In my latest vlog, I talk about how sometimes every other author (Hilary Mantel) seems to get all the prizes and awards and shiny things while you’re covered in double baby sick. And how that’s very much like constantly counting your YouTube and web statistics.
I fly solo this week and have an important announcement to make! I also talks about Chat Broome, my exciting new podcast project, and put the blogging world to rights with what is very close to being a rant or diatribe. Well, it’s not really, but there are some important points to consider if you’re a writer and you’re thinking of setting up your own blog. Oooh, statistics! I also talk statistics. Not many people do that. It’s a big one folks. Get your headphones!
I fly solo this week to celebrate four years of Write for Your Life by sharing some of the blogging lessons I’ve learned in that time. From taking it seriously to sticking at it, not making money and meeting ace people, there should be plenty in it for bloggers and writers of all shapes and sizes. Headphones on. Get listening.
It’s all about rejection. No, not online dating, but publishing: according to an editor I was chatting to last week, it’s an industry of rejection.
Personally, I’m a little tired of all the negativity around publishing. I think it’s time we all pulled together and tried to do things differently and push things forward. So I confess to letting out a gentle sigh when I read that first paragraph.
But I needn’t have worried, because Stephanie’s post isn’t really about rejection at all. Instead, it’s a great reminder that, for every book that gets published, there is a team of hardcore fans behind it, willing it on and making it happen.
Redesigning your website provides an opportunity to take stock and think about what you’re doing. You get to look at what works well and what doesn’t, and assess whether your approach is still appropriate.
As you know, I’ve just done all that. And after some highly scientific bonce-bending (thinking), I’ve decided to stop publishing link posts.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like link posts. I think that they’re a smashing way to make people aware of other great articles and writers on the web. By linking to and quoting someone else before adding my own commentary, I believed that for the most part, I was adding to a wider conversation. But alas, not always.
The flip side of link posts is that they can quickly become an easy way to publish regularly, but with little thought. If you don’t have time to consider a subject properly, you can simply post a link to someone else’s work, add a quick sentence or a couple of words of your own, and feel like you’ve gotten away with it.
But I’m not comfortable with that. It feels like a waste of everyone’s time. If I’ve got something to say, I should take the time to say it properly. And if that time isn’t available, I should wait until it is. So that’s what I’m going to do.
No more link posts, only proper articles. Some may be long, some may be short. But they’ll all have substance and that’s what matters.
There’s nothing wrong with short posts that function primarily to send your readers to information or opinions elsewhere. However, if that becomes the bulk of what you do with your website, I think that something may be wrong.
Because while responding to or commenting on other people’s work is great, it’s always better to be the first with something to say.
Well here we are – the final post on Write for Your Life for 2010. It just so happens the site also turned two earlier this week, so this episode seems like a good opportunity to stop, say thank you to all you wonderful people and look ahead at what’s in store for next year.
And time permitting, there is plenty to come in 2011. From a unique membership scheme where you can get lovely goodies, help keep the blog going and raise money for charity at the same time, to a new Write for Your Life shop stocked with writerly treats. And then there’s the online conferences, of course.
Whatever happens, I know it’s going to be busy. And I know 2010 has been a blast. Thank you for reading, watching and listening this last 12 months and see you on the other side.
Love and baubles
The annual top 10 blogs for writers contest is taking place at the moment, which is marvellous, but rather than talk about why you should vote for this blog, I’m going to point you towards three others that I’m currently reading and enjoying tremendously.
As I say in the clip, theses annual awards are extremely handy and usually provide a list of smashing blogs. But everyone’s top ten is different and the truth is, there can never be a definitive list. We all want different things from our writing-related reading material.
But please, please, please don’t think I’m having a go at the awards or that there’s an ulterior motive. As I say in the clip, the 2008 list was really valuable and helped me when I set up Write for Your Life. I guess I just don’t feel very comfortable writing a post specifically to tell you to tell someone else how awesome we are.
The top blogs I’m reading etc…
First up I’d like to point you to Bubblecow. It’s a great blog for writers, particularly fiction folk who want to learn more about the publishing industry and what it takes to get your work noticed. Practical advice. Nice people. Lovely stuff.
Second, Booktwo.org run by James Bridle. James is something of an expert on technology and the publishing industry and speaks at events all over the world. His blog is a treat and hugely interesting, as are the links he provides to articles elsewhere. Go looksee.
Finally, the wonderful First Today, Then Tomorrow by Randy Murray. Not always writing-related, but consistently thought provoking, this is a great blog updated daily. Randy’s writing assignments are fantastic. Hugely recommended.
And that’s it. Of course, I’m reading lots of other blogs at the moment too (many not writing-related actually), but they’re the three I want you to visit and get an eyeful of right now. Watch the episode for more detail!
Part one sees us talk about the terrible tussle faced by those writers who try to combine a copywriting career with literary ambition. The two of us agree, then disagree, and then I go through a little unintended writerly therapy. Everything turns out fine in the end.
In part two (18:53) we talk about a couple of posts from other blogs. We reveal our worst writing distractions to follow up on 7 Writing Distractions I’m Kissing Goodbye, which featured on Fuel Your Writing (which I shamefully refer to as Fuel My Writing – sorry!) and was written by Suzannah from Write it Sideways.
We then talk about whether writers should blog every day, following Bubblecow’s assertion that we definitely should.
Finally, in part three (28:40) I talk about the future of Write for Your Life and how you can contribute, either to the podcast or by writing a guest article.
AudioBoo has been referred to as an audio version of Twitter. I’d say it’s got quite a long way to go in that regard, but it’s certainly a handy little tool for publishing actual words and sounds with barely any effort at all.
Much like Twitter, I first used AudioBoo not long after it launched and thought, ‘Nah, can’t see it catching on.’ It was only after seeing/listening to someone else use the service well that I changed my mind to, ‘Hmm, that’s got some potential.’
So in this post I’m going to give you a short explanation about what AudioBoo is, get you thinking about how you can use it as a writer and invite you to listen to what I’ve done with it so far.
What is AudioBoo?
AudioBoo’s homepage describes itself as ‘the iPhone audio blogging app’, which is true, but also a little misleading because you don’t need an iPhone to use it. Not any more, anyway.
Not just for iPhone users
The service started out as a way for iPhone users to record short messages through their handset and upload them direct to their AudioBoo page. But it’s no longer quite so exclusive.
Late last year, the AudioBoo team added the ability to record direct through your browser or even upload an existing audio file. So basically, anyone can now use AudioBoo. All you need is some sort of microphone and, well, a computer.
Finding your voice
Much like Twitter, you have your own AudioBoo profile where your ‘boos’ appear in chronological order. The AudioBoo site has an ‘all boos’ stream as well as pages for ‘featured’ and ‘popular’ boos.
When you record and upload your audio file, you can include your location, a feature that fits with the original mobile ethos of AudioBoo. This isn’t essential, but could have it’s uses for writers, like if you were posting from a literary festival or working as a journalist on location.
Say Boo to your friends!
Of course, as is the fashion these days, you can choose to follow other people using AudioBoo and in turn, you can gain followers of your own.
AudioBoo also makes it easy to integrate the other personas that form your online life. You can adjust the settings so that when you post a boo, it automatically posts messages on Twitter and Facebook to let people know.
Same goes for Tumblr, which could be useful if you followed my previous advice to use the ever-growing microblogging platform as an online scrapbook.
Boo on your blog
Finally, you can also post your latest boos on your blog and style them how you want. I think this is quite a handy feature and something I’m looking to incorporate into the upcoming redesign of Write for Your Life.
In a nutshell
I’ve given you a lot of bits and pieces to think about there. Essentially, AudioBoo is a mobile and web service that allows you to record short audio clips and publish them direct to your own dedicated AudioBoo page.
It’s a fledgling service that’s a little rough around the edges, but the creators promise some exciting updates. Even in it’s current state, I can think of plenty of ways that we writers can use AudioBoo to progress and accompany our work.
How can writers use AudioBoo?
Now, I’ve had a quick search of and general peekaboo at the AudioBoo community and to tell you the truth, I can’t see many writers using it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing one or more of the following.
Publish your work
It seems obvious I suppose, but AudioBoo offers a simple, inexpensive way for you to get your writing out there, whether it’s poetry, short scripts or non-fiction. All you need to do is record and upload. AudioBoo does the rest.
Supplement your existing blog or website
This is how I think I’m going to use AudioBoo in the long run. I only post here a few times a month, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have marvellous writerly thoughts on a regular basis (honest!). AudioBoo gives me a way of producing quick, easy to digest advice with little fuss.
Create audio notes for any writing project
I prefer a notepad and pen, but I know a lot of writers who carry a dictaphone and like to voice their thoughts and ideas for later use. AudioBoo is as convenient and searchable place as any to store those sparks of inspiration.
Express your personality
The written word is a wonderful thing and it’s certainly possible to convey your personality accurately through your writing, but it isn’t easy. With AudioBoo, you can offer your readers a glimpse of the real you. Or whatever bits of you you’re happy to reveal. So to speak.
Podcast on the cheap
Plenty of bloggers also podcast and a lot of authors are starting to serialise their work in podcast form. However, it can be an expensive business to get that professional sound and really, it’s the content that matters most, isn’t it? AudioBoo is great because it let’s you connect with your readers/listeners almost instantly.
Listen to me, listen to me!
I recorded my first few boos just before Christmas and found them quite good fun to do. You can listen to them via the audio players in the sidebar here or you can go over to my AudioBoo page and have a scout round there.
My boo titled ‘Should writers help other writers? Why the heck not?!’ even got featured on the AudioBoo featured list, which I think means it was officially brillopads. Well, I was excited anyway, especially considering I recorded it in the kitchen while I was waiting for the kettle to boil.
Here it is:
I’m going to use AudioBoo more often in the coming months and publish regular titbits, including stuff you might find useful and maybe some updates about my own writing. I think you should give it a try too. Just make sure you come back and let us know how you get on.