Camp NaNoWriMo is still taking up my free time, so another guest post
By Autumn Birt
Start a Blog. It is one of the first pieces of advice given to aspiring authors. And it ends there like those three words provide all possible information on what you should do with said blog. It is like saying “build a rocket” without mentioning target, trajectory, size, fuel, or range!
When I first heard that advice, I was still trying to figure out how to write a book, much less how to format, e-publish, and market. I didn’t even know enough to ask “What should I do with a blog?” Much less the far more important question, “How do I use it to attract readers?” Starting a blog was something on the to-do list, checked off without much thought.
Over five years later and I’ve learned a few things. And one of them is what the heck to do with a blog, especially how it might help you attract new readers. Here are some quick tips to help you out!
By this, I mean everything from post topics to photo scheme. Someone landing on your blog page should know within 20 seconds that you are a writer and in what genre. Use that banner image well! Have it showcase an awesome photo related to your stories or mock-ups of your books. If you have free stories you are giving away, they should be front and center. Don’t leave someone landing on your site wondering what you do and if you are serious about it. Be serious about it.
And the focus does go for post topics too. Your mindset for every post should be “I am trying to attract readers.” So what attracts readers? It might be cooking, but I think there are better topics. Like: what the characters in your story might be cooking. Do they eat dragon? Hydroponic vegetables are grown in zero gravity? Or classic recipes from 1792?
2. Share the Story
One of the biggest mistakes I see new author-bloggers make is they talk only of the writing journey. Which is definitely important. Readers should know this is hard work and a tremendous effort to produce a novel. But you need to share what is going on in the story too!
Readers need to know more than how many months it took you and how many times you almost quit. It doesn’t say anything about what you are actually writing. Share the work you’ve done on creating a synopsis. Get opinions! Share excerpts from the novel, short stories from each of the characters, world building, and research. You spend months creating the background and minutiae of details that end up comprising a whole sentence in the finished novel. Want to know a great place to put all those bits that create the solid framework of the novel without really being visible to the reader? Your blog.
Don’t just tell readers that it took a long time and a lot of work to write a novel. Let them be part of the experience. Show, don’t tell holds true in blogging too.
3. Don’t Make it All About You
No one likes to hear incessantly about someone as if they are a narcissist in a room of mirrors. And that holds true about your blog and your stories. Have posts looking for feedback. Better yet, take that other piece of new writer advice to “read a lot of books” to heart and write book reviews! What better way is there to attract readers than to help them find new books?
Network with other authors. Offer guest posts and interview fellow writers. And don’t forget to reply to comments and thank people for stopping by. If you don’t know where to find other authors to network with … well this is probably a better use of social media than spamming potential readers about a new release. Look for authors in your genre on Twitter under the correct hashtag. Join a writer’s group on Facebook (I have two if you are looking!). The good news is meeting other authors is easier than tracking down new readers.
These three things will get you started. If I had a final piece of advice it would be that readers don’t come overnight. Expecting huge results of new followers and fans to your new blog would be an anomaly. Don’t get frustrated. Just like writing a novel, perseverance will create outcomes. You know very well that giving up produces zero results.
And take it from someone whose fifth blog post hit the front page of Freshly Pressed, fast, early exposure is sometimes not the best thing. I hadn’t found my voice or topic when that happened. I ended up with over a 1000 new followers and absolutely no clue what to say to them. Because I’d randomly started a blog because I was working on a book and I was blogging about every odd and random thing that popped into my head. The post that made it big? It was on Work/Life Balance. Not writing. I don’t think I even mentioned I was a writer in it! Oh to go back now…
I can’t, but hopefully I can give you some advice to get it right! And if you are a writer with a blog, I’d love to see it. I’m looking for a few writing blogs to go over and feature in my next course: Blogging for Authors. So if you don’t mind exposing your website to a critical eye and getting some feedback on things to tweak, leave a comment with your website in the notes below!
Best of luck and happy blogging AND writing!
Autumn is a best-selling author in fantasy, epic fantasy, and war – not all of the same series, though! She is the author of the epic fantasy, adventure trilogy on elemental magic, the Rise of the Fifth Order. Her newest series is Friends of my Enemy, a military dystopian/ dark fantasy tale laced with romance. Friends of my Enemy which was released in full in 2015. Meanwhile, she is working on a new epic fantasy trilogy, Games of Fire, set in the same world as the Rise of the Fifth Order. If she stops goofing off and enjoying hobbies such as hiking, motorcycling, and kayaking, she may even be able to release all the books in 2016. Book 1, Sparks of Defiance, was released in March!
Stop by her website and blog to learn more about the worlds of her books and to pick up writing tips, workbooks, and courses at www.AutumnWriting.com. You can also find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Author.Autumn.Birt or more frequently on twitter @Weifarer.