This post, by J.A. Konrath, originally appeared on his A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog.
When it is running at its peak, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing gets over 30,000 hits per day.
This traffic means nothing to me personally. I don’t care about fame for fame’s sake. I don’t care about what people think of me. I’m as immune to detractors as I am to those who offer praise, and I get plenty of both. It’s nice to be thought of, but that’s not what lights my fire.
This traffic means nothing to me financially. The majority of those who read this blog are writers, not fans. Readers don’t care about the publishing industry. While I have, on occasion, used this platform to promote a book, it is almost always linked to a point I’m trying to make, an argument I’m trying to present. I don’t have paid ads on this blog, or my website. A Newbie’s Guide doesn’t generate any direct income for me, and any indirect income is unverifiable.
This traffic means nothing to me altruistically. While I know this blog has helped many writers by informing, persuading, and inspiring, it is impossible to be directly connected to that many people. I get dozens of "thank yous" a week. It’s flattering, but I stopped taking it personally a long time ago. I don’t write this blog to help people, or make the world a better place.
But I do care about traffic. I want as many people to visit this blog as possible. Not for my ego or my bank account. Not for any cause celebre or romantic notions of fighting the system.
This blog exists as a tool to help me learn.
There is a certain amount to be personally gained from writing persuasive essays, from presenting arguments using logic and facts, from sharing information. Doing so helps me improve my debating skills and hone my position and distill my thoughts.
But everything I write is already in my brain. That’s not the way to learn. Knowledge comes from seeking outside sources of information, from looking at other points of view, from being forced to defend an argument or position from an attack that hadn’t been considered, from changing viewpoints as new information or better logic presents itself.
I go looking for that information. But there’s also another way to obtain it. Namely, to host a forum, and let the information come to me in the form of comments.
This blog would not exist without the commentors. And if you’re a regular visitor, you know how long these comment threads can go on. How many blogs get 600 comments in a single thread? How many people leave a message saying "I learned just as much from the comments as the post"?
I read every comment. I hardly ever reply to praise, or thanks. But I do reply to those who disagree, who try to disprove whatever point I attempted to make in the blog post. I also respond to whiny, anonymous pinheads.
We’ll get back to the pinheads in a moment.