Monday, April 23, 2012

What I Learned at the 2012 Erma Bombeck Conference

1) To post lists.
People really like lists. (Actually, I'd already figured that out. But it seemed like a good starting point.)

2) Anyone who gets published these days does so one of two ways:
a) Via being a whiz at social media and having legions of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Quora. (You didn't even know Quora exists? Me neither.)
b) Because of some divine accident--like someone got a look at her doodlings and carried it into a their job at the publishing house where everyone agreed her doodlings would make a bestseller.

Because, apparently, no one is getting published the old-fashioned way of writing something great and showing it to an agent who sells it to a publisher. And yet, I see new books at the library and bookstores every time I go in....

3)  Christopher Hitchens, the prominent and recently deceased atheist, is buried in the ceiling tiles of the Ballroom at the Dayton Marriott.
I know. I was surprised, too, because there was a memorial service for him yesterday at the Cooper Union in New York. But every time he was mentioned Saturday night (in the context of his statement that women have no sense of humor), the speaker would point skywards. The problem is, if Hitchens was right, there is no heaven. And if he was wrong, he doesn't get to go there. Which only leaves the ceiling tiles. (Or some theological loophole of which I'm unaware.)

4) That growing a blog is all about relationships. As Debba Haupert, of, explained it, you need to make your blog and your Facebook and your Twitter and your all talk to each other. (Debba had wonderful suggestions--I'm just grouchy at the idea of wasting all that time doing all that work.)

5) That, paradoxically, to grow this blog I need to pare it down.
Blogs that do well, they tell me, are a little more focused than The Raisin Chronicles. In the words of Anna Lefler:

you shouldn't click on a blog one day and it's all about politics, then go back another day to find pictures of the grandchildren. (Guilty.) Other suggestions included staying away from topics that offend people, like religion and politics. (Guilty again.)

Nettie Reynolds suggested writing about things you care about or things you know about. Your readers, she said, should trust you on this topic more than anyone else.

So, sometime soon, you'll probably see the Chronicles get a facelift, maybe even a new web address. (Although I just had these adorable business cards printed, and you KNOW how I feel about wasting stuff.)

In the meantime, I'm going to think about what (fairly narrow) topic I could talk about once a week with some degree of credibility and without boring us all to death. (If there's any topic that you often find yourself thinking, "Wow, I wish I could get Jeanne's opinion on this," let me know.)


  1. Glad you had a good time, and came away with some ideas. And that is some funny stuff about Christopher Hitchens!

  2. I agree with a lot of what you wrote. I'm gonna have a hard time paring down what I write about to a smaller scale; I like what Connie Schultz said: "I write what I want to."

  3. P.S. I enjoyed meeting and speaking with you!

  4. wow! Great list! I love all your topics so don't restrict the grandchild stories along with political opinions on my account!! :D

  5. Thanks for sharing what you learned. I agree with many of your concerns and insights about writing. Back in the day of John Boy Walton you were a serious writer if you owned a typewriter and composed material all day. Today anyone with a Facebook account or blog is considered a "writer" so there is a lot more competition. Fortunatley, you've got more talent than most of them.

  6. Glad to see you back, and sounds like it was a really interesting conference. Great things to share! Thanks!

  7. It sounds like the conference was very interesting and I thought the things you learned were very good. Growing my blog is not too high in my priorities, but I am getting ready to post a list of sorts. I doubt if I have the expertise on any given subject to stick to a consistent topic so I'll probably just keep being sort of a family oriented mish-mash.
    I'll be interested in seeing what changes you come up with.

  8. I like the randomness of some blogs, especially yours. I like clicking one day and reading about pickles, then the next reading about smelly feet.

    I really enjoyed this post, but it made me anxious, and all because of how I feel about blogging lately. It used to be fun. It used to be about writing great content. Now it's about money and making it big and being on every social media outlet known to man. It feels...exhausting.

    Meh, it's Miller time.

  9. What do they know? I just want to be me..and I like that there is always a variety..same old same old would get boring..wouldn't it?? I think so..but what do I know, I break all the rules too..and I like that you did too:)

  10. I'm with Far Side on this one. I appreciate the indignation if that is what the situation calls for and also the querky humor with which you see life. Your political blogs are some of my favorites, also your social commentary and anything you write about writing. And what would I do if I couldn't laugh at how your plans to teach your grandchildren go astray. (The money for the gumball machine).

    You do have a short list of topics. You just don't realize it.

    Dayton Daily publishes two commentators each day, supposedly right and left politics. They cover a wide range of subjects and the topic is not always politics. I would get bored with one subject or even three.

    You'd be published if you wrote non-fiction. Don't give up.

  11. Nettie Reynolds also suggested thinking of your blog in terms of features your readers can count on. Maybe you can nail down what the topic areas are that you enjoy writing on and start to create a loose editorial calendar around those. That is what I am looking at doing. Range is something I really value, as a reader and a writer, but it makes sense to funnel it into some predictable channels. Definitely don't pare down and find yourself writing about belly button lint just because of your vast expertise in that area (actually that one's MINE anyway!) I keep telling myself what Stephen King said "Write with the door closed." If you don't like my darned writing, go read someone else. Oh, but please like me...

  12. My blog is all over the place, but since I have 13 alters counting myself, I guess that is to be expected. Oh well. I didn't want fame anyway. :)

    I think diversity in what you post helps a blog not get to blogged down.

  13. Hi Jeanne - It was great meeting you at the EBWW. I loved the fact that you were struck by so many of the same things that I was, especially regarding blogging and social media. I was torn between "this is great advice" and "oh, crap, I'm doing everything wrong". Hopefully we'll find that happy medium.

  14. Blogging is about building relationships true but it is also about building a brand and we have grown to love the Jeanne brand. So don't go on changing on us.

    And Jeanne, my blog has a new address, I've gotten tired of the old, and it is on my profile. Thank you Jeanne.

    And I think of what you would think of my posts often. I miss you :)

  15. Very thought-provoking - and largely true, I have no doubt. Also the info is all useful, or could be, so a great post. Thanks for it.


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