Thursday, February 10, 2011

Overstocked

I got an email from the Overstock.com marketing department the other day. My blog had apparently somehow appeared on their radar and they wanted to know whether I would be interested in offering my readers a discount by providing a link to their website. The terms were pretty vague but the gist was that they would somehow drive traffic to my blog in some nebulous way if I would put the link (and probably a nice graphic) to their site on my sidebar.

I had to think about it. I mean I have shopped there before. For guys it's actually a great place to shop for your wife or girlfriend because if you have a joint account and she notices the debit for the Shane Company website that package on the doorstep the next day suddenly won't be much of a surprise. Overstock is not bad as websites go.

But that's not the point.

I told them no thank you because the point is that's not what this blog is about. That's not what I want it to be about at least. My dream is to have this be a forum for writing. A place for writers helping writers. I know publishing is a hard industry to break into, and it often feels very exclusionary, but I truly believe that almost anyone can write a decent book if they work hard to learn the craft and never give up.

I believe that if we work together we can affect change. We can increase the number of great books being written, and therefore increase the number of great books being published. We can prove that boys and young men DO READ, and that they will buy books if we write the kind of stories they can lose themselves in. My friend Andrew Smith has already proved that bit, actually. We can show the industry that girls will buy, read and love books about magic, dragons, spaceships, and mystery not just love and high school. Not that there is anything wrong with books about love and high school. Then, just maybe, we can encourage publishers to take more chances on new writers, risk less investment up front on advances, and focus more on nourishing a novel and an author over time.

I used to be in a labor union and I can promise you that the power of solidarity cannot be dismissed.

But I'm no fool. I know I'm talking about BIG things, and this is just the stupid little blog of one dorky dad and novice writer. Everything starts somewhere.

So please do me a favor. If you're an experienced writer, or even an agented or published author, lend a hand to a writer who knows less than you today. I know most of you already do so on a daily basis, but pay it forward one more extra time for me. And if you're a less experienced writer? A novice? A journeyman? Ask someone you look up to for advice. Push through your fear, you might be surprised how helpful people can be.

The book that you improve may be one you end up reading.

53 comments:

mshatch said...

I, too, have considered monetizing my blog but like you decided not to since that's not why I'm there, to advertize other people's stuff - unless it's a fellow blogger's book - then I'll be happy to do a little promo. Great post and love the pink hair :)

Ted Cross said...

I think you are dead on. No matter how small our voice seems, we must try to do what is right. I know very few people read my blog, but I am still going to always write as if I have an ocean of followers.

Natalie Aguirre said...

You are so right. We have to stick together. And those who have agents and publishers could really help the rest of us by paying it forward a bit-pointing us in the right direction, recommending us to their agent if they like what we write, etc. Of course, they can't do it for everyone, but if we all did a bit, it would help. And even if we aren't published, we can help our friends when their books come out by shouting out about it.

Matthew Rush said...

I would be really careful about recommendations from one writer to another regarding representation from their agent. I mean if an agented or published author likes your writing enough that they offer to recommend you on their own that's awesome. I would be very careful about asking someone to do that for you, however, since it's a quick way to ruin a friendship.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd be happy to help anyone I can, although I still feel I lack the experience necessary to be effective. (And I usually have guest posts for the writing stuff.)
I've been offered to promote several porducts and sites but turned them all down, because that's not what my blog is about either.

Joanne Brothwell said...

Great post, Matthew.
I've been thinking about emailing a pubb'd writer to ask him why he is switching to self-publishing and ebooks. I think I'll just force myself to send that email, thanks to your suggestion!

Love the pink hair, BTW ;)

Sarah said...

Great post, Matt. I've been so impressed with the generosity and inclusivity of the writing community, and it is important to pay it forward. I do that most by beta-reading and query letter-crits, I guess, because I'm just not that knowledgeable about the business yet! And whoa, the hair was awesome before, but now ... wow.

DL Hammons said...

I used to be in a labor union and I can promise you that the power of solidarity cannot be dismissed..

I, on the other-hand, have personally witnessed the negative effects of labor unions. Comparing a writers movement to their agenda is not a smart move...in my opinion.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I have to ditto the caution of recommending someone to Writer XXX's current agent. It may sound great in theory, but in practice... not so much. That's just not the kind of thing you go around asking people.

Now, if you want to ask someone with an agent specific questions about their agent (and they're the nice sort who doesn't mind answering questions), that's different. It never hurts to have a bit of extra info.

There are plenty of ways to help out fellow writers that don't involve asking them to risk a percentage of their professional credibility with their agent, and that's what a recommendation does. It puts their relationship with said agent on the line.

(Nice hair, Matt :-P)

Candyland said...

Your blog isn't stupid and I got that same email from OSTOCK. I thought it was weird.
Help a writer, why yes. I do what I can.

Matthew Rush said...

@DL: Okay, fair enough. And you're right, labor unions are not always genuine, but workers involved in collective bargaining agreements tend to be better off than those who aren't. Of course there are always exceptions.

I'm curious to know why you think I was comparing a writer's movement to labor union's agenda. I was talking about the power of people coming together, and never mentioned anything about an agenda, political or otherwise.

I'm not trying to start an argument, I'm just curious to know more about what you meant.

Thanks DL.

Jen Daiker said...

I think Overstock.com has been making their way across the blog. I too was asked the other day and declined. Though I do fun things with CSN stores it's only because it's a place where I buy a lot of writing goodies :)

That being said I love helping other people or getting the word out for other's books and I've been doing some fun interviews of new chick lit authors in lieu of Valentines Day!!!

I have been lurking just unable to comment lately!! My apologies!! PS how did you get pink hair? I've been meaning to get mine done but haven't yet!! This weekend it will be done (with pointers from you)!

Bish Denham said...

And I so like this blogging community. The two just don't seem to fit/mix. Shouting about and announcing our own publications is one thing...but advertising stuff? I am so sick of STUFF! Look at all the storage units being built to house stuff! Stuff not being used or missed. GAK.

Matthew Rush said...

FYI: DL and I continued our conversation and we're still friends. It went on too long to eat up the comments though. Suffice to say we both agree we don't want some kind of writer's union allowing bad books to get published more often!

DEZMOND said...

the post has a nice ending ;)
I also often receive offers to put adds on my site in exchange for gifts, but I also have the same problem as you - they usually offer me products which aren't really related to the topic of my site ...

Tracy said...

But you're the BEST dorky dad blogger/novice writer in the blogiverse!

Way to stand strong and not sell out your writerly principals for some discounted stuff for your followers and a few extra site hits. :D

Now, had they offered you FREE stuff . . . that might have required more thought.

Lydia K said...

Thankfully, the writing blogging community is so crazy supportive, like you!

I don't begrudge anyone who would make some money off their blog if that truly helps their bottom line (and allows them more freedom to write!) How people make money is a very individual choice. Personally, I decided not to monetize.

Great post! And I'm glad you and DL are still friends!

BTW, love the pink hair. I love it when guys are gutsy enough to do pink sometimes, especially if it's to help out some fellow writers!
:)

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Hah! I got that email too!
I just deleted it, because, unlike you, i've never actually shopped there

Paul Joseph said...

I got that same e-mail. I just assumed it was spam and chucked it.

This post is awesome, my friend. I agree; I too believe that anyone can write a book if you are willing to take the time to do it correctly. It doesn't happen in a night and it doesn't happen in a year. If you are truly passionate about your story, you can make it happen.

It's interesting to see your comment about boys and reading. That was one of the motivating factors in finally pushing me to write. It wasn't the main one, but it existed in my head. Boys and girls read different stories. In schools, I persoanlly feel the reading selections are generally geared toward girls. I fought long and hard to get more "guy books" on the summer reading list, but it was to no avail. "They are inappropriate" was my response. I pushed the issue further and asked for examples. Let's just say my principal didn't like that.

Shari said...

I love this post. This is why I love writers. They are so willing to help each other. I am all for paying it forward. I'm grateful to those who have helped me and I am more than willing to do my best to help someone else. BTW, nice hair.

aspiring_x said...

great hair for a great reason matt! yeah, that andrew smith fellow sure is clever, i linked to his blog today too. :)
great decision about that weird overstock thing! and whoohoo for helping people!!! :) the blogging community is crazy supportive and helpful and friendly! so cool! :)

Pk Hrezo said...

I got the SAME email! I do like Overstock, but I don't wanna start advertising to my friends. That's just annoying... unless it's something really appropriate.

Anyway, your blog rocks and the fact that you're so genuine is reason enough for peeps to visit... not because you can offer them a discount on shopping.

Summer Ross said...

Great post! I adore your very last line because it is the truth. I spend hours a day helping fellow writers with English classes, Poetry, Non-fiction and fiction. Each person can make a difference if we only try!

Justine Dell said...

OMG, I got that same email! I thought about it, too, but I didn't want to look like a sell-out. Lol. That is not what my blog is about. Mine is like yours. To learn. To grow. To help when I can. ;-)

~JD

Rachel Searles said...

Very nice post. I've been surprised by how welcoming and motivating the online writer community is. And as a girl who prefers adventure over romance, I love your ambition to change the industry :)

Melissa Bradley said...

Truly words I needed to hear today as I struggle with my own writing and some deep-seated fears. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Abby Minard said...

I got the same email from Overstock. I didn't do it basically for the same reasons. If it was a book seller I may do it but I'd ask for like a gift card instead of just a discount. And even then, I may not..

Amanda said...

Wow, this is a GREAT post!!!! I'm agented, soon to be published. But I always feel like there's more I can learn, advice that's valuable. If anyone asked my advice or wanted to hear my story, I'd be more than happy to share. We're all in the same boat here. The world is a better place with books in it! :)

Donna Weaver said...

Great post, Matthew. And thanks for not giving in to the lure of Overstock. It has to make you feel good, though, that you're getting enough traffic here that they're interested in your blog.

Laura Campbell said...

At first, I thought you had to be an excellent writer to get into the club. Social media proved my novice writing ass wrong. I'm slowly cultivating a community of my own. They pick me up and encourage me when I'm down about myself and my writing. They fill my lonely days with stories about their experiences and fancies. Great post.

Colene Murphy said...

Amazing. And so true! That is an incredible goal that doesn't sound impossible in the least. A published writer reaching out to me was the only reason I considered writing to be a real, attainable dream. They do make a huge difference with only a little effort.

Donea Lee said...

This is inspired. Thank you. I read a similar post over at Vic's blog and I love the passion behind both posts! This is a wonderfully supportive community and if we can band together to make a positive change, all the better. Love the pink dreads, by the way. And wanted to say "thanks" for your comments on my query.

Steve said...

Good for you, and screw Overstock for trying to piggyback on the success of your hard work. Hoffa lives!

Lisa_Gibson said...

Aww, that's wonderful. And yes, I have found that the writing community as a whole does tend to pay it forward and help other writers along the way. Great post!
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Christina Lee said...

I'm sorry were you saying something? I couldn't stop staring at today's pink hair-love the darker shade ;-)

I use to do promos when I was a style blog linked to my newspaper column (waaaay back when-okay three years ago). I still have an ad spot on my sidebar but not interested anymore either!

So good for you!

Hart Johnson said...

I've made that same decision--I am not interested in being about anything other than WRITING, and networking with writers and readers, and people who can teach me either how to improve my writing or improve my exposure... And thank you for the reminder on the pay it forward! We all need that.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

I sure read a hell of a lot as a kid.

And definitely pay it forward. And the thing about paying it forward is that it's usually even better for you than the person you're helping.

ali said...

I so love this. And I'd love to pay it forward, but I just never know how to do that. I did my ninja thing in an effort to give the kind of support I thought I could offer--encouragement.

I would love it if someone asked for my help; because I do think I have help to give, ya know? But it's not like you can go up to someone and say "hey, I notice you're brand new at this whole writing biz, let me help you!" :D

Suggestions?

Talli Roland said...

Paying it forward is a fabulous idea. I have a horrible tendency to become very self-absorbed and stuck in my own little word. I do try to give my blog over to other writers whenever they ask.

Tana Adams said...

You're so right. Your natural hair is SO much better!

Jeffrey Beesler said...

I've stumbled across someone who I hope to mentor as he is only now testing the waters towards publishing. He's written for a television show or two but seems intent on exploring novel writing. He's really excited to read my stuff, and that enthusiasm may be key to my success in helping him out.

Old Kitty said...

I WANT YOUR HAIR!!!
:-)

Take care
x

Claudie A. said...

You are SO right with this post! Solidarity can move mountains, and there's quite a lot of it among the online writer community. I don't think I would be half as good as I am (which isn't that much yet) without the help of those online.

Lisa Blandford said...

Matthew, you ROCK! Thanks for this amazing post.

:)

Lisa

Lisa Gail Green said...

Please don't call your blog stupid! I love what you're saying here. I think it's great, and if there's a community in which people really do come together like that, it's this one.

Jessica Bell said...

I'm always reaching out to give a helping hand to other writers. And you do too! I think, all of us, here, that have gotten to know each other, help even by just writing something informative like this. Great post!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Spot on, guy. I've always believed this! I love that you wrote about this today, too because I was just thinking about this. It's really easy in a competitive field to keep all your "secret" knowledge to yourself. Why give someone else the edge, right? But I think if you are confident in your own ability, you're not going to worry about someone else using your "secret" knowledge to climb higher and faster than you. So much more can be accomplished if we reach out to others.

Carolyn Abiad said...

If an ad is specifically related to my blog (ie Turkish products I've mentioned), then monitary gain or not, I would welcome it as more content for my readers - on that post...but not something completely unrelated.

And I try to pay it forward where I can, but I don't have as much to offer as some of the others around this blogosphere...yet!

Love the pink locks, btw :)

JM Leotti said...

Always on point and inspiring. Thanks Matthew, for another great post. I feel the same as some others here, I'm always willing to help, even if my knowledge has a limit due to my inexperience. I try to help by writing about what I'm going through, hoping others will find something useful, even if they say to themselves "Jeez, I'd never do that!" :-)

maine character said...

This blog is already overstocked with goodness.

And as for the nice graphic they'd add? It can't beat the one of you in pink.

Christa said...

You kinda might be my new idol.

Becca said...

I got an email from them too. And I only have about 20 followers. Seems a little weird to me.

Myrna Foster said...

I get e-mails like that and delete them, partly for the same reason you mentioned and partly because I don't have any way to verify they aren't scams.

Blogging writers, editors, and agents tend to be helpful types.