At the recent Bloggers Bash, one of the questions asked was why people started blogging. Many bloggers came up with the same answer, because they’d been told they needed to have a blog as an author platform in order to sell their books. When asked if blogging had helped, the answer from everybody was ‘not really,’ and while the answer wasn’t a ‘no,’ it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.
This isn’t my first blog. I started blogging three years ago with another blog all about my writing journey (because nobody had thought of doing that before, right?). Over time I got bored about writing about writing so decided to start this blog where I could write about about anything, and I often did. However, I always had that piece of advice in the back of my mind, an author needs a platform to help promote and sell their books.
Eventually my blogging came full circle and I now blog about writing, or more accurately life as an indie writer as there are many more qualified bloggers out there that can help you with the nuts and bolts of how to actually write. I’ve met many wonderful bloggers, some of whom are novel writers, and I’m sure I’ve sold a handful of books on the back of them getting to know me through this blog.
During this time I’ve also got to know some writers who are making a real success out of self-publishing. I’m not talking about a Hugh Howey level of success but they are selling enough books to either make a living or heavily supplement their income. One thing links all of these writers.
They rarely blog.
Many have blogs but use them as a means to inform of new book launches or as a landing page for their mailing list. Some are active on other forms of social media but many aren’t. I don’t know whether the advice on the importance of an author platform passed them by, or if they chose to ignore it, but very few of them have an interest in building a social media presence. So how on earth did they become successful?
Blogging takes a lot of time and effort. In the two years this blog has been around (I’m ignoring my other one – as most readers did) I’ve written around two hundred posts. Each post varies between 500 and 1000 words in length. Add it all together and it’s the equivalent of nearly two novels worth of words. Then there is the amount of time I’ve spent creating posts, editing posts, replying to comments, not to mention all the time I’ve spent reading and commenting on the many blogs I follow.
I’ve listed below five things I could have been doing instead to sell more books:
1 Set up a stall in my village high street or a local town and harangue passers-by into buying my books
2 Contact all my local libraries and bookshops in an effort to stock or promote my books
3 Work a part-time job to raise money to pay for advertising through book promotion sites, Facebook and Amazon
4 Give them to the Girl Scouts to sell with their cookies for commission
5 WRITE MORE BOOKS
There’s a reason point five is in capitals. While nothing is guaranteed in the self-publishing world, the more books you have published, the more chance you have of your books gaining visibility. I said there was one thing that links the successful authors together but I lied. There are two. All of these writers have released five or more books over the last two or three years. I’ve released two and have a third on the way, but I could have released more if I hadn’t blogged so much.
When these successful writers aren’t actually writing, they work on their marketing instead, either to develop their mailing lists, creating direct promotions through promotional sites or by contacting book reviewers asking for honest reviews in return for a free book. They treat writing as a job rather than a hobby. They don’t wait for inspiration, they work every day regardless of whether they feel like it to not.
Of course, as I’ve said before, doing all of this doesn’t automatically guarantee success, but it increases the chances.
This isn’t to say there aren’t writers who generate sales through blogging. There are a number who do just this, although the majority I know make more money writing books on writing or self-publishing than through their own fiction. There are, however, other ways to increase sales that are less time consuming and with a higher chance of success.
So why should writers blog?
Because it’s a wonderful opportunity to write something different, to let off steam, to connect with like-minded should, to find comfort and community, to help others much earlier in the process than yourself and be helped by those further down the line. It’s a way of making new friends, for discovering excellent books and for improving your craft. It’s a place to be yourself, to be someone else or to be the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Most of all, you should blog because you want to, not because you feel you should. Blogging is a wonderful medium and I don’t regard my time blogging as being a waste, and nor did any of the bloggers I met at the Bloggers Bash. I just wouldn’t recommend it as a way of selling books.
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I had a really good chat with some of the bloggers about HOW to actually publish a novel and the process they go through. Wow… It takes a lot of guts and hard work. Kudos to you!
Writing and publishing a novel is the easier part of the puzzle (although not easy), it’s getting noticed that’s the difficult bit!
Nail-on-the-head time again, Dylan. You have an uncanny knack of voicing what others only murmur amongst themselves, but hardly dare say. Blogging has brought me into contact with some amazing people (ahem… ) and I enjoy it very much for all the reasons you note in your post. I’ve also sold a few books to fellow bloggers, which is very gratifying. But if you look at it purely as a marketing exercise, there’s no way at all – for me at least – that the time I spend blogging can be justified, purely in terms of orders. Good point, well made, as ever. So why do we all blindly follow this apocryphal advice?
We all blindly follow it because we know no better. It’s the same with much writing advice. It’s only after doing it for a while you get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t, at least for you.
Do we? I don’t! (If I knew how to embed one of these smiley faces I’d so so HERE, but I’m afraid I don’t) . . .
Ha! *We* don’t all follow the advice…. I wish you did, Marcus, because I like(d) your posts! But I’m also one step away from joining the *we* who don’t… 😉
Another reason to blog is fast gratification.
While I didn’t enjoy every day practising law, I did go home at the end of each day knowing I had achieved something that other people valued. Whereas when I write (especially a longer work) each day – intellectually – moves me towards something that other people value, but the actual pay off isn’t until months later.
Although my blog articles aren’t – intellectually – exactly analogous with my fiction, seeing a response to something I’ve written on an almost daily basis gives me the sense of achievement that I enjoyed from my previous jobs. The same applies to social media.
Otherwise, my only frequent source of validation would be the sales graphs of various retailers; and that way lies madness of a kind that doesn’t fuel fiction.
This is a really good point, Dave, and what I was alluding to when I talked about support and community. That instant reaction is wonderful (at least, when it’s positive, and even when it’s not it’s always useful).
Even when it’s negative, a response indicates your work made someone react.
Most jobs have clients, colleagues, &c. so personal interaction pervades the actual work; whereas, so much of writing is in the writer’s head, and most of the bits that aren’t involve the writer deliberately avoiding human contact so they can focus.
So, I think interaction is something writers should actively make time to seek out – or at least that’s what I tell my inner critic if I want to spend some time on social media rather than put in another half-an-hour on a project.
I think it’s all about balance and how it fits into your overall objectives. What I’ve discovered is that for me the balance isn’t static. There are times I need to lock myself away and graft, others where I need the interaction, and the majority of the time where I need to do both.
I hear you. The major reason I blog is because I enjoy it, plus it’s part of my business outreach too. For paid clients who credit me for the work I produce, they nearly always ask for social media links such as my blog and Facebook page. In terms of selling books, I never thought I would sell thousands just for having a blog, but every little helps and at best I think I may pick up a few stragglers here and there from people who may be directed from my paid work. A few hundred visitors could lead to the odd sale, but I certainly don’t rely on the blog to sell books. With a monthly hit rate of around 2,000 I like to think (and hope) it contributes in some small part to my wider business outreach.
You’re right about writing though, and perhaps I should put a little less effort into my blog and more time finishing my various WIPs!
That’s the one thing that links all the most successful writers I know, they focus their writing on what sells (books, short stories, articles etc.) and generate a large body of work.
Oh, and I just bought my nephews a pair of NERF guns (water pistols on steroids). They are apparently ‘the business’ when it comes to dispatching crapping cats.
NERF guns are great fun (and yes, if you have the foam bullets that shriek as they fly, they’re great for scaring cats).
I realised after I commented, that your pellet version was also NERF. My nephews’ version is an industrial strength water pistol, capable of being loaded with ice cubes, to deliver an extra-chilled water spurt! Great fun all round but a nightmare for felines. 🙂
This sounds terrible *loads up Amazon to find out if he can afford one*
Excellent post, thank you. I’ve recently been struggling with how to prioritise my blogging vs book writing and I came to the conclusion I’m going to focus on the book. I won’t abandon blogging, but this makes me feel better about my decision.
Hugh Howey (yes, him again) recommends writers shouldn’t worry about anything like promotion or social media engagement until they’ve published at least three books. I’m not sure I totally agree but the sentiment is spot on.
Three seems quite a lot, but I’m writing a Trilogy and so at least I’m heading in the right direction…!
Reblogged this on newauthoronline and commented:
I have considered Dylan’s idea of setting up a stall selling copies of my book, “Dalliance; A Collection of Poetry and Prose” in my local high street and will, almost certainly try it out. I have also been fortunate in that a local bookshop, The Bookseller Crow kindly agreed to stock “Dalliance”. Kevin
I’d love to hear how you get on. Good luck!
Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog.
Thanks for the reblog, Chris!
Very welcome Dylan – it’s good to challenge perceived wisdom from time to time – it keeps folks on their toes LOL 😀
Well said as ever, Dylan. Apart from my Herstory blog, which is more a hobby than a platform from which to sell novels, I don’t blog for that very reason – I have limited time and would like to spend that time writing novels. Being active online takes time. I often wonder why I bother with Twitter – it hasn’t led to many book sales. But through it, I’ve got to know a few bloggers like you, and eagerly await new posts because it’s so wonderful to hear people voicing the same niggles, doubts and fears as I feel. When I have minor successes, it’s rewarding to share them on Twitter and have others retweeting or congratulating me. Likewise, when I undergo the inevitable setbacks and rejections, it’s good to know that there’s a supportive community out there to commiserate. So I’d like to thank guys like you, who help create this community. Without it, writing can be a lonely business. Don’t stop blogging – sometimes the rewards are greater than selling books!
Exactly, Kat. The rewards of blogging are great but in ways other than through sales (at least compared to the effort you need to put in).
You can advertise until you are blue in the face Dylan. But what always sells a book, aprt from its content, is still word of mouth. Try doing what I do from time to time. Post your book’s reviews on your blog, your Facebook page and your Twitter feed. 🙂
Thanks, Jack. I agree, word-of-mouth is the most effective form of promotion and it’s always better coming from others.
You’re absolutely right, I’m very much in the ‘blog once a month’ category myself and it doesn’t sell books but I do enjoy it, it’s great for exercising the writing muscles, I love the ‘non-editingness’ of it and I really love the feeling of offering advice as well as pooling ideas and chatting to other writers. I like to make my blog really the online face of me – what you see is what you get. But it is very time consuming if you try to do too many, I too learned this quite early on x Great blog as always Dylan 🙂
Thanks, Helen. As a fan of your blog I have to say I miss the more regular posts but I completely understand why. So how’s the second book going? Any closer to getting it out?
I’ve called you Helen here too, Heather. I am so sorry!
I didn’t start blogging to sell books… I wasn’t even a writer in my own eyes back then. I set up the blog simply to see if I could, posted a couple of times and promptly forgot all about it for over a year. I started again in an attempt to record part of my son’s story… and haven’t stopped since.
I have loved the sense of community here… and the current incredible and very visible support that bloggers are showing proves that the faces on the avatars have stories and hearts behind them.
Does it sell books? Probably not many. Would I have sold any at all without blogging? Possibly not! More to the point, though, would I have had the confidence to actually publish anything in the first place without blogging? That’s the big question. Being able to learn on a public platform does wonders for your belief in yourself as a writer.
This is a really good point, Sue. Blogging is a great way to overcome your initial nervousness and get your writing out there. It helps (but isn’t a cure) for the imposter syndrome so many of us suffer from.
If you ever find a cure for that, do let me know, Dylan 🙂
Still looking, Sue. Still looking…
You and me both 🙂
I’m with Sue on this. I’ve not published any books and, other than my blog, have never published anything.
Having dyslexia had never given me the courage to write. That is until I discovered blogging. I published my first blog post 18 months ago, participated in the WordPress Blogging 101 course, and haven’t looked back. I agree with you Dylan, that Blogging does not sell you many books, but it has certainly got me interested in writing and given me the confidence to push and publish that first book.
I love your reply, Hugh (and Sue’s too). As I said in my post, there are many good reasons to blog, and I can’t think of any better than to build confidence in your own writing. It’s also great practice as the more you write and hone your craft, the better you get.
Indeed, which brings me to the other side of the coin. Less reading of blog posts and more writing. I had a terrible habit in the past of spending all day reading, liking and commenting on blog posts, and not doing any writing. I’ve sorted that out now 🙂
Thank you, Dylan! Just last night I went to bed utterly dismayed, trying to figure out how to reconcile all the time it would take to write blog posts about writing when I don’t really have much to say that other haven’t already said. I have a blog, but it’s about food and travel! It’s my outlet. It bores me to create intelligent pieces about my process over and over. I’d rather spend the time finishing my novel or outlining my next children’s book. Again, thanks! Wonderful words of affirmation to wake up to.
It’s my pleasure and I’m glad this helped. You may find (like I did) that over time you regain your interest in writing about writing, but only do so because you want to, not because you feel you should.
Perfectly stated and something I think most blogging authors can relate to. The time commitment can be huge, and if that is time taken away from our writing, then we have to reassess priorities. Because as you mention, having more books out there plays a bigger role in sales than writing blog posts. As with anything we have to find a balance, and if we can’t, then maybe the blogging has to go, at least for a while. Breaks from blogging can be a good way to recharge the writing batteries.
I love how you regularly announce you’re taking a break from blogging to focus on a project (although I miss the posts). It’s a good example to other writers on how to prioritise 🙂
Thank you. It’s been a while since I’ve taken one. Usually I do in the summer, but with a book coming out in the fall, I figure I best maintain my presence for a while. For me, my blog has been more effective than the other social media venues. But like the gist of your post, I don’t count on it to sell books. Rather I use it as a means to maintain visibility.
I have been giving the whole blogging thing a bit of thought too. I have some serious health issues and haven’t worked for the last year and have put effort into my blog, which wasn’t going to go into work at that point. I am working on a motivational memoir, which hit a huge snag when I developed pneumonia and then needed chemo and that sort undermined the successes I was writing about and overcoming the odds. It hasn’t killed the book but I’ve never to take some time.
I had some advice recently that if you are writing non-fiction that having a blog is helpful with publishing and I have been writing my blog with a view of using some of the material to write my book and also to do some freelance work.
Personally, given there are only so many hours in the day, churning out novels and writing a great blog which people will come back to, are both very time-consuming and unless you’re a hermit, hard to pull off.
I know my blog is distracting me from writing the book in many ways but at the same time, I’m refining my story and gaining so much insight that I don’t think it’s wasted time.
IN terms of promoting books through blogs, I don’t read many book reviews personally although I do write about author talks I’ve been to and I enjoy reading these as well. I’ve enjoyed reading authors blogs who write about life and through getting to know them, I do intend to get the book. xx Rowena
You make a great point about non-fiction that I hadn’t thought about. If you’re blogging supports the area you’re writing about, then I can see the attraction of building an audience through the format.
I wish you all the very best, both with your health and your writing journey.
I agree 100%! Whenever I see a new author with a new blog I want to tell them to stop. Specially if they start a blog about writing/publishing/their journey. There are too many blogs about the same and, in my opinion, and it is impossible to follow and read everyone. Some of the blogs that are already established are superb, and it would be really hard for anyone to follow. I love reading blogs though but I like the ones that are interesting, unique, and present new material or a new perspective about the writing journey. I think now, when people start blogging, they need to get creative and do things differently, out-of-the-box, why not? I have a personal blog, and I post some of my writing which of course, only a few people see, but I’m okay with that. I use the blog as a creative space for my writing. Sometimes it lands me sales because people like what they’re reading. On a regular day I focus on my school visits, marketing, social media and… yes! MY WRITING.
I don’t have an issue if a new author starts a blog to describe their writing journey. If they’re blogging and enjoying it, they should carry on. If, however, they’re writing it in the hopes of attracting a large audience, then you make a valid point.
I personally love the community I’ve met through blogging and there are real benefits to joining that community, especially if you’re new to writing, but selling books isn’t one of them.
Great post Dylan. I started blogging because I thought I should, that I needed the additional platform to sell books, just as you say. I have sold a few books to bloggers, to be honest, but the experience has been so much more than I ever expected. The online community I’ve discovered is fantastic, I’ve learnt so much about the writing and publishing process, plus it’s given me the confidence to share my own work with others – something I found difficult, despite several years working as a freelance writer for other people. However, I can also see how blogging and social media can take away from actual book writing time – I know I have to step back at times to make sure I have time for my own work. I’m about to publish my second book and the plan is to get six out by the end of next year – most are written already but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
And it was great to meet you on Saturday at the Blogger’s Bash – another bonus to all the blogging we’ve been doing!
It’s amazing how many of us start blogging because of this. The good news, as you say, is that there is a wonderful community out there and there are real benefits to blogging.
It was great to meet you, too, however briefly (the perils of a long table). Good luck with publishing six books in a year. I envy you for having most written. I’m still ploughing my way through number three!
Thanks Dylan – yes, I might be being a bit ambitious with six, there’s still a lot of editing and wrapping up plot lines to do. However, book two is only a few weeks away and I’m already starting the editing on book three, so will see how I go 🙂
The one-size fits all approach to publishing doesn’t exist–which is a good thing. It gives hope to wannabe writers who can still dream of the impossible happening, no matter how improbable. But this is a good reminder that even the impossible requires you to get off the @(*$@^! internet and write.
Your last line is true regardless of where you are on the writing journey!
Very nice to meet you on Saturday, Dylan. Interesting post, yes blogging might not get you revenue in terms of sales but it does make you new friends in a blogging community. Blogging should be fun, it should allow you to explore new avenues and possibilities. That’s its appeal for me. Who would have thought I’d be writing haiku, taking photographs, joining challenges, discovering new creative activities? My only worry is I can feel its addictive pull!
It was really nice to meet you too. Like you I see real value in blogging and I don’t think I’ll ever stop, I just wanted to challenge the view that all writers must blog to be a success, whether they want to or not. As you say, blogging should be fun, not a chore.
I love how you put this into words. Like you reached into my mind and pulled out the thoughts. I, too, know many successful book sellers who do exactly what you describe. They have ammassed whole street teams of followers…not on their blog. Their blog provides a few updates and maybe a few author interviews, but they are pounding out the books.
I have been on hiatus from blogging, responding to a few posts that catch my eye. I’m working with an editor now, trying to get my work where I want it to be before releasing, and I don’t plan to release anything else until I have three or four novels ready to go. If someone reads what you’ve written and liked it, they are going to be thristy for more…if you don’t have it out there, they’ll be moving on to the next author and maybe forget all about you. My husband is a reader like that. If I point out to him that I’ve seen a newly published book by an author he’s read and liked, he’ll come back to it, but usually doesn’t go looking.
It’s great that you’re back enjoying writing and focussed on getting your books ready to publish. I know you had a moment a few months back where things weren’t so clear, so I’m really pleased to hear you’re back in the saddle doing what you love the most!
Thanks, Dylan. Beginning in April things sort of went south, but I’m getting back on track, slowly but surely.
Yes, yes and yes. I think we talked about this, didn’t we? How we had been misled and yet found out we liked blogging for the ‘wrong’ yet ‘right’ reasons. I know I lose novel writing time by blogging and I may yet dry the well of one or other but, hey, so what! We have to enjoy what we do, right?
Yes, we talked about it over breakfast and then again when we met up with the rest of the group. I steal all my best ideas this way 😉
I was going to charge but since I seem to get more from you than vicarious versa that may be a Pyrrhic victory.
Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs: and commented:
Great post -Agree with all these points
Thank you, and thanks so much for reblogging this.
Does blogging sell books? Yes and no. When I review books, it’s usually at the request of an author and I receive the book free. I visit many blogs and often end up buying a book because I read a review or saw it on the authors blog.
Personally, the best part of blogging, and probably what keeps me blogging is the wonderful friends I’ve met online. Yes, it is time consuming writing blogs and reading other blogs, but the rewards outweigh the disadvantages.
You’re right, blogs do sell books (especially review blogs), and like I said in my post, most authors will have sold a small number of books because of their blog presence, but if you are blogging purely because you’re hoping to sell your own book, there are much better and easier ways to do it.
But I wouldn’t give up blogging for the very points you’ve made, the wonderful friends I’ve met online (and after this weekend’s bloggers bash, in real life too) and the great writing community.
Well, yeah, write more books works as long as you already have a platform, some prior celebrity or a fair amount of money for promotions. But we all know that it is physically impossible for readers to ever see your book cover or description on Amazon unless you already have at least two sales per day of a given book. That may not sound like much but authors who have two sales a day are the ones who have it made, relatively speaking. And even that only gets your book into lists where avid readers who scan your subgenre for pages will see it. You need more like 30 sales per day in most genres to have a chance at getting readers.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Don’t listen to scams and false promises. Look at the numbers. It does not matter how much readers like your work if they can never see it. It does not matter how many excellent books you write. It’s all hype. The way you get to make money as an author is by having some celebrity beforehand or money for promotions. In the latter case, you still have to be very good, extremely hard working and lucky.
The vast majority of writers will get more actual eyes on their book covers by blogging than through Amazon. Even if our blogs are unsuccessful. On Amazon there will be zero eyes on your book cover unless you already have a leg up.
You’re right that it doesn’t matter how much readers like your work if they never get to see it and you’re also right that it takes a certain amount of sales per day to gain visibility, and blogs can give some visibility, but from my experience and that of many other authors, the amount of work it takes to write and maintain a blog per sale generated is large and there are other, easier ways to gain this visibility.
However, if you blog because you enjoy it (like I do) then there are plenty of other benefits as I’ve mentioned in my post, and the occasional sale is one of them.
Reading all these comments. Wow, and what do I have to say? Here it comes.
I don’t like blogging and never did. I wondered always if I should, but never came around. I follow bloggers and see that they don’t do more than I do, I mean with selling books. so why should I start a blog? It only takes my time. I love writing, yes, but only in my books, not around my books. I tell everything about my and my books in Interviews, when someone takes me. Writing is not a job for me, I write, because my head is full with ideas God has giving me and I have to write them down. They are for my books. I read the blogs, but that is all. Sometimes I think how can people write all that stuff. Well, good for them.
Mailing list? Never again, bad experience. Never like to put my foot into other peoples mouth ever again.
Just an idea coming from me, the author of the Talon series. Writing at the sixed book now.
Thanks so much for sharing. I’m glad you’ve found what works for you as a writer by concentrating on your novel writing.
thank you so much. I’ve always suspected this. And its a relief to hear it said
Not everyone agrees with me but my advice for all writers is to find their own way. Don’t stick to dogma, try things out but if they don’t work, discard them and do something else instead.
Reblogged this on authorkdrose and commented:
Ever Thought This?
Thanks so much for reblogging this. I’m glad you found it interesting. 🙂
I couldn’t agree more! A couple of years back I was forever seeing writers blogging about the fact that they couldn’t think of anything to blog about to fulfil their supposedly required quota of two posts a week, or whatever. Ludicrous. I blog once a month or three times a week, depending on if I have anything to say, and that’s the end of it. Often, writers pay so much attention to promoting the blog that it isn’t even apparent that they write novels. And I’ve never once bought a novel because I enjoyed someone’s blog posts, though I’ve often bought on impulse because of a tweet, or a review on a book blog, or a random Amazon spotting.
The good thing about blogging is the connections you make; I tend to sell books via it once I comment on other people’s blogs and they get to ‘know’ me. The mistake I think many writers make, though, is only blogging about writing; this narrows your audience down to other writers only. I think, blog because you want to, but not because you think it’s a way of selling books, because it won’t.
Ah, the old “I haven’t got any ideas on what to blog about so here’s a picture of a cat” blog post. I have bought books because I’ve enjoyed somebody’s blog. Sometimes they’ve met my expectations, sometimes not, but the reason I bought the book was nearly always because I’d formed a connection with the author, rather than because I was drawn to the premise of the book.
I remember that conversation on Saturday. We all said the same thing. Writing a book takes so long, and is such a solitary experience; blogging provides that human interaction and feedback we all need, and is an instant source of gratification with every post we publish. As a platform for selling books, no. Whoever said that was fibbing. Big style! But blogging is also FUN. Let’s not forget that. I know it doesn’t sell my books, but I enjoy doing it, love the community I’ve become part of, and wouldn’t stop. But its also true that I could have written a novel or two in the time it has taken me to research, write, publish my posts, reply to comments, and read fellow Bloggers posts!
Absolutely, Ali! Blogging is fun and I’d encourage anyone to blog. You do have to be careful that it doesn’t turn into yet another form of procrastination but the benefits of blogging are many. Just not necessarily in book sales. 😉
Yes… Sadly that is true!
I’ve had this same discussion with other bloggers, and I think there are other reasons why a writer would choose to blog than the ones mentioned in your post and in the comments. I sporadically apply for paid writing gigs because my ultimate goal is to get paid for my writing, not to sell a novel, and I know it’s been helpful (or perhaps it’s been hurtful?) that when an editor asks to see a sample of my writing, I can give my blog url. Depending on your writing objective (sell your writing vs. sell your self-published novel) the goals of your blog would be different, but this is where I’m at right now.
Also, where I’m at right now is that I also use my blog as a sort of laboratory where I can experiment with voice, subject matter, and length. There’s stuff that I learn about my writing and myself on my blog that I hope to apply elsewhere.
Finally, I think blogging gets a writer thinking about actual readers (instead of the fantasy readers you imagine in your head). Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not.
These are really good points, Karen, and add to my view that writers can get a lot out of blogging. Playing around with your style, learning how to write concisely and coherently, and finding subjects that spark your creativity are all really useful skills to develop for any writer. Getting instant reaction from your audience is also a good thing, it helps lessen the fear of promoting your writing in public and also teaches you you can’t please everyone! 😉
What a fantastic post! I have just launched my new blog having blogged previously under my pen name about my writing journey! Ring any bells? Now I have a completely new blog where I can just be me, I might blog about writing, but I might blog about anything else too. That’s becuase I want to use it as a platform for expression and for connecting with others, not to try to sell books. This post for me, summed up everything that I am hoping to achieve with my new blog and hats off to you for hitting the nail on the head! Also, Suffolk? UK? Me, also. 😊
Thank you! Yes, I’m in Suffolk, UK or God’s country as I like to think of it. It’s lovely to meet another Suffolk writer (there’s a few of us about). Good luck with the new blog!
Thank you! I am not a Suffolk writer though, I am a Wiltshire one – farming country! 😉
Reblogged this on AnnMarie Wyncoll and commented:
This sums up what my new blog is all about and could not be written in a better or more informative way. Well worth a read.
Blogging is blogging. It isn’t flogging. Sounds trite but I really think they are two totally different activities. I blog because it’s somewhere to post bits of writing and pictures, but as a platform for selling books, it’s a non-starter. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the advice given to us about author platforms is a load of bollix. The only way to get your self-published book noticed (unless you get really lucky) is to pay for advertising. Otherwise too few people even know your book exists to get your sales off the floor. Blogging is fun. Flogging an indie book is hellish.
“Blogging is blogging. It isn’t flogging.” – I think I need to produce a poster of this 🙂
You’re one of the most consistently creative bloggers I know, rarely writing about writing but just creating and sharing, so it’s good to know you have the opinion.
I intended to say how rewarding blogging has been in the people I have ‘met’ and how supportive they have been. The world of selling is like shark-infested waters, blogging is the tranquil lagoon. Sharing with bloggers is not at all the same thing as trying to convince the masses to ‘buy my book’. It’s sheer pleasure 🙂
Great points. I don’t have a blog to sell books. I have a blog because I have a passion for poetry. Best place to unleash that passion is in the blogging world. I do use that blog to promote my stories from time to time, but really a blog is just a place to connect and not feel like you are on a writing island. Selling thousands of books probably will never happen on a blog unless you’re Stephen King, but it is nice to have some kind of small platform.
Reblogged this on Beyond the Precipice.
There are writers, and bloggers. Maybe it’s as simple as that? Thanks for another fascinating post, Dylan.
Hi Dylan. I’m so glad you wrote this post, it has helped me greatly. I started my blog at the same time that I had my first magazine article published back in January 2013. For the past two and a half years, I’ve been writing my first book (still writing the first draft), continuing to submit for publication so I can to help get myself ‘out there’ and build up my writing portfolio and of course blog. I love blogging for the reasons you cite at the end but am very aware that it is holding me back from completing my book and I am growing ever more despondent about it. I desperately want to get my book finished and several times this past year I’ve resolved to take a break from blogging to do so, as I know that there is no way I can get it done, distraction free, without doing so, even just for a short while. But I know how much I will miss my blogging community and I do enjoy blogging very much. I find it really helps give me a different focus and ‘play’ with my writing as it gets heavy at times with my memoir, and I need to come up for air. It’s so interesting what you share that the general consensus is that blogging doesn’t help with book sales. I’ve read a few articles recently saying just this. But I’ve learned so much about writing in general through blogging and I don’t know what I would do without it! For me, it’s a fantastic outlet on so many levels. Yet…yet..! Your post has come at just the right time for me, for which I thank you. Perhaps I do need to take some time out, get my book written, and then return to blogging. Maybe 😉
I think it’s all about balance and prioritisation. Sometimes blogging and the need for community is more important than the need to progress your story, other times it’s the reverse. There is no hard and fast rule. However, for anyone who wants to write a book, there’s no getting around the fact it takes a lot of time and effort. How much of your time you devote to writing is really down to how desperately you want (or need) to get the words out there. Good luck, Sherri, however you decide to take things forward.
You said it exactly, and thank you so much Dylan, I really appreciate that.
Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
Does this mean it’s already time for me to stop blogging again?
No! It just means you should do it for the joy of blogging 🙂
Reblogged this on Anita & Jaye Dawes.
Thanks so much for reblogging this!
You know, what really bugs me about writing is that there is no direct contact with readers online. No matter which social media I choose, I have to small- talk, build relationships or entertain someone on my blog. There has to be a better way. Whenever I can contact a person I get results. The problem is, there are not many places online that actually allow personal contact. I have started a blog but I held off for a long time because I figured that I would have to work just as hard to get visitors to it as I did trying to get readers for my novels. I was right.
I’m guessing by direct contact you mean the ability to sell or promote your writing. I think the problem here is that you want to use a social platform to sell whereas most people want to use it to be social. If only a handful of authors used it in this way it wouldn’t be a problem but unfortunately tens of thousands try to do the same thing and understandably readers feel under siege from all the “buy my book” posts and tweets.
The best way of doing what you want is to set up a mailing list and use adverts plus some form of offer (usually a free book or novella) to attract readers to sign up. That way, they give you permission to sell to them. It’s not a quick process but it can be effective.
Thanks for the comments Dylan. Don’t know if I can explain it right but what I mean is there is no site where readers can go and let authors know what kind of book they are looking for or vice-versa. If you set up a booth in a mall, for instance, you get to meet people directly. They see what you have to offer and they either buy it or they don’t. Social media is not like this. It has become a venue to try and sell a service by building relationships in the hopes of getting a sale. I’m not sure it was meant to be that way. The same thing goes for starting a blog or having a website. it’s a place where you try to impress someone, if you get them to visit in the first place, to try and get sales. Let’s face it, would we do all this for no reason?
I understand where you’re coming from but for most people, social media is a place to be social and they get annoyed if it’s used to sell stuff – at least too aggressively. Really the only option we have to have this face-to-face interaction is either our own blogs or on something like an author page on Facebook. where people opt in to receiving theses notifications.
I understand your frustration (believe me, I know exactly how hard it is to gain visibility for my work) but the trick is to think less about what I (or you) want from author/reader interaction and more about what our readers want. If we prioritise giving them what they want, while at the same time getting what we want, everybody is happy. However, I’ve yet to come up with a quick way to do this.
I’ve tried everything I can think of to get readers interested in me. I posted a contest all over social media sites and I do get visitors to my blog but nobody signs up for anything.
It’s really hard. Unfortunately, unless you are very lucky, self-publishing is a long game where you win readers over one at a time. I wish you all the best of luck and don’t give up.
Too stubborn for that. lol.
Dylan, thank you for addressing nonfiction. It’s rare to find articles in the writing community that do, and most of my clients are publishers of nonfiction.
Content will definitely drive your establishment as an industry authority and lift your reputation quickly.
You’re more than welcome. I’m afraid my knowledge of non-fiction publishing is fairly limited, but it’s an important part of the landscape that us fiction writers tend to forget.