It’s Dunn Week at A. Victoria Mixon, Editor, with Judy Dunn of CatsEyeWriter. A fellow Top 10 Blogger for Writers, Judy teaches content marketing through her blog, coaching bloggers on how to get out there, stay out there and make it worth their while to be out there.
And she likes cats! The Grey Peril approves.
I work with a number of aspiring authors, and the biggest fear they express is that this marketing thing—this author blog—will take over their lives.
That they will be left dazed and bleary-eyed, with no time, energy or clarity left for their most important creative work: their book.
I’ve worked with authors at every stage. Writers starting a blog in hopes of finding their book’s topic. Aspiring authors with works-in-progress. And self-published writers who realize too late that they should have been developing a reader base before their book came out.
Whether you are on the self-publishing track or you are looking for a traditional publisher, you need readers.
A blog gives you a home base.
A spot to illuminate your writing.
To shine a light on your best work.
To collect readers who grow to love you and your stuff and can’t wait to see more. (That would be your book.)
When writers come to me for help, I see the same mistakes being made over and over. But with a little thought and planning you can avoid these potholes. I’ve turned them into positives so you’ll know just what you should be doing.
- Understand your blog’s goal
- Find your niche and your author brand
- Set aside a sacred blogging time
- Post consistently
- Let your readers in close
- When you feel blocked, write more
- Promote your posts with social media—but do it right
- Blog with unbridled passion
- Engage your readers in every post
- Make it super easy for your readers to leave a comment
It’s much easier to write your posts if you know your blog’s mission. Is it to develop your fan base? To teach other writers about the craft? To capture the attention of industry professionals? To try out ideas and book concepts to gauge reader interest?
Knowing your goal helps you to reach out to the right people and grow your community.
Knowing your focus helps you attract the right readers.
You are not looking for an audience of thousands. Just a core group of readers who love your stuff and can’t wait to tell their friends about you. So focus on your genre and niche audience and write about the things that will interest them.
Think about your brand as you create your blog. It’s simply the feeling you want your readers to experience when they see your name—the emotional connection you want them to feel with you as an author.
I know. You have a book to write. But if you just publish one post a week (see #4 below), you can allot 30-60 minutes, say, every Wednesday morning at 8 am, and there you go, your weekly post is taken care of.
If you want to get ahead of the game, choose a morning or afternoon and create an editorial calendar: plug in topics/themes, one a week for three months. That’s 12 general topics that you can refine and refocus as each weekly post comes due. It will save you from the dreaded BSS (Blank Screen Syndrome).
If you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, you know the ending. Slow and steady won the race. Instead of furious spurts followed by long patches of old stale content, pick a schedule and stay with it.
In my blogging workshops I say,” One kick-ass post a week is better than seven crappy ones.”
The advantages are huge: your readers know exactly when to expect a new post. You are cooperating with the Google gods if they stop by regularly (the day you publish) so they can index and post your fresh content. And, best of all, you are showing editors and agents that you can meet deadlines, even self-imposed ones.
Your readers want more than anything to get a glimpse of this person who is writing a book. They want a ‘behind the velvet rope’ moment.
Think of yourself as a character. In addition to a compelling, authentic About page, consider a bio box on the sidebar of your home page with an engaging photo and a couple of lines about who you are, what you write and the things you care about.
It’s incredibly liberating to write right through a block. Seems counter-intuitive, but the more you write the easier you get back in the flow.
John Steinbeck once said, “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
If you are struggling, start stepping up your posts. If you usually write one a week, write two. Ideas will spawn more ideas.
Social media doesn’t have to be a huge time suck.
For instance, if you are on Twitter, writing three tweets to promote your post in a ‘teaser’ format should take you no more than 15 minutes a week. In your tweet, shoot for curious or provocative or attention-grabbing, as you would do with any headline or chapter title.
On non-post days, just pop in once or twice with a short tweet about your life as a writer, an interesting fact, a quote or a scene you are working on.
Don’t hold back. Don’t avoid emotion. Blog like a first grader.
In the business world, it’s called a call to action. For bloggers, it means asking your reader to do something at the end of every post. If you don’t, they might just think you wanted to share your thoughts.
When I started asking questions at the end of my posts, my comments doubled. Lots of readers don’t know that you want to hear from them unless you ask them.
There may be many reasons why your readers are not leaving comments. One of the biggest is that you make it too hard for them.
If you make them copy letters and numbers they can’t read—even in a sober state—recite the alphabet backwards to prove they’re not an evil robot or give you the name of their first-born child, sorry. The barrier to entry is just too high.
What about you?
Do you have an author blog?
Thanking about starting one?
What’s your biggest challenge?
Judy Dunn is a blogger and content marketing specialist. Her blog, CatsEyeWriter, is one of alltop.com’s ‘best of the best’ blogs and one of the 2011 Top 10 Blogs for Writers. She is also on the blogging team at For Bloggers, By Bloggers.
66 thoughts on “10 Steps to Making Your Author Blog a Rockin’ Success”
Great list, Judy! I’ll second all of these suggestions, but especially #3. Not only is setting aside a specific time for blogging important in making certain it gets done every week (or whenever), it’s also very helpful for letting you slip easily into “blogging mode.” When Sunday afternoons (my designated blogging time) come around, I can concentrate my full attention on preparing posts, rather than trying to cram the posts in between other projects.
I say yes to that.
Schedule your weekly blog post in as you would any other writing project. Some bloggers block out a half day on the weekend and write several so they have a supply to fall back on. If they are ‘evergreen’ posts, they should work just fine. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
Yes, she hit that nail right on the head, didn’t she? You can’t produce quality at gun-point. You’ve got to give yourself that sense of safety—that what you’re working on is important.
Although most of these ideas are not new to me, it really helps to see them spelled out and clarified. Thank you, Judy!
I’ve been struggling a lot with numbers one and two. Right now my blog is a “running blog.” Most of my readers are runners or other endurance athletes. I really want to include more writing content because thats a primary interest for me and because I want to publish my book eventually, but I don’t want to alienate my current audience by giving them content they don’t care about. So far I’ve had success with topics where running and writing share common ground (goal setting, perseverence, etc.) but one can only go so far with that. I’m working with the “slow growth” approach at this point – slowly adding writing content in an attempt to develop a readership with interest in both topics. We’ll see how that goes …
Gretchen, have you thought about starting a second blog? You can interlink the two, so those of your running readers interested in writing know to click over and check it out, while those of your writing readers interested in running can do the same. Then you have a choice of either letting one slow down and the other pick up or maintaining both. It all depends upon how much you have to say about either topic.
I started the Advice Column some time ago (last spring? I forget), and it went gangbusters for awhile. Then it got quiet. I left it up, and now and then I tweeted a post or two from it, but I mostly just focused on this main blog. Now recently I’ve begun getting questions for it again—three in just the last week. So I’m glad I have that forum, which is an extremely helpful way to interact with readers with specific questions.
That’s the beauty of the blogosphere: your old issues never get thrown out with the recycling. Your content is public for as long as you want it to be, and you can forget it or promote it at your whim. You are the maker. 🙂
Sometimes it’s just nice to hear that we’re on the right track. Glad this post confirmed that for you. I, too, strongly advise you to separate the running and writing. While there might be some overlap, those seem to be two distinct audiences. The more niched your blog is, the more successful it will be.
So interested to read this….I started a blog 7 weeks ago (on the writing life) and have been thinking of also blogging about cooking/gardening in the same blog. But I’ve also thought about starting another….this makes me consider it even more strongly. It just seems like so much work… very interested to follow this thread!
It’s only as much work as you want it to be, Julia. It depends upon your goals. You don’t have to write any more than you were already going to, anyway. The separation of your posts onto different blogs is a convenience for your readers, and they do appreciate you keeping a particular blog on topic because that allows them to subscribe and know they’ll be getting only posts on the topic they’re interested in.
Cross-linking is also one way to attract a broad-based audience. You’re not just standing on the street corner in a chicken suit randomly handing out coupons. You’re meeting people who share your interests and making friends.
Thanks for jumping into the conversation here. While cooking and gardening are both focused on the home, they can attract different readers.
Here is a link to a blog we designed for a client who is all about cooking.Just as an example, she is doing wonderfully with the cooking niche and already has quite a few subscribers. If she had thrown gardening into it, too, not sure she would have as much targeted traffic right now.:
Like Victoria, I would recommend keeping them separate.
Ah boy do I feel your pain and concern, Gretchen.
I’ve been in the situation of having started a narrow, focused blog, then discovering I had enough to say on another topic that it could become a problem if I posted even half as much as I wished to.
When I started out with my first blog, I was quite inexperienced and just went with broadening the topics regardless. I was somewhat conscious of it possibly not being what everyone expected, and I too tried then to wangle it into relating to the existing content… but you can only stretch that so far, as you noted.
This time around when the same issue arose, I went and created a second blog (simply on a sub domain of my existing one, for now) right off the bat and started moving my ‘off-topic’ posts there. I kept it quiet for a bit, just to be SURE I really did have as much steam for it as I thought I did.
Once I had confirmed that yes, in fact, I can post on a regular basis on both blogs, I took the second one public as well.
That is the approach I’d recommend to you and anyone else in the same situation, I think!
In an easier format:
1) Create a second blog the moment you suspect (strongly) you have enough content to justify it, or even simply it’d be enough content to irritate (or even just disengage) your current readers.
2) Keep it private for a time; double check that yes, you actually can keep up with posting to it.
3) If that seems to be working out for you, take it public! Announce it on your original blog, start commenting on relevant blogs with that as your URL etc.
Hope this helps somewhat!
Naithin, thanks for the advice. I thought it was so important I pinged Gretchen to let her know it’s here.
Thanks for the replies, Naithin, Judy, and Victoria! I have definitely considered the “two blog approach.” My hesitation, as you can imagine, centers around the time commitment. I don’t want to start a new blog at the expense of my current one, especially since it’s taken me so long to build a loyal readership. I’m afraid I don’t have time to post to two separate blogs, and I would hate to see either one languish. I would also hate to see my current work-in-progress slow down even more because of an increased time commitment to blogging. (But I do so love blogging!)
I like your idea, Naithin, about starting the writing blog but not going public with it right away. That might give me a chance to see if it will work. I’ll also have to figure out how to have them linked, or if I can even have them as two separate pages on one website. Clearly I need to enlist the help of some tech-savvy friends.
I do appreciate that all three of you are of the same mind in terms of separating the blogs. That really helps my decision-making to hear the same input from experienced people.
Some bloggers choose to have two blogs on the same site and do well with that. Others want completely different URLs and domains for branding and SEO purposes. You have at least two options there.
I understand the concern regarding time commitment as well. I think though that it’s really more about setting appropriate expectations from the beginning. On my second blog, I made it fairly clear from the beginning it would have a far less frequent (although no less regular!) posting schedule than the primary.
Where my primary blog would typically get 3 posts in a week, the secondary may only get one. Sometimes more, if the topics and time permit, but usually just one and that’s all I promise, explicitly or implicitly (by which I mean, I don’t go on bouts of posting every day for a week then breaking for a month or so :P).
Set the right expectation around the secondary blog from the beginning and I think you’ll find your readers will not mind a bit. 🙂
Good strategy there. Consistency is WAY more important than number of posts a week.
Somehow missed responding to your comment. Sorry about that.
What I will say is that testing ideas, like two blogs, but one not public yet, is a cool part of blogging. You can also tale your current ideas on a blog that is up and running and experiment with them to gauge reader interest. I wrote a post on that over at For Bloggers, By Bloggers, called “7 Ways to Use Your Blog as a Lab, Even if You Sucked at Science.” You might find it useful:
I appreciate that you responded at all, so tis no problem! 🙂
Interesting post there as well. Sort of thought in terms already, but only in a nebulous, vague kind of way. Never put them together quite so concretely as you did. 🙂
I like that…blog like a first grader. Some of that enthusiasm gets lost after months of posting. Thanks for reminding me why I love to blog.
Edge of Your Seat Romance
I know. I loved that Judy threw that in, too. It’s absolutely true. When you go to hear someone speak, do you want to hear the same polite meaningless chit-chat you could hear anywhere? Or do you want to be swept away by someone with passion?
I know. I used to teach first graders and they pumped me up every day. Good to step into their shoes every once in a while. : )
I find this point especially useful: ‘Think about your brand as you create your blog. It’s simply the feeling you want your readers to experience when they see your name—the emotional connection you want them to feel with you as an author.’ and aim to give the topic some deep thought.
Several readers have commented on my ability to take an everyday event and create something ‘magical’ from it. This may be my ‘brand’…
Pay close attention to what your readers say. That in fact may very well be your brand. Thanks for sharing here.
Thanks kindly for this information. I just launched my Author’s site. Writing is like breathing to me, blogging isn’t. I didn’t realize that I need to ask a question. Simple, but of course, I said as I read through your post.
Seems so simple, that question at the end, but it really does make a difference in the number of comments you get. Thanks for sharing here. Victoria’s blog is wonderful, isn’t it? Cozy place for writers to hang out. I’ll be stopping by myself from here on out. : )
LISTEN to Judy people. You’ll SAVE so much time. Also, make sure to visit her site often. She is MY personal go-to for social media advice for writers. She always offers something new that you won’t get ANYWHERE else. It’s a quality that is very rare, especially in a world where a lot of social media advice gets repeated in the same old way. Judy always offers something fresh and new, and she even transforms your thinking at times!
No wonder she’s a top tenner!
By the way, you’re gonna hate me Victoria. I spotted another one:
#4 Paragraph 3:
“with the Google gods if they to stop by regularly”
delete the “to” ?
It’s like I do it just to bait you, isn’t it?
You are too kind.
I actually think those typos are little gremlins that sneak in in the middle of the night. Writers are not immune to them!
I started one a year ago, basically feeling my way in the beginning. I have been writing about my journey as a writer, working on my first novel and other projects. But I also add in posts about the things going on around me that affect my writing (stay home mother of 3), have guest posts by authors and other aspiring novelists, and interview authors.
Because of my love for books, I also give book recommendations and talk about upcoming book debuts or releases for the friends I have made through Twitter.
I don’t write specifically about genre, yet, but I have done a couple of posts about things I discovered while doing my book’s research.
Should I be more specific?
My biggest challenge is that I feel I am always writing for my blog and being pulled away from my novel and freelance writing. I haven’t been great about planning and, usually, I scramble for blog post ideas.
Sorry for the long comment! S’pose I should just check out Judy’s blog, huh? 🙂
Hallie, Judy responded to your comment below. We had some trouble posting her response, possibly because it has two links in it, so we had to post it as a separate comment.
My two biggest blogging challenges are probably posting consistently and finding people to actually read the darn thing. The former isn’t that hard to correct, the latter I’m still working on.
Interesting read. Thanks for sharing it.
Those are two of the biggest issues I see with my blog coaching clients, too. So you are not alone there.
Posting consistently takes a little effort but it does get easier as you carve that sacred time out each week.
The other one—attracting readers to your blog—is more of a process, but well worth it. Thanks for sharing here.
Judy, I am addicted to your posts! 🙂 I will say that since creating an editorial calendar for my blog, it has really helped in terms of keeping my updates on schedule and consistent. I also try to plan ahead and schedule posts for days where I know it’s going to be difficult to cram time in to write (though sometimes, cramming is SO necessary to stay on track!).
Nice to see you! And addicted? Now that;s something I LIKE to see. : )
Yes, that editorial calendar is a huge help, even if you don’t end up sticking to those topics. Because the more topics you think of, the more ways you can modify them to come up with just the right angle.
I us the post scheduling function, too. Helps a lot.
Judy, this is just the post I needed. I do have a blog, and I struggle to find topics for it. I have tried my best to market and share the link, but I am not getting as many responses as I would like.
Thank you for this wonderful post. I will be following you from here on out.
Thanks. Glad this was helpful. Blog post ideas are everywhere and writers who blog have a head start because they are such astute observers of human nature. : )
The commenting thing takes some time. And just a note: Research has proven the 90-9-1 Rule. 90 percent of readers will never leave a comment, 9 percent leave on from time to time and only 1 percent of your readers consistently leave a comment. You could say that this is a depressing statistic. Or you could be encouraged that a whole lot of people are still consuming your content, even though they are ‘commenting mice,’ or what we call lurkers.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
Yes, Judy, that’s what they say in online community management, too. They describe that 1 percent as the commenters who will actually take initiative in the comments, bringing up fresh ideas or responding to others.
Having said that, I’ve found it depends enormously upon the source of your readers. I get thousands every day from StumbleUpon, but only a tiny, tiny fraction of those ever comment. It’s the ones who come here because they personally chose this blog or this post who show the greatest involvement.
And don’t even get me started on the subject of trolls.
Victoria, I get Spam comments. I have had maybe one or two decent comments since i started my website/blog, and that’s about it.
Do either of you have other marketing advice for me? I am active on both Twitter and Facebook, and I post links to my blogs on those outlets. Any other advice?
Yeah, I get a lot of spam comments too. If they’re stupid I delete them. If they’re funny I just delete the linkbacks and leave them up for the laugh. I tend to get those kind the most on my interview with the Bloggess, for some reason.
I’ll tell you something else, Victoria—when I was blogging for no one but my husband and one friend, I had complete freedom to say almost anything I wanted. I could be wrong. I could be snarky.I could be insane. It didn’t matter!
I didn’t realize this, though, until I had a real readership. Suddenly I had to think about everything I said. There was great spaciousness to starting the paid online magazine because, at first, there was no one there, either.
The most computer-savvy of all my friends maintains an anonymous blog. She’s witty and dry and hilarious. . .but she prefers the freedom to speak her mind over having an online identity.
It’s not all about numbers. It’s about what blogging does for the quality of your life.
On your question about marketing your blog, at the risk of getting filtered out as a span comment (because I am leaving a link here), I wrote a post for For Bloggers, By Bloggers called, “27 Smart Ways to Get More Readers in 2011”:
We’ll see if the WordPress gods let me keep this link in. : )
Don’t worry, it was just that one reply that got filtered as spam, Judy—either because there were two links in it or maybe because one of those links was already on Askimet’s alert list. It turns out WordPress has had massive spam problems recently, so they may have turned up the sensitivity on their filters, and we’d have inherited that from them. You shouldn’t need to worry about that in general.
You have a mix of topics going on. My first question: Who are you writing for? If it’s other writers, things that affect your writing (like finding time while parenting) would be appropriate topics. But if you are developing your brand, your author platform, your audience? Not so much. Those readers aren’t necessarily interested in how you find time to write, they want to know more about WHAT you write, about your characters, your novel’s setting, what brought you to write on the theme you chose, etc.
One of my clients started a blog to test the waters with the nonfiction book she is thinking about writing: on the sudden death of her spouse and the challenges of being thrown into single parenthood with a teenager. She does a good job of exploring these issues and engaging her readers. If you are curious, her blog is at:
Also, you might find a post I wrote for The Creative Penn helpful, How to Grow Your Reader Community with an Author Blog:
Judy, I’m glad you mentioned the difference between targeting your blog towards other authors versus potential readership. I know a number of aspiring and newly published writers who have grown a good following by targeting fellow writers. All of these writers want to grow their own blogs and market their upcoming stuff, and they all help each other out. They are all voracious and eager to share. Word spreads. But I’ve often wondered if those people are truly growing a readership that will buy their books, or if instead it’s a self-limited group that kind of feeds on itself.
Personally, I want to do whatever it is that will help me get sales when (if) my book comes out. But it’s hard to target potential readers when I’m so far away from that time. I’m projecting at least a year before I even have my first manuscript finished. I’ll definitely be checking out the post you linked to in your last comment. It looks like really good stuff. Thanks so much for sharing!
Your question is an excellent one. Once again, it depends on the audience you are trying to attract. Some writers, like the amazing Larry Brooks of StoryFix.com, are actually doing both: promoting their books to gather more readers and writing about the craft, with an audience of writers/aspiring authors in mind. It makes sense for Larry because he wants to sell his novels, but he also wants to sell his coaching/mentoring/manuscript evaluation services to writers.
Now our own wonderful Victoria Mixon (correct me if I’m wrong, Victoria!) blogs to help aspiring authors improve their writing skills and in this way she is able to establish credibility and (hopefully) move some readers to connect with her and her editorial services.
But if you are looking to cultivate your author platform and audience of readers (and potential buyers of your books), I’d say you need to write about the beginnings of your book journey, character sketches, stuff to whet your readers’ appetites and make them curious about your book. Just my three cents. : )
Oh, yes, Judy. This blog is my only portal to my Editing Services. I have no other clients but my blog readers. And at this point I’m scheduling work weeks, even months, in advance.
It has to do with something extremely odd and intriguing that a lot of writers and computer engineers are discovering these days—the more you give away, the more you sell. My husband is a figure in the open-source industry, which, against all proprietary ‘wisdom,’ is just exploding. Free software and hardware create a market for valuable products. Who knew?
I give away my knowledge of the craft. If you don’t find what you need here, ask me a question on the Advice Column. It’s all free. And by being generous with potential clients, I build credibility. When writers do make the decision to hire an editor, they know exactly what I’m about and what I have to offer.
I believe in education as the road to intelligent decision-making, in all aspects of life. And my clients all seem to be heck of intelligent people!
You are a writer after my own heart. I so believe in the content marketing thing. And there is almost no such thing as giving away too much. I regularly have blog readers sign up for my webinars. And it’s because they have come to trust my advice, have implemented it and seen results.
Of course, being a former educator, I’m all into the showing and instructing mode, anyway—it just comes naturally. : )
Yeah, I’m a former educator too! I used to run the Art Room for an avant-garde preschool/homeschool in Bellingham, Washington, back in the early 1980s when nobody even knew what homeschooling was. I’ve spent years working with abused children at Women’s Shelters, and until I began indie editing my favorite job was running the Children’s Room of the Earthling Bookshop in San Luis Obispo, California.
And now I’ve spent the past ten years educating my own homeschooler. If there’s one thing you discover through teaching kids, it’s how much the learning process always turns out to be your own.
I knew there was a connecting thread there. We have3 so much in common, Victoria. : )
Judy, once again you show why you are on top of your game. Great stuff and I have seen results by abiding by your suggestions. Anyone can do one post a week…anyone.
Always enjoy hearing from you. And looking at your most recent blog post, i’m thinking I need to read it. : )
Thank you so much for the information about building a readership versus blogging for other writers. I’ve just finished my first manuscript and I’m working on my platform while preparing for the submission process.
I’ve been building my following through Twitter and Facebook, and while I’m grateful there are people who are interested in what a new writer has to say on the subject of craft, I’m not so sure they’ll be interested in my book when I finally get it published.
The idea of two different blogs seems to be the answer. I’m preparing to launch my own website, and I think there’s room for both threads. I will definitely be reading the posts you linked to because figuring out how to write for readers has had me stumped.
I’ve also been stumped on how to connect my current work and my next project. My finished ms is women’s fiction, and my next is a middle-grade series – two totally different audiences. The common thread is my perspective and how I write. Having different pages on my site will allow me to bring my business self, women’s fiction self and MG fiction self together all under my brand.
Thank you for sparking these epiphanies! I’ll thank you in the best way I can – by following your blog and sharing great posts like these with my friends and followers!
I think that you have a challenge with juggling women’s fiction and middle grade/YA novels. I totally understand the not wanting to limit yourself thing, but sometimes making a choice is good because it gives your readers a sense of what you are all about as a writer.
If you decide on continuing with these two different genres, you should at the very least separate them out— through different blogs, or pages on the same blog.
And if you happen to visit my blog, thank you for that!
Saw the #picklerevolution on twitter and had to find out what it was about! great post!
Okay, Margo. Maybe it’s too early in the morning on the U.S. west coast but I’m not getting the #picklerevolution thing. Does Victoria have a new post up? : )
That’s hilarious Margo. It wasn’t actually about this post, but I’m glad you found it!
The #PickleRevolution is about 5 Pickles to Write Yourself Into, which has been mysteriously exploding all over StumbleUpon this week.
Love this advice Judy, “Don’t hold back. Don’t avoid emotion. Blog like a first grader.” Do you know, this is exactly why I love blogging? After all those years in school and research projects, the thesis and everything–it is so liberating to just write how I feel. Thanks for all the great advice here, especially about forming a calendar. Reading your work always makes me a better communicator step by step.
I know exactly what you mean. And when you write what you feel, you connect emotionally with your readers, making it a deeper bond. It’s all very cool.
Great post. Thanks. Really useful advice. I am blogging about my lack of time to write, which is counter intuitive, I know. But, yes, I hope my blog will give me some kind of profile so that when I publish my book (IthinkIcanIknowIcan) I will not be a complete unknown. So far this is not working very well. My main readers and commenters are my family!! But it is early days.
I blog about the technical difficulties a new writer confronts – the difficulties I am confronting. I blog about the things that help me and keep me carrying on even though the target is so distant and only a bullseye will do.
My greatest challenge is being very busy with many other responsibilities, family, friends, work etc and making myself RESPECT MY TIME. I am very very bad at this. And yet I know that if I don’t respect my time, no one else will.
Not knowing how old your blog is, it’s hard to give you answers. Just know that in the beginning, it can be slow going. And, yes, we all started with the big fat goose egg in the number of comments section.(I didn’t even have family members reading my blog, so I REALLY started from scratch!)There are many ways to attract readers, but not enough time and space to go into them here. : )
It sounds like you are writing for yourself, as a sort of self-discovery process—and to stay committed to your writing goals.
There is nothing wrong with that, you just need to know that you won’t necessarily attract readers and cultivate an interest in your book that way. Your readers want to know what’s in it for them if they visit your blog.
So if you want potential readers and buyers of your book and editors/publishers to care about your blog, you need to show them some of your great writing—a taste of that fiction (or nonfiction) book your are working on.
Thanks so much Judy. I take your point. What I am really looking for is debate about the process of writing, really specific points that I stub my brain on every day. There is perhaps limited interest in the process of, for example, making metaphors. But I think if I keep on going I’ll slowly attract people with these interests. I am prepared to wait. I am also looking for similar blogs to post on.
Ah, so then you ARE writing for other writers. I missed that point. And, yes, the topics you choose to write about will repel some readers, but attract others.
Laving comments on other writing blogs, with the link you usually get when you do that, will also help you gather more readers.
This is pretty much the plan I’ve been following, and since I started my novel has received maybe ten minutes – that’s in the last month.
I’m aiming at both readers and writers with content specific for each. One concern I’ve got is by pumping out a short story (and a podcast of it) a week, it very much limits the quality of the story. Is this going to do more damage than good? Everywhere says start early and keep going, but if it results in never finishing a novel then the site has no purpose. Even my articles tend to take at least two hours to put together.
The main plus side I have out of this is the content must be of reasonable quality, as while I’ve only managed about 150 people in the first month, they’ve come back almost four times each on average.
Would love to hear your thoughts.
Alan, this is an excellent question.Thanks for asking it! It comes up all the time for aspiring writers.
Blogging extensively can take a lot of hours. A heck of a lot. And you can’t be developing your craft if you’re spending all your time in the blogosphere.
That’s the reason Judy and I decided she’d write here about time-efficiency. Because aspiring writers need lots and lots of time to focus on learning their craft.
I spend many hours every week blogging, only because I get direct results in clients. Way more hours than I’d like, in fact—between blogging and work, I no longer have time for my own writing.
So don’t worry too much about the numbers for now. Use Judy’s tips to minimize your blogging time, and focus on your craft. It takes a long time and a lot of heart to learn how to write a novel. Years more than anyone thinks it does! You have many happy moons of delving into this craft ahead of you, and in the meantime you have a life to live, family to be with, a real boss who really wants you to be paying attention to them.
Don’t be in too big a rush. Being a writer is about the writing. As Larry Books has said on Ollin Morales’ blog, “publishing is toothpaste that can’t be put back in the tube.”
If we want to be writers, we must first and foremost put our energy into learning how to write.
Thanks for weighing in here. Have you ever though that, instead of a complete short story each week, maybe you varied your posts, with shorter alternating with longer and some of them talking about your interesting path on the way to publishing your book?
If you make the content rich, fresh and real, your readers will come to know you and your writing style. You might even write about your book’s character, the time your novel is set in, the setting. Even a “guest post” from one of your book’s characters, written from her point of view. That might be fun.
My point is that you should stay focused on your genre or your book specifically, but within that, you have a wide range of topics that fir.
One of my blog’s regular readers, Courtney Cantrell, started her own blog in January of this year, as a marketing and attraction tool for her upcoming (first) book, that will be released this summer, I believe. You might take a look at it to see how she is chronicling her journey and building interest in her book. :
A blog does not have to take tons of your time! Best of luck in your journey.
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