Author Blogging: You're Doing it Wrong

I think blogging is a waste of time.

Now, I realize this is weird because I .. uh… blog. But let me explain. I think blogging is a great way to meet other writers, to network, and improve your craft. But I don’t think blogging, as it’s usually done by fiction writers, sells novels.

As far as I can tell, the idea of “author platform” started as a nonfiction concept. An author with an effective platform was an acknowledged expert in a certain subject -- say underwater basket weaving. This author often had an established speaking circuit, giving talks at all the important basket weaving conventions. Maybe she also ran The Wet Weaver, a helpful blog with a large following. She had access to her target audience, and when she finally wrote the Basket Weaving Manual to end all Basket Weaving Manuals, she had the means to sell it.

The key to this scenario is target audience. People with nonfiction platforms had access to people who were interested in their topic and likely to buy their book.

At some point, unpublished fiction authors started feeling the pressure to build platforms. The problem is, they forgot all about target audience. Rather than being a means to reach the right readers, blogging became an end in itself – a box to tick off self promotional checklist. Fiction writers, being somewhat one-track minded, overwhelmingly decided to blog about writing. And thus, the writing blogosphere was born, with articles, contests, and promotions all aimed at fellow writers.

The thing is, we haven't created effective platform. What we've created is a never-ending writing conference. Good for many things -- forming friendships, professional development, and learning your craft. But nobody (I think) would argue that attending SCBWI conferences every weekend will catapult your book onto the New York Times bestseller list. In the same way, blogging for writers will not sell your book to the general reading population. This is even more apparent in the field of children’s literature. There are thousands of YA and MG writers (me included), blogging their hearts out to adoring readerships, while ignoring the inconvenient detail that their number of actual teens they’re reaching can be counted on one hand.

A brief aside – people will argue that writers are readers too, and that some sales are better than none. Which is certainly true. And it’s also true that some writers have successfully launched novels using their platform in the writing community (see Joanna Penn’s inspiring book launch for her debut thriller Pentecost). But it’s inefficient -- not all writers will read in your genre or enjoy your writing style. In Joanna’s case, she also sells products directed primarily toward writers, which makes the blog more effective. If you’re only selling general fiction, your conversion rate will be lower.

And you also have to look at the opportunity cost. Think about the number of blog followers you have, and suppose that a fifth of them buy your book (that’s a high percentage, IMHO). Now think about the amount of time you spend blogging. Time spent on the blog is time spent away from something else: writing another book, contacting book clubs, taking a part-time job and investing that money in advertising or a publicist. Given these myriad other options, is blogging still an efficient way to reach readers?

Sometimes in online platform discussions, someone will mention the elephant in the room, that we’re only blogging for other writers. Usually, that comment is met with thoughtful nods. Comments of “Yeah, we should think about that”. More awkward silence, and then we go back to our blogging. We can't help it. It's too much fun, and it's a path of least resistance. I ‘ve never heard anyone come up with a thoughtful, generalizable, plan for reaching targeted fiction audiences through blogging.

At least, I had never encountered a plan until last week -- when I ran across an intriguing blueprint that keeps the target audience in mind. And that was actually what I had been planning to blog about before I went off on my fatalistic rant.

But I'm already many days late on this blog entry, so I will stop here for now. Sorry to end on such a downer – I will be back in a few days with some happier thoughts. (Edit:  Here is the followup post)  In the meantime, what do you think? Is blogging a waste of time?

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  1. I don't think blogging is a waste of time at all-- but there's no question it's not efficient for selling books, as you pointed out. What I think blogging is great for is getting your name out there. When I do a google search for my name, my blog posts come up--how great is that? Where once my online footprint might have included a mention associated with a former company from seven years ago, now it's filled with my posts and web site.

    And, as you say, it's great for writerly connection.

    1. Hi Livia, I do think that blogging can be a waste of time, unless you are very clear and purposeful about it. Some people do it because it's fun. I started mine, reluctantly, for my meditation and writing students who asked for it (http;//, "Musings on the contemplative and writing life." I write it fast. The hard part, as you point out, is getting it to the right people and using it to market a product. For sure, all of us in the children's writing field could arguably do a better job of writing our books and stories if we weren't spending so much time in the blog and social networking worlds. Great news about your novel being accepted-traditional publishers still offer a lot of cache and perks.

  2. I've most definitely entertained this same thought, Livia. I'm not sure I'd call it wasted time, because I think there is value in blogging and connecting (as you mentioned); however, I do think its (blogging) purpose and importance are highly misjudged and overinflated.

    Blogging has helped my writing by connecting me with folks who know how to write. Blogging has given me confidence in the idea that I can write thoughts that others are interested in reading. All that being said, I doubt my blog will gain me many readers purely from my own followers.

    I still think there are some hard-to-quantify effects from network sales, however. Meaning, your blog might not net you much, but the 300 other bloggers who follow you and promote your book might yield something a bit more substantial.

    At the end of the day, I blog because I enjoy it, not to become popular. Great post!


  3. I am a writer just starting out on the path to writing professionally, so I have a lot to learn. But as a novice, here is my two cents worth...
    I think blogging has value if, as you say, the target audience is taken into consideration. I see many blogs where the message does not match the audience. If a writer is blogging with the intention to increase readership and sales, it needs to be properly planned out.

  4. I don't think blogging is a waste of time for authors. I think it CAN BE one, if you let it be... but so can just about anything.

    I think looking at blog readers only as prospective book buyers/fans of your fiction is a narrow view. Some blog followers will buy your book, sure. So will some of your offline friends. Others might not (books aren't right for everyone). Still, friends and followers will help spread the word about your book. You build up true fans and champions... people who are connected to you and your story and want to see you succeed. This personal connection is an incredibly powerful thang. (Here's a Seth Godin take on fans vs. faux followers that shows the potential power of a small group of fans).

    It is certainly possible that you can end up in an echo chamber, simply writing for other writers (perhaps not a great time to reward ration, though again... see above to determine if that's totally negative). I think this is more likely before you are well known for your writing. Once you have a reputation, you connect with fans in a different way (whether via blog, FB, Twitter, whatever).

    Personally, this is one reason why I think "giving away" some work for free on a blog makes good sense: you can become known for the specific stuff you want to be known for. Podcast a novel. Serialize it. Create fans for your writing. I've done this online with poetry - building up a great audience for what I love to write - and I figure if it's possible with poetry, it's possible with anything!

    I believe that, over time, folks read a blog not only because they like the content but also because they become invested in the blogger and their story. They connect. They won't all be buyers of fiction, but if you keep active, cast your net wide, and make sure folks know what you're all about, you'll attract the exact right readership to your blog. It takes work and thinking through your goals... but then again, isn't that the key to success in most everything?

  5. Thoughtful post!

    If you spend more time blogging than actual writing, and if the amount of actual time invested on the blogosphere is more than the actual amount of sales or reviews from blog followers... then yes, I'm going to agree.

    Not that an author should stop blogging, but the input/output should be reevaluated and tinkered with a bit. :-)

    1. I agree with you. And I had experienced, blogging helps to make our main writing concise, clearer and less erroneous.

    2. I agree with you. And I had experienced, blogging helps to make our main writing concise, clearer and less erroneous.

  6. For me blogging has simply been most helpful is getting to know other writers. Since I'm unpublished, I don't consider that I have a target audience and don't worry much about it. I don't spend much time blogging and it definitely comes second to writing.
    As for book sales, I do in fact sometimes go look for books based on blog reviews, interviews and other forms of publicity, so it probably does help sales, even if only a small way.

  7. I think you need to keep your purpose in mind when blogging. I've never expected to use a blog to sell books, since I write MG, but it's fun and a great way to connect with other writers. I like the idea of a giant writing conference!

  8. I agree with EJ that there is an inherent value in blogging because it allows me to connect with other writers and that it gives me confidence in knowing that what I'm writing will be of interest to others. It also gets my writing "out there" while I'm waiting for publication, so I feel less like I'm writing in a complete vacuum. An added bonus: I really enjoy the blogging process!

  9. Blogging has become something I can't stop doing and I don't know why. I like thinking it is a waste of time, although I'm writing nonfiction, because that means maybe someday I can stop. I do find it useful for learning what resonates for people and what doesn't, as far as subject matter and writing style. Although, I'm not sure I've actually learned anything as I'm still surprised at which posts end up being popular.

  10. My Publicist actually talks about targeted marketing in her blogging and for authors who need to blog. Blogging has a purpose and it's good for SEO. Most authors underestimate and don't understand SEO which is a shame.

    Getting readers to the site is the name of the game, regardless of how it's done. Conversion comes from the unique hook and marketing.

  11. Yeah, we should think about that.

    But in all seriousness, you can't (in most cases) sell enough books to make a living by using only a blog as marketing.

    I think the most useful concept behind author blogging is the perpetual writers conference.
    Because when you think about it, readers read fiction. So unless you give out free fiction on your blog, there is no way of getting (guaranteed) readers through it. Plus, if you take the generous percentage you mentioned (5%) of your followers, you're going to need a very big amount.

    I blog for writers rather than readers, because I know there is little chance that I can get any readers to buy my books if I ask them to.

  12. I definitely understand your point about blogging to other writers. But I don't think the connecting and networking with other writers is something that should be pushed aside as insignificant. It was through blogging that I got a referral from another blogger to my agent. I also have gotten invited to speak at workshops simply from people knowing me through my blog. And then of course the relationships I've developed with other writers are invaluable.

    But to speak to your point on if it sells books, I think yes and no. I've had people who follow my blog tell me that they plan on buying my book even though they've never read my genre. So that's awesome. But I think the bigger impact is that if you get dialed into this big group of authors and they mention you in their own blog posts or retweet you or whatever, you are building visibility. Every time someone sees your name it becomes more familiar to them. So when they see your name on a book maybe they'll be more likely to pick up yours instead of someone they've never heard of. Or if someone's favorite author tweets about you, they may take that recommendation and try your book out because so-and-so author said they liked it.

    Now I do agree that we all should think about ways to reach out beyond writers. I had to make that transition after my book deal. So now I blog about writing some days and then other more general romance/pop-culture topics other days. Will it make a difference in my sales? I guess we'll see, lol.

    But as a side note, if you haven't read Kristen Lamb's blog (social media person for writers), I'd recommend her. ( She has lots of ideas about what writers can blog about besides writing. :) But also goes into why it's so important to have an online presence.

  13. Very interesting, thought-provoking post.

    I agree that blogging is not overly effective as a sales generator, but I also agree that it is far from a waste of time. If nothing else, one of the things I love about blogging is being connected to a writing community, who are(for the most part) an overwhelmingly friendly, supportive bunch. I've met so many people through blogging that I wouldn't otherwise have met, and who have made my life richer and inspired me to keep writing when the going gets tough.

    But I think it's important we don't kid ourselves about what blogging achieves, and don't let it eat too much into our writing time. Some people seem to blog about writing so often I wonder whether they find time to actually write! Thanks for giving me some food for thought. :-)

  14. This is such a great post. I totally agree that blogging is not for selling books so much as being part of a writing community. And it seems like a lot of writers recognize that. But why, then, do you think so many agents want queriers to have a blog??

  15. Sierra - good point about Google results. I have some writer friends who blog anonymously for the same reason – they don't want their writing stuff showing up on their Google search. It all depends on what kind of online profile you want to have.

    E.J -- it would be really interesting to do some kind of map of writer blog followings, and see just what the connections are like. Hmm...

    runningforautism - yeah, I really do think target audience is key.

    Gregory -- that's a great point about giving away your work for free. So many authors have used that to their advantage. Cory Doctorow, for one.

    Jennifer -- Yeah, evaluation is important. Just being mindful, I think.

    Laura -- you might want to consider thinking a bit about target audience, even if you're unpublished. Even if you end up not doing anything about it, it's a good exercise, both for marketing and for writing itself.

    Andrea -- I do think MG authors have an uphill battle when it comes to selling books from their blogs. At least with YAthere is a bit of crossover. You're right that there's definitely a benefit to a never-ending writing conference though :-)

    Julia -- there's something nice about the immediacy of the blogging process, isn't there? You put it out there, and people see it and respond to it right away. Much more immediate gratification.

    Janice -- I totally know what you mean about not knowing which blog posts are popular. It's so unpredictable!

    Sascha -- I must admit I don't understand SEO very much either. I think WordPress is much better for it. Unfortunately, I'm still using blogger :-P

    Jake -- and sometimes, even when people post fiction on their blogs, people don't read it. I find that I skim blogs for useful, rather than entertaining, content, so I often skip over the fiction excerpts.

    Roni -- good point about networking and referrals. In that sense, I do think blogging gives you a leg up in getting an agent or editor. It puts you at the top of the submission pile, but in the end, it's still your writing. I recently went through the query process, and I was trying to figure out how much my blog made a difference. I think for most of the agents who offered representation, it was more like "I loved your book, and by the way, I checked out your blog after reading your manuscript and thought it was cool." It was kind of icing, but didn't affect the decision in any substantial way.

    Cally -- and another good thing about blogging... It's so much easier to get information about the industry now. I hear a lot of agent saying that queries are getting better, and writers are generally acting more professional.

    j a zobair -- that's a great question, and I'm not so sure myself. Sometimes I wonder if those agents have really thought through the benefits of blogging. I hear some agents say that 1000 subscribers is an impressive number, but really, that's just a drop in the bucket when it comes to book sales. The same goes for blog tours. A lot of agents now encourage their authors to go on blog tours, but unless you choose your blogs easily, it's easy to just end up hitting the same people over and over. (Of course, some repetition is good, but you should be mindful of who you're actually reaching.)

  16. Like hell it is a waste of time. Living proof. I just spent a number of minutes reading this thoughtful article and quite e few more writing this considered response while I could have been WRITING ON MY BOOK!

    The neverending writer's conference also gives the impression that there is something you are missing in your writing toolbox, because look, whatsisname just started their own blog where they are going to share THEIR secrets and I gotta know that so I now read their blog as well.

    Whoops, there goes another couple of hours of writing MY BOOK!

    Now I have to go back to my blog to go write about my writing block (which I can't figure out comes from where?)

  17. Interesting thoughts on a topic I've long wondered about myself. Still, when I can't seem to generate content for a story I feel empowered by putting together an article for my blog. Keeps the writing juices flowing too, in its own way.

    My gut though, says social media is filling in a lot of the time one usually spent connecting w/an author at a blog. And w/how quickly one can do so on FB and Twitter is a lot more time efficient than reading posts then commenting. Almost like sprinkling in the backstory vs a 'dump' of expository information.

    Joanna Aislinn
    Dream. Believe. Strive. Achieve!
    The Wild Rose Press

  18. I think blogging /can/ be a waste of time if it's done without a purpose. I've paid far, far too much attention to the "how to blog" and the "how to promote your blog" people and, while I've not used a lot of that information, I'm getting ready to start.

    Recently, John Locke came out with an ebook at Amazon, talking about how he sold one million ebooks on the Kindle in six months. I read the book and it's far more about the effective use of social media in general than it is about any one social tool. Nothing in that book is surprising, really, and, with the exception of a few of the Twitter ideas, it was pretty much information that all the A-List bloggers have been talking about since forever. He's just walking, talking PROOF that you can be successful by using those strategies.

  19. I'd say that a mailing list, forums, and book reviews of similar books could possibly maintain and grow an author's readership.

    Blogging can support and help nourish a promo campaign, but on its own I can't imagine that personal blogging boosts sales.

    To sell books, I'd recommend using what you know about your readership (or potential readership) to write lots of content that would draw attention from the kinds of people who dig your stories. Otherwise, have fun but don't expect significant sales.

  20. You raise some good points, and it's a pretty complex issue. I think the benefits of blogging on book sales are usually indirect--they can help a writer learn, network, and find moral support, and sometimes avid fans can become a huge help in promoting a book (if one has been written, of course).

    I think it's different for each writer, too. I found a writer by stumbling across her blog, and I showed it to a couple of friends who might find the content interesting. A publisher also came across this woman's blog, and in one of those crazy fairy tale endings, they offered her a contract if she would turn her blog stories into a book. She accepted the offer and has now published her second book, and the friends I referred to her blog before her contract have been so helpful promoting her books online (just because they love them) that she has actually paid my friends for their work recommending her books online and helping design promotional materials.

    It's the kind of thing you can't predict or rely upon, but some people seem to win the blogging lottery that way.

    P.S. The writer I'm talking about is Marie Simas if you want to look up her books! And I'm not being paid to plug her! ;)

  21. Blogging is a waste of time if you're doing it for the wrong reasons. I don't blog for other people. I stopped once and it was sad - I really missed logging my thoughts, and that's all. Everything else is just icing.

  22. A point that gets lost in this argument is Brand. If you aren't blogging about things your target audience - a) wants to hear, and b) expects to see - then you are ruining your brand.

    Gregory K said "I think looking at blog readers only as prospective book buyers/fans of your fiction is a narrow view." Yes it is, and that's what you need to be doing. The people who make Trix cereal creates advertising that attracts kids, because those are the people who eat it. You need to be narrow so you reach the people who actually would buy your books, not some guy who ran across your blog, and "might" tell someone about your book. It's a nice thought, but it's not reality.

    Authors need to focus on their target audience, and create a story that engages them and inspires word of mouth (only happens after someone has tried the product).

    If your blog is all about writing (editing, publishing - then you are branding yourself as a writing expert, not as an author of [insert your genre here].

    Social media, blogging, Video, SEO - all those buzz words are about creating brands that people identify with. When I say Stephen King, what's the first thing you think of. It's either "Horror Writer" or one of his titles like Christine or The Shining.

    It's not about blogging, tweeting or facebooking, it's about branding. Do what makes sense for you.

  23. Gerhi -- good luck with that writer's block. Very mysterious, where it comes from :-)

    Joanna -- Good point about social media. It does seem like a more natural way to socialize, although I think you'd still need some kind of home base blog.

    Kari -- You beat me to the punch :-) I'm talking about John Locke next time.

    Nicholas -- I think mailing lists are incredibly powerful. If you combine those with free content somehow, that's related to your work, that might be a good start to building a fan base

    Genie -- Good point. My publisher for "From Words to Brain' (40k) also found me through my blog. I'd classify that benefit as a "networking" type benefit though, within the industry, rather than selling to readers.

    Michelle -- Well I'm glad you blog, because I enjoy reading your posts :-)

    Phibble -- I guess brand is the mirror image of target audience. You have to define both to have an effective platform.

  24. Never-ending Writer's Conference

    I’ve written a half dozen novels and had a few published (with less than overwhelming success). I’ve recently turned to the question of how to get attention for the characters and their travails that seep from the quirkier crevices in my brain. It’s a fascinating puzzle at least as challenging as not ending my sentences with a preposition or inadvertently shifting POV.

    For the last several years I’ve corresponded once or twice a week with a frighteningly talented Aussie author (see her blog at who has both a formal MA in writing and more impressive prizes and awards than the few my work has garnered. She views the product of her craft as art, in the same category as music, dance, theatre, or film. She strives to capture detail, motivation, and personality with timeless style and elegance that stands apart from interpretation by random readers.

    I, on the other hand, have concluded that writing without readers is tantamount to masturbation – not unpleasant but lacking the empathetic feedback loop that holds the greatest emotional reward for the author. I have labored alongside several writer friends on websites and in writers’ groups where we all beg to have someone read our work and tell us how wonderful it is. Will this sell? Will readers get it? Will an agent represent it? Will a publisher like it? How can I make it better? Be honest now – I can take it. Tell me what you think.

    Armed with Locke’s “How I sold 1 million eBooks…” and Thomases’ “Twitter Marketing”, I’ve begun trying to tweet (@_Michael_Alan_) and blog ( my persona to a wider audience than fellow contestants in novel writing contests I’ve entered. It’s still early, but my sense so far is I’d have an easier time getting attention by claiming to be Rupert Murdoch’s secret lover.

    As far as I can tell, the tweets broadcast to my 80 “followers” elicit no discernable response. It is certainly possible that I have nothing interesting to say, but in my mind packaging up in 140 character bites the joy of my ducklings’ first swim or the subsequent horror at finding their necks shredded by an unknown predator should have generated at least a couple of “Oh no’s” from the random animal enthusiast. The measure of response was my blog (which received 0 views the day I discovered and recorded the duck slaughter and referenced the post on Twitter for my adoring fans).

    It appears about 1 in 3 people will reward a follow on my part with a follow of their own. The list of followers grows on its own after a week or two (although I’m not quite sure what the mechanism is that drives that).

    A DM thanking a follower for a follow and mentioning an interesting detail from their tweets or blog or website has a good chance of being rewarded with a reciprocal DM thanking me for the thank you. So far the record is 8 DMs exchanged with a fellow tweeter.

    A DM recipient, after I took the time to read a scene from her novel in progress, retweeted one of my tweets to 1500 of her followers. I waited for the landslide to begin. Curiously, not a single one of her 1500 followers sent me a DM or visited my blog (it was one of those dozen or so 0 visitor days for the blog).

    Advice from my two social networking gurus not withstanding, it appears that the only way to make an impression on Twitter is to initiate a DM after investing time in exploring whatever online presence the person you are trying to connect with has. I don’t object to this, but it seems like trying to start an epidemic by planting microbes with a tweezer one at a time.

    In any case, I have greatly enjoyed your online presence and will be sure to pass on any repeatable results in my own online quest for readers. – Michael Alan

  25. I think blogging is only a waste of time if you don't actually won't to do it. If people are only doing it because that's what the industry has been saying, then they are wasting their time. They should be working on their book. A part of me wonders if I have to be connected to social media if I were a big time author. Didn't author's used to be recluses back in the day?

    At any rate, I blog because I enjoy it. I don't have any writing advice, but I like to read,so I post book reviews and it's mostly a way to keep track of the books I've read. I could do it privately, but it's not nearly as fun.

    What did authors do before all this platform pushing was created? And what the heck do fiction writers blog about if not writing? I don't see the point in blogging about the same thing millions of other authors are blogging about.

  26. One advantage of the literary community is that it's small, and many people who have an interest in reading writer blogs might also be booksellers, librarians, or others with some influence over what people read. I know that if I've seen a new book mentioned in blogs, it'll be on my mind and I'll be a little more likely to handsell it.

  27. Michael -- There are several ways to get followings. One is to socialize -- follow people, hope they follow back, comment on their blogs and then they reciprocate. The other strategy is to be content focused and write sharable posts -- that's less relationship focused and more information focused. They both work, but the second is more scaleable.

    Najela -- I think the days of author recluses are over :-P Maybe Jk Rowling can be a recluse, but for the most part, the marketing has been pushed to the authors.

    shoshana -- Good point -- booksellers and librarians have a direct link to readers.

  28. To rejoin the convo after vacation (which included no blogging, by the way)....

    I disagree, Phibble, that there is one thing you "have" to do. If you are a middle grade author or a picture book author, branding just for your readers is a losing battle based on how those demographics use the net (probably teens, too, based on a lot of what danah boyd has demonstrated). However, you can offer up a lot of content that gets you to people who can reach those readers in other ways. You can forge relationships with reviewers, press of all sorts, librarians, teachers, parents, AND all the folks one nexus away from them. I'm not saying you do this randomly (after all, everyone is one or two steps away from a parent, I imagine), but it's not hard to forge relationships that matter and can help you build your career.

    Thinking through all the ways connections can help makes setting goals a lot easier. There remains the time concern (some goals are easier than others for sure), but I don't think there's only one way for social media to help an author.

  29. I've had this thought about blogging authors for a long time. It has never made sense to me that authors blog about writing as a promotional tool since I don't think readers necessarily care about the details in the craft. Any ideas on what you *should* blog about to attract readers? I think they'd like to hear from authors, but not about the craft of writing.

  30. Definitely not a waste of time. Unless you make it one.

  31. By blogging and maintaining a web site, I think unpublished authors are demonstrating they at least know how to use the tools, for when the day comes. I started my site simply for that reason, but then ... I really enjoyed it. I don't kid myself that I'm working though, when I'm playing "publishing house" with my blog. :-)

  32. I started my blog four years ago in order to promote my own writing which I do but mostly I write about other aspects of writing and review books. And it’s true, virtually all my regular readers are also writers but the fact is that all writers are readers, not all readers are writers. I suppose I have quite a successful blog but it does take a lot of my time because I write lengthy essays that take days to research but this is me just educating myself in public. I pick a topic, research it and write about it. I actually rarely write about novel writing preferring to stick to articles on poetry or topics that affect all writers (I’ve just written one on boredom, for example). The bottom line is that I wouldn’t have sold any books without my blog. They would all be sitting in the proverbial drawer.

    I agree with Sascha Illyvich’s comment above about SEO and periodically I write about understanding the mechanics behind the Internet to the limits of my knowledge; it’s a subject I wish I had a better grasp on. Blogging can be a colossal waste of time if no one is reading you and I do wish more people understood that the if-you-build-it-he-will-come approach to blogging is all wrong. I blog more than I write fiction or poetry but I’ve never been a prolific writer – five novel in eighteen years I think is good – but now I can do something constructive with my downtime: I can promote what I’ve already written. When I settle on my next project it’ll take precedence and I have enough posts in hand that I could take a month off to write and no one would realise; that’s planning ahead.

  33. blogging might be inefficient on its own, just like it would be inefficient to try to cycle from Land’s End to John O Groats on one wheel. Add another wheel, some handle bars, a frame, some brakes etc and it’s more efficient. So there you go - it’s one tool among many. Add it to the library events, photo shoots, literary festivals, facebook, twitter, signings etc etc, and it begins to mean something more. You just have to do whatever you can . . . Also, I tend not to blog too much about actual writing – I try to cast my net a bit wider and make it interesting/funny/dramatic rather than the old ‘My 10 writing tips’.

  34. What I like about blogging is that it got me writing regularly, and gave me the confidence to try to write something of length. I blog for a completely different purpose and audience, and I keep my other writing self separate.

  35. I stopped blogging myself partly because of this issue. I was writing about writing and not reaching my audience and not getting a lot of my novel done and really? I didn't want to do it.

    I think if we're going with the writing conference analogy we might want to consider if it was a giant writing conference are we using our blogs as the lobby conversation or as if we are presenters? Not everyone at the conference needs to be a presenter. For me Twitter and blog comments keeps me in the conversation area enough that for the meantime I don't feel like I need to be keeping a blog.

  36. I think whether a fiction, or children's author should be blogging depends on many factors. Some authors are super fun, and can gain readership through their whimsy and humor. But some are sorta boring when it comes to blogging, and I believe that this actually detracts from potential sales. Through social networking I've encountered three (really big selling) authors that have lost pizzazz in my mind simply because their posts are benign and not worth my time... There's one author I adore, and who holds a certain mystique for me, because I can't drum up much info on her. Her website is spare, but fun, and that's about all you get, besides a random web interview from time to time.

    I have both a website and a blog, (my blog being unrelated to my writing--and not really out there for promotional reasons) but still wonder if going the mystery route might be a bit more effective...

  37. OH. . . this is good. Going to read the follow up now!

  38. Hi there - I've used some of this post of yours to prompt discussion over here
    I'm on the other side of the fence from you, but I appreciate the points you're making. I guess I would say, in a nutshell, that it's not all about sales.

  39. Okay, trying to not just mimic those before (or above) me.

    I like the networking possibilities, since I know NO ONE in publishing. I also like the idea that if people like my blogging they'll like my writing, and therefore like my book, whether they usually read that kind of book or not.

    Also, every writer I know is a voracious reader, and a lot of them like similar books that I like/write. I'd like to think they'd buy my book.

    I started my blog because of Writer's Digest. Basically everything in there says that it's a dog-eat-manuscript world and if you didn't already have fans, you weren't going to get published.

    That said, I DID start my blog with other things in mind. I've been intending to do book reviews all along, and have finally found a book (recently published by a friend of mine) that will work perfectly for a first review. I'm hoping, of course, that this will bring his readers to my book once I get published.

    I've also been playing around with the idea of posting some short stories. I don't have a lot of them, and I AM somewhat worried about the "First publishing" rights in future contracts. I'm mostly intending to sell books, however, so I'm not sure it'll be THAT big a problem once I get out there. And it'll bring people to my blog who actually want to read my books.

    Also, it's getting me writing. I don't always have the brain space to be creative when I get home from work, but I usually have an opinion to talk about.

    All that said, I just finally got my first comment from someone I didn't personally know (it actually lead me here, ironically enough), and I still don't have any subscribers that I didn't recognize their e-mail.

  40. It's funny you posted a blog about this, because a friend and I were just talking about this same thing--how to get her self-pub book out from the writers and into the readers hands.

    Because one thing I noticed is that writers are trying to sell their books to writers who are selling their own books. Now that doesn't mean writers don't buy books (because we all know writers are avid readers--and if you are not, then you should be) but it is impossible to support all of our fellow writers out there.

    I still think books are something that go by word of mouth--at least when you are new. If the book is a good read and really captures the imagination of the reader, then they will talk about it and they will tell their friends who will tell their friends, and like a tree, the branches will spread.

    It's a slow process, but an effective one.

    So, if you want to sell your book, don't worry about blogging (that does not mean don't network), but write a great story. One that a reader can't put down--that they fall in love with and care about your characters, that they have to stay up late at night until they read the words "The End."

    Then wait for the branches to spread.

  41. Personally I do not think blogging is a waste of time. Obviously it matters how you go about it and what you're writing about along with how you interact with your visitors. For many people it is, but for me it is not.

    What is the blueprint you spoke of near the end?

    Also I didn't think you ended in a downer note at all. :)

  42. Linda - the followup post is here

  43. Besides the enjoyment of writing a blog, it provides a source of traffic as well as backlinks to your commercial site where you are promoting and/or selling things (such as books). Getting a targeted audience is an extremely important but challenging task. Getting good visibility in search engine results is an effective equivalent to a targeted audience.

  44. You made some valid points. However, blogging isn't just for fiction authors. Blogging brings traffic to websites, increases business, and you can make yourself turn into an authority into any subject as you wish. I host my own SEO Services blog.

  45. To be honest, i suck at blogging - so my SEO on my Book Community ends up being a problem. I started about a month ago to rise above these "MARKETING BLOGS" Authors make, and bring together a better community. That and i want to become a mini publishing "HUB" or "CLUB" where i can do what most people do, design and help other authors. SO yea, i agree this whole new author concept of blogs is retarded, i keep avoiding them because i'm not about to spam them all with "Ooo btw Gackt just started a new band" ... Cause as an author, i'm a total nerd, who even on the Internet is socially awkward.

  46. I have read some weird and wonderful blogs and I don't think that blogging is a waste of time at all. I loosened myself up through blogging and shook the fear of writing out of myself, and my blogs became the rough drafts for my two books. Likewise, writers can use blogs to promote their books. I know some successful writers who do.

    "Hope you enjoyed this post! To be notified of future updates, use one of the subscription options on the left sidebar."

    You mean on the right?