Ending The Interview With A Bit Of Why

August 25th, 2006 · No Comments
by Booksquare

After taking a break to set the world record for most meetings attended in a single hour (we also came close to most meetings in a single day), we return to our interview with the brilliant mind that is Booksquare.

In theory, this interview covers the who, what, when, where, why, and how of character blogging. So far, we’ve touched on how, a little bit of who, and where with a bit of what. Let’s get this party started (yes, hello, caffeine!):

BS: Man, I’m getting thirsty. How much longer do you want me to ramble?

Something inaudible on recorder.

You’ve got to be kidding me!

Okay, so I’ve been assuming the blogger we’re talking about is your protagonist. No reason that needs to be the case. I’m not going to suggest that sometimes writers do a far better job at creating compelling secondary characters, but, well, let’s just say that sometimes writers do a far better job at creating secondary characters and leave it at that. If you’re going to do a character blog, the character who blogs matters.

When you start this blog doesn’t matter to me. If you’re doing serious world-building, start early and bolster your story. If you’re not doing serious world-building, well, I can’t help you. The earlier you begin, the more Googleable you’ll be. Being Google fodder is key because you want people to find you and your content easily. By Google fodder, by the way, I mean all search engines in the known universe. You want to start creating the alternate universe of your novel and make it seem like a natural part of the landscape. Marketing should never be an afterthought…though back-dating posts is a time-honored tradition.

So let’s talk about why for a moment. I’m going to say something and I want everyone to take notes: not every character needs a blog. A, if everyone is doing it, the whole concept loses impact. B, creating a viable alternate universe is time consuming. C, it might adversely impact your book. Only you know for sure.

A character blog is most effective when it extends the book to another realm. Let’s look at an example that sort of goes the other way: Bridget Jones’s Diary. We all know that the book started life as a series of newspaper columns. However, the column format was restrictive, leading to a novel where a self-contained story could exist. Now take the idea and apply it to your book. Do you have a universe that can be (or should be) extended beyond the confines of your book’s covers?

Another way of asking this is “What’s your lagniappe?”

You create a character blog to build and maintain readership. Even the fastest writer in the world can only publish so many books in a year — if you’re doing a series that features recurring characters, how can you use a blog (and by blog, I mean an extended series of tools, not just a blog) to maintain interest, encourage new readers, and still offer something special to those nice people who have bought your books? The goal is to do something that keeps the readers hooked on your work. Let me say right now that a day-to-day dissection of your character’s life isn’t going to cut it. There’s a reason you only select certain scenes for your novel — even the greatest character in the world has slow moments.

See, you thought that all you had to do was slap up a blog and, voila!, instant success. Sure, that can happen. But is that your goal? Are you looking for sustained readership? Are you looking for new readers? Are you looking for a creative way to move beyond the book? Are you trying to create an entire alternate universe that captures imaginations? At the risk of sounding all businessy, I’m asking if you’re trying to build a brand.

If so, then, yes, it’s back to Strategy and Execution. They should meet with Planning and perhaps Imagination, if she’s available. There should also be an all-hands meeting that includes Time and Motivation — without them, things never get done.

Oh look at that. The batteries are dying. Just in time…

[tags]books, publishing, marketing, blogs, blogging, writing[/tags]

File Under: Marketing For Introverts