7 Reasons why you should start an author blog

I maintain 3 blogs. The first one is an MBA blog which is quite popular among Indian MBA applicants who are targeting international business schools. The second blog is based on a creative word puzzle (Onamography) that I invented. This is my third blog and focuses on helping budding writers break into the publishing industry.

Maintaining a blog can be tedious. Maintaining 3 blogs can be, well, tedious X 3. But there are definite benefits that you can expect to get back if you understand the basic rules of the game.

Whether you are a struggling author waiting to get your first book published or you are a veteran in the field, having an author blog is a good idea. It serves to be more than just a marketing platform. If you don’t have a blog yet, here are some reasons why you should start writing blog posts.

Create an online brand

Gone are the days when a book by an unknown writer sold millions of copies purely based on its inherent goodness and quality of writing. In today’s world it is tough to de-link the book from the author.

For publishers, literary agents and readers, it is important to know who wrote the book, their background, their credentials and their thoughts / views outside of the book. A blog can be an excellent way to provide these insights which don’t fit into periphery of the book (like the acknowledgement section).

Be known as a subject matter expert

Though this may seem to apply to non-fiction authors, to a lesser degree it is relevant for fiction writers too. What you have written in your book will appear more credible if you have a solid understanding of the theme that you focus on.

If you want to write a book titled ‘How to invest in stocks’, it helps if you have invested your own money in equity markets and made a killing. Similarly, when you are writing medical thrillers, your knowledge of medicine, crime, investigations will provide you with the right mix of elements to create a context that is intriguing and believable.

Display the quality of your writing

What you write on your blog may not be exactly what you write in your book. But if you have the ability to connect with your readers with your blog posts, chances are they will be interested in continuing that association outside the blog as well. They may start interacting with you through your Facebook page or Twitter. And they may buy your book.

If you’ve come this far in this blog post, I’ll assume there was something about the writing that kept you glued. Maybe you were thinking ‘Hey, this is interesting’ or maybe it was ‘when will the interesting part start in this post?’

Build an online community

If you aren’t writing for yourself (self-healing therapy?), then you are doing so for a bigger community. And in the blogosphere, the community has the potential of growing really big.

Geography, culture and diversity related barriers can easily be transcended when you are writing about something that has a deeper connection with the reader. That connection can’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process that can take several months or years. So always good to start early.

Develop a marketing platform

This is the obvious one and unfortunately most guys end up abusing it. Blogging is not like an official advertisement where every post and every sentence you write is geared towards selling your work. Blog based marketing does not work like the 30 second advertisements you see on TV.

Many authors have fans who’d lap up their unreleased book when the pre-orders start. Why? Primarily due to the buzz around it. And the author’s PR machinery (which probably included a blog) played a role in the process.

Use it as a learning opportunity

Authors and writers need to learn constantly. When you start writing, you will realise there are so many related topics you can write about. You may not know everything about each topic, so at times you will have to step back and carry out further research about the subject before you can write about it.

It can be an excellent learning process and also a great way to stay connected with what’s happening in the world out there.

Pick up business skills

With simple-to-use blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogspot, blogs can be created within a few minutes. And there are millions of blogs in existence today, with several thousands being added to the list each day. Most of them will never have a respectable readership. Many of them will be spam sites, created and maintained by automated programs. The quality ones will have to be nurtured.

Apart from creating content, you will also have to think about generating traffic and learn the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Blog promotion will teach you the fundamentals of marketing.

There are many more benefits that you will discover as you start your blogging journey. But I hope this short list will encourage you to start your own blog. If you have queries along the way, I’d be happy to address them.

8 Comments

  1. chinneo says:

    I have written a book (fiction novel) which will be published in the US and Canada by a small press. However, I wanted to make sure my book is offered for sale in India as well.

    The novel covers the issues faced by immigrants when they arrive in Canada, with lots of Indians coming to Canada, I wondered how I could get my book to the Indian market.

    What do you suggest?

  2. Sameer says:

    Chinneo,
    Congrats on getting your first book out. Hope it does well.

    For the Indian market, you’ll have to do pretty much the same that you did in US & Canada. Approach publishers and sell them publishing rights for the Indian subcontinent.

  3. Sunil says:

    Sameer .. I’ve set up my blog page almost 2 years ago, but I just don’t seem to get any thing written there. Almost anything I think of putting in a blog is actually a part of the book I am writing. Its so confusing. I haven’t ended up writing a single post while my book has ballooned to a size where I have now divided it into 2 books.
    Did you start the blog before or after writing your book? What kind of ‘blog writer block’ did you have, if any? How did you get over it?
    Please also answer any questions I haven’t asked, so that it helps me get on with my blog 🙂

  4. Sameer says:

    Sunil,

    It’s good that you have a blog. Most authors won’t even think of it.

    I started my MBA blog, several years after I had written my book. And just like you, almost everything that I write on the blog has some overlap with the focus of the book.

    However, that doesn’t cannibalise my book sales. It actually enhances it.

    I do face the challenge of ‘writers block’ just like everyone else.

    The little secret here is that you can stop overloading your brain with the task of finding the right topic each time. Turn to other niche sites in the same space and check out what kind of posts are getting views/likes/shares.

    Take a related topic and give your own original twist to it.

    The number of topics might be finite, but the way you treat and present them are unlimited.

  5. Bijaya Kumar Mishra says:

    Hi Sameer, congrats for the success of both of your books. Can you please guide me how an authors blog is going to help a fiction novel writer. I mean what kind of blog posts are useful for a writer who writes fiction novels having romance, thrill and humour.

  6. Rohit Gupta says:

    I have a short story on TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury, personal experiences and life post TBI..
    I world like someone to review it and comment on it.
    I don’t have a website but i am active on my email.

  7. Hi Sameer,

    I’ve read several posts on this blog and found them extremely helpful and inspiring. I plan to write a popular history book some day and after reading this post of yours, started a blog recently – http://www.thecuriousdesi.com

    Maintaining a blog is time consuming and I can see you have been somewhat quiet on this blog lately 😉

    Anyways, thanks again for sharing your learning and experience about writing!

    Cheers

    PS- I couldn’t tell on your homepage which blogs are most recent…can you add a date field so readers would know when a post got added

  8. @Bijaya: Your blog could focus on other topics that are related to your plot. There might be related ideas that have a social, commercial, self-help, political, humor angle to it. You could explore various facets of the genre that you write on.

    @Curious Desi: You are right. It’s been quite long since I’ve written here. Apologies for not making the dates clear on the main post. The individual posts have the date stamp, and many of the topics are of a general nature (not time dependent), so I left it at that.

    After covering most of the commonly asked questions about the publishing business, I assumed I’ve taken my ‘social work’ to a logical stage, where I can move on to more worldly matters – like working on my admissions consulting venture which actually pays the bills 🙂

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