Blogs We Don’t Like

Somebody asked me recently, “What turns you off in writers’ blogs?” They wanted to know if there were certain things I saw that would make me not want to represent someone, or at least make me wonder whether I should. So I thought about it, and here are a few of my answers:

→ A humor writer whose blog doesn’t seem funny to me.
→ A memoir writer whose blog consists of reflections on life (something I enjoy) but they’re just boring.
→ A writer who rants and complains about the publishing business in general or agents in particular . (And I recognize the difference between ranting and simply processing inevitable disappointments.)
→ A writer whose blog has irregular and infrequent posts.
→ A blog that is really unfocused and doesn’t know what it’s about.

Q4U:

So today I’d like to know…

What don’t you like to see in agent blogs?
What don’t you like in other writers’ blogs?
And what makes you love somebody’s blog?

No names or specific examples, please.

Hopefully we can all learn from each other here, and take away some pointers for making our blogs better.

Have a good weekend!

© 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

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  • M Caledonius Rae

    >What I dislike most in writers blogs is unedited chunks of first draft.

    In fact, I think writing samples should be on separate pages rather than in the main blog.

    The writers blogs I like best are those that either offer good advice or offer a brief diversion which is separate enough from the writing process to wind down a little but not so far removed as to instigate procrastination. Best example I can think of at the moment is an idea I copied from another blogger – going to Wordle and creating a word cloud. I like finding similar little toys (I write Like is another) and the writers blogs I like most are those that share these.

    For agent blogs, I like those that offer examples of what not to do.

  • Mystery Robin

    >It sounds like you basically don't like to see bad writing in a writer blog. I think it's the same for an agent blog. It can be really about anything, frequent or infrequent, and be something I wildly disagree with, but if it's good writing and respectful of it's audience and I enjoy the voice, I'll keep reading.

    I follow blogs when I like the blogger and I can tell if I like them from their voice.

  • Anonymous

    >I don't like the agent blogs that require you have an account w/ your name cuz it inhibits you from telling it like it is. What are they so afraid of? Can't they monitor their posts like everyone else and allow Anon posts like this one?

    Also sure it's fine to brag a bit about your or your clients books (yay for them) but please don't use your blog simply as a marketing tool to get people to buy your/their books.

    No preachin, bragging or lecturing please. That's all, folks!

  • John Geary

    >What I don't like to see in writers' blogs:
    - poorly supported, weak or contradictory arguments when a (supposed) professional writer is trying to make a point in a commentary or "rant" on a topic.
    - misspellings of important words, which is different from accidental typos. For example: "Wicken" instead of "Wiccan" is not a typo – it's horrible spelling (I've seen this on a "professional" writer's blog). A typo is something like "dogg" when it should be "dog." Typos are annoying, but we all make them from time to time; not spelling a religion correctly is sloppy and inexcusable.

  • Edward G.

    >Oh this one is really easy for me: book cover JPEGs that don't link to the Amazon page where the sample can be downloaded to my Kindle Reader.

  • tamarapaulin

    >I read my favorite blogs using an RSS Reader that shows a preview of the first few sentences of the posting. From there, I decide if I want to read the full article or not.

    What I don't love, in any blog, is an entry that starts with "filler" sentences or introductions, because then I have to click through to see what it's about. Big sigh. I know, life's rough! ;-p

  • Malin

    >I love anecdotes. And not-too-long posts with simple language and not big chunks of text. Keep it simple and easy to read. Also, bloggers who reply on comments are definitely in my good books. Interaction is really important for me.

    Counter question: How infrequent is infrequent? I have a blog with writing tips, but there might be several weeks between two posts simply because I can't settle on any specific topic/find enough wise stuff to say about it. Should I intersperse these "real" (as in, for the purpose of my blog) posts with something else? (and what?)

  • Dan Holloway

    >As others have said, I find "what not to…" blogs incredibly interesting and useful. I'm a huge zine and handmade/DIY fan, so I adore writer blogs that regularly recommend things, especially obscure but wonderful literary things I'd never have found for myself.I'm also a sucker for poetry.

    Don't likes – as I'm a self-publisher I can't really comment on agents (same also applies to likes I guess, but even as a self-publisher I find what not to columns useful – the same rules apply), though the principle for everyone is pretty much the same – I don't like people who only say how great they and their clients are. I'd, er, much rather they show me that by posting some writing than endlessly tell.

    The other thing I think is a real turn off, and is similar to your points about unfunny hunorists and uninteresting memoirs, is the stock interview. A lot of so-called creatives get the chance to interview really interesting people and the best they can come up with are "so, tell me how you went about writing your book? Who's your favourite character? What next?" There's a fine line between informing an audience that wants to know and wasting a great opportunity to get inside a subject. And any creative worth their salt should be able to walk that line

  • Katie Ganshert

    >I like blogs that are either helpful or insightful. Both is preferred. Something that either teaches me something, or something that puts a new spin on or makes me think more deeply about life, faith, (fill in the blank). Those are the kind of blogs I keep going back to.

  • Janice Phelps Williams

    >What don't you like to see in agent blogs?
    I don't like to see an agent's blog that is just a venue for advertising his/her clients' projects. What I do find helpful is a glimpse into the worklife of the agent, as well as helpful tips and insights into process.

    What don't you like in other writers' blogs?
    Blog posts about mundane personal things that are not told in an interesting way. Way too many graphics, buttons, award/kudos from other blogs tags. And finally, writer blogs that make it difficult for me to find examples of the writer's work.

    And what makes you love somebody's blog?
    Consistency, a unique voice, sincerity, professionalism and warmth, humor, openness, posts that do not have a self-centered feel to them.

    Thank you, Rachel, for your helpful blog!

  • Timothy Fish

    >Whew! What a relief. For a moment there, I thought you were reading my blog as you wrote that, but I don’t rant. I just complain.

    To be honest, I don’t write blog posts for agents. I think some agents would be a better off if they would read some of my posts, but I’m not trying to find an agent with my blog. I discovered some time ago that most of the readers who find my blog are looking for stuff related to how to write. So, I’ve directed my posts more in that direction. But really, I just put it out there and if people want to read it they can. I don’t owe agents and authors anything. So, if I want to write about something else occasionally, I do.

    What I hate to see in agent and author blogs are guest posts. I don’t read them.

    What do I love in a blog? Well, the same thing that makes a story great, conflict. Give me something I can discuss.

  • RobynBradley

    >Agent blogs: Most of the above comments capture my dislikes (e.g. too self-promotional, inconsistent postings). I love a balance between useful "how-to" posts, behind the scenes, and insights on trends and lit news (e.g. the white-guy-literary-darling kerfuffle from a few months ago or James Frey World Domination).

    Other writers' blogs: the challenge for all of us writers, I think, is finding a unique slant, especially for us "emerging writers" who might have legitimate writerly chops but who haven't sold/published a book-length work yet. So many writers' blogs, while well written, don't have that unique slant (this is something I struggle with).

    Blog love: A unique slant, unique voice, regular posts, regular themes that I can look forward to, and humor never hurts.

  • Kathleen

    >I'm one of those "unfocused" blogs, I'm afraid. :) But I've made my decision to do that deliberately–because I think writers' blogs are only interesting to writers. For me, blogging is an opportunity to multitask: to journal for myself while simultaneously building my readership online. I know it's not the most effective method–that targeting a niche is much more so. But it's a choice I've made to be true to myself. So be it.

    As for agents' blogs, I love it if I learn from it. As for the general populace's blogs–I love it if the voice holds me. And if it doesn't wander off into product placements. And if it has substance.

  • Matthew Rush

    >Sounds to me like everything you've mentioned here is common sense, but then again those kinds of blogs MUST exist.

    When it comes to writing and publishing blogs my very favorite thing to see is advice that is both encouraging and educational. I think what works the very best is real life examples of what works and what doesn't, not just vague clues.

    The thing I like to see the second most is humor. If a blog can actually make me laugh consistently, I'll be coming back on a regular basis.

  • Anonymous

    >John Geary, it could still be a typo. “Wicken” and “wicked” are pretty closely spelled.

  • Timothy Fish

    >One of the things that bothers me about writer blogs is that we’ve got the choice of either not writing for potential readers or competing with our book. If we write the stuff that is most likely to attract those who would buy our books, they have no need to buy our books because we’re giving it away free. If we write other stuff, we attract writers and they won’t buy our books because writers don’t buy books.

  • Bailish

    >I follow maybe 30 blogs about writing. I enjoy chatty, off topic, self-promotion, and sporadic postings. But I take blogs off my subscription list if they have too little benefit me. If the last ten posts contain nothing that I find useful to improve my writing, then I usually unsubscribe. Unfortunately, 'useful' is a rather nebulous idea in writing. But like trying to define pornography, I know it when I see it.

  • BK

    >I don't like blogs that look too "busy". I am also turned off by blogs that rely too heavily on author interviews–as someone commented, it's just the same old questions–no new takeaway value for the reader.

    I'm afraid I'm one of those text dense bloggers, but it's because of my lack of skill in using graphics in my posts–something I hope to improve in 2011.

    I've also become a big fan of group blogs–where writers with similar interests (genre or whatever) band together and trade off days of the week to post. Several different personalities, several types of posts.

  • R.S. Bohn

    >Agent blogs: I only follow a handful, and I enjoy all of them. I find them helpful and the agents seem friendly and approachable.

    Writer blogs: I dislike blogs that are consistently negative or consistently mundane. I don't care if you finished knitting that second sock today or that potty training your kid is going well. Yawn.

    Blogs I love: Any blog where the writer's personality shines through, especially if they've got a sense of humor. If they can take their daily life and make it interesting and funny, great. Writing samples are all right, as long as they are not truly a rough draft. It's irritating to see writing posted when they clearly just wrote it and didn't take a look at it and clean it up a bit first. But otherwise, I appreciate snippets. And links to interesting and informative publishing posts on the web is great.

  • Wendy Paine Miller

    >Voice. Wisdom. Humor. Industry News. I’m attracted to blogs that espouse those. I also appreciate when an author writes in a way that lets me know they’re trying to connect with readers. I tend not to regularly visit blogs oozing with negativity.

    I’ll be back to read these responses. Fascinating.
    ~ Wendy

  • Becky Taylor

    >I (almost) don't care what the topic is as long as the writer has a voice that keeps me engaged.

    Slightly off topic example: I don't know anything (nor to I care) about fixing cars, but I love listening to Car Talk's Click and Clack on NPR.

    Voice.

  • Fawn Neun

    >Did you ever notice that you see a whole lot of writer blogs and a whole lot of agent blogs – but hardly any editor blogs?

    I think it's because we're boring and talk about grammar. We rant about comma splices and style guidelines. We're so boring and pedantic, we don't even want to read our own blogs.

    Just sayin'…

  • Jay

    >I wrote a blog post recently (not going to link it, you can just clikc my name) about a high-up publishing industry exec. Not strictly an editor, but a bunch of different things. His blog left me deaf dumb and blind…too much stuff everywhere. I was like trying to play pickup sticks but you're in a vat of sticks instead of staring at a pile of them in front of you.

  • Britt Mitchell

    >I don't like really, really, reallly long posts that repeat the same idea over and over.

    I wonder if I truly get across what my blog is about? I hope so!

  • Heather Sunseri

    >I love blogs that are well-written and make me think. I tend not to frequent a blog that is negative or is filled with personal rants.

    Question: How infrequent is infrequent for a writer's blog? Does consistency and content trump frequency?

  • Lisa Kilian

    >Ahh, so many great comments with great ideas!

    But first, I want to say that this post scared me. We're insecure, we can't help it.

    BUT! I'm glad you posted a no bullshit list about this stuff. I really like no bullshit anythings because my knees tend to get really tired when I'm wading through shit 24/7.

    Blogs I Love:

    Hilarious blogs.
    Clean, unbusy blogs.
    Blogs that don't talk about the writer's day at the grocery store unless it leads to a ridiculous scenario that then leads to a great novel.

    Blogs I Hate:

    Whiny blogs.
    bloags writen lik this.
    Blogs that were started yesterday.
    Blogs that say anywhere "And that's the story of how I…" Puke.

    And anything, no matter how funny or enlightening, that goes over 750 words. Its a blog and I read it as such. My max is about 500 if it's really good.

  • Rachelle

    >Regarding infrequent or irregular posts: One of the keys to building a blog readership is that the content comes regularly and predictably. It's up to you to come up with a schedule that works for you. Many bloggers post 2, 3, or 5 days a week, on a regular schedule. Some blog once a week. There are a few bloggers that only post about once or twice a month, but I still follow them because whenever they write something, it's good.

    The key is consistency and regularity. Put yourself on a schedule, one that works for you.

    In a surprising number of cases, will click on a blog link from a writer whose work I'm considering. I'll see that the latest post was 2 months ago, the one before that was 2 weeks previous, the one before that was 10 days, etc. And the posts seem to be all over the place in tone and content. That says that the writer isn't focused on blogging, nor are they taking it seriously, and so they don't have a chance of building a significant following.

  • Marla Taviano

    >I'm with Kathleen up there. My blog could be considered unfocused, niche-lacking. But I'm not willing/ready to remedy that. Here's the deal:

    I love to write with everything in me. I have 4 (real) published books with a couple more in the works. BUT I am NOT just a writer. The bulk of my friends are not writers.

    I don't want to write about writing all the time. I also don't want to write about marriage/motherhood (the topics of my books) all the time.

    I have a lot going on in my heart and life, and I love the friendships I've built through my blog. I don't want to leave anyone out or cater to a certain group.

    I'm pretty much torn between being true to myself and doing the "right things" to build a platform and get another book deal.

    Age-old problem, I know.

  • Phoenix

    >Agent blogs – I'm with the all-promo-as-a-turn-off crowd. A great compromise would be including insider info about the title releasing. What attracted the agent to the work in the first place. How the client came to you (referred, via conference, by query). Maybe even the query that sold you on the book. What drew you to this story above others. Or, for a multipublished author, the proposal that sold it to an editor.

    Writer blog – writing tips that are theory without example annoy me. Or that offer examples that are simplistic. If a writer can write well, I'll invest the time to read essay-length posts if the subject interests me, but I should learn something or there should be an emotional payoff, too.

    It's all in who you want to attract, though. Or who you can attract at the stage you're in. I target writers right now by doing critiques, but one day I hope to transition to a larger reader audience. Still working out how to position a blog for that…

  • Anonymous

    >I was in agreement with you up until the last two, which left me feeling a little confused.

    → A writer whose blog has irregular and infrequent posts.

    → A blog that is really unfocused and doesn't know what it's about.

    Irregular and infrequent posts? Maybe you should give us YOUR definition of "regular" and "frequent". Everyone gets busy. That's life. For most writers, blogging is what we do when we're NOT writing stories-a time filler.

    Again, what is your definition of "focused"? A blog is a blog, not a news column. I think writers should treat a blog as an escape. And the people that read those blogs shouldn't be so judgemental of the writer's personal blog space and what they choose to write there.

  • Anonymous

    >What don't you like to see in agent blogs?

    A lot of complaining about writers. Writers are how agents make their living, after all.

    What don't you like in other writers' blogs?

    A blog that's all about the writer's books, with a detailed summary of each, jacket art, etc.– everything except purchase info, which isn't available because the books have not been published. Yes, I've seen this.

    And what makes you love somebody's blog?

    Humor. And serious talk about the writing and publishing business.

  • Norma Beishir

    >As one poster noted, there aren't many editor blogs. I'd love to see some. The editors I've worked with have all been interesting people with a lot of tales from the trenches that writers would enjoy reading.

  • Rosslyn Elliott

    >I'm so glad you addressed this topic.

    I'm at the odd stage in blogging at which I'm about to start getting hits from readers as well as writers. (In fact, even now, five months ahead of publication, I've received a couple of emails from future readers who have seen catalog promos for my book.)

    I think the most valuable point commenters have made here today is about voice.

    A number of commenters have said that they want blogs to be "useful" for their writing, but we have to remember that we are all writers here, and that once we are published, our readers will not necessarily be interested in discussions of publishing or writing technique.

    Readers will be interested in our blogs if they can hear our voices in our posts. I know three or four bloggers who have crystal-clear voices. They are my favorites.

    This is a challenging area for me because my authorial voice in my novels is a nineteenth-century voice, which doesn't currently translate into blog posts. I wonder if my blog should begin to reflect my authorial voice (historical flavor), or whether it should just be my own contemporary personality. I don't think I've ever seen a historical novelist write a blog in her authorial voice, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be done. Still, it might be too time-consuming and take energy away from my actual writing.

    Something to ponder.

  • Nicole Amsler

    >I work with headphones on with Pandora or my itunes running in the background. I hate when I click on a blog and some ridiculously loud song comes on, breaking my ear drums. I will never visit that site again.

    Auto play music seems to be a given for photography websites but I have seen plenty of writing sites with music or auto video as well.

    If I like the blog–even on my first visit–I expect to see a RSS feed. I add all my regular reading to my RSS feed and winnow out the duds pretty regularly. If a blog sits blank for more than a week or two, it gets deleted.

  • Francine

    >Hi,

    Intriguing post: see, you caught my eye whilst skimming through dashboard.

    Re lit agent sites: not interested in those who promote themselves with daily blogging! If seeking an agent I'd be looking around for the quiet ones: getting on with promoting books to publishers rather than blowing a blog trumpet.

    Re publishers: keep abreast of what's going in, coming out and who aretaking on authors via slushpiles.

    Re writer blogs: can't see anything wrong with the odd rant, so long as writing is good and blog entertaining. I don't even mind a kind of promo writer blog with snippets/chapters etc., but please, I do not want to know what you ate for dinner last evening, if your baby puked, nor if your dog crapped on the door mat. Keep your blog writer orientated all things wordsmithing, and have a secondary blog for personal input/output! ;)

    best
    F

  • Laura Maylene

    >Blogs I like:

    Nova Ren Suma's blog for her heart and honesty.

    The Rejectionist for the weirdness and humor.

    Betsy Lerner for the heart, insight, and spunk (did I really just type spunk?) but also because it's one of the only blogs I read that so frequently references blow jobs.

    Veronica Roth for sharing her dream-scenario publishing experience and the lessons she's learned along the way.

    Loved The Intern's blog for her humor and the helpful info; too bad she had to say goodbye.

    Twisting the Kaleidoscope for the way she reaches out to her readers.

    Basically, the blogs that aren't always all about the writer/agent running them — there's some give and take, a genuine interest in the audience reading the blog.

    It all boils down to honesty and a sincere interest to build connections (and I'm not talking about just networking branding here). It's what I strive for in my own blog, even if I'm still a comparative newbie.

  • Laura Maylene

    >I'd love to see more lit mag blogs that discuss their process, behind-the-scenes stuff, more casual content from their contributors, etc.

  • Rachelle

    >Anon 7:37: I already expanded on what I mean by "irregular and infrequent" here in the comments, 3 comments above yours.

    I sense a little bit of frustration coming from you, so I imagine you look at your blog as your personal space to do with as you please, and you don't want anyone to tell you that you should be focused, nor that you should blog on a regular schedule. For you (from what I gather), blogging is low on your list of priorities, and it may not be worth the effort for you to strategically plan and build your blog day by day.

    Fair enough, assuming you understand that this approach speaks loudly to the world that your blog is for you, not for anyone else, and that building a significant readership is not important to you.

    However, when I'm reading writer blogs for the purpose of learning more about them and whether they'd be a good bet for agent representation, I look at their blog as part of their platform. I'm looking for people who understand how to cultivate and grow an audience of people who want to read their work. That's pretty basic for someone who wants to be a published author.

    A blog that is unfocused and irregular, and therefore not tuned in to the idea of growing a readership, tells me that this author is probably not ready to be published because they may not understand the fundamental truth about a book: it's about the reader, not about the writer. Your work has to draw in readers, and then it has to serve readers. Otherwise, why publish? Just write for yourself.

    Unfocused/irregular blogs also tell me that the author may still not quite understand the necessity in today's publishing world for authors to build their own readership, to gather tribes of people who are interested in what they have to say. This is becoming more crucial by the day.

    So yes, I understand your objections to my post. But I believe your objections keep you stuck blogging for yourself, not writing in such a way as to draw in readers for your work.

  • T. Anne

    >I like voice, personality, blogs that are focused on something, preferably writing. I'm turned off by dry craft only specific blogs. I need to feel the author a little bit or else I feel like I'm reading a textbook.

    I've meet the most amazing people blogging and most of them I consider to be close friends. It's been a wonderful experience.

    As far as agent blogs, I like the same things. I love how your personality sparkles through each of your posts. You seem like a focused person with a great sense of humor.

  • Timothy Fish

    >Fawn Neun, I think some of us would love to see editor blogs, but rather than rants about comma splices style guidelines, we would like to see more on useful methods we can use to correct our work. I once asked an editor type person (who shall remain nameless but nevertheless is reading this) how to eliminate a certain type of problem in a manuscript and this person responded, “find a good editor.” That was not the answer I wanted, to say the least. If there were an editor’s blog that provided a better answer, I’m sure many authors would find it helpful.

    Rosslyn Elliott, I would be surprised if readers want to read blog posts down in the author’s “voice”. I’ve done pretty much everything I know how to do in terms of writing posts aimed at fiction readers. I’ve done short stories. I’ve allowed my characters to guest post. I’ve talked about the background of stories. It has all been met with a resounding yawn. My readers love my books; they don’t read my blog. So, aside from the enjoyment I get out of interviewing my characters, it is sort of pointless. I think that about the best we can hope for from blogs aimed at readers is that it will be similar to the extra content on a DVD. But realistically, what I think we should be aiming for is for our name and the names of our books to show up in as many places as possible. And when they search for our name or one of our books, we should have enough stuff out there on the web that the first search result will direct them to us.

  • Laura Maylene

    >I just saw that you specifically asked us NOT to mention names or examples…I hope that applies to the names of blogs we don't like, and that my list of blogs I do like is okay!

  • Jill

    >This is a tough post for me. I am an unfocused blogger because I have a priority list which goes something like this: family first, writing and editing second, and blogging last. Every time I reconsider and try to be more focused on building a readership, I jump in and go at top speed until I get burnt out.

    I think it might be good advice for people like me to start more slowly–one well-done post a week, for example. I've been thinking about this for a while.

    What do I like in blogs? There are only a handful of writer/agent blogs that I like and faithfully read. I don't like always talking about writing. I have interests in so many areas–history and languages and accordions and religion and . . .

  • Anonymous

    >I'm with Phoenix: I'd love to see the behind-the-scenes look at how a book makes it through the publishing process, from query letter to agent offer to editorial meetings and finally cover art and promotion. That's interesting and inspiring!

    What I hate are those blogs who talk about how many queries they've received this week, month, year and how few writers they've taken on (2 out of 25,000–really?). Sure, give us an idea of stats but don't rub it in about how in demand and busy you are! Why frustrate us even more? If an agent starts a blog to attract new biz, then why not stop it when you've had your fill of clients–or write something useful for a change? Give us a break!

    I'm one of those who thinks a blogger can write about whatever or whenever s/he feels like it–no one has to read it. But frankly no one likes a braggart or a whiner. (Sorry if I'm complaining here too much)

  • Florence

    >The blogs I like are done in a clean and easy to read format. No flashing cartoons or drab backgrounds. Content wise I rely on several of the industry "standards" one funny man in publishing, one group of great women who "box" a nice combo of posts, several literary agents who are kind with their comments and best of all my fellow writers.

    In all stages from aspiring to newly published to a well crafted body of work there are writer blogs that are a joy to read.

    On the other side. Your fellow professionals might take a cue from your "manner." That is to have them and be kind in how they approach the mistakes new writers make.

    Like the man in your picture or a shock jock, I'd rather change the channel. Oh, I can understand that after thousands of queries or tiresome stories, an agent may become weary, perhaps even testy.

    However, some agent blogs would be doing us all a big favor if they kept the crude remarks for cocktail hour with their friends.

    You have already said it all with the statement I see above this box … blog posts … like blog comments should be civil, respectful and avoid personally insulting others.

    I am Fois In The City and I thank you. Enjoy your Holidays :)

  • katdish

    >Agents blogs? I used to read 3 on a regular basis. Now the other two agents are no longer blogging, so that leaves yours. No pressure, though…

    I appreciate honest advice grounded in the reality of how difficult this business really is. You consistently do that here even though that's a difficult reality at times.
    Writer's blogs? Good, consistent writing, a well designed website without a bunch of distracting stuff in the sidebars.

  • Katie Ganshert

    >Holy cats! Talk about an awesome discussion gong on here. Rosslyn brings up a point that stumps me.

    Rachelle, do you think when a writer goes from unpublished to published, they should consider changing their blog content?

    Right now, the people who read my blog are other writers or my family/friends. I wonder how many actual everyday readers (aka not writers) care about following an author's blog. The answer to that probably depends on how well-written, engaging the blog posts are. Like Billy Coffey. I have to think fans of Snow Day would want to follow his blog because they are very similar in theme, content, voice, etc. Wow…I'm rambling.

  • Kristin Laughtin

    >I'm guilty of the fourth one for sure, but I'm trying to be better! I think I just need to adapt myself to the idea of writing shorter, more frequent posts instead of an essay in each one. Or write up a batch of posts at once and set them to auto-post.

    I don't like to see huge political rants in agent blogs. Yes, I understand agents are entitled to have political views, strong ones even, and they are free to express them wherever they want, but it turns me off if they claim their blog is about publishing but every post is a long-winded rant about a political issue. This is true even if I agree with their views! At that point, they should probably redefine their blog to be about more than publishing. I know of plenty of authors who are up front that their blog contains personal posts and writing posts, and thus it seems less jarring if they post a similar rant.

    I love a blog if it is interesting to read or offers useful information. A sly sense of humor can help too, although it is not essential.

  • Anonymous

    >I don't ming irregular posts – I'd rather have that than an entry with nothing in it. Isn't it better to blog when you have something to say.

  • lynnrush

    >I love talking blogging! I'm with you on the things that don't work for me.

    Also, when the background is black and writing is red or white….my eyes can't take that. It's hard to read. A second thing is music. I usually have pandora or iTunes going, so when I open a blog and music starts….I don't like that so much.

    I love blogs that are funny! I'm all about laughing and having fun!! Long, in-depth posts tend to urge me to move on.

    As far as agent/editor blogs. . . I love hearing what they know about the industry, craft tips, suggestions on the business end of it. . . things like that.

    It's fun learning about the agent/editors lives, too. I mean, potential clients are going to be with agents and some editors for a long career, it's nice to know a little more about them as a person, too, in order to see if it's a great fit.

    Thanks for this post. It's great fun!

  • E. Arroyo

    >I look for information that is helpful for me, as an aspiring author. If it's all about them and their books, nah.

    Great post.

  • Dorci

    >Just wanted to say thanks for the insight and tips. Really invaluable.

  • Gwen Stewart

    >Wow…this has been great food for thought, Rachelle.

    My blog's headline states: "My life is a symphony of faith, family and teaching. Jesus Christ is my composer and conductor. Come listen in!" As I ponder, I realize that might be more apt than I originally thought. Having been steeped in songs since childhood–and having spent the last two decades singing seven hours a day, five days a week–singing is all I really know. Therefore, my little vignettes "read" like songs. They even have the cadence and structure of songs sometimes.

    Maybe I should be working harder to enlighten, inform or instruct. I'm going to mull that over. But thanks to this post, I've at least realized that I'm being true to myself on my blog.

    (Btw, YOU are an fantastic blogger with super-stamina…three years, I think, and you just continue to get better and better. You set the standard in so many ways…)

  • Rachelle

    >Nicole and Lynn: I agree about the music – I can't stand opening a blog and music automatically comes on. I usually exit out of the blog as quickly as I can – I won't take the time to figure out if I can shut the music off. I think that's just one more thing that shows the blogger isn't tuned in to the idea that the blog is about the reader, not the blogger. Assuming I'd even like your choice of music is a big mistake; and it's intrusive to stick your music in my listening space without giving me a choice.

    Anon 10:42: You wrote, "Isn't it better to blog when you have something to say?" My response is that blogging, like all writing, is a discipline. Professional writers can't and don't wait for the muse to appear. They have strategies and techniques in place to make sure they get words on the page regularly. Again, as I've said in my other comments here, it all adds up and gives clues as to whether you, as a writer, are ready to be a published author. Just from your question about "blogging when you have something to say," I'd be wary of repping you because I'd assume you're a writer who doesn't understand discipline and only writes when the muse strikes. Of course, my assumption could be 100% wrong, but this is the risk we take when we express ourselves online.

  • ninabadzin.com

    >Hey Rachelle! For me, I'll fall in with love a writer's or an agent's blog because of the voice. (No different than the reason I'll keep reading a book after a few pages or not.) A good lesson for all of us! I just started a blog three weeks ago and I'm learning tons every day.

    I love yours, obviously! Nina

  • Gospel Girl

    >Consitency is very important as a blogger!!
    My personal blog is a mixture of , things that have happened and lessons learnt, tips, rants and short stories.
    I try to rotate so as to keep everybody happy…whether it works or not…who knows?

    I read different types of blogs depending on mood, time and what I'm working on.
    I read
    -agents' blogs
    -writers' blogs
    -personal blogs with trivial issues like what happened when Y met her X at the party with a one legged, three eyed chick. Ok, maybe not, but you get the jist. If it's intriguing I'm hooked.

    I read about 6 personal ranting blogs because the bloggers have a sense of humuor and being the nosy parker I am, I wanna know what's happening in their juicy, exciting lives. *sad* I know. lol

    Rachelle I love your blog! So informative…

  • Ted Cross

    >The irregular post thing doesn't bother me. I prefer quality to quantity, and with a blog roll on the side of my own blog I always know when a blogger puts up a new post no matter how long it has been since they last did so. I care only that they write interesting posts.

  • Gospel Girl

    >Oooops got carried away there and forgot the task at hand…lol
    I don't like Blogs
    -with music
    -that are too busy
    -long posts
    -blogs were people seem to be advertising or pushing me to buy or get something…I don't want it..uggh
    -where the navigation tabs are hidden or difficult to find…couldn't find HOME on one…

  • Beth

    >• LONG blog posts. (I don't have all day)

    • No paragraph breaks. (Eyes bugging out)

    • Rambling. (You don't really ramble, so you're excused. Many bloggers do ramble. Can't they pleeeease get to the point?)

  • Beth

    >Do like:

    • Brief and to the point

    • Informative

    • Funny

  • Sharla

    >Blogs I love: A witty voice. Humor. Regardless of writer or agent, I love humor. I love snarkiness. I do appreciate snippits of work if it isn't like a whole chapter, and I love when anyone pulls funny stories from their daily life. I like introspective posts too, ones that make you think. I love links to fun or interesting places. I love anything that provides helpful writing/publishing tips or advice.

    Dislikes: Boring ramblings that don't lead to anything. Long snippets that aren't snippets, they're partials. Political platforms or posts that are too serious. Guest bloggers–I go to a blog for that person, not someone else–I'll skip it. Contests that require things like follow this person and that person and tweet five people and link your twitter/facebook/myspace blog post about it…too much work and bouncing around and I'll pass. And finally–When I comment consistently and never get a visit in return…

    I do tend to blow off bloggers that aren't consistent in their frequency, but the flipside of that is I'm one of them! LOL. I'll be very consistent for awhile, then hit a dry spell, and end up losing commenters. My focus needs work as well. Sometimes I don't know what to post about. I write womens fiction. Not sure how to drive traffic to that with blog posts, so I end up targeting writers. Hmmm.

  • Shalon

    >Well, this certainly has everyone talking! Which leads straight to my opinion: I think that discussion is the most important thing a blog can offer.

    Discussion and knowledge building are what we are here on the web for, so a blog that supports those two activities properly is really awesome, in my eyes.

    I get really annoyed with blogs that give 'opinions' or advice without referring to good sources, as if they've crowned themselves expert.

    If a blog is written by a successful professional, then that can be in itself a reliable source. However, if the blog is written by your average person (like my blog is) then I think it's essential to make links to where you are getting your information from.

    Agent blogs that rant about the stupid things people send them is not only insulting but it shows a lack of respect for THEIR source of income and it really only makes the agent look bad.

    On the other hand, agent blogs that complain about common errors and give ways of improving them are very valuable. I wish more did that. I guess maybe there isn't a lot of time for that kind of thing, but that's what hyperlinks are for, which brings us back to the need for reliable sources.

  • Marilynn Byerly

    >Agents should be as professional as they want authors to be.

    I started reading an agent a week ago who so far has shared that she has drinking and drug issues, hates her family, is in therapy, and is promiscuous, all the while using language suitable for the streets.

    "Boy, sign me up with this disaster waiting to happen," Marilynn said sarcastically.

    When I started my blog several years ago, I already knew from others's experiences that writing articles don't sell novels.

    My personal life is also so dull people would run screaming if I chatted about that so I decided to focus my blog on my writing workshops as well as my ongoing effort to educate other writers about the business.

    That has worked for me.

  • Valerie

    >I love to read a blog that is humorous and interesting! Please don't tell me about your latest home reno project or the fight you had with your mother!

    I like blogs that educate, inspire and make me laugh.

    I must confess I am one of those sporadic bloggers. I know that this is not going to bring me faithful readers, and I'm okay with that right now. It's a big commitment and I'll know when it's time.

  • Anonymous

    >A friend of mine asked me to send this: "I get annoyed when we who are trying to get published have to follow every rule to the letter but those already published can write however they please."
    My comment: Harry Potter and the DeathLY Hallows. Enough said.

  • Valerie

    >A too-long blog is deadly. An agent told me 250 words is plenty. I work very hard to keep mine short and quickly readble. And (often) funny. I've had some gaps, correlating to the times someone very close to me goes into freefall and I'm too stressed/busy to write. Like lately.

  • Valerie

    >I meant readable. Crap! I knew I was too stressed to write.

  • Kim Kasch

    >I love blogs that aren't all info. I like to feel like I "know" someone – even if it's only in cyberspace. So a little info about the person: their interests, etc.

    Of course my blog is a lot of info about me, my fam, etc. and not terribly focused :( so maybe I'm not the "write" one to ask.

  • Joanne Bischof

    >Voice. I love to read a blog and have someone instantly feel like a friend. Funny and fresh always make me return. And as far as agents go, I love the facts–and this is always a great place to get them :)

    And I agree, music is terrible. Especially when the volume is up and there are sleeping toddlers in the next room. Nothing makes me leave faster!

  • Sue Harrison

    >Rachelle, I'm definitely a beginner when it comes to blogging, so I've read all the comments here with a lot of interest, and I've learned much.

    No names, but a few of the people who commented today have great blogs. When I first 'discover' an author's blogs of that quality, I almost always exit to Amazon and place an order. I've known the joy of some super books because I first fell in love with the author's words on his or her blog!

  • Horserider

    >One pet peeve with me and writer blogs is writers that always write about themselves. I've read some blogs where the writer only has a couple blogs a week that are about writing and books. The rest of the time it's all about them, their WIPs, and their struggles as a writer.

    I'm not saying writers should never talk about themselves because I do read blogs where the writers do blog about their own writing occasionally but there is a fine line between just enough personal info and too much.

    Another pet peeve of mine are bloggers who write extremely long posts. I read a lot of blogs in a day on top of everything else. If you're going to write a long post, break it into a couple sections and post on two different days, or make sure that the post is interesting enough to hold my attention.

    I like blogs with original information (not just talking about what everyone else is at the time), voice (funny blogs are my favorite), and blogs whose posts mostly consistent in topic. If you are going to go off topic for a day or two, try to relate it back to writing.

  • Horserider

    >Another pet peeve of mine is blogs with hard to read backgrounds. If your blog gives me a headache or makes my eyes hurt because the colors are too bright or the font is hard to read, I probably won't come back.

    And this is a personal thing with me, but I don't like blogs with sidebars on BOTH sides. Some of these can easily become too busy with pictures and links and widgets. Also the more you have on them, the longer it takes the page to load. And for some reason double sidebars slow my computer down and make it annoying to scroll through your post.

  • Arletta Dawdy

    >Rachelle,
    Thank you for all your blog columns but this one is extra timely for me. I just opened my own blog this past Tuesday and will be sensitive to the comments you and others made about being consistent,conveying my voice, writing for the reader and not myself, being alert to information that may be useful to pass on, and many other tips.
    Now, if I could only figure out more of the mechanics of blogging-like a blog roll to list others blog sites! WHEW!

  • Abby Minard

    >When I first started reading blogs, I really just wanted to find out more about the author. I love little sneak peaks into their lives, their writing experiences, and any interesting tips or advice they might have.

    One of the things I don't like, are the blog posts that can get too long. I don't want to read a whole novel when I check someone's blog. I also don't like when someone seems full of him/herself. Self promoting is one thing, but I think there is a line that can be crossed.

    Thanks for the tips on what you look for in blogs!

  • Bri Clark

    >Rachelle,

    Cursing…I cannot stand excessive cursing. I'm not a fan at all. However, there can be witty places to put one of the milder words. It is frustrating to be in the middle of reading a thought provoking opinion and then to have a swear word thrown in with all those beautiful words. It instantly makes it sound ignorant.

    Bri

  • Christie Wright Wild

    >I like writer blogs that give tips, advice, and inspiration. I'm all about the content. If I don't learn something about craft or the writer's life, then I hope to at least connect to the writer on a personal level. Blogs that have a focus is important to me. Good information and content is a must. Humor is a plus. I also love anecdotes. Oh, and the blog HAS to be easy to navigate!

    What I don't like? No HOME tab at the top. Lack of organization. Too large fonts. Blog titles that include these words: rant, rambling, journey, muse, musings, etc. (although sometimes they work), posts with poor titles, posts with a frequency of 5x or more a week (too hard to keep up with them, unless it's a one-time month-long special), tag clouds with topics that only have one post (like the name of a movie or a some off-the-wall random topic).

  • Ron and Jennie Dugan

    >I like agent blogs that are honest, but find I don't go back to ones that are littered with four letter words. They sound way over-stressed and out of control. I like writer and agent blogs that go a little deeper than the obvious, that make me think. I'm open on topics. I love learning something new. I also like easy reads. I admit it. If I have to work to understand it, I'm probably going to skip to the next blog.
    Thanks for the point about infrequent blogs. I'm guilty. I'll correct it.

  • Sheila Cull

    >Oh my God! I think I'm guilty of bad blogging all the way around so what you taught me through this blog has been helpful.

    And I enjoy when you blog about lit agents likes and dislikes, similar to this one.

  • Elizabeth

    >Great discussion!

    Agents: I like real-world examples, tips, pet peeves to avoid, behind-the scenes anecdotes and an approachable manner.

    Writers: I don't "follow" a lot of writer blogs, especially those "I CAN COACH YOU 'CAUSE I'M SO GREAT" self-promotional ones. If a writer blogs something useful, people will retweet it and then I'll go there. If they're human and I see things we have in common, then I'll follow.

    All blogs: I don't like excuses about not posting (usually with TMI about a family member's illness), or fluff from people who think they have to post everyday. The key is balance between regular posting and having something good to say. I don't like busy pages, moving graphics or having to click in mid-sentence to read the rest of the paragraph.
    I like people who answer comments and who comment on my blog – I'll usually go visit theirs.

    My blog: Well, it's focused, but on five or six topics! I enjoy reading my own blog, because it's about all the things I like. But like Rosslyn and Katie, I may need to tighten that up when my book is finished. For Rosslyn: I do write about strange things I come across in my historical research and problems I'm working out with characters, things that probably won't make it into the final book.

  • deb

    >Rachelle,

    Can I ask re the fact that you don't like a writer who posts reflections on life on his or her blog.

    As an example, I followed a blog , written in the way I enjoy.. poems, short prose poems, reflections of life. And now have come to realize that this person is now a published author . So am I to expect the blog to suddenly be about writing , touring, platform, etc?

    And when a person blogs only as part of their platform to find an agent, get published etc…. I have noticed that they rarely build community, rarely visit comment on other blogs. It seems wrong to me if they have initially come across as less than honest about their space.

    And I agree about the music, with the exceptions of some of my blog loves that retain my loyalty regardless. I hope my less than perfect self would receive some grace. Okay . A lot.

  • Leigh D’Ansey

    >I really dislike blog interviews where standard questions are put to guest after guest. Something quirky will always get my attention. Poor layout will quickly send me away.

  • meg

    >I only follow a handful of agents and published authors. I like them because they provide useful information relevant to being a published writer. I'm not interested in reading their blogs for anything else. I'm not looking for a personal connection so I don't want to read about their day unless it relates to why I'm reading their blog in the first place.

    I hate blogs by unpublished writers. Haven't found one yet I can tolerate. Most try too hard. Not having any publishing experiences they try to make up for it by writing about their lives and enthusiasm for writing. Too many seemed to think that the fact they call themselves writers makes them interesting. It doesn't.

    I understand the need to have a platform by way of a blog or website but since I am an unpublished writer I refuse to inflict another wannabe writer blog on the world right now. However, I will have one eventually because I am working on putting together a website/blog that would be interesting to writers AND readers. It will reflect my writing style and approach to life but won't be about me unless it relates to getting published. The world really doen't need another post about how little writing I got done today because I had a migraine. Nor a reposting of some published author's musings because I have nothing to contribute.

  • Alice

    >This is a great post with lots of awesome comments.

    I agree with many, no music!
    I also hate a blog that looks like an advertisement or a spam page.
    I dislike interviews and never read them.
    I don't like super long posts.
    I do like a little humor, some instruction, and some whatever you do don't do this.

    I wonder about my new blog I have on writing. It's fairly new, and since I am learning (from other blogs and books) I really can't instruct someone else on how to write, only my frustrations of my own writing.
    Maybe that's why I haven't been found by many readers.

    Great post and helpful.

  • Renee Miller

    >Writers don't buy books? Really? I'm a writer and I buy books almost weekly. I read almost as much as I write. A good writer buys books because a good writer reads them.

    Sorry, a rant. Anyway, I don't care what the blog is about as long as it's written in a way that engages me. As someone said in another comment; if I like the voice, I like the blog.

    My blog is about writing, publishing, the occasional rant about the process, the agents, the publishers. Basically wherever I am at that point in time. I like to see honest posts and if honest is critical, so be it.

    I like to see writing samples on writers blogs too. I don't care if it's a rough draft. You can see a lot in a rough draft. I post samples of my writing at different stages. It's more of a way to show that writing is a process and you never finish with the words you start with.

    In agent blogs, the promotional stuff irks me too, but agents also have a job to do. I understand that. I don't mind if they mention on occasion that their client has a book coming out. To me, that shows a good agent who cares that their clients do well. Every day? No. That's a bit annoying. But it's annoying in writer blogs too. Don't remind me daily about the book you're selling. I see it in the sidebar. If you've linked it properly I can click it and decide if I'm going to read it. Chances are if I've subscribed to the blog, I'm going to read the book.

  • Julie Musil

    >The only things I don't like are really long posts. Otherwise, I've loved the blogs I've visited.

  • Shayda Bakhshi

    >Well, I generally like shorter posts–unless they're craft-related. There are some fantastic bloggers out there that write epically long posts but are so engaging and informative that I'm disappointed when there isn't more.

    I'm a bit peevish about long teasers from WIPs.

    I think the only thing that really, REALLY bothers me, though, is an inaccessible blog. The kind where you try to comment and engage, but it just seems like you've walked into a thick nest of BFFs–ones that are NOT looking for a new member in their clique.

    These are few and far between, of course, but that really turns me off. What's the point of blogging if you don't want to connect with folks?

  • L.C. Gant

    >I find myself very turned off by writer blogs that, oddly enough, don't focus on the craft of writing.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly fine with the occasional post about your sick puppy or how you've taken up gardening or whatever, but if 4 out of the 5 posts you publish each week have nothing whatsoever to do with writing, I feel cheated.

    I haven't encountered this as often with agent blogs, but with writers I come across it all the time. It's like picking up what you thought was a thriller only to discover it's a romance in disguise. Not cool.

  • Margo Kelly

    >YIKES! This was a great blog post with a TON of great AND frustrating comments! Most have sparked ideas in my brain. So, THANKS! :) I'm off to evaluate my blog…

  • Sharon Bially

    >Writer's blogs — like all blogs — should use posts that are short and to the point. Blogs are not the place for showcasing prose. Save that for the novel.

  • Alice

    >I have spent the past 90 minutes looking for a specific writing info.

    something I would like to see on blogs is a search. So I can find what I'm looking for without having to read through all of the posts.

  • Terri Tiffany

    >Oh this has been fun reading. I think I've taken more time reading these comments than I would someone's blog post.

    What I hate: (and we all have our personal tastes like in books) LONG posts without breaks.
    Music.
    Boring stories about yourself unless you tie it to something I can relate to.
    When someone doesn't post for over a month, I delete them.
    A ton of slow-loading graphics.
    Keep it simple and real.

    What I love: Simple and Real with some useful information and don't be afraid to share what you did wrong as well as right.

    Agent blogs: Love information I can use to grow and submit. Hate reading how busy you are and buried with submissions. I don't need to hear someone complain about their job. If you don't like it, do something you can be passionate about and love. (I say that to everyone–not just agents:)
    Thanks for a great read today! I learned a lot.
    Mostly, I didn't realize agents even visited blogs.

  • Rachelle

    >Terri Tiffany: That last comment cracked me up. “I didn’t realize agents even visited blogs.” Are you kidding me? Why not?Alice: Sorry that you’ve had a hard time finding the info you need. I’m not sure if you’re talking about my blog or others, but my blog actually has a SEARCH box in two different places – very top left, and also the sidebar towards the bottom.You can also see, towards the bottom of my sidebar, a list with “Find Posts on This Blog” at the top. One of the categories is “Craft of Writing.” There’s another category “Writing Process.” Those should give you what you need.

  • Rachelle

    >Renee Miller: Of course writers buy books, probably at a higher rate than the general population. But still, an audience that consists of just writers is a very small audience when compared with the audience of, say, “people who like political books” or “people who like romances.” You should be targeting your blog at your audience, not just writers in the audience.Deb 12:24 pm: I don’t dislike writers who post reflections on life. As I said in my post, I ENJOY blogs with reflections on life. What I said here was that I don’t like it when they’re boring. And too many “reflections on life” blogs are boring. It just means either I’m not the right audience for that blog, or the writer hasn’t quite found the way to keep an audience interested.And no, no, no… I would hope a successful “reflections” blog would not suddenly become something different just because the author is published! Many successful authors have terrific blogs in which they don’t talk about the writing life, but rather about life.Christie Wright Wild: Wow, it’s a wonder you read my blog at all! (Seeing as how you don’t like blogs with the words rant or rambling, or posts 5x a week.) I feel privileged that you’re here! Thanks for overlooking my shortcomings. :-)

  • deb

    >Rachelle ~ how did I miss the words in the parentheses ? Thank you for your answer. Really. You are the best.

  • gargimehra

    >Oops, I’m almost afraid the first one’s referring to me!

  • Alice

    >No Rachelle, not your blog. It's many others that I was searching. I can find items on yours. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  • amy

    >To quote RobynBradley, "Blog love: A unique slant, unique voice, regular posts, regular themes that I can look forward to, and humor never hurts."

    I've been caught in the trap of "heeding everyone's advice," and as a result it's taken me over four years to discover my writing style.

    I have heard of some writers who blog in character. Sounds like a fascinating concept to me. What are thoughts on that?

  • Carly

    >Your blog is very professional and uses appropriate language.

  • Rose Green

    >I get turned off my agent blogs that feel braggy. Supportive and proud of one's clients = good. The vibe of "look how amazing I am because I sell only international blockbusters for the cool club; dumb people need not hang around" makes me feel like I'm back in high school.

    I dislike the same attitude in writer blogs. Also, talking about challenges and issues in the industry is okay, but incessant complaining is annoying. And if you make fun of your fans, I probably will make a note not to buy your books! That's the biggest no no to me.

    I like blogs that give the illusion of being interactive. An example of a "perfect" author blog is Shannon Hale's. She talks about good books, about literature, about the reading and the writing processes, about good personal experiences. She's upbeat and you can tell that she actually reads comments, and while she can't respond to each comment, she will do posts in response to comments.

  • Victoria Dixon

    >I realized I disliked reading large passages of text on blogs. (I should probably not bother with a kindle, hmmm?) So if I have something big to say, I divide it up into lots of posts, bullet relevant sections or whatever else I have to do to keep it brief. I also like helpful posts – I return to folks who do contests, post links to contests, publishing opportunities, etc. I wish more bloggers would post once or twice a week, rather than every day. I see the value of writing it every day, but it takes time for me as a reader to look through the plethora of posts that arrive in my inbox and see if I want to comment. Mostly I feel overwhelmed by the blogosphere right now.

  • G

    >I strongly dislike when writers talk like what they write.

    Like when YA writers who talk like they're 15/16 years old. Actually makes me mentally sick to not read the blog, no matter how intelligent the writer may be.

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  • Tom Bridgeland

    >Likes on agent blogs. Well, I like this one. Not so much for content, but tone. I feel comfortable reading here. maybe that's because Rachelle doesn't rep my sort of novel.

    Dislikes on agent blogs? Example query letters that suck, but the agent reps the book anyway, for some quirky reason.
    And, example query letters that suck, but the bio says something like: 'I have three previous novels published…' and the agent reps the book.

    Can you tell that I am jaded about queries?

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