Rick Moody on Author Blogs

Rick Moody addresses an interesting topic on Big Think with a very compelling (and some may say controversial) argument. He states that the “superficial, not revised, carelessness” about writing straight on the screen without significant editing makes blogging a detriment to a literary writer’s work. He believes that the writers who are pressured in the direction of publishing online are not able to put out the quality work that comes from “patient revision.” I am paraphrasing a bit what Moody describes as the abbreviated attention spans that online content tends to generate, but his point is an interesting one.

To quote from Moody’s latest release, THE FOUR FINGERS OF DEATH, his character, Montese Crandell, is conducting an author signing at an “old-fashioned used-media outlet” because of the advice of his wife “who’d spend her remaining time on earth counseling me on just how to boost my product.” There is something very accurate of the advice given to Crandell by his wife, because when it comes to publicizing your work, it is no longer about the art and craft that went into writing the book, it is about selling a product. Moody is right in saying that the internet and all of the available stories, videos and news items have led to “abbreviated attention spans” and authors are fighting for the attention of the elusive reader (and book buyer) so that they can continue the art and craft of writing a book, and get paid well for it. This is why we, as publicists, say that you really do have to wear two hats (the artist’s hat and the business hat) when it comes to being a writer. But should author’s blog?

I have spoken with author’s who feel that by blogging they are giving away their work for free. But at the same time, without giving potential readers something to grab hold of and get interested in, they may never discover you in the first place. It is imperative that as an author, you maximize your exposure and pull readers in. Blogs have proven to be an excellent way to gain attention and interact with readers. This is not to say that you shouldn’t edit what you put out there, because just as easily as your work can turn a reader on, if done haphazardly and without thought, it can turn your reader off and therefore defeat the purpose entirely.


Jonathan Franzen echoes this argument in the much publicized TIME Magazine article.

Reading in its quietness and sustained concentration is the opposite of busyness. ‘We are so distracted and engulfed by the technologies we’ve created, and by the constant barrage of so-called information that comes our way, that more than ever to immerse yourself in an involving book seems socially useful,’ Franzen says. ‘The place of stillness that you have to go to write, but also to read seriously, is the point where you can actually make responsible decisions, where you can actually engage productively with an otherwise scary and unmanageable world.’

So the moral of the story, and the advice we give to authors, is BLOG…but blog responsibly and edit, edit, edit.