Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chip MacGregor Quits

Chip MacGregor has announced that he’s calling an end to his blogging. To paraphrase his reason, he has said all that’s worth saying. It goes without saying that this comes as a disappointment to his 250 daily readers, including myself. I think Chip’s blog is the first literary agent’s blog I followed and it is one of the few that I continue to follow.

I understand the feeling that one has said all that’s worth saying. I had those feelings myself and I’ve wondered if some of the time I’ve spent writing posts would’ve been better spent doing something else, but I’m not sure it’s even possible to say all that’s worth saying. To quote from Michael Hyatt’s comment to Chip’s announcement, “You may think you are repeating yourself, but you are not. You are getting first-hand experience building a platform—something that is invaluable in terms of passing it on to your clients.”

Michael Hyatt is only partly right. Yes, there’s much more that can be said, but a blog is more like a face to face discussion than it is a book. With a book, the author pens his knowledge and puts it out there for the world to read. A reader may pick up one of my books a hundred years from now and gain something from me. However, in a face to face conversation, we say something once. We may turn to another person and have to repeat ourselves. The same is true of blogs. I have a few posts that receive a lot of hits from search engines, but for the most part, the post that is viewed the most is the one that is the most current. I occasionally pick up a new follower and I occasionally offend someone and they leave. Or maybe they just got tired of me. In any case, my audience today may not be the same as yesterday and it may be different tomorrow. My readers aren’t likely to go back and read the archives, so if I want them to read something I’ve written before I have to write it again.

The other thing Michael Hyatt is only partly right about is the first-hand experience building a platform. By nature of their jobs, Chip MacGregor and Michael Hyatt have had a much easier time building and audience than the average author. It’s tempting to try this as an experiment, but if I were to set up a blog on which I claimed to be a literary agent or the CEO of a publishing company, it wouldn’t take me long before I too had a large following. I don’t say that to brag—quite the opposite—anyone could do the same. Granted, Chip MacGregor and Michael Hyatt are better spoken than some of the other publishing industry professionals I’ve seen, but with thousands of authors out here looking for someone to guide them toward their dream, it isn’t hard to develop a following. But I don’t think Chip and Mike can pass that on to typical authors. It is much harder to develop a following of people who actually want to read the author’s books. Just look at me. I have people who read my blog who I have sure have never read my books. Either that or they hated them and were polite enough not to post a review. The only solution to that seems to be to build the audience first, and then write a book that appeals to the audience. But Chip can’t pass that information along to his clients because they wouldn’t be clients if they didn’t already have a book.

But I think there’s reason to keep on blogging. We need people out here who are actually saying something worthwhile. Without that, what we’ll have is a bunch of people talking about their cats and their grandchildren. So what if we repeat ourselves some. A new audience demands that we tell them the same things we’ve told other people. But there’s also more to say. If we’re tired of saying the same thing over and over, maybe it’s time to change our focus and talk about something else, but there’s always something more to talk about.