So, now that you have your author website up and running (and have all the critical elements in place that we discussed last week), I thought we’d tackle another important aspect of your site: the blog. Or if you prefer (and you feel the way I did about blogging when I began), The Dreaded Blog.
I have to confess that when I first came to social media, I didn’t blog. I didn’t see the point of it, and, frankly, I was terrified at the very thought, because what in the heck was I going to write about?!? (As a quick aside, what is it about us writers that we don’t hesitate to plunge into the writing of an 80,000-word novel, but we freeze at the thought of a 300-word blog? Am I the only one to whom this makes absolutely no sense?)
Anyway, writerly quirks aside, fast forward two years and look at me now—not just comfortably blogging, but a total convert to the idea. Believe me, if I can get to this point, so can you…but before we dive into the “how”, let’s start with the “why” I think fiction writers need to blog in the first place.
If you’re a debut or even a midlist author, you may have already discovered that getting readers to notice your books (never mind buy them) can be really, really difficult. No matter how great your book may be, there are thousands upon thousands of writers out there who are all vying for readers’ attention. When you first start out, you can (and probably will) feel completely lost in the crowd. A blog, however, can help you stand out. How? Click to tweet!
- When you blog, every post you write gives you a chance to draw traffic to your site (which readers might never find otherwise, unless they’ve gone looking for you). You’ll also be drawing repeat traffic (especially if viewers subscribe to your blog), increasing your chances that a potential reader will check out your books while they’re visiting your site.
- A blog gives you the chance to showcase your writing, and it allows readers to get a sense of your ‘voice’. If they like what they read in your posts, chances are they’ll check out the books you have on your site.
- Many of today’s readers want (or even expect) to know something of the person behind the writer. A blog gives them that sense of connection.
That covers the why you need to be blogging, but what about the “what the heck do I write” dilemma? When I first started blogging, the majority of the online advice I could find for writers centered around having a platform—which really boiled down to having a topic or area of expertise. All well and good if you’re writing non-fiction, but not so much for fiction. I tried my hand at a few craft-type blogs, but I really wasn’t comfortable telling other writers how to write…especially when there were already thousands of blogs whose writers were far better than I will ever be at explaining the mechanics of the craft. Then I tried blogging about the world-building aspects of my series, particularly the angel mythology, but as much research as I’d done, I really wasn’t (and didn’t want to be) an expert on angels. Argh…and back to the Google-research board.
It turns out that author Justine Musk once posted about this same topic. Her advice was to “turn your blog into a personal quest through asking, researching and answering or exploring different aspects of that central question…spiritual, emotional, or social.” Author Jody Hedlund, on the other hand, had a different take, stating that “I don’t think WHAT we blog about is as important as HOW we blog”, and going on to use words such as passion, interest, and unique.
Do I think one approach is better than the other? Not really. I just think you need to choose what feels most comfortable to you. Over time, my own blog has evolved into a surprisingly accurate snapshot of me: somewhat chaotic, a little disorganized, and a whole lot eclectic. I write everything from my pets to my canning to my garden to my characters to whatever else catches my attention. Occasionally I’ll post my own thoughts on another author’s book, or (when I’m feeling extraordinarily organized), I’ll invite other writers to guest post. Sometimes I’ll even take a stand on an issue that’s important to me, though I do so sparingly and carefully, ever mindful that not all my readers will share my personal viewpoints. (For that reason, I avoid becoming political or discussing my religious views.)
The upside of this approach is that my blog has attracted a number of readers who might not have otherwise heard of me. In reading about my garden or my kitten, they’ve been intrigued enough by my writing style to check out my books; some have gone on to purchase those books and become fans, others have told friends about me or shared my posts. This, my friends, is the power of social media. 🙂
And that is pretty much all there is to blogging. I’ll bet it’s not nearly as intimidating as you thought it would be, is it? 😉 In fact, as long as you relax, be yourself, and let your voice shine through, I suspect you’ll find it to be quite painless…and maybe even a little bit fun.
So…questions? Comments? I’m here to respond to both. Just let me know what’s on your mind. 🙂
P.S. Need a little extra kickstart to get you moving? Check out my 6 Steps to Fast-Drafting a Blog.