At a writer's conference I went to recently, the author panel was pretty down on the whole social media thing. They didn't see any value in it; it was a timesuck. The blogosphere is cluttered, and you only reach a limited number of people. Have a static website, they said. Social networking isn't worth the effort.
I disagree. And I may have said so at the conference, although I did so with all due respect. I know blogging isn't for everyone, and if it's not for you, don't do it! It's been said a million times that if you're going to blog/tweet/skywrite with the intent of SELLING BOOKS, then it's going to be a miserable failure. I think that's pretty obvious--who wants to hear ME ME ME all the time? But I think there's a lot to be gained from a blog and a twitter account and facebook and all that malarkey.
The first and biggest reason for me is that blogging is FUN. It reminds me of the reasons I got into writing in the first place. I can write whatever I want, whenever I want. (Within reason, of course. I would NOT advise using the blog to talk smack, unless it's funny pseudo smack in which case please leave the blog address in the comments because I want to visit.) There are no deadlines except the ones that are self-imposed. It's totally self-directed, and I like having that creative outlet.
It also keeps me writing every day, and I think that's pretty handy. Especially on days when I'm running errands and have no writing time, it's nice to have that half hour to sit down and write. I find that the words come easier if I do a little bit every day, and then I make the most of every minute.
So there's definitely a personal benefit, but is there anything else? With all the millions of marketing activities that a writer can do, why spend time blogging? Especially if you're only going to reach a limited number of book bloggers.
Maybe blogging IS insular. I certainly know a lot of people who aren't blog readers and don't intend to start any time soon. But I don't think you can say that a blog's influence is limited to the kidlit blogosphere. Book bloggers don't spend every waking minute on blogs. They go to school or to work. They hang out with friends. They go to the mall and walk through the bookstore, assuming that they're lucky enough to still have a bleeping bookstore in their mall. And during all those things, they talk. They recommend books they've heard about, retell funny anecdotes, and name drop authors. I've certainly done that.
So that blog might only get 200 hits in a day. But there's no way to know how many people talk about it or recommend the book to friends later or request it at the library. In a way, you are reaching people who have never touched a book blog. How many? Who knows?
So yeah, the book blogging community might be small, but the community of people who go to book signings is pretty small too. I look at it like a giant game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The connections don't stop at the first degree. And I think you've got to look at blogging like that.
What about you? What do you think of blogging? If you do it, why? If not, why not?