Some Sources Say

Hi Folks,

A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post that warns writers away from publishing author newsletters.

The blogger included a couple of quotes from writers who advocate not using an author newsletter. She even referenced Anne R. Allen’s recent blog post about readers not wanting a “personal relationship” with authors. Finally she wrote “News flash: Not every reader is a groupie. As a matter of fact, most don’t want their privacy violated. Most don’t care about an author’s personal life.”

All of which left me shaking my head.

First of all, when an author shares details (real or fictional) about his or her personal life, how does that “violate” the reader’s privacy?

Second, I have to wonder where the blogger came up with the statistic that “most” readers don’t care about an author’s personal life? Do you suppose she actually interviewed a significant number of readers (say, a million)? Or is it more likely she was just making an unsupported blanket statement?

So here’s my own news flash: It isn’t your job to pre-judge what readers want to read. Your job is to write. The reader’s job is to decide what he or she likes.

Understand, I don’t really care what readers want, other than to read my books. But I care a great deal that yet one more respected figure out there is slopping advice on a wall without bothering to think of the impact it might have.

As you probably know, I don’t have an author newsletter, though I’m hoping the new manager of my publishing company, StoneThread Publishing, will start one soon specifically to announce and talk about my books. I’m pretty prolific, and books don’t announce themselves.

That being said, you also probably know that for the past few years I’ve published a Journal over at almost every day.

Admittedly, the Journal is mostly for writers, but I often publish a “topic” on writing, and in each edition I publish my own numbers, occasional info on my own books, and tidbits about my personal life (vignettes, really).

Some subscribers are there for the writing tips. Some are there for motivation, to see what they can accomplish if they apply themselves and stick to it. And some are there for the personal insights. I suspect many are there for a combination of those.

My point is that blanket statements, by their very nature, never work.

The fact is that some readers are naturally curious and want to feel they “know” you better. (As an aside, that doesn’t make them “groupies.”) Other readers couldn’t care less about the personal stuff. And the old truism applies: You can’t please everyone.

So the secret, I think, to writing an author newsletter (or regular blog) is to please yourself and be consistent. And the key to consistency in blogging, as it is in fiction, is to write what you want to write and let the readers decide what they like or don’t like.

If you aren’t comfortable sharing personal information, don’t. If you are, do. My (almost) daily Journal, to me, is chatting over the back fence with friends, some of whom are readers and some of whom are other writers.

And I’m very glad they’re there (and that you’re here), no matter the reason.

‘Til next time, happy writing!