The point of blogging

Blogging for Fiction Writers

I’m curious what fiction writers have found works or doesn’t work in using blogs as part of their platform. It seems far easier for nonfiction writers, especially those who focus on particular subject areas, since they can provide a lot of added value for readers of their books by blogging on their subjects. But what about fiction writers? Thanks in advance for your input!

A question posted on LinkedIn ‘Books & Readers’

 

Kindle

In the best traditions of stealing ideas from other people, the above question got me thinking. And what I was thinking was that the questioner has missed the point.

A lot of you out there are writers. A lot of you are on Twitter, or have blogs of your own, or Facebook pages. How many of you are doing it to raise your profile? To sell books? For some similar purpose?

I’m doing the same myself. No point lying: I started this blog because I was advised that a successful author needs to be on social media, to have a groundswell of interest before publication, whether self- or traditional. To have presence.

Three years in and I can confidently say that hasn’t worked. Not that it’s been a failure either: I have followers, both of this blog (hi!) and on Twitter, that I wouldn’t have had before. But I’ve hardly got the legions of regular contributors that I’d happily dreamt of when I first committed text to internet. By any objective measure it’s been a failure. So why do I keep doing it?

Simple. Because I enjoy it.

And that’s the point. Even though some weeks I struggle to find anything interesting to write about, and some weeks I don’t feel like I’m publishing really quality or insightful posts: sometimes I wish I’d chosen fortnightly updates rather than weekly. But I enjoy it. I like the challenge. I like to have fun with words. I like to think of new angles upon which to focus. It’s one reason I gave myself a broad remit (‘A Writers’ Life’, rather than ‘This Particular Novel’, say).

And I think – although I can give no evidence – that this is truly the answer to the original poster’s question. The best way to ‘build a platform’ is to find something they enjoy and keep at it. I love Twitter. I have nothing to sell or to promote save vague promises for the future, but enough people seem to like my rambly tweets that I’ve a respectable number of followers. I’d like more because ego – and because soon enough I will have something to promote – but at the moment I’m happy with my slow progress.

Similarly this blog. I enjoy doing it. It’s good practice, and when eventually I do self-publish Night Shift and start sending out Oneiromancer to agents I will have that fabled ‘platform’ upon which to fall.

And, in the meantime, I’ve been opened up to other bloggers and writers and artists and I’ve expanded my own tiny perspective into a wider community.

So, Mr Original Poster, my advice to you – should you actually want it – is to relax and have fun. The benefits may come later. But for now, lay back and enjoy the process.

And, if you’re really, really interested, here’s a link to my (considerably longer) post on book promotion.

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7 thoughts on “The point of blogging

  1. I’ve been blogging since before it was called blogging, back when the only platforms available were geocities, angelfire and one the platform that George RR Martin still uses. Back then, I blogged books, authors I met, and interviews I did. I even had an Amazon affiliate account that made pretty decent earnings from books alone. Then life changed and I blogged about life, and then knitting and spinning wool, and then motherhood. I also have a blog where it’s all just mainly poetry through the daily posts. I didn’t return to blogging as a writer until recently and it’s true, it can be confusing: What do you write about, especially as a fiction author? Some people write about the process, their fears, the hits and misses, their motivations. You may sell a book or two or get a subscriber or two for your email lists or your Facebook Page, but to blog, it’s about making connections. Bloggers have their own community, much like FB-ers have their own, and Twitter and Instagram. Some people are good on one platform and not others. Some try to be everywhere and end up overwhelmed. It’s finding where you’re best at and who knows? It could be Snapchat or Periscope or Facebook. Or it could be blogging. But through it all we keep on writing our stories, publishing and writing more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I salute your persistence and longevity! You’re absolutely right in what you say; blogging regularly is a challenge. But it’s one that keeps me looking, listening and – hopefully – learning. This is my playground where I explore ideas and is probably the truest reflection of my personality – dunderheadedness not excepted – that there is.

      As I said, it’s a pleasure to write. I hope there are material benefits in the future, but for now I’m just enjoying the chance to share things that catch my metaphorical eye

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      • It’s only recently that I’m seeing blogging seen as some competitive sport almost especially among writers (because we’re supposed to be building a platform), and that’s sad. All of a sudden, I see posts like things bloggers are doing wrong, or how to make your blog more interesting and all that.

        I never once saw it as a competitive sport or primarily to build some platform because the community of bloggers I know aren’t primarily writers. They’re retirees, accountants, photographers, poets, parents, dominants, submissives, and so many more and we’re all just blogging as a way to relate to the world around us and the community we find ourselves in. I miss the way blogging used to be before I became an author (and I’m glad that I still keep up my old poetry blog for that reason) and wish authors lightened up about the whole idea of blogging.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well stated, Liz and Robin. A blog can provide a platform for expanding on real-life subjects that have inspired our fiction writing. It can also be a handy outlet for essays that give us a chance to try out our non-fiction chops.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m “Mr. Original Poster.” I enjoyed your take on the question and wanted to thank you for posting it. I fully agree, although I do hope to make my blog more interesting to readers. I write because I enjoy writing, but also to connect with readers.Thus the question. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you – I’m really glad you’re not offended by my using your question for my own purposes; it was a bit cheeky, I know. I too am constantly looking for new ways to engage and new conversations to explore here – which is why I seized upon your post.

      I just know too many writers who see blogging as a chore and use their platform mainly as a grumbling-station. Surely nothing will put potential readers off your work faster than the sense that the author is having words dragged out of them against their will?

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re quite welcome. Glad I could help. I suppose there is one case where grumbling could be of value: when you’re grumbling about the same things your readers grumble about. 😉 Aside from that, probably not so much. –Dale

        Liked by 1 person

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