Monday, March 7, 2011

Author Blogs

Viewers here have expressed a lot of interest in talking about blogs. Do we have to? Why? Really?? What goes on the blog? What doesn't? All good questions.

To address the first question: Yes. You do have to. A blog is the easiest way to brand yourself. You control the content, you control the impression and personality that you're sending out. It's really important to create an online persona--a brand--that's separate from your personal life. Recognizing a distinct line between who you are online and who you are in person is vital to avoiding the "oversharing" faux pas that plague social media users. We'll talk more about that, too.

Your blog serves as your hub. You can direct people from your Twitter, Facebook, etc. back to your blog for contact information, info on how to buy your products (even unpublished, you're selling something--don't be fooled), and a cohesive view of who you are. Things get really fragmented out on the Twittersphere.

Of course, the major drawback is that the blog doesn't post stuff on its own (Conspiracy??? I think so.), which means you have to develop a posting schedule and stick to it. Three times a week is pretty ideal. Less than that and things just look sparse.

How to get started: claim and create some blogs (, for instance). Then write up a few posts--maybe two weeks worth--and schedule them to post automatically when you're ready. That'll give you some cushion as you get into the rhythm. Of course, if brilliance strikes, you can insert the post in place of a scheduled one. Then you'll just have a post saved up for a rainy, uninspired day.

Tomorrow: Blog Content. Avoid word vomit. And ruining your career.


  1. I started blogging a little over a year ago (just before my agent landed me a three-book deal for my romantic comedies). Blogging is without question the smartest thing I've done to build a potential readership. A year ago, no one knew my name. Now I have people pre-ordering my August debut and querying my agent to say, "my writing is like a cross between so-and-so and Tawna Fenske." There's no way they'd have a clue what my writing might be like if it weren't for that blog, and they sure as hell wouldn't be ordering the book with no cover or description up there yet.

    Great post!


  2. Looking forward to the blog content part. I have nothing to say that wouldn't get me in trouble.

    You say that everyone should have a blog, but doesn't it seem like 80% of them are saying the same crap over and over?

  3. First of all, if you're not reading Tawna's blog, you SHOULD GO THERE IMMEDIATELY!
    She is hysterical and very smart. And sometimes also informative.

    @Dan Yes! They are all saying the same thing over and over. It's an issue with understanding one's audience. We talk manana.

  4. I completely agree with Dan Krokos and actually worry just posting this is going to get me in trouble.

  5. Great post! I started my (as-yet unpublished) author blog in September, and I've yet to figure out a good system/schedule for posting consistently. It ebbs and flows based on my level of busy-ness, and lately I've been reeeaaally busy.

    I'm very interested in your tips on content. Maybe once I nail that, I'll improve in the consistency department.


  6. What if is already taken by someone who appears to be in the Adult Film Industry?

    Pen Name?

    You know, I bet it's not even her real name.

  7. Eek, I hate to say this out loud, but I agree with Dan and Lee. A website (which, yes, is crucial) can serve equally as well for all the functions you've listed. I'm not sure it's a blog that is necessary, but just a web presence.

    Beyond functionality, I wonder how much a blog helps with marketing for writers of middle grade. Our audience is 8-12 year olds, who, on the whole, are not big blog readers. It seems our (limited) time might be better spent elsewhere, maybe on school visits, etc.

  8. @Monica 9:57 Ack! Sometimes you have to get creative. But try your blogger and wordpress URLs before despairing! You'll notice my blogspot URL is merbarnes.blogspot because MeredithBarnes was taken. Try to pick a nickname or something, although including at least your last name, for SEO purposes, is best. Avoid book titles for URLs--those change.

    @Monica 11:16 Good point! A website does provide a hub for product promo, etc.--but it doesn't let you talk to your audience the way a blog does. What you "say" (write) is how you build that online persona/brand.

    And don't underestimate the MG blog readership. They're arguably the most online of any demographic--even on par with YA.

  9. *is paying serious attention*

    *is a terrible blogger*

    - Liz

  10. I have a working blog for my own personal natterings. I dread going through the whole domain search and then wrestling yet again with WordPress (I always seem to pick clunky themes).

    Blogs are scary things. Simply the way someone communicates on said blog is very telling about his or her personality. I've no issue with blogging, but keeping things in check is difficult. One has to remember that the right to free speech means taking ownership of your words.

  11. Well, this is timely! I just started my blog last week, and am trying to figure out how everything works. Very much looking forward to your next post.

  12. I find blogs increasingly tricky. I love reading author blogs, but do I have anything authorly to say? Not yet, not really. My blog is a way of keeping up with friends and I probably have four or five posts wittering on about my family for every writing post.

    In fact, awareness that it should be a marketing tool has stifled my posting as I get hung up on whether the content gives a 'suitable' impression. I think a static website would be a better choice for me than a pompous blog where I pretend to be something other than a baby writer learning the ropes.

  13. Well, okay. I'm ready to abandon my personal/working blog. What comes next? (Aside from swapping out the uninspiring header)

  14. For the record, your blog is like twice as good as's blog.

  15. Thanks Meredith :) I'll work on picking up the pace!

    Note to self: hold back word vomit. (To be safe, consider deleting the word "vomit" from existing post...)

  16. Playing catch up here. I've been on vacation and just set into motion the 'blogging schedule' before I left. At first I was an every day blogger, and it affected my writing time. Then writing took over and blogging ceased. Balance, that's what the schedule is all about. Balance.