Book Update: So, this is why more bloggers don’t write books

To be completely honest, when I first started this blog, I had hoped to eventually attract an audience and put out a book on Greek ceremonial magic. 

As I talked about topics that mattered to me, I discovered that my main interest was actually not the main interest of the audience which I somehow mysteriously collected.

I decided, with some cajoling, to put out a book on the topic which was of the most interest to my audience.

Writing a book isn’t a thing that happens over night, especially if it is more than a brain dump. Whereas I may get hundred or even thousands of hits on a blog piece, I will likely sell somewhere in the double digits of any book I write, and, to my mind, that is being rather optimistic.

I find myself writing fewer blog posts, and blog posts of less substance, less scholarly work and more channeled material and opinion pieces. Some percentage of my writing has always been gnosis and/or opinion, but it was generally at least interspersed with magical techniques and articles based on primary source texts.

My writing is, word for word, about the same as it was, but now the juicier stuff is going into my book. I wonder, given how niche my topic is, if I’m not just writing into a black hole, or if my material wouldn’t be better served in another medium. If, at the end of the day, my goal is to change the way people think in the present, rather than leaving some record of my work for the future, blogging is probably where my work belongs.

Arguments have been made about how much more seriously published works are taken, but I begin to wonder how much I care. If an idea isn’t good enough to be contagious on its own merit, how important can it possibly be? If the idea (rather than the little fiddly bits and source-text quotes that support it) does not survive beyond words on a page, if it does not live, evolve, and grow beyond its origins, what is its value?

Indeed, the blogosphere, in my opinion, is where culture is happening. I feel like, as I write this book, I am subtracting my voice from that conversation. Obviously, I’m not, really. I keep saying things. Horrible, annoying things.

Whereas, before, what I put out into the world was met with instant feedback (for better or for worse), this sort of writing absolutely is not. The whole process is distinctly unfulfilling.

At any rate, I’m about a third of the way done with writing the book. I’m setting a hard deadline of March 20th.

 

14 comments

  1. celestineday

    OMGs, I was just talking about your blog earlier, and wishing you would update again, and here you go! Twice in one evening!

    I will say that I take your blog posts seriously. But I would also read a book by you. I understand that doing one means a decrease in output on the other, but I also think there’s room for both. As a reader, I would definitely continue to read both; I will read your book and any blog posts you put out while writing it, and I will read your (hopefully) increased blog posts in between books.

    Just my two cents. 🙂

      • celestineday

        ^____^ Books! Plural!

        I think I would be more interested in reading a book about Greek ceremonial magic.

        As for blog posts, I’m most interested in: apotheosis, magic, deity-communication, your personal experiences (to the extent you’re willing to share), spirits. Probably other things I can’t quite think of right now.

        I don’t know why I’d be more willing to read about Greek ceremonial magic in book form rather than blog form.

      • celestineday

        After some thought:

        A book on Greek ceremonial magic is something I can add to my library and use as a resource that is easily accessible.

        I’m in this weird kind of in-between generation wherein the Internet became a thing when I was in high school, and cell phones a couple of years after that. I’ve embraced certain levels and types of technology in my life, but unlike some younger generations, I have not put my entire life on my phone, or tablet. I have a Kindle Fire, but certain books I still like on paper, and that includes Pagan books. I want to be able to underline and highlight and put it on a shelf and be able to reach it easily.

  2. aediculaantinoi

    Alas, this is the nature of the beast…

    AND–

    There are advantages to the printed word which the digital word doesn’t have.

    If you never update your printed book with a further edition, then it is truly an artifact that can last a very long time, and that some people may grow to love their copies of. No matter how much someone LUVs their smart phone or computer, it will be in a trash heap one day, probably sooner rather than later given the current state of how built-in obsolescence is a highly-prized design feature these days.

    And, if the internet ever either can’t be sustained any longer due to resource limitations, or is seized entirely by government and/or corporate control, then the copies of your book will remain one way that the information can still be accessed.

    And (and and!), for my own part, I’ve found that having books is a lot more convenient for me to access my own materials a lot of the time. With few exceptions (e.g. the British Library), people aren’t suspicious if you bring a book with you somewhere, though they might be for electronic devices.

    In any case, I’m looking forward to your book! (I’d hoped to have 4 more out by the end of this year…and, that hope has been dashed to the ground once again…bleh).

  3. Stormwise

    I have, under other names, published articles in magazines; but I have never endeavored to write a book. I love books, I thoroughly enjoy the feel and smell of a book, and have my own little traditions and quasi-rituals when it comes to reading books. I would therefore readily agree that books possess qualities that blogs and blog posts can never hope to achieve.

    But I would not go so far as to suggest that books are in any way superior to blogs. There are very good reasons why the blogosphere is where culture is happening, one of which involves what I’m doing right here, commenting, interacting with an author for whom I have respect and enjoy not just reading but also conversing with. On my list of blogs I follow, there is not a single blog that is there, where an author refuses to interact with readers. Sometimes there is an A-ha! moment when you read something, either in printed or electronic format … and sometimes, the moment is almost there; but it takes just a few words from the author to allow the reader to follow-through with the connection. For me, that alone is reason enough to blog.

    Another driving factor for blogging is cost – or lack thereof. Money is tight for many; and some would prefer not to take a risk on an unknown author (or, perhaps more appropriately, a non-“big name” author), when they can go to that author’s blog and enjoy the above-named benefit for no money at all. This is financially more demanding on many blog authors, as it means we can’t always quit our day jobs (there are, of course, exceptions to this … but these folks are not the rule). My own perspective on the matter – and please understand that I do not judge others for not sharing this perspective – is that the gods and spirits don’t charge me a penny for the wisdom they have imparted to me; and I would not feel right charging money to pass along what I was gifted to begin with. If I write a book, unless I do so free of charge to a publisher that prints as a charitable service, I expect readers to pay to access those things I have learned along my way in life. This is the main reason why I prefer the blog to the book as my medium for putting out words that I hope might someday be of some benefit to others.

    The other problem with books is with the publishing process. Either you get lucky and land yourself a publisher who can effectively promote your work; or you have to scream to get noticed, then deal with the knee-jerk criticism that comes when people look down on you for screaming your presence. This is not first-hand knowledge, it is what I have been told by others who struggle to get their books into a broader audience. Good people, who essentially wish nothing more than to put what they feel to be a valuable contribution into the hands of people who might benefit from it; but wind up ripping their own hair out in frustration from the process, or sinking into a depression that sours them on the idea of passing along wisdom and experiences entirely.

    When it comes to you, I will be honest and say that for the most part, I have very little personal connection to your preferred subject matter. That having been said, I follow your blog because I am intrigued by your insights and the manner in which you bring them across. Essentially, even if Greek Paganism is not something I incorporate into my religious and spiritual experience – excepting of course that YouTube video that has Thor in a rap battle with Zeus; which I would be tempted to include simply because I believe the gods have a sense of humor, too – I still follow your blog and enjoy conversing with you. I would also buy a book from you. The main reason? Because I’m quite certain I would learn something new.

  4. aoibheall52

    Well, they’ve all said what I think, and with far more eloquence than I am wont to use. Which is why I quail at the thought of writing a blog or a book. But you’ve got a real gift for it, Thenea. Your blog is what sparked my interest in Hermes and his crowd, and your relating the gnosis you’ve experienced has led me to pass Him and your blog to others. I know someone who has a working relationship with Hermes but his talking about it never caught my imagination or led me to become curious enough to reach out. My friend will be in the group who buys your book on ceremonial magick and uses it. I will buy it to support a writer I enjoy, even though I won’t do anything but flip through it. For people like me, a collection of your posts, bundled into chapters on different topics, is attention – grabbing. Two different books and two different audiences. I can’t speak for anyone else but I love your scholarship and find it fascinating. Yet it’s the homely things that allow me to relate to the gods on a level I can understand that draw me to know them better, and your writing is a gift in that. I hope to purchase and read them both someday.

  5. Heather Freysdottir

    “what I put out into the world was met with instant feedback (for better or for worse), this sort of writing absolutely is not. The whole process is distinctly unfulfilling.”

    I had to push past that when I worked on my book. I eventually got to place where I enjoyed the opportunity to write about something more in-depth than I would on a blog post, and then it got easier. But it is a process. *sympathy fistbump*

  6. Christine Hoff Kraemer

    Here, to me is the difference between blogs and books: your average blog reader reads your blog while also using FB and IM, checking their e-mail, working, and probably switching between open tabs on their browser. Rarely do you have their undivided attention. This is why, especially on high-traffic blogs, longer blog posts usually go unread past the first 1200 words, and posts that don’t include headers and emboldened sentences are often misconstrued by audience members, who are skimming and tend to read what they expect to read instead of what you carefully crafted.

    If you write a book, your reader will most likely read it off paper or a tablet while relatively undistracted. In fact, they will probably put off reading the book until they are able to read it undistracted, because they expect that what is there will be more polished and thought-out than what the same author puts in a blog. That means fewer people will read the book, but those that do will be paying much more attention.

    One writes books in order to get readers who are sitting still.

    • Thenea

      I’m done writing, actually. Now I’m revising, fixing footnotes, polishing out inconsistencies… my next step, I think, will be floating it by a small publisher. Wish me luck!

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