When you’re starting out as an author, everybody starts talking to you about ‘platform’ and your author blog.
“Start building one,” they say.
“You must blog,” you’re told.
“Um, okay,” you answer. “But what do I blog about?”
And that’s where it gets confusing for fiction authors. Blog about writing, which is what’s consuming you because you are, after all, knee-deep in writing a book (or should be – always remember that the platform is nowhere near as important as the product), and you’ll get lots of interest from … writers. Which is great. But what you’re really after is readers.
Blog about reading, and you’ll find yourself in that sticky territory where you discover that you’re a book reviewer. Do you want to be a book reviewer?
So, what should fiction authors blog about? (If you’re writing a non-fiction book, you write about your subject, over and over, until you are the authority figure in that area and cannot be ignored.)
My answer to this (and Tip #1 for the purposes of this post) is always to blog about what interests you. Which is why my blog is an, er, eclectic mix of life, family, parenting, writing, reading, social media, books, stories, and… whimsy. It’s just a blog. Not an ‘author’ blog per se. Just a blog.
But I’ve seen some terrific posts written on this very subject over the years, so for the purposes of tips #2 to #5, I’m going to share them with you here (follow the links to read the full posts – they’re all worth a look).
Tip #2: Don’t make your writer’s block or attempts to get published the main focus of your blog. In this post, author Anne R. Allen gives a great list of DOs and DON’Ts for author blogs.
Tip #3: Think about what your readers are searching for – and plan your posts to meet that need. This list of 13 Blog Post Blunders You Should Avoid by Kimberley Grabas from Your Writer Platform is a must-read.
Tip #4: Blog your subject matter. If you’re writing historical or genre fiction you have, as Karen Schravemade writes in this post for The Writers Alley, hit the mother lode of blog post ideas.
Tip #5: Whatever you write about, make sure you say it your way. As author Jody Hedlund writes in this post, blogging is a fantastic way to develop and exercise your writing voice. Use that beguiling ‘thing’ that only you have to draw people in.
If you’d like a step-by-step guide to building your author platform, don’t miss my new on-demand course for the Australian Writers’ Centre. All details here.
Wow. Really need this at the moment as I have just started my Blog….Die Creating! I love Tip 2 and think it is very true. Nobody wants to know your problems! We all just want information and inspiration to help each other.
It’s like you read my mind!
Thanks so, so much for this post!!
Thanks for the tips! I’d like to think I have a good variety on my blog – not just writing, but family life, photography, my garden (started from scratch, bar a few larger trees, when we built our house), occasional recipes. I always like to use one of my own photos and sometimes just put in a collage of 3 images and a short paragraph. I’ve moved recently to blogging 5 days a week and it’s complementary to my fiction writing, helping me get into gear. As Kimberley says above, ‘it’s like chatting with friends… do you ever really run out of conversation…?’
Thanks for the shout out, Allison! 🙂
This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get when it comes to platform building for fiction authors (right after: “Do I really need to?” and “Where do I start?”).
And as you point out in the post, nonfiction authors seem to have it easier because their blog topic(s) are defined by their book and subject expertise.
But despite the work involved, I think it is super important for fiction authors not to miss out on the many benefits a blog can provide, just because they are unsure about the content they should create.
In fact, content creation should be the easy part for people who can breathe life into complex characters and build entire worlds with words alone! 😉
But, before even thinking about blogging or content, my advice to fiction authors is this:
1) Clarify exactly what it is you wish to share with the world. Why do you write what you write? What is the message you want to communicate? What are you passionate about? What are the over-arching themes in your work? What makes your writing unique? What are your influences? Why have you chosen your particular genre to communicate with the world?
2) Identify those people or groups who are already searching for what you can offer. Find those who will be most receptive to your work and share similar desires, wants, and interests. Where do they spend their time online and off? Who are they influenced by? Develop a reader profile. Become obsessed with your readers. Know them intimately, and get crystal clear on what they want, and how you can provide it.
By nailing down these two things, it becomes much, much easier to determine “what to write about”. Plus, the added bonus is that your book marketing and promotion becomes easier too.
It’s like chatting with good friends. Do you ever really run out of conversation with good friends? 🙂
Thanks so much for the fabulous comment Kimberley. Really appreciate the extra information!
Very interesting thanks Alllison. I have just started a blog for the opposite reason – to try to learn to write more fluidly and with some sort of clarity, but I think many of these points equally apply to my type of blog. Appreciate the links too!
Absolutely Helen – it’s a terrific way to work on your writing voice.
I love this. Thank you. I’ve heard so much lately “Be yourself” as it pertains to writing. Why do we need the reminder to do this? It’s so simple and easy to grasp, but so hard to do sometimes.
It is. But blogging really helps with finding your voice, I find – so it’s definitely worth persisting with. 🙂
Allison, thanks so much for sharing all the links. I am going to start a blog in a couple of months from a writing perspective, so this is a fabulous resource!
Thanks Allison. I’m new to blogging and definitely feeling my way, so this list of tips and links is exactly what I need!
Good luck with your blog Lisa!
Terrific Al. This has been on my mind lately, so I am glad you’ve tackled the subject. x
Any time Zanni!