As many bloggers take a break for the holidays, I wondered about how to keep up with family and holiday happenings, and still keep up with writing. Taking a break is tempting, but then I realized that there are older posts that could use a fresh look. I had planned to reblog a post from October 2013, called Much Appreciated: I’d Like To Thank the Academy and Tons of Other People, but upon reading it again, I realized that a lot of the info there was dated. Before I knew it, I’d written a new post!
My readership has jumped from about 500 when I posted that old one, to just over 5,000 now, but there’s a lot in that older post that bears repeating. Several readers have recently asked me about why I always say: “much appreciated.” Others have asked about the Huffington Post gig (how it happened, and what it means). So, here goes– a reworking of an old post:
When it comes to blogging and writing, I’ve had both talent and luck on my side. I tend to be Teflon™ with compliments, hence my self-deprecating sense of humor– that some readers get and other don’t, but lots of you mention. In the spirit of the season, I will acknowledge here on this post: that writing is my gig, and I think I’m good at what I do. (There, I owned it– without a deflective joke). They say: “do what you love,” and writing is what I love most (outside of the obvious: Nutty Bits, Cheez Its, Sushi, Grapefruit cocktails… and my family). I’ve worked hard to improve the writing I do, and to stick with it. So, I’m owning talent today.
I’ve also been lucky. Some luck is a byproduct of talent; from there it’s a crap shoot. It’s a crap shoot because before luck comes your way, you have to get noticed. In blogging, getting noticed isn’t a given. I have worked very hard to build my readership and have my writing noticed; it didn’t drop in my lap. Sure, you can visit lots of other bloggers and leave comments. Been there, done that. That’s the number one piece of advice that bloggers are given: notice other people, and they will notice you back. True >to a point<. Some bloggers will notice you, but they won’t necessarily visit you back. There are folks who will subscribe to your blog and never read it. I’ve said before (Who Are You And Why Are You Following Me? Well worth a read, for new bloggers): I try really hard to follow bloggers who I get to know, and who I truly intend to follow=> read.
I make every effort to regularly read the posts that those bloggers write. I try to leave sincere comments. While the advice is to read others and comment, really what it comes down to is making a real connections. Sure, it’s great to see a big number in your “following” box, but if very few of those readers is actually reading your work, connecting with you, giving you feedback– it can feel pretty shallow. More and more, I am letting go of blogging relationships that are not reciprocal. It takes too much time to read and support others, if they aren’t interested in doing the same. So, while the standard advice is: follow and comment = get noticed, I urge you to dig in and be real. Do not drop by, leave a shallow comment and drop your link in my comments. Very few writers like a drive by.
Gratitude: A lot of you have asked me why I say “Much appreciated” so often, when responding to comments. It’s simple; I really do appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read something I wrote. When you take the additional time to comment, I feel warm, sparkly fuzzies all over– I kid you not! Some days, I actually get weepy, feeling the love. My recent post: On My Father’s Birthday, A Letter To The Man Who Killed Him was Freshly Pressed on Word Press, published on Huffington Post, and is going to be published on a network in Australia. It has received well over 700 likes on the blog; has been reblogged nearly 100 times, and there were 435+ comments on Tales From the Motherland alone! (On HuffPost, ironically, it received much less notice). I could not be more grateful to WordPress and their kind gesture of Freshly Pressing it, and I am enormously grateful to each person who shared a brief, or much longer, comment about how that post made them feel. Admittedly, it can sound repetitive, when I say “much appreciated,” on that many comments, but I’ve made that my standard response, because I mean it. Your efforts are indeed Much Appreciated.
An Aside: Recently I started adding it as a hashtag on Twitter, only to find that there is an entire “much appreciated” movement. I secretly think someone stole it from me… wink wink.
I’ll say it again, it’s been a whirlwind of goodness around here in just a few weeks. The post about my dad was Freshly Pressed on the very same weekend that my first Huffington Post piece was published, about the Jerusalem Synagogue Massacre, the last weekend of November. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating: it was a shit storm of good and bad that weekend! While folks on WordPress were telling me how wonderful I am for forgiving, a huge number of people on HuffPost were virtually accusing me of killing Palestinian children, for voicing my outrage over a horrific murder of Jewish rabbis. In my mind, one does not lead to the other, but for many readers it does. If I was ready to let go of all humility for the exciting attention my writing was getting, those comments kept me grounded in reality: What goes up, can clearly come down! And watch what you wish for.
All you have to do is look at this chart, to see how the highs can be so high, but lows are tougher to ride when you make the fall. In the end, it all inspires me to just dig in deeper.
How did I get published on HuffPost? So many of you have asked this. Again, luck, tenacity and good writing. At the BlogHer convention in July, Arianna Huffington gave out her private email address, and told us all to email her if we had something we felt was worth publishing. I had tried 2x before the Jerusalem piece, and heard nothing. I’d submitted through HP’s on-line submission form, and got nothing. Frankly, I’d read as many posts as I could on how to break in, and what to do, but it felt hopeless. When I wrote the Jerusalem piece, I felt strongly about it: the topic and the writing. I felt it should be read. So I took a 3rd (the charm) chance and emailed it to Ms. Huffington. A week later, I’d heard nothing, and I went ahead and submitted it the traditional route as well. The next day, I got a very kind email directly from Arianna Huffington, complimenting my writing, the story, sharing her concerns as a mother, for my daughter’s safety, and saying she’d like to publish it on HP. I was stunned! Seriously. I sat on it for hours, unable to do anything but grin, squeal, read it again, and call a friend. It was my good friend, Claudia, who said: “Write back and say yes!” In the end it was not submitting it traditionally, but the email that did it. I will forever be grateful that Ms. Huffington took the time to read my email. The next day I heard from her editors. It took several more days, with getting a head shot, entering my bio, etc, before it was printed.
That post did extremely well on HuffPost– not “viral” well, but well. It got 400+ comments, and lots of hits, shares and likes. Then they published another post that did well (the one about my dad), but not as well. From there, they accepted my work much more easily, with about a week’s wait between posts. I’ve now had 5 pieces on HuffPost in 3 weeks (this, this, this, this, and this one). The one on Monday of this week, An Open Letter To My Almost Adult Children, has done the best so far, stats wise. Despite my dislike of numbered lists (and here’s a list of 9 reasons why), HP renamed that one 5 Things I Want My Adult Children To Know; perhaps the number 5 is why the post did so well? Groan. The current piece, When A Friendship Dies, is not doing well at all. So feel free to hit that link on the title, dash over and show it some love! It would be much appreciated. And again: what goes up, must come down. If you’re now humming the song, here you go:
In very short order, I was a featured blogger on Huffington Post. Not because it was easy, or I was just lucky. I worked hard; I got lucky, and I dug in and have kept the momentum going. They want to see that your work will be read, that you bring in comments, likes, and people share your work. My work did well without very many friends, other bloggers or family doing those things– and that feels good. While I wanted those folks to jump in and have my back, ultimately, my work has done well (mostly) on its own. I no longer have to pitch stories to them. I write them, and they publish them; I am very grateful. I delivered what they want, and Huffington has been good to me– but no, I do not get paid. I get my work out there, and for now, that’s good enough.
Finally, Resolutions: NO; I am not going to publish my novel by January 1, 2015, as I foolishly stated in my New Year’s 2013 post. It was stupid of me. I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions (for me) and I should have stuck to that. Instead, I felt the pressure all year– but not the motivation to do something about it. Over this past summer, it began to really hit me that I wasn’t ready for that– it’s written (in fact there is a novel and a memoir); it’s professionally edited; it’s essentially ready to go… but I’m not. It’s become clearer to me that my blog is where I live. It’s what excites me most. My posts and the responses I get from readers, drives me. My WordPress readers, in particular, have kept me going and motivated! As soon as I embraced that, things really took off. The last two months of 2014 have definitely been some of the most exciting and rewarding for me and Tales From the Motherland. I’m right where I need to be, for now. (Of course, if you’re a publisher: bring it on!)
There it is: luck, talent and hard work… it’s all part of the big picture in blogging and writing. I work hard at this; I don’t rest on Awards or kind comments. I think I’m a good writer– not the best, but not the worst; I aspire to be better. I stick to it; I’m not foolish enough to think I can sit back now. There are MUCH bigger blogs than mine, much more successful bloggers, but, I am truly grateful for where I am right now. It is all, sincerely, Much Appreciated!
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With one week left: Help Me Reach My Goals! I’d love to see the Tales From the Motherland Facebook page reach 500 likes in 2014. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, it’s where I’m forced to be brief. Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. I love to hear what readers think. Honest, positive or constructive feedback is always welcome. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, with no spam. If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there. ©2014 Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.