Friday, February 15, 2013

My name is Erica ... and I'm a blogaholic

It's too late for me. Save yourself!

This is my story. You've heard it all before. But I'm hoping that when you're having your coffee and cookies you'll reflect upon my experience – and keep an open mind.

It all started when print publishers got sideswiped by Amazon. I was finishing a book, and, having had several ruinous relationships with publishers (I'm working on those issues), I decided to break the pattern. Why repeat the bitterness, the frustration, when I could simply jump ship and take the easy way out? It all seemed so simple at the time. No more deadlines, no more subtexts in what I'd hoped would be casual encounters, no more editorial blows to my self-esteem. All I had to do was “upload.”

This is a mistake we all make when confronted by our personal demons. We take shortcuts.

Before I knew it, I had gotten my book epublished. Suddenly, reality hit. I had forgotten all about the perks of a long-term relationship – the in-house marketing department, the chain of distribution, legitimate reviews, free ISBN numbers. Worst of all, I had forgotten about book promotion. I'd have to do it all myself.

My first step was to launch a website, which I did after considerable, and unnecessary, expenditure. I was in the hole now, but it wasn't enough – it's never enough. I needed more. I needed a platform, exposure, a strong author presence. So ... I began to blog.

(Excuse me. Does anyone have a tissue?)

It was just one blog, at first. I thought it would be a simple reiteration of work I'd already done - an easy cut-and-paste, with no commitment to originality. I figured two, three blogs a week, and I'd develop my Internet presence. Before I knew it, I was blogging almost daily. My self-concept had expanded, and my author image was changing.

I needed another blog, and then another. Soon I was blogging about everything: my books, my recipes, my parakeet, Thomas Jefferson. I created alter egos, misleading avatars. I could no longer put my real name on anything I blogged for fear that it would affect my author brand. Just trying to remember all my sign-in names was exhausting.

All at once, it dawned on me. What if nobody was reading my blogs? I installed Google Analytics, and, sure enough, I was a solitary blogger. Nobody even knew that I existed.

That was the beginning of the end. I joined several writers' groups whose sole purpose was to promote one another through their blogs. We fed, constantly, on each other's habits, meeting on dim, smoke-filled forums, boards, chats. I began to guest blog.

(I heard that. Remember, live and let live.)

It still wasn't enough. According to the visitor flow chart on Google Analytics, very few people were being driven to my website. I had to drive them. I knew it was base, reprehensible, unforgivable - and I make no excuses for my behavior - but I began to adjust my taglines to suit my hypothetical audience. I even watched Supernatural, so I could blog about horrid, vapid television shows written by dyslexic ten-year-olds, but which were popular among the bloghopping set.

Finally, in a desperate attempt at blog exposure, I started to add my blogs to blog directories. It was getting expensive, but what was $39.95 here, $49.95 there, for a first-page listing? I pinged.

By this time, I had forgotten all about my eBook, which technically had now cost me several thousand dollars if you included the fees for Google Adwords, priority listings on blog directories, and upgrades. At this point, I was in deep denial. The book no longer mattered. My bills went unpaid. My house was a mess. My Amazon reviewer rank slid five hundred points. Nothing mattered. I blogged about that.

To make this long story even longer, I wound up passed out in a gutter in South Philly, lying in a pool of my own vomit, pieces of my laptop scattered across the wet pavement. Miraculously, I still had my cellphone. I autodialed my son's number, and when his sweet, innocent voice came on the line I began to sob, “I don't understand how to post on Tumblr...”

I had hit bottom. I was a blogaholic.

6 comments:

  1. Oh, I can so relate! LOL. Wonderful piece, thanks Erica :)

    Steve

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  2. Oh, darling. I'm here for you. I too am a blogoholic and started out in all the wrong places, blogging about every topic under the sun. I have 3 blogs consisting of about 2 dozen topics. Yikes! Don't worry, tomorrow is a better day.

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  3. So, Erica- is there a happy ending? I'm really interested to know if paying to be on blog lists worked and I have not yet participated in blog hops yet, but I would love your opinion on those. I have a publisher and my book is coming out in the spring but I am my own agent and promoter so any advice would be appreciated!

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  4. Actually, I consider blogging to be one of those things you do because you enjoy it ... like drinking and smoking. If you want to get your name out there (develop a platform) I would strongly recommend that you "precycle" your blog posts. That is, when you create a well written post (700 words or so) about a subject that will be useful or interesting to other people, post it on a site that has great SEO BEFORE you post it on your own blog. I cannot stress this enough! Some sites that have great SEO are Blogcritics, Writer Unboxed, Buzzle. Hmmm... I should blog about that.

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  5. Thanks Dear Erica! You really said it and spelt it out so well....I could feel my own journey through your narration :) Thankfully, I am still grounded because of my love for the fresh air and gardening and watching them tiny saplings grow... wish blogspots, guestblogs, books read and written too grow in a similar way!! :)
    Best Wishes and hugs,
    madhavi sood alias madhavi mohandas
    (author of 'From the Silence Within') available via Amazon, flipkart, crossword in paperback cover.

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  6. Hi Erica. Today is Random Acts of Kindness day and I've chosen your blog to highlight on my blog. Here is the link: http://vickimtaylor.blogspot.com/2013/02/random-act-of-kindness-here-is-blog-id.html

    I hope you like.

    Vicki

    ReplyDelete