Monday, 6 January 2014

Popular History Posts - Katherine Roberts

Just think what I could have done with a blog...

My thoughts on blogging range from "what a great way to reach readers all over the world!" to "complete waste of time" depending on my current mood and Amazon rankings. If you blog, you'll probably have your own opinion that falls somewhere inbetween. The fact is blogging takes time (and good blogging takes a lot of time), and whether that time and energy is well spent when you're also trying to write a book is questionable at best.

The ideal solution for authors might be to use our blog posts to give a subtle shoutout for our published books - that's the way our publishers see them working, I'm sure. But all evidence points to this being a real turnoff for readers - and I know Ms Hoffman frowns upon too much self-promotion on this blog. Posts that give genuine value in themselves, however, are likely to spread far and wide - either because they are entertaining, or educational, or just somehow hit the zeitgeist where it hurts. Such posts get passed around the world by word-of-mouth (or, more likely these days, tweet-of-virtual-beak) in much the same way as word of a good book gets around, seemingly by magic. A great blog post can therefore lead to the book... but if a book is strong enough to generate its own word-of-mouth, then what purpose does a blog post by its author serve?

It's a chicken and egg question, which I'm not even going to attempt to answer here. But as a mathematician, I find statistics interesting. So, since this is my first post of the New Year when people traditionally take stock of such things, I thought I would look up the stats for my own monthly posts on this History Girls blog and see which ones have proved most popular (they are all still live, so if you're curious to know why then just follow the links below to read the full post).
Not so popular
As I suspected, those posts ranking lowest are the ones I wrote to please my publisher. Nobody is much interested, it seems, in Camelot Castle, Dark Age Breakfasts, or Quests for the Holy Grail...which is a shame, since these are subjects I obviously feel quite passionate about or I would not have spent more than two years of my life writing a series of books based upon them. However, a couple of these "please the publisher" posts also sneaked into my top ten, so perhaps it's not the subject matter that is unpopular, but simply the way I wrote about it? (Note to self: same might apply to books.)

Interesting for some
'Midlist' posts, gathering several hundred views each, include Historical Plots, Retro Reading Lists, and How to Become an Author... mostly career/writing posts, which appeal to a slightly larger online audience but still not a large number of readers.

My top ten posts on this blog are, in reverse order:

10. From Anne Frank to War Horse (children's historical books)
9. Grand National Memories
8. In Search of King Arthur's Crown
7. Ten things you can't do with a Kindle
6. Why I didn't write The Hunger Games
5. The Suffragette who Died to be Heard 
4. Ancient Egyptian Adventures
3. A Brief History of the Olympic Torch
2. Have Written a Fairytale - will travel?

And way ahead of all of these, with well over a thousand views and counting:

1. Did Joan of Arc hear the Voice of God?

Which is interesting when you consider Quests for the Holy Grail ranked so low, but perhaps encouraging that, in 2014, God (or possibly Joan of Arc) still ranks above Fairytales, the Olympic Games, Ancient Egypt, the Suffragettes, King Arthur, the Grand National, several popular children's titles, and Amazon's Kindle!

*** Happy New Year to all our dedicated bloggers and readers! ***

Katherine Roberts writes fantasy and historical fantasy for young readers. Her latest series is the Pendragon Legacy quartet about King Arthur's daughter. All four titles are now available in hardcover, paperback and ebook. More details at


Stroppy Author said...

How interesting, Katherine. I think a lot of how many views a post gets depends on the title. I look at posts by people I know I reliably like, or that have interesting titles, or that are recommended by people I trust. That's probably fairly common, so titles matter.

As for Joan of Arc v King Arthur - different audience, I think. I can imagine lots of fundamentalist American Christians will be attracted to the idea of hearing the voice of God. And now - undermining what I just said - I'm off to read the Joan of Arc post as I've just said in a book that these days she would be diagnosed with schizophrenia and considered prone to hallucinations and dysunctional, not given control of an army!

Katherine Roberts said...

Good point, Stroppy - a "view" might mean someone is searching for a word/name and never actually reads (or wants to read) the post. So titles of blog posts are perhaps just as important as the post content, in that they need to attract the right audience... much like books, I guess!

Marjorie said...

Happy New Year to you too!

I wonder whether hits have anything to do with which days/times they are posted? I'm a fairly regular reader of the blog but it depends on whether I happen to be free and browsing in the evening, and whether I happen to check my twitter feed when the link is visible..

I am going to go back and search for the Dark Age Breakfast post, now.I think i missed that one.

Katherine Roberts said...

Another good point, Marjorie - I am now tempted to create a mathematical model for online "hits" (though no doubt Google and/or Amazon has already done that!)

The Dark Age Breakfast post was October 6th, I think... just follow link in the post above.

Katherine Roberts said...

...2012! And here is the link: