Friday, April 16, 2010

What If They Had a London Book Fair and the Americans Didn't Come?

Earlier this week I was all set to send out another ho-hum blog post about how my husband was once again heading off to the London Book Fair for the 11th year in a row. But as most people know by now, something happened.

The car service picked Jason up at 3:45am yesterday and took him to the airport to catch his Chicago flight, and from there on to London. At 7am, as my daughter and I were getting dressed, the Today show came on with the news of the volcano eruption in Iceland. I gasped. As my brain was processing how absolute the Heathrow ground halt was, the phone rang. Indeed, Jason had been advised to get off the Chicago flight (which was delayed) and go home. He rebooked through Paris for today, thinking things might improve. (Meanwhile, I drove about 100 miles round trip to fetch him, take him home, and then go to work.)

By this morning, of course, the ash situation worsened, and e-mails were flying back and forth among him and his colleagues here and in Upper Saddle River. The group's annual rights summit was scheduled for tomorrow in Dame Marjorie's private dining room overlooking the Thames from The Strand. There was no way they'd make it in time for that. So they decided to cancel it. And they also decided that the travel situation would make it nearly impossible to get there in time for the fair itself on Monday. So they surrendered to Vulcan and cancelled their trips altogether.

Jason has spent the entire day undoing all the work and plans that he's been making for months: cancelling dozens of publisher meetings, hotel rooms, flights, trains, dinners, and more. He's absolutely devastated and feels out of sorts to be here and not there. But many of his publishers responded that they, too, would not be able to make it to the fair. What can all of humankind do when Mother Nature kicks over our intricately constructed societal anthills?

Fair officials are still planning to go ahead with the event. But periodic searches of the #LBF10 hashtag on Twitter indicate that the British will likely end up doing a lot of talking to one another because even their European counterparts can't get across the Channel in time. Still, it will be a great economic loss to everyone. Such a shame.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

To Tweet or to Blog?

For several months, I've been kicking around the thought that the current Twitter craze is hurting blogs by enticing their writers to take the easy way out and just tweet instead of crafting a more substantial blog post. I know that's what I've been doing.

And back in November, Publishing 2020 blogger Joe Wikert admitted that Twitter is cutting into his blogging frequency:

The time I used to spend reading (and writing) blogs has shifted to Twitter. I find myself less attracted to the long form writing in blogs and more to the short bursts of Twitter. FWIW, I used to write 4-6 posts for this blog every week and now I typically only write one, but I also write anywhere from 3-10 or more tweets per day. Despite that, traffic continues to grow modestly and nobody has complained so it seems like the right approach.

Yo, Joe, aren't you the one who told me I needed to blog every day? Seriously, that was good advice. Posting frequently catapults your content to the top of search engine results because they like to index frequently updated sites. Like Joe, I've seriously cut back my posting frequency to about one post per week. But last time I checked, this blog was still the number-one result on Google and Yahoo for the search term "Publishing Careers." So maybe the new advice is blog every day for a couple of years, and then you can rest on your SEO laurels?

I've noticed a similar trend in readership, too. My "backlist" usually gets a lot more action than my new posts (exceptions being this post about Butler coach Brad Stevens and this post about DC Trawler blogger Jim Treacher/Sean Medlock), anyway. And my daily readership stays about the same as it's always been, but without the big spikes I used to get when I got a good mention elsewhere.

So then Monday on Twitter, I ran across this post by Adam Singer on The Future Buzz listing 19 reasons why bloggers should resist the urge to merely pass along information, but to continue creating it in the form of blogs as well. And it must have hit a nerve. I retweeted it and got tons of high-profile retweets to my own fifth-hand retweet. It's as if somebody finally said what we all didn't want to say but knew was true: Creating compelling content does more for you and your brand than if you just share links to other people's content. What a great post.

Always the catastrophizer, I also wonder whether the decline of long-form blog posts will lead to a shortage of ideas. Will it lead back to old-school journo model of the few writing to the many, and the many just echoing their words in short tweets? And those of us who started blogs just to keep the words flowing will find ourselves with a new case of writer's block.

Don't get me wrong. I still love Twitter. I learn so much more, so much faster. I've expanded my network and shared laughs with people I have never met. I've got my finger on the informational pulse of the gadget-addicted world. Love it. Can't get enough of it. It fascinates me. But people who can write and who have something to say shouldn't squander it all on tweets. So I promise I will make an effort to write more long posts like this one.