The Tribune did a feature in Sunday’s paper about local writers and poets, and included a piece that led with this line: “Area writers have two more avenues to reach an audience, in addition to open mike night at Hastings’ Hard Back Cafe.” The two avenues are an annual literary journal and a radio program. Now, those are indeed some nice avenues for reaching an audience, but let’s look at the pros and cons of each, and consider another avenue.
The literary journal is nice because it is published – on paper – which no doubt is the goal of every author. On the other hand, it is published only annually – only one publication each year. That’s a long stretch between issues. And the radio program is nice, probably targeted more towards poets, who enjoy reading their works aloud. Poems are ideally suited for a short (15-minute) radio program. On the other hand, it is just words in the air – there is no printed version that is published for all to see. It is also limited by time – if you happen to be listening when the program airs, great…if not, well, sorry, wait until next week’s program. Unless, of course, you create a podcast of the show.
But there is a third avenue for writers to reach an audience, and you’re reading it right now: a website. More specifically, a blog. A blog is ideally suited for a writer: you get to publish what you want to, when you want to, in the format you prefer, any time at all. You can control the font, the colors, the visuals, and so on. You can allow (or not) readers to leave comments on specific chapters, poems, or entries. You can organize your work by subject, by time, by chapter, by author (for multiple-author sites). You can give a behind-the-scenes look at your writing, create an author’s bio, spotlight upcoming appearances and readings, and in general engage your readers (current and potential). And, of course, you can print out any part of your writing at any time. In short, the writer can control everything about his or her work.
Here’s some examples of writers who blog, picked at random from AuthorsBlogs.org: Patrick Ogenstad, Rebecca Brandewyne, Sara Donati, Joseph Powell, and of course Montana’s own Teresa Bodwell.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not claiming that blogs (or websites) are the ultimate answer for all authors and poets. But they can give authors of all types more control over their work, and more chances to reach an audience.