The 5 Pros & 5 Cons of Blogging as a Fiction Author
Should authors blog? This seems to be the million dollar question. It comes up in writing groups, at writers conferences and retreats, and in articles on writing websites.
It’s all over the place.
Everyone has an opinion, and I’m no exception. I have a very strong opinion about this, but an opinion is all it is. This is one topic that really has to be decided by the individual author.
Below, I will give my arguments about whether authors should blog, and you can decide what makes the most sense for you.
Here’s a list of pros and cons.
Should Authors Blog? Blogging Pros
It shows dedication, which is always a good thing. If you want to show agents and publishers that you can write and write consistently, a blog is a good way to go about it. If someone has a blog and can remain consistent, that looks good to potential agents and publishers.
It also shows that you’re able to meet deadlines.
It can help you build a writing habit. If you have a hard time sitting down and getting yourself writing, having a blog can be the perfect tool to help you learn discipline.
It can help you build an audience.
Again, this is something that agents and editors love to see. They love to see authors building audiences for themselves. It means that there’s less work that they’ll have to do to help them build their following. They’ll think “this is somebody who’s going to make my job simpler.” And who doesn’t want that?
It gives you a piece of internet real estate that you can use to market yourself and your books. And you own it, it’s yours, which means no one can shut it down. No one can take it down. It’s not going to disappear. You’re in control of what goes on your website; what’s displayed and where.
Should Authors Blog? Cons of Blogging
You have to be consistent to be effective. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to post every day, but it does mean that you if you decide to post once a week or once a month, you need to do that, and you need to do it on the same day and same time. If you don’t, you might as well not be blogging at all for the good it’ll do you.
You have to have excellent editing skills or find someone who does to edit your posts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a website and clicked right off again after seeing that the content hadn’t been properly edited. Just as a good editing job makes a wonderful impression, so too does a bad editing job.
If you’re not a good editor yourself, you’ll either need to find someone who is and ask them to proof your content, or hire someone to proof your content. This step is a hundred percent necessary because it won’t just be potential readers, but agents and editors who will go to your site.
You have to be actively marketing a website/blog, which has the potential to cost a lot of time and money. But, without marketing, you may as well not be blogging at all. You may have a piece of real estate on the internet that’s yours to do whatever you want with, but if you’re not constantly marketing it so that people know that it’s there, it’s useless to you.
It could take time away from writing your books.
But, in reality, how much time do you spend working on your books every day? A couple hours? A few for the really dedicated? You should be able to find time to put out a couple articles a week.
If you’re not passionate about what you’re blogging about, it can make it hard to be consistent. If you’re not writing about something that you love to write about, it will be a major chore.
Anything you write will reflect how you legitimately feel about it. If you don’t love it, it will show in your blog posts.
So, again, it’s so important to blog about something that you love.
Now, it is so tempting as authors to want to write about ourselves. Because we’re thinking, I’m selling myself, right? Which will help me sell my books.
Yes and no. I’m a firm believer that all authors need to brand themselves, (check out my article on branding here). It can help to post about yourself now and again, but all the time, especially for a newbie author, that no one knows yet, will not help you.
Why? Because if they don’t know you, they don’t care. I know, I know, it’s a catch 22. How can they get to know you if they don’t want to because they don’t know you?
Ever heard of weaving backstory into your books? Same principle here. You sneak it in a little at time.
So, you could post behind-the-scenes photos, excerpts from your book, book cover inspo, you could give them news and updates about your books or give advice, you could talk about what’s happening in your life, but only in small doses. That’s how you end up winning them over.
Otherwise you risk boring them or making them jump off your email list.
I know. But it’s true.
J. K. Rowling has a vast audience of people who will devour anything she puts out because she’s already established. But when her first book came out, it took a while for it to get going. Harry Potter wasn’t immediately famous, and neither was Rowling.
But once it got going, that’s when people started to care about her. They didn’t care about her before they loved her books. That’s just how it works.
So, should authors blog?
Here’s my advice.
When you’re picking a topic to write about on your blog. It shouldn’t be just about you.
You can be a topic you address, but it’s good when you’re just starting out to adhere to the 80/20 rule. You post twenty percent about you and eighty percent about something that other people care about and love. For example, one of my good friends, M.K. Dymock, author of the Lost Gorge Series, which I highly recommend, has a blog where she talks about hiking and outdoor-ing (yes, I just made up that word).
She is an avid hiking enthusiast and loves it. She loves talking about it and writing about it. It’s easy for her to put out posts about it.
She talks about places she goes and what makes those places special, about equipment that you can use,and anything and everything that has to do with hiking and camping, and sometimes even traveling. And she does giveaways of her books with camping gear or hot chocolate, which is brilliant.
Why This Works
Now, the reason this works for her is because she writes outdoor thrillers. A lot of the stuff on her blog ends up in her books, like how to survive outside overnight, bear spray, and how to find water.
She adheres to the 80/20 rule and talks about hiking, skiing, and traveling eighty percent of the time and herself and her books the other twenty percent.
And because she’s drawn in an audience of people who also like to hike, when she puts up one of her outdoor thriller books, her audience of outdoor enthusiasts are more inclined to buy, because the books center on something that they also love.
That’s one way to come up with a blog topic, but not the only way.
For example, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I should blog about. And I tried to think of tie-ins to my books. And I came up with a lot of ideas. How to examine a crime scene, for example, and how to use mentalism and manipulation to read people. How to know when someone’s lying to you. Picking a lock using a soda can, and other MacGyver-esk tricks.
These are all topics I enjoy talking about, but as I tried to blog about those things, I found that I had zero interest in doing it, because I enjoyed learning about it, but I didn’t enjoy trying to teach other people about it. I didn’t feel like I was very good at that.
Which was really frustrating for me, because I really felt like I should blog about stuff that had to do with what I write about: cozy mysteries, mysteries, thrillers, suspense novels, sweet romances, and I just couldn’t think of anything that I was passionate enough about to blog about that fit in those categories.
However, when I thought about doing a blog on writing and editing, the idea appealed much more than anything else I’d come up with. Why? I love learning about writing skills and techniques and I love learning about editing.
In fact, I enjoy these topics so much, that I became a better writer and editor and continue to become a better writer and editor because of the things I’ve learned.
10 years ago, I couldn’t edit to save my life. Now I edit for editors. In fact, I have half a dozen editors in my queue I edit for professionally. That’s pretty amazing considering where I started and I’m proud of it. I love writing, but I see it as an ongoing activity to learn. I don’t feel like any author, myself included, should ever think they’ve learned enough. We should never get to a point where we think “there’s nothing else I can learn, I am the best.” Because that’s not true; you can always get better you can always do better. I believe this to my core.
So, yes, my friend has a blog that has a link to her books, in fact, her books and blog tie-in perfectly. If you can do that, all the more power to you. It’ll make marketing your books easier in some respects. But if you have a topic that has nothing to do with what your books are about, that’s okay too, as long as it’s something you can write about consistently, and something that you’re passionate about.
So, here’s my opinion: If you blog, make sure you’re consistent, that you put out good, strong material that’s been edited, and again, that you’re passionate about the topic. Even if it’s off topic, I think you’ll be surprised how often your books will come up in natural ways as you write.
In case you’re not sure that I’m right about blogging about your passion and not necessarily just things that are similar to topics in your books, consider this: K.M. Weiland of Helping Writers Become Authors writes fantasy novels, Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn writes thrillers, and Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur writes some kind of fiction under mystery pen names, and they’re all bestsellers. And that’s just three examples.
If you decide you want to blog, I challenge you to write out a list of things you’re passionate about, and narrow those topics down to your three favorite. Then try writing an article, or blog post, on each and from there decided what would be the easiest thing for you to blog about.
When you know what that is, come back, and let us know in the comments!
Also, I’d love to know where you stand on the “to blog or not to blog” issue. Do you agree with me? Or do you think authors should write about topics that relate to their books only? Let me know in the comments below.
Check Out These Posts: