Let’s face it, blogging takes time out of your day that you could spend writing your next manuscript. For some it is a stressor as they try to think up something witty to write about, and for others it’s a nagging task required by the publisher and the apathy that the writer feels comes through in the content.
We’ve all seen it, and some of you have even been in that position, so allow me to say something that might sound radical and totally contradictory to what I’ve previously stated here on Bookseller Chick:
You don’t have to blog.
You don’t have to do it daily.
You don’t have to do it weekly.
You don’t have to blog at all, at least not in the same way everyone else is doing it.
I’m a big fan of author blogging mostly because I’m a big fan of blogging software* that makes it possible for even the more techno-phobic author to update their fans without waiting for their webmaster to update their site. By importing blogging software into the website design or incorporating it under the news link, the author can control how the blogging software is perceived.
Instead of using it as a place to record what you feel you have to, you can use it to update readers about book news, post excerpts and answer reader questions. By enabling RSS feed, your readers can keep up on your updates without having to consistently visit your site.
If you decide to blog, I’m a big fan (but not exactly a practitioner) of the idea that your blog have sort of mission or plan: What do you plan to use this space (to cover book news, life news, writing advice, all of the above)? What do you not want to cover in this space (politics, religion, fights with friends and family, or the current state of your bathroom)? How often do you plan to update?
If you’re a planner this can help make the whole blogging experience less stressful as well as help outline what to post next. If you created your blog specifically to help promote your book as well as to let your readers know who else to check out, then write about books you like, who influences your writing, what little quirks you notice in your writing process, and your research. Think about interviewing other authors (you can use the same general set of questions if you want), or guest blogging at other sites (while never forgetting to link from your own).
Your blog is a marketing tool to sell your book to readers and to sell yourself as an author. That doesn’t mean that it has to be so blatant that “buy my book” appears in each post. Buyers are savvy people and they don’t like to feel like they’re being played. Give them something for their time and energy. Don’t be afraid to let them read excerpts before the book is released.
Do a quick survey of author blogs that you like, or blogs by authors whose books you buy, and see what they are doing. What works and what doesn’t? What could you borrow, bend, or meld into something you can use at your own blog?
Whether or not you blog, you do need a web presence to help direct your readers to where they can buy your books, and inform new readers who you are and what you right.
A good website is key, a great blog is just a bonus.
*I don’t mean just Blogger when I talk about blogging software; Livejournal, Wordpress, Typepad and others provide a great opportunity for an author looking to update quickly.