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EBraten

Do Authors Really Need To Blog?

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Wow, this is a very interesting topic.

 

I am in the process of creating my website now and have been instructed to create a blog as part of my website to help build my platform.  This may sound contradictory but I sort of believe both sides of the coin. 

 

Like Steven, I believe it is important for an author (fiction or non-fiction) to have a website that includes a blog to help build a platform -- especially new authors. I also agree with carolinamtne, a blog "is creative writing."  I haven't decided on the main "content" of my upcoming blog but it will include creative and hopefully inspirational material.

 

However, as EB points out, I believe that "an empty or uninspiring blog is worse than no blog at all."  If maintaining a blog is too daunting and/or the task of creating blog material takes too much time away from writing your books, then you probably shouldn't have a blog. Just as there are no right ways to write a book (outliners vs pantsers, for example), I believe there are multiple ways to build a platform/following and in the end you should pick what works for you.  That's what I think anyway.

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Okay, I have been following this discussion and I believe I am getting the basic pros and cons here. Assuming, for the moment, that I would like to start my own blog, do any of you have any good sites or references for the basics of how to start and maintain a writers blog? I know there is a lot about blogs and blogging out there on the internet, but I was hoping for some advice that pertains specifically to writers; things like best platforms for writers, building and audience for a book release, things like that. 

 

Thanks in advance for any suggestions on where to start and how to proceed.

 

Don

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This article may help.

 

One thing to remember: if you start out on anything other than Wordpress, later down the road, you will probably want to switch to a self-hosted website, your own domain. It's a somewhat difficult process to switch over. Blogger and Wordpress are the two biggies. There are others. Wordpress has two sides: free (dot com) and paid (dot org). Many use wix.com. 

 

Just remember to give the name of your site a lot of thought. If you're a writer, having your own name on your site is pretty much an essential.

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Thank so much, Lynn, for both of these. They are very helpful. Based on everything I have been reading, and your suggestions, I think Wordpress is definitely the way to go. 

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You're very welcome. If you ever decide to use the paid side, there are things you will need to do to keep it running properly Stick on the free side for now. Will help you learn about how things work first. Then, you can upgrade.

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Thanks for sharing your views, Don.

 

I took this question to a Facebook group I'm on, which consists of independent authors who publish mainly in my chosen genre: clean romance. The comments that came back were very interesting. I'd say the opinions were evenly split on the benefits they have received from blogging. One of the group administrators, who has achieved significant success, hasn't updated her blog since 2016! A number of the others have no blog but an author web-site with newsletter sign-ups.

 

One of my main doubts about the value of blogging as a fiction writer is that it's difficult to find material to blog about that will be of interest to the people who you want to buy your book. As I said further up the thread, it's possible to have a successful and widely-read blog, but its audience might be an entirely different crowd to the ones who will actually buy your fiction.

 

On my Facebook group, one author has managed to find a great subject for her blog: she writes about her characters' back stories and various plot decisions she made in her books. That's interesting to her readers, but she admits that there's only so much you can say on that topic. And this material could easily be placed on the author web site instead of on a blog.

 

At the very end of his book The First 1000 Copies, Tim Grahl says that fiction writers may find it more challenging to make blogging work for them. His suggestion is that they blog book reviews of titles within their chosen genre. This, I think, is a great idea because it ensures that you're reading your genre regularly, which is a key part of improving your writing. In addition, it's material that is of interest to a fiction writer's buying audience. Plus, if you only review books to which you can with good conscience give a glowing report, you come off as a good guy supporting your fellow authors.

 

David Gaughran, another respected voice in the indie community, is himself a very successful blogger. His blogs feed into his non-fiction, but he writes fiction as well. He says that fiction writers should blog only if it's something they really enjoy and were going to do anyway, and if it's not stealing time from writing their next book.

 

My point all along has been that, for fiction writers, blogging may not be of automatic benefit. The picture is nuanced.

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Having read the posts above, I have been considering whether a blog is right for me and wondering if anyone would be interested in a blog about my book. Here are some thoughts on what I might include. What do you think? Would you be interested?

 

My book is about the fictional stories of the real-life person of St. Nicholas when he was in his twenties. These are the fictional adventures of young Nicholas of Patara, defining moments in the life of a young man whose legend would eventually become Santa Claus.

 

In a blog, I might include things like:

  • Articles about Christmas from that time period and some of the traditions that evolved into Christmas as we know it today.
  • Christmas themed short stories (backstories) that will allow my readers to sample my writing style but also get to know my characters and what led them to the timeline of the book.
  • Short stories about the actual town that St. Nicholas grew up in. 
  • Articles about life in 300 AD Rome (actually Lycia in what is now known as Turkey).
  • A map of the town showing actual buildings (from archeological records) and the fictional buildings and places that will be referenced in the story.
  • Along with the other contests, freebies, etc. mentioned in the posts and articles above.

Is this the kind of stuff that goes into a writers blog? Would any of you be interested in a blog like this? Would it be worth the work?

 

Don

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30 minutes ago, DonnieQuest said:

Is this the kind of stuff that goes into a writers blog? Would any of you be interested in a blog like this? Would it be worth the work?

I think this is an excellent idea for a blog. Your book, though fiction, will be based on history, so you've got a wealth of material for fans to delve into. Plus, you'll be strengthening your reputation as someone who knows about this subject.

 

People who are interested in history but haven't read the book might also be attracted and end up buying your novel. I'd definitely go for it!

 

I think this is the perfect example of how a blog can feed into your marketing strategy.

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I think it's a great idea as well. However, I have one thought for you to think about: if you write another book, will you be able to include it in your blog?

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6 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

I think it's a great idea as well. However, I have one thought for you to think about: if you write another book, will you be able to include it in your blog?

 

Now there's a really good question! Thanks, Lynn!

 

Also, thanks, EBraten!

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You're welcome! Another thought: you could write a series on the same theme/topic. However, the other thought I had is raised again.

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DonnieQuest, yes I think you could benefit from a blog. It's all about the slant.

With the greatest respect to EBraten, my experience is the opposite. EBraten has said blogging is not for them and marshals evidence to support that view. But that's okay. There are as many for it as against it, I suppose, and it depends on your motives.

I blog for the joy of it.

I started my first Christian blog in 1999. I was reaching 50,000 people each month. It was a general site and I was able to introduce people to Christ and also encourage Christians with articles in various categories. I have spent my life in ministry, in the US and overseas, as a pastor, missionary, educator, but mostly in media ministry. But let say, in it all, there is a real joy in reaching 50,000 people each month from my keyboard.

 

And yes, I was selling my books back then too. It was before Kindle, so I packed and mailed thousands of print books in Jiffy Bags over the years, and was happy when the PDF format came into vogue. I was overjoyed with Kindle and am happy that KDP now does print books in place of CreateSpace.

By the way, I sold that blog to a big ministry. After about a decade they redirected the traffic to another of their websites and my original site no longer exists. I retained the copyright on my content, however, and in the last year or so recycled much of the Relationship Section content in a book.

I continued to blog through ChristianWritingToday.com (CWT), but my motive is different. I want to help writers of all kinds have the joy of reaching people for Christ through media. I'm a strong believer in blogging. and have written a book called "Blogging for Jesus" and feature that topic in a section of CWT.  By the way, I also have a general "tent-making" site (VelocityWriting.com) and a lively YouTube Channel connected to it.

 

Perhaps the question is whether blogging "works" for fiction. It has benefitted many fiction authors. People will find out about your book in ways that would be otherwise impossible. You get to share your life and your faith. It's a win all-around in my opinion.

 

No one is required to start a blog. But my long experience tells me it is worthwhile. I have been able to reach hundreds of thousands or maybe even a million people that I could have never reached sloshing around Siberia or other places where I have ministered. 

 

In my mind, an author, especially a Christian author, needs a "home base."  Your website is more than a place to sell books. You have the opportunity to meet people and influence them for Christ. My approach to blogging is based on 1 Thessalonians 2:8.

 

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12 minutes ago, DonHug said:

You get to share your life

This is exactly what I do not want to do! :D

 

I fully agree with you about the general benefits of blogging. When it matches up with the job in hand, blogging is a fantastic tool.

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Ebraten, can you really be a writer (Christian or otherwise) and not share your life? That concept is totally alien to me.

 

We may write about Amish farms or fantastic planets, but they never stand alone. They all emerge from our imagination, emotions, and experiences, all of which are part of our life.

Bob Dylan used to tell reporters, "My songs are all made up. I never talk about myself." Yet the scenes in his songs are filled with his most intimate moments. For example, his son Jakob Dylan said the songs on the "Blood on the Tracks" album "are my parents talking." Sharing your life, one way or another, is how you get a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Writers may be able to mask themselves in their writing, but the essence of what we say comes from our lives. Sharing our perceptions with the world, in fiction or nonfiction, is what writing is about. 
 
In my view, we Christian writers have an obligation to blend our stories with Christ's story. We may fictionalize events, but our faith, our experiences, our emotions and our expression of them remain true.

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1 minute ago, DonHug said:

Ebraten, can you really be a writer (Christian or otherwise) and not share your life?

I think that she meant she wanted to keep her public/work life, and her personal life separate.  I completely understand and agree with that.  I also agree with you that who you are and what you believe will (or at least should) shine through in everything you do.  😊

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4 hours ago, Alley said:

I think that she meant she wanted to keep her public/work life, and her personal life separate.  I completely understand and agree with that.  I also agree with you that who you are and what you believe will (or at least should) shine through in everything you do.  😊

This is exactly what I mean. My faith and my worldview will come out in my fiction. I don't need to "share my life" in a blog. 

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On 11/5/2018 at 11:41 PM, EBraten said:

This is exactly what I mean. My faith and my worldview will come out in my fiction. I don't need to "share my life" in a blog. 

 

On 11/5/2018 at 6:56 PM, DonHug said:

In my view, we Christian writers have an obligation to blend our stories with Christ's story. We may fictionalize events, but our faith, our experiences, our emotions and our expression of them remain true. 

 

I agree with both sentiments. I do believe we have an obligation to share our testimonies. According to Rev. 12:11, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony,.." However, I do not believe that we have to be a "open book" to the world in order to do that.

 

I believe that the Lord will, through His Holy Spirit, lead us to share what He wants us to share and when He wants us to share it.  That may come in the form of a blog, it may not.  I think we can share our faith and experiences through the books and articles we write without necessarily having to back that up with blog.

 

I don't believe EB, that you would have to sacrifice your personal life for the sake of a blog -- IF the Lord calls you to this. But it is clear at this time you don't feel led to blog and would prefer not to. Thus, I don't think you should have a blog at this time. I believe it would be counterproductive for you to maintain and would take time away from other writing that the Lord is calling you to do.  If the Lord changes that for you at a later date I believe He will make it very plain to you and He will give you the time and the material needed for the blog He wants you to write - IF that is His will for you.

 

As for me, I will have a blog on my website when it's up and running because I believe it's part of what the Lord wants me to do and He has already provided material (personal) for the blog. But again, that is what He is leading me to do. Just as He created everyone to be unique in Him, He works and moves a little differently in all of our lives to fulfill His purpose in and through us.

 

So bottom line, if you feel led to blog (personal or otherwise) then blog. If not, don't! In either case "learn to be content" (Philippians 4:11) and at peace with your decision. 🙂

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Quote

 Peak Reader Love moment.

What a lovely phrase!  We need to use it more often! 

 

On 11/3/2018 at 10:04 AM, EBraten said:

Thanks for the link, EBraten!  I am reminded why I am stalled in the publishing line.  I set this year aside for platform building.  I certainly have a presence, but I need help with the website.  It turns me green thinking about it.  

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