The April 5th question for the Insecure Writer's Support Group over on this page is:

Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

I had to think about this for a bit. I think I've somewhat indirectly taken advantage of the annual A to Z challenge in terms of marketing et al, as in I participated twice but didn't blog about my stories except in one or two areas (if I remember correctly it was some character descriptions and maybe some of the stuff I made up like fancy metals and such). And I'm actually not certain how successful any of it was, as most of the people who blog are not my intended audience for the things I write. I've found a much more direct way to market to those people, via email blasts, etc. from story sites I visit wherein I post a chapter a week or so of something I'm working on and solicit feedback from readers.

But it did build my blog following, which to this day seems pretty loyal as they come and visit my page and still read my articles (so there's that). And from years of doing this kind of thing (blogging), I've built up a network of blogger friends who have my link on their page. This in turn helps with visibility in the search engines, which I've discovered is a pretty big boon to a writer.

Also, let's not underestimate the power of just having a ton of content on your blog, and participating in the A to Z challenge is a good way to create content. While I was away from the blog awaiting internets at home, I got significant amounts of traffic (on average about 1000 visits a day) from people just stumbling across my articles via Google search in different countries (although I'm convinced that most of my Russian visitors are probably bots looking to spam a comment link here or there). In January, I made the most money I ever got paid from Amazon due to people finding (and buying) my book and I hadn't been blogging for two months :/  And it was a pretty decent sized check, so I'm not really all that certain that blogging does anything, other than give you (with every entry) another fishing hook to dangle in the waters of the internet.

I think A to Z can do nothing but help a writer, but I totally get why people like Alex or even myself don't participate. It's a lot of work. Reading Alex's reasons for not doing it this year made me exhausted just thinking about all the hundreds of names he had to cull from the lists to keep them nice and tidy.

On Friday, I'm going to post my review of The Summer Dragon, by Todd Lockwood. 

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