Riddle me this, dear reader, how many articles on publishing e-books have you read that actually give specific advice? I have read roughly 50 articles and one and a half books. My rough estimate is about five or six of them actually break down the advice they give. Don’t get me wrong I get why that happens. As a writer you want to give advice that can be applied to numerous situations and ,let’s be real, you want to keep some tricks in your pocket despite wanting others to succeed. However after reading these articles I just have been left with an overwhelming feeling of their own inadequacy. Once again I’m not saying these articles lack all redeeming value. I have found them incredibly helpful in my self-publishing journey. However they say to “market” and that “marketing” includes email lists, blogging, facebooking, and joining forums. Now that last one I think is the easiest for me, as a techie, who joined her first forum as a young teen to understand. However I just gave you the sum total of what 90% of those articles I’ve read advocate. The rest of those articles are usually all persuasive speeches convincing writers, who notoriously hate marketing as a group, why they should market. When you take out the having to convince people that those things matter. Yeah, it sums it up.
So I’m left with a question, perhaps you’ve thought the same…”How should I and do I do any of those things?” Now, this post is going to focus on blogging from this point on, but I can and will get into those other things in the future. Oh I’m excited for it dear reader.
“Well, What the Hell Do I Blog?”
I often believe that these article authors tell you to blog without specifics in an effort to keep their ideas from influencing you and from becoming too common if their article should become popular. However by not explaining why blogging works beyond “you develop an audience who likes what you do.” you do a disservice to a certain extent. How do you blog as a writer? I do not claim to be an expert, but I can claim to be an avid blog reader and a writer who has been paid for guest blogs and essays. There is a method to blogging that begins with being Organically You even if you are presenting a particular brand of you.
As a writer you do have to present a brand that has a theme and/or message. That theme can be “Let me take you into my life, so you can understand my books better,” or “Here is a blog about salsa and OH YEAH I wrote a book about it…here it is,” or “I have ideas and thoughts about nerd culture that you may like.”
So here you begin. You figure out what blog would best serve you as an author and what you’ll start writing about to begin with. I know that must be confused because I asked what you write about. So I’m going to explain with an example. I write short stories and novels that tend to be very romance centered if they are not romantic or erotic books. So from there I began researching blogs and how blogging works as marketing.
The trick is you can’t so much marketing. You are producing. Don’t blog forty posts about your book in one week, but do blog about the process of writing, about exciting scenes or character, and about overall joy you find in writing. The key isn’t to market, but to 1) convince people your content has value 2) Producing content that has value 3) Producing content that has value, which then invites people to your priced content by demonstrating value thus convincing those people your priced content is worth it. Your goal is to enjoy yourself personally, but the goal in regards to your career comes down to this formula:
Production= Demonstration +/- quality = Content Value which is <, >, or equal to your persuasion
Or another method of breaking this down:
(Demonstration +/-Quality)= Convincing*Word of mouth = Sales
That gets you to the bottom line. When you understand those things you aren’t “selling out” you are understanding how money, audience, and your writing work together. Sales in that formula can be equal to reads or downloads. It doesn’t matter.
Now what is that content going to be? Well it does vary, but for writers quality content relevant to your subject matter is paramount. I detailed this earlier but here are examples of what writers can blog about:
- How to write
- Their writing process
- How to get through writers block
- How their personal life impacts writing
- Reviews of other stories/books
- Short stories
- Serials not suited for publishing (which can eventually be gathered into a book)
- Writing with family and other obligations
- Prompts, writing challenges, etc.
- Story boarding
- Politics can even work if you’re willing to go there and tread carefully
That list is my reference, but I will tell you it is no where near all I will and can blog (or have blogged on not defunct blogging sites.). Within every single one of these categories I can list three to five specific articles I plan to produce here. You are a clever person, and you will no doubt be able to build on this list and go beyond it.
**I carry a little notebook with me and I often jot down blog ideas, titles, or prompts that would add to this blog. Sometimes I’ll give some of them away to interested friends or people I feel would be better suited to write**
On Blogging Personal Life Details.
Plenty of articles say blogging or making statuses about your life is unprofessional, but that depends on what you write and your relationship with your audience. I know very successful writers who blog politically all the time. I know others who blogged politically and half their audience dropped. Same thing happened with blogging about their kids. It really varies. My belief is that you have to set limits in regards to how much you blog about your life, when you blog about your life, what events will make you blog about your life, and if blogging about your life is helping to build your persona and/or demonstrate to the world who you are. Blog honestly, in moderation unless you are consistently putting out twenty articles of content or five photo albums of content (read VALUABLE content) a day. I’m not an overtly open writer. I am very private. I live quietly. But I will tell you sexual interests OR what is outside of my sexual and how I use them to inform my story because that is part of my writing process and I want to give you an inside peek. You do have to draw a line about how much of your life is open to the public and how much the public wants to know. You will only know that by taking yourself seriously as a blogger and putting yourself in the shoes of your readers.
All this being said you can and should vary your content a bit, but make sure your readers know what to expect. I had a tumblr for a bit, and the problem with tumblr is that it is too much, too entertaining, and it becomes very easy for even diligent tumblrites to begin sharing things beyond the scope of what their blog originally focused on. One artist I used to follow got into an argument with a good friend of mine over child rearing. That artist, whom my friend still vaguely respects but not vice versa, lost 40% of her followers. Not because some of those followers didn’t agree with her, but because they didn’t follower her for her feelings on raising kids and quite frankly they didn’t like how she responded to my friend. My friend, as a result, got a ton of “pity follows” that turned into 100 or so real follows because she began reblogging other artists in place of the one who bad mouthed her. One stuck to a theme and the other stuck to a theme…but less so. That friend ultimately began reblogging a bit too much and lost 60 followers. You should never be afraid to be forward and honest.
You should be aware of how people can react to what you say, do, and reveal about yourself. That isn’t political correctness or paranoia. That is being smart.
The internet is fickle as hell, but the reason is because people are inundate with constant information. We all have to pick and choose what does and doesn’t irritate you. Your best bet is to be consistent, however don’t be afraid of changing things up, inform your readers if your expanding your subject matter, REACH OUT to those readers for input, and then listen to what is happening in response to new content.
As bloggers we have to give interesting content from perspectives that feel honest, content that hooks a reader, content that offers insight, content that presents the person we want people to know, and we as writers can’t just tell each other to go blog. Blogging is hard. Coming up with regular content is hard.
That is why I’m offering this…if you want help figuring out how to blog then message me, leave a comment, or shoot me an email. I will be your brain storming buddy. I will be your extra set of eyes. Every single writer needs that, and though I’m doing this journey alone I want to help others feel a bit less so. This is just one article, unproofed, unedited, because I want you to see me for who and how I am in regards to this subject because I am not perfect. I am not the best blogger. I am not the most articulate person. However, I am a friend if you will let me be one. This article isn’t the last on this subject, and it isn’t the last response to other articles on how to market. This article is merely one in a series. It may not be every day, but there will be more.