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.