Michelle D. Argyle shares her knowledge about the pitfalls, joys, and ins and outs of blogging.

Dropping Off The Face Of The Planet And Surviving

Since I haven’t blogged since, oh, December, I’ve strongly considered quitting blogging altogether. I’ve asked myself, is it productive and satisfying for me anymore? Is it a waste of time? Because it does take a significant amount of time. But then I realized it’s not only blogging I stopped doing — it was Facebook and Twitter and other social networks. I stopped marketing my books. I stopped talking about my books. I stopped writing. I stopped reading. I stopped CARING, honestly.

So what brought me to this state, you ask? Did I burn myself out? I have nine titles published. Why would I stop now? But I think losing my publisher when they closed their doors back in 2013 is still something I’m working through emotionally. I had a plan and it fell through. I fell through. My books fell through, and I hate to admit that I pretty much failed after picking myself up after the fallout — meaning I bounced back, but then I fell over and I’m still lying in a heap on the floor. I feel broken and I’m not sure how to fix it.

So I’ve survived. I got a job to help pay bills because heaven knows my royalties don’t cover all of those. I’ve stayed healthy. I’ve moved to a new place. My family is happy and I’m doing fine. But I feel like a huge part of me has been on hold for a long time. Just recently, I attended the Teen Author Boot Camp writing conference. I was on panels with some agents and really great authors. I got to talk to a lot of aspiring authors. I may have even helped some of them. That conference has injected a little bit of excitement in me to get up off my butt and start moving forward again. I have the Storymakers conference coming up, where I’ll be teaching a cover design class. I have a novel that is 3/4 of the way finished (that I’ve been trying to finish for over a year now) and can probably be queried once it’s edited. I think I’d like an agent now. I have a few thin plans that I hope will set a little bit over time.

I suppose this blog post isn’t anything special. It’s not. But it feels like a huge step right now because I’m making decisions again. I’m starting to care a little bit more. And that’s something worth shouting about. So yay! One step at a time.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, Blogging, 18 comments

How Much of Yourself Do You Share Online?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been backing away from social networking lately. I used to do this little thing on Facebook where I’d announce what I was eating for dinner because I love to cook and I love to eat. I’d call those my “It’s What’s for Dinner” posts and I’ve had a lot of people tell me they enjoyed them. I was always afraid they’d be annoying, but I guess it can go both ways. Lately, though, I’ve stopped doing those posts. In fact, I’ve stopped posting a lot of things. I don’t talk about much of anything I’m doing in my life outside of writing. I rarely post on my actual profile on Facebook. I usually always post everything on my Author FB Page instead, and I never post pictures of my family. I used to fear that if I stopped posting personal insights and activities about myself, I’d lose something online. But what? What would I lose?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal space and privacy. It’s uncanny that authors pour so much of themselves into their books, send them out into the world to be loved but also torn apart (seriously not easy), and then they also find the courage to blog, interact on Twitter and FB and other social networks, putting even more of themselves out there. I say it’s uncanny because I’ve been doing it for years now, but I think I’m reaching the end of my rope. I’m beginning to grow more and more anti-social online, to the point where I’ve considered deleting things beyond what I’ve already deleted. I won’t, though, because I have too much invested in all that stuff now, and I do like to be accessible if needed.

How much do you share online? Do you find it draining? Have you noticed, if you’re published now, that it changed after publication? I think that’s what’s done me in. Publishing is hard enough as it is. Feeling like I need to share even more of myself, of my personal life and comings and goings and personal thoughts about things not related to writing, is just too much for me these days. Call me a hermit, I guess. It may not look like I have a life now since I don’t talk much about it online, but it’s there. I just want to keep it mine. I used to think being as introverted as I am, I’d like to interact more online because it would feel less intrusive, less loud, but I’m finding it’s almost the opposite for me. A part of me feels incredibly guilty about all of this, but the other part of me doesn’t care anymore. I think the more I let myself stay private, the more rich my fiction will be. That is, after all, what I’ve chosen to share these days. I hope it’s enough.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, Blogging, 15 comments

What is Blogging, Really?

I’ve had some dilemmas over blogging lately, and I’d like to share a story that might explain why. A few months ago, a friend of mine had some fantastic news to share. We were all so excited! What followed was a slew of blog posts from friends. Everyone was sharing the news and spreading their excitement over what had happened. I was happy for this friend, but I let some jealousy seep into my “what’s fair-o-meter”. I thought, hey, these same people never put up blog posts when I announced a book deal. In fact, most of them don’t put up a post about any of my publishing news. What the heck? I started to stew and fret and get super-irritated. I lost my excitement for my friend. Needless to say, I thought some really nasty stuff about a lot of people. I got so upset that I emailed some of these friends asking them why they had never shared any of my exciting news. Did they see me as lesser? Did they not care about me at all? Yes, it was much unneeded drama. These kind friends emailed me back, apologizing, but not in the ways my offended little sensibilities wanted them to. I wanted a big gasp! we totally overlooked you and we’ll never do it again! Instead, both said they honestly didn’t think I wanted that attention since I never posted people’s news on my own blog. They gently reminded me that they do share my news in tweets and on FB. They also reminded me how much they have supported me by coming to events I’ve planned, etc. They never meant anything vicious or mean or offensive by not announcing certain things on their blogs.

That’s when I realized that as much as I don’t want to admit it, many people blog reciprocally (I mean this in general, not anyone specifically). You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours kind of thing. If you’re part of a specific group of people online, most likely, they’ll all blog your news anytime something happens. The problem is that I’ve never felt like I fully belonged to a set group of people. Just like in high school, I flit about from one group to another, keeping a hand and a foot in as many as I can. But what I’ve noticed is all of those groups formed long before I came along. There’s history there I’m not a part of. I just happened to make good friends with some people in the group, and I come and go, not engaging myself 100% because in the end, I’m afraid to try to attach myself too much. Not sure why. Fear I might lose something. Fear of rejection. I don’t know. And maybe everyone in those groups feel the same way as I do about their own situation. I have no idea.

Then this past spring, an offline friend of mine I’ve known for many years, made it quite clear that I’m really bad at reciprocating things, period, and she was hurt by it. I rejected her accusations at first because my intentions are always good, but yeah, I can be a crappy friend when it comes down to it. Part of it is that I just plain forget stuff. Not a great excuse, yeah. Things aren’t good with this friend now, and I hope one day we can patch things up, but it’s going to take me a long time to get to a place where I feel I can be okay with myself and with what happened between us. I’ve had to face some things I never wanted to face before. I’ve made some changes in my life. I’ve made a huge effort to try to keep more on top of things memory-wise by keeping better notes and lists, etc. But in the end, I am who I am, and I can’t change myself for other people. Nobody should do that.

So what does all of this have to do with my dilemmas in blogging? If you haven’t noticed, I don’t review books on my blog. I don’t do cover reveals. I rarely do interviews, guest posts, or blog tour posts for authors unless they ask me specifically if I will help out. Most everything I post here is for me and my books because, well, it’s my blog. It’s my personal space. I used to do the reciprocation thing. I used to try to announce everything about everyone I knew closely online, and then as my pool of online acquaintances grew, things started to blur. Who did I consider “close enough” to share their news? I started picking and choosing, and what happened wasn’t pretty. I got flack for posting one friend’s big news, and not another’s. I saw how troublesome it was to have my hands and feet in different groups. I wanted to be a friend to everyone. I wanted to help everyone. But guess what? If I did that, that’s all I would do. My blog would become a billboard for everyone else and not be the quiet, happy place I need it to be. I started using Twitter and Facebook and my newsletter more. I started to see that those networks were where I wanted to share news, and my blog could stay my personal spot.

So … you can see why I was being a little hypocritical getting upset about my friends not posting all my “amazing, fantastic” news on their blogs. I do enough of that on my own on my blog, and I do kind of put across the attitude of wanting to remain insular in the online world, whether that seems stuck up or not. Mostly, it comes from my HSP personality, but I don’t expect many people to understand that.

So what is blogging, really? It’s what you want it to be. It is different for every single person. For me, after blogging for almost four years now, I’ve found a good place for my blog. It’s a place for me to share my news with anyone interested, and it’s a place for me to talk about things important to me so I can get them out there. Once in awhile, I will participate in helping out with blog tours. I’m more than happy to do that if asked!

I tend to overreact to things like blogging and reciprocating and trying not to offend anyone, but there’s a point where you have to step back and be happy with who you are and how you’re handling things, especially if you’ve tried the best you can. This is where I’m at right now in my thinking. I love my friends. I always want to help them out. I don’t want to feel jealous and angry over silly things like blog posts and who is supporting who in specific ways. Friendship should extend far beyond that, and I intend to keep on top of that the best I can.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Blogging, 0 comments

What Blogging Has Become

Well, this is about what blogging has become for me, at least. But it’s also where I think blogging is headed. My friend, February Grace, wrote a blog post this morning about blogging and how she thinks it might be going the way of the Dodo. While I think blogging has definitely slowed and become seemingly less popular than other forms of social networking, I don’t believe it’s going to die or has died. For me, at least, blogging has become a personal corner more than a network. In fact, I don’t see it as a network at all anymore. Some blogs are an exception, like book-review blogs aiming to network readers. But my blog is a writing journal and place to post updates and news about my books for those who are interested. And that’s pretty much it. If I mention other books outside of my own, it’s usually in my newsletter. I don’t think this is selfish, and I don’t think it’s inappropriate. I think it’s what blogging started out as, and somewhere along the line Blogger decided to create this thing called “Friend Connect” where you can follow other people’s blogs and it shows how many followers each blog has. While I think this little gadget is quite handy and great, it also seemed to create an entirely new level of blogging that expanded into networking. 

I do believe the word “blogging” came from “weblog”, and to me a log is an official, consistent recording of events. I like that. I like that my blog can be that instead of a networking site. I will hold giveaways, yes, and occasionally share things that are network-related, but for the most part, I just want my blog to be more of a weblog these days. It feels so much more doable. I greatly appreciate readers here, as well as those who take the time to email me in response to posts. It does mean a lot, but lurkers are more than welcome too!

The sad thing is that I think a lot of bloggers are feeling their readers drop off more and more. Less comments, less hits, etc., and taking that personally. Heaven knows I used to. But I think it’s a good thing to instead look at it as a good change – a time when blogging comes with less pressure and can be more personalized. I think that’s a happy, happy thing. After all, there are countless other social networking options where we can network. It’s nice that blogging, for those who like it, can become a quieter corner of our online world.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Blogging, 0 comments

5 Basic Things Every Writer’s Blog Should Have

First of all, you don’t have to do these things on your blog. It’s your blog, and I’m no expert. But I’ve started to notice things around the blogosphere – things lots of writers are missing on their blogs.

1- Your Name. Make yourself findable. Please, oh, please.

This means you should either have your writing name in your blog address, or your blog address should pop up first or close to first in the major search engines if someone types in your name. Is your name common? Tie it with something uncommon. For example, if if someone types in your name and the word “author”, you or your blog or both pop up.

I follow hundreds of blogs. Sometimes (well, most of the time) I don’t remember the name of your specific blog. This means that if I want to look up your blog for some reason, it can get really hard to find you if (a) you don’t have your name in your blog address, (b) when I type in your name, you don’t pop up anywhere in the search engines unless I go 40 pages in, (c) even if I go into my RSS feed reader and type in your name, you still don’t pop up. For heaven’s sake, tie your name to your blog.

Unless, of course, you wish to remain anonymous and never found or easily searchable. Then you’re doing well. Keep on it.

2- Your Credits. Are you published? What are you working on?

That’s right. I get really frustrated going to a blog and trying to figure out if you’re published or not. Some writers don’t announce it anywhere. I’ve read a few author blogs before, completely clueless that they even had a published book until they mentioned it in some random post and I went to Amazon and saw that they had a book for sale. A good book I’m interested in reading. Imagine that. If you’re published and you want to sell books, you probably shouldn’t be shy about it.

If you’re working on a novel, put up an easy-to-find link about the book. Tell us what your genre is. Lots of writers and readers like to follow blogs based on what they like to read and write about. I happen to write in several genres, and I make that clear in my blog header.

3- About Me Blurb (or page). I’d like to know who you are.

Maybe this isn’t completely necessary, but it sure is nice to know a little bit about the writer I’m investing my time in reading. You don’t have to give a complete biography, but it’s nice to know just a bit about what you’re doing here in the blogosphere. A picture is nice, too. I really, really like pictures.

4- Contact Information. Once again, please, oh, please.

I am absolutely appalled by the amount of bloggers I’ve seen who don’t make this easily accessible.

Again, if you wish to remain completely obscure and anonymous, don’t include this. However, if you’d like to actually network, you might want to include a way for people to contact you. An email, a facebook profile, even twitter where someone can send you a short message. Something.

5- A Way To Follow You. I personally like it simple.

First of all, I get a lot of email. I think many people get a lot of email. The last thing I want is to subscribe to hundreds of blogs and get all those posts in my inbox. No, thanks. This is why I use a RSS feed to subscribe to blogs. Include a subscribe button for your blog, whether that be a link to your RSS feed or a way to subscribe by email. And as above, please include the networks you belong to and links to your profiles so we can actually network and follow you.

All of these things should be easily accessible from the moment someone hops onto your blog – especially an agent, editor, or publisher. Again, you don’t have to do these things. You can tell me where to stick it, if you want, but more than likely I (or a lot of people) don’t visit your blog much if they can’t find, follow, or contact you.

Does your blog have these things? Would you add anything to this list?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Blogging, 48 comments