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The Confusion of a Wanna-Be-Writer

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Atlaxa, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. Atlaxa

    Atlaxa Scribe

    First of all, thanks again for everybody for having me here.

    Secondly, please believe me that I have read lots of forum posts. On the one hand, I've already learnt a lot, but on the other hand I'm getting more and more overwhelmed.

    To cut a long story short (not that I'm very good at mastering a synopsis, haha), I've written a book. Written, re-written, polished, re-shaped, edited, critiqued. I'm even getting quite good at making maps. I have done a lot of research and decided to e-publish. I think I know what I have to do in the near future.

    So far, so good.

    Nevertheless, there are some things that worry me.
    One of those are blogging. As it seems, I pretty much have to blog... for blogging's sake.
    That's where I need help.
    Can I just set up my web-site about the book? That wouldn't be a problem. I have created a quite huge world and a multitude of characters and features (incl. an in-world language) that I could write about.
    Or do I have to blabber on on a daily basis about just about anything?
    Now, there's a scary thought.

    Not to mention that (as it seems) I have to find an audience for a product (e.g. my book) that isn't out yet.
    From what I've learnt recently, that's what I have to do though.
    Not that I want to over-estimate my abilities, but would I want to reveal all the ideas in my book without having taken care of the copyright issues? I think not. Then again, I might be wrong.

    Well, I think that it's enough for now.

    Any thoughts, comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance
  2. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    If you build a website, who will visit it? It'll be just like any tree growing in the forest. What will draw folks to it?

    Blogging simply to draw readers to your novel, and eventually novels, isn't likely to be effective, especially if you have little interest in posting regularly. It'll show through to what readers you attract.

    Attracting an audience, with all the competing 'noise' out there is a challenge--a big challenge. If you create a blog and a website, maybe that's a start. If I had all the answers, I'd share them. I will give a few thoughts. The first thing you would need to do is to obviously have a novel (well-written and edited) that captures readers' attention, enough that they tell others about it. Sometimes that can be accomplished by getting respected reviewers to read and post a review of your work. But that's difficult too, as they (the reviewers) are inundated with requests, far more than they could ever handle. A really good cover (art, layout, titlework) is important as well. It's what people will see and click on (or pick up at a store) if it interests them.

    Those are a few ideas to start. Also, you cannot copyright ideas.

    Hope all goes well and wishing you luck as you forward.
  3. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    The bad news is-- there are a lot of blogs out there. A LOT.

    The good news-- many of them are blogging about blogging. Poke around and you'll get a few more ideas.
  4. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I won't share what I do, because I might not being doing anything right either, but I enjoy writing about fantasy topics, so that's what I blog about.

    However, I'll share what I find interesting from other authors' blogs:

    1. Interactivity-The blogger/author interacts with his or her readers and offers up contests and such. Chuck Wendig's blog is very popular because he writes lots of lists with funny writing advice and he does flash fiction contests that allows his readers to share their own work.

    2. Interesting content-I don't so much want to read about someone's book all the time on their blog. The process interests me, but just reading sales pitches don't. Mark Lawrence does interesting things to promote his books including contests that allow for reader interactivity.

    3. Some kind of niche-Like wordwalker said, blogging about blogging can be pretty tedious to read. If you have a niche that may interest a certain segment of an audience, you can get more traffic. For instance, Rachel Aaron writes entertaining blog posts that sometimes target writers like her popular post about writing from 2K to 10K words in a day.

    So my biggest offering would be read some popular blogs from writers. See what they're doing. That's the best way to see what you would want on your own blog or how you want to promote yourself.

    Here are the blogs I mentioned, by the way:

    Blog « terribleminds: chuck wendig

    Pretentious Title

    Mark Lawrence
  5. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    If you don't want to blog, you don't have to. I'm not sure the effacity of blogging for selling work. It seems to be one of those "put in a huge amount of work over the course of three or more years and maybe it'll translate to a large book-buying following, but more likely it'll translate to a small to medium sized one" sort of thing.

    A website to showcase your work is a good idea though. At the very least, put up the blurb, cover, and some quotes from reviews (with links to originals), plus information on how people can buy it. Simple enough. If you've got a blog compnent to the website (like you would through Wordpress and similar sites) then you can use that for updates and announcements, the odd musing, reviews of others' books and so on, as and when you have something to say.

    What's more important than having a blog is having reviews and creating a network with other writers. Crosslinks, review swaps, maybe the odd guest post or even just swapping knowledge about the process of publication.

    If you don't feel able to blog regularly, don't force yourself. But do make sure you've got something for readers to see when they google your name or the name of your book.
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    Using a blog to promote your book is different than creating a good blog. For one thing, you don't need to focus as much on retention. A blog gets credit for every unique visitor over the course of a week. But you're only counting book sales, and sign ups for the email list where you announce your book. A reader can buy your book or sign up for the announcement on their first visit to your page, and you can design your web strategy around that concept.

    Note that I switched from blog to web strategy. A blog is specifically the portion of your website where you post regular new content that gets listed in news feeds. It's important to distinguish this from the permanent fixtures on your website because you need to employ different strategies for each of these tools.

    To sell books, your blog needs to focus on networking to reach new readers. The permanent fixtures of your website need to be designed around selling your book - priming customers and leading them to your sales page.

    How do I network?

    In two words, social media. Whenever you write a blog post, you can publish it to Facebook, Twitter, G+, Reddit, and a slew of other social media outlets. Each of these outlets work differently, and you need to understand how they work to use them effectively. Use as many of them as you know what to do with.

    Twitter, however, is probably the best tool for actual networking, for connecting with other people who can help you with your efforts. On Twitter, you can follow someone, retweet their posts, and create that unspoken sense of I-help-you-please-help-me. And if you know what you're doing, retweeting somebody helps you, too, in what can be called a "Maven" strategy. You gain followers by serving as a filter for a certain kind of content that interests your followers.

    But that only gets you part of the way, and if you don't move to the next step, you can get stuck in the blog-and-tweet stage and end up getting nowhere.

    If you want to reach the highest number of readers, you have to approach people and create opportunities. You have to create the win-win-win situation: A win for you, for your audience, and for the person you want to help promote you. The best way to do this is to find websites your audience would enjoy, make a positive and helpful impression with people, and create content they would want to host.

    And you can use your blog and social media outlets to help make that positive and helpful impression with the people you'd like to work with. And you don't need to post three times a week to do it - you only need enough to show people in your network the quality of what you can produce.

    How do I design my website for sales?

    Sales is more difficult than networking. But the basic principle is eye-tracking.

    When you look at a web page, where do your eyes go? Now think of three things you want your reader to see. The third is the link to buy your book. The first two are items that prime you to make you want to click - probably your web banner and a box with your book cover and other info. Your eyes naturally want to track from left to right and top to bottom - the default track is a somewhat diagonal line from the top-left to about the middle of the right side of your screen, but you can change it with your layout. That's how you want to position your sales content.

    Now consider any other content that might appeal to readers, and make it readily apparent and accessible. Do you have a map? Character profiles? Excerpts? Samples? Short stories? Anything that might showcase your fiction talents, or the content of your book, should be given a fixed spot to help promote your book instead of being tagged with a date and buried in the archive of your blog. Even if readers don't look at everything, it builds on the sense that you have a lot of strong content, that you're proud to put it front and center. It shows confidence.

    Of course, you should announce new additions in your blog, with a link to the fixed page that people in your network can share. But don't post anything directly in your blog that you want readers to see or it will get buried and not help make that strong positive impression.

    Put it together

    You use your blog and social media outlets to connect with other people on the web who already have an audience that would be interested in your work. Reach out to those individuals and offer them content designed to reach their audience, which will bring larger numbers of first-time visitors to your site. On your site, design the page to guide their eyes to your sales button or email signup, while building a stronger positive impression of your book with the additional content on your site.

    Finally, be cool the whole time. You're not pushing crap, you're creating win-win-win scenarios because you can create quality content worth reading.... right?
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2013
    J. S. Elliot and Chilari like this.
  7. Stevenmlong

    Stevenmlong Dreamer

    You've gotten some really good advice, so far. I'd consider writing out a (brief) strategy, that addresses what you're doing and why you're doing it. Are you aiming for a long-term web presence? A hub for readers/others to find you? A place to generally network and be part of the web "community?"

    If you want to attract people to your site, your posts must be interesting to your audience, but you might not want to start another blog like that - there are many of them out there, and it's a hard road to walk. Here's one possible approach:

    1) Start a personal blog, about you and your work in general, but assume that your audience already has interest in you. The goal of this blog is to be a conduit to what you're doing and what's on your mind. Posts are mainly about you and your work - it's a way for people to keep up with you. Don't expect a lot of readers at first, you're going to build a reputation to get readers to come to you.

    2) Guest post on sites branded to your readers, i.e. speculative fiction sites. Your bio has your book in it, and also your site. If people are interested, they can buy your book and follow you, so when that next book comes out they're ready. You can also join existing sites, if you want.

    3) Read sites you like and comment, with a link back to your site - you'd be surprised how effective this can be, especially over time.

    The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you probably shouldn't blog if you don't think it'll be fun. Oh, and my main blogging advice is to use blogging to explore something you're already interested in. Fascinated by medieval cities? Do a series of guest posts on life in medieval cities (that also quietly serve as research for your own work). Always loved zombie movies? Use blogging as an excuse to write about them, and then share and interact (and while you're at it, write a zombie story and submit it).

    As a side comment - not to be glib, but it's all good. In my mind, the real goal is to join a community (not sell), and the speculative fiction community (as defined by a body of short stories, novels, web sites and people) is a really cool, fun one. Feeling like part of that community even in a small way is a lot of fun.

    Jump in, however you see fit. The water's fine.
  8. Atlaxa

    Atlaxa Scribe

    Wow, thanks so much guys. Very much appreciated.

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