When Should an Author Blog?

Today’s post takes a look at a much-debated question: when, where, and how much should an author blog?

The answer is: “it depends on several factors.” Let’s examine some of them in more detail:

1. When Should an Author Start Blogging?

It’s never too soon–or too late–for an author to blog. Blogging increases visibility, and builds platform, at any stage of an author’s career.

However, blogging is “short-form writing,” which differs from writing novels, so it does represent a completely different skill. Some novelists may not make great bloggers – and that’s OK. Blogging is not a mandatory element of writing success. However, blogging does give authors a significant advantage when it comes to reaching an audience, so it’s a skill worth developing.

I started my author blog two years before Claws of the Cat released, which gave me time to learn the skills before I was in the spotlight. Starting early, either on your own site or on a blogger or wordpress-hosted blog, can give an author time to learn the form. But even if you’re already published, it’s not too late to start.

The short answer to “when should I start blogging?” is “as soon as you can find a comfortable way to start.”

2. What if an Author Hates Blogging?

Blogging makes many authors uncomfortable, because they haven’t found a blogging voice. When you write a novel, you’re writing as a narrator–someone other than yourself. When you blog, it’s you on the page.

Many authors are introverts, and uncomfortable with “exposing” their real voices on a blog, for fear the audience will reject them. However, readers often have the opposite reaction – they like learning more about the authors they love.

Even if you think you hate blogging, I recommend giving yourself six months to try it. As your voice develops, you may learn to love it after all.

3. How Does an Author Get Comfortable Blogging?

– Set a schedule and post length you can live with. You don’t have to blog every day. 2-3 times a week is what you need to grow an audience, but in the beginning even once a week will do.

– Don’t try to be “an expert.” Be YOURSELF. Let your personal voice — the one you use with your friends and family — shine through. Be aware that this is your author blog, so modify your personal voice to fit that audience, but still be yourself.

– Pick content that appeals to you (and won’t alienate your audience). You don’t have to blog about your book.  By way of example, I blog about seahorses, legal issues (on Twitter, I use the hashtag #PubLaw), writing, and neighborhood turkeys as well as my mysteries.

– Ignore the voices that say “I suck at this” and “nobody cares.” A blog takes time to get off the ground, and many readers don’t comment. Pay attention to having fun with it, and learning to let your voice shine through.

– Keep it short. This is blogging. Readers don’t want 5,000 words that sound like the U.S. tax code. Make your point in 500 words – like I just did – and be done.

Have you tried writing an author blog? What did you like – and dislike – about it the most?