2.22.2006

Plogs....your chance to chime in

What do you think about "plogs" the combination plug and blog over at Amazon?
I started reading more about them over at Biblio Buffet and of course, several authors have asked me if they should be doing this.

As readers, not writers, what do you think of this?

28 comments:

LondonWriting said...

As a reader, I'm "eh" on them.

I don't mind the plogs that remind me a new book is about to come out, or where an author is going on tour.

I do mind the plogs that are chatty, cutesy and/or stream of conscious. If I like you as an author, I'll search out your personal website/blog and read it at my leisure. Honest. I know how to use Google and/or Bloglines.

But when I go to Amazon, it is with a goal in mind. That goal is NOT reading blogs about kids/politics/relationships/state of the Oscars. When the chatty stuff shows up on my Amazon home page, I get annoyed. And an annoyed me won't buy your book.

One reader's view. I'm sure others will vary.

Anonymous said...

londonwriting, you have said it exactly as I would have.

I am annoyed now. I miss my old Amazon home page.

stay_c said...

Completely agree with Londonwriting. If I like you, I'll find your website/blog/newseltter and read it.

It can also back-fire. I used to subscribe to Marion Keyes newsletter, but found the writing to be intolerable. Run-on sentences, longwinded paragraphs, etc. I unsubscribed and rejoiced that she had an editor for her novels.

River Falls said...

Thanks for the link. I reluctantly signed up for Amazon Connect month ago at my publisher's request, but I haven't made any "plogs" yet. After reading this essay, I'm going to put it off indefinitely if I can get away with it.

If my readers are interested in hearing from me, they visit my own website.

Greta LaGarbeaux said...

Or, river falls, you could use the plog mainly to direct people to your Web site. As in "stop in at www.riverfalls.com for an update on my book-signing sked" or "to take the poll on the bestest ever river falls book moment' or "to drop me a line with your questions about my amazing tea cozy collection." That way you are visible in the Amazon plog realm without being obnoxiously long-winded.

a writer with a "plog" said...

I agree with the others. I signed up for an author blog there, too, but I took an immediate dislike to the ones I began receiving that told me all about their kids' birthday parties and trips to the dentist, so I have opted to use that space only to announce new releases, appearances, announcements of awards or other press, and to point to other releases under my various pseudonyms. My website is listed on my profile, and if they want to know the ins and outs of my day to day existence, they can surf to my blog, rather than having it shoved in their face when they're trying to go book shopping. When a reader comes to your personal website, they want to know more about you AND your books. When they go to your page at Amazon, you can't expect them to be interested in much more than whether you've got any more books out and when.

Brooke said...

I'm with LondonWriting. I'm interested in writers writing about their process (are they mad outliners, or do they let the story grow organically?) and about the publishing process, but the cutesy stuff I can live without. Unless they write like Jenny Crusie, in which case, it won't be cute, it'll be funny and worth reading.

Also, I don't know what kind of algorhythm Amazon is using to determine what kind of plog to show me, but all I seem to get is Caroline Myss. I buy six or seven novels a month and yet all I get is woo-woo crap.

Anonymous said...

I've only read a couple of these "plog" things on Amazon, and I wasn't impressed. One of them was totally over the top, had 3 entries, all self-congratulation crap. I glanced at the authors reviews to see most of them only had a couple of stars. Are multi-plog entries a sign of a mediocre author? Hmmm...

Max said...

If an author wants to have a blog - and I think it's great if they do - then they should just set up their own. That way you can customize it to your liking, give your fans a place to see what you're up to without making them wade through Amazon, and, surprise, use it as a place to push your book. Post favorable reviews there, and fanmail, and links to things you're interested in. Let your readers leave comments, conversate with them, or don't. And finally, use it to sell books. Slap an image of the cover up there, post links to Amazon and Powells and B&N.

The Amazon 'plogs' won't let you express yourself fully as you are wedded to their template, and I have a feeling readers won't forge a connection with a blog that has such a blatant corporate tie in. Readers want to connect with writers and books not with gigantic internet bookstores.

Chris Howard said...

I've made one post to mine just to goof with the idea, and a day later received an email from a friend, asking, "Why would I want to see your face when I go to Amazon.com? Especially so early in the morning?" He was being funny. Pretty sure.

What I think is interesting is that Amazon is allowing authors to drive customers away from Amazon.com to their own sites. Presumably, these links are monitored. In my one and only plog post, I have two links to sample chapters and my podcast. Haven't seen an increase in traffic.

Miss P AKA Her Royal Cliqueness said...

Gotta throw my hat in the ring of pretty much everyone else here.

As a reader, heck as a consumer, when I want information I go searching for it. I don't mind. It keeps me busy. Keeps me honest.

If I like an author well enough to be a constant reader, I'll search whatever else I want to know about them on my own. A blog will do just fine - if I so care to know anythine more beyond their writing.

As an author, I'd rather put my energy into more personal marketing via my own website, workshops or whatever.

Anonymous said...

I don't read the plogs. If I want more on the author, I'll go to their web site or a site about the author. I see the plogs as just more hype. I do agree the most useful plog is the one that simply lists the website (or multiple) and possibly other books published by that author.

I do like to read the readers' reviews as they will often give me insight into the book a professional review won't.

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

I wonder if it's truly possible to separate us writer/voracious reader folks from the average Amazon customer. We tend to spend a lot of time on Amazon, and so are confronted by these plogs several times a week. However, when I think of readers like my mom, who may go over there once every two or three weeks, at most - I can't see how this is a bad thing. And too, since she's totally unplugged from the publishing world (well, except for her offspring!), she's generally tickled to death to get to "know" her favorite authors in any way. She seems to enjoy the whole plog thing.

I agree that we should use the plog wisely (and that's a sentence I never thought I'd type). I don't plan on updating mine more than once a month, and now that I see how it works, will be a bit more succinct than I was in my first attempt. But I'm not convinced it's a bad thing.

authorperson said...

I reluctantly admit to having done the plog on Amazon. One of my friends got plogged when she signed on to Amazon (is that how you express it>?) but she was really excited. My only posting was a link to an article/interview and she hadn't seen it. I would never chat. How horrid! But it something big happened, like winning a prize or publishing a new book, that might not be a bad thing to plog about.

Kelly said...

I like the idea of seeing my favorite authors "as themselves, even (or perhaps especially) if it's only briefly. Of course, as with any blog, it depends on what they have to say. If they keep it pithy and say something interesting, then I'm there.

Amra Pajalic said...

I agree with the majority of posters. When I'm interested in a writer I'll google them, check out their website, and read their blog.

There are quite a few writers whose work I admire but I just don't find their blogs interesting. And then vice versa, some writers whose blogs I was reading and eventually bought their books because I thought "perhaps I'd enjoy their work if I like the writing on the blog." And there are some blogs I read but I wouldn't buy their books cause it's not my thing.

If plogs are to be used then they should be just as a link to the website or some writing-related information, but at the end of the day this whole thing is a bit patronising.

We know how to use the web and navigate our way around to find information.

Kat said...

I'm annoyed by the plogs at Amazon and feel intruded upon. Also, most of the entries are much too long and obnoxiously chatty. But the blog style lends itlself to chatty, true. But these Amazon plogs are cloyingly, cutsie chatty, even the guy plogs.

You know, I'm MUCH more interested in what readers have to say about books and writers. Maybe I should have a plog at Amazon (smile).

Richard said...

I too signed up for Amazon Connect but have yet to write a plog post and after seeing them every time I log on -- by authors whose work I really like -- I have to admit I've yet to read an entry.

When I go to Amazon, I am almost always going to order a specific book, CD, or video. I just don't feel I have time to read the plogs. To me, it's "clutter."

And so I don't think I am going to use my Amazon Connect unless I can be convinced other people feel a lot differently than I do. From the comments here, it looks as if there are very few of them.

The only thing I think I would use it for would be the announcement of a new book.

Anonymous said...

As a reader, if I got a FYI plog from an author I liked telling me/she would be reading at suchandsuch, and/or that his/her latest novel will be out soon and the working title is blahblah, and by the way thanks for buying my other blahblah, that would be fine. I'd like a thankyou, if fact.
Like everything, it looks like what counts is HOW you do it, not WHETHER you do it. 95 percent of all advertising sucks. 4 1/2 percent sorta works and isn't irritating. Once in a while a great commercial comes along and you actually enjoy it. It's very, very hard to make a great commercial. All kinds of battles have to be fought. I know, I did it for quite a while. Advertising's a fact of life. Plogs are just another form of advertising, and I'm guessing they'll be a fact of life. If they seem to work publishers will request it of their authors. Most of the plogs will suck. It should be the aim of authors to make sure his/hers doesn't.

girija said...

Oh no thanks. Amazon is a book ordering service thank you very much! Like my grandma used to say, I'm full up to dolly's wax.

Kirsten said...

I've blogged about this service -- Amazon Connects -- because I hope any writer who signs up reads the terms & conditions carefully.

Amazon retains copyright of anything you post. You also can't delete posts after you've put them up -- you can only edit.

If you're only planning to put up promotional stuff, that's fine, but if there's a chance that one day you may want to draw on blog posts for publishable material, be aware that you may not have the right to do so.

Anonymous said...

Like londonwriting, I'm sort of "eh" on them. I haven't been annoyed yet, but I'm not certain how useful they will be. I'm not sure how I'd feel with a large number of plogs.

I don't go out and search for author web pages or blogs of everyone I read; who has time? That said, there are a number of authors I'd be happy to read more of in the future - if I'm lucky enough to come across their work. As a reader, it's not always easy to find, remember just who it was had a book coming out.

So far, I've received only one plog (hm, what does that say about the types of authors I read?). The author said things that I did like:

1) she didn't talk only about her books - more about books being read in her family. She didn't have a pushy tone, which helped.

2) she mentioned her upcoming publications and she also provided some links to the topics related to those novels (sort of a teaser). I'm also intrigued to see she's got a short story coming out; I didn't know she wrote short stories.

3) she also talked about some reduced pricing related to her novels. Interesting.

Will it work out for her? I don't know. Did it remind me to keep an eye out for her next novel? Yes.

At the bottom of the plog, Amazon provided a handy link to "search for every listing by this author." That's probably the most useful feature of the plog.

For what it's worth.

--A Snarky Reader

Simon Haynes said...

I've only put up two comments on my amazon listing so far, both of them related to release dates & launches. I certainly wouldn't use the service for mindless "what I had for breakfast" posts - hell, I've already got a blog for those!

Jenny D said...

As a writer, I read the small print and decided not to sign up for one for now; as a reader, I've largely ignored them, although I find the disruption of familiar amazon homepage quite annoying (at least for now--presumably I'll get used to it). The big problem I have with it is that I order a TON of books from Amazon, including presents for people, so that the plogs that have popped up prove bewilderingly random--I got a huge long one I wasn't interested in by the author of a popular-science book on parasites that I bought because of the subject matter rather than the author.

Christine said...

I'm with what most of the people here have said. I've got one, sure. But the only entry I have so far is the first one... Hi, how ya doing, thanks for looking, here's my website if you want to read an excerpt (beats having to pay for the "Search Inside" feature) and correcting the incorrect reading age Amazon slapped on my listing and has yet to correct.

When my next book is ready to come out, I'll add that, and it will get sent to everyone who bought my first book. I like that. And if I have any other major writing related information, I'll post that too.

I just hate to beat people over the head with me. If they want me, they know where to find me. I have a monthly newsletter that I send to fans that gets the rest done.

Anonymous said...

The first time I saw one I skimmed the info. Since then I don't bother to read them. If I'm interested in an author, I'd rather find their website.

MLR

Anonymous said...

I don't like them. I don't read them. I agree with several people who've commented here: If I want to hear what an author's up to, I'll go to his or her web site, sign up for his or her newsletter.

I'm a voracious reader who buys a lot of books on Amazon.com. I feel like recently, they've just been crowding the site with more and more junk--this goes for the home page and also for the product pages. Like "tags" and "SIPs" and now they've got a discussion forum beta going on some product pages. All this makes it hard to find the info I really want: price, reviews, sales rank. (I sometimes look at the text stats, but that's for research, not as a buyer.)

So I look at plogs as just more Amazon.com clutter to ignore.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with what's been said thus far. I'm an author who signed up for the "plogs" at the suggestion of my agent, and while I did write one nice little piece, I've found it makes more sense to use it to let readers know of upcoming books, events, or to answer a frequently asked question, and then direct them to my Website and "real" blog if they're interested in anything more substantial from me. As a reader, that's all I'm interested in hearing from even my fave authors. I assume my own readers feel the same way.

As an author there's one other caveat: Amazon holds the rights to whatever you "publish" on their site, which means they can use those words however they see fit. I find that rather ominous, and would prefer as a result not to post anything substantial.