Do you think authors should blog their works in progress? I think, in a lot of cases, it’s a really bad idea.
Sure, you can write a book from a blog, and there are kinds of books that lend themselves to being assembled in pieces from blog writing. Books you could write with outlining software, like instructional manuals, might be good candidates for blogging as you write them, because you could get feedback from your readers to help improve the book.
And yes, I know authors who blogged the material for their books and later assembled the manuscript. It seems to work best for journals, episodic memoirs, cookbooks, books that are essentially in “chunks” already due to their nature.
But there’s a lot of reasons to think twice about blogging your book.
Author blogs are receiving a huge amount of attention at the moment, and why not? With the incessant calls for authors to get involved online, to ramp up their author platform building, a blog is central.
Blogs give authors a way to attract readers. A way to connect with those readers. And a way to interact with readers more directly than anything except meeting them face to face, like at a bookstore event.
But there’s another side to blogging that authors have to consider as well:
Writing a blog is not like writing a book.
Let me cut right to the chase:
Top 5 Reasons Authors Shouldn’t Blog Their Books
- Blogging is specialized writing—Blogs are almost all written to attract readers who scan headlines looking for a quick read. The headline is, arguably, the most important part of a blog article, and there are numerous online courses, tutorials and how-to’s devoted to learning the art of headline writing. But when was the last time you read a book full of headlines? There seem to be three possibilities for writers here: Write what you like and, if you’re truly exceptional you may grow a following. If you’re just good, you’re likely to have very few people reading. Or write articles intended to draw people to your site. But then you’re running a small-business blog as an author.
- Blogging needs lots of formatting—Every writer on blogging and blog style urges writers to break up long copy, to use frequent subheads, to insert bullet lists. And (as this article demonstrates) the numbered list format is ubiquitous in blogging. But really, this can be quite fatiguing to the reader of a book. Would you want to read a book that was full of lists, bullets and highlighted text? I’ve seen books assembled this way from blog posts, and it’s a real challenge to make them readable. “Chunking” text may be good for blogging, but I don’t see how it can help your developing book.
- Blogs are mostly written in either a commercial or a journalistic style—The vast majority of bloggers are writing lifestyle blogs, criticism, current affairs, product reviews, making money, diet or fashion blogs or personal reflections. The short, punchy personal essay has had a remarkable resurgence in the blog world. A 500-word article with one main point, a few bullets and an intriguing headline will work well on a blog. But where exactly does this kind of writing fit into the book you are working on?
- Blogs are about communication—A blog is the most common form of social media. You write, and invite others to participate in the conversation you start. But when you’re deep in trying to find the flow to your book, or following a meandering narrative path, you may not want any input from anyone else. The conversation you have with your deep nature is far more important during the formative stages. Later, once your work is getting to a final stage, you might get a lot more from sharing with your readers.
- Blogs need a schedule—Most successful blogs (that is, blogs with more than a handful of readers) post articles on a schedule. It’s a publication schedule, and regular readers come to expect a blog post at the chosen time. But creative work often doesn’t cooperate with weekly or monthly schedules. You might write in circles before coming to the core of what you want to say. The pressure to post could lead you to commit to material before it’s ready.
So by all means have a blog, it’s almost essential now, especially if your primary method of selling your books is online or through social media. Use the blog to attract potential readers and also to have fun. And give it time to grow, your blog will repay you with its real worth, as both community and as part of your marketing plan.
So here’s my question:
Have you blogged a book? How did it work out for you?
Here are a few resources you might enjoy:
Joanna Penn‘s How to Blog for Authors and Writers (affiliate)
Ziggy Kinsella‘s How to win friends and influence people – 10 tips for online authors
Internet Writing Journal‘s List of Best Author Blogs and Blogging Resources