To Blog or Not to Blog? Good question!

By Patricia Stoltey

HorsetoothRes2000_text_smallI’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.

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0One 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?”

Wrong question!

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.

Patricia Stoltey
Blog Editor at
Patricia grew up on a farm in central Illinois so naturally had to use the old farm in her first mystery. The second Sylvia and Willie tale takes place near and in the little touristy gold mining town of Oatman, Arizona. Patricia's third novel, a standalone suspense called Dead Wrong, was released November 2014. Dead Wrong was a finalist in the thriller category for the Colorado Book Awards. Visit her blog at http://patriciastolteybooks.com

23 thoughts on “To Blog or Not to Blog? Good question!

  1. Great post. I especially like the emphasis on making connections as opposed to “does blogging sell books.” I think so many authors approach their social media in terms of what results in sales, when the important thing is making those connections and building relationships with potential readers.

    • Corinne, I value the friends I’ve made through blogging so much. One of those friends is Arlee Bird (see comment below) who thought up the idea of the A to Z Challenge in the first place. He’s responsible for building a huge and wonderful network of bloggers around the world. This year will be the first time I don’t participate because I’m getting my knee fixed early in April, but I still plan to spend a little time visiting the other participants…and making a few new contacts.

  2. Thanks for the A to Z promo–I heartily agree that it’s a great way to tap into community and make friends.

    I like that sentiment about blogging reaching people who read books. The marketing aspect can be important and I think the potential is there in blogging, but the main point is having a presence that will allow readers to find out about the author in the first place.

    A lot of good points and suggestions here. This is always a good topic to open the eyes of new bloggers and encourage discouraged bloggers. I’m thrilled to have found this medium of communication. I’m surprised that just about everyone doesn’t have a blog. Blogging is a wonderful means of self-expression and marketing.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    • Hi Lee! We’ve tried to encourage more blogging by the members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers by leaving open dates on our calendar for guest appearances. I always hope that trying it out at home among friends will encourage them to expand their web presence. Getting those who have blogs already to start making friends and visiting other bloggers is harder. There’s that little issue of only having so many hours in a day.

  3. It’s been a major struggle for me to get back into blogging. The A to Z Challenge might be a fun way to restart. Did the Story a Day in May challenge a couple years ago and that was a blast too.

    I read somewhere that Google+ started with the intention of taking over blogging, in that they wanted to encourage people to add blog content there instead of in a blog. Not sure how that’s going, but it’s a great idea.

    • I didn’t know that about Google+ although I have seen some very long posts there. Most people seem to just add the link back to their home blog site. I’m not sure their page format would make it very easy to find updates more than a few minutes old.

    • Blogging regularly is a huge struggle for me as well. I’ve committed to once a week this year and well… it’s not happening. Every year when April comes I promise myself that I will keep it going. But after daily blogging on theme for a month… I find I can’t muster the mental strength!

  4. Great points, Pat. Here’s something else I just learned. A blogging expert said it takes two years for a blog to really take off, but most people give up way before then because they aren’t getting the number of subscribers or comments or clicks they would like. I’m closing in on one year of blogging and I’m definitely seeing interest grow each week. I’m eager to see where things stand another year from now. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying the creative outlet of my blog and the responses I get. It’s wonderful to know that something you wrote struck a chord.

    • And that’s two years of faithful posting along with hard work to build an audience. I monitor the visits to my blog using Statcounter and notice a variety of things affect my hits. Humor brings more visitors….and getting too lazy to leave comments on other blogs sends my stats down in a hurry.

  5. Great post, Patricia! The truth is, I don’t care if I grow a big audience. I know that sounds weird, but I just like blogging, that’s all. Once a week, some little thought or event from my life that I want to expand on. I find it fun — and I hope that’s what comes across. I don’t want to have a strategy — if I start thinking about that kind of thing and how to actually grow an audience, I won’t have fun any more.

    Ultimately, I think I miss the good old days when writing fiction was fun and I didn’t think about the market (this was a long time ago before I began agent hunting). Now fiction is a more serious endeavor. Blogging is a little antidote: I can write for pure funsies. I find that helpful for my overall creativity.

    That said, you make a good point about this: 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.

    • Thanks for coming over, Lisa. I will just add, the more the merrier. It’s fun to have a lot of blog visitors from all around the world. It’s like finding a whole bunch of pen pals.

      As for writing fiction, I’m afraid I still treat it like fun instead of work…which is perhaps why I don’t get a lot done on a daily basis. 😀

  6. Hi Melissa and thanks! Teresa has an excellent blog and has proven the power of staying the course.

    Here at the RMFW Blog, we’re still experimenting with what attracts the most visitors. Humor sure works!

    • I appreciate the kind words, Jenny. I think the ideal length for a post is around 500 words (or less on some days), but we go 500-800 on this blog to make sure a topic is well-covered.

      Some of my favorite blogs feature really long articles almost daily, and that forces me to skip or skim when I’m busy. I do appreciate the long posts that are divided into specific topics though. It’s a helpful technique to get the reader to at least glance at the topic headers, and there’s almost always something to get me reading. Alex J. Cavanaugh is a good example because he features tons of news and links on each post but he makes it easy to go to the stuff I care about most.

  7. Hi Patricia, I have been blogging since 2007 and seen a lot of blogs die. Apart from the fact that many of them simply run out of things to write about, I think there is too much emphasis on the importance of comments. I don’t think bloggers should worry about that at all – in my (subjective) opinion readers generally read and writers read and write. Writers blogs are usually packed with comments from other writers and mostly discussing writing. I write for readers who are not writers and see people coming back for years and who have never commented. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that the very first “comment” I had from one reader was a review of my novel on Goodreads! The important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself when blogging – if you get too trapped into what everyone else says is good practice you will soon lose your enthusiasm. We are all different – if you want to write a long post I say go for it – if it’s good enough people will read!

    • Hi Jane, thanks for stopping by (and leaving a comment). I agree, some blogs have big unique view numbers but few comments. That’s one of the reasons a blogger needs to have the ability to see those stats and evaluate what attracts readers. The posts on this blog, for instance, get a lot of views but not often do we generate this many comments. And some of the older posts, such as last year’s interviews with agents, continue to get views and pingbacks. I agree that reaching readers is more important, but when we can get a good discussion going, it really is a lot of extra fun.

  8. Thanks for this, Patricia. I’m trying to get started on a blog, but I’m like the guy who runs to the end of the diving board and then hesitates. Will it be any good? What do I have to say that hasn’t been said countless times? Who’s going to read it?

    I’m going to start one anyway. Sometime. Pretty soon now.

    • Go for it, Allan!

      I suffered through that crisis of confidence close to the beginning of my blogging experience too. On my personal blog, I’ve shied away from writing instruction because I think others do that way better than I can (although I do have a pretty good “Self-Editing One Step at a Time” series over at The Blood Red Pencil).

      ‘m still exploring the best ways to attract readers, but I can recommend humor as a great way to start, especially if humor comes naturally to you. I offer one or two days a week to guest authors, do occasional book reviews, and wander off into posts about my writing/blogging/real life including my cat. I avoid politics and other controversial topics like the plague.

      Oh, a big recommendation to everyone. When you set up your blog, use your author name as the blog name and url. If you pick a theme that’s too topic specific as your title and url, it makes it harder to shift the focus of your blog later.

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