Should an author blog? It’s all about perspective. If your goal as an author is to attract new readers to your published work I think you are wasting your time writing a blog. There just are too many fishing lines already in this water and it is too hard to make your bait look interesting.
However, if your goal is to create and nurture an author platform, I think having an active, polished, blog is an essential part of it. I would argue that it is the most important one, and here is why. Authors today need “Super Fans,” who through their enthusiasm become critical in promoting their favorite authors.
To an avid reader, an author is an actress, a top 40 musician, or a professional athlete (without the cameras and newspaper reporters). If a new reader loves your book they will want to discreetly “meet you.” They will want to know what you are like, what your interests are, what motivates you: the personal things that you are willing to share that make them feel like an insider. And they want it to be current information. That back cover on your book is not enough. They live in the world of internet and instant updates, and they are fascinated by YOU (I know that may seem weird to some of you), and that is a good thing. AND, they are making a decision whether or not to buy your other books and sign on as a lifelong fan.
So where are they supposed to go for this type of information? Your Facebook page? No, there’s no depth, and too much other noise; it’s too hard to find your history. Twitter–forget it. Those 140 characters are fun, but they’re not enough for Super Fan.
You need a website with a blog. A simple website with a static page about your books with an old static bio isn’t good enough. It sends a message that either you are lazy or that they are not important enough for you to put in the effort required to keep the site fresh and their interest piqued. A blog brings them on the inside, shows them a slice of your life, and how you think. It keeps them engaged. You need their engagement.
So let’s review. Do I think a blog will attract new first-time readers to buy your book? NO.
Do I think blogs are important to cultivate and nurture a strong fan base and author platform? YES.
[Here’s a bonus opinion, slightly on-topic: Do I think blog tours sell books? Not very well (however under certain circumstances and for very specific reasons you may still want to do one, and visibility is one of those specific reasons).]
The other benefits of author blogs:
- Blogging allows you to practice your craft. Writers write. Writers get better at writing by writing. Calenderizing a blog schedule, no matter how un-fun that is, is no different than a marathon runner planning a training schedule. Your next book is the marathon. If you are not practicing at all, it is going to be pretty hard to be good. Now, you may not use a single word you write on your blog in your book. You don’t do weights or stretching during a race either.
- Blogging creates this huge library of your words, sentences and paragraphs that you can use later. Write the blogs with purpose, and then index them in a way that you can find what you need and repurpose them later. There may be only a phrase or a sentence you can re-use, but, they sure come in handy when you are stuck in an “I am boring” rut in your writing. Go grab an anecdote written when you were feeling witty, or scary, or sexy, and repurpose it.
- It is THE BEST way to gather a mailing list of people who “Opt-in” for contact from you. While it is important that you don’t overuse this list, it is the Holy Grail for generating buzz for a new release. It helps you generate an initial burst of sales that gets you up in rankings and primes the sales engine.
One thing I wouldn’t worry about is how many comments you get on your posts. Most people are way to busy to leave one. Others are far too private. I also wouldn’t stress about your traffic. Stat counters typically underestimate, often by a lot. Worry instead about putting something up once to twice a week, something short, something with news about your writing,and with small glimpses into your life, the life your readers are dying to follow.
Eric R. Hutchins is the owner of SkipJack Publishing