use of the Selectric (damn I’m getting old) and such thoughts warm me and draw me closer to the author. Dumb? I don’t know – I just know what I feel. And what I feel like is re-reading some of his works (which I’ll probably buy again because back then I bought paperback and now I try to stick with hardcover) and I’ll be in line (a virtual line anyway) when his next release hits. Frankly I had forgotten about Gibson until I saw his weblog. Now I’m a reader again. And more importantly to Gibson, a buyer again.

This extends not only to fiction writers but to technical writers as well. Consider Jeremy Zawodny and his in-process work, Advanced MySQL. I’ve come to “know” Jeremy a bit through the writings on his weblog and when his book is available rather than picking an SQL book from the myriad of options available I’ll buy Jeremy’s, for no other reason that I know more about him than any other competing author. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I care about him (after all he did drop me from his blogroll!) but I certainly know enough to know that he gets it and that others respect him, and maybe so should I. And that translates into a sale.

Authors making a connection with readers in advance of that reader buying a book. Ensuring loyalty by not only building characters we care about but giving us a glimpse of yourself so that we care about you too. A great concept that we’ll be seeing more of.

P.S. – without Googling it do you know who invented typewriter “white-out” and started the company that eventually became Liquid Paper? The answer may surprise you.


Jeremy Zawodny March 4, 2003 at 12:29 am

Dropped? Yeah.

Forgotten? No.

Ignored? No.

I just don’t read your blog daily. In fact, I need to update the blogroll again. My daily reads have decreased quite a bit with my vanishing spare time. I tend to catch up with all the others a few times a week, though.

john March 4, 2003 at 6:12 am

I was just giving you crap Jeremy – but glad to see you stop by. Good luck on the book!

Anders Jacobsen March 4, 2003 at 8:08 am

I think especially for technical and/or IT-related authors, building credibility and an increased number of readers (and hence potential buyers) through maintaining a weblog is an increasing niche.

Examples of authors using blogs to promote their works include recent books on blogs (megnut et al) as well as Jeremy (who dropped me from the blogrolls too 😉 and a couple of others I have only later (after starting to read their blogs) realized are authors as well…

PS Good catch on Gibson’s blog – I will have to check it out.

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