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?

In Progress

I have not arrived.  Neither have most people I know.  It is not their stories that I hear, however, but those of experts who already have everything figured out.  There is certainly wisdom to that logic.  As someone who had the misfortune of getting a resident (doctor in progress) on an emergency room visit that went comically wrong, I understand why expertise is important.

There is a danger to only telling the stories of those who have made it, though.  We lose the voices of those still slogging through, still trying to figure things out.  By the time the expert goes back to write about the process they have conquered, they are no longer experiencing the frustration, fear, or elation that was so real to them in the moment.

I am a novelist who has just started trying to navigate the publishing world.  As I figure it out, I’ll keep you updated, but not just about what went right.  I’ll tell you what went horribly wrong, too, so you can avoid making my mistakes.  I hope to not just share technical details, though, but help you get a sense of what life in progress as a writer feels like.

Part of what I find so powerful about fiction is finding yourself in the world the author has created.  A character most resonates with me when I’ve felt what they are feeling.  I have made it very easy to leave comments on this blog because I want readers to be able to engage with me.  Was a post encouraging or helpful?  Tell me.  Was it confusing gibberish?  Tell me that, too.  Have a question?  Ask it.