Online blogs are both personal and public, being created for personal use but marketed for public consumption. This format is typical of Web 2.0 technologies that emphasize ease of use and participation. Blogs can participate in journalism, scholarship, identity formation, pedagogy, promotion, and information management.
As an author, I’m particularly interested in the use of blogs as a way to build communities of practice around fiction. The use of blogs for writing, publishing, and promoting provides what I think is an interesting alternative to mainstream publishers for an author to get their feet on the ground. I know of two popular novels – “John Dies at the End” and “Worm” that both started or are starting publication using some variation of this format. Fielser and others who have done research on the phenomenon of “internet fandom” have noted how works of fiction can foster online communities that regulate social norms and change perception of a work. So could an author use a blog or blog-like technology to purposefully cultivate a fandom in order to promote their works?
Author Lori Jareo self-published a Star Wars fanfic novel on a blog, and then attempted to charge donations to see it via Amazon. For this action, she was (perhaps rightly) criticized. However, personally, I am interested to see what the feedback would be for a non-fanfiction work published in this manner. Steven A. Hetcher noted in a 2009 work that the backlash against Jareo was a classic example of how blogs can be employed as social norms to regulate remix cultural mores. Casey Fielser (2007) made similar observations, noting that blogs have a transformative effect on the publishing and promotion, as well as social regulation of materials published upon them. If something published on a blog can garner such negative attention, might it not be possible to use a blog to garner positive attention for an original work?
Mayzlin and Yoganarasimhan (2011) noted that participation in blogs allowed authors to show the quality of their work by providing a means of linking to and from other quality works. Though their research was mostly focused on journalism, it may also hold true for works of fiction.
Many self-publishing avenues also closely link blogs with e-book distribution. For example, blog site WordPress is compatible with WooCommerce, which is a plug-in that facilitates the distribution of digital works.
This article (http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/blogging-fiction-writers/) by Kimberley Grabas, however, says the use of blogs by fiction writers is best used to intensify interest in a small audience rather than reach out to a larger one. In fact, a lot of blogs where authors discussed blogging noted that most popular blogs are built around authoritative value, and that it was difficult to attract people to a more generalized fiction blog.
Perhaps the most interesting result from all this has been the emergence of the “blognovel”, a narrative in the form of a diary of a fictional character shaped by comments from visitors as the story progresses. This can create a unique, socio-technological form of narrative that hasn’t really been seen before the advent of Web 2.0.
I think there is a lot of potential let untapped in using blogs for fiction. Whether it’s posting stories, editorials, reviews, promoting publishing, fostering communities, intensifying fan devotion and so on that has yet to be explored. When I finish writing my first novel I plan on experimenting with blogs as a way to promote and share pieces of it for promotion and criticism. I’m pretty excited to see what happens.
I do wish that there was more research on this particular sub-field. Almost all the information I could find about this was from the anecdotal experience of authors. I was able to find some peer-reviewed journal articles somewhat relating to it about fandoms and fan-fiction, but it’s not quite the same, so that seems like an interesting topic to look at in the future when it comes to technology, media, and informatics.