Know Thy Audience, or, What Do You Want from This Blog?

I’m pushing away the pagefright and digging into new territory. Hence, this post. Entirely too long, most likely.

But first, a quick summation might be in order, just so you know where things stand. Everything sucks.

I’m only kidding (mostly).

2015 was ho-hum, if not depressing, globally and personally. I won’t go into unpleasant details. I’m sure many of you remember much of it.

Even with all the good that did actually happen (and that I’m also not going to list), I feel comfortable in closing the book on 2015.

So, then, taking a page—alright, alright, tearing it out, cackling, then running away mischievously—from Donna’s deftly delivered book-o’-blogging (at yadadarcyyada), I’m starting this 2016 post off in song.

But, really. Think about it a moment. What more does a writer want than to be read (or heard, as the case may be in our postmodern podcast era)?  In a very real way, the writing process can be viewed as an artful partnership. It’s art, true, but there can be a palpable aspect to writing, whereby the fruits of the process lead to an exchange of a vision-product (e.g., the book, anthology, short story, podcast file, or novel) with a reader or listener. Many writers, therefore, like to be at least partly mindful of audience. For instance, novelist and WordPresser Curtis Bausse (One Green Bottle, a mystery; French Sally) talks about knowing the target audience vis-à-vis the promotion of your work.

So it is that, with the heralding of a new year, I turn to my readers (and viewers) and ask the open-ended question of what do you want to read (or see) more of here. Leave a comment, tweet me, e-mail me [wordsmithery[dot]email[at]gmail[dot]com], send a smokeless signal, or use semaphore if you wish; I’d love to hear your feedback.

In the meantime, a few stats to amuse or amaze you.

Leigh’s Wordsmithery blog had 40 posts last year (2015) and was viewed approximately 2,400 times. Coincidentally, this mimics the blogger’s lifespan. No, I mean the 40 (years, not decades).

The most visited post was a book review of Robert Okaji’s then-new poetry chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform. Check with Bob himself, at O at the Edges, to find out the latest, greatest way to purchase this peregrination through regret and remembrance.

I don’t have this aspect statistic-ified, but I’ve read hundreds, maybe thousands, of WordPress blog posts this year and commented on as many photographs, ideas/concepts, and stories or novels-in-progress as possible. This was very fruitful, enjoyable, and educational, although I didn’t keep count. Likewise, the number of books I read this year, which, whatever it is, is entirely too few; however, I think I probably should try to be better about demarcating those. [To wit, as of Jan. 4-5: I’m reading Atul Gawande’s “medical literature” title, Better, and a book of writing exercises that was a gift to me from the kidlets.]

This blog’s author also submitted manuscripts various and sundry on 37 occasions (of those logged; there are probably a couple lost to disorganization) in the calendar year 2015. Of those occasions the results are (as of 4 January 2016): 1 hit (aka, an acceptance, publication forthcoming, 2017); 27 misses; 1 non-response; 1 presumed defunct; and 7 results pending.

In the past year on this blog and in freelance submissions, the author has written about the following:

  • A Santa transposition
  • Surviving abuse
  • Xylophones and amnesia (separate prompts)
  • A murderous granny
  • A murderous insect-like alien, possibly female
  • A murderous wife (notice a theme emerging?)
  • A transgender alien riding a “hydrocycle” in a dystopian future
  • Time travel to the “Christmas truce” of 1914
  • 6.66 days of thrilling fiction [on the blog], including Michael Myers Halloween/Halloween fanfiction; marking the longest (8-day) posting streak
  • Wolfish shapeshifters
  • A hearing-impaired superhero
  • Nature and gardening (inclu. introducing the Garden Avenger)
  • Literary fiction on a dysfunctional family plagued by racism
  • Infectious diseases galore!

So, the question remains: would you like to see anything in particular on this blog? Not like to see something? Not care either way? Inquiring minds want to know and writing operators are standing by to log your input, like this pale but cheerful one (on the left, the one with the pen)! If you’ve got an opinion, please feel welcome to share it. And I do hope you’ll come back sometime soon.

Operators are standing by_Cheap Trick

 

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31 thoughts on “Know Thy Audience, or, What Do You Want from This Blog?

  1. I love your blog! I could not think of any way possible to improve it or the topics of which you write! I have not been in the blogosphere much since my son died, but, when I do take a minute to visit the neighborhood, I look forward to seeing what you have been writing, whether I comment or not. Keep doing what your heart guides you to do and write about it. You are such a gifted writer! Wishing you a very happy New Year!

  2. I want it all, Leigh! Or rather, I want to read what you write. Genre and subject don’t matter much to these eyes. I hope you write to please yourself first. Of course I’m selfish that way. 🙂

    • <> Anyway, no, I completely understand that point. I do mostly write for myself, but I feel that, because of its immediacy and the ability to harvest such valuable data, the experience of having a blog should somehow be more malleable to the readers’ ideas, concerns, criticisms, etc., if that makes sense. Almost a crowd-writing/crowd-sourcing type of thing. Of course, I never publish anything I don’t feel is genuine to me at that moment in time, which inevitably will probably change, as my opinion on what a blog is/”should” be; otherwise, why be so nervous and nit-picky so that almost every post I re-write a minimum of 10-15 times (except photography). Anyway, I’ve rambled a bit far. You’re nice to ramble with, Bob! (ramble-able?) in the good Aristotelian ‘peripatetics’ way!

      • I’m much too selfish (it’s all about ME!!!!) when it comes to my blog. And while I have a vague idea of which posts are more popular, my laziness interferes with actually planning anything beyond a few reposts during busy periods. It seems I’m more likely to post something that’s not quite ready for prime time than to NOT post anything (sometimes regrettably). So I write and post and hope for the best. Rambling Bob…

      • All poetry is selfish. Who said that?! 🙂 Anyway, I was thinking something along the lines of what you did with your 30-for-30 challenge, of being ‘forced’ to write a certain subject/genre/style that would help more or less organically push me in a direction I probably wouldn’t normally go (like you did with your titling and themes, Memorex et al). Alas, no one suggested that I write about the 12th president(e?) of Peru or anything obscure! It’s them unknown unknowns as writers that can get you . . . ! 🙂

    • Thanks, Lucy. I feel the same about you. I don’t normally read a lot of romance for pleasure (I had a career as a copyeditor of erotica and romance books, once upon a time, though!), and yet, I find your ‘diary’ (Roxy Collins) posts very engaging. Humorous, relatable, and not alienating like I’m beginning to find (in my dotage! pre-dotage?) with some of the 20-something stuff out there. I just can’t much identify with pubbing/clubbing/barcrawling, partying, dating, hook-ups, etc.(Not condemning these things, just saying I’m not at that bookmarker, so to speak, in my life. I’m farther along in the plot!)

      • I do from time to time, Lucy. I’d love to guest-post for you sometime. Have you any topics you’re looking to highlight (genres, subject matter, fiction/nonfiction? etc.)? If you’d like, e-mail me at wordsmithery[dot]email[at]gmail[dot]com if you want to work out something that is copasetic for you & your schedule. I know you’re like clockwork on your blog, with certain days devoted to certain posts and so on. . . .

      • I write about anything writing related or the writer’s life. I also write about books I have read and the reading process. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are my days for guest posts. My email is blondeusk@outlook.com. I would love a guest post from you. I will drop you a line 🙂

  3. Hi Leigh, whilst I’ve written a few times about blog stats and on how we should not get obsessed with them, I think on this occasion they come into their own when we look at which posts performed best of all and which did not. I think that should tell you what you need to write more about and what you shouldn’t. However, saying that, I think you have to go with whatever you want to write about at the time. My blog covers so many subjects because when I get an idea (and I get that spark that it’s going to be a great post) then I write about it.
    I asked the same question as you on a recent post and many people simply told me to carry on with what I was doing.
    I hope that all makes sense as I’ve probably gone on about it for far too long now? 🙂
    Happy New Year,
    Hugh

    • No, no, not at all. I’m pretty sure I read that post of yours, Hugh. I figured, if nothing else, the post (on my part) was a kind of clearing of the airwaves, getting over the pagefright and anxiety I was feeling about posting/not posting. I’ve written about 5-6 posts since December, none of which I’ve published, so I was, there again, trying to figure that out. In any case, yes, those yearly stats provided by WP are a great helper (as is your treasured advice!). Cheers, L

  4. Well, I think the preceding comments say it all – maybe all I can ask for is more of the same! I guess I make a distinction between the blog posts and the novel (many thanks for the shout out, by the way), because a book is so much more work and has no obvious channel to get noticed through, whereas the blog is its own channel and grows more or less naturally (I know there are loads of tips on ‘how to grow your blog’, but I haven’t given them much attention so far). Anyway, here’s wishing you a great 2016 in all respects.

    • Thank you for following me, Marian. I was delighted to discover your blog, I think only a few weeks ago. I just stumbled there via Minecraft (which my kiddies are very passionate about right now, so I’m trying to learn more about it). Your writerly voice and style are inimitable and very funny besides; I look forward to reading more of and learning from you!

  5. I found your blog via Marian Allen and would love to specifically answer your question… except, being new here, I have no idea! Instead, I’ll just say “hi” and suggest that you continue writing whatever it is that makes you happy. Trite advice, perhaps. But sincerely offered.

  6. Stay with your unique voice, Leigh, which was what brought me to your blog in the first place!
    PS Two of my top posts for 2015 were my from guest storytellers. Should I get paranoid? No, I’m thrilled, because they’re so thrilled with all the positive feedback they get. To encourage and instill confidence in other writers is one of my aims.
    And you, dear Leigh, are one of the people who’ve done just that for me. Thus we bloggers all encourage each other, so please keep doing what you’re doing, ’cause your blog is great. Love it 🙂

  7. Leigh, I’d echo Sarah’s comment – I think you have a great unique voice and style and you should write what moves you rather than worrying about statistics – I quite often find that my feedback doesn’t necessarily correlate with what I thought about a post I’ve written, but I just write about what I enjoy writing about, otherwise it wouldn’t be fun 🙂

  8. Leigh you are such an astounding writer with such a diversity of topics that I can in no way suggest what might make it better. I say write what YOU want to write and be genuine.

  9. Tucked away in this post, I see you have a book deal, with publication in 2017, congratulations! That should make 2015 one better than previous years, though I accept that much else about it was bad. What, as a reader, do I look for? Book reviews, short extracts of writing (though I don’t personally like horror/thriller/mystery/fantasy, so I’m rather a useless reader), world views, photos… I’m not being very helpful. I can only say that length puts me off, as I am up against the clock every hour of the day!

    • Definitely; Hilary, and the blogging medium lends itself to thinner slices, for reader and writer. Thanks for the congratulations. It’s my first foray into an anthology; wish me luck!

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