To Blog or Not to Blog?
That is the question I’m getting a lot these days. Many authors are being advised that they must have a blog as the first step to marketing themselves. But I think that advice is getting outdated. Here’s why:
→ According to Technorati, there are nearly 113 million active blogs. That’s not a typo. Considering there are about 400,000 new books being published in the U.S. each year, logic dictates that it might be easier to market your book itself than to try to market your blog amongst the crowded blogosphere.
→ Creating and maintaining an active blog is an incredible amount of effort. You need to update your content at least three times a week, and you need to spend time online in activities that will draw people to your blog. If you don’t LOVE blogging, you won’t be able to make your blog a success.
→ Most authors with successful blogs have been blogging 3 to 6 years or more. A blog is not a magic bullet or instant-recognition tool.
→ Blogging takes passion, commitment, and creative energy that in many cases, is better spent on writing your books.
→ If you’re trying to be honest and authentic on your blog, and you spout off about religious views, politics, your views on parenting or any other controversial topic, you risk alienating potential buyers of your books simply because they disagree with one of your personal viewpoints.
Obviously those are some pretty negative takes on blogging. So what are some reasons you should consider blogging?
→ You simply enjoy it, and you have the time.
→ You are a non-fiction author with a subject-related blog that draws readers specifically interested in your topic. Focusing your blog is what can make it a valuable marketing tool.
→ You’re a fiction author with a strong, entertaining voice and you’re able to engage readers and keep them coming back. You’re using your blog to create relationships with future buyers of your books.
→ You are two or more years away from a published book, and have the time to actively build your blog readership.
→ You are using your blog as a daily discipline to practice writing, engage with readers, and begin to understand what interests readers and what doesn’t. You can get instant feedback on your writing. If you take a serious approach to this, paying attention to what sparks comments and what doesn’t, you can improve your writing a little more each day.
My point here is this: a blog is not required, and if you can’t do it well and you don’t love it, don’t do it. A strong, professional website, with occasional content updates, can serve your purposes just as well. (We’ll talk about author websites another time.)
Q4U: Do you blog? Are you considering it? Why or why not?
[Some of the above information is from M.J. Rose’s article, “Blogging,” in Writer’s Digest, October 2008, p. 69]
Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.