WHEN WRITERS BLOG: An interview with Jon Gibbs by gapyeargirl123
On January 11, 2009, novel and short story writer, Jon Gibbs, made the debut post on his online journal. Aside from his long-suffering wife, Denise, only one other person read the entry.
Now, thanks to features like the regular Friday links to interesting posts by writers, agents and editors; oddball competitions like the Meager Puddle of Limelight Awards, and tongue-twisting acronyms like the one for IPAFPFYOJOJB (International Pimp a Favorite Post From Your Own Journal on Jon’s Blog) Day, An Englishman in New Jersey, receives over 1,000 visitors a month. Not bad for a virtually unpublished writer.
After much begging and pleading, we finally agreed to ask Jon a few questions about his work, his blog and why he believes most writers should have an online journal too.
TBB: Wouldn’t a writer’s time be better spent working on stories and books rather than on a blog?JON: It’s true that developing an online journal takes time and effort, but in my opinion, the benefits are well worth it. Aside from the fact that a blog can help you get your work seen by new readers, there’s a wealth of knowledge and writing know-how on the web. How much would you pay for helpful advice from successful authors, agents and editors in your genre? An online journal gives you access to people from all around the world. Many of them share their knowledge and experience on their blogs, for free.
TBB: When should a writer start blogging, and which service should they use?
TBB: How often do you post entries?
JON: I try to post a minimum of four times a week.
TBB: Most entries on your blog are about writing. Where do you get your ideas?
JON: All writers have thoughts and experiences worth sharing, whether the theme is ‘Don’t make the same dopey mistake I did’ (like a lot of my own posts), or about how he/she approaches the craft. I also get ideas from my friends’ blogs. The inspiration for one of my most visited posts came from reading about someone else’s bad experience at a critique group.
TBB: What can someone do to get more people reading their blog?
JON: I’d say the most important thing is to write about what interests you. Different things work for different people, but if you have a passion for something, coming up with good posts on that subject shouldn’t be hard.
Invite discussion. Let’s say you’re a writer, blogging about your latest work-in-progress. Try adding “How about you?” at the end of the post. Those three little words make a world of difference to a blog entry. They show readers you want to talk to them, not at them.
Have fun! If you don’t enjoy writing your blog, how can you expect people to enjoy reading it?
TBB: What shouldn’t a blogger do?
Don’t be boring. Better no post at all, than a procession of uninteresting entries. That particularly applies to writers. If people find your journal dull, they may assume your writing is too.
Don’t ignore people. You’d think this was obvious, but a surprising number of bloggers seem to feel they don’t need to acknowledge those readers who take the time to post a comment on their journal. Maybe it’s just me, but for a writer, I think that’s the equivalent of saying, ‘Please don’t ever read a story or buy a book of mine.’
Don’t be afraid to post off-topic once in a while. My journal is mostly about writing, but I often throw in something on a different subject.
TBB: Which of your writerly blog posts are you most proud of?
JON: Hmm, I got a lot of good feedback for ‘The Critiquee’s Charter’ so let’s go with that.
TBB: What’s happening with your novels?
JON: I’m currently putting the finishing touches to my sci-fi thriller, Waking up Jack Thunder. My MG urban fantasy, Fur-Face, is under consideration with a publisher at the moment.
TBB: Most of your short stories are flash fiction (less than 1,000 words), is that deliberate?
JON: Yes. More and more people read (or listen to podcasts) on the web. With that in mind, it’s good for writers to have their stories available at the click of a button. I do submit to print markets, but for me, I’d rather sell my flash fiction to an online publisher.
TBB: Where can people find your writing on the web?
JON: I only have two 100-word stories online at present. They’re linked from my website, A Cat Of Nine Tales.
TBB: Final question: Where do you find time amongst all the things you have going on in your blog to actually write stories?
JON: I’m supposed to write stories too?
My old gran used to say, ‘You don’t find time, you make time’. Writers make time for pitch/query letters. They do that because they want people to read their work. A good blog will help you achieve that too. Rather than ‘Where do you find the time?’ a better question would be ‘Is it worth the time?’ to which my answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’
An active member of both The Garden State Horror Writers and The Monmouth Creative Writing Group, Jon Gibbs is the founder of the New Jersey Author’s Network. He can usually be found hunched over the laptop in his kitchen. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on. If you decide to visit his blog, tell him we sent you.