Blogging for Authors: How to Create a Blog that Can Grow With Your Career

 by Anne R. Allen

Maybe you've just finished that NaNo novel and you know you want to publish, so you'd like to get a head start while you slog through the editing process.

Or you've been writing for a couple of years, you've published some short pieces, and you've got maybe two novels in the hopper and you're ready to get this career on the road.

Or you've finally landed that agent, but you don't have anywhere near the platform she wants. 

Any of these could be a good point to start a blog.

Yes, a blog is still a great way to build platform and establish an Internet presence. So says agent Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary, who will be visiting us here in January.

But a writer starting a blog right now faces two problems:

1)  There are already, like, a trillion writers out there lecturing the blogosphere about how to write vivid characters, prop up saggy middles and avoid adverbs. A lot of them probably know more than you.

2) If you’re a writer with books to sell, you want to reach a general audience, not just other writers selling books.

So how can you be different? How do you create a blog that somebody will read—somebody besides your stalker ex-boyfriend and your mom?

The most important thing to remember with any kind of blog is you need to offer something. It should be fresh, informative, and/or entertaining.

How you approach your blog is going to depend a whole lot on your stage in the publishing process and your immediate goals. (For info on what not to blog about, see How Not to Blog )

Stage #1: You’re a developing writer.

You’re working on your first or second novel, and maybe have a few stories in literary journals or a couple of contest wins. You want to be a published author sometime soon, but you’re not quite ready to focus on writing as a career.


You want to make friends in the writing community for career help and mutual support. You want to learn the best writing techniques, network with publishing professionals, and educate yourself about the business.

If you’re in stage #1, I think it’s OK to blog about writing. I know most blog gurus tell you not to do this, but I think that caveat is aimed more at people at stage #2 and #3.)

I’m not talking about lecturing on craft as if you’re a pro when you’re not. But an equal-to-equal post about something interesting trick you’ve discovered about writing the dreaded synopsis, or what agents are looking for this month is just fine when you’re reaching out to other writers.

Why do you want to reach other writers? Because networking with other writers is essential in today's market. Joint promotions and anthologies and boxed sets will be some of your most most powerful marketing strategies once you're published. The friends you make now will be a huge asset to you later on in your career.

Plus I know a number of authors who got their agents through a referral from a fellow blogger.

I found both my publishers through blogging.

Also, I’m not sure I would have made it through the darkest rejection phases if it hadn’t been for the support of writer blogfriends.

How do you get blogfriends? You visit other blogs. Social media is social. Don't sit all alone like a spider waiting for flies. Go out and meet people. Comment on blogs and engage in dialogue with other commenters.

When you have a writing blog, you get to participate in blog hops, flash fiction swaps, contests and all kinds of networking events that help you meet people who can be important in your future career. There are some great blogging groups like the Insecure Writers Support Group where you can meet lots of interesting, supportive writers.

But do make sure your writing blog has something fresh going for it—something that’s helpful. There are all sorts of ways you can help:

 Stage #2: You’re ready for the marketplace.

You’re querying agents or getting ready to self-publish. You’ve got a couple of books polished and ready to go. You have a business plan.

You’ve been to writing conferences, taken classes, and hired a freelance editor if you're going indie. Your writing is at a professional level.


You want to get your name out there to the general public. When you query an agent or ask for a blurb or review, you want a Google search to bring you up on the first page, not page four, with that rant from five years ago about the ending of Lost.

If you’re a stage #2 writer, you should heed the blog gurus' advice not to blog about writing. You’ve got a trillion competitors and that would severely limit your audience.  (Yes, I blog about writing, but I started a long time ago, and I already had an audience from my writing column at Freelance Writing International.)  

So try something that’s related to your writing but has a unique slant. But don't restrict yourself too much. Leave room to grow and change. You may not even know yet what kind of people will be interested in your work. 

Here are a few suggestions of topics to try when you're starting:

Stage #3: You’re a published author

Your agent/marketing dept. says, “Get thee to the blogosphere!”

Or you realize the brilliantly blurbed oeuvre you’ve self-published is sitting there on Amazon with only two sales in three months (both to your spouse) because nobody has heard of it—or you.

If you’ve reached Stage #3, you can be more eclectic. People will be coming to your blog because they want to get to know you and find out more about your books—so focusing on one subject isn’t as important. 

The blog becomes a place to showcase who you are. Think if it as your own version of Oprah magazine: not a place to toot your own horn as much as share things of interest to you that will also be of value to your readers. 

So you can continue whatever you've been doing in Stage #1 and #2, plus add stuff about you and your books.

Yes, you can talk about your books. I think people are silly who say you shouldn’t use your blog for self-promotion. That’s why you’re in the blogosphere in the first place. It’s fine as long as you don’t use hard-sell tactics and make sure you provide something besides "buy my book!"

Each type of blog can evolve into another as your goals change. 

A few tips for the new blogger:

More blog advice in my blogpost How To Blog: A Beginner’s Guide for Authors.

And for a comprehensive guide to blogging, I highly recommend Robin Houghton's new book from Writer's Digest Books: Blogging for Writers. It's a beautifully designed paper book, full of useful illustrations and screenshots. I sure wish I'd had something like it when I started blogging. And I even learned some stuff.

Okay, I especially liked it because Robin named this blog as one of the Top 12 Writing Blogs to Follow. That really brightened a dismal day in a dismal month of fighting the endless, will-not-die, virus-from-hell.

But I'd love it even if she hadn't.

And it's only $13.99 at the Writer's Digest Bookstore right now. It's also available at Amazon US and Amazon UK. Got any writers or potential bloggers on your Christmas list?  I highly recommend this book. It's a goldmine. And did a mention it's really pretty?    

What about you, Scriveners? Do you have a blog? Does it suit your stage of writing? Are you going to be able to give up those six semi-neglected blogs and concentrate on one great one? What advice would you give a new blogger?


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VIGNETTE WRITERShere's a contest for you! The Vine Leaves Vignette Collection Contest. The prize is for a collection of vignettes and poetry up to 20,000 words. Fee $25.  Prize is $500, publication by Vine Leaves Press (paperback and eBook), 20 copies of the paperback, worldwide distribution, and promotion through the Vine Leaves and staff websites. It will be judged by an editor from Simon and Schuster. Deadline February 28, 2015.

THE MEADOW NOVELLA PRIZE $15 ENTRY FEE. The winner of the contest will receive $500 and publication in the annual print edition of the journal. Submissions should be between 18,000 and 35,000 words.  Deadline February 1, 2015. 

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