Friday, January 30, 2009

Blogs and query letters--

Jennifer said...

New Question--In a cover letter for a short story, should a writer mention her blog, particularly if the blog is related to the story?? I am married to a man of South Asian descent and my story has a South Asian protagonist and contains many cultural references. I blog about gender issues and my experience navigating a new culture. I feel like mentioning the blog is somehow better than just saying I am married to a Pakistani American man. (My instinct is to provide some explanation for my familiarity with this culture.) But I don't know what the preference is on mentioning a blog. Any thoughts??

I'll try and answer this before carpal tunnel makes the left hand useless-- boy, it's been bad this winter.

Blogs are great ways to attract potential readers, and also to give editors a reason to ask for more of your book. So yes, mention it (probably in the last or second-to-last paragraph of your query). In fact, I think authors generally ought to have blogs-- NOT about them and their books (not reader-enticing unless you're a big name) but about some subject that connects to your book. That is, if you write Scottish historicals, a blog about Scottish castles or tartans will get far, far more potential readers than a blog about your book and what you're writing now. Once you've given something to them for free (all those pretty photos of castles), they are much more likely to give you something back by buying your book.

So yes, mention the blog in your query. Say specifically what the blog is and what you discuss, and who visits it. I would also say how many hits you get a week (or a year, whatever sounds impressive). And I'd say why those visitors are likely to buy your book, and that you'll include of course links there to your book and blog about it and the subject matter as the pub date approaches and afterwards.

Here are a couple links that help with the Chris Anderson "long tail" theory:

Seth Grodin's blog

Wikipedia explanation of Long Tail Theory

The Long Tail Blog

The latest Long Tail book

See how it works? He didn't spend a penny on advertising here. But because he's given so much away for free in his blog, I'm advertising his book for him. :)

Anyway, yes, mention your blog in the query, but also explain exactly how it will help sell your book and expose you to potential readers. Draw the picture for the agent or editor.



Riley Murphy said...

First haggis, and now Scottish historicals, Scottish castles and tartans? I am sensing a theme...:)

jaz said...

Thank you, Alicia, for your quick response even with the pain you are in! Take care of yourself!

Jolie said...

But, but ... she's querying a short story, not a book. Doesn't that change anything, since short stories reach the consumer as part of a mag/journal, rather than as a standalone book?

jaz said...

I just took the "yes, mention the blog" part, along with a discussion of what I blog about, for the current project--short story cover letter, but the rest I think is very helpful for those with novel length works. In the latter case, I think information like number of followers/hits would be more applicable. I was just wondering if mentioning the blog was an acceptible way to establish that I do know about the culture of my MC.

Edittorrent said...

Jolie, anything you query, you want to market yourself, I'd think. But it's been a long time since I did short stories, so maybe it's all changed.

I just assume that magazines are sold to readers, and readers might buy an issue because someone they know in some capacity is in there. If magazine editors don't think that way, well, they ought to start thinking that way. When an author brings readers along, it's a doubly good buy. Maybe it's different with magazines.... but if an author says, "I have a successful blog with potential readers, and here's why, and I will promote the story there," I can't believe that won't help sell an already good story. And it is good, right, Jennifer?

Murphy, I hate to admit this, but I think the whole Scottish thing is because I've been watching Gordon Ramsay re-runs on TV. I just love the Scottish accents. Not so hot on haggis, of course. :)

jaz said...

I do think short fiction editors would consider what will help sell their journals, although many of them (literary) don't have huge circulations or the same kind of sales as a commercial magazine, so maybe it depends.

The story is good. :) It's the blog that is relatively new, so maybe that is why I am leaning away from using it as a marketing tool vs. a credentials tool right now.

jaz said...

And, in all seriousness, I should have added that the advice I've received here has made the story better. You've been an enormous help.

Jolie said...

Okay, I see what you're getting at. I can imagine a short story author saying on their blog, "I recently sold a story about A Subject Related To This Blog. It's appearing in Journal X, which also prints This and That Content Which May Interest My Blog Readers. Check it out!" That might motivate blog readers to buy an issue of a magazine they'd otherwise never think to pick up.

Edittorrent said...

I'm just glad that magazines still publish short fiction these days. There used to be a thriving market for short stories, but not so much now.

Riley Murphy said...

About the haggis? I’m with Mike Meyers on this one. Like him, I believe that all Scottish cuisine was based on a dare. lol
As for the Scottish accent? I took my mother to Scotland in the 90's and one night, while we were there, all she wanted was a Dubonnet on the rocks. I asked the barkeep for one and he looked at me like I had grown two was clear he couldn’t understand MY accent. So, I went behind the counter and pointed to the bottle. He shook his head and grinned at me, “Ahhh, ya be wanin a dew bonnie!” You gotta love that!

Edittorrent said...

I love the way the Scots pronounce "book"-- booo-uk.