OK, sez you. I’ve finally finished my novel/memoir and I’m about to send out my first round of queries. People say I need a blog. But now you tell me not to post excerpts from my WIP or focus on my personal life. I’ve only written one book (if you don’t count that one I’ve stuffed in a drawer for now.) I’m not famous or an expert on anything special.
…so what DO I blog about!!?
To get your ideas flowing, start by surfing around the writing blogosphere. Click on some of the names of commenters on popular agent blogs—or right here—and read their blogs. Analyze the ones that draw you in and find the elements that make them interesting. Then borrow a few ideas and put them together in your own way.
(And don’t forget to leave comments. That’s how the blogging community gets to know you.
and commenting on other blogs is essential to generating readership. Factor that into your blogging time.) Reading
Or you may find yourself making long comments on some subject that gets your hackles up/juices flowing. That’s the stuff you should be putting in your own blog.
The most successful blogs reveal the writer’s personality and provide useful information at the same time. They usually focus on one particular niche, although the occasional foray off topic is OK when the content is fresh and interesting.
Here are a few ideas for finding a focus for your blog:
- Concentrate on your genre or subgenre. You don’t have to limit yourself to books. You can discuss movies, videogames, TV shows, even jewelry and costumes—as long as they relate to your niche. SciFi writer Alex J. Cavanaugh has a great blog that specializes in all things SciFi. He won this year’s Movie411 award for best SciFi blog, for good reason.
- Focus on your novel’s setting. Recently a country singer/songwriter who’s working on a mystery novel asked me for help with his blog. He’d been posting mostly lyrics from his songs (not a good idea because music copyright laws differ from written word copyright laws, and he might have been giving away his songs forever.) I suggested he concentrate on some aspect of his novel instead. He renamed it “Southern Life” and he’s going to blog on the setting of his planned series—the rural south. Bingo.
- Your character’s hobbies can make a great subject for a blog, too. Write cozies about a sleuth who collects dolls? Start a blog about dolls and the history of dollmaking, and maybe review sites that sell doll-making materials. You’ll draw in a whole demographic that might not usually read mysteries, but will loyally read yours because they’re interested in the subject matter.
- Write historicals? You’re sure to have tons of research notes you couldn’t fit in the book. A blog is a great place for them. Provide information about a specific time period aimed at history buffs, costumers, Creative Anachronists and other historical novelists and you'll draw a variety of readers.
- Do you write for a particular demographic—single urban women, Boomers, stay-at-home moms, or the just-out-of-college dazed and confused? Focus on aspects of life of special interest to that demographic.
- Have some great recipes that relate to your character, time period, or whatever? Write about the food in your books, or food in fiction generally.
- Is your historical based on a real person or your own family history? You could target readers from the genealogy blogosphere and provide how-to-study genealogy info and links to historical research sites.
- Have you written a memoir that involves caretaking or surviving a particular disease or disaster? Or does your novel have a protagonist with a disability? Reach out to others in the same situation and provide information and pep talks for others dealing with the same issues. They’ll provide a ready-made audience when your book comes out.
- And you CAN write personal stuff—as long as you make it entertaining and funny. Think stand-up comedy rather than confessional personal diary. Romantic comedy writer Tawna Fenske somehow manages to do this in post after post.
If you want to build a readership quickly, and you have time to do some research, consider a service blog.
- Profile agents who represent your genre. Casey McCormick does this for agents who rep YA. She takes the info. from agency websites, interviews, articles and blogs and compiles them into easy-to read form. Basically she does your research for you. (Thanks Casey!) Other genres sure could use somebody like this.
- Review books in your genre. If you write thoughtful reviews, you’ll immediately become everybody’s best friend. Every published novelist is dying for reviews. Danielle “First Daughter” Smith has a great review site for children’s books.
- Review books about writing. There are a ton of them out there. You could start with the ones you’ve got on your shelf right now. How helpful are they to a writer in your genre? What classics are no longer helpful in today's marketplace?
- Post a weekly/monthly round-up of other blogs in your niche. Sierra Godfrey and the writers at Adventures in Children’s Publishing provide consistently good round-ups—and there are many, many more.
Or you can be uncreative like me and write about writing. Mostly. A huge number of writers at various stages of our careers blog about our creative process and all aspects of the writing life. Join us. Writers are book readers (or we should be) so you have a ready-made reading audience.
Ending your posts with a question is a good way to generate comments. Anybody out there have more suggestions for subject matter for new bloggers?