My objectives for this blog stretch the concept with posts that on occasion will exceed the typical length. Is that a problem?
If it is, you won’t make it to the end of this one, so let there be a warning here.
The very first post, titled Beginnings (kind of appropriate under the circumstances) is longer than typical length and received positive comments. I don’t know if those readers noticed the length but ignored it because they wanted to be supportive, noticed it but didn’t care, or didn’t notice.
Other readers issued a caution, of sorts, that exceeding the typical length might not be a good idea. My interpretation of what they mean is that to wander outside the norm is to invite negative reaction from some visitors to the site. That begs the question of who these readers might be and why they didn’t like reading something longer than normal.
After I thought about this for a day or so, I split Beginnings into three parts. That didn’t drop the word count in each to the average post length of 300 words, but it definitely changed the look on the page. I’m in the process of editing another long post, The SOB Trip, and posted the first installment a few days ago.
If I continue with that format, how does it affect the reader’s experience? And how does the reader’s previous experience with the site affect the one happening right now?
As an example, let’s assume that followers of The SOB trip who have read parts 1-4 see that part 5 has been posted. It’s the latest post, so it’s at the top of the “home” page of this blog. Is it any different than having put a book down for a while? On the other hand, if a week passes between posts, what about continuity? My guess is that most people open any book they are reading more frequently than once a week. So maybe they navigate to an earlier part to catch up before reading part 5.
First-time visitors see The SOB Trip part 5 sitting on top of the stack. They are experienced blog readers, so they know how it works and scroll to the bottom to begin with part 1, read it, get to the bottom, and there’s a link directing them to part 2, and so on. It’s a little choppy, but they are used to doing that with any blog thread they have been following.
That may be fine, but I’m tempted to post stories in their entirety, and I’m not talking about a novel. There’s something about being able to read a post completely at one sitting without having to jump back and forth. Yes, it’s not the typical blog format, but there’s another factor here.
I have longer posts on my blog and use photos to help break up the text a bit. A new reader comes along, an agent I’ve queried. She’s gotten past the query and read the sample pages, and wonders what else I’ve got. She’s curious and sees that I have a website. Click.
It’s a website built on a blog platform. The significance of that is important. Websites take you to a home page, which is static content. Fine for a business, where you navigate the site to do what you went there to do.
But when a website is built to showcase me the writer, and I have zero name recognition outside my family and friends, I want dynamic content on that home page so recurring visitors usually see something new. That’s why they went there in the first place.
Back to my theoretical agent, the look of the site is the first thing she notices. If my site is cookie cutter, how does that showcase me? If my site is outrageous, maybe not so good. But what if it’s in between? Just enough to keep the curiosity level up?
She begins reading the first post on that blog page, which is the latest post regardless of category (I call categories logbooks, it’s a pilot thing). She reads and is either interested or she isn’t, just like with my query and sample pages. But if she sticks around, and the site is easy to navigate, and maybe even a little fun, have I increased the chances of getting a request for additional material? And if she sees evidence that I have a following (Seth Godin’s “tribe”), and she’s already curious about my writing, does that help bring my status out of the slush pile?
That post is longer than typical. Does she immediately click away or begin reading? And if the writing is good enough to keep her reading, at what point does she quit? My guess is at the end, or at whatever point she’s had enough.
Enough to decide, no, or enough to send a request for a full or partial? In either case, I wonder if post length in and of itself would result in a form rejection from an agent who has already arrived at my blog because she’s interested.
Chime in here if you are so inclined. I’d really like some opinions.