At any rate, "plog" is a trademark of Amazon.com, and refers to "a personalized web log that appears on your customer home page." Through a new program called AmazonConnect, authors can now post blog-style entries that will appear on their books' detail pages, and also in the plogs of Amazon customers who've bought that author's books (at least, that's how I understand it. Amazon's explanation of the process is incredibly confusing). To make a long explanation short, it's yet another avenue for authorial self-promotion, and agents and publishers are urging their authors to jump on board.
A lot of authors feel ambivalent. Some have blogs already and aren't thrilled about having to maintain another. Some feel the plogs are too overtly commercial. Some are just tired of the pressure to self-promote. Readers seem to be ambivalent too. Many don't really want to read authors' blogs--especially if they're obviously self-promotional--or if they do, would rather seek them out on their own than have blog entries force-fed to them via their Amazon customer page.
There's been a good deal of talk about plogs; some representative opinions (including mine) appear in this article by Lauren Roberts at BiblioBuffet, and in the lively Comments section of this post at Miss Snark's blog. From this and other discussions, I gather that many authors, who aren't enthusiastic about plogging but feel compelled to participate, are using the plogs mainly as a way to direct readers to their own websites and blogs, or to occasionally announce news and appearances. Others intend to deal with the problem of new content by posting book excerpts and press releases, or by recycling previously-written material.
Evidently this has come to Amazon's attention, and they aren't happy about it. Last week I received an email from the staff at AmazonConnect.
We would like to take the opportunity now to give you some constructive feedback on posting practices that we feel do not contribute to a good customer experience.
- Re-purposing or serializing material from your books (keep in mind that many of the customers receiving your messages have already bought your books…)
- Flat marketing/promotional messages
- Posting reviews in place of writing posts
- Using brightly colored or bold type to write your full post (can be hard to read)
- Filling your post with multiple links to other sites
I do plan to plog, though I'll limit my posts to announcements and information on my new books. The reader feedback on plogs, both at the links above and elsewhere, has been a real eye-opener for me, and I don't want to risk alienating readers by bombarding them with information they may not want. It's a good reminder of why dashing down a new avenue of publicity the instant it opens up isn't necessarily a good idea. Better, I think, to wait and watch and see what develops.
Oh, and one more thing for ploggers to consider: this disclaimer, from Amazon's Conditions of Use:
If you do post content or submit material, and unless we indicate otherwise, you grant Amazon.com and its affiliates a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display such content throughout the world in any media.