Authors Are Blogging, Are You?

by Joel Friedlander on May 17, 2010 · 28 comments

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There seems to be an increase in activity around author blogs. It’s easy to see why. After all, authors are writers first, and blogging is an immediate connection to readers.

Blogging is a powerful way for authors to accomplish lots of things:

  • Experiment with your material, tone, or focus.
    When you have a blog, you have a chance to find out what your readers are interested in, and what kinds of approaches they respond to. This information is invaluable in finding the best way to present your material.
  • Start to build a readership for your writing.
    The people you attract to your blog are the beginning of your “house list,” the core group that’s interested in what you’re doing and the way your express yourself. A blog allows you to start growing this group now.
  • Build the content that will eventually become your book.
    Like writing from an outline, having a blogging plan can help you work through the specific topics you need to cover. You’ll do the research and writing on each section, publishing them first to your blog, and eventually wind up with an entire book.

More Media About Author Blogs, and More Resources

Just recently I read a number of articles about author blogs, and there have been some new resources coming online as well. To find out more about author blogs, and how they can work for you, check into:

5 Keys to Promoting Your Book With A Blog on Marketing Tips for Authors,
How to Become a Blogging Expert Overnight on Book Buzzr
Why Your Blog Should Be Your Book’s First Draft on Author Tech Tips,

Another new resource that might be of interest if you’re new to blogging and want a guide to getting started:
How to Blog for Authors and Writers on The Creative Penn. In this article Joanna Penn is also introducing her brand-new, up-to-the minute module on blogging from her Author 2.0 training program. Joanna has completely updated this part of the training and is now offering it separately, to help people who want to get a blog up and running and learn how to use it to support their book publishing plans. I haven’t seen the program yet, but I know that Joanna has put her incredible focus into this training, so check it out.

Authors Who Are Active Bloggers

A list of bloggers who are authors would be very long. Here are three very different but active blogs by authors that are also fun to read.
Neil Gaiman
Cory Doctorow
Lynn Viehl

If you are an author, do you blog? Has it helped your writing career? How? I’d love to hear from you, either by email or in the comments. This is an exciting direction for authors and one that every author, particularly non-fiction authors, should consider seriously. When I continue the series on using long-tail keywords for authors, we’ll see even more ways to use your blog.

Takeaway: There are more and more reasons for authors to consider blogging and the many advantages it might give to their writing career.

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    { 23 comments… read them below or add one }

    Christine Osborne September 30, 2013 at 12:51 am

    I was advised to blog well before I published my book. I have done so for two years as well as posted on Twitter. I really felt that people must be getting tired of reading excerpts from the book, that their patience might be running thin… but my book will now be printed in two weeks.

    I had a very tough editor, and an excellent designer now the good news that I have picked up a distributor interested in the subject: my years working alone as a photojournalist in the Middle East.

    They have ordered 400 copies in advance which is gratifying, but I would, as othesr have said above, surely love to know how to drive eyes to my goddamned blog!

    Thank you.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Congratulations, Christine, that’s great news.

    I’ve written quite a bit on author blogging since this article, and you can find all these articles here:

    Author Blogging 101

    You might want to start with these:

    Where Are the Readers?
    11 Sources of Organic Traffic

    Reply

    Cherie Fresonke August 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Hi Joel,

    Thanks for the great insight. I started my blog in April and have found that I really enjoy it. Plus I am getting a lot of wonderful feedback from my readers. But I have a couple of questions if you have a moment. Just how much content of a future book should an author blog about? And what would be the best way to start a collection of contact information for those who might be interested in a book not yet released but being blogged about? Have you seen that done? Something like: “Sign up here to be notified about this future book’s release.” Thanks!

    Reply

    Shasta MacRory August 29, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Hi, I’m new to blogging also. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on about platforms and how you should get it started as early as possible so you can land that agent. Though, all the information I’ve seen has been directed to published authors, and I’m unpublished. What am I supposed to do then? The same as the published? I started a blog a little while back, but have no idea where to go with it, or how much of my book to put on it. I’m completely lost. Can you help me?

    Reply

    Jamie D. (@JamieDeBree) July 4, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Another great post, Joe. :-) I have a myriad of blogs, several of them used at least in part to serialize my fiction drafts. It absolutely helps sell books – some people just stumble across one “chapter”, and look forward to reading the whole thing once it’s polished, others read along from week to week, leaving occasional comments, and because I have links to my published books at the end of each week’s chapter, I generally get at least a few sales from people who see a link on Twitter or FB, read the chapter, and buy the book advertised at the bottom. So there are a lot of ways this works for me…and it motivates me to keep writing at a very steady pace. :-)

    I do have a series of weekly posts that I’m considering turning into a non-fic book eventually, but we’ll see. Right now, they’re just musings, so who knows?

    Blogging’s been very good to and for me, for sure.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 5, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    You and me both, Jamie. I’ve seen more authors with multiple blogs, sometimes for different books, sometimes they are blogging in character. Blogging is so fluid and quick to get going, we’ll probably see a lot more of this. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

    Reply

    Ella Schwartz April 13, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for a great post. I am new to the blogosphere. For me, setting up a blog is just the start of building my “social media platform.” Everyone is talking about the importance of building a platform early so I jumped on the bandwagon.

    My blog is still in its infancy, and I am working hard to increase readership, but it’s frustrating sometimes. I work hard on my posts, but I often wonder if anyone is reading them. Sometimes it gets lonely. I am having fun though and meeting a lot of great people!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Ella, I think your blog is lovely. It takes time to find your feet as a blogger, and every one of us knows the feeling of posting without having a clue whether anyone is reading. Every blog starts with visitor=1 (that’s you!) and goes from there. Just keep going and dialogue with your readers whenever possible. Good luck!

    Reply

    Carmel September 30, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Hi Joel,
    Just saw your post on Twitter. I’m really new at blogging… I’m still trying to figure out how to add content – guess I should be looking at blogging 101 just to make sure I’m on the right track.

    I’m a published author, technical writer (software and nuclear), journalist and general wordsmith. This is my first attempt at getting my name out there. If you have suggestions, please feel free to advise.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Carmel

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Carmel,

    Congratulations on moving into the exciting world of online publishing. That’s one way to look at blogging. There is a tremendous amount of free information floating around about blogging and getting started. Some good resources are
    becomeablogger.com
    blogmastermind.com where you can download a really helpful free book that describes the whole blogging process
    And Joanna Penn’s Blogging for Authors and Writers

    Hope that helps, and good luck with your new blog.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 17, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Jackie, thanks for that. At least you have a plan, and i think that must put you a step ahead from the start. I can see with the variety of subjects you’re interested in, it may be hard to capture any particular audience’s attention. We seem to categorize people in order to better remember them and place them in a context. With the big spread of subjects, you might find more success in trying just one or two. At least that’s what the blog mentors preach. I hope this year is good for you, going into your second year of blogging already seems an achievement!

    Reply

    Jacqueline Windh May 17, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Hi Joel – thanks for all the great info you post here.
    I’m a published author (4 non-fiction books, and also writing fiction these last few years although so far unpublished). I started my blog (and also started on Twitter) exactly a year ago. I was kind of just winging it – trying it out, not sure what I’d end up writing about. So now, a year in, I’m assessing what I’m doing with it, where I’m going with it, what’s the point of it all, and coming up with more of a plan.
    I realize that I want to write about things that interest me and that concern me – whether that is on my blog or in my “serious” writing. (Those things, for me, are themes about the environment, connection to land, indigenous people, cultural interactions… addressing these themes both through non-fiction and through fiction).
    So I’ll be a bit more serious and organized with my blog this year – and more targeted in its content. And hopefully I will continue to develop a readership of the kinds of people who are also interested in these things, and hopefully they’ll continue coming to my blog – and maybe will also buy my books down the road.
    Of the three points you’ve listed, Joel, I’d say my main purpose is #2 (build readership) but also #1 (experiment with material, tone or focus). The one thing I won’t be doing with it, though, is #3 (build the content that will become the book). I don’t want to post what will be in the book, and I definitely don’t want to use the blog for any drafts that are not final and polished. Not meaning that I won’t eventually post excerpts of the book on the site – but they will be just that, excerpts, once the book is ready for publication.
    Thanks again!
    Jackie

    Reply

    Jennifer Swan May 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Hi Joel,

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I started a blog about three months ago and although nervous at the beginning, it has become an important step on the road to publication. With a completed manuscript, I was blindly searching for a literary agent… and without much luck. I kept reading across cyberland that in order to be considered, an author had to first build an audience (and market their own story). It takes time and effort, but a blog is worth it.

    I continue to seek additional guidance on how to improve my blog traffic, quality of posts, etc. Your post is a big help! Thanks again,

    Jennifer Swan
    http://www.jenniferswan.net

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 21, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    Your comment got caught in my spam filter, sorry for the delay. Your blog is great, and I’m sure being “out there” has to be an advantage as you try to find the readers who are interested in your writing. And I’m glad you get some use out of the articles here, hope you’ll visit again.

    Reply

    Mister Reiner May 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for your blog post and the links. Very helpful.

    I think one of the toughest things for any author to do is start from scratch. I’ve been on the Internet for 15 years promoting various things that I’ve developed (software, freeware, Websites, etc.) and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. It is, with respect to setting up house (blog site + Twitter), but getting the word out about a blog site is still the number one challenge for anyone new to all of this. There are lots and lots of established blogs and resources already out there on my subject matter and I’m just the new kid on the block. I’m blogging, I’ve got a Twitter account, I started guest blogging and I hope to be start posting some online articles in some emagazines as well – but it’s an incredible amount of work. It seems like more work than writing the book itself!

    The other challenge I’m working on, is how to compete with the sheer number of other books out there on the same general subject matter as mine. How do I avoid becoming “just another book on subject X”? Can my blog really entice people to preview and buy my book? That remains to be seen.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 17, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Mister Reiner, you’ve really touched on a critical point. In some ways, it’s more difficult to attract “eyeballs” simply because every year there’s so much more competition. Blogging isn’t novel anymore, and you find yourself in the position of a full-time marketer.

    I agree that blogging, in some ways, is more of a discipline than writing a book. On the other hand, blogging is largely a media exercise. In writing a book, and spending time developing your ideas, maybe years in some cases, you can deepen into a subject in a way that doesn’t seem to happen as often on blogs. Really two different kinds of writing, in my view.

    In the blogging world, a large, crowded and competitive field means you have to search for a niche part of that field to start in, and then focus just on that. Worth a try? Thanks for your contribution.

    Reply

    Paulo Campos May 17, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I started blogging and tweeting actively about six months ago. Although my site’s under a year old and isn’t generating loads of traffic my decision to begin both feels revolutionary. The amount of time I spend thinking about writing has increased exponentially.

    I’ve had some positive attention to my work from other writers but my main focus now is continuing writing my own work and blogging. Shifting gears from writing fiction to *writing about* writing fiction is an interesting mental challenge since they require thinking about different readers.

    This is a timely post, since an interview with me about blogging and writing was posted today at Evolve Journal. I post the link to their sire here because I think some of their questions dovetail nicely with what you wrote about in this post: http://www.evolvejournal.org/2010/05/17/rejectwriter-paulo-campos/

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Paulo, yes, I’m sure readers will be interested in your interview. It seems that more and more writers are attracted to blogging. Being able to “publish” almost instantly has its advantages and disadvantages. But as a writer I love the immediacy of blogging, the direct contact with readers and, like you, I’m more mentally engaged in the whole process than when I just put writing into a box, something I do once in a while.

    You might also be interested in this post Paulo:
    Unleash Your Creativity Now: How to Freewrite

    Thanks for visiting.

    Reply

    Paulo Campos May 17, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Joel,

    I just read your other post on freewriting! What a great post! And I completely agree. I also studied English.

    I ended up only writing half my dissertation. In part this was because I discovered freewriting from reading some of Virgina Woolf’s manuscripts. She consistently crossed out and corrected herself didn’t exactly freewrite, but her manuscripts are frenetic grammar and conceptual.

    Like firework displays.

    Finding those changed the way I thought about writing fiction; I do my best to freewrite daily and advocate it to other writers. Part of my blogging interest is to post a daily freewrite based on a random Flickr image. I click open to a tab with images tagged “interesting;” then to another with a timer and write for 10:00.

    Thanks for referring me to the other post. Those are good and important tips!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Hey, I like that “visual prompt” you do on Flickr, great idea. I used to attend a freewriting workshop and sometimes we’d bring in photos, then each person would pass the photo they brought to the person sitting next to them and it became their prompt for a 10 minute freewrite. Some amazing stuff would come out of those exercises. Glad you liked the post.

    Reply

    Blog Writer May 17, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Joel,

    You bring up a good point on experimenting with content on blogs. A key to blogging success is to connect with your readers and the best way to do this is provide them with content they are interested in.

    -Josh Schuman

    Reply

    Annie Stith (@Gr8fulAnnie) May 17, 2010 at 4:18 am

    Hey, Joel!

    In the way that “coincidences” work, I am just now setting up a website using the free version of WordPress. My launch date is (for now) 6/14.

    It’s hard to say which would come first in my description: will-be-Author or will-be-Blogger because the lines blur so much anymore. That’s especially true with the type of non-Fiction you mentioned — a collection of articles that have been published first on a blog, hopefully with some additional fleshing-out.

    The lines blur, too, when it comes to the use of eBook to define a publication. Bloggers regularly produce online publications that wouldn’t necessarily have fit an older definition of a “book,” but are called that now — a 20 to 30 page publication of previously posted blog articles, often as a free giveaway for subscribing to a blog or newsletter.

    I’m all for the breaking down of labels that pigeonhole individuals into constraining groups, but even so, I have to admit these terms have my head spinning.

    Maybe I’ll just stick with “Writer.” ;)

    Annie

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Hi Annie, that is a “coincidence.” I’ve also noticed this difference between books and “books” that are produced online. Many bloggers are now coming out with books, or planning books and, even though they may have done ebooks in the past, most of them don’t really consider themselves “authors” or to be “published.”

    I put this down to old frames of reference, just one more thing that will probably have to be “broken” before it gets fixed.

    Good luck with your new blog, and drop by with a link when you go live so we can see it!

    Reply

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