Thursday, December 16, 2010

Playing in other sandboxes

(Photo from XKCD)

I’ve had a blog post in mind for a while about the difference between a service provider and a business partner and how it relates to publishing (the Amazon Bookscan announcement set me in motion), but it’s not quite fully formed yet, and it may never be. While that’s gestating, let me put in a word for keeping your RSS reader diversified—something that helps me when I’m stuck for a post.

We publishers tell authors to blog, to comment, and to participate in the blogosphere, but one thing I think we (or at least I) fail to mention is that a blogger cannot exist solely in the Kidlitosphere. I think it’s antithetical to good social media consumption to be so narrowly focused (it’s also antithetical to good print media consumption). What’s more, I think you should go deeper than BoingBoing or Gizmodo (both very useful, by the way), and get deep into another community of interest.

Experiencing another community’s blogosphere is a great opportunities to see how they deal with problems and challenges similar to our own. It’s like foreign travel—the good kind, where you don’t just go to Hard Rock Cafe.  You can learn new bloggers’ dialects, their habits, their mating rituals. And those can make you a more interesting kidlit blogger.

For instance, photography is a passion of mine and I read a number of photo blogs of various kinds, including:

These are both heavily trafficked blogs with lots of comments and very different tones. And obviously they never talk about kidlit. And yet I find myself making connections between the two blogospheres all the time.

I also follow the Tumblr blog of some IT guy who splits his time between China and Australia, and who posts mostly pictures of his exquisitely tailored suits and expensive shoes. I like his taste in clothes, but I’m also fascinated by the community (and it’s a big one) he’s blogging from within. (Warning, like all Tumblrs it seems, this one is occasionally NSFW.)

Blogging authors should ask themselves, what are my creative passions other than children’s literature? How might those blogging communities (and it’s a given that they exist) inform your kidlit blogging?

Maggie Stiefvater, one of the smartest bloggers I know, has been successful in two distinct creative blogospheres in the course of her short career. I bet she’d tell you that her time in the world of visual art blogging made a big difference in how she approaches blogging in as a novelist. (And I’d win that bet, because she said as much at her KidLitCon 2010 keynote.)