There are few tools more powerful for creating a brand than a good author blog. The Digital Age is fast-paced, and information is fleeting. Many of us are struggling in a sea of 0s and 1s for something of substance to hold onto. We all know social media is vital to any author career, but we are also aware that modern audiences seem to have the attention span of a crack-addicted Pomeranian, and social media sites are not exactly known for possessing long shelf-lives.
Even the leviathan Facebook seems vulnerable to the shifting tastes and preferences of an increasingly distracted audience. What is an author to do?
There are a number of reasons why blogs can be a superior tool for constructing a platform. Because I have promised brevity, we will discuss them one at a time. The first reason I feel blogs are one of the best social media tools for building an author platform is simply:
Blogs are More Resilient
Facebook and Twitter are not immune to going the way of Friendster and MySpace, and “Gather”-ing dust. It seems the second some new craze hits the scene and gains traction, the old site loses participation. As the participation declines, the “formerly hip” social site is then forced to sell more ad space to make up for the losses. More ads irritate remaining users who then flood to the new shiny site that has fewer annoying ads, while old site dies a lonely death in the cold vacuum of cyberspace.
Blogs, on the other hand, can be done off the author’s own web site, so the author has total control. Even those who want to use one of the more popular blogging platforms like WordPress will still enjoy a similar advantage. Why? Blogs have a simple and timeless goal—share thoughts, information, stories and observations via words. That’s it. Simple.
Notice how similar the mission is to books.
There are all kinds of blogs. Some are funny, informational, anecdotal, and some use just pictures, but they are all still basically the same, and they aren’t going to change. WordPress might offer new sharing tools or plug-ins. They might offer upgrades and fancy backgrounds, but the overall experience people are looking for remains fairly unchanged. We go to blogs to be informed or entertained.
Again, much like books.
Blogs will remain until we take them down or the Internet implodes, and, if the Internet implodes, we have far bigger problems than our author brand. Thus, I would have to say that in a sea of shiny distractions, one of the best investments is a good blog (that leaves plenty of time for our most important activity—writing more books).
If you want to learn how to create a good author blog that appeals to readers not just other writers, please sign up for my next class. Registration is now open and there are all types of packages for every price range. The class can be done at your own pace and in your own time and you will have a team of support.
And, yes there are already too many blogs, but there are too many books, too and that hasn’t stopped any of us from wanting to write them :D. I am here to help shorten your learning curve and offer you a system of support you likely won’t get from home (if your family is anything like mine was).
What are your thoughts? Who are some of your favorite bloggers? What do you think makes a blog bad, boring, unappealing? Some of the WANAs out there, share your success stories. Brag! You worked for it!
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
NOTE: December’s winner is Steph Scottil. Please send your 5000 word Word document or your synopsis (no more than 1000 words and in a WORD doc) OR your query letter to my assistant Chad at c carver at wana intl dot com.
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.
Love it! How many times do you have to enter to win??? 😀 just kidding lol Kristen’s blogging course will absolutely change how you blog and set you up for success. Not only does she give you the tools you need, but you get more access to the WANA tribe of bloggers and there’s not a more supportive group of bloggers anywhere!
I love blogs and I have bought books based on liking the blogger’s ‘voice.’ Every writer should have a blog and if they’re not sure how to get started, they should read “Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer.”
Before I read some books I checked the authors website our blog..
Personally, author platform aside I’ve made a bunch of great friends via my blog. Actually, if I didn’t have a blog then I wouldn’t have read my co-author Mark’s freshly pressed post, so he wouldn’t have thought my view on the issue was interesting enough to visit my blog, so I’d never have guest-posted for him, and we would never have written a book together. Which basically means if I didn’t have a blog I wouldn’t be a very-nearly-published author (as in, a matter of days), I’d still be in the sea of aspirers … not a great place to be!
Question – how does this class tie into, “Are you there blog? It’s me, writer”? I ask because I’ve already purchased the book and wouldn’t want to pay the price of the course only to have it be a replication of the book’s content. Is it overlapping content? Or does one accentuate the other?
The book will be useful, but since I have written the book I have developed a VERY unique system of blogging in a way that will build a large base of non-writer readers. It’s also fast, simple, and highly effective. It is not in the book. Also the benefit of the class is you get a team of support.
I read both Kristen’s books before taking the class, and she definitely gives new and essential content in the class. Plus, you build a tribe of other supportive bloggers who become good friends as well.
People ask me, “does every writer need a blog?” and I say “No. Only the ones who want to be published.” 🙂 That’s an exaggeration, but as you say, it is the #1 way to give yourself an Internet presence and connect with (potential) readers and network with other writers. I’ve heard your classes are awesome!
“If you want to learn how to create a good author blog that appeals to readers not just other writers…” Glad you’re focusing on the readers with this. I thought as a writer I needed to publish a writing blog but then I realized my strengths are storytelling and humor, not breaking those down into smaller bits and offering the “how-to.” Now I’m able to be myself online while still networking and sparking interest in my novel and memoir. Great post, Kristen!
This is so well timed! I own and have read both of your books and have just launched my blog. I made a few errors before reading them but think I am starting down a good path. I’m looking forward to getting better and better at it. The blogs I am drawn to are those that 1) capture me with a good, thought provoking story, distinctive voice, and wonderful writing (Example, “Walking on My Hands” by Pamela Hunt) or 2) provide useful timely information about something I am trying to learn more about (Example: your blog, David Lebovitz (all things ice cream). There are a number that do both: Nathan Bransford (former agent, author of young-adult books, and great community builder). Here’s another blogger/communications expert I love, the “Communicatrix,” Colleen Wainwright. Of course, when I tried just now to figure out how to provide hyperlinks to all of these examples, I failed. Still lots to learn.
As I looked for a great blogging platform, widening my footprint online was one of my foremost goals. I also like the connections with other like minded slaves to words I find here. You are hitting on every thought I have these days with yout information-packed posts. I am wanting to get more info about the class before I commit.
Go to the link and each level is described in detail. It is a combination of lessons, webinars, exercises, and team-building.
Hillary Billings has a wonderful blog. She’s a modern nomad and blogs about her travels and life experiences. It’s very interesting because she has an appealing writing style and because she’s so daring to have chosen this.
The thing just is personally I don’t know WHAT to write. I feel like it’s so pretentious to think my thoughts are any more interesting than other’s, and besides, I hate blogs that don’t BRING anything, too, so if I don’t I’d just lose respect for myself.
I love your emails. I sit alone at my desk daily writing, sometimes not talking much to other people, and I get your emails and it feels like someone is cheering me on…keep going…keep writing… you can do it… thanks!
That’s what I hope it feels like! *plays “Rocky” theme song* THANKS!
A great post, Kristen. I was already convinced of the value of author blogs, just can’t seem to find the time to really work at mine. I will get your book and check into your classes. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
I have to admit, Kristen, you are one of my favorite bloggers.
Very true! Thanks for the reminder! I’ve been struggling over having a blog but it’s helped me become a better writer and give me instant feedback about what my readers want to see in the book.
I’m also interested in the class.
Here’s a thought, though: is writing a blog targeted at writers *really* such a bad idea?
Writers are also readers. In fact, a very large percentage of the most avid readers are also some level of writers, “aspiring” writers, or people who wish they were writers. While a writing blog is probably going to gather in some writers who don’t read your genre, it’s also true that writers tend to flock to writing blogs by people who write their genre.
I’m not saying that writing another sort of blog is a *bad* thing, mind. I’m just thinking aloud, really. It seems like the reader/writer overlap is probably strong enough that it’s not a terrible platform. I mean, yes, there are a lot of blogs on writing out there – but there are a lot of blogs on *any* subject out there.
It’s an over-fished pond. And the way I teach you to blog, you can blog about writing, you just aren’t starting a WRITING BLOG. There are frankly, too many. Also it is a BIG way to get burned out. I’ve been blogging 5 years. Lately, some people have commented that they like the posts and I am reusing content. I’m not reusing anything, but there are only so many writing topics before we are back hitting the same stuff over and over and…over.
Also the way I teach you how to blog, the WORLD will be your muse. Too many writers give up blogging because they literally run out of things to say. You guys are storytellers. Blogging can use THAT strength. Blogging about writing is informational and connects on the left side of the brain…but fiction is RIGHT-BRAINED. So why are we trying to sell a right-brained product with a left-brained tool?
And writing blogs will never get MILLIONS of views. It’s too limited a subject that isn’t interesting to the fat part of the bell curve who could care less about narrative structure but LOVES a good story.
Makes some sense, put that way. 😉
Most of the “writing” entries I do aren’t really about writing process, so much as industry material. For example, some of my most viewed articles were things like surveys of the top hundred SF/fantasy ebooks on Amazon, with breakdowns by price and by indie/trad models. Each got a *lot* of viewers – mostly writers, but targeted writers (people who wrote, and therefore probably read, in the genres I write).
Articles focused more on the writer’s audience…? Makes sense. I’m just less certain how to draw people in to find them, I guess. Finding writers interested in that sort of stuff feels like low-lying fruit in comparison.
Maybe part of the trick is spending a little less time hanging out in social communities for writers, and a little more time hanging out in online communities of potential fans for your work…?
I so don’t mean to be tacky with my question and after a lot of starting, stopping, deleting and starting this sentence over, I just decided to spit it out: should I worry that the copyright date is almost 3 years ago when it comes to the relevancy of your book, The Writer’s Guide to Social Media? I’m a nano second away from grabbing the Kindle version and just wanted your reassurance …
Not tacky at all! My book is still relevant because I didn’t focus a lot on technology. WANA talks more about what brand is, how to gather content, etc. I wanted to write a book that worked no matter what social media site was en vogue, and I am GLAD I did because MySpace committed digital suicide two weeks after the book released (so feel free to ignore all 8 of those pages). I focus more on content and what to DO. Anyone who can follow pop-up prompts can open a Twitter account, the real question is what then? What do you say? How do you connect? How do you do more that self-promote?
Yes, very much worthwhile. Can unreservedly recommend that book as helpful and relevant. 🙂
I’m a writer who has a book blog where I review books in my genre. (My strategy is pretty transparent, isn’t it?) And I read a lot of other book blogs. I see a lot stuff on other sites (and have done some of them too) such as blog awards, memes, and contests, and I wonder if those things really generate blog readership, and bring you closer to the 1,000 true fans–or is it just an insular community of blogger/writers talking to themselves? How do you know you are reaching the right folks? (meaning those who will eventually buy your book)
You profile the type of people who would read your book and then blog in ways that connect with them. Avid readers are about 8% of the population. Who cares if someone only buys a book or two a year if it’s your book? No one is talking to them. They are all catering to the same over-saturated communities.
Thanks for “sweetening the pot,” “closing the deal,” making me feel happy, Kristen. Off to Amazon I go.
I found your post interesting. I’ve had a blog for just over two years now and have been playing with different presentations to see what attracts most readers. And while, without doubt it is my blog-guests, then I realised, as a writer myself I’m not getting my own brand out there through my blog. So I am off to look at the different workshops you do. That we can do them at times to suit us, is good for me :-0
In my opinion, there are never too many blogs! In fact, I have to be careful because I can get in the trap of blog hopping and next thing I know HOURS have passed and I’ve just been reading and commenting away! This is great advice. Blogs also give you the chance to hone those writing skills! I have found that being part of support communities is also important in driving traffic, as well as actually registering your domain so that you are actually being picked up by the search engines. Using good keywords is a must!
Well said! Many folks don’t think of blogs as social media, but in reality that’s exactly what they are.
Yes, I love the “write for who you want to read your book” mentality. Other writer are busy writing their own books—unless, of course, your writing books for them to buy.
So agree with you, Kristen. And I enjoy blogging and have watched my blog grow as I try to be a good blogger friend. But I’m seeing people cutting back on blogging and reading blogs. I know it’s time consuming but I think it’s sad how we work to develop our connections together and let it go by not blogging. I just think you can communicate so much better in a blog than on Twitter or Facebook. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.
I’ve been blogging since last year, and working on it as part of my duties, I also enjoy it of course. My mother tongue is Spanish, for me blogging in English is not easy, it takes me a lot of time to type one single page. I like to read a lot and since started blogging I came up with what I believe might be a good and original idea to develop on my own. I don’t have any problems to produce the content in Spanish, on regular basis, but believe that I can have more input among English speakers. Today I’m not ready to start in English, it’s yet a long way for me to do so. Maybe writing a Novel in Spanish could be an alternative, but being in daily contact with readers seems to be more personal and unpredictable.
From my point of view, the blogging industry has just started, I find yours very helpful and interesting.
Honestly, with my humor blog, I believe the pictures I chose do more to entice people to read than my blog title or excerpts. It’s weird. Even if people don’t read the blog, they may send me a message to comment on the picture. In any case, I know that my blog had a very non-reader-friendly appearance before I began using pictures. I haven’t exactly mastered the art of the short paragraphs just yet, but I’m working on it. Paragraph breaks have always been my issue. That’s the one class I must not have paid attention in during school. So, my paragarphs (like this one) are a little longer than I see on most blogs, but I’ll try to tighten it up moving forward.
As an aspiring author and blooming writer,youve given me strenght to pursue a writing career. After reading several of your blogs,I felt compelled to brush up on my grammar as well as to put pen to paper while unreservedly etching the details of my life as a consumer and a shopper.
As an aspiring author and blooming writer,youve given me strenght to pursue a writing career. After reading several of your blogs,I felt compelled to brush up on my grammar as well as to put pen to paper while unreservedly etching the details of my life as a consumer and a shopper
I did pick up a copy of your book and loved it. I think its important that authors regardless where they are in the winding road known as Publishing get familiar with blogging – because its one of the main points of contact between fans, readers, and others who are looking for an amazing read
Hi Kristen. I decided back in 2010 when my first mystery was released that there were plenty of proficient authors with blogs on writing topics so I went a completely different direction. My blog is titled “Hot Flash” and it’s about the humorous stories that occur in my life (with a little assistance from some friends’ experiences). My most recent post, DEATH BY SPANX, brought in tons of new commenters and led to a huge increase in e-book sales and new FB subscribers as well. It does take time to build an audience, but I like the momentum it’s getting. And the comments end up being even funnier than my original post.
Tools are very important to achievement and eventual success. Writing a completed novel ready to submit is an achievement and the eventual success of monetary compensation begins, for me.
I could not learn to type correctly because I have arthritic fingers since childhood. When I was in fourth grade, I would take a test and I would drop my number two pencil to the floor because my writing hand would curl up in a ball. I would have to rub my right hand with my left hand along with shake lose my fingers on the right hand before I could pick up the pencil from the floor and continue finishing the test, with extreme pain
I have outgrown some of it, but I could not learn to type in the approved manner. I settled with typing using my right index pointing finger only. It is not fast, but effective.
I knew; my future in writing involved the desktop computer. I bought a Brother Word Processor (IBM Compatible), but it was limited in memory storage. To me it was Windows (“point and click” with “cut and paste”) and MS Office, which I credit my continued achievement of being able to complete a 50K novel.
MS Word has helped me gain enormous confidence in writing anything from letters to short stories to articles to novels.
The next great tool of course is the Internet with the search engines for quick definitions and the thesaurus for quickly finding synonyms and antonyms. The spell checker on MS Word is as valuable as the word count at the bottom the left hand corner (also for motivation), but what if the spell checker on MS Word does not give you a suggested word. There are the Internet search engines.
My synopses are not that earth shaking so I have to write it first before I can sell it, and I am not famous or a celebrity with offers before it is written.
I loved this post Kristen. I realize has a newly published author that I have to do the necessary promo on FB and Twitter but I love to blog. For me, its fun, informative and sometimes laugh out loud funny. I couldn’t tell you how many blogs that I follow and read every day. A lot I can assure you. I don’t troll on FB or Twitter for readers or followers.
I took a social media class about a year ago and the instructor made a point that has stuck with me…pick a platform and stick with it. Blogging, Twitter, FB, or whatever else is out there. Blogging is easier for me in a sense. Since I’m not one to post half nekkid men on my timeline, pictures of my cats/dogs or my child, talk about what I had for breakfast, I’m very boring on FB. On my blog, I can talk about anything and everything. Its freeing and I don’t have to worry about if people are looking at my “wall” or my “tweets”. I have a counter on my blog, so I know how many people are coming to read it. Would I like more comments? Sure but that’s not the point of blogging for me. Its having people coming over and reading it. “Liking” it is even better.
Thanks for the great information and I can’t wait to read Part 2.
Marika Weber w/a Harlie Williams
Thank you very much for writing a blog directly to me to answer all my personal questions as a pre-published author! Very clever that you have me promoting your work on my blog by way of a link. I am just proud of myself for knowing how to do that. Many thanks for all. Put my name in three times!
I’ve been blogging 3x/wk since July 2009 and decided this month to post less frequently. I write for a living and it was taking up too much unpaid time. Much as you advise not to write about writing, (which I do occasionally), those posts are consistently my best read — I write for the NYT and have commercially published two books (so far) so readers know they can trust my advice.
Blog, blog, blog. I think it is easier to build a blog around non-fiction writing than fiction. Sure, I could blog about my science-fiction genre, but there is a lot of competition for readers, and I’m no authority, so who would want to read what I think about science-fiction? In fact, if one hasn’t successfully published, indie or otherwise, who would want to read someone’s blog?
On the other hand, as I develop several non-fiction ideas, I see a lot of potential for a blog to build a base of interested readers. My son-in-law is doing this with great success. The agents he queried about his book idea told him to build his blog first. The exposure has brought him to the attention of some people that will give his project a huge boost. Oh, and he’s a pretty darn good writer too.
The is always room for anything that is top quality!
You need my class. Seriously. Will open your eyes to ways of blogging you hadn’t thought of. Even if you take the Basic level I would recommend it.
I completely agree! Blogs aren’t going anywhere. Yes, it seems that everyone has one, but that’s a good thing! It’s comforting to people that it’s so easy to find people “like them”, with similar interests, struggles, and careers. It’s a great way to connect, share, and document. What makes a good blog, to me, is being focused on one thing (as specific as gluten free eating or as broad and complex as living on Mars) and actively engaging with visitors through comments and responses to request for more, more, more.
I was anti-blog at the beginning because I didn’t know what it was really or why anyone would be interested in what I had to say. But I’m a believer now. Blogs are great writing practice. Blogs are great deadline practice. Blogs are great making-things-interesting practice too.
Reblogged this on Joshua Lisec.
I’m enjoying your comments on the pen name which is how I just discovered you. I am just beginning to take little baby steps into the world of writing and know that the learning curve will be steep and long, but all we have is time, right? I decided I might as well begin using it with something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
My main question for you is, “Are blogs only for those writing fiction? Would they be equally effective and desirable if I were writing informational products, or even memoirs?” As you may infer, I know practically nothing about blogs or other forms of social media. I got involved with Facebook and couldn’t get banal comments like, “Jane is now at the Brewery” off my wall or prevent them from happening. I finally gave up and closed my account (which is another story in itself), requiring a written letter to the Facebook support division to get it done and stop corresponding with me!
I would like to take your class if you think it would be helpful for the kinds of writings I want to produce. It would be in the future, though, after I’ve accomplished some other things, like what do I want to write about.
Thanks for responding, and happy blogging!
Joy, the blunt answer is if you have any book to sell (even eventually) a good blog is an advantage. I really hope you sign up! 😀 Thanks for stopping by!
Reblogged this on Kim Lunansky.