By Patricia Stoltey
I’m sure you know there are tons of blogs out there on every imaginable topic. You’ve also probably heard those little rumors floating around that “blogging is dead,” or “blogging does not sell books,” or even “blogging is a total waste of time because you should be writing.”
If you already have a blog, your frustration may reinforce those rumors because your stats are in the toilet. You don’t get visitors, or they come but they won’t leave comments.
On the other hand, you may have heard that agents and publishers aren’t remotely interested in writers who don’t have an online platform. That usually means a website, a blog, and at least a couple of social media sites such as Twitter and Goodreads.
I don’t know if any of that is true.
What I do know is that blogging can be useful. It can be time-consuming. It can be frustrating. And it can be lots of fun. Let’s deal with my truths one at a time.
Blogging can be useful
1. Link to your blog and have it display on your Goodreads author page. Readers who follow you can comment on your post without leaving the site.
What did you say? You have a book out but you don’t have an author page on Goodreads? I’d highly recommend you remedy that situation as soon as possible.
2. Keep information current so friends and readers know about your new cover art or book release. You are more likely to regularly update a blog than a website.
3. Attract readers to your blog with reader-friendly content. Share anecdotes about your life with humor and photographs to attract potential readers.
Blogging can be time consuming
1. While I admire the bloggers who post long essays/articles seven days a week, I don’t think that’s the best approach for someone whose primary purpose is writing fiction. Limit the number of days you will add content to the blog, but post at least weekly.
2. Keep blog posts reasonably short or well divided into categories so readers can pick and choose what they want to read and respond to. No one has time to waste.
3. Schedule certain times of the day to read other blogs and leave comments.
Oops! I hear the screeching sound of potential bloggers slamming on their brakes. But if you want bloggers (and bloggers are readers, too, you know) to visit your blog and leave comments, you have to get yourself out there and make friends.
4. Make it easy for readers to subscribe to your posts via email. Give readers a way to search for specific topics. There are widgets for these and many other functions.
Blogging can be frustrating
1. Be patient. Be persistent. Because one day your pre-scheduled post won’t publish. The next day, you can’t open the site at all. Suddenly readers are unable to post comments. Or the blogger god makes major changes on the site and you can’t find the buttons for bold or italics or even to pre-schedule.
2. Look at blogging as you would look at any amazing technical marvel that is constantly being upgraded (and didn’t quite get all the bugs worked out before its release).
Blogging can be lots of fun
1. Make a whole bunch of good efriends through blogging. They help spread the word about cover reveals and release dates. Blogger friends post news and host authors as their guest bloggers, conduct interviews, and sometimes review books.
2. Host other authors on your site. They bring their fans to your blog.
3. Participate in blog challenges and blog hops related to your genre. Lots of book bloggers host these kinds of activities, and the people who follow book bloggers are readers.
One of the very best blog challenges takes place every April. It’s called the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge—participants post 26 days (rarely on Sundays) and title their posts, with or without a theme) to coincide with that day’s letter of the alphabet. Signups are happening now at the challenge website/blog and that’s where you can get all the information and register. Total participants have numbered well over 1,000 in past years. That’s a lot of econnections you can make in a month.
So after all that, is the biggest question on your mind, “Does blogging sell books?”
The right question: Does blogging reach people who read books?
It sure does if you create good content, make blogger friends and help each other, promote your posts, engage with those who leave comments, and make sure your blog reaches the non-writing readers who look to Goodreads and book bloggers for the books to add to their “Want to Read” lists.
If you have questions about your blog or would like feedback, leave the link in your comment.