These days, every writer needs a blog. And not just any blog, but one that will grow with your career, while helping that career to grow as well. Recently, we found some excellent pointers on the subject and couldn’t wait to share them here:
by Anne R. Allen
Maybe you’ve just finished that NaNo novel and you know you want to publish, so you’d like to get a head start while you slog through the editing process.
Or you’ve been writing for a couple of years, you’ve published some short pieces, and you’ve got maybe two novels in the hopper and you’re ready to get this career on the road.
Or you’ve finally landed that agent, but you don’t have anywhere near the platform she wants.
Any of these could be a good point to start a blog.
Yes, a blog is still a great way to build platform and establish an Internet presence. So says agent Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary, who will be visiting us here in January.
But a writer starting a blog right now faces two problems:
1) There are already, like, a trillion writers out there lecturing the blogosphere about how to write vivid characters, prop up saggy middles and avoid adverbs. A lot of them probably know more than you.
2) If you’re a writer with books to sell, you want to reach a general audience, not just other writers selling books.
So how can you be different? How do you create a blog that somebody will read—somebody besides your stalker ex-boyfriend and your mom?
The most important thing to remember with any kind of blog is you need to offer something. It should be fresh, informative, and/or entertaining.
How you approach your blog is going to depend a whole lot on your stage in the publishing process and your immediate goals. (For info on what not to blog about, see How Not to Blog )
Stage #1: You’re a developing writer.
You’re working on your first or second novel, and maybe have a few stories in literary journals or a couple of contest wins. You want to be a published author sometime soon, but you’re not quite ready to focus on writing as a career.
Your goal: LEARNING THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS AND NETWORKING.
You want to make friends in the writing community for career help and mutual support. You want to learn the best writing techniques, network with publishing professionals, and educate yourself about the business.
If you’re in stage #1, I think it’s OK to blog about writing. I know most blog gurus tell you not to do this, but I think that caveat is aimed more at people at stage #2 and #3.)
I’m not talking about lecturing on craft as if you’re a pro when you’re not. But an equal-to-equal post about something interesting trick you’ve discovered about writing the dreaded synopsis, or what agents are looking for this month is just fine when you’re reaching out to other writers.
Why do you want to reach other writers? Because networking with other writers is essential in today’s market. Joint promotions and anthologies and boxed sets will be some of your most most powerful marketing strategies once you’re published. The friends you make now will be a huge asset to you later on in your career.
Plus I know a number of authors who got their agents through a referral from a fellow blogger.
I found both my publishers through blogging.
Also, I’m not sure I would have made it through the darkest rejection phases if it hadn’t been for the support of writer blogfriends.
How do you get blogfriends? You visit other blogs. Social media is social. Don’t sit all alone like a spider waiting for flies. Go out and meet people. Comment on blogs and engage in dialogue with other commenters.
When you have a writing blog, you get to participate in blog hops, flash fiction swaps, contests and all kinds of networking events that help you meet people who can be important in your future career. There are some great blogging groups like the Insecure Writers Support Group where you can meet lots of interesting, supportive writers.
But do make sure your writing blog has something fresh going for it—something that’s helpful. There are all sorts of ways you can help: