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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Is Blogging Paying Off For You?


I guess to answer that question, you have to first determine why you are blogging. Then, ask yourself if there is another way to fulfill that need or goal that is more cost-effective and time-efficient. We all need to periodically do a cost-analysis of what we do, including the time and brain power devoted to our social media platform.

Nothing exists in a vacuum. We each have choices and options on how to make money and spend our time. So go ahead and measure blogging up against all the other things you could be doing. Still want to blog?

Some people blog because:
·         It is a great outlet for expressing their ideas, feelings, or experiences.
·         They can experiment and test out content or a writing style.
·         They can write on things that are different from what they can earn a living in.
·         It gives them access to others they normally wouldn’t have, such as when they interview people or allow guest blog posts.
·         It helps their branding and builds up an online resume.
·         It positions them as a leader and an expert.
·         They purely love to write and can discard commercial pressures.
·         They believe it is expected of them and to keep up with the competition.
·         They may hope it is a means to getting discovered and to act as an audition for a book deal, a job, or career advancement.
·         The blog provides something for you to post on Twitter and Facebook?

You should examine if blogging is financially of value to you. Is it helping you with:
·         Lead-generation of readers or customers?
·         Selling books, products, services?
·         Generating traffic to your Website?
·         Earning advertising revenue?

Even when the writing flows naturally and freely for you, take a hard look at the expense to you. Calculate just how much time you spend writing, typing, rewriting, editing, fact-checking, researching, designing, posting, and circulating your blog. Don’t forget time spent responding to comments people post on your blog.

Sure you have 31,536,000 seconds in a year, but time is valuable. Is your blogging more hobby than revenue generator? The question is: How does blogging pay off for you and what would you do with your time if you didn’t blog it away?

Certainly, you should not blog if you hate it – it will show in your writing. Further, if you believe blogging is not a primary component to your strategy for success, don’t bother with it. But if you are convinced there is value in blogging and see it as a worthy endeavor, try to figure out how to minimize the time suck and brain drain that it poses. Perhaps you can blog less often than you have been blogging. Maybe you can shorten the length of the posts if they tend to be long. Consider filling the blog with guest content or recycled content. Or consider outsourcing your blog to a ghostwriter, but that is costly – and lame!

I remember when I first heard about blogs and how they were described as glorified online diaries. I wondered back then: Who would write such stuff and who has time to read it? Sometimes I still wonder the same thing. Blogs can consume us and yet it was not that long ago that they didn’t even exist.

Writing a 250-word blog post six days a week is the equivalent of a 78,000-word book each year. No matter how fast you are at blogging or how easy it comes to you, it still poses an obstacle as to how to spend your time. Do it wisely, look for the payoff, and periodically reevaluate its worthiness. Otherwise, you can ditch your blog and spend the extra time reading my blog.


Interview With Children’s Author & Illustrator NaIl Sung


What type of books do you write? I write and illustrate children’s books. It’s normally about animal’s life but make it interesting ways. I write a story that I want to hear and people may want to know about. But I do also write a story that the main character is a young boy, too. This story is not completed and being progress with a publisher, so I cannot tell you details. 


What is your latest or upcoming book about? My latest book is called ‘Hide and Seek’ published by Meadowside children’s book publisher on June 2011 in UK. It is about animals playing hide and seek game. Story goes like this ‘ As the light falls through the leaves in the forest, the animals gather for a game of hide and seek. As elephant counts to 10 while others try to hide somewhere they like. But where is Chameleon? And there are large numbers (1 to 10) on each page for pre-school learning.’ I am also working on a couple of books with a UK publisher and Korean publisher. Two different stories! One is about babies of animals and the other is about a boy who does not want to go to bed. Those books will be published in late 2012. 


What inspired you to write it? I get most of my ideas from real life or my experiences. For instance, I have got an idea of ‘ZZzzz:A Book of Sleep’ when I lay down on bed to sleep one day. I suddenly wondered how animals sleep? Then I got up and wrote down two words, ‘sleep and animals’, on a piece of paper. Then I researched how animals sleep in many ways when I woke up next day and I was getting into the fact there were so many different ways to sleep! I wanted to make this to a story.
Another my book ‘Brrr:A Book of Winter’ is also started same way. In that time, I was struggling to get ideas for a new book right after moved to Seoul from London.
It was freezing cold day, I put on several layers of warm sweaters and jumpers. And the thing popped in my head as I look up at the sky through the window in my studio, ‘how animals live or survive during this cold winter?’.


I knew a few animals that migrate and hibernate, but I was sure there were a lot more about it and felt it could be a book! That’s how I started ‘Brrr:A Book of Winter’.


If you observe things around you and throw a questions to yourself ‘how or why’, then you can start to find there are so many things that you want to tell a story to other people.


Keep your eyes and ears wide open!


And you have to know well what you are doing and telling, because you are the person who knows your story very well but no one else.


What did you do before you became an author? I was a student who studied industrial engineering. But all of sudden my life had changed after came to London and I wanted to draw! When I was young, I also liked to draw but I never imagine myself as become an author or illustrator. It’s quite dramatic change for me. But I really enjoy myself as a picture book author and enjoy writing stories and illustrating books.


How does it feel to be a published author? Any advice for struggling writers? It is really difficult to find a right publisher indeed. After I finished my course, I sent my CV and sample images to as many publishers as I could. Some of publishers showed interests, some  never answer it back and some had a reaction as they were not interested. I was lucky to meet the publisher that I have been working with, though.
Not all of publishers will like your works for sure, so you need to research which publishers have books that have similar sort of sense compare with yours. Then you can send your dummy books or portfolios to selected publishers. You need to do this every year or at least when you have something new to show around. If you sit and do nothing, then no one will find you to give a commission work.
It is hard because as an illustrator/author, you need to promote your works regularly and have a business mind, too.


So Keep trying!


Where do you see book publishing heading? Well, This is quite a difficult question indeed. I am not the expert to say this but book publishing will not be same as it has been past decade, but people still want to see books on paper as well as using Iphone and Ipad. Maybe novels and text books will move forward to e-book format time to time. But there will not be a dramatic change for picture books as it has a strong character as a paper book format for picture books. I also like to work in new areas but hopefully picture book publishing remains still as long as there are people who needs, especially for babies and young readers.


Interview With Author Zack Parsons

1.      What type of books do you write? I started in humor and non-fiction. My first book was My Tank is Fight!, a humorous look at real, ridiculous WWII inventions accompanied by fictional vignettes. My heart has always been in pure fiction. Science fiction. I guess it's broadly "speculative fiction" these days. I have literary aspirations, but I don't buy that a book is diminished if it resides within a genre. 

2.      What is your latest or upcoming book about? My debut novel, Liminal States, was released in April. It begins as a blood-drenched western filled with betrayal and revenge, and follows three characters through genres and American history. The book's second part is a noir detective story and the third is a paranoid sci-fi thriller. The three genre pieces serve an overarching, existential story concerned with a mysterious pool discovered in the New Mexico Territory of 1874. The novel stands on its own, but it is supported by a collected serial story, alternate reality websites, a free downloadable soundtrack and a short film. All of these are available for free at liminalstates.com.

3.      What inspired you to write it? I like bleak, weird stories. That sort of storytelling where some end is nigh the moment you open the book, it's just a matter of how and when. I also enjoy experimenting with techniques for telling a story. Considering some of my online fiction, telling stories indirectly or in pieces using websites, Liminal States is relatively straightforward. It has a begin and end and the alternate ways I provided to approach the story are completely optional.  

4.      What did you do before you became an author? I've been writing for humor site SomethingAwful.com and doing various odd freelance writing jobs for over a decade. Before that I was a web designer and a graphic designer. I was never exceptional at design, my interest was always in writing, but the basic skills still come in handy.

5.      How does it feel to be a published author? Any advice for struggling writers? Being published feels great, I won't pretend it doesn't validate you somewhat, but it's nowhere near the big deal it was ten or twenty years ago. My advice to writers is keep writing, write what you enjoy and put it out there for people to see even if you aren't getting paid. If it's good, people will find it. If it's great people will be told about it. Networking has never been easier. Most writers are available in some way, if you're friendly and persistent you might just find a mentor. 

6.      Where do you see book publishing heading? The end of mass market paperbacks from major publishers. We'll be left with hard cover, premium books for collectors and affordable ebooks for people who just want to read. You'll also see an improvement in the quality of ebooks. The bestseller list will be dominated by ebooks, many of which never receive a hard copy release until later. We will see self-published ebooks regularly crack the bestseller list in the next few years. I love physical books. I'm romantic about books. But the future is technology. Writers and editors will still have jobs, but beyond that it might be brutal for publishing. The industry will be reinvented for good and bad.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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