Tuesday, June 26, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 96

M. J. Rose has done an article in Wired online about this very blogger. And seeing that she has only a limited amount of space, and only quotes one sentence from the e-mail I sent her, I thought I`d post the whole thing here. The questions I was responding to were about marketing and the part an author plays in it...

Dear MJ

To be honest, I haven`t really thought of any of this as marketing. I`m not saying it`s not, and I`m not trying to be wilfully naive or disingenuous here, but I wouldn`t have done the journal if it was a marketing thing. I did it because I was really interested in the process of taking people behind the scenes in making a book. I`m the kind of person who never manages to keep a diary, but I enjoyed having a topic on Genie, when there was a Genie, where I could post what was happening. For the last year I`ve had a topic on the Well, again as a kind of diary and info and news source.

The Blogger seemed like a good way to take readers and the curious backstage. Part journal, part diary, part stream of consciousness. I really enjoyed the feeling of having someone to talk to.

I talked to Jennifer Hershey, my editor, about what I had in mind -- that I wanted to be the most basic of sites, with nothing on it but the journal, tour info when we got it, a way to order the book, and that was all. And I didn`t want it to be publicised -- I liked the idea that anyone interested would hear about it and go and see it; it meant that I could start writing without any feeling that the world was looking over my shoulder. I think the first few posts may have been marketing posts, in that I was trying to announce and explain the book, but very quickly it turned into a way of explaining the process of taking a book from handing in the finished manuscript to the end of the author tour -- there`s even a kind of plot there, as the readers of the blog and I get to learn whether American Gods goes onto the bestseller lists or the remainder table.

I thought it astonishing how many unique hits we were getting and how "sticky" such a simple site was, and felt faintly justified in my theory that content is more important than delivery mechanisms.

I don`t think it takes time away from writing -- at least, not more than one normally winds up giving to the process of getting a book out there: it took a lot more time to write my name on 5000 pages (to be bound into the books) than it did to write a couple of blogger entries about signing 5000 pages. It was a good way to explain, to record what I thought, to let off steam.

As for surprises -- I think the biggest one was how many people were reading it. And how many of the people who were reading it weren`t necessarily Neil Gaiman fans or readers but were people who read and enjoyed the blogger - thjey read a little of it and got hooked. I liked that.I still do.

With I was a lot more nervous -- I`ve shied away from an official website for many years, feeling that fans did it much better than I ever could, and that they had a level of interest and curiousity in the author of Neverwhere and Sandman and his work that I could never aspire to. But HarperCollins wanted to do it, and I went and found a few things for them to put on there, and suggested some initial topics, areas and directions, and now it`s gone live I`m getting interested in it -- trying to make it cooler, better looking, containing more - I`m already starting to think about a few things I`ve written that that no-one`s ever seen that are sitting on a hard disk somewhere and might quite enjoy being read.And I`m trying to think of some ways of allowing the fans to contribute more -- given the volume of traffic on the message boards I think that may be a lot of fun.

Hope this is of use--

written in the car on the way to a signing in Champaign...

Neil Gaiman

Am now kind of tired after Seattle... off to San Francisco in half an hour. Must... get... dressed.... must... pack.... must... eat nice breakfast room service person brought... must... do something about hair.... anything...

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