An Idea For My Blog...

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by GeekDavid, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Dark Lord

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    Last nite, I had an idea for a series of posts on the blog I set up to help market my book.

    Basically, the posts would go into the thought process behind the development of the characters and other things.

    The thing is, I'm not sure if it would increase interest in the book, or have the opposite effect. What do all of you wise people think?
     
  2. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I think this is an excellent idea. I'm actually doing something similar as a series of articles on the Mythic Scribes home page at the moment. Another should be posted at the beginning of October. My first article focused on my brainstorming process for coming up with my initial idea for my novel. My next post will deal with expanding the initial idea into a full-fledged concept. I don't just talk about my own novel, but give different techniques writers can use to develop the different stages of novel writing.

    So yeah, you have my vote!
     
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  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Sure, if done right it should increase interest in your book.

    But if you're using your blog primarily to build a following that's geared up to buy your book, you might be setting yourself up for a disappointment. Most people would be better off viewing their blog primarily as a networking tool for connecting with others who might promote their book for you.
     
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  4. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Dark Lord

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    Is the novel out? Or how long until it's released?

    This may have a bearing on the interest level of the posts. But, in any case, interesting and well-written content is always a postive thing. With that and being consistent in posting, will help retain folks who regularly visit your blog.
     
  5. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Dark Lord

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    Hopefully within the next month, that's why I'm starting ramping up things. And I've already gotten in the habit of regular posts on weekdays, and have about 2 dozen "following" my blog already. :)
     
  6. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Grandmaster

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    I'm going to disagree with you there. If the purpose of the blog is to build a fanbase, then the content should be geared towards fans (or potential fans, at least), in my opinion. So - lots of background on the book, the characters, the setting; any artwork, or maps; short stories, or extracts from the book; progress reports on writing, editing, etc. And a mailing list for people to sign up to.

    By all means network with potential promoters, but that works best when you have something to promote.
     
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    The blog isn't your entire website, but the portion of it which you update with new content on a regular basis. By all means design your website with content to appeal to readers, but I think it's unreasonable to expect a potential reader to visit your website more than once. And you should design your internet approach with that fact in mind. Unless you have some serious fanboys, the people who visit an author's blog on a regular basis aren't the ones who will want to buy the book.
     
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  8. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Grandmaster

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    I don't quite see what you're saying here. The whole point of a blog is to put out new content regularly, yes. And the point of that is to entice people to revisit on a regular basis. And the point of THAT is to turn those casual visitors into serious fanboys, preferably before the first book is even published. Isn't that what you want?
     
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  9. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Dark Lord

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    I think I'm gonna step back here and let you two argue that point. :)
     
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Sure . . . ? But building an audience large enough to equate to book sales is an impossible goal. That's tons of effort that could be spent writing for probably a handful of sales. Your better bet is to use the blog as a more of a proof-of-quality for approaching other bloggers and asking them to let you write a guest post, or to look at your book for a review, or for producing some other type of content.

    Other people have already put together media outlets that cater to your audience, and you're better off piggy backing off of them than trying to create your own. That way you could focus on creating quality pieces for those outlets rather than producing the constant effort needed to sustain a quality blog.

    And let me put it this way. If you can put together a quality content-driven blog of the type that would appeal to most readers, you're thinking too small if all you do with it is publish a book.
     
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  11. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Grandmaster

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    OK, I see where you're coming from now. It's too difficult, so let's not even try ;-)

    Well, that's just regular marketing, and obviously you'll want to be doing that as well, as much as you can. But there's a difference between getting other people to promote your work for you (that's merely advertising) and making a direct connection with your readers (or potential readers). The most successful authors (in terms of promoting their work online) create a dialogue with readers. Lexi Revellian asked her fans which book cover version she should go for. Michael J Sullivan asks his fans what they want him to write next.

    The basic principle is this: the best way to get the word out about your books is by word of mouth. A small number of hardcore fans post reviews, write about it on their own blogs, tell their friends, tell the people in their local bookstore or library, give copies to relatives as presents, talk about it on forums... You don't need a lot of them, and it takes time to build up numbers, but it can be done, and the best way to do it is by interacting with them. You can do that in places like Goodreads, but the best and safest way is to have a reader-facing blog of your own.

    It doesn't have to take a lot of time. Posting samples of your own work isn't going to take any additional time, but it shows potential readers what your style is like. If they like what they read, they'll hang around. Posting about the background to your stories adds extra colour for readers, and it's something you may have written up already: character histories/interviews, setting descriptions, maps, details of your world's religions, and so forth. If you reach a tricky point in your writing, make a blog post about it. If it's going well, make a blog post about it. If you get a review, make a blog post about it. If you have a domestic crisis, make a blog post about it. This stuff is *interesting* to readers, they'll feel they know you and when the next book comes out they'll have a personal interest in it. A couple of posts a week, a few paragraphs each, is all it takes. And a mailing list - don't forget the mailing list.

    Footnote: by 'you', I mean the generic you, not you personally.
     
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  12. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    There's a difference between difficult and unrealistic.

    Maybe you could argue the point, but what do readers want? To be pleasantly surprised. How many blog posts can you make that are pleasantly surprising?


    It's not usually true that a core group of hardcore fans is the best way to generate word of mouth. Sometimes that works, if you want to saturate a niche audience, but not usually. I've seen top marketing executives present research on that point. If you want to generate buzz, you have to reach the casual users of your product. That means reaching people through a variety of outlets, not relying on just your own.

    You have to go to your audience; you can't expect them to come to you.

    It's also not true that using other outlets is just "advertising." If you do an author interview, or you write a guest post, or you show up in a podcast, that's still you, talking to your audience. And you can still hear from your audience without expecting the same readers to pop in repeatedly on your website.

    I'm a big fan of a number of shows, books and shared worlds. I can't remember the last time I checked a website, let alone a blog.


    You shouldn't bury your maps and writing samples in an old blog post. ;)

    Again, there are different aspects to a website. You want to expect that readers will visit your website just once, and you want to be able to capture their interest in that one visit. A number of the things you're talking about would support that.

    What I'm talking about is the attitude that your readers will want to visit over and over again to catch regular updates on your blog. That's not usually a realistic expectation when you're writing a book.

    No matter how much you try to appeal to readers, an author's blog is not a book and is going to appeal mostly to writers. There's value in that, but only if you use it accordingly and in proportion to the time you invest.
     
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  13. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Grandmaster

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    This is the point where we fundamentally disagree. A blog is whatever the owner wishes to make of it, and for an author to create a blog aimed mainly at other authors is a huge wasted opportunity, in my view. When I, as a reader, look up an author's blog and find nothing of interest to me *as a reader*, then that will indeed be the last time I visit.

    For those who want to hear this from an expert on blogging aimed at readers, try Lindsay Buroker (there are links to more articles at the end of this one):

    7 Blogging Mistakes Authors Make | Lindsay Buroker
     
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  14. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Dark Lord

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    Sorry, Devor, I think I'm in Pauline's camp on this one... from personal experience.

    I have visited two kinds of author blogs... those that are seldom updated, and those regularly updated with progress reports on the latest work, including excerpts -- thanks for reminding me of that one, Pauline, I need to add some of them -- and just discussing their writing. I tend to follow those that are regularly updated and ignore the others.

    I've also seen several articles that bolster Pauline's points:

    4 Tips for Building a Successful Author Blog | SmartAuthorSites.com Authors Blog
    5 Tips for Keeping an Author Blog | WestBow Press Blog
    Blogging Tips for Fiction Authors
    7 Blogging Tips for Authors
    3 tips for better author blogs - Build Book Buzz

    They may not all say it out loud, but reading them closely, they all sound that they're discussing blogs aimed at readers, not other bloggers.
     
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  15. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Grandmaster

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  16. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    As a rule I don't like to google articles just to make a point, but we've all seen just as many authors say that blogging is a waste of time.

    And any blog post titled "3 tips for better author blogs," is going to be sitting on a blog designed to reach other authors. Maybe you could find an author blog that's an example of one that isn't? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure you probably can, but it would make for a better discussion than posting a dozen blogs saying the same thing just to try and prove me wrong.
     
  17. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Dark Lord

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    Devor, looks like we'll just have to politely agree to disagree.
     
  18. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    If you want, but there's a lot to be gained from discussing these things. Knowing that you'll disagree doesn't have to mean the end of the discussion.

    ((edit))

    For instance, I think everyone would benefit from a discussion about what a blog post appealing to readers might look like, compared with appealing to authors. Aside from a writing sample, which isn't really a blog post, does anyone have any examples?
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  19. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Dark Lord

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    My problem, Devor, is that you're adding middlemen to the equation.

    You're saying I should look to impress the people (professional [read: expensive] publicists and marketers, big-name authors publishers) who will in turn impress the readers.

    Me, I'm skipping all that and trying to impress the readers directly. I'm cutting out the middlemen and making a one-on-one connection (or as close as one can online) with my readers.

    And I'm doing this, again, from my own professional experience. Big hype and marketing doesn't impress me. I have yet to read a single Harry Potter or Hunger Games book, and I don't feel any urge to go out tomorrow and buy either of those. But I am passionate about promoting those authors -- like Marion Harmon of the Wearing the Cape books -- with whom I've made even a slight personal connection (When I reviewed his books for Otherwhere Gazette and Goodreads, he wrote and politely asked me where I'd found typos and such, and we still correspond from time to time). When his latest book came out earlier this month, I snapped it up and read it as quickly as I could, and enjoyed it immensely. He's honestly a nice guy, and I really enjoy his books, so I'm happy to tell others to read his books on a reader-to-reader basis. (Yes, I'm an author, but I'm also a reader.)

    As far as author recommendations, if they're not an author that I know personally, I tend to take them with a grain of salt. To my mind, a lot of time this stuff is quid pro quo... I'll write a fairly generic blurb for your book if you do it for mine. That doesn't excite me. But if a reader whom I know on a personal level (who may or may not be an author) recommends a book to me, I'm a lot more likely to give it a try.

    I also depend a lot on Amazon reviews, because they're largely by readers, and less so on "professional" reviews, which is somewhat contradictory of me because I'm a semi-pro reviewer myself for OG. (In my defense, the whole idea of OG is to be "For Fans, By Fans," as the header says, so when I write my reviews I try to do it as a fan of sci-fi and fantasy.)

    So, bottom line -- and I really truly honestly do not want to sound rude here -- is that your marketing worked in the pre-Kindle-Revolution days, and I'm marketing for the post-Kindle-Revolution days, when authors have the ability to skip the professional this and the big-name that and get their writings in the hands of the readers with minimal gatekeepers standing in their way saying "Thou Shalt Not Do It That Way."

    My sincerest apologies if you take offense at any of this... I'm not trying to be offensive, just trying to lay out my case as best I can.
     
  20. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    The nature of the gate keeper is changing, but I think you're mistaken if you believe they're going to disappear. But I wasn't talking about gate keepers. I was talking about the challenge of building your own media outlet, and the chance to piggy-back off of somebody else's audience, not for the need for their stamp of approval. You can at least appreciate that there is a big difference there.

    But I had ended with an honest question, not an argument. That is, even if you disagree with me, it would be good to talk about what kind of blogs and posts appeal to readers, as opposed to writers. Taking a glance at your blog, for instance, I don't see anything really targeted at readers. Which is fine. But how do you plan to follow through on what you're talking about?
     
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