The following is a guest post from Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent with Books and Such. It was first published on her blog at www.rachellegardner.com.
Standard wisdom used to be that authors, both fiction and non-fiction, should build relationships with readers through blogs. As social media and online marketing have evolved, my thoughts on blogging have changed.
The proliferation of blogs in the last ten years has made it increasingly difficult to stand out in the crowd. Many authors are blogging faithfully but it doesn’t seem to be increasing readership of their books; in fact most of their readers are other writers. One good indicator blogging might not be for you is if you have a hard time figuring out what you should write about.
So, how do you decide if you should have a blog?
Have a blog if:
- You have something important to say and it seems people want to hear it.
- You understand that blogging is about offering something of value, NOT about promoting yourself and your books.
- You enjoy blogging (for the most part, anyway).
- You find blogging contributes to your creativity and enthusiasm for writing your books, rather than sucking all the energy out of you.
- You can find the time for blogging without it completely stressing you out.
- Your books have a highly defined target audience, making it easy to target your blog.
- Your books are topical (especially non-fiction), so that you have a clear and obvious theme for your blog.
Don’t have a blog if:
- You keep asking yourself and others, “But what should I blog about?”
- You only want to blog to promote your books and/or because you think you “have to.”
- The whole idea stresses you out.
- You honestly don’t have the time in your schedule to blog regularly.
- You’ve been blogging for a year or more, and haven’t built up to a traffic level that seems worth it.
Here are some alternatives to blogging when it comes to online networking and promotion.
- joining a group blog
- sending email newsletters
- using Facebook effectively
- leveraging the various ways Goodreads offers for promoting books
- attracting a readership through Pinterest and/or Instagram
- having an effective LinkedIn profile page
If you don’t want to blog or be engaged in online promotion, should you self-publish instead of seeking a publisher?
I get this question from writers frequently, and my answer is: What would be the point of self-publishing a book, if you have no intention of promoting it? Who will buy it? With millions of books available for sale at any given time, what’s your plan for letting people know that yours exists?
Blogging and other means of online promotion aren’t just hoops that publishers want you to jump through. They’re real and necessary methods of letting people know about your book. So if you have no intention of letting anyone know about your book, through a sustained, long-term promotional plan of online engagement, then think carefully about whether you want to write a book for publication. If you build it: they will NOT come. You must promote it.
Do you blog? If so, how’s it going? If not, why not?
Rachelle Gardner is a literary agent with Books and Such Literary Agency based in California. In addition, she is an experienced editor, writing/publishing coach, social media coach, and speaker. She has been working in publishing since 1995. Find her at http://www.rachellegardner.com.