Writers: Is Your Blog Working?

I was chatting with a fellow blogger this week, discussing the pros and cons of regular blogging.  We’re both pretty new to the game, and like most newbies are a teensy obsessive about our stats.  Both of us continue to be surprised what posts are popular and which ones seem to tank.

I’m a nerd at heart, so when in doubt, I research.  I wanted to know why fiction authors really blog in the first place.  I’ve always understood platform when it comes to non-fiction writers.  They get to try out all their ideas first on their blog and then collect posts into chapters that eventually become a book.  For those of us that write novels, deciding what to blog about is quite the chore, and it seems most of us end up writing about writing.

But are we accomplishing anything?  What’s the goal of blogging for the fiction writer?  Certainly, there can be more than one.  Some writers blog to develop discipline and to get themselves writing.  Others like being part of the blogging community, making friends and gathering manuscript critiquing partners.

If either of those were my main goals, I’d say my blog is working just fine. Unfortunately, that’s not why I started this blog, and I’m guessing it’s not why most other authors blog, either.  Added discipline and community have been wonderful side benefits, but they have never been the point.  The goal of my blog has always been to build an audience and connect with readers.

While not published yet, I write fantasy fiction for adults.  As mentioned before, I’m pretty attentive to my blog statistics.  The people following my blog are almost exclusively other authors.  That makes sense, since this blog has been about writing and publishing.  While a few of you might one day be interested in a novel of mine, my primary market I will be writing for is not authors.  So why is my blog about the craft of writing–a topic my potential audience won’t likely give a fig about? 

Hmm.  I’m not sure anymore.

I’m not Kristen Lamb, who writes books teaching authors how to use social media and be a support to each other.  I’m not an agent like Rachelle Gardner or a publishing guru like Jane Friedman to be giving writers expert advice how to make it in the industry.  I’m a novelist in want of readers. 

How do I craft a blog that will connect me with the same audience that is likely to read my books?  Is a blog even the best way to do it? 

L.L. Barkat argues that sometimes the best thing an author can do is STOP BLOGGING.  It blew my little mind.  Dan Blank disagrees. I’d really encourage you to read both of those articles including the comment section.

Authors, I’d love a lot of feedback on this.  Should we blog?  Should authors spend their time elsewhere?  If so, where?  If you do think blogging is important, should we really be blogging about writing if our audience is not writers?  What in the world should we blog about instead?

15 thoughts on “Writers: Is Your Blog Working?

  1. write fiction? 🙂 And pitch it to magazines and online entities. Archive it on your blog and maybe fill in the archives with other fiction you want to share with your fans for free.

    • Yes, crazy idea! Spend more time writing actual novels, which I’d prefer to do anyway. One of the points in your article that really struck me was the one you just repeated here–write for larger outlets. If I’m trying to build an audience, I should be writing for online entities and magazines that have larger readerships. I’m curious about your suggestion to put up stories to read, though. As someone who is trying to go the traditional route, I was told that was something that publishers/agents frowned upon. Do you just mean articles and short stories I might get published elsewhere? I know it’s fine to promote already published work on my blog.

  2. I think we writers are a strange bunch, and what we get out of the social media sites is not only what we put in but what we feel is necessary. I don’t feel as though a writer should create such a space for shameless self promotion, and that the writer should be in these areas of the Internet for any other reason. Share ideas, join a community, and grow in that respect instead.

    • Certainly, I don’t mean to suggest self-promotion is the name of the game. I meant only that my potential readers probably don’t really care about writing. I’d like to interact with them in a communal way, and not bore them. My thoughts are more along the lines of, “If a reader and I had coffee, what would we talk about and have in common? Now how can I turn that into a blog so we can hang out and chat online?”

  3. I blog for fun. I don’t expect to get readers or make sales, I just like doing it.

  4. I’ve blogged for about two and a half years. Nothing happened, of course, and then people gradually started reading my Blog. One day a nice Publisher came along and asked me to write a book.. While I wrote it I stopped Blogging to concentrate on the book. ( doing both at the same time seriously just does not work in my opinion ). Manuscript finished I am back blogging because its fun, it helps the imagination and connects you with a potential; readership, but it does all take time

  5. Hey Lara…here’s my ‘two cents.’
    As a writer, for me anyway, the blog is useless and nothing more than a time drain.
    I decided early on that I would not use it as a place to promote, so what was left?
    I’ve asked questions, for advise, for help…can you hear the crickets chirping?
    When I complain about Social Media, I do get a few more visitors, but not enough to make it something to look forward to.

    Writing for a blog and writing fiction are two different animals in my opinion…I don’t see anyway that blogging can help one to become a better writer of fiction. Maybe better at promotion, but not the story itself.

    Agreeing with one of the previous commenters…Get your stories out there somehow.
    I posted an excerpt from a story I am working on a few months back….again crickets.

    I’ve posted two short stories (as free PDF’s) on my website and have gotten quite a few e-mails.

    Self publishing through Amazon has gotten folks reading my stuff…other than maybe making a friend or two, the blog never.

    Having said that…It would be great to have a thousand followers that would jump on a free promotion or purchase my short stories otherwise, but I probably won’t live long enough to see it happen here.

    I would enjoy seeing you consensus once everyone replies.

    Chris

    • Part of why I continue to read your blog is to hear about your various efforts in blogging/social media and what is working for you. I’m not willing to abandon blogging all together, but I do think I need to step back and refocus. Did you read the two articles I linked to? There’s a lot of interesting ideas in there.

  6. Sorry… I don’t see the links?
    What works better for me it seems…is to make an announcement on Facebook and spend 5 bucks extending the reach. A 5 dollar Facebook ‘Post Boost’ will get me in front of 3-4000 people.
    If blogging is your thing, then it could be a great tool?
    If not, (my case), then it just seems to soak up time and that is something most of us have very little of these days.

    • Chris, if you click on “STOP BLOGGING” in the second to last paragraph it will take you to one, and then if you click on the word “disagrees,” you’ll get the counterpoint article.

  7. […] I didn’t update the website very often and it ended up neglected. Then I read a very interesting post from Lara Chase which changed everything. The question was: why was I blogging about writing when the potential […]

  8. […] Writers: Is Your Blog Working? (laraschase.com) […]

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