The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Do You Respect Yourself?

Respect (Photo credits:
      My posts of the past week (here and here) generated some excellent debate on the topics of respect for bloggers and the importance of page views, comments, and community.  In order to further clarify my position I will continue with these topics this week.  Short posts work best for the attention span of the typical blog reader so I think breaking the topic down is less apt to lead to confusion.  Even my attempt at simplification in my posts last week seemed to lead to complications in the feedback and debate that appeared in my comment section as well as in the comments Alex J. Cavanaugh received in his posts (here and here).

        Part of the problem is that there were several points of view clashing in an arena of debate.   I don't think we are all talking about the same things.   My points were in reference to marketplace potential for one's product (in the case of most of you that is probably books) and building platform.   I'm envisioning platform to be like an oil rig platform that is full of activity with many workers contributing to the final production as opposed to the platform upon which stands a statue where pigeons come to roost and strollers through the park stop to admire the artwork.  I hope this metaphor does not offend anyone.   To put what I'm saying in less metaphorical terms I'm thinking in terms of big versus smaller.

       If a writing or product platform is to be most effective then it must service a wide field while serving multiple functions.  Community is an essential and possibly the most important part of the platform, but should not be the sole element in ones platform.  Community is wonderful and reassuring and I would never want to let go of the security I have in being a part of a community.  But I know there is a bigger world out there and I should try to tap into that world as well.

        Andrew Leon put it bluntly:  "Many people who say they want to be "big time" do not actually act like it."  This is a small part of one of the excellent comments he left on the post "Defining Respect".  If you missed his comments on that post or any of the insightful comments left by others on that post, by all means read through them.  There are some excellent observations made in many of these comments.

       If we as writers are composing a blog post and we are thinking in terms of using blogging as part of a platform, then we should firstly direct our posts to our community whom we hope is listening, but always keep in mind that there is a broader base who could potentially be listening (including agents, publishers, future readers, and media representatives).  Even if that audience is not there I think it is important to respect yourself and your product enough to believe that you are important enough to address that audience just in case any of them do happen upon your blog.

      Your blog is a reflection of you and the work you do.  If you are expecting to sell your books then the blog writer should appear to be professional and worthy enough to be read.  If you aren't respecting yourself and your platform enough to believe that you can extend beyond your community and reach thousands or even millions of people then you have placed limitations on your own potential.   You can think big even when you are small.   If you are not doing that then you are apt to stay within the confined area that you have set for yourself.

      I do understand that this post may not apply to all of you reading it.  If this does not apply to you then go ahead and take yourself out of the equation, but please feel free to add your thoughts.  You have important things to tell the rest of us.  Some of you may be intentionally blogging for a small niche or even for yourself.  That's just fine.  Most of you doing that do it very well and I'm glad you are there. You are good blogging friends and I respect you.  However, still give the concepts I've laid out here some deeper consideration in order to evaluate yourself honestly.  You may be limiting yourself with your own doubt, fear, or insecurity.

     There is a lot of talent in the realm of our blogging community and I think the world needs to know about it!

       Do you respect yourself as a writer (or insert other vocation)?   Do you limit yourself?   Would you be resigned to sell 10,000 books if you could sell a million?   Do you let yourself dream big while understanding the parameters of reality?    What kind of book makes it to the big best seller lists?


Battle of the Bands Results 
for October 15, 2013

           My Battle of the Bands entry for last week consisted of two versions of the song "Respect".

           I'm a big fan of Otis Redding, but I'm a bigger fan of Rotary Connection.   Psychedelic music is one of my favorite genres and I enjoy intricate arrangements that have big production values.  As is so often the case I'm going against the grain and casting my vote for Rotary Connection.   But even with my vote cast, Otis Redding gets the most respect and most votes from you who joined in the fun for this round of BOTB.

Otis Redding --21 votes!

Rotary Connection-- 5 votes...

       Another round of Battle of the Bands will come up Friday November 1st.   Be here to see the amazingly strange match-up I have in store.


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  1. What kind of book? One that taps into human basics with characters that connect. Hey, I still have no idea how it happens.
    A person's blog should be a reflection. Sometimes that drifts away a bit. I grew fastest when I had an eclectic group of followers. Now with the IWSG, I have a huge number of writers and authors following me. And that's fine. But I want to ease back into the geek stuff where I experienced the growth - more movies, music, geek stuff - more science fiction. My one frustration from this year's A to Z Challenge was that I saw a lot of sites on the list I wanted to visit, ones that weren't writers and more geek - but I was too busy to do so.
    And many people who say they want to be big time, or want numbers like we have, don't realize what it takes to maintain that once they arrive.

  2. Yep. Yep to both you and Alex. However, I try to keep my blogging fun. If not, I'll see it as a chore. I'm not sure this is completely the correct attitude.

    Good post, Arlee.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  3. The focus of my blog has shifted over the years, and I'm really trying to reach the writers out there. Sometimes it's frustrating when you don't feel as if you are being heard.

  4. I really do get your point Lee and wholeheartedly agree to it. In life if you want respect then first of all you have to learn how to respect yourself. Personally I don't respect myself because I have a low opinion of myself and that's got to change and soon or I'm going to waste away my life, great post though buddy.

  5. I have been blogging since 2006/7 and I enjoy writing my poems, I also like the blogging community and respect what they write about. As the saying goes one has to respect themselves before they can respect anyone else.


  6. If you're using your blog as a platform to sell your novels and short stories, then your posts should appeal to "readers" of novels and short stories, the reading public. Most of us bloggers fall far short of that. We might write a wonderful blog about writing and it'll attract a couple thousand other writers, most of whom do not or cannot buy all the books writers are pushing on their blogs. Your platform is very limited. Reaching readers of fiction requires a different kind of blog, and I'm not sure any of us has figured out what kind of blog that would be. (I think the idea of platform building to sell books works much better for writers of non-fiction.)

  7. Alex -- A to Z? IWSG? These are pieces of evidence that point to the validity of my argument. Even these are focused more on community building, they illustrate the power of the internet. Maybe a fear of what it will take to attain major success hinders people from trying to go beyond a certain comfort level.

    Shelly -- It's the correct attitude if that is your true goal. Have fun! It's a valid reason to do something.

    L.Diane -- Sometimes when you aren't being heard you have to shout and if people still can't hear then you grab a microphone. There's a way to be heard without looking like an idiot or overly desperate.

    Yeamie -- Matthew, I think you've expressed something that is felt by many or even most young people. What's bad if you don't change that view once you've gotten into your 30's or so. But insecurity will probably always be in your life to some extent. You express yourself so well in words and are an amazingly thoughtful and considerate young. I think you've got a lot going for you and once you've connected with the true you I predict that you will be very successful in your life. Don't give up and believe in yourself. You are among the bloggers whom I would most like to meet and spend some time with.

    Yvonne-- So true and to take it another step, if we don't respect ourselves then why should anyone else feel compelled to respect us.

    Richard -- Your comment is a perfect addition to my post. I could take what you've said and add it above and it would fit just fine. I've always heard that non-fiction writers can use blogging to a better advantage in building platform and logically it makes sense. But I think a duality of approach can speak to general audience and to the audience of other writers. The more precise ones topic, the more limited the audience. There is a place for the niche that is very useful, but we should be aware of what the results of our actions may be.


  8. I have a very difficult time thinking of my writing and blogging in marketing terms - and I was in marketing and PR for 30+ years. Both my writing and my blog are definitely reflections of me and who I am. If I started to write to a particular audience, it wouldn't be "me" anymore. It would feel artificial. I know I'll never sell even tens of thousands of books. And that's okay. I guess I just don't have that kind of ambition.

  9. I suppose I see my blog as being another way of enjoying writing for an audience whether they put their hand in their pocket to buy my work or not.

    I read other people's blogs with interest just to find out what they are up to or thinking about. I must admit I'm put off reading some blogs if they are pushing their latest novel or short story as Richard said in his comment sometimes you just can't buy everyone's book. I feel too many writers are trying to sell to other writers instead of marketing their books to readers.

  10. I use my blog to talk about writing but I never put myself forth as an expert, perhaps because I'm not that confident in my writing. I have met a lot of people through my blog that are experts so I sometimes feel I don't really help anyone with my blog so much as it helps me meet other people. If that makes sense.

  11. Respect is so important, whether for others or yourself.

  12. Well said, Lee, and I agree, we have to step outside our comfort level to grow. Reaching other writers and readers is a goal I have, providing content info (fodder for stories), information, creating a platform for showing my photos, short writing and eventually books. I know how to do a marketing plan when it's needed.

    We, as authors and bloggers, have to find the solution that we feel comfortable with. And yes, I do have self-respect, but that doesn't always equate with respect from others. Remember Rodney D.

  13. I have mixed emotions about my current blog serving as any sort of "platform" to help my writing career... assuming I write that novel, edit it, an agent picks it up, and a publisher publishes it. I am too darn opinionated about things that anyone who wants to "sell" anything in the world should be keeping to themselves. You talk about politics and you are bound to piss someone off. And I do. My fellow "community of bloggers" tend to be respectful even while disagreeing. However, I know that the general public would not be the same.

    It seems like if you want to "sell" anything via your blog you have to either have "no opinion" on things like politics or religion or the Liberal One. Being a conservative Christian simply isn't in vogue. And you will notice that most of them don't broadcast that opinion on their blog. They might go so far as to show agreement in a comment on someone else's blog bit, but that is as far as it goes.

    It is a conundrum. I think that is why authors talk all of the time about writing and aspects of writing ALL OF THE TIME on their blog. You get into anything personal and you might offend someone and that doesn't equate to book sales. Or whatever you're selling. Does that mean these folks don't respect their own core values? Not saying that. Just that they are aware that when you get into personal things, you have now entered the arena of HOT TOPICS. And someone is going to be turned off... possibly enough to not buy your book.

    It's actually a sad commentary on the general public. But there it is. Why do you think shows that interview folks stick with celebs? Because it is safe and that is what MOST PEOPLE are interested in. And that is where we are.

    If you want a bigger platform I guess that means devoting your blog time to Miley Cyrus and twerking.

  14. Karen -- Don't sell yourself short. You don't have to stop being yourself to have more readers interested in what you write. On the contrary the realness and the connection you can make with others could work to your advantage.

    Paula -- Excellent point that exemplifies what I'm saying.

    Susan GK-- What you've said makes total sense to me. It's kind of the same as I've been doing.

    Nicole -- So true!

    DG-- Thank you for the words of affirmation. And yes, I've been thinking of Rodney a lot lately. When I think of respect, I think of Rodney.

    Robin -- I'm sure I've pissed off or at least irritated a few readers in my blogging history. I like to deal with some controversial topics, but still there are some that I'm sure has deterred readers from coming back and others I will not touch because of the potential backlash. In our time there are some things it's best to avoid unless that is part of your platform. I hope to sell books someday if I ever finish one and don't want angry people saying why people should stay away from me.
    It is sad indeed. The American public over all tends to be shallow, but shallow is safe and so is diverting attention from what we personally believe down deep.


  15. My platform is quite small, really. I've focused on other writers and that's mainly to support and be supported during the writing process as well as during the marketing.

    When I write my blog, I do pay attention to what I put out. Yes, it's for other writers, but I know others in the publishing business have checked it out, too. I'd be ashamed to post something with bad information and/or bad structure.

  16. Well, Richard took the main thing I was going to say, so I'll just reinforce that. I think, as a writer, writing for other writers is a good place to -start-. But you can't let that stay your focus. Mostly, other writers are just not going to read your book. They'll tell you how great a job you did or how awesome your cover is, but they're not going to buy the book or read it. Not most of them.

    At some point, you have to start reaching beyond that circle. You have to start touching on people that only read. Readers don't want to come to a blog that only talks about writing and the trials and tribulations of it. Which is not to say that you can't talk about that stuff, just that you can't -only- talk about that stuff.

  17. Oh! And for Robin:

    I think a lot of people do stay away from controversial topics for the reasons you state. However, John Scalzi really embraces those kinds of topics, and, yes, I'm sure he's lost some readers because of it, but I would bet that he's gained even more. Putting out there where you stand on a topic can also draw people to you, not just push them away.

  18. I always try to show respect for fellow bloggers -- both for those who I visit and well as those who visit me. Blogging -- or any creative output -- involves putting a but of your inner self out there for others to judge, and that is a hard thing to do, and I respect the effort it takes to do it.

    And "Whoot!" for Otis -- he absolutely deserves to win. :)

  19. Just wanted to throw in my two cents that these past few posts about respect have been just what I needed. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, honest but delicate. Thank you Arlee.

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

  20. Perception is reality. It's one of our common and (possibly overused) comments in this home. However, whenever it gets said, it forces us to look at the bigger picture and think outside the box we often so foolishly put ourselves in.

    There is no privacy on the Internet. I've been ingraining that into my kids since they were little, because I didn't want them to get hurt. However, there is definitely a flip side to this particular coin. Anyone can read our work, regardless of how or where we publish it. This can be really good for us, but it also can hurt us if we don't put our best foot forward and understand its implications.

    This is a thought provoking post, Lee, one that raises the bar and holds Internet writers to a higher standard. That's a good thing, because our work matters, and if we end up discovered in the process, all the better, if you ask me.

  21. C. Lee -- There are a lot of good things to be said for supporting others. It sounds like you take enough pride in your blog to keep good content on it.

    Andrew-- A variety of content can be good for all readers. And even an article about writing can be made somewhat interesting to non-writers, but certainly doesn't have to be. But if every post is focused on a niche then you will stay in that niche and if that niche is one covered by many others then you'll have to fight to be noticed. The controversy can certainly work for some especially once they've established some credibility. A writer trying to build an audience is taking a risk to become too controversial unless that's going to be what they write about or the audience they want to limit themselves to.

    Chris-- Everyone deserves some degree of respect. Even complete jerks. And yes, Otis definitely carried this contest.

    Sarah-- Thank you so much! That was a nice thing to say and I needed that feedback.


  22. MJ -- Amen to that! You've expressed it well.


  23. Of late my blog's been pretty much a promofest, which is off target for the writers who are my blogging community -- but the giveaways do seem to appeal to appeal to the readers who come over from Twitter & Facebook, so...I don't really know whether or not that's good.

    I do often forget to think about the non-commenting/non-giveaway-entering hits at my place though. I really should try to be more interesting. Hmm, maybe I'll work up a clearer blog-identity for the new year.

  24. If someone wants to get a book published, they should focus on that. Blogging might bring visitors to your page, but agents/editors are really more interested in reading the queries in their inbox than searching the 'net for good writers. My recommendation is to build a platform and then mention that in your queries...but it's still all about writing a good book.

  25. Kinda of reminds me of what comes first the chicken or the egg. But yes, always dream big - it's what make the daily struggle so worth while!

  26. It is serendipitous that you wrote this for today.

    When first starting blogging, I was all over the place with writing and goals.
    Now I have become focused: just write. Not interested in agent, self-publishing, re-writes, etc. I want to read good writing and write some myself.

    Writing means one doesn't (have to say they're sorry--no) limit the writing to one genre, one focus. Freedom.

  27. You've got some excellent comments on this one, too, Lee. Well done with the topical posts.

    As for how I blog, I always think of the bloggers with whom I've already made a deep, lasting connection and imagine the dialogue that'll ensue as a result. It's one of the finest aspects of my intellectual life and I love it!

  28. Nicki-- Giveaways are probably a good attention-getting strategy that reaches out beyond the blogging community. They are probably the ones registering for the prizes but not commenting.

    Cathy -- Yeah, I though of the statue metaphor and the pigeons just seemed to follow.

    Stephanie -- Judging from what shows up on bestseller lists I'd say it's not always about writing a good book, but I agree with the sentiment you express. I also agree about establishing the blog platform ahead of the querying and all so one has SEO and a certain status of awareness in a community. Blogging also indicates that a writer might be more open to self-promotion.

    Yolanda-- I think a dream and a goal are synonymous and a writer has to have a goal if they have a dream to publish.

    Susan -- Blogging affords great freedom in writing and beyond. It's one of the greatest forms of personal expression ever. I like what I can do with it in testing new ideas and getting opinions from others.


  29. Suze -- I definitely agree with you about the intellectual life. I can come into contact with so many more people with common interests as I have as well as sympathetic sharers who give me insight to things I would normally not have much interest in and we have an amazing sphere of interaction. The community is absolutely amazing and the potential for personal mental stretching seems limitless.


  30. These Battle of the Bands posts are so much fun!

    The respect/big vs smaller is exemplified for me in the difference between my first year of blogging (back in 2007-8!) and some time after that, when I made a conscious decision to keep to a schedule, ramble less, and participate in blogfests and other events. Go big or scribble in your journal, in other words. Alex and yourself are awesome examples to learn from.

  31. The focus of my blog has shifted over the years. Now its there to keep in touch with all my blog buddies.

  32. I'm not sure where I'm going with my blog. I started out trying to write about writing or mystery or anything to do with being a mystery writer, but it just doesn't work well for me. The posts I really enjoy putting together are my Wednesday Hump Day posts which are only intended to give people a laugh. How does a humorous blog serve as a marketing platform for a writer of dark murder mysteries?

  33. I try to connect with other writers and readers on my blog. I respect myself as a writer, and I respect other writers. Writing is putting yourself out there- so it is important to think about what you are putting out there because anyone can read it.

    Writing and promoting books is a lot of work. I think many people don't realize what the work is all about and how much work needs to be done. I try to dream big, but I keep in mind many possible outcomes. I know I have to work my hardest. :)

    Another thought-provoking post. Thanks!

  34. Deniz -- Blogging is a journey and an education.

    Rachna -- It's good to have friends.

    LD -- The main thing is consistency. I love the humor and nothing says a mystery writer can't be funny too.

    Jess-- So true, what you've said. It's a good idea to be flexible.


  35. My blog is my platform, but writing my stories has to come first. I'm a writer first, not a blogger, if that makes sense. However, I do enjoy blogging and that sometimes starts to take over, especially with the amount of time that's required to maintain it.

  36. For bloggers, like me, who do have a goal of growing our readership and expanding our platform, we do need to find ways to reach outside our existing community. I've begun researching various methods for doing this in the virtual environment. There are no magic bullets out there--just focus and effort and perseverance, with a good dose of trial and error thrown in. Most everyone I've read on the subject agrees that you have to have quality content (subjective, right?) as a foundation. Beyond that, there are numerous approaches and all of them require additional thought, planning and time to execute.

  37. Lynda -- Usually the blog writing doesn't take me too much time, but the comment reciprocation and social networking takes a great deal of time. I've already put a lot of that in check but may have to scale back more.

    Jagoda--I'm always experimenting. Even if I put up some kind of trivial post, I try to make it as good as I can to maintain a certain sense of quality.


  38. Arlee, you've had some interesting posts on respect. There have also been lots of great replies to your posts. My writing blog has mostly been used for the promotion of other authors. My food/gardening blog has been used for sharing information that I think others might find interesting. I seem to be all over the place at times with my blogging. That's why I'm working at getting more focused on what I want from both of these blogs for the 2014 blogging year.

  39. Susanne-- Blogging experts generally agree that niche blogging is the best way to go. You're probably on the right track with your blogs.


  40. Holy moly! That was SOME read. I have to say the (many great) points presented in this posts are too meaty for me to really delve into right now because I just am not up for it.

    I will say, however, that while I understand the importance of blogging for a wide net of audiences that include regular readers/new visitors plus potential publishers, employers, agents, etc. that can expand one's audience, I have stopped trying to cater to multiple readers. The people who visit my blog and (even more) those who join the conversation via commenting are who I am concerned about when writing posts. My own satisfaction and that of my regular readers trump the potential of appeasing an agent, etc. any day of the week.

    In the event that a producer, magazine or major studio happens upon my blog posts one day and are interested enough in working with me and thus, expanding my audience reach and product sales, then that would be the icing on the cake...but it is not what I spend my time worrying about because that's a waste of time, when the real people who matter are showing up, day after day, week after week, month after month.

    Basically, I am not interested in sacrificing my enjoyment, expectations and community of my regular readers for a pie-in-the-sky chance of being "disovered" by some mogul who will then help me gain a higher position in the marketplace, more fans, friends, followers, more money and eventually, more problems. Quality over Quantity.

    This discussion reminds me of a relatively well-known businessman (that I won't name here), who once said that the problem with people, when it comes to following their passions and aiming for success, is that everybody is trying to be Oprah. What he means is that while it's nice to have a million book sales, you can still grow a successful platform with 10,000 book sales. When we stop trying to be Oprah, and start being open to more possibilities, like a Ricki Lake, Tyra Banks, Arsenio Hall or Ellen, or whatever, then maybe...just maybe, we might win at meeting our goals!

    ~Nicole at The Madlab Post


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