Saturday, November 1, 2014
Grow or die- the evolution of a group blog
A few months ago original novelnaughts, Liane, KeVin, Marissa, and I did a podcast interview with LaShaunda Hoffman of Sormag. It was all about Novelspaces blog. One of the questions she asked was how is it that Novelspaces group blog is still going strong after five years when so many group blogs have arisen and disappeared in that time. The answer that was given is that Novelspaces is a drama-free zone where the authors involved actually like and respect each other. While that is true, now that I’ve had a few months to meditate on it, I think another reason for the success of our blog is our ability to grow and evolve; the ability to change with the time.
Five years ago when the group first started, most of the members were traditionally published. The blog posts had a lot of discussion about writing, writers’ lives, office space, experiences being published, storytelling, editing and organization. There was a lot of information about the writing process and writing as a craft which reflected where we were at that time. There was also a pervading almost elitist view that traditionally published authors were more “validated” than indie authors. And as for vanity presses: frowned upon.
A few years ago I started seeing a shift in blog posts. As authors left and were replaced by others we saw more Indie authors sign on. We saw some who previously questioned the authenticity of indie publishing going that route. We saw traditionally published books being re-released independently as rights were reverted. But more telling is the tone of the blog. We saw quite a few posts validating indie authors, and extolling the advantages of going the indie route. As a group, novelspacers were evolving.
Today I see a lot of posts about marketing and promoting. That tells us a few things:
1. The changes in requirements of an author
Whether indie published or traditionally published authors are expected to market themselves. Once ago a traditionally published author wrote the book, submitted the manuscript and the publishers took on the marketing and promoting. Now even with the major publishing houses, the author has to do a hefty portion of the marketing and promotion.
2. Where novelspace authors are in their careers
Both those of us who are traditionally published and those who were originally indie authors have now in some way or other dappled in publishing whether it is independent or small press. We no longer see writing as merely a hobby, but as a career whether we hold other jobs full time or part time.
3. It is a reflection of the diversity we now find among novelspaces authors
Just like in the larger universe of authors, novelspaces authors are not only writers. We are writers, publishers, illustrators, promoters and marketing specialist. Sometimes one person wears so many hats it’s tough to distinguish the different offices. It also tells of the complexity of the authors’ roles in today’s market.
I also see a lot of posts about social media. A few years ago, the prevailing Novelspaces view of social media seemed to be that of a ‘time sink” where people were too distracted by it, many claiming they had to disable their internet in order to write. Quite a few authors told of their discomfort using social media because they were private persons. Since then I’ve seen discussions of social media as a marketing tool. Many extol its use as a marketing tool, but I can see some people already questioning its effectiveness. Is that an indicator for the future of social media in marketing?
The point about all these observations is that the success of Novelspaces as a group blog lies in its ability to evolve. I’ve seen the evolution and that evolution reflects the changing markets, the changing roles of authors, the changing perceptions. The reason why we have not collapsed is because we as a group have grown.
“If you don’t grow, you die.” The parallel cliché is “if you don’t evolve, you become extinct.” Novelspaces didn’t die, we didn’t become extinct, because we've grown, we've matured and we've evolved.
What say you? Do you agree? I would love to hear your take on this.