To Blog or Not To Blog, That is the Question
Standard wisdom used to be that authors, both fiction and non-fiction, should build relationships with readers through blogs. As social media and online marketing have evolved, my thoughts on blogging have changed.
The proliferation of blogs in the last ten years has made it increasingly difficult to stand out in the crowd. Many authors are blogging faithfully but it doesn’t seem to be increasing readership of their books; in fact most of their readers are other writers. One good indicator blogging might not be for you is if you have a hard time figuring out what you should write about.
So, how do you decide if you should have a blog?
Have a blog if:
1. You have something important to say and it seems people want to hear it.
2. You understand that blogging is about offering something of value, NOT about promoting yourself and your books.
3. You enjoy blogging (for the most part, anyway).
4. You find blogging contributes to your creativity and enthusiasm for writing your books, rather than sucking all the energy out of you.
5. You can find the time for blogging without it completely stressing you out.
6. Your books have a highly defined target audience, making it easy to target your blog.
7. Your books are topical (especially non-fiction), so that you have a clear and obvious theme for your blog.
Don’t have a blog if:
1. You keep asking yourself and others, “But what should I blog about?”
2. You only want to blog to promote your books and/or because you think you “have to.”
3. The whole idea stresses you out.
4. You honestly don’t have the time in your schedule to blog regularly.
5. You’ve been blogging for a year or more, and haven’t built up to a traffic level that seems worth it.
Here are some alternatives to blogging when it comes to online networking and promotion.
- joining a group blog
- sending email newsletters
- using Facebook effectively
- leveraging the various ways Goodreads offers for promoting books
- attracting a readership through Pinterest and/or Instagram
- having an effective LinkedIn profile page
If you don’t want to blog or be engaged in online promotion, should you self-publish instead of seeking a publisher?
I get this question from writers frequently, and my answer is: What would be the point of self-publishing a book, if you have no intention of promoting it? Who will buy it? With millions of books available for sale at any given time, what’s your plan for letting people know that yours exists?
Blogging and other means of online promotion aren’t just hoops that publishers want you to jump through. They’re real and necessary methods of letting people know about your book. So if you have no intention of letting anyone know about your book, through a sustained, long-term promotional plan of online engagement, then think carefully about whether you want to write a book for publication. If you build it: they will NOT come. You must promote it.
Do you blog? If so, how’s it going? If not, why not? Comment below, or by clicking: HERE.
Here’s how to decide whether or not to blog. (Click to Tweet.)
Want to be an author, but don’t want to blog? There are alternatives! (Click to Tweet.)
I have created a blog for my writing but have not yet added one thing to it. I’m not ready. My manuscript is not ready. I need to keep writing. I have two other blogs but they are unrelated to my writing – one is a craft blog and one is a book review blog.
Thanks for your advice. I found a link to your website from the shark – Janet Reid. I feel like I have so much to learn before I start the query process, and I appreciate her knowledge and your knowledge. I’m listening and learning and will hopefully get the query process right.
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Thank you! I’ve asked myself “to what end?” when it comes to this issue a lot — but so much mainstream advice says to just do it, you know? I like blogging. I keep a private, personal one to chronicle our family life, and I have one on my author website where I just try to be myself. But I have wondered if it really will accomplish anything — after all, I’m a novelist, not a non-fiction writer. It’s not like I’m offering something (a service, advice or information) that people need.
So I’ll continue to blog at my own pace and see what happens, but I kind of feel like my “platform building strategy” at this point in time — since I haven’t published anything yet — hinges upon me functioning as a listener instead of a talker. Connecting with readers by showing an interest in them, instead of begging for their attention to me. Like maybe if Dale Carnegie had written a book about social media, haha. 🙂
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Rachelle, appreciate your suggestions for alternatives. I’ve had a website for two years, only started blogging last year. Often unsure what to say or post. Signed up for an Ultimate blogging challenge last year and did the month of daily posts. Did a second round last fall, another thirty. Didn’t see a lot of followers, reposts, links, whatever. I loved doing it, felt it increased my accountability to myself. But, I found it took away writing time, then when its done, felt like I’d written for the day. Signed up for another challenge January,busy posting latest book, Wildwood Flower, and haven’t done a single post.
Great topic, Rachel. Over three years ago, I started my blog on my journey to publication. During this time, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it, but in the end, I can’t imagine life without it. I’ve connected with so many wonderful people, not just writers, some are photographs, artists, and some who just enjoy blogging. When I got my first contract with Harlequin in August, sharing it with my friends on my blog was extra special.
I do have a blog. I enjoy it and try to post every day, sometimes twice a day if time permits. I love to write and though there was a time when I promoted it heavily I do still promote it on various social networks but also am content writing just because I love it and feel compelled to do it. 🙂 Thank you for your post! I found it interesting and informative. Best wishes.
I’ve had a blog for a few years for my fiction writing. Sometimes I’m dedicated, and sometimes I’m not.
I’ve been reading a lot lately how blogging does very little for fiction writers. If I wrote non-fiction, it would be perfect. Or if I had a service to sell, it might work.
Somewhere in the future, I’ll probably stop blogging and make my site static with updates a few times a year. But for now, I’ll do my sporadic blogging.
You made several good points, and although I love blogging, it does cut into my actual writing time.
I like blogging about stuff in my life other than writing, so that’s why I continued blogging for years even though I don’t have tons of followers. I just like to write.
It’s a great question. I’ve thought many times that it seems crazy to run a blog and a Facebook page. They have much of the same content, but Facebook has better reach and more immediacy. You can readily build relationships there, if only by responding to comments with a like.
In response to the writer who is blogging about theology but writes juvenile fiction – yes, it’s too big a gap. The folks who are reading your current blog are not even close to your target market for juvenile fiction.
That said, you could easily have two different pages on Facebook to accommodate those different audiences and drive engagement.
However, and this is key, if you like blogging then to hell with all the rules. Do it! Enjoy it. Revel in the words. Have a great time interacting with like-minded people about something you have a passion for.
At the end of the day, isn’t that what we writers love? To touch other people’s hearts and minds, even when we’re removed by time and place?
Great points! I realized a while back that my blog was never going to bring me a lot of book sales. I had to think about this very thing. Most of my friends who write books don’t blog, or if they do, blog occasionally.
I am sticking to weekly blog posts for now because, while my audience is small, there’s some immediate gratification and direct connection with my readers that I enjoy. Every now and then I run into someone who never comments on my blog but always knows what I’ve posted and can speak intelligently about it, so that’s kind of nice. Sometimes I get stumped on what to write about, but I think it’s a good exercise to try to come up with something fast.
Nice post, Rachelle.
I started an author blog (http://www.greglevin.com/scrawl-space-blog) two years ago — about six months before my second novel (first GOOD one) came out. Blogging has been great for attracting potential fans/readers to my site, but I’m very careful not to over-promote my books in my blog posts. I write satirical and humorous pieces about what it’s like to be an author. Some of my posts are geared more toward writers; others are for any and everyone… who is literate and over the age of 17.
I post bi-weekly to avoid burnout, and to avoid annoying my subscribers. I find blogging to be a great way to keep the words coming while taking a break from whatever beast of a novel I’m working on. It takes me 8-10 months to finish writing a novel; it takes me only 3-4 hours to finish writing a blog post. It feels good to cross finish lines on a frequent basis while busy climbing the mountain of a manuscript.
One last thing, if it weren’t for my author blog (which I share on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn after each post), I may not have ever met the TV producer who ended up getting HBO (yes HBO!) to option my latest novel (‘The Exit Man’) for development into a TV series. (The pilot script is currently being written by a well-known Hollywood scriptwriter. Fingers crossed!)
So, as an author, do I think blogging is worth it? H*LL yeah!
Thanks again for the post, Rachelle. Keep up the great content.
This was an excellent article on a topic I have been mulling over for some time! Is it worth my time to write to my 600+ readers online, or would that time be better spent writing something to submit to an agent? And, does it matter that my blog topics are book reviews and theology, but I want to write juvenile fiction? Maybe that diversity is too extreme? Anyway, I doubt I’ll have answers any time soon. In the meantime, I feel like blog writing (if it’s all I have time for right now) is better than no writing, and I do enjoy the feedback from readers. Thank you for writing this!
Thank you for writing about this topic and offering alternatives to blogging for promotion.
If this article was in a quiz format I’d tend to “Have a blog…”
I blog but I don’t have a book to sell, but I am a writer and one day I may secure a book deal.
My primary reason for blogging is what you mention in your first paragraph, to build relationships. I enjoy writing stories and interacting with readers.
Honestly, I delete blogs I’ve followed when the content becomes ‘spammy’ and most entries are about their book, word count, etc.
Rachelle, I began blogging before publication of my first book, and although I’ve dropped from five days a week to three to my present two, I haven’t stopped. But maybe it’s time that I did. Thanks for the thoughtful presentation of both sides of the coin–not just “Oh, you HAVE to. Authors are expected to do that.”