Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A BOA With The Daily Dahlia

My original intention for the series of interviews I do here was to focus on agents (BBCHAT) and successful authors (SAT). In the course of internet wanderings though, I’ve ran across a lot of really awesome people, and culled an enormous amount of information from blogs. As I raided my brain – yes, I picture myself on the prow of a Viking ship, approaching my own gray matter – for more people I’d like to interview, it repeatedly offered up names of bloggers. And so, the third series; Bloggers of Awesome. Yeah, it’s the BOA.

Today's guest for the BOA is Dahlia Adler, a very multi-talented lady. Dahlia is an Assistant Editor of mathematics by day, a copyeditor by night, and a YA author and blogger (she also blogs for YA Misfits  and Barnes & Noble Book Blog) every spare moment in between. Dahlia's debut novel, BEHIND THE SCENES, will be published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on June 24, 2014

So you run an excellent blog over at The Daily Dahlia. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?

Why thank you! What I wanted was for my blog to be a one-stop shop for new writers to be able to find the information they need when they start out on the publishing journey. There’s so much out there, scattered all over the place, and it’s so impossible to tell what’s good advice and what’s bad, what was once good but no longer applies, etc. I’ve been in the publishing industry for a while, and I’ve been on the writing side for a while as well, and I wanted to apply all of that in order to make as comprehensive and useful (and honest!) a blog as possible.

I know a lot of aspiring writers who are intimidated by the idea of blogging. They want to, but they are worried it will cut into their (already precious) writing time.  I’ve heard a lot of people claim that blogging is dead. I admit that I kind of agree – unless you have an already established reader base. What do you think about this? Should new writers even start a blog?

I think there are two really important things to consider: 1) Do you like blogging, and find it relatively easy? 2) Do you really have anything new to say? The problem is, a lot of writers feel pushed into blogging as some sort of promotional necessity, and to me, that’s kind of absurd—if you don’t find it easy and enjoyable, it’s an incredible suck of both time and writing energy. And if you’re not saying anything new, then what kind of audience are you really going to get?

I don’t think that blogging is dead, per se; it’s hard for me to think so when my audience keeps growing. But I think a lot of new blogs start up that don’t really contribute to the conversation in new ways, and they’re there just to be there; it’s going to be very difficult to get off the ground that way. I also think the fact that commenting on blogs has gone down is misleading as to those blogs’ actual viewership. A lot of people read on their phones, where it’s almost impossible to comment, or they react and discuss on Twitter instead of the blog itself. I find particularly on interviews, I’ll have at least a hundred views but maybe 1-2 comments to show for it.

You contribute to a group blog as well. Do you approach it differently than you do your group blog?

I do, for sure. For one thing, almost all of our posts are at least somewhat themed, whereas very few of my personal ones are. (Though lately I’ve been tackling more series, and I very much enjoy them.) The bigger thing, though, is that even though my name is on each post, the greater blog still has twelve names on it. As a group, we’ve really embraced all different publishing paths, which is really cool, but also means I don’t necessarily want to weigh it down with a lot of stuff on traditional print publishing. And, of course, it’s a YA blog, so anything I want to write on another category is going to be for my blog alone.

Do you think blogging is a helpful self-marketing tool?

Ehhhh, I think it really depends how you do it. The truth is that I think it has been for me, because I take a very personal and conversational approach to blogging, and I know people have ordered my book because they think if they like my voice on my blog, they’ll like it in my book, too. And they might—I have a tendency to sound like myself everywhere, for better or for worse. But that’s pretty specific. On the whole, I think that unless you’re a non-fiction author blogging about your platform, or maybe if you’re an issue book author blogging about the issue, maybe maybe. But I don’t think any fiction author will get out of a blog what (s)he puts into it, from a self-marketing perspective.

Sometimes social media feels like a do-or-die. How do you approach Twitter or Facebook on days when you really don’t feel like you have much to say?

At the risk of sounding openly ridiculous here…I never feel like I don’t have much to say. There’s a reason I have an embarrassing number of tweets. I’ve actually been working on taking the opposite approach these days, and not jumping onto Twitter with every single thought that comes to mind. It messes with your head some, convincing yourself the world needs to hear your every thought. They don’t. If you don’t have much to say, just don’t say it. You won’t feel good about faking it. If you feel you need to put in your social media time, use it to promote others’ good books. It’s some of the best stuff you can do on social media anyway.

What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers?

For websites, I’d probably recommend Pub Crawl above all—it’s full of the kinds of posts every writer should be bookmarking, and its contributors have experience spread throughout the industry, rather than being strictly comprised of authors. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Absolute Write forums, which I do recommend, but with a whole shaker of salt—there’s a lot to learn, but it can be a tricky place to keep your head. As far as author blogs for writers go, I quite like Ava Jae’s, and if you’re pursuing traditional publishing, there are a few blogs that have great agent interview series, like Dee Romito’s “Query.Sign.Submit” and Michelle Hauck’s “Query Questions.” Amy Trueblood’s blog, Chasing the Crazies, is a great mix of stuff about both authors and agents; she’s kind of a master of blog series.

A few other things I highly recommend: Good critique partners/betas, which you can find on Twitter, through pitch contests, or at CPseek.com; the Evernote app, which you can download on both a smartphone and your computer, so that anything you write on one syncs to the other (which is incredible for writing on the go); and Dropbox, for backing up your work (which also helps if you’re writing on different devices).

Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?

If this is what you really want, don’t quit—not at any stage. Because when you stop, you make it impossible to succeed. But every new book you write becomes another new chance at success, another chance to get an agent or book deal or whatever it is you really want. And things will come along that make you think it’s time to give up. Those things have happened to almost every author, whether you know it or not. But sometimes, third time’s the charm. Or ninth. Or seventeenth. That’s just life. Or at least life in publishing.


4 comments:

Tara Dairman said...

Well, I will buck the trend of reading but not commenting on interviews by commenting here and saying GREAT INTERVIEW! :) Dahlia seriously, seriously knows her stuff. And I will raise my hand as someone who follows her blog and is loving her book; hopefully there will be many more just like me!

thomas h cullen said...

Heartful advice. Her 'stopping making it impossible to succeed' perspective was welcoming.


Wish her all the best.

Kel said...

Thanks for the great interview! I love Dahlia's line about promoting others' books when you feel you have nothing to say. Sounds like good advice to me. :)

Mindy McGinnis said...

Thank you everyone for stopping by, and thank you Dahlia for the interview!!