Rays of light at the Solstice

Well, one never knows what will strike the imagination and passions of readers. I’d like to thank you all for playing, and with such exquisite politeness. Miss Manners would definitely approve.

In fact, while I’m about it, I’d like to say a general thanks to all of you who read this blog, for keeping it interesting for me and for being such good sports in putting up with my many and varied topics of muttering, some of which I’m sure bore you to tears. As a community, you guys strike me as remarkably generous and thoughtful—and as I said, polite: I’ve only had to delete a very few comments, and those early on.

The topic of Why Blog? often comes up at writer’s gatherings, mostly with the underlying question of its value as a marketing tool, ie, Does a blog sell books? Personally I doubt it does—certainly, the blogs I read regularly don’t feed into my reading habits a whole lot, except when a reviewer I trust recommends a title. So why would I expect those of you who read this blog to be any different?

I suppose if I were aggressive about using this space as a tool, I might find it bringing in a lot of new faces, some of whom might go so far as to splurge on a paperback, but you may have noticed that I’m not much of one for aggressive authorial marketing, to the extent that I don’t even have a counter on this site. I have no idea if its audience is the same five dozen people (every one of whom posted a comment on the last entry) or if there are thousands of you reading these words, with hundreds more flocking in each day.

Now, considering the number of blogs out there, I’d be utterly astonished to find that “Mutterings” is developing into a whirlpool of Internet activity, sucking in anyone floating free on the web. I don’t methodically trade links (only in part because I can’t figure out how to post a list on the side here), which is the main way to build readership, and I don’t go out of my way to push myself in people’s faces. Many of the mystery blogs this week have posted thanks to Crimespot, a digest of blogs for people to link to, but while I agree is a very nice site, I was not asked, and indeed, don’t know that they’ve ever made reference to my blog.

Does it bother me, that “Mutterings” hasn’t become a sister to “Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind” or one of the other major sites? Clearly it doesn’t, or I’d have put into play all the means of Building Numbers, beginning with a site counter to tell me just what those numbers are.

Truth to tell, I rather like not knowing. Then again, I was one of those women who, when pregnant, didn’t want to be told the sex of the child. I enjoy meeting the occasional reader of this blog at BoucherCon or at signings, because it’s unexpected. I enjoy the (completely spurious, I know) anonymity of casting remarks into the ether, when sales considerations and editorial reactions have nothing whatsoever to do with the words I set down. I appreciate the freedom to blather on about what I want to at that moment, since in general, I write under contract and my writing freedoms are closely circumscribed.

No, I’d very much doubt if this blog is any more effective a sales technique than posting the occasional snippet of work on the web site, which might take me half an hour a year. Rather, I write this blog because it lets me think aloud, and get feedback from what I have found to be a group of intelligent and friendly individuals who happen to already like my books. The pressure is off, and although I would not wish to offend a reader, any more than I would want to offend a person at the supermarket checkout stand, I am not all that worried about convincing them to buy a book.

So thank you for joining me in my interior monologue, and for contributing comments. I hope you continue to listen to me muttering away during 2007.

The best of Solstice holidays to you all.

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  1. Delia on December 23, 2006 at 8:12 pm

    And a merry Christmas to you, too. I love your blog and check it at least once a day and sometimes more for the great comments. What a great group of commenters you have! I find it endlessly entertaining. Blogger on!

  2. Anonymous on December 23, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    I’m not a normal “blog” reader of any sort…personally I have a feeling few would read a blog unless it was a friend, person they admired (i.e. i love your books, therefore I’ve started reading this blog) or a famous amusing blog such as the one you mentioned. I find keeping my own to be as inconsistent as my own paper version diaries; I now use the latter sparatically as a sort of random thoughts place, quite similar to how you’ve made your blog but with much less formality.

    I’d also like to agree with the whole “not knowng” thing. There’s a certain excitement about throwing out a piece of yourself and just imagining where it blows up. Sometimes the mystery doubles the effect. For example, one of my favorite bands the White Stripes have never clearly stated if they’re brother and sister, ex. spouses, or just happen to look alike and either have the same last name or changed it. No one seems to know, every magazine says something different, and I’ve decided I don’t want to. Ambiguity is a wonderful thing.


  3. 2maple on December 24, 2006 at 1:24 am

    It seems to me that most of the readers here already have many/most of your books. If you were too heavy on the marketing sales front it would be preaching to the choir and wouldn’t acomplish too much.

    I like this more for stretching my brain around things that don’t necessarily come up in my daily dramas.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  4. kate mckinnon on December 24, 2006 at 4:41 am

    Laurie! Thank YOU for maintaining this blog. As a demographic sample, I have a link to your site from mine, I have read all of your books, and recommend them to friends, and I check your site at least once a week to catch up. I almost never comment.

    For me, the blog is a good way to get my LK fix while I wait for your next book, to keep up with your life and times, and get the occasional pointer somewhere else.

    I think the blog is an excellent marketing tool, but only because you are as charming, literate and intelligent in your own character as you are in those you write.

  5. beadbabe49 on December 24, 2006 at 6:48 am

    I like your blog…if it were sales oriented I wouldn’t read it since I’m already a reader of your work.
    So thanks for keeping it like it is.

  6. Trix on December 24, 2006 at 8:17 am

    Like others here (seemingly), I like to read an author’s blog to hear their own personal voice, not an advertorial. The advertising role is better fulfilled by an official (and more static) website, IMO.

    I find demographics interesting myself, so not having stats on a site I ran would drive me insane. But obviously, we all have different preferences. 🙂

    Regarding the issue about whether the fact it’s your fans here mainly replying implies that you’re not going to make much in the way of new sales, that may not entirely be the case. I’ve quoted from some of your pithy posts on my livejournal, and I know of three people who have personally said to me that they want to read more of the author who wrote those words. One, I know absolutely, has got Folly and is intending to get Keeping Watch asap.

    So, an indirect marketing route, perhaps, but I’m sure there’s at least a trickle of additional sales because of this blog.

  7. Bett Norris on December 24, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    I read your blog because I’m nosy, curious; because I’m a great fan of all your books and like most fans, want to know more about the author. I’ve found that your comments are quite interesting, thought-provoking, and sometimes moving.
    I am a writer as well, and have my own web site and blog. I agree that it is enormously freeing, to speak to a mostly anonymous group, and about whatever I like.
    I enjoy the comments from readers, yours and mine, very much, and have found some of them very helpful.
    I created my site because, as a first-time author, I was told it would be the best marketing tool. My first novel comes out in February and the waiting is excruciating; the blog gives gives me a place to talk about what’s on my mind, and it is always so amazing and gratifying to receive replies from out there in the world, to find that someone is listening, sort of like ham radio.
    I check your mutterings every week, sometimes daily, because I find it very engaging. Please know how much we all appreciate it, and keep muttering.

  8. bani on December 24, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    Thank YOU Laurie! I think your blog has the perfect format for an author. I appreciate that it isn’t a marketing tool, and that it becomes such a nice meeting-place for different people. Enjoy the holidays, and I wish you all the best for the new year!

    Fun language fact: in Swedish the days between Christmas and the New Year are called “the inbetween-days”. So the after-Christmas sale is the “inbetween-sale”. This is my Christmas cracker fun fact for Laurie’s community… 😉

  9. cronznet on December 25, 2006 at 1:28 am

    Happy Solstice and Merry Yule to you and yours. Thanks for blathering, and thanks for sharing the wonderfully odd correspondence you sometimes receive.
    Best of health and happiness in the coming year!

  10. Maria on December 25, 2006 at 3:22 am

    I think that you have done a great job. It is nice to know that you like to keep in touch with your fanbase and readers. There is no need for visual bling bling. Your blog is simple and down to earth. My god have you ever visited J.K. Rowling’s website. It is a nightmare…too much stuff happening. I find your approach very informal and user friendly. After all it is your words and thoughts that matter, not how they look. It is this that reaches the reader where it counts.

    I just recently joined your community through your Mary Russell and Holmes novels and look forward to reading more from you.

    Thanks again for keeping it real!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  11. L. Crampton, LAc on December 25, 2006 at 4:41 am

    Thank you, Laurie, for being yourself in this blog and trusting yourself in your writing. It is a gift to your readers and to this community of your blog readers. I was just at a party this afternoon, having a lovely conversation with the granddaughter of the honoree, and our conversation turned to books and publishing. She is happily reading book 6 of the Potter series to her grandmother, a delight for both of them, and it was great fun to recommend BeeK to her, knowing that she and her mother and grandmother and all their friends will shortly have the delights of the Russell books. I think your website is just right for you and your readers, and the blog likewise. I differ with Maria (above) in that I find Rowling’s site perfect for her and her readers. Different book, different author, different style. But thank all the heavens for both of you! Merry Christmas to you and your family–may all be well, safe, happy and healthy in this season and the new year.

  12. Anonymous on December 25, 2006 at 11:49 pm


  13. Sara Berger on December 26, 2006 at 1:41 am

    I enjoy all of your writing, and find the Blog a good way to get to read your less formal thoughts. Pleae keep writing.
    How is your husband? I hope he is recovering well. Did he get home for Christmas? Did the kids?
    Be well, I hope to see you at Bouchercon.

  14. WDI on December 26, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    And once again I echo the thoughts above. I started reading your blog as a way to connect to someone whose work I adore and continue because what you write is interesting, funny, thoughtful, and thought-provoking by turns, and because I enjoy hearing from the rest of this community as well. In fact, that’s what draws me to the few blogs I follow regularly: they are small communities of interesting people with whom I enjoy spending time.

    I have no idea whether or not the blog a good marketing tool as, like others here, I already buy your books in hardback the day they hit the shelves 🙂 But it’s a lovely gift, and that must surely carry its own karmic reward.

    Happy holidays to all!

  15. CaraSusanetta on December 26, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    I blog for musing, fun, and penpalship, and I gather you do as well. Maybe your readers know we have a kindred spirit thing going on, so we flock to this virtual place to have a coffee with our friends we haven’t yet met. And my life would be poorer without the skunk story, most certainly. Joy and peace, now and always, one and all!

  16. Anonymous on December 27, 2006 at 2:41 am

    belated thanks for your comments re my question about writing. synchronicity also provided me with a comment form a friend….. make the reader taste the apple.

    both very helpful.

    i’ve had computer and web blues, having a new computer and no internet at home, i hadn’t checked mutterings for some time.

    as to why blog, or why i read yours, laurie, i like to see further clues re the mind that creates the writing i find so enjoyable.

    thanks for your generosity

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