should you post your fiction on your blog?
Should an unknown, unpublished writer post her fiction on her blog in an attempt to build her readership and perhaps get ‘discovered’ by an agent or editor?
Maybe not so much.
Because even when your fiction is free, it isn’t free.
It demands time and energy with no guarantee of pay-off.
There’s also the opportunity cost, the thing the person could have been doing instead of reading your stuff.
Remember that attention is the currency of the Internet. No matter how advanced technology gets, there’s only so much attention to go around. The human mind can only focus on one thing at a time. So the price of your fiction is two or five or fifteen minutes in attention-dollars, and that’s a lot to ask from a stranger who doesn’t know you and doesn’t yet trust that you are worth the investment.
First you have to close the trust gap.
You can start to do that by giving the reader something she already knows she wants.
Remember that people tend to have very different reasons for going online than they do when they’re picking up a novel (or downloading it onto their iPad or iPhone or Kindle). They might be bored, or kind of lonely. They might be looking to kill time. They want diversion, connection, entertainment. But generally they’re also looking for information. For an answer to a question, a solution to a problem: some kind of takeaway that will make them feel productive for going online in the first place.
Which is why the most popular and best-known blogs tend to be prescriptive (Get Rich Slowly, Problogger, Copyblogger, Zen Habits) even if they lean toward the personal and confessional (Brazen Careerist). Even the more personal bloggers will draw upon their life experience to find some nugget of life wisdom to impart to their readers (Cleavage, Communicatrix) and they’ll do it in a quick and breezy way.
People online tend to skim, to scan. Chances are they’re not reading closely.
The stuff that does best online is the stuff that is blatantly and obviously useful.
This is also the stuff that gets shared.
And you want readers to share your stuff, to pass it around their networks: tweet and retweet it, toss it on their Facebook pages, link to it in their blogs and email it to friends. You pull in new readers this way. Some of them will come back to your blog again, and then again, and turn into fans. And this, when it happens, is awesome.
Someone might read your fiction, and enjoy it, and even comment on it. But chances are they’re not going to share it. If you pay attention to the blog posts circulating around your network and bubbling up in your Tweet and Facebook streams, you’ll see what I mean.
The purpose of your blog is not to sell someone on your fiction. It’s to attract them into your orbit, and then to keep them there — keep them returning to you — long enough to develop a sense of trust and familiarity.
People will buy books (and other things) from people that they like. From personalities that they resonate with.
(If I like a blogger/author, I’ll often buy their books even if they’re not my thing and I have no intention of reading. But I want to support them. I know that I can always give them away to someone much more likely to be their Ideal Reader.)
It’s possible to write about your novel, or to write about writing your novel, in ways that other readers will find useful and interesting. But this segues into the whole question of Well then Justine, then just what the @(#*$ do I blog about? and that, my friends, is for another day.
(And also for the comments section below. If you have any thoughts on the matter, please share!)
image by Sergey Konyakin