To blog or not to blog?

Author:Zeises, Lara M.

In a saturated market, it takes more than a hot concept, great writing, and an appealing cover to ensure a book's success. No wonder, then, that so many authors are trying blogging on for size. After all, a blog (short for "web log") picks up where a standard, static website leaves off. Not only does the blog provide a forum for daily musings, it creates a direct connection between author and audience--the kind of access Holden Caufield would've killed for.

Take Sarah Dessen. The award-winning author inspires a following so rabid they've named themselves "Dessen Heads." Luckily for them, Dessen keeps a LiveJournal that she updates every weekday morning. The subject matter is mostly pop culture oriented--everything from her obsession with America's Next Top Model to what's loaded on her iPod.

"The writing I do on the journal is so different from my novels," Dessen says. "There's less pressure and hardly any expectation, so I can just say whatever I want."

Within minutes of posting, Dessen begins to receive comments from some of her more than 900 registered readers (a number excluding countless others who bookmark the site for their daily dose of Dessen). She cites "contact with [her] readers" as the best part of blogging.

The success that bloggers like Dessen, Neil Gaiman (Coraline), and Holly Black (Tithe) have found, coupled with increasingly easy-to-use systems like Blogger, LiveJournal, and TypePad, has inspired even more YA authors to blaze their own blog trails. Other entrants into the world of blogging include Catherine Atkins (Alt Ed), Brent Hartinger (The Order of the Poison Oak), and Lisa Yee (Millicent Min).

Hartinger views his blog as a way of "branding" himself. "[It's] a means to an end," he says. "In this case, the end is to promote my books, and give fans more information about me." For Linda Joy Singleton, blogging delivers "a way to reach fans without actually posting on my own website, which I have to ask my webmaster to do." Singleton, author of The Seer series, maintains blogs on both LiveJournal and Blogger--programs that can be mastered by anyone with a working knowledge of word processing. HTML skills, while beneficial to the blogger, aren't

a necessity. Laurie Stolarz, author of the Blue is for Nightmares series, receives hundred of fan e-mails each week--and answers every single one. To cut back on this, Stolarz says she'd "like to start pointing my fans to my LiveJournal as a way to keep in touch." E. Lockhart (The...

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