Over the past few days I’ve found myself musing on a single question. It’s about this blogging business. And it came about when someone was quoting some movie which I had not (of course) seen which said something about a blog being…well, it had something to do with ex-lax or prunes for the mind or something.
To which I replied that bloggers were rather more like newspaper columnists, only unpaid.
Which sequed in nicely with something another author said recently, about authors now being a combination of a travelling salesman and a performing flea what with all the talks and literary festivals they must perform at in order to sell books…and all the traipsing about with a bootload of books, hoping for some (any) sales…
But that got me thinking a bit.
I had always assumed–in the case of bloggers–that such people blog because they believe they have something to say. That at least is the impression I’ve gained from things like that film Julie and Julia. And there’s this presumption that there are or should be lots of people out there who want to read these cyber-outpourings. Which may be true. I don’t know.
I, on the other hand, don’t feel I have a great deal to say. I’m not an extrovert and I don’t believe I’m interesting either.
So the reason I blog is that I was told by an interested literary agent and subsequently by my publisher that a blog would establish a platform for self as a writer. Which came as news to me, because I thought a platform was the thing one used for drilling for oil in the North Sea. Or, at a pinch, a platform was the bottom part of David Bowie’s shoes in the Seventies.
My ignorance was corrected and I was informed I must do this thing.
Hence, pretty much weekly, I dump some facet of my rambling intellect onto the screen, generally about something historical because that takes the least amount of work–it’s just stuff I know, accrued over a lifetime of research–but occasionally I put in some effort and ramble about something else–music or horses or poetry or writing.
And allegedly…allegedly, I say, a blog also sells books. Because it allows the readers and potential readers to connect with the author. Which would be a good thing–the selling more books part, I mean. That would be a very good thing.
But despite what they say, I don’t think a blog does that. (Frankly what they say frequently appears to me to be nothing more than a plateful overcooked cabbage. Make that two-week old, cold, congealing overcooked cabbage.)
Because I get search terms of all sorts–mostly to do with history–but there are other favourites.
The most frequently used search is for Paul Sandby. The artist. I’ve had over 100 searches on his name in the past three months. And I feel a bit guilty about that because I think I ought to have made a greater effort, since obviously there’s so little on the internet about him and I do, very much, admire and appreciate his work.
But the others?
La Conciergerie facts. Inexpressibles. A gentleman’s education. Pride and Prejudice romance. Napoleon treasure. Cravats. Waistcoats. Neckcloths. 18th century expletives.
Those are the most popular.
Though there are the others, some of which I have no idea what is meant and cannot fathom what on my blog could possibly be a match: life history of the see see partridge tree; slap a redcoat day; naval bennetts.
But you see, here’s the thing, and here’s the question I’m stuck on–for all these hundreds of searches, these many historical questions answered or partially answered, there appears to be no responding leap of links to buy the books–May 1812 and Of Honest Fame.
There seems, in fact, to be no correlation between this, er, platform and the purchase of wares or sales figures or anything. And I rather like my books and I would wish for more of my internet browser-researchers to at least make their acquaintance.
Not that this is a complaint about my book sale figures. Or perhaps it is. I don’t know.
But it does appear, at least to me, that I am become simply another online personalised wikipedia. And I’m not certain I like that.
Because I’m a writer, you know…an historian, yes. But always I hope and trust that I can effectively communicate this passion I have for history with my readers so that they want to further immerse themselves in the Napoleonic era–the age in which my books are set. Even, perhaps, that they find my writing so engaging that they desire to read more. Because otherwise, really, what am I knocking myself out for?