Views on Blogging
Gertz sees blogging as fundamentally different from print. The on-line reader, he said, checks the feeds every morning and he wants to see something new, “but rarely has the attention span for anything longer than 1,500 words.” With Booktryst there’s a daily fix of inherently trade related content, but it’s pitched to a wider audience than the antiquarian niche normally draws.
Asked for advice to other would-be book bloggers he responded by email:
“The world is not waiting to read your voice - earn every single reader with every single post. Grab the reader and hold 'em to the very end. Losing readers half-way through increases your bounce-rate, and, if you have a prayer of earning ad dollars, you have to keep readers on the page (or website in general) for as long as possible for maximum advertising exposure.”
In his opinion blogging is “is a mixture of strict journalism and personal essay. Avoid preambles - Get to the goodies; don't bury the lead. Each post must leave the reader feeling better for having read it, either entertained, informed or, ideally, both.
“Blogging,” he continued, ‘is a demanding mistress; to do it well requires devotion of time and effort - three times a week, minimum to build steady readership. This is crucial, particularly if you are blogging to draw visitors to your website. Every now and then won’t get the result you seek.
“Be disciplined: pay attention to craft: the net has provided everyone with an outlet for their writing but, contrary to popular belief, there is not a great pool of untapped talent out there; I learned that when I worked as a story editor in Hollywood thirty years ago. My job title might just as well have been, "crap filter;" there was an ocean of it.
“Do not do this if you do not have decent writing chops - and if you do be ruthless with editing your own material. Don't meander; this is not a digressive medium.
“Images - the net is a visual medium; readers love fine illustrations - use hi-resolution jpgs, as large as possible; a thumbnail is a waste of time and space.
Finally, in the worlds of my writing idol, S.J. Perelman, "Keep it crisp."
Improved site with ads in the works
Gertz is in the process of reformatting the Booktryst site and hopes to begin offering advertising (and perhaps even earning some money from it) in the near future.
As for book collecting, the interest that brought him into the field in the first place, who has time? He doesn’t buy that much any more, but so much passes through “there’s always something exciting to write about.”