Recently, award-winning writer (this is how her friends have to address her now), Chesya Burke was approached with the possibility of getting her own message board. She asked me if I thought it would be a good idea or if starting a LiveJournal would be a better idea. My initial response was “why the hell are you asking me?” After all, why would the literary diva care what an up and coming writer had to say, but I gave it some thought. “I guess it depends on what you want to do with your message board.”

In theory, message boards are a convenient place for a writer to interact with their fans. However, too often, up and coming writers make the mistake of making their message boards and their newsletters the focus of their publicity, their efforts to get their name out. They’ll go to various message boards and announce contests for their boards or newsletter drives. The kinds of stuff they think that have to do when you’re “up and coming” (which Chesya’s not).

For me, message boards are handy if you have either a fan base or a lot of friends who want to hang out on your board. My board went almost a year without any posts (until I got serious about it), but then I re-thought what I wanted to do with it. A lot of the time it seems like me thinking through things and talking to myself, with the idea of drawing people in to join in the conversation. One poster found it amusing how often I would pose a question in one post, then spend the next three posts answering it.

Don’t forget my particular hang up: everything should be about something. My stories, blogs, message board … I’ve been thinking through these things and how they define me as a writer. As a professional writer, your LiveJournal or blog site have different considerations that someone who just wants to journal online. They can’t simply be exercises in vanity. No, I’m not choking on my hypocrisy: I know that I’m vain. I love me a lot, but even I recognize that no one cares how much I wrote today or what I ate for breakfast.

Personally, I would go check out check out some people’s boards. See what they are doing, think about what kind of board you want to have and whether or not you want to put in the time to make it worthwhile. Since there’s no worse feeling than having a board where no one shows up.

Which brings me to my last point. I get bumps in site visits and posts any time a story of mine gets released. Those and my blog power my message board. In other words … writing. Getting my horror buddies to post ONCE on my site just to win a contest (to make it look like people post there regularly) is lame. Keep writing stories that get published in venues that are seen or widely read. Remember, it’s about the writing. Or at least being an interesting personality.

Of course, I say all this today. Tomorrow I might eat something really interesting for breakfast.

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Comment on this bit of rantus interruptus anyway you want (I don’t know where you’re reading it from) or just do so at my message board.