I’m An Author… Do I Need A Blog?

24
2969
need a blog

Some say authors should blog for the simple reason that it helps you write more consistently. Blogs build connections and experience. They also take time away from your other activities — like writing your next book. So… do you need a blog?

“Do I need a blog?” It’s a question on the mind of new authors everywhere.

The answer is a resounding, “Probably.”

Blog to book

Blogs have been around since 1994. By 2006, there were more than 50 million blogs online, including major hubs of international interest like Gizmodo, Gawker, and The Huffington Post. And while it’s true that the prominence of blogs has decreased somewhat — due to things like the rise of social media, podcasts, and platforms like YouTube, which ushered in the age of “vlogging” — blog are still hugely influential for anyone attempting to build an online platform. This is especially true for authors.

Consider, for example, the work of Nina Amir, a friend of BookBaby. Nina wrote the bestselling How To Blog A Book and runs and maintains four different blogs herself. She exemplifies how, beyond even building a platform, maintaining a blog is a great way to embark on the daunting task of writing and publishing book.

Amir details how, if you do it right and blog consistently about a cohesive set of topics, you can stitch together a book of original content. Plus, as you publish content, you’re inevitably building an author platform, which itself can attract the attention of publishers and potentially even land you a book deal.

What she posits is true, but I believe there are simple, practical reasons why authors should consider starting personal/professional blogs.

Blogging establishes writing discipline

If you blog everyday, you’re practicing your craft  and developing your writing style. That means you’re improving, and what could be more important for new authors than polishing your writing chops?

All authors should blog for the simple reason that it helps you write more consistently. Sticking to a regular publishing schedule forces you to center yourself and focus on making your writing engaging.

Blogging enables feedback

A key component of improving your writing is receiving — and implementing — feedback. Blogs provide a great venue for feedback, not just from well-meaning family members who might hold back, but from real-life readers who will respond critically to the different styles and strokes you play with. That’s an opportunity new authors can’t afford to pass up.

Blogging can establish expertise and credibility

The longer you blog, the more valuable the content you produce and the larger you can make your following — all of which contributes to your credibility.

This is critical for nonfiction authors, especially. Readers need to view you as an expert in your field. You want them to think of you as the go-to person on your chosen topic when they are ready to buy your books and products.

Your blog can build connections

Finally, through blogging, you make yourself available to a swath of potential connections — not just with readers and customers, but also with other authors, business owners, bloggers, and service providers.

Bloggers need each other to share content, guest post, and offer support. Within your online community, you can find potential speaking opportunities, co-authors, media and marketing opportunities, and business connections. This is a way to supercharge your online platform and presence in a way that will prove very attractive to publishers.

Of course, it is true that authors don’t technically need blogs. In fact, a growing number of authors are coming to believe that blogging is neither a requirement nor the best marketing and promotion tool for their writing. Here are a few of their reasons.

  • Blogging takes time away from your REAL writing. Each day consists of 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds. Time is precious, and any activity that takes away from book-writing is a negative.
  • Blogging exposes your less-than-best work. Remember the point above about feedback? It can be a double-edged sword. As soon as you press “publish,” your article is live for the world to see, free for people to react and respond to. This is exciting — addictive even — especially when people affirm your writing. But because blogging allows you the potential of almost instant gratification, it’s tempting to hit publish prematurely or rush the creative process. Maybe you’re experimenting with new styles and ideas that aren’t fully baked. The ease of blogging and sharing can subvert the process of sharing your best content.
  • It’s hard to build a quality audience. Authors complain about the number of books in the marketplace, but those numbers pale compared to the growth of blogs. Some stats indicate there are over 700 million blogs published. Blogs are still important to those invested in their specific subjects, but maybe not to a general audience more likely to turn to Twitter or Facebook for a quick news fix.
  • Blogs aren’t money makers. Many authors devote time to blogging for reasons beyond just perfecting their craft. While I admire how some use their sites to build a platform, establish a brand, and increase an audience, many writers are lured into pursuing pure traffic numbers, affiliate marketing, and ad sales. Chasing those kinds of numbers can be a huge distraction from your literary goals. And with the amount of competition online, it’s a challenge to gain any kind of profitable traction.

At the end of the day, if you’re deciding whether or not to start a blog, consider the following:

  1. What is your experience level? If you’re a new or inexperienced author, a blog can be an excellent place for you to hone your skills, express yourself, and gain experience. But if you already have a strong following or have scant time to devote to additional writing, you might say no to blogging.
  2. What’s your genre or subject matter? If you write nonfiction, a blog is recommended. This is where you can really demonstrate your subject matter expertise. Your posts will amplify anything you publish. A romance writer, on the other hand? Are you going to be tempted to leak out some of your plot twists or interesting character developments? Maybe you should keep these private.
  3. What’s your motivation for blogging? Are you looking to gain revenue from your online writing? That’s a long-shot. If you’re blogging to cultivate readers, give people a chance to get to know you, and establish a tribe, then a blog might be a great use of your time.

Blogging has always been a great vehicle for discussing complex ideas and sharing them with like-minded people. As an author, blogs allow you to interact with readers who have the kind of attention spans needed to consume and appreciate your work. That is, and always will be, valuable.

 

Twitter for Authors

 

Related Posts
The Roadmap to Successful Authorship
Can Your Blog Become a Book?
Use Your Author Blog As A Hub For Social Media Promotion
Your Author Website Must Have…
From blog to book – a sensible approach to completing a book

 

Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.

24 COMMENTS

    • A blog is a publication. If you post a story on a blog it is considered published, and many magazines will not accept it as a submission, as they only want original ‘unpublished’ work. If you are lucky enough to have hundreds of readers and want feedback, email is superior to a blog.

    • A blog is a shotgun, you hope for the best. An email is a sniper rifle, you already have a specific target.

  1. Any author should focus on two things : reading more and writing less online. New authors? If you have to ask if you should blog to increase your writing skills and habits, I would consider not asking bloggers how to write novels/stories/non-fiction.

  2. i agree with the blog post, yes an Author should have his/her own blog which help them to make there own profile to become a known blogger, and can to much more than someone who dont have a blog, simply you can earn more and can learn alot from it.

    • Writing everyday whether it’s Facebook, your own work or a blog is important to keep the writing muscles toned. I have never blogged but have been active on Facebook until it got so negative. Practice makes perfect.

    • sadly – no. Too many ‘I’m so -whatever- types already. I mean Ms Lisa you are excellent in what you do but others are pale in comparison. unless of course far more creative than their own talents. The internet the blogosphere is suspect at best.

  3. I am working on a children’s book, and it is not going to be a novel, but an early reader. I attended writing conference/book expo a few years ago, and someone mentioned to me that I should write the book before creating a blog. So, because I am a new author, should I create a blog before I have written my book?

    • Write your book first. As a published author, blogging may give you an avenue to discuss your work, as well as provide a mechanism for feedback. Stay neutral and apolitical, unless you welcome controversy. Concentrate on quality versus being exceptionally verbose.

  4. Good post, Steven, and good advice for new authors. My experience in working with non-fiction authors leads me to look at the overall marketing/promotion plan for a book and its author to determine whether blogging is an effective part of that overall strategy.
    Sometimes there are reasons a person can’t blog – I had an author once who wrote a history of the birth of Medicare in Canada and he was in his 80s. He wasn’t going to blog, so we looked at other ways to connect him with online communities and build a following. Blogging isn’t the only way to do that. For example, we developed video vignettes with him speaking and built these into ads and Facebook postings. It was another way for interested readers to get to know him better, without him having to learn a technology he wasn’t easily able to use (his health and eyesight were both deteriorating at the time). So I find looking at the bigger picture of goals and objectives, and then building a plan that works for the author and the book is essential. EVERY situation is different.
    This advice, though, contains really good general ideas to start with!

  5. Great post. I’ve been blogging since 2009 and launched by blog at the advice of a marketing consultant. It certainly takes a lot of time, but fortunately for me, much of the material I put onto my blog can be migrated in my books. (They’re both primarily on the subject of chocolate travel.) I agreed with you that every author’s circumstances are different and that they need to take the factors you have highlighted into account before spending too much time on their blog.

  6. I am a nonfiction children’s book author. I write a blog that reviews family-friendly books for two reasons. It helps me keep up with what other authors are writing for the market and is also a way for me to give back and connect with my own audience.

  7. Interesting post. But I don’t see that it shows how blogging has advantages for writers of fiction. I’m not saying that there are none; rather I’m asking: How could someone who writes novels and short stories (non-genre, not for children) benefit from blogging? Especially someone who does not need to be goosed into writing regularly? What would one include in a fiction writer’s blog? Excerpts from work in progress? Discussions of elements used in the work? Little essays on process and progress? I’d be interested in hearing how other fiction writers use blogs.

  8. I really don’t agree that an author has to have a blog. It takes away from the actual job of the writer – which is writing. However, if you want to blog, then blog. It depends on how prolific you are I suppose.
    What I have heard, and it seems to work better is this: having a monthly writers newsletter. This allows you to collate of potential readers when they buy your book, it also allows for a little bit of extra ‘exclusivity’ – ie if you’ve bought the book, you are likely going to buy/read the next one in the series etc. Also with a newsletter it means that you can provide your readership with ‘bonus’ items eg a novella in the series etc which isn’t available to those not subscribing to your newsletter.
    Also, because the newsletter is monthly, then there is time to prepare it in advance and it doesn’t clutter the writing schedule. Several established writers do this (eg Harry Bingham) and it seems more personal to me. But then if you want to blog, blog if you don’t then don’t. Personally I don’t think having a blog is necessary.

  9. I’ll have to disagree with the concept of writing a blog for the simple reason that a new blog most likely will never be found among “700 million blogs published.” For the majority, spending time mastering grammar rules and writing concepts will pay dividends beyond writing a blog. Instead, join a writing group if you need feedback; at least you will have a dedicated audience see your work and hopefully do it justice by tearing it apart and making you think for an instant that maybe you don’t have what it takes. Then work to make it better and prove to yourself that you are the one in a million with a fresh voice and the ability to deliver it.

  10. I write romantic suspense and cookbooks. I blog about my travels and cooking failures and successes. Sometimes I add recipes or excerpts about my novels and pictures of the covers. If I blog more about what I’m writing, is it likely to attract possible readers of books I have published?

  11. It would be nice to know how to gain followers for one’s blog. I’ve been blogging since 2007 and have had possibly five comments on my posts the entire time.

  12. Yeah…I’d love to be all digital, and a “social media darling”, but when when that feeling comes over me, I have a double scotch and go and have a good lie down!
    I’ll stick with my manual Remington, (the real Remington, not the ones that shoot bullets) and keep on doing what writers are supposed to do.

  13. It’s up to you if you need to explore your writing services then you must have need to write an blog for yourself which is directly beneficial for your daily audience.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.