I blog on Fridays, generally about history but sometimes about other things, like this blog on an aspect of writing life. I do the odd book review as well, and these are usually posted on Tuesdays.
For all kinds of boring reasons, I’m not writing a lot at the moment. (I’m looking for publishers for some stuff I have written already and I don’t want to write another book until the ones that have already been written have homes to go to.) This means that my blog is the main writing that I do right now.
It can be very satisfying to run a blog. This one gets well over 3,000 visitors in the average month. Even allowing that many of them seem to be spambots of one sort or another, that still leaves quite a few real people and they surely can’t all be Russian hackers. It’s nice to know that my take on some historical events is widely read and, as my figures stay pretty stable, a lot of people are presumably coming back month after month, hopefully because they like what they see. (I know 3,000 isn’t very many by the standards of these things, but then I’m writing thousand word posts on topics like the Conference of Vienna, so I don’t expect a massively high readership.)
It’s a good thing that it is satisfying, because there are no obvious practical benefits. One reason for doing it was to prove to myself, and anybody who read it, that I can reliably produce a column week-in week-out. (I’m allowed to take time off for Christmas and summer holidays.) This is a lot harder than it seems at first and many bloggers who start with high hopes fizzle out after a month or two, but here I am (though I have no idea yet what next week’s blog will be about). The market for people who can write a regular historical column is, though, extremely limited and there seem to be more than enough Caitlin Morans and Giles Corens to supply the market for columnists generally, so, having proved I can do it, I have really impressed no-one but myself.
I did have a vague hope that if people read about the history behind some of my books they might go on to read the books themselves. Let’s just say that if one in a hundred of those 3,000 people a month were to decide to buy a book, I would not still be trying to persuade my publisher to take the next in the Burke series.
I don’t blame you, I really don’t. I feel guilty enough about all the excellent authors whose blogs I read but whose books I don’t buy without adding to your guilt burden. Plus, for some reason that I must admit I don’t understand, a lot of people who are otherwise quite generous feel that they really don’t want to spend money on a book. Perhaps it’s that they think that if they do they will have this unread novel haunting their Kindle, like the ghost of summer reading yet to come. Honestly, I’m not proud. I’m really happy that you’ve bought one of the books – I’m not going to insist that you read it too (although you might enjoy it if you do).
Anyway, given that everybody talks about monetising blogs, I have decided that, if you feel so inclined, you can Buy Me a Coffee. Somewhere on this page (top of right sidebar if you are on a computer, somewhere at the bottom if you are on a phone) there is a cheery little orange box that you can use to send me the price of a cup of coffee. At least, I hope you can. It’s new, so let me know if you have any problems (comment below or use the ‘Contact’ page).
Alternatively, please leave a comment occasionally. Blogging allows writers to talk to readers (and non-readers – it’s not a private club) and for them to talk back. I know WordPress can be annoying, but you shouldn’t have to register or anything. I do read all the comments I get and I like hearing from you. If you haven’t commented before, I do have to approve your comment. This is mainly to protect you from the oceans of spam that would otherwise flood the page: it’s not evil censorship or anything.
Anyway, that’s me for this week. Normal historical ramblings and other chat will be resumed shortly. Meanwhile, if you know anyone who wants to commission a regular column or who is in the market for some historical non-fiction (I’m branching out), point them in my direction.
If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading.