I’ve been asked to give a talk on author blogging next month, and it’s got me thinking. I’ll be speaking to a group of self-publishers, authors, indie publishers, and people who provide publishing or marketing services.
We talk a lot about author blogging, and why it’s a great idea for authors to create an author platform. Yet very few authors I know write regularly about their book, or its subject matter, or about anything at all.
Most blogs, in fact, are probably abandoned early in their life. There must be millions of “ghost” blogs around the internet, sitting in that same kind of stasis the old mining towns are in when someone stumbles on them in a movie set out west.
What Seems to Be the Problem?
The classic mistake made by self-publishers is not thinking about marketing until their books are at the printer. They are too busy, too wrapped up in the manuscript, or they don’t want to step so far out of their comfort zone.
I get this, I really do. We’re all busy, and marketing seems to most self-publishers like something somebody else does. But not any more.
If you’re like most self-publishers, you’ll be doing a lot of your marketing online, and that’s where a blog is going to help you out. You’ll be setting up an outpost on the internet, establishing a brand, and you can’t start too early.
Maybe you won’t have three years to blog before your book comes out, but it wouldn’t hurt. Whatever time you have, it’s important to make use of it.
Why? Read on.
5 Reasons to Start Blogging Now
1. Nothing happens at first—Although you can get started blogging within minutes, it takes time to build up some content and to get taken seriously by search engines. Lots of blogs are abandoned soon after they start, and search engines know this. Starting now is your best option, because you immediately start the clock ticking on getting search traffic.
2. It takes practice—You may be a perfectly good writer, but you’ve been writing books, or articles for trade magazines, or press releases or whatever. Blogging has its own rationale, and blog posts are not like other types of writing. You’ll need a bit of time to get used to the form.
3. You need to find readers—Maybe you’re an amazing writer, but there are a lot of choices for people who spend time online. At first, no one will know you’re there, and building a community of readers is an organic process.
4. Work on building connections—As your blog grows, you’ll naturally start to connect with other bloggers in your field. You may be surprised at how many connections you can make this way, and that there’s a supportive community you can become a part of.
5. Branding doesn’t happen in a day—Whether you realize it or not, you are creating an online author brand, a media presence, by building your blog. Brands have tremendous power over our buying decisions, but it takes time and repeated exposure to get traction for your brand.
Of course, the whole idea is that after you’ve been blogging for a while, establishing authority, building readership, gaining trust by delivering content of authentic value, there will be a payoff.
Imagine yourself a year or two in the future. You’ve done all these things, maybe because you read this article or another one like it. Now it’s time to release your book. You have an audience waiting, other bloggers ready to help spread the word, and access to media sources through your blog.
A Fine Example
This isn’t a fantasy or out of your reach. I’ve been watching (and helping) Joanna Penn, who blogs at The Creative Penn, as she launches Pentecost, her first novel. It will be a great success. Know why? She has spent the last couple of years connecting to people, delivering content of value, engaging readers and peers alike. Hundreds of people have voted in her polls about choosing a cover for the book. Everyone is anticipating its release.
Wouldn’t you like to publish your next book to an eager and waiting community of fans?
Start blogging today.
Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, a book designer and blogs about book design, self-publishing and the indie publishing life at TheBookDesigner.com. He's also the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, where he helps publishers and authors who decide to publish get to market on time and on budget with books that are both properly constructed and beautiful to read.