Monday, April 1, 2013

"Whatever Happened To...?"

Sometimes, I think about my readership.  Not too much, because, as mentioned elsewhere, my primary reason for writing this blog is so I will not go crazy.  Or at least no crazier than I already am.  You know how Sarah Palin – or more accurately Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin – said she could see Russia from her house?  I can see “Certifiably Loony” from my living room.  And you know about my eyes.  So it has to be close.

Not that my readers don’t play a substantial role in this improbable enterprise.  Imagine if I didn’t have any readers and I continued writing this blog.  That is “crazy” personified!  That’s a guy talking to himself, only he writes it out first.  And then rewrites it.  And then rewrites it again! 

That’s crazy.

I said!  Though, in truth, even an “audience of one” deserves accuracy.

But that “audience of one” is you!

Who deserves accuracy more?  Strangers?

My blog “dashboard” – the “backstage” register – indicates I have 53 “followers.”  I do not know what “followers” means.  But I do know that when I started, I had three “followers.”  So as they say in A League of Their Own, “{53} would be more then, wouldn’t it.” 

Fifty more.  I used to have three! 

In the grand scheme of virality, fifty-three “followers” is an admittedly modest number.  But I don’t worry about that.  If I think about numbers at all – and I have no idea about my overall readership – I think of the throngs – I imagine throngs – who might appreciate what I’m doing but they have no idea that I’m here.   

I heard recently that you can jack up your blog’s visibility by going on Facebook.  You will not be surprised to hear that I don’t know how that works.  Not just that I don’t know how Facebook works.  I do not know how going on Facebook jacks up visibility for your blog. 

How does going on a social media outlet nobody knows you’re on help promote readership for a blog hardly anyone (in the context of world population) knows you’re writing?  It’s possible, I suppose.  Smart people say it works.  But I am far from illuminated on the process, and until I am, I shall respectfully decline to participate.

Put a gun to my head and ask me would I actively do anything to increase my readership, and my answer would be “No.”  Put down the gun, and my answer would be the same.  I don’t even know why I mentioned the gun.  I guess, to inject an element of urgency into the proceedings.  It didn’t work.  And not just because it’s a hypothetical gun. 

It’s not that I’m lazy.  And it’s not that I don’t care.  Nor is it because I’m afraid I will make the effort and nothing will substantially change.  Though that one has a familiarly disturbing ring. 

I simply am not inclined to do anything other than what I am currently doing.  Neither externally – advertising, engaging a publicist, deliberately involving myself in a scandal, so as to secure a parenthetical mention of my blog in the coverage – nor internally – altering my content in the pursuit of increased readership, which I also never did working in television – I did what I did.  They bought it or they didn’t.

The difference is that, in television, when they didn’t buy it, you had no job.  In blogs – and the best part of blogs – besides offering, by the blogosphere’s mere existence, an incentive for daily writing – is that you can write whatever you want.  With no perceivable “down-side” whatsoever.

Except perhaps one.

I am not complaining.  (Which is generally a “red flag” signaling a complaint.)  But over the years, there have been a handful of readers – and regular commenters – who, after a time, have suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared.  Their departures could easily have resulted from changes in their lives, hopefully unserious ones.  Or they just tired of my act.  Still, you can’t help wondering…

“Was it something I said?”  

I know the loss of formerly steadfast supporters is troubling.  But would you ever consider altering your writing to keep them around?


That’s what I thought.

I know.  But still.


PG said...

I'm not sure about this, but you may have many more readers than actual 'followers'. There's a difference, I think....but, like you, I can't be bothered to ferret it out.
When I used to blog, I, too had a couple of 'followers', who, deliberately had to do something to indicate that they were interested in automatically receiving my missives to their emails (or whatever). But there were many more 'readers' according to the 'hits' and personal responses.
Anyways, as a regular, daily 'reader' who can't get the motor to turn over till I've read your blog, I don't know if I even show up as a 'follower'.
It's a mystery to me.
I, too, have wondered whatever happened to Zaraya! She was so polite. Now you have me worried. Thanks.

Keith said...

I, too, don't know if I would show up as a "follower". I don't pledge to you all of my earthly wealth, so that eliminates one definition.

I can tell you why I originally started reading your blog: Advice to aspiring writers. I think you could increase your "followers" proportional to the frequency of posts titled something along those lines.

I particularly enjoy your "story of a writer" series. I think that's what it was's been so long.

Mac said...

I read you every day, but I wouldn't count as a "follower" - as I've never clicked on "follow" or done whatever you're supposed to do to follow. Besides, I'm uncomfortable with the world "follower" - the next thing you know we're in Guyana drinking Kool-Aid.
If you want more readers (and I doubt you do) you could go on Twitter and write that your blog features NUDE PICS of LINDSAY LOHAN, but quite frankly I think you're better off as a bespoke blog for a few magnificent discerning readers, than barking on the pavement for a herd of undiscerning ones.

Sérgio said...

I also read your blog (and the one of Ken Levine) everyday but have never clicked on any button to "follow". So, with PG, Keith, Mac and me, the number is already 57. :-) Cheers, Sérgio

JED said...

I'm a follower but not an official Follower. My mother always taught me not to be a Follower, "If they jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?"

Well, in your case, Earl, if you got a job writing for TV again, I would follow you there. Not that I could ever hope to earn a living writing let alone writing for TV. But I would follow the TV show you wrote for. Or the movie or the radio program or the blog.

I read your blog every day. I don't comment every day because your blog makes me think and I don't want to comment before I've got something to say that will add to the conversation. Or if you seem to be worried about your readers leaving. I'm not and I won't.

You can get a little idea about how many people are reading your blog by clicking the black triangle (like a little arrowhead pointing down) in your Blogger "Dashboard" (between the "Create a new post" icon and the "View blog" buttons) and then selecting "Stats". It shows your readership numbers over the years. My guess is yours are increasing.

And I miss Zaraya's comments, too.

Jim Dodd (JED)

Rebecca said...

I am not sure what followers are on a blog, but it's *possible* that I may be counted as one of yours. I say this because your blogging platform is Blogger, which is owned by Google, and I subscribe to your rss feed using Google Reader - which Google will be killing in July, damn them.

Not to worry, I will find another feed reader and transfer all my feeds to it - including yours. So you will not lose this follower.

Now, about Facebook.

I am not on Facebook. And the reason I am not on Facebook is because I do NOT want people from my past to find me. In fact, I do not want *anyone* to find me. No, I am not a fugitive of any kind, I am just a privacy fanatic. And it is all to easy to be found on the Internet if your name is used on social media websites.

So I tweet anonymously, I blog anonymously and I comment anonymously. When I Google myself, nothing about my current life shows up in the first several pages - which is how I like it.

I find it somewhat disturbing that my residence addresses all the way back to the mid-eighties show up on a website which is listed on the first search results page, but I can live with that. But all kinds of people with my first name are on Facebook and they show up early and often on Google search results.

Googling *your* name brings up YOU, which is how it should be. Wikipedia, then your blog, IMdb, etc., so it's easy to find you if someone wants to. However, Facebook is so everywhere that just creating an account and letting your blog posts display there as well as your blog url would probably generate more followers than you would expect. So many people just use Facebook for everything that you are making it easy for them to read you regularly, instead of making them go hunting for you in the almost infinite vastness of the Internet.

It wouldn't take much time or effort to just create an account. And I suspect there is a very simple way to have your blog automatically appear on your timeline - which would then make it automatically appear in other people's timeline. I'm sure one of your kids could do this for you in 5 minutes once your account is set up.

You will also want to make sure that your account is set up to notify you when people comment on your Facebook page. Again, not a big deal.

Personally, I think you should consider it. Although one possible downside is that if people will be commenting on your Facebook page as well as your blog comment section, you would have to be responding in two different places.

If I am not mistaken, though, I believe you have the time to do that. :)

In any case, good luck if you do try it. I rarely comment, but I do read your blog regularly and enjoy it very much. I'm not going anywhere...or so I hope.

Jim said...

I read every post, Earl, but like Rebecca, I get them via the RSS feed, so I'm sure I don't show up in the counts.

(Rebecca -- I've moved to The Old Reader, and I've found it to be quite pleasant. It even seems to handle Earl's abuse of italics better. Oops, make that "creative use".)

Frank said...

I read all posts too Earl but have you in my bookmarks so am not classed as a follower. I also find it hard with word verification to make comments as it always takes me a few attempts with my bad eyes eh.

Cheers from Vancouver

Benny Kubelsky said...

We're all here Mr. P! I, for example, have been playing catch up since the holidays and haven't posted here much. But we're out there. 53 followers just means those signed up to follow. The number of viewers is much greater.

Kathleen said...

I'm late to the party here, but I am not a follower either (and like Frank above, it sometimes takes me 3 times to get the word verification). I find you using my old school Favorites bar (I know that's very 2009 but I also have an AOL email account and I've heard that screams "demographically irrelevant". So be it.) So though I'm not a "follower", I'm a devoted "reader" of your blog, and I really appreciate your stories and insights about writing. OK. Time to gird myself for the word verification ordeal...

PALGOLAK said...

I hope to clear this up: if you subscribe to Earl's RSS feed, you are counted as a follower. If someone just visits by clicking on a bookmark (or whatever) they won't show up.

Earl can track how many actual 'page views' he has on a daily, weekly, monthly basis by adding a small code snippet to his blog's template. It is free, but I suspect beyond Earl's comfort zone. (available through

FYI I also used to use google reader, I have recently switched to with relatively little pain.

Paloma B said...

I am still here, Earl! Haven't been able to comment much lately but I read every post! I've been a regular commenter for very long, also got to ask you questions that you very kindly replied to. I don't think I count as a "follower". To be honest I'm not even sure what follower means in a blog, but like people said before me, I think you have more actual readers than followers!