State of the Blog

calvin-writingI started this blog earlier this year as a bit of a promotional tool prior to releasing my first novel, Convergence, in February. Since then, I've met some fantastic writers through Wordpress and KBoards, along with twitter and Facebook. It's been an impressive ride so far. One thing to note is that while I don't have wildly impressive numbers like some other bloggers (hell, this blog is only roughly 8 months old at the moment, and a lot of the content was imported from a previous blog that I've since shuttered in order to focus solely on this domain), there has been steady growth and a lot of repeat customers who check out the posts, comment, and like. I guess I'm doing something correctly?

July was pretty impressive numbers-wise and my strongest month to date. I began noticing a nice influx of visitors and was charting between 30 to 40 visitors per day. Some days were less, and some days were a lot higher. For the month as a whole, I had over 1,200 hits. My previous largest month was in February when Convergence launched, to the tune of 425 hits. So, July managed to more-than-double my previous most-significant month, no doubt due to guest posts and a tweet from Chuck Wendig who shared my review of Blightborn with his followers (thanks again, Chuck!). In fact, I had a significant number of views thanks to the Wendig Bump, which drew nearly 120 viewers on that day alone, my first 100+ single-day views.

When the blog went live in January, I wasn't sure what kind of sustainability there would be or what I could post about regularly. Although some months have been a bit lighter than others, content-wise, it seems that I've actually done OK finding material to host here, either through the book reviews I've written, guest posts from some author friends I've met along the way, or reblogging content that strikes an interest or particular chord with me. Last month also saw a lot of content on the blog - 45 posts (also a new record!), which likely helped draw in the traffic. I'd wager it's unlikely that I top July's output anytime soon, though.

The biggest hurdle actually seems to be in user engagement. I do wish my posts generated a bit more activity comment-wise, but the amount of likes and shares have been healthy enough that I'm not too put off by it. And perhaps some of the posts don't merit a lot of in-depth discussion after their publication. There's a few factors that go into this, I'm sure, but maybe as I become more of a known entity this will correct itself. I dunno.

I've also shied away from really controversial stuff, largely to avoid being branded as a particular type of author, either good or bad, in terms of political attitudes and beliefs (although I had little trouble calling Coal Rollers assholes not too long ago, and I firmly stand by that assessment). However, this isn't really a blog for discourses on gun debate, abortion stances, and so on and so forth. I just don't want to get bogged down on that stuff here. Which isn't to say I won't, maybe, someday share thoughts and opinions on those arenas. I'm just not going to do so right now. And when/if I do, I hope to keep a rather even keel of things and be open to different interpretations. But whatever. That's a conversation for some other time, really.

This is, first and foremost, a book blog. For my books, and for other author's books, as well. Generally speaking, of course! I don't want or need a bunch of overly anxious and obnoxious hawkers trolling all the feeds unsolicited. I have a spam button and am not afraid to use it! But, do note that there is a Contact link up above, and if you're a respectable sort who wants to do things the right way, go ahead and use it.

I started expanding the scope of this site a bit and am putting more thought into how to nurture and grow things here. The first avenue was to spend time generating regular book reviews, since I am a pretty heavy reader by nature. And I have way more books than I do time. I'm primarily interested in writing reviews for books that I enjoy, and while I understand and appreciate the merit of literary criticism, I also don't want to waste my time hashing out all the various reasons I may dislike something or grueling over nit-picky crap. If I don't like something, I tend to just not read the damn thing at all. I'd rather promote the work I enjoy and love, and hope that others can find the same appreciation in a particular book or two.

There were also some terrific guest posts from J.S. Collyer, Lucas Bale, Jessica Rydill, and S. Elliot Brandis. They're all new writers who made their debuts this year, and whose work I was immediately captured by. They've got terrific voices and viewpoints, and I think their material added a lot to this site. Guest posts are definitely something I'd like to see more of around here, so we'll see what happens with that front. I'm also toying around with the idea of developing a set of standard interview questions for authors to respond to, but that boils down to a matter of finding the free time to do so. Maybe that will be a new feature I can debut in the new year. And speaking of features, if you haven't already, check out the Features page - you'll find links to all the guest posts, thus far, conveniently collected there.

Over the next few weeks and months, I'll be working on gearing up for the release of Consumption, so expect some content, promotional, and release news relating to that new short story. I'm also in the midst of editing Emergence, the follow-up to Convergence, for, hopefully, the first half of next year. I've also got a solid stack of ARCs to review from NetGalley, so expect posts regarding those books soon-ish, and hopefully a lot more posts that can be of some interest to my visitors.

I may not have a direct, straight-forward road map for the future of this blog, but I am, at least, more confident in its sustainability and long-term ambitions. I'm also OK with not posting every single day and having some lapses in content. Mostly it's just a matter of taking things one step at a time.

I'm hopeful that the growth will continue and that more people will find and support my work here and, maybe, enjoy my titles for sale, and that there can grow some kind of symbiosis between these two efforts. I expect to be here for the long-haul, and appreciate you sticking around and maybe helping to spread the word.

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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