August 22, 2013

Random Musings: Blogging Platforms, Publishing Experiments and Spoilers

Pink card picturing a woman sleeping on her desk and the text Your laziness is outstanding even by August standards
Source: Someecards

If you were wondering why things have been so quiet around the blog, the answer is that my blogging mojo decided to leave. I’ve also been busy and tired, which means that I’m using all the energy I have left on being lazy and doing nothing but read.

In order to lure my mojo back, I’m going to spice things up a bit with a post that’s all about old news, new news that I didn’t properly analyze and a rant. Because let’s face it, there’s always some energy left to whine.


Blogger Deletes, WordPress Profits

This is old news by now, but I wanted to chime in and offer my two cents.

For those of you who don’t know, Blogger deleted a few blogs that for some unknown reason were flagged as spam. I only follow one of the blogs that was deleted, but I hear it happened to many more.

Blue card featuring two men and a woman and the text: I stand behind our decision to completely panic.
Source: Someecards
What happened next was a panicked mass migration to WordPress. Most of the blogs I follow decided to move and avoid future headaches and preoccupations. And there were blog posts about the benefits of WordPress and self-hosting.

But not everyone can move to WordPress, and I didn't see any posts guiding and offering advice to those staying with Blogger. So here is my advice:

Due to the random nature of the deletions, it’s impossible to prevent them from happening, but we can take measures to minimize the damages. What I did was create a free blog that mirrors this one but it’s set to private so no one can see it, and I just import all the posts and comments, so that if this blog goes away, I will have the other one. This is really easy to do. I used The Book Vixen’s great, step-by-step tutorial.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it means that you won't lose all the hard work that went into your blog.

Also, staying on Blogger doesn’t mean that you care about your blog less than those who decide to self-host. I don’t even have my own domain, and I assure you that I take my blog seriously. Also, if Blogger deletes your blog, it’s not your fault. It’s Blogger’s. And as far as I know, the deleted blogs were successfully reinstated, so nothing was lost. But to be safe, remember to back-up your blog every time you post new content.


Ruthie Knox Partners with Wattpad  The King of Instant Gratification Rejoices (and then Goes D'HO! When He Realizes It's a Serial)

Loveswept just announced that Ruthie Knox’s next book will be serialized and published for free on Wattpad before its formal release next year.

What is Wattpad? I’m not sure, but my friend Vi described it as “Youtube for books”.

My thoughts on this partnership are not even half-baked, but here are some early impressions:

Close up picture of a a man and a woman holding hands in a pinky-swearing kind of way. We only see their arms. He's wearing a striped blue shirt and she is wearing a yellow dress.
This is a temporary cover. Readers will
choose the final version. 
Serials are popular right now, and Ms. Knox will release one later this year (another serial that’s unrelated to this one). But in this particular case, we get to read for free the book before its formal release date next year, so I’m not sure what this is about or what it means for the industry. Is it a marketing experiment, an e-reading experiment or something else? I don’t have the answer, but I would love to hear your thoughts.

What I do know is my reaction as a reader. I don’t like it, mostly because that’s not how I read books. It’s the same reason why I don’t like serials, although this one is free (but I think it must be read online and through Wattpad, so there are pros and cons to it).

Another question is whether this will improve sales or not. Ruthie Knox is one of the most successful Loveswept authors, so the potential success of this endeavor won’t be easily reproduced with other, less-known authors. That means that even if it is highly successful, there’s no guarantee that similar formulas will be equally successful, since, in my opinion, the key element is not the form but the actual writer. Although for all I know this could be a case of showcasing this particular work and not a new way to read.

I’m not sold on the idea (although I doubt I’m the target audience) but I’m curious to see how it goes.


Status Updates, Goodreads and the Nature of Spoilers: A Rant

I don’t hate spoilers, but I hate not having control over them. This means that even if I sometimes read them, I don’t like being accidentally spoiled. Unfortunately, people’s status updates keep spoiling books for me.

For those unfamiliar with Goodreads, the site allows readers to keep track of the book they are reading by marking how far into the book they are and making comments about it. So we will see something like: Brie is on page 55 of book X – (insert comment here). That’s perfectly fine until those comments start spoiling the plot even when it doesn’t look like spoilers. Why? Because spoilers don’t necessarily come in the shape of specific information; a spoiler can be something as simple as the page in which the hero and heroine have sex for the first time or just saying that on page 20 something happens that makes you go “NOO!”. All of those things ruin surprises, generate different expectations and reshape the reading experience. For example, knowing when the couple will have sex means that whatever conflict was keeping them apart will be resolved enough for them to get it on.

That been said, there are ways to prevent the updates from showing. All you have to do is check the updates so that you only see the reviews:

Screencap of Goodread's main page. Red arrows pointing where to click in order to not see the status updates.
Click to enlarge
Before you say that this rant was completely unnecessary given that I just answered my own dilemma, I will say that the updates can be hard to avoid when auto-tweets are enabled. So maybe consider turning off the auto-tweets?


Links, New Blogs and New Old Blogs

My Fridays are always off to a great start thanks to Radish Reviews’ weekly linkspam posts. Natalie puts together one of the best curated and insightful list of links from around the web, and in some cases she offers her own commentary. If you’re not reading the blog, you’re missing out big time, because besides the great links, Natalie also writes great reviews across genres.

There’s a new blog in town! Love In the Margins is a Romance blog focused on stories featuring characters from marginalized groups, minorities and anyone else who doesn't fit the white, middle-class norm. So far the reviews and discussions have been insightful and thought provoking. You can also find them on Twitter.

Our friend Kaetrin gave her blog a makeover, so now it’s looking all purple and cool. Got take a look if you haven’t done so already.

And on a completely unrelated note, here’s the best Tumblr EVER! via Has


  1. Fun post, Brie! I hear you on the blogging mojo disappearing. Sigh. Wonder if we can lure it back?

    I was unaware of the Blogger fiasco. Guess none of the blogs I read were affected ^_^; I'm kind of sad... First Google Reader and now this... Blogging seems to be changing so fast. I'll have to look into backing up my blog this week-end.

    so Wattpad is like an app? I'm probably not the target audience either. I'm sorry, but I'm not into serialization. don't care who's the author and how good the story is, I'll wait to have the full book. Quite frankly though, I don't see how this is going to attract readers who do not know Ms Knox, but then, what do I know?

    Sigh, Goodreads. Lately, I've been using it only to keep track of my books and see what others have been reading. Not really reading people's status. Then again, I don't mind spoilers. But at least, I'm glad you can resolve this problem. Now, if Goodreads could focus on making their search engine better!

    Thanks for the blog pimping! Going to take a look at the blogs... I still miss Google Reader :(

  2. Our mojos probably ran off together!

    I think you didn't know about the blogger thing because you're not on Twitter. At least I'm glad it was new news for someone ;-) I do recommend backing up the blog. Brianna's tutorial is super easy to follow, but if you need help, let me know.

    I think Wattpad is a website. I don't think it's an app. Maybe this will attract readers who use Wattpad but aren't part of the community or don't even read romance.

    Don't get me started on Google Reader! When I finally found something similar (The Old Reader) they couldn't handle all the new members and kicked us out. So now I'm using Feedly, which takes some getting used to, but isn't as annoying as I first thought.

  3. I'm using my scant supply of mojo on getting ready for fall semester so I'm happy to see you blog about anything at all!

    This is a good article on Wattpad (I had no idea it was a Canadian invention!):

    I'm kind of interested in the idea of a return to serial publication--how it might change the way novels work. But I'm totally uninterested in (online) serialization as a way for publishers and authors to cash in/build a devoted fan base. I mean, more power to them if they want to do that, and for readers who want to be part of this, but it is so not my thing. Not interested in the uncritical fannishness of it; not interested in talking to an author around the book in this way; not interested in helping pick a cover and being made to feel as if I have some kind of "stake" in a book other than hoping I enjoy it. I am just an old, old school, fuddy-duddy reader. (BTW, I think that temporary cover is really bad at giving a sense of the style/tone of Knox's work that I've read--too cutesy and looks like YA. Are they pinky swearing?).

    But it's all good, because I can't keep up with these crazy-prolific romance authors and have a pile of unread Knox TBR. I can wait a year to read her next adult novel in the way I prefer.

    1. Thanks for the article! Is it me, or does it sound like the creators of Wattpad think they invented e-reading or are somehow revolutionizing the way we read?

      I think Wattpad is an interesting concept that may provide a platform for new writers to display their work. But as a way to promote established authors? I don’t know. I’m also not interested in voting for covers or stuff like that, but again, I don’t think I’m the right audience. So I will sit and wait until the book releases next year, which no one is forcing me not to do ;-)

      The comment about the cover made me laugh, because when I filled in the alt text of the image properties I actually wrote “holding hands in a pinky-swearing kind of way” LOL. I agree that it doesn't convey Knox’s style. I think this is the naked beekeeper book! Hopefully the final cover will have more naked beekeeping while simultaneously avoiding the man-titty. Good luck with that!

  4. Oh, the "You aren't serious about blogging unless you are on self-hosted Wordpress" narrative makes me want to facepunch the world. I've been teaching a class at a local college on blogging and digital journalisms for about four years now and this is something that so many of my students have been told. And it's a bunch of crap.

    Personally, I don't like Blogger: the interface, the terms of service, etc. However, that doesn't mean that people who like it are "lesser." I have used self-hosted WP for a long time for work, but choose to not use it for my blog (I use Squarespace) because I find that I spend a lot of time on the care and maintenance of WP, which is not something that I want to spend my "for fun" time (which I consider blogging to be) doing. I actually have a number of business blogging clients who've moved away from WP because of the maintenance required as well. These blogs are a key part of their marketing strategy for their business, so it's not like they're not "serious bloggers." (It's my understanding this "WP is the only way" message was conveyed at the BEA blogger convention too, btw.)

    I tell my students to blog on whatever platform they feel most productive with. Different brains respond to different platforms, so it's great there's a choice.

    I think the platform debate is another piece of the weird culture of blogging in which some folks feel the need to create hierarchies in which some voices are valued more than others. But that's a subject for another day.

    1. Thanks for this comment, Sarah.

      I don’t like Blogger for the same things you mentioned, and I panicked when it started deleting blogs. But I saw people implying that those who didn’t move to WP didn’t care about their blogs and wouldn’t be able to complain if something happened because “I told you so”. And that really pissed me off. Even if self-hosting can be super cheap, there are people who can’t afford it (or didn’t know about the free WP, feel Blogger is easier to use, etc.). And what if someone who really likes Blogger gets their blog deleted? Does that make them guilty? I could afford GoDaddy, but I don’t want to give my money to a sexist, elephant-killer asshole. At one point I was seriously considering moving to Squarespace (as you may or may not remember) but I had some unexpected expenses and I couldn’t make the move. The thing is that there are many other blogging platforms out there, so if you’re giving advice to people, show them all the options.

      The platform debate is interesting and a bit disturbing. You have way more experience than I do, but for what I can see, there is a sense of hierarchies within the blogging work.

  5. I haven't been on twitter much the last couple of weeks, so I completely missed the brouhaha about deleted blogs. As someone who has 11 years' worth of posts on blogspot, intermittently backed up, I probably do need to think about being more methodical about it. As for being on blogspot meaning you're "not serious", I guess if many people feel that way, there might be a signalling component to it. If your objective is to grow and monetise your blog and enter into professional relationships with publishers and that sort of thing, not being on blogspot could be a signal that you're prepared to put a lot of effort into your blogging. Me, I really don't give a toss about that, so I'm staying where I am.

    I agree about the Wattpad thing, BTW. I might have made the effort for, say, Guardian Demon, if it had been serialised early (although it would have felt like TORTURE!), but while I like Knox's books, I don't like them quite that much. I'll wait.

  6. You missed all the panic!

    I guess that if someone wants to make a profit out of their blogs and offer ads, a more polished look goes a long way, but that has nothing to do with the blogging platform. Also, there’s a lot of emphasis on looks and none on content, which is what really matters. But that’s a rant for another day, and frankly, I don’t want to complain about people telling me how to blog while at the same time telling other people how to blog ;-)

    I really liked Knox’s books, but I want an uninterrupted reading experience, or at least I want control over how far I read, so I’ll wait too. Meljean Brook is the only author I would make an exception for, but that’s because my inner fangirl would force me to do it. I mean, I just spent $10 on an anthology just to read her novella (and I would do it again and again).

  7. Here's the thing about being self-hosted on WP - it's not a perfect solution. No blogging platform is; they each have their own set of pros and cons. A lot of people rave about how wonderful it is to be self-hosted on WP, but guess what? I have see quite a few blogs that are self-hosted on WP go down. Without warning. For hours and even sometimes for days at a time. WP users have to worry more about being hacked (for some reason, hackers love going after WP blogs). WP users have to worry about server issues. And WP get A LOT more spam comments than Blogger blogs do (think 1000s). I am not saying that it's a bad decision to go with the self-hosted on WP option, because it's not. It probably is the best way to go. But it's not for everyone. And like you Brie, I'm tired of the blogs on Blogger are not serious bloggers way of thinking as well. Or people telling me that I can afford it, anyone can afford it. Blogging is a hobby of mine and I'm damn serious about it. I care about my blog. I just don't have the means to go the self-hosted on WP route.

    (Thanks for the linkage!)

    I heard about Ruthie Knox's novel going up on Wattpad but I have no idea what Wattpad is. And if Wattpad equates to me reading a book on the computer, then it's definitely a no-go for me. But I most likely pick up the Kindle edition when the book comes out because I love Knox's writing.

    OMG You have 66(!) unread emails in your Goodreads inbox?? (Yes, out of everything you wrote about regarding GR, that's the thing that stands out to me. LOL)

    I love link love so I'm off to check out the links you provided :)

    1. I think you can only read Wattpad books on Wattpad, so either on a computer or tablet (if you have one). But I don't think you can download the books to read on an e-reader.

      Yep, I have a a lot of unread messages, but they are a bunch of invitations to events and authors requesting reviews...

  8. Note to self: routinely do a back-up. Bad Wendy!

    The "not serious about your blog" thing kinda pisses me off. Glad I missed that part of the brouhaha. Mostly because I find it insulting - says the girl who has been blogging for 10 years with Blogger. But what do I know? I'm apparently "not serious."

    Hell, pretty much everything Sarah already said in her comment.

    I happen to like serializations - because they feed into the latent recovering soap opera addict quietly lurking inside me. But I really have no interest in some of the stuff that Liz describes - like picking out covers or making me feel like I have a "stake" in the book. My stake? I want to enjoy the story. That's it. I want to consume the product and enjoy it. I don't want to feel like I have to help "create it" too. Heck, if I wanted that feeling I'd take up writing my own stories. But to each their own.

    1. What I like about this serialization is that it's free and that the book will be published next year. So those hesitant to try it don't have to pay for it, and those who are not interested can just wait and get the whole thing.

  9. People usually promote self hosted blogs as a better option than free blogs. Personally, I think both have their pros and cons. If you are a writer who is hoping to keep your blog for years to come, it is better to have a self hosted blog.

    The same applies if you are earning from an online audience through other means. Using WordPress blogs for niche sites has lots of advantages.


Blogger likes to eat comments, so I suggest copying it before hitting "publish" just in case it doesn't go through the first time. This is a pain, I know, but it's the only solution/prevision I can think of, and it will save you the frustration of losing a comment. Also, thanks for visiting!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

FTC Disclaimer

The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.