Monday, July 05, 2010

Margaret Atwood on Blogging and Twitter for authors

Further to yesterday's post I just came across this Margaret Atwood quote via Twitter, from a Literary Review interview (one good reason to have been on Twitter, ironically):
...people are trying to pile stuff onto authors, like you have to have a blog, you have to have this, you have to have that. Various party tricks. You actually don't. I would say that having done it, the blogging and Tweeting and so forth reaches possibly a different kind of reader than the kind you may have been used to hearing from. But an author's job is to concentrate on the writing, and once the writing is finished what you essentially do is throw it into a bottle and heave it into the sea, and that's the same for any method of dissemination. There's still a voyage between the text and the unknown reader; the book will still arrive at the door of some readers who don't understand it - who don't like it. It will still find some readers who hopefully do, and the process is still a scattergun approach.

13 comments:

Aditya Mani Jha said...

As always, the astute Atwood speaks up against the appallingly juvenile attempts to sex up the image of writers.. because... well, I guess because otherwise PR guys, spin doctors and other self-styled gurus would go out of business... some things are better old-school :)

fiona glass said...

How wonderful to see some common sense for a change! Perhaps I'll take a raincheck on opening that Facebook account after all... :D

litrefs said...

the blogging and Tweeting and so forth reaches possibly a different kind of reader than the kind you may have been used to hearing from - Atwood has choices - she can do book-signing tours, headline conferences and conventions, do interviews for the media, etc. As well as helping to sell books, she's going to get paid for these activities. In contrast, blogging is time-consuming and the effects less measurable. But for many of us, blogging is all we've got.
As well as broadcasting info it's a way of finding out about opportunities, etc. I suspect Atwood doesn't need to find out about anthology opportunities, etc.

Nicola Morgan said...

I agree that you don't "need" to blog or tweet, and I wouldn't want to bully authors into doing it or make them feel guilty or inadequate for not doing it. However, for most writers - and MA is not most writers, clearly - blogging and/or Twitter offer huge benefits and can be very enjoyable. I do both, probably too much, and I can list the benefits I've had from it, some quantifiable and others not. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Actually, I'm doing an event at this year's Edinburgh Book festival about blogging, Twitter and social networking for authors - but I'm not plugging it because actually it's fully booked! I will not be telling anyone what to do, simply how to enjoy and benefit from it, as I have.

Facebook, on the other hand, I am less convinced about - and I do that, too... Amazingly, by the way, I do get books written, though perhaps not as fast as I used to. (There *are* undoubted downsides to being fully connected and I am the first to admit it. Well, perhaps the second...)

L'Aussie said...

Excellent comments on a subjective subject. Yes, MA isn't most authors, and the very successful probably don't need blogs, twitter or fb, but for mere mortals, they are a good way to stay connected to the writing community (are we the B list?) while the A list find connections in other more lofty ways. I love MA's work, but she is a long-published author and things were no doubt different when she started out on her literary way..:)

Cate P said...

A woman of sense obviously. They can all be complementary mediums, but they don't HAVE to go together.

mayo ninja said...

i've just cancelled my two regular blogs for a couple of reason:

firstly, i found that i was too often sucked into half-day or longer conversations with anonymous strangers that didn't advance my career or understanding of the universe a jot

secondly, i find bloggers are too often of the prickly variety, and i ended up quitting as soon as i read a comment refixed by @.

i don't judge fictionbitch like that, otherwise i wouldn't be back here. by the way elizabeth, i have further comments to make re sexism and prizegiving if you're interested...

Elizabeth Baines said...

Mayo, anything you have to say will be of interest here!

Very interesting that you have cancelled your blogs.

mayo ninja said...

thanks elizabeth!

all is going well by the way; i just have to get past editing and the holiday season before my agent makes an assault on her publisher of choice...

so, i have submitted a proposal / entry for the Biographers' Club Tony Lothian Prize for completely unpublished authors who are working on a biography. i'm quite confident of getting on the short list but on checking the list of previous winners i see that all but one were female!

this does not bother me at all since it's probably the only female-dominated list outside the orange LOL! (newcomers to this debate, please refer to fictionbitch's blog "It's a man's world", earlier this year)

and i'm not at all surprised that it's female-dominated because tony lothian was not a bloke at all but actually Marchioness Lothian, championette of all kinds of literature but also literature from the female of the species.

so 5 out of the last 6 winners were female; never mind. i'll be keeping an open mind at the prize dinner as i hear the words "and the winner is...."

Elizabeth Baines said...

Hah!

Erika Marks said...

A refreshing and somewhat relieving post for those of us writers who are still on the fence, despite the constant cry from the industry that a web presence is not only encouraged, but imperative, especially for debuting authors.

Having had a blog for several months now, I am trying to find that balance and am not sure how successful I've been at it. I do know I will be handing in my final draft of my novel to my editor next week and I feel more than adequate about that part of my work as a writer, which, as Margaret Atwood so nicely points out, is the most important part of what we do, even if we tend to lose sight of that from time to time, or post to post.

Twitter however remains a rabbit hole I don't yet dare scurry down. Last week I felt bold and set up an account only to promptly deactivate it five minute later. Maybe some other time.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Congrats for completing your novel, Erica! That's success, I'd say, of you've been blogging as well.

I must say, though, that Twitter is a wonderful networking tool...

Erika Marks said...

Thank you, Elizabeth!

And I do suspect I will revisit Twitter once the book is released for those networking opportunities.