Traditional wisdom states that if you are an author, you should have a blog to attract readers to your work. The experts tell you to write about your characters, plots, world-building, how your novel is coming along and don’t forget to toss in a little about your cat. Now, I can already hear you moan:
“Where is the traffic?”
“Writing a blog is hard!”
“Isn’t blogging a dead end?”
“Nobody cares about my book before I publish it.”
And you would be right on all accounts.
Blogging about a novel when no one knows who you are is a wasted activity. If you are not publishing your story as a serial, few will care about plotlines or characters. The only people that might be interested are your fellow writers. They may visit, but will they buy and read your book? Probably not.
Who you want to attract are the readers of your genre. They are your target audience, not other writers, family, and friends. The key to a successful writer’s blog is to write about content that is related to your genre and keep the personal angst off your platform. Be entertaining, but offer your readers content that relates to their interests. Then make sure to make it easy for them to purchase your book. You don’t need to blog every day. Once a week or even once a month is enough to get started. I have settled on blogging three times a week; but if I miss a day now and then, I don’t sweat it.
I am a science fiction and fantasy author. My writer’s blog is a mixture of posts. I write interviews with up and coming science fiction/fantasy authors and reviews of classic science fiction novels. My flash fiction and illustrated scifaiku poetry offer examples of my personal writing. On Monday I do a link-list of articles about the craft of writing. These articles are geared toward my genre or items that simply interest me personally, such as fountain pens and handwriting.
My first year blogging, I was excited if I had four or five visitors stop in on a given day. Slowly, the traffic to my blog has increased. Five years later, No Wasted Ink has around two thousand subscribers directly via WordPress. When I publish a story as a guest poster or in a magazine, the other place always reports plenty of traffic from my blog to their website. Likewise, when I published my first book, I announced it on my blog via a post, and this was enough to drive a decent number of online sales. The authors I interview on the blog report an increase in sales and traffic on their own sites.
Here are a few blogging ideas on related topics based on genre:
Readers of science fiction love science and new technology. You could develop blog posts about scientific developments and how they relate to people. You could write reviews about classic science fiction books or films.
Readers of mystery love the process of finding clues. Write posts about forensic techniques, true crime stories ripped from the newspaper, interesting ways for the police to capture and detain criminals.
You could do travel posts about romantic villas. Talk about the latest episodes of The Bachelor! Maybe you could follow the 10 eligible men in the world or the latest beauty queens.
Research the places of the era you write about. Talk about the customs and clothing of the time period. Find interesting stories locked away in crumbling (online) newspapers from the Victorian era. Write museum tours of the era you focus on.
Blogs do work. Don’t give up on the idea too soon. They are an important part of your author platform.