should you be blogging to help your writing career (or is it a big waste of time)?

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Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a bit of a backlash against blogging and “building author platforms”. Well-written, intelligent posts like this one point out – quite rightly – that blogging might be a waste of time.

But perhaps these posts operate from the wrong set of assumptions. They assume that the goal behind a blog (or social media in general) is “See me! Hear me!” = lots of traffic = book sales. So when this doesn’t work – and it doesn’t – they question the whole point of blogging.

First of all, let me say: your work needs to be excellent.

Your book needs to be excellent (and I don’t mean it needs to be Pulitzer-worthy, it just needs to deliver on whatever that kind of story promises to that kind of reader). There seems to be this belief that a big noisy author platform can make up for mediocre writing, or that excellent writing won’t matter anymore as we all self-publish online.

I’m sorry, but this is bullshit.

Hype doesn’t do well on the web – it’s too one-dimensional, too easily deflated –which means that big-money advertising and pumped-up blurbs will continue to lose their potency. Word-of-mouth will rule. People will take the stuff they like and pass it through their networks, which pass it on through their networks. The cream rises. (Fortunately for us, there are lots of different kinds.)

And we’re all competing to rise.

More and more of us everyday.

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Your blog also needs to be excellent.

Blogging is a skill and an art in itself. It requires practice. It’s a different experience from writing fiction, and it makes different demands on the writer in order to satisfy different expectations from the reader.

Also, it’s still a new form. Still in the process of discovering its identity. What microblogging – Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook status updates – have done is to draw away the bloggers who weren’t quite right for blogging in the first place. Microblogs and blogs are defining themselves against each other in ways that can complement and work towards a greater whole. Microblogs can be about socializing and sharing in ways that pull people in and send them to your blog. Your blog can be about vision and substance. Your blog is your chance to write epic shit. (Your blog also sends people to your microblog. The best way for me to collect a jump in Twitter followers is to put up a worthy blog post.)

Writing epic shit is not the advice a lot of people will give you; they will tell you to write short posts as often as possible. If that fits your natural rhythm, and you can maintain a high degree of quality, then go for it. But I’m no longer convinced that that should be the ideal.

We tend to look behind us, at where the puck has been, instead of where the puck is now or (better yet) where it seems to be heading. Where frequency used to be important – back in the days when fewer people were blogging, when there was less clutter and less competition, and social media was at a different point in its evolution – I think the big thing now is share-ability. You need to write the kind of individual posts that people will bookmark, discuss, send through Twitter streams and Facebook networks. A great post has legs: it walks on for days and sends back waves of traffic. A mediocre post sits there. No one cares. Why should they? Too many options!

But here’s the thing about traffic. It has to be the right kind. When you start out blogging – and I’m just as guilty as anyone – it’s easy to obsess over your blog stats, how many unique visitors per day. Eventually you realize that that’s the wrong focus.

Because what truly matters is your list.

What truly matters is the number of people that you actually capture (through collecting their email addresses). Who agree to let you push out stuff to them. This is called permission marketing, or opt-in marketing. It enables you to send people newsletters and announcements and special offers. It gives you another level on which to build relationships.

Which is what an author platform is: a network of relationships that can generate attention and book sales at any given time.

Writers who can do this will develop a powerful advantage.

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These writers will also, I think, have an entrepreneurial mindset. They will see the blog as one part of a larger picture that isn’t just about (indirectly) selling books but developing a career that mixes self-publishing with traditional publishing. They’ll have the drive for self-education that social media and changing technologies require. They’ll know to constantly tweak that approach, to experiment and evaluate and refine, and also to frame failure in a way that empowers rather than demoralizes. They’ll understand risk: whether it’s giving up advances in exchange for better royalty rates, or investing time, emotion and energy – their own personal capital – into creating something that comes with absolutely no guarantees.

They’ll understand about vision and strategy.

Tweets share; blogs provide meaning and substance; facebook fan pages offer social interaction and feedback; videos and podcasts offer new ways of connecting with readers and new dimensions to their experience of you.

But here’s the thing.

There has to be a point.

There has to be a larger meaning that people can buy into, and engage with, and return to. That improves their lives in some way. Makes the world a better place.

This is the great, amazing thing about a blog, an author platform: it’s the chance to go beyond yourself, to express your values and idealism and Do Something Truly Cool.

Your vision needs to connect to your work. It needs to attract people who will prove to be ideal readers for your work (not all of them will, and that’s perfectly fine). And because your work is excellent – remember? – these readers will become your fans, or true fans, or even your evangelists who will spread the good news about you.

I am not saying that you should try to make the world a better place just so you can sell books. Passion, authenticity and sincerity rule the day. Without them, your platform isn’t sustainable.

I am saying that the two can work together in what Johnny Truant and Pace Smith refer to as profitable idealism. And that “profitable idealism” is on the rise.

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All of this requires a deep level of soul-searching and self-awareness. You need to know yourself. You need to know your strengths, so you can build your use of social media around them. You need to know what you can offer people. You need to know where you’re going and why. You need to know who your people are and where you can find them and how you can make them come to you, and then come back to you. It’s about focused, high-quality relationships instead of a scattershot, as-many-people-as-possible approach. (Quality will eventually lead to quantity, and your online and offline efforts will complement each other and blend together until the line between them blurs to the point of disappearing. )

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You are never just selling a novel. You’re providing a rich, well-crafted emotional experience that the reader depends on for escape and enlightenment.

Your are never just selling yourself. You’re providing a multi-faceted experience of meaning to the people who might – just might – develop into your devoted readership.

This is why the big box bookstores – that sell stuff instead of experiences — will disappear. This is also why individual bookstores that specialize in building community have the chance to rise again.

Writers who can give people the best and most powerful experiences – through their books and perhaps also their platform (both of which are excellent, remember) – and build their lists and networks of readers – stand the best chance of becoming truly influential. Influence is power. As ebooks dominate, and then become the norm, individuals (writers, editors and agents) can become their own brands and form their own imprints. They can publish and promote themselves – and others.

Again, not everybody can do this. Or will want to do this. Or should do this.

There is more than one way to get to Rome, if you know what I mean. You can go old-school, or new-school, or some combination of the two; you could develop a large audience or a small but very loyal, buying-everything-you-produce audience. One thing I’ve learned about writing and blogging is that you can’t predict these things. You can only put yourself out there, be as excellent as you can, and speak from the heart. Build on what works for you, reject the things that don’t, and carve your own path.

But it benefits you to listen, and look around, and pay attention to that hockey puck. It’s good to know where it was. It’s even better to know where it’s going. You don’t want it to smack you in the face.

‘Cause that would suck.

Feb 22, 2011
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54 comments · Add Yours

Great thoughtful post.
I always wondered when the backlash against blogging would begin, but if you don’t put yourself on the interweb, then who is going to do it for you? Another great thing about blogging is that it helps you to find your voice and audience.

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I’m so glad I caught your post topic on twitter! These are excellent words of advice. I’ve realized I sometimes do sacrifice my own personal syle so I can abide some supposed blogging rule. Thank you for writing this post.

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I have nothing of value to add, just that I read this post and thought it was fantastic.

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This is absolutely fabulous. Thank you.

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I would love to believe you’re right about the issue of privately owned bookstores having the opportunity to flourish. I miss small book stores!

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Really well put. I think it’s important, too, that if you’re going to blog that you really enjoy blogging. A blog done purely out of a sense of obligation isn’t going to be very successful.

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Very insightful!

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Thanks for the post. I’ve been a bit of a lame blogger on my writer site for a few months now, but just yesterday I decided that I had to get it under control. Things are looking up. Some people do well with blogging other people do better on Facebook. It’s up to the individual to figure out what works best for them.

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I still don’t see the point of blogs. Being a great author does not equate with being a great blogger. You could easily substitute ‘author’ with any profession, and ‘blogger’ with any social media. It makes little difference to the outcome – you either create something great or you don’t.

And this isn’t a backlash ‘blogs are wrong’ reply. I genuinely do not see the point of blogs. I’ve been observing and thinking about them for years and simply have never had an ‘aha’ moment. Some people seem to have a need to write, often. Blogging is a good way to sharpen the saw. It’s a convenient and massively available channel. It’s easy to use. It’s free. It’s also abused as a promotional medium.

I think the most important thing, always, is to be yourself and reflect yourself in the blog. There’s no need to promote your book at all. I read Justine’s blog because she is an interesting person with depth and texture and she makes me think. Have I bought any of her books? No. Will I ever? No idea. Things change.

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First time here…this was not only interesting, but great advice. “I’ll be back,” as one very well-known Terminator once said.

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Everybody, thanks for your comments.

Eeleen — I’m a big believer in that (how a blog helps you find your voice and your audience). I’m a better novelist for my blogging and have a deeper sense — or so I like to think — what my themes are, what resonates for others as well as with me. (Although time will tell….)

Simone — the worst thing you could ever do is to sacrifice your own personal style! Sometimes the best thing to do is to zag when everyone else is zigging. You don’t want or need to reinvent the wheel — there’s a lot of great people out there to learn from — but you do want to adapt it to you (instead of the other way around). Play to your strengths and your personality. That sets you apart.

Stace — yeah, absolutely. I meant to make that point myself :: smacks forehead ::. Although even if you don’t think you’d like it, you could be surprised, if you find a way to frame it through your own interests & passions. A blog can be your own personal quest for knowledge in an area that intrigues you, that also happens to intrigue other people. I’ve had the best response to posts about subjects that, when I started this blog, I knew the least about — but wanted to learn, think about, discuss… So a blog can be a great form of self-education.

Lovelyn — that is a hugely important point. There are so many social media tools, to spend time on something you don’t enjoy and that doesn’t work for you makes no sense whatsoever. You should do what feels fun and easy (or at least easier).

Rob — You make good points, and I am honored, thanks. And feel free to never ever buy anything I write. Ever. I’ll still give you blog-love. :)

Judith — how much do I love the movie Terminator 2? SO MUCH. :)

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Right on target with a discussion from our writers group this evening! Some of us have blogs, all in various stages of update and relevance, and some are just thinking of starting because we ‘should.’ I’m passing this on to all the members of my group.

Thank you for such a well-crafted piece.

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Nice to see something of substance to go with all the instructions on how to engage social media.

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You are made of awesomeness. Excuse me while I revamp my blog.

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Interesting post. I’m watching with interest as some bloggers have started to institute a system whereby readers must pay to read blog entries. I have to admit that this practice totally turns me off, especially when some of them are perhaps super-star bloggers but haven’t demonstrated any experience in any other venue. I think that you’re right: if a blogger is just telling me how to be a hot-shit blogger or worse yet berating me about how I’m living my life and extolling the virtues of the way they live their lives, I’m not sure that constitutes a “high quality” relationship.

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Erin — I also have trouble with the idea of pay-to-read-blogging. Paid membership sites, products & services, subscriptions — all that stuff is great. I am all for premium content.

But it seems to me that blogs want to be free…

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Hi again Justine,

I give you high scores for your blog, which in many ways, at least for me, are text book lessons about writing, publishing and marketing. Each post is a complete package of insight, which doesn’t necessarily invite comments from your readers, except perhaps responses of appreciation for your content, which you get.

But this post was different, because YOU replied to US. It felt more personal, more connected, more balanced, less like a teacher-student relationship, more like a gathering of “friends.” Your comments to our comments told me you care about what we have to say, as opposed to publishing advise and stepping away to think about more content. I wish you’d do more of that.

Irv

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Excellent! Thank you so much for saying what needs to be said. When my clients tell me they are writing a book, I ask why. If the answer is “because a book will make me famous,” or “because I need a book on my resume,” or “a book will make me money and bring me fame,” I discourage them from writing it. The only reason for taking on a book is because you have something to say and want to tell an excellent story well.
Blogs? Writing every day makes you better at writing every day.

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Hi Irv–

You are so totally, absolutely, incredibly right, and thank you for saying. I actually don’t mean to come off in a master-student kind of way — more in the sense of someone on a journey inviting other people along. I do tend to get lost in the ideas, the content, plus I can get a bit shy/overwhelmed. But the worst, stupidest thing I could do is “stepping away”, as you put it, and so this is my promise not to do it anymore.

And if I regress, you have my permission to chide me appropriately. :)

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Quinn — that’s so true. It’s one thing to know you ‘should’ or ‘need’ to write a blog or a book…it’s another thing completely to write from that emotional sweetspot, that fire in your belly, and I think that’s what readers truly want and crave. The sweetspot. The fire. Because then you know you’re going to maybe get something you haven’t gotten before.

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Justine- I love your blogs from the heart. They are full of Epic Shit!!!! I eschew all blogs as a waste of time except for yours and Ann Mini’s Author! Author! She’s and editor and author with very specific how too’s regarding format, queries, synopsis, and so, so much more. Between you two I will have ‘no other blogs before me.’ haha

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Great post. Lots of food for thought here – and I’ve been thinking a lot about this stuff lately.

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Wow – fantastic thoughts here. Every writer should read this before leaping into the world of blogging. Great post.

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Excellent post! I just started a new blog over the weekend.
Thank you!
I agree with Bridgid: every writer needs to read this!

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Hey Justine-There’s definately a drawback to blogging- it takes up time that I would otherwise use for writing, but it has opened the door for me to meet other writers and many of my crit partners. I wish I had a “Tuesdays at Panera” kind of writer’s group, but I’m in a medium sized Southern city, so it’s a no go, esp since I write paranormal romance. That’s like, fantasy or something. All the women’s fiction writers don’t know what to do with it;) I’m not about the stats. I’m about the community. It’s totally worth it.

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Before I launched my author blog, I sat down with two successful blogging librarians (Travis Jonker and John Schu) and asked them for some advice. Both of them said something similar to you in terms of frequency: short, daily posts are less desirable than longer, more thoughtful pieces. You’re probably right about WHY that’s changed (number of bloggers and services like Twitter). Either way, it’s good advice. Less than two months into my blog and I’m already seeing a direct correlation between labor-intensity and reader engagement.

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“You are never just selling a novel. You’re providing a rich, well-crafted emotional experience that the reader depends on for escape and enlightenment.”

Wow. This is exactly why I love reading and also want to write. I blog pretty sporadically and according to whether or not I feel like I really have something to say. Don’t really have an audience but I don’t think that’s the important part right now. I’m still figuring out who I am as a writer and blogging is a great way to do that.

Lovely post as always! =]

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Excellent post. I’m actually helping an author set up a blog before her memoir comes out in August, good timing here. You hit on the key point — the blog has to be good. I define that not just as well-written, but bringing value to the reader (as you do). If you expect them to keep coming back, don’t sell to them, give to them. The ancillary benefits of the blog come in other ways.

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Excellent post Justine, THANK YOU. You’ve articulated beautifully the intangible ‘thing’ that’s been bothering me about what I now call ‘content panic’! If I see one more ‘top ten tips’ I might explode! I will be following your quality blog from now on! BW, Sara

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What a refreshing post, Justine.

I’ve been blogging sporadically for the past 6 months. And doing a lot of reading about blogging – mostly what I’ve encountered is a focus on blogging as a marketing tool – and you have to do it daily for visibility, you have to do it frequently (several times a week)….

I have subscribed to a significant number of blogs to learn and observe and find that the volume of posts is overwhelming and much is quite repetitive (with a few nuggets if you read carefully).

So reading quality blog posts as they emerge – not daily diarrhea – works best for me.

Also just watched your video blog post “Is blogging and tweeting a waste of time?” I appreciate your insights. Thank you.

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I soooo needed to hear this today. Thank you!

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Hi Justine, first time leaving comment here on your blog.
For me, blogging is a way to keep writing, find my voice (eventually!) and, hopefully, inspire others. I try to keep a schedule, but if I don’t have anything worth sharing I’d rather not publish anything. Plus, I feel overwhelmed by bloggers who post every day – or even multiple times a day! – and usually end up not reading none of their stuff. In this time of information overload, I guess that less is more – like in design :)
Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks everybody for your comments! I’m doing an intense workshop in Santa Monica so wasn’t able to get to them until right now (at 6 in the morning).

Margie — your comment put a big grin on my face, thanks.

Kelly — I hear you on writing groups; when I was growing as a writer I felt very odd because I wasn’t writing what other writers were writing (short stories, ‘literary’ fiction). I loved depth of theme and character, but I also wanted compelling plotlines and mysterious supernatural happenings….The community is so totally worth it. Blogging brings you into contact with some incredibly cool people.

Jonathan – “direct correlation between labor-intensity and reader engagement” — really well put. It’s one thing to make yourself ‘visible’ — it’s another thing to make yourself ‘influential’, and it’s the latter that carries real currency and sets you apart. It also requires digging deep & putting yourself out there.

Zali — that’s how I started (with my Livejournal). I plugged along with it because I liked to do it, and gradually I picked up some readers, and I also began to write through some ideas and feel them come together…There’s a level of thinking that happens when you’re writing that doesn’t seem to happen otherwise, so in a sense blogging can show you your own mind.

Patrick — yes, exactly. you have to give your face off. until you make that mental shift — from trying to grab an audience to wanting to give and serve, you’re kind of writing in circles.

Sara, I Write — I like that term ‘content panic’! That’s the same issue with writing fiction — it’s not enough to know how to do it, you have to have something to say. So how do you find your subject matter, the content that you write from your emotional sweetspot that resonates with others? That will engage and develop an audience?

Cristina — I think blogging is a great way to find your voice, and I think finding your voice is so important that that alone makes blogging worthwhile. It’s great that you try to keep a schedule — I want to make more of an effort to do that!

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Thanks for sharing the great advice about blogging. This was very helpful as I think about how I want to focus my blog. I especially liked the fact that you stressed we should not be blogging purely out of a sense of obligation. We must enjoy the process for the end result to be engaging to the reader.

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I found this post full of interesting things to think about. Thanks!
I want to respond to Rob’s comment (one of the early comments). I’m not really much of a blog person either, and for a long time didn’t “get” blogging. (I still *really* do not understand Twitter!) With all the talk about how authors should have blogs, however, I began to think about what I would want to blog about if I were to have one – not an “I’m an author, go buy my stuff” blog, but what I really want to have a cyberspace conversation about. So I started a blog on relief block prints and juvenile fantasy: http://nydamprintsblackandwhite.blogspot.com/ As far as I know it hasn’t generated any sales of any sort, but the real bottom line is that I’m having a wonderful time!

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I love this, and totally agree with the philosophy behind it. I have a writer’s blog and an author’s blog for my fiction work. My blogging had been haphazard at best, but I’ve discovered that it’s a different set of writing muscles — and it does provide a sense of personality, “brand” and a great way to list build. I’m glad I found your site, and I’m looking forward to reading more!

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Hi Justine! :)
I really liked this article and in poking around, there are some others I’d like to read as well! If you don’t mind, I’m going to both link your site as one of my faves to MY blog as well as showcase this post! :)
thanks!
Lara
http://www.teaandink.blogspot.com
http://www.lara-lalaland.blogspot.com

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Great question. Should you be blogging? Of course. Should you be tweeting? Depends. Can both of them help your career? Abso-f-in-lutely.

Here’s my example. I left Dell over two years ago at the beginning of the economic slide. I was lucky enough to be part of the famed Dell Social Media team, so I rode that wave for a while. I came screaming out of Dell, thinking I was going to be (or become) a social media strategist. BUBBLE BURST.

So then I was looking for work. Consulting in social media, maybe, but it sure was hard to express the economic value of Twitter to a small company with limited resources became harder and harder as the recession wore on.

Jump forward to January 2011. A recruiter was looking to fill a “social media” position with a healthcare company here in Austin. And he found me via my blog. And specifically my eHealth page on my blog. http://uber.la/ehealth

So did my 2+ years get me my new job as Director of Social Marketing? Yes, yes, I believe it did. Does it pay to blog? Well, you can answer that yourself can’t you.

Thanks,

JMac
@jmacofearth

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“Hype doesn’t do well on the web.” I like that. Hype quickly becomes invisible; blog readers have quick-acting filters that let them see just what they want to find, I think, and hype ceases to exist. Works that way for me. Sincere content is what works. I started my blog, Flogging the Quill, over 6 years ago to write about writing and in hopes of garnering some editing business. I’ve made a few (very few) bucks from it, but now the rewards are rich in the readers that are part of a little FtQ community that helps other writers in my twice-weekly crits of opening pages. Very satisfying. You get what you give–nowhere is that more true that on the Internet and in blogs.

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Good stuff here. I began blogging over two years ago now, without any awareness of the whole blogging platform for authors stuff you mention. I write as things pop up in my life, both personal and professional. I’m free and easy about how often I post and about what. My readers know there will always be something to surprise them or challenge them or simply entertain.
For me it comes down to community, of meeting wonderful people I’d never otherwise “meet”. Same with Twitter. It took me a while to get the hang of it. I’ve made friends.
I don’t think I could blog or tweet just to sell books; I think I’d be too embarrassed!
Viv

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Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I adore your blog!

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Wow. This is a great post. Epic. I’ve been trying to articulate to myself the exact message of this blog.

Well done, you!

Shelley

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I admit I don’t really follow any blogging rules, and I don’t like the idea of having a scheduled “I post this on Mondays, this on Wednesdays and this on Saturdays” or whatever. I prefer to let it develop organically. And yet there ARE some things I avoid talking about, i.e. my personal life for the most part (the occasional allusion is fine, but not in any great detail), religion/politics, and basically anything not related to writing or interacting with the blogging community in general.

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Great info! It’s nice to see someone with a strong opinion that can share it in a logical and useful way. I began blogging just to offer my expertise in case it helps other writers. It’s based off my book of the same title, but they have different information in different formats. My fiction writing and platform (if you could call it that) are a bit separate. I didn’t have the clear thought until I read this, but I do agree that many authors think blogging is all about selling books. In Book Promoting 101, I even encouraged authors to start a blog or other way of communicating with readers to connect with people and promote their books, and now I see it’s a fine line but important distinction.

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Justine, responders to Justine, and the rest of the writing world:
I have blogged. I am not a Luddite, although I have refrained from “social networking” because it seems a time-virus which would/could eat away at the moments I have to actually write and revise my novels and short-stories. I hear from writer compatriots that it can (shifting metaphors) suck you dry.
On the other hand, I would like to get my work out to whatever wider world might pay it attention (dare I think of money?), and I suppose in these post-post-modern times of fewer publishers, more writers, and a wildly unconstrained web world, I “should” re-establish my web presence.
It’s just that, when I say to myself, “Okay, pal, today you’re going to spend ‘e-presencing’ yourself,” I go off on another bit of story-telling and feel good at the end of the day.
How much of your time, Justine, is spent writing fiction, compared to the web-presence stuff? You are young; I am old. You are building a career; I’m trying to forget mine in the more-real world of story-telling. This might explain the difference between us, but I remain curious about how you parcel out your time and, perhaps of equal importance, what kicks around inside your skull when you’re away from both? Is it story-stuff or web-stuff?
And not-so-by-the-way, you say good shit in your blog. Thanks for it.

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As you said earlier, the most important thing is to make your writing excellent. That also goes for your blog–make it excellent.

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Enjoyed this post very much. Your points are well taken, and are in line with my own opinion on blogging.

I like to keep the blog posts timely, in line with events in the real world when possible (probably latent journalistic tendencies there). Referred here by Nathan Bransford’s blog. I’ll come back again to visit.

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Jmac — I wrote a fairly lengthy personal essay for Marie Claire last summer — the editor reached out to me to commission the piece, and how did she find me? Through the blog. So I can relate.

Kristen — Dan Blank and I were discussing the definition of ‘author platform’ and although we were working off slightly different variations on it, we easily agreed that it is all about the reader-writer connection, that collective relationship (which breaks down into lots of individual relationships). Which, I think, is what ends up selling books — because people resonate with your writing, your mind. I think maybe a lot of writers, especially aspiring writers, don’t trust their writing enough to let it speak for itself, or are hesitant to reveal themselves — through their passions, interests & opinions, not through personal pointless oversharing — in the way that blogging demands. Really glad you’re teaching this stuff, there seems to be such a hunger for it (I started this blog precisely because of the lack of information at the time).

Senileoldfart — how much did I love your comment? You cracked me up. Thank you. Everyone’s journey & evolution as a writer is very different — there is no one-size-fits-all approach. In my case, yes, I’m investing heavily (in terms of time + mental energy) in quote-unquote ‘platform’ because of a deliberate attempt to send my writing career in a new direction while still continuing to publish under my own name, and also because of my experiences in traditional publishing (which taught me that you want to “own” your career as much as you can). Also, I went through a period in which I just didn’t have the urge to write much fiction, because the book that I truly wanted and needed to write was still incubating in my head. Now, I’m about halfway through the writing of that book, and, yes, struggling with the fiction/blogging balance. But I love to do *both*, and the “platform” has become its own, exciting thing, because I’m writing about ideas that I’m in love with, passionate about. Also, a powerful platform opens up new possibilities for streams of revenue — self-publishing, coaching & consulting services, etc. — and so that’s in the back of my mind as well.

Fiction-writing and blogging, in my mind, kind of work together, complement each other, play off each other — it’s all about building your body of work — and it’s this approach, I think, this utter belief in what I’m doing, that keeps me from burning out. And the day I stop believing is the day I’ll need to change or reframe my approach.

D.G. Hudson — Yay, glad we agree. Timely posts are great. “Evergreen content” can also prove of real value — content that is timeless, remains relevant, and so keeps drawing readers, gathering links, etc. Come back again!

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Thanks for this.

I’m starting to wonder if I should kill off my poor neglected blog. I really don’t enjoy it. I don’t think I’m particularly good at it either. But part of me, as a writer of genre fiction, feels like it’s expected and so I must.

Maybe not. How about all of us who don’t love blogging, just…stop? Seriously, who would really notice?? If you don’t love it and you’re not that great at it, face it NO ONE IS READING IT. LOL Maybe I’ll do the world a favor and free up some space on Blogger.

Q: fiction writers, what do you think? Do you think we need to try to be good bloggers? I really want to know.

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If you don’t enjoy it, and don’t think you’re good at it, oh my god, please stop. Stop right now. Life is way too short. And you need to play to your strengths, not against them. I don’t think the key is ‘trying to be good bloggers’ so much as finding a way to make blogging (& social media in general) work for you. To adapt it to you, not the other way around.

Can I ask: what is about blogging that you don’t enjoy? Are there elements of social media that you *do* enjoy? Are there any blogs that you read that you enjoy, that make you think, “I might like to do that…?”

It’s possible that you could reframe blogging in a way that connects to your sweetspot. If you could find something that you’re passionate about communicating to the world. Or if you could find something that you want to master, become an expert in, and blog as a way of educating yourself (and others). If you can turn your blog into a kind of personal quest, that can make it a much more meaningful activity for yourself (and thus for others).

Another possibility is a group blog for genre writers (check out http://www.writerunboxed.com as an example of this). If you were part of a group blog, you could still build your platform but wouldn’t have to blog nearly so often.

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Very good questions. What I don’t like is not knowing what to say, or not having something interesting to say. There are elements of social media I do enjoy – connecting with fellow writers, for instance, mostly on Facebook. There are many blogs I admire, though I don’t faithfully follow any. I spot something on Twitter or Facebook and click through. I troll. I’ll admit it. ;) That’s how I got here (nice place btw! :)) I love almost anything and everything about writing fiction and publication. Stories of writers getting The Call, industry news, agents talking about what they’d like to see in submissions, etc… that sort of thing.

The group blog idea is appealing.

All your questions are thought provoking, especially connecting to my “sweet spot”. Maybe I do have something to say, I just haven’t tapped into it yet. ;)

Thanks.

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We didn’t talk much about blogging in grad school, but I got the impression that it was somehow “below a writer with literary aspirations”—lowbrow, pedestrian. Blogs were for people who read Danielle Steele and ate dinner at Applebee’s.

Those bloggers who managed to nab a book deal hadn’t played by the rules. They didn’t trudge the established path to literary stardom by submitting hundreds of manuscripts to literary journals over three, five, or ten years; by painstakingly growing a portfolio to attract the attention of a book contest judge, agent, or publishing house; or by paying homage the literary pantheon with their piety.

Blogging is a free medium, which must make it “pulp,” right? That easy accessibility and manageable learning curve rub against the sensibilities of many struggling creative writers, whose jealousy at the success of “less talented” writers causes them to conclude that bloggers with books deals are, at best, cheaters, and at worst, hacks.

People who feel that way are—like you said, Justine—missing the point. Blogging has helped me establish a sustainable writing rhythm. I write more now than I ever did before. If I publish books the traditional way at some point in the future, great. In the meantime, I’m sharing my art RIGHT NOW, and my writing makes a difference in my readers’ lives. They, at least, are happy that I didn’t take an old-fashioned route.

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Great article. Very passionate. I like this line “You are never just selling a novel. You’re providing a rich, well-crafted emotional experience” It’s something i tend to forget sometimes as I try to make ends meet.

My biggest adversity is the connection generation. i have a hard enough time keeping track of people in the real world and now digital people? How does one organize all the data?

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glad I’ve stumbled on this post from a link at another site. right timing, just starting out a new blog and this will be of great help. I like it when you said: “your are never just selling yourself. You’re providing a multi-faceted experience of meaning to the people who might – just might – develop into your devoted readership.”

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