Status Report 6 – The Shadow Knows

My primary initial objective for this website/blog was to establish an online presence that might enhance my chances of securing agent representation for my novel. The “theory” is that if a query letter and writing sample do not generate a form rejection and the agent is tempted to request a partial or full, the presence of a website can be a positive factor in what happens next.

You are never supposed to “send” agents to your website, but if their curiosity results in a visit and they like what they see, it’s a nudge in the right direction. It also indicates that you understand the marketing power of the internet and have at the very least taken the initial steps to become the salesperson that successful authors ultimately need to be.

As my friend and fellow writer Deanna Roy counseled me in late July when she helped launch the site, one of the first decisions I needed to make involved whether to allow comments. The concern is that an agent seeing multiple blogs with 0 comments is less effective than if the posts are closed to comments. It’s like advertising that you have no audience.

For me, the decision to allow comments reflects my desire to create an interactive site where visitors can participate. But in a classic “chicken or the egg” conundrum, I can’t encourage visitors to comment without first luring them to the site. One potential solution to this dilemma is to use the Facebook connection to advertise what I’m doing on the site and thereby encourage people to drop by and take a look.

That has proven to be a total bust. Deanna warned me not to expect much, but of course I had hopes to the contrary. Now that the reality has settled in, I’ve learned to be content with me and my blog. Until a few days ago, that is, when I Googled a few key words like “aviation” and “writing” to see what’s out there.

Up popped a link to a Facebook aviation writing community I had no idea existed. Unfortunately, the link is non-functional. My sister-in-law Pat Evans suggested I launch a community of my own. I’ve considered that, but decided that the Facebook networking platform probably isn’t the answer. What’s the probability of reaching out to any significant number of people on Facebook who are both aviators and writers? Three’s a crowd, but not a very large one.

So I looked at the option of creating another website devoted to aviators and using the blog format or possibly a forum. I ran this idea by Deanna, and she introduced me to the reality as indicated by her extensive experience with websites, blogs, and forums: even if the founding purpose of the site attracts thousands of hits per day, the number of visitors who take the time to post comments is negligible. As Deanna has suggested, the best solution is to put my time and energy into what makes me happy doing and ignore the rest.

With that in mind, the blog is like having a very special friend. I’m communicating with it rather than my computer hard drive or a folder in a filing cabinet with hard copies of blog posts. In that sense, Pat Evans nailed it when she described to me her reasons for creating a blog. At the risk of paraphrasing incorrectly, to combat the power of real life to get in the way of writing, she made a commitment to the blog to post updates on her progress in revising her novel. No sessions at the writing desk mean the blog knows.

And yes, when I wrote the last three words in the previous paragraph, I said them to myself  in the voice of the opening lines to “The Shadow Knows” old-time radio show. The blog is like a shadow. I cannot escape it, nor do I want to.

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