For one of the books I'm working on, I've thought about launching a character blog before I either pitch to publishers or decide to self-publish. I'd like to explore the potential ethical issues of a character blog and see what others here think about them.
What is a Character Blog?
A character blog is a blog authored by a fictional character - in this case, a character from a book. In some cases, the readers aren't told publicly on the site that the author is a fictional character, and that the blog posts deal with fictional situations. In other cases, it's clear on the blog that the author and content are both fictional.
Are Character Blogs Ethical?
This was tough for me at first. Coming from a PR background where I'm known for always siding with blunt honesty and transparency, the idea of a character blog can seem to be a bit unethical. On the issue of transparency, it would seem that at a bare minimum you would have to be honest about who you are as a blogger when communicating with your audience.
Then there's the side of me that works as a writer. I've ghostwritten work. I've written under pseudonyms. If a character blog is unethical, then wouldn't both ghostwriting and pen names be equally unethical?
I'd say so.
That's why I choose to look at it this way - the PR side of me occasionally needs to shut up and allow the creative side to take control. Writing is an art form, and blogs are becoming just another creative outlet - after all, there's no one type of blog or purpose of blogs.
So I'm OK with character blogs - even those that don't make their fictional basis known up front. As a matter of fact, I think growing a character blog really relies on it not being exposed as such too quickly.
For example, what I'm considering is running a character blog before publishing for one of two reasons:
- If I choose to pitch publishers, I'll have a built-in audience for promotional purposes - I can show the publisher that I have decent reach with the market, have demonstrated a desire for the content and character, etc. (similar to email newsletter subscribers for a nonfiction release).
- If I choose to self-publish, I have a built-in audience of potential buyers I can promote the book to directly.
The only thing I'm not sure about is whether or not I'll have some small mention somewhere about it being a fictional blog, or if I'll wait on that until the blog starts to take off a bit.
What are your thoughts on character blogs for promoting a book? Have you used one? Do you plan to? Do you have any ethical issues with running a fictional blog and simply considering it another form of creative writing with some creative freedom? Would you tell people on the blog that it's a character blog? If so, when?
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media -- a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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