November 13, 2012

Mad Author with a Blog

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Jenny just posted yesterday about the relationship between art and marketing; today I'll be following it up with a post on the latter subject - though I should hope it will be helpful for those of you who are currently blogging purely for fun.  We all envy you.

For those of you who have done some research on publication and read blogs dealing with the subject, you've probably already heard the concept of building a platform.  It's popular - I know of one book on the subject, and I'm sure there are plenty more - and can be made to sound quite frightening, but the basic idea is that of planting yourself deeply and squarely in your field.  In writing, this means marketing to your audience: fiction or nonfiction; middle-grade, young adult, adult; men or women; fantasy, historical, dystopian, what-have-you.  This is what makes "knowing your audience" so important, because marketing your young adult dystopian to middle-aged fans of World War II history is not only silly, it's also a waste of everyone's time.

Building a platform can take many different forms, but one of the most common nowadays is starting a blog.  It has a number of advantages over sites like Facebook or Twitter; authors can write lengthier posts on weightier topics (it's hard to be weighty in 160 characters!), but still interact with readers.  A blog also allows more of the author's voice and personality to come through and gives potential readers a better idea of what the author's book might read like.

But there are very rarely advantages without some disadvantages.  While blogs are fun at the start, when ideas are simply brimming in our minds, they can lose their charm fast and leave us quite disillusioned.  If you want to maintain a blog and use it as a platform, you have to be dedicated to it.  You can't just quit when the ideas won't come; you have to go after inspiration with a club, as Jack London would say.  ...Did say, even.  Blogs are also quite a bit of work to maintain, unlike a Facebook or Twitter account (although I confess I fail in the latter respect).  You can't just log in, type a one- or two-line comment, submit it and go your way.  You've got to make time to sit down and think out, and type out, a post of at least a couple paragraphs and some worthwhile content.

Content, too, can be a difficulty.  Glancing over the blogs I come across, I find an alarming number of ones where the writer seems to have started and then lost either interest or ideas or both.  This may mean that the last post was put up in February 2009, or it may mean that the writer has struggled along with a post per month on random and unimportant aspects of their lives.  Readers learn about the author's fifth cousin who has a deathly illness, or the author's new poodle-greyhound-Great Dane puppy, or sometimes hey! look! my new book released: whaddya know?  This is obligatory blogging combined with purposelessness, and it results in boring reading and a jittery platform.

If we want to undertake a blog for anything more than a sort of public journal (which I confess I don't understand), we have to think about it beforehand and use some sort of plan and schedule in the process.  It isn't necessary to post every day, or every other day, or even every other third day; in fact, posting too frequently, especially if the blog doesn't have more than one contributor, can get repetitive.  But neglecting the blog for weeks on end has the same effect.  It's good to have in mind a general idea of how frequently you want to post.  You don't have to stick to it religiously - at least, I know I don't - but it can be helpful to know what goal you're working toward.

In the interest of building a platform, it's also important to know what topics you want to be posting on. Again, I don't recommend setting this in stone; some people like to set a schedule of posting on one thing on Mondays and another topic Fridays and pictures on Sundays, but that doesn't suit everyone.  Just make sure you know what you're blogging for and what topics you are best suited to write on.  If historical fiction is your genre, perhaps research (but I'd advise you to take this in small doses, because out of context it can be found dull), incorporation of historical characters, and general writing tips.  Don't spend posts rambling about things that readers of the genre don't care about, like your poodle-greyhound-Great Dane.  That's what spots like private Facebook accounts and Twitter are for. 

Spontaneity is fine; it makes the blog more fun.  
Randomness is not; it is the mark of an unfocused mind.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for this! I just published my book with createspace, and was thinking about starting a blog and wondering about the advantages vs disadvantages. Now I am anxious to do one! :)
    *If we want to undertake a blog for anything more than a sort of public journal (which I confess I don't understand)* ---- thank you, you echo my thoughts.

    Becca (B)

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  2. This is a category in which you shine, Abigail.You always seem to have informative, coherent, and concise posts that express exactly what you intend. I like that. My personality seems to be more spontaneous and my blog reflects that, though I know I could grow in the area of posting more "worthwhiles" rather than frippery. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration, Abigail! That's why you're here for us. :)

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  3. Thanks for the great tips! Blogging is fun for me right now since I'm in the "brimming ideas" stage. I've started to build a platform because I hope to publish a novel, so it's good to hear from you that a blog really does work for that.
    I heartily agree that your blog shines! Every post is inspiring. Thank you!

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  4. Thank you for this interesting blog. I hope you will visit my blog and view my new cover. After all, we have the same Dutch publisher ;-)

    http://arithavermeulen.blogspot.nl/

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  5. Becca - Let me know when you start your blog; I'm anxious to read it! I'm sure it will be very enjoyable.

    Rachel - Aw, thank you. I try - but some days it's more of a struggle than others! I really enjoy your blog; your snippets, especially, are always a joy to read. It's one of my favorite blogs on the block, as a matter of fact.

    Kelsey - Blogs are a lot of fun, and they're helpful, too, in allowing readers to interact. They're easier to keep updated than a website, I find; if you post on an at least semi-regular basis, there's no chance for it to become static.

    Aritha - Your cover is beautiful! The designer did a great job on it. I especially love the sunlit look. May I ask what the title translates to in English?

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meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings






Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
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Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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