Oh, Luna, that is quite the topic, and as usual I shall address it with utmost honesty.
I've been blogging about 3 1/2 years now. Which, wow. In those three years this online community has changed so much. I've changed so much! And this world will continue to change, probably a lot faster than we realize.
I love the blogging community. I love seeing people passionate about reading and writing. I love learning and growing with this community. I love the discussions and support and insert-more-gushing here. Seriously, blogging has done so much for me. I met my crit partners online. I won a contest that ultimately led to getting my first agent. I've had the chance to interact with amazing writers I never thought I'd know personally.
There is no denying that blogging has a lot to offer a writer. It's an outlet, and, of course, a way to build what some people call a "fan base," but I think that sounds so...shrewd. As social media has exploded, people seem more concerned with the "Like" button than earning real approval. I personally get turned off when people go "Follow" crazy. You know what I mean—"Follow me and win this! Spread the word so more people will follow me and you'll get a better prize!" For me, that smacks of gathering followers just for the sake of having a nice big number. A "fanbase."
But are they really interested in you? Or do they want the prize? Will they ever read your blog again?
Blogging is not about the numbers; it's about people. I prefer to think of it more like moving into a neighborhood, becoming part of something, caring and being cared for in return. Whether that neighborhood is big or small, you treat it with respect and love. So you know, I don't see any of you as my fan base—you are my colleagues, my friends, my mentors. There is no difference between us, save the fact that I may be ahead or behind you in the journey.
Honestly, it irks me that some people look at blogging and see dollar signs, potential readers, etc. It's like having one of those neighbors who constantly tries to sell you some miracle juice he invented. You're not a person to him—you're a buyer. I don't like people coming into my place and treating my friends like that, either.
The people who see success through blogging never intended it to happen. They came here, got involved, gave back, and became part of a very supportive community over a long period of time.
Sometimes it seems that people forget the blogging community is just that—a single community. Not the entire world. Not even the entire industry. And honestly, a very small percentage of our actual target audiences.
Yes, being active in blogging can help you, but we have to remember that it is not the be all end all of publishing success. I mean, I have more followers than some extremely successful and amazing PUBLISHED authors. Their audience is far, far more than this community, and it's that audience, out there, that is really the most important one.
That should put things into perspective, because that's how skewed things are. If you think the online writing community is a perfect representation of this business, then you'd think 90% of writers write YA, 99% of writers are female, that the only good agents are the ones who are active online, and same goes for editors. All of which is not true.
We can't forget that this is a great community, but it's not everything. Let's not get so focused on ourselves that we can't see what's outside.
Do I want you guys to approve of me? Of course. I like you, and I hope you like me. But at the end of the day I don't write books for other aspiring writers—I want to write books for teens. Who don't read my blog en masse. Who couldn't care less about it. Who have no clue who I am. (Yet;P) I am SO happy that you support and root for me (and I hope you'll continue even after this post), but they are the readers I aspire to grab. Like I said, you are my teammates.
It's so easy to get caught up in the daily dramas of our community, but the vast majority of it won't destroy careers or, conversely, propel you to major bestsellerdom. So be involved, but don't sweat it too much. Enjoy yourself.
People are constantly spouting out rules. How to blog, what to blog and what not to blog. What to write and what not to write. Be happy all the time. Be funny. Be this and that ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
The truth? Good bloggers follow their own rules. In fact, sometimes they rebel against The Rules altogether. They carve a place for themselves by being unique, by creating an honest, appealing persona.
BUT. That doesn't mean you're seeing 100% authenticity.
Yup, the girl you see on this blog isn't exactly who I am. If you met me, I'd be nervous and short on words. I'm horrible at small talk, and large crowds in particular freak me out. I would likely gravitate to corners and people I'm familiar with, which might make you think I don't like you but really I'm afraid YOU won't like ME.
I don't run around revealing my honest opinions to everyone, or my struggles, etc., like I do on my blog. I don't look like my pretty profile picture all the time...or even most of the time. I'm not very funny—I'm the one who thinks of all the funny replies AFTER the conversation is over. Luckily, you don't see my truly horrifying and irrational freak outs. You don't see my pity parties (in all their glory, at least), either.
These are GOOD things. There should be a barrier between your public and personal life.
You know me, but not all of me. Does that make sense? And I don't know you completely, either. I know your public, online face and vice versa. And your faces are all so pretty (or handsome).
Those are my blogging truths today. Again, I adore this community, and I hope to be part of it for a long, long time.