Do all authors need a blog? Nope. But blogging sure can save you a lot of time and marketing money…and it's the easiest way to establish your author brand.
All writers need to be on social media these days—and a blog is the only social medium where you're in control. Your Facebook page's reach gets more restricted all the time. New Google Plus is unfathomable. Pinterest and Instagram are all about images.
And you're a writer. Blogging is writing.
NOTE: I'm not telling you to use a blog for direct sales. Social media is not about hard sales. It's about making friends, networking and letting people know who you are (also known as "building your brand".) Once people know you, they'll be more likely to buy your book than if you throw your title at random strangers.
I'm amazed at how many new writers still think a book launch involves an expensive party at a local bookstore, a big splash at a nearby book fair, press releases and interviews with hometown newspapers and radio stations.
Today, a writer's market is global. And blogging is the best way to reach the most number of readers all over the planet. You can reach more readers with one blogpost than with months of those painfully ill-attended "signings" or those $1000-a-pop book fair booths.
I'm not saying you should go on an expensive blog tour, either. An informal series of guest posts and interviews with other writer-bloggers in your genre can get your book in front of just as many potential readers.
In fact, blogging can be absolutely free. A blog at Blogspot.com or Wordpress.com costs nothing.
· makes you visible and gets you into search engines.
· allows you relate one-on-one with potential readers.
· connects you with other authors (via groups like IWSG) and publishing professionals.
· puts YOU in the driver's seat.
· lets you show off your writing chops
· gives you a regular writing venue
My blog sure has made all the difference in my own career.
Seven years ago my career was over. My publisher had gone under. My fourth agent had dropped me. My freelancing jobs had dried up.
I was bloodying my knuckles on the doors of agents and publishers, invisible to Google.
So I started a blog. And yeah, nobody read it. But traffic started to pick up after the first year. I started to network with helpful people (some later formed the IWSG.)
Fast forward a few years and miracles happened.
- Publishers came to me—I didn't have to query.
- I shared my blog with one of my idols, Ruth Harris, the NYT million-selling author.
- I was invited to write a book with another NYT bestseller, Catherine Ryan Hyde.
- I was asked to speak at writers' conferences—and magazines and anthologies solicited my work.
- High-circulation publications from slick fashion magazines to the American Bar Association Journal contacted me when they wanted an interview, because the first thing that came up in a Google search on various subjects was posts from my blog.
- I was invited to contribute to the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016
- I had 10 books in print and two were on the Amazon humor bestseller list for over a year.
And I'm not the only author who's found blogging the key to career success. Listen to what Nat Russo said after an expensive launch that failed to make any book sales.
"I slashed the number of book ads…and went back to blogging…sales rocketed…they leaped from 3/day to over 70/day, where they’ve remained ever since."
Got that? He stopped buying advertising and went back to blogging. That took him from a negative bottom line to making a nice living from his books.
And not only is a blog free, it doesn't have to take much time. I've never blogged more than once a week. A working fiction writer doesn't need to post as often as the "monetized" blogger. More on this in my blogpost 9 Tips for a Successful Author Blog.
How about you? Do you blog? How has it helped your career?
Anne R. Allen is an author-blogger who writes the hilarious Camilla Randall Mysteries. She's also the author, with Catherine Ryan Hyde of How to be a Writer in the E-Age: A Self-Help Guide. She blogs, with NYT million-seller Ruth Harris at Anne R. Allen's Blog…with Ruth Harris. And her book blog is Anne R. Allen's Books. She's working on a book on the author blog, due out early next year.