The OF Blog: Four months later, some thoughts and stats regarding this blog post-shift

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Four months later, some thoughts and stats regarding this blog post-shift

It was roughly four months ago that I began shifting this blog's focus further away from new genre releases (continuing a trend that began in 2008, when I began to cover more varieties of fiction here after relegating my secondary blog, Vaguely Borgesian, to mirror status) to most covering classics, the majority of which were realist works.  I needed a break at the time, because although I do enjoy reading speculative fictions, I just could not stomach any longer a near-constant diet of new releases being sent to me by roughly a dozen presses and imprints for review consideration (plus receiving 200+/year unsolicited review copies was taking up most of my limited space).

Reading, reviewing, and blogging in general had become a rat's race.  Although I had long ago abandoned any pretense of covering the types of books that certain SF/F bloggers had made their focal points, I just began to see too many outlets covering too few books in too much the same fashion.  It was just too much white noise, so I began by dropping virtually all of those blogs from my blogroll a couple of months ago, while keeping those bloggers on my Facebook and/or Twitter accounts in case anything interesting came up that might merit any attention.  Sadly, I don't feel as though I've missed much by doing so, the few times I've checked in to certain debates.  Not that I have really tried to "set myself above it all" or that I'm "too cool for such discussions," but rather getting worked up about any of these recycled arguments just consumes too much time when I have other, larger fish to fry in my professional and private life.  Life happens, I suppose.

When I committed to this focus shift a few months ago, I honestly thought I would lose a large percentage of my audience.  I've never been a "populist" reviewer/blogger (I leave that for the Pats and Wertheads of SF/F bloggerdom), nor have I been one to rhapsodize over any new thing announced (again, I leave that for other bloggers, even when the occasional bemused, puzzled comment about these rhapsodies might leave some feeling "under attack," which leaves me shaking my head in wonderment).  I self-promote these days for works that might pay me some actual money (such as the translations I've done, my series editorship of the ill-fated Best Fantasy 4, the Locus Online list of Heroic Fantasy that I was commissioned to do, plus a few forthcoming projects that I won't announce until others announce them first).  It's strange realizing that I'm no longer just a blogger, despite that still being the primary thing I do outside of my day job, at least for the time being.

Since I'm rambling, cutting this to the chase:  very different focus, abrupt shift, not online as much to pimp my new posts (unless I have a few spare minutes on Twitter, for the most part).  My Sitemeter data has revealed a drop, from roughly 14,500 unique visits (and 20,000 page views) from October 2010 to a projected March 2011 total of 11,072 unique visits and 15,110 page views.  Using Blogger's page view function, I see the drop was from 30,691 page views in October 2010 to 17.435 for February 2011 (through five days in March, it is 3,168).  According to one stat service, I've lost around 30% of my audience over the past four month and the other would make it closer to 40%.  When compared to March 2010, my Sitemeter numbers go from an actual 15,354/20,479 to the projected 11,072/15,110, meaning I'm roughly 25% off from where I was a year ago.

To be honest, I thought these numbers would be much worse.  Since I am no longer unemployed, I am posting around 1/3  less than what I was doing for half of last year.  While I am not being linked to as often as I used to be, what I've noticed is that comments to my posts, especially to my reviews, have increased over the past quarter-year.  There seems to have been a shift in the audience, or at least in those who have participated, although I cannot provide more than anecdotal evidence at this time.  However, it seems that even though the number of page views/visits have dropped, those who do visit this blog are much more likely to post comments, even though I am a slacker when it comes to responding several days (or weeks, depending on my work demands).  All I know is that I am very happy with those who participate here; there is no amen chorus at least (I love to be challenged on my opinions, well as long as they are civil challenges, as I am no perfect soul).

What will the next 3-4 months bring?  I believe I may resume on a limited basis covering some newer genre releases and more genre works than I have the previous few months.  This is by design (I did not swear off reviewing genre fiction, after all), but I should note that I will continue focusing heavily on non-speculative classics, including more non-fictions.  I will be reviewing several more Shakespeare plays in the coming months and there will be a few more surprises in store for readers once the time is ripe to reveal them.  What I can promise is that I will continue to try and do my best not to whore myself out in terms of competing for publishers' attentions.  I'd much rather lose more of my current audience than to do something that runs counter to my own reading and professional interests.


K.C. Shaw said...

I like your blog largely because you don't cover the same stuff as everyone else. When I look through my blogroll and see the same cover featured over and over, I get so sick of it all. I appreciate your adventures in reading, even if I might never read the books you talk about.

You're still getting more traffic than my little review blog ever will.

Fabio Fernandes said...

Larry, for me your blog it only getting better and better. Traffic isn't everything, if you ask me. I may be suspect to talk about it, since I never had any traffic in my blog to begin with, but I always believed in writing about what you loved, not about what the current fad is. And you, my friend, write beautifully about your passions. Maybe some former readers couldn't care less and then jumped off the wagon, but so what? I say your blog is all the better exactly because you're writing about things most literary bloggers don't give a rat's ass about, and that makes all the difference. By all means, keep up the excellent labour of love!

marco said...

I liked the reviews of those works, genre or otherwise, which generally have less exposure in the blogosphere, like The Orange Eats Creeps.
Since I look at blogs mainly for orientation and I've already read
many classics (including every one you've tackled so far) those reviews, though interesting, are less of a draw for me.

Jason said...

I agree, the blog is great. Keep spanning the genres!

As for Shakespeare: I'd like to *highly* recommend a book called _Shakespeare After All_ by Marjorie Garber. Garber is a much-loved Harvard professor who gave brilliant undergraduate lectures on the Shakespeare plays; this book basically contains those lectures, in essay form, one per play.

For me, point by point, her insights, close reading, and attention to the subtleties of the language put this book in a totally different class from its peers. Each essay is a meticulous act of love. A great supplement to the plays.

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