To blog or not to blog: that is the question–at least if you’re a fiction writer in today’s market. With some conflicting advice floating around the web, guest author Jason Kong shares his advice on how fiction writers can maximize their blogging efforts.
Storytellers who blog have it tougher than most. There’s just not a lot of help out there.
I don’t mean good advice doesn’t exist. If you’re an author, plenty of blogging resources are available online — including here on Your Writer Platform.
The challenge is that many strategies are specific to non-fiction writers. While there is definite overlap, not all approaches work for their fiction counterparts. Ignorance of these differences may cause your blog to flounder.
To prevent that from happening, let’s take a closer look at what works for a fiction writer. Here are five fundamental ways to become a better blogger:
1) Blog around your stories
The reason why non-fiction writers benefit so much by blogging is that they can demonstrate their authority. By sharing their valuable ideas in a blog, they’re attracting the people who care about those insights and can have a waiting audience when a book is published.
For a fiction writer, the process is different.
Any blogging you do before you have a published story will have a different focus: entertainment and engagement. The impact may be more difficult to measure, but you are still laying the foundation for your most important marketing element–your stories.
Non-fiction authors are trying to solve a problem, fiction authors are trying to fulfill a desire. Both are compelling reasons for readers to want to connect. The best way to have people interested and loyal to your storytelling is for them to be wowed by some stories that you wrote. Your blog is just a tool to facilitate that fascination.
Which means that your most effective blogging doesn’t precede your story creation, it accompanies it.
The stories you write should always be at the heart of your platform. Your blogging contributes to reach and discoverability. Just remember, if a blog is a way to connect with readers, make it worth connecting to.
Your stories are your business card, so the best marketing strategy for fiction authors is more brilliant stories. Publish good stories. And also blog. Don’t reverse your priorities.
2) Focus on your intended audience, not a topic
Many of us view blogs as being about something.
You blog about running a business, or how to grow an organic garden. For the non-fiction writer, your blogging follows the topic. Very straightforward.
This angle doesn’t work so well for fiction writers, because the subject is less clear. Is it the author? The books? Even if it’s one or both, indulging too much in these areas may appear too self-promotional.
The solution is to start with the type of folks you’re trying to connect with. That may be other writers, your friends, or people who read your stories. Identifying this group is a crucial step to making your blogging work.
Because once you decide that, you’ll understand what to blog about, how frequently, and in what style. You’ll know what to do to attract these people and keep their attention. Gaining traction will be easier, and sustaining momentum will be more promising.
If your work is very diverse, you may be better off having separate blogs for separate followings. Just consider the extra work involved.
When you focus on writing for a group of people united by a common interest, you can go deeper and have more impact. If you write to be read, that’s the point, right?
3) Seek a tighter following, not a larger one
Many bloggers are obsessed with ‘the numbers’ as a measuring stick for success.
How many are subscribed to the blog? How many social media shares for the latest post? How many clicks did a particular page get?
It’s a never-ending cycle of trying to push the numbers up; a tempting activity especially if you’re just starting out.
The trap is that your attention is squarely on the people not yet following you, causing your blogging tone to be desperate or read like a sales pitch. You end up trying to convert everyone, instead of having a meaningful discussion with those who will truly enjoy your book.
That’s no good.
Not only is this unpleasant for you, it’s ineffective as well. If you’re trying to build a fiction readership, focus your blogging on people who already care.
Remember, your audience’s enthusiasm comes from the stories you publish. Blogging can intensify the interest that already exists. You can rally the readers that enjoy your body of work.
When you have stronger bonds with your fans, they become more motivated to have conversations around your writing. They’re more likely to recommend your books and post reviews, which will help your discoverability. Having evangelists and customers praise your stories on their own accord is the biggest endorsement there is.
People uninterested in you and your work won’t be the main readers of your blog. Targeting them doesn’t make sense. Instead, focus on the passionate and give them reasons to be even more fired up.
4) Blog with generosity
Much of business is transactional. You do something for me and I’ll do something for you. There’s no deal until we agree upon the exchange of value.
That’s not how blogging works.
When you post, you’ve presented an offering that’s available for anyone to consume. You won’t always know who’s reading and who’s been touched. You can’t control how the message spreads or if it does at all.
So why not be generous?
Not in a random way, but with the intention of making your audience happy. And if you’re focusing on fans, then the blogging litmus test is simple:
What do your readers care about?
Whatever the answer is, those are the ideas for your posts. Maybe they’ll get a kick out of some dialogue that never made it to the final publication. You can suggest having a book club around one of your books. And of course, since your audience cares about what you say, updates on your latest work are also relevant.
Support the people who are supporting you. Because it feels good. Because you get to be interesting and creative.
This is the type of connection you’ll treasure in the long run.
5) Treat blogging like storytelling
I can say with a fair amount of certainty that you have some proficient blogging skills.
How do I know? Because you write fiction.
There are elements to your storytelling that captures attention, invokes curiosity, and gets a reader to keep turning the pages. Imagine if you bring that special sauce to your blogging.
After all, people read your stories for a particular kind of entertainment. If you can invoke that same delight in your blog, people will be compelled to hang out.
Readers already look to you for an experience that only you are capable of giving. Blogging can be an extension of your storytelling magic.
And if you do it right, you’ll receive the same thrill blogging as you do when writing one of your stories.
Now that would be nirvana.
Over to you
Which of these five ways to blogging mastery do you feel will help you most?
What other blogging insights do you have that pertain specifically to fiction writers?
Let us know in the comments!
About Jason Kong
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Original photo by Sam Hakes