Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Sometimes we agents speculate on what our clients and potential clients think about us blogging. After all, they know what we’ve left undone to write and respond to a post: proposals our clients have submitted for our review; manuscripts to read; queries sitting in our in-boxes; contracts to negotiate; phone calls to make. I can only speak for why the agents at Books & Such blog; others might have different motivations. But we were intentional in our decision to start a blog 4 1/2 years ago and have remained true to those reasons.
I think it’s instructive for you to know what we hope to achieve because it can help you to evaluate why you blog or why you don’t blog. It’s easy to decide to start a blog because everyone else seems to have one, but that’s a decision not to have a target to aim at let alone hope to hit.
With our blog:
1) We aim to right the record. Because agents work at the crossroads of publishing, with authors, hopeful authors, and publishers all converging at Agent Central, we live at the crux of publishing. We hear from writers, and we talk to publishers–lots of publishers. We are, in many ways, interpreters for each interest group to the other group. We can tell publishers what authors are saying, and we can explain why writers view publishers as they do. We also can interpret to writers what’s happening in the publishing houses. I’m often amazed at how much misunderstanding occurs between these two entities. Our blog gives us a chance to say: Listen up, guys, the “other side” doesn’t grasp why you’re making the decisions you are, whether that’s why writers see self-publishing as such a viable option or why publishers are paying what they are.
2) We aim to contribute to the discourse. Agents are an opinionated lot. For those of us who have worked in the industry for several decades, we have ideas on how authors and publishers can be more effective. We’re not always right, but sometimes we do have good insights. A blog gives us a forum in which to express our opinions. And to hear from others about what we could be doing differently. It’s a great place to have a discussion.
3) We aim to effect change. For a few years before we began our blog, I see-sawed back and forth on whether we should. I just wasn’t sure it was going to be the best use of our time. After all, other agents already had established blogs. What could we add that others weren’t already saying? Then a publisher made a major change in how it did business, and I saw that change being given just the spin the publisher wanted–through blogging. The power to present a certain situation the way you want others to see it wasn’t lost on me. I didn’t have an agenda I wanted to promote through a blog, but I saw a blog is a place to be an influencer, and I decided our agency needed to be in that place. I’m not interesting in spinning what’s happening in the industry a certain way, but I am interested in helping others to think through the implications of how the industry is moving, both on the authors’ side and the publishers’ side.
4) We aim to encourage and enlighten. Agents see ways in which authors could be smarter about how they’re building their careers. And ways in which writers could more successfully approach agents. And ways in which publishers are being innovative and taking risks. Our blog enables us to applaud what others are doing well and to suggest ways they might be more effective. Agents receive satisfaction from seeing others succeed; it’s a driving force for many of us. A blog is a perfect tool through which we can give back to an industry that has enriched us.
I hope you’ve found, as you’ve read our blog, that we’ve remained true to our aim–and even hit the bull’s eye every now and then.
Bonuses have resulted for me that I didn’t expect when we started the blog. I have a sense of community with our regular readers, and I enjoy the exchange of ideas that occurs in the comments section. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see someone at a conference or book convention who states he or she reads our blog and has benefited from it. That’s when I’m like a kid whose mom happened to find her not with her hand in the cookie jar but in the soap bubbles while washing the dishes.
Now, why do you blog? Or why have you chosen not to blog?