Blogging as an author is easy–IF you know what to blog about. Social media experts all have their opinion on how authors should approach blogging–and that’s great! But what happens if you’ve tried their approach and it didn’t work? Or wasn’t sustainable? What do you do then?
Hi, I’m a fiction author who has read countless articles about blogging as an author. Each article I’ve read has had one thing in common–a single solitary message that goes something like this…
Fiction authors need a BRAND.
To get a Brand, they need a PLATFORM.
To get a Platform, they need a SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE.
To get Social Media Presence, they need to blah, blah… BLOG.
Please notice that nowhere in that list was the obvious that…
Fiction authors need to WRITE MORE BOOKS
to have a career, a happy life, and food to eat.
I’m guessing the reason that statement wasn’t in those articles and books was because it was assumed that Fiction Authors would naturally do that. You know, write more books. Rather than Facebook-ing or Tweeting the night away.
So–me being me–I couldn’t help but notice a growing trend of complaints and groans in writer groups at the end of last year about how some writers didn’t achieve nearly as much as they’d hope to by the end of the year. Then I start noticing how many authors complained about getting sucked into Facebook land to play games or chat instead of working and churning out more books.
And then my inner scientist self started wondering… why are so many people getting sucked into Facebook land? Instead of doing their work? Is it because they’re not motivated? Is it because they have no self control? Is it because they need human interaction and writing in general is a solitary career?
Honestly, I’ve no clue on the answers to those questions.
But I can’t help but think that Facebooking instead of writing happens more frequently than not because it’s been pushed onto fiction authors that successful professional authors have a social media presence and having that social media presence helps sell books.
Not sell books in the way that it sounds. I mean, you don’t–or rather should NOT–book blast Twitter or Facebook with a “buy my book now or else!” link. Instead, social media is used exactly like it sounds… to be social and have conversations.
But conversations about what?
Whatever it is that you feel like conversing about.
Okaaaaay, I feel like conversing about writing.
Um, yeah, you can converse about anything BUT writing.
WHAT? But you just told me I can converse about anything I want!
Yep–and you can. About anything OTHER THAN WRITING.
That doesn’t make any sense at all. Especially for ME. I’m an introvert. A real introvert. Not some fake introvert who only pretends to be shy. I’m a soft spoken, keep my thoughts to myself, because people scare me kind of introvert.
So? Get over it. You can’t write about writing. No reader wants to read about it.
WHAT? Are you freaking kidding me? I would have killed to have read a series of thinking blog posts about developing a sustainable writing career when I first started out this journey. But instead–because you say that professional authors don’t blog about writing–I had to get what I know from rule breakers who probably don’t have their ear to the ground and their pulse linked in to what’s going on in the industry I work in and…
WAIT A MINUTE.
Why is it that economists are allowed to write about the economy?
Why is it scientists are allowed to write about science?
Why is it teachers are allowed to talk about teaching?
Because they’re “experts” in their field.
Then why the hell aren’t writers allowed to write about writing? Aren’t they “experts” in their field?
Give me a moment. I can’t speak when laughing hysterically because you said expert and writer in the same sentence when referring to fiction authors.
Oh for crying out loud. Writing fiction is a skill with a craft associated with it. Telling a story isn’t hard, but telling a damn good story that grabs a readers attention and holds it? THAT is hard work and worthy of some respect. So quit laughing and start answering my question. Now.
Good point. Okay, so the reason writers can’t blog about writing is because… reading about writers writing is boring to fiction book readers.
Okay, that I can see. But you have repeatedly told me that social media isn’t about selling books.
It’s about Branding and Platform.
It’s about making friends and networking.
To build a social presence that gets noticed by search engines.
Then doesn’t it also make sense that blogging about writing can be used as a tool to connect with a group of SERIAL READERS in my target genre who also happen to be… writers?
Um, yeah, I guess so.
Then wouldn’t it also make perfectly logical sense for me to develop content that speaks to a group of known Serial Readers (who get the crazy I spew) on the off chance that they might see one of my books ranked up there next to theirs and then they click on it to read, which magically increases my noticeability in the marketplace (author and book ranking) and gets me discreetly promoted using the behind the scenes Amazon network that’s shown as the… Customers who bought this item also bought…
Um, yeah… maybe.
So then why the hell would you tell me I should cut out blogging or writing content on a social media platform that is designed to attract a known population of serial readers in my industry?????
Um… because writers in your same genre can’t post a book review for you (their competition) on Amazon? And book reviews with actual reviews written sell more books than no books reviews and a hundred conversations on Facebook with another writer?
True, but hasn’t it also been discussed that Amazon polices reviews and then strikes from them their site if there’s any hint of “friendship” between the reviewer and the reviewee?
Actually what’s been discussed for months (more like years) is that Amazon does police reviews–using bots to do the dirty work–to identify reviews posted by those that do not adhere to Amazon’s guidelines for acceptable reviews. It’s also true that this “police the reviews” state came about because some bad apples started a trend of targeting certain authors to skew their reviews and drive their sales down and those targeted authors complained and asked Amazon to do something about it and so Amazon… did as requested and made rules. For posting reviews.
I personally never agreed with setting those rules.
True. Making those rules did sound like a good idea at the time, but in practice they still hurt the author rather than the reader. Because, as we all know, readers are savvy. They know when a review is good and when one is bad. Personally, I like to read the bad ones.
LOL, that is so true. The bad reviews make me curious as hell and more inclined to buy the book to read it. Then post another review to either agree or disagree with that review.
Yep, but *sigh* we–as an author–can’t do that now. Which sucks.
Agreed. It’s also why you say I “shouldn’t” write blogs to target other writers.
Actually, I said don’t—not “shouldn’t”. But yes, in part, that’s why I said it; however, the real reason I said it the first go around had to do with… writing blogs to target other writers means you’re targeting only a handful of readers when you should be targeting a wider audience.
Ah, but I already established that writers are Serial Readers who shop in the marketplace where I sell my books.
Have you ever heard of the power of exponential growth? Or considered that reaching 2 serial reader-writers who each have 50 readers in their circle (or associated to their behind the scenes Amazon reading habit) means that if those 2 serial reader-writers buy my book then I have quietly and discreetly placed myself in the path of 102 readers who aren’t my direct friends on social media and who could potentially buy my book and then… leave a review.
You have no proof that kind of networking happens on Amazon.
Not 100%, but I do know that Amazon loves to push products and generate sales (because that means they get paid) so if they notice a serious serial reader (who also happens to be a writer) reads one of my books, then they will track it and use that data to push another sale. It’s smart business. Especially in the business they’re in.
Okay, maybe. But it still limits your conversational audience.
On the surface, but my gut says blogging content that’s helpful to other writers is what’s needed–right now–for my career.
Do you know why it’s right for you in this moment?
Yep. Because I’m in phase 1 of my writing career. The launch and connect… to other writers.
What’s the purpose of this launch and connect to other writers?
To find and build my writing community (my writing tribe, my writing family) who can help me later on down the road with marketing (author cross promotions), writing new books (in new series worlds) and stay current on what works and what doesn’t in marketing land. And vice versa–I can help them.
Ah. That makes sense. A LOT of sense. Then by all means–please ignore everything I’ve ever said about never blogging about writing to target a writer audience. Instead, please, follow your gut and target that very small, very specialized group of SERIAL READER-WRITERS and make friends who can help you network your way to super-stardom.
Thanks, I will and I’ll do it like this…
See Elijana blogging her way to friendships that matter by writing a series of
about Writing and Building a Writing Career
~ ~ ~
Okay, so that conversation I just walked you through actually happened. In my head. On the last day of 2017.
The same day that I developed my 2018 blogging topic list and schedule.
Now to be fair, I didn’t share that conversation to sway you to do the same as me and blog with mini white papers.
Instead, I shared my thought process to illustrate the power of knowing your industry and listening to your gut instincts to get comfortable stepping outside the box–to do what you need and not what the experts say you HAVE TO do to get ahead.
Because at the end of the day, your writer business, your writing career and every decision you make to move that career forward… it’s on you. Not me.
That means it has to develop and get executed for the purpose you have assigned it.
That means that if writing a blog about food recipes or the crazy antics your cat does on catnip… connects you to the readers you need and are targeting, then do it.
And by the same token–if following the advice given by the “social media experts” makes sense and works for you, then do it.
But whatever you decide to do, do me a favor.
Decide to do it based on logic, for a specific reason, that is alignment with what you need to build what you desire.
To help you make that decision, I’m going to share with you as much as I possibly can about social media and developing a presence to create a network.
As I do this, I will go out of my way to keep everything simple and straight forward so it makes sense to as many people as possible. Because there’s one thing I’ve picked up lately in the social media explanations out there today and that’s… people who write about tend to assume that everyone knows the little stuff.
And if there’s one thing my inner scientist loathes (with a red hot passion) is undefined assumptions.
So expect me to keep it simple and slow walk you through everything I know. If at any point, I say something that doesn’t make sense… ask me to explain it. Trust me, you won’t offend me by asking me questions. Or commenting on what I’ve posted. Instead I encourage it and welcome constructive discussions.
Because that’s how scientists learn.
Okay, so now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get started with the first brain dump and a brief discussion and…
How blogging can increase your social media presence.
First up in this discussion is to understand what I mean when I say Social Media Presence.
In its simplest terms, Social Media Presence is exactly as it sounds. Having a presence on social media sites.
But more specifically, having an account on the social media site under your writing name that has the power to direct traffic from a social media site back to your web home and book products.
How many social media sites are there? And do I need to have accounts on all of them?
From everything I’ve read over the years, YES… it is a good idea to have accounts on the social media sites.
Doesn’t mean you have to maintain all of them and visit all of them frequently but owning an account that is claimed by you (using your author persona)… that can drive traffic back to your web home and book products… that’s what I recommend (I’ll explain why after the list)
Now for the list of social media sites… off the top of my head, here’s what I have:
- Google (Gmail & Blogger)
- Amazon Author Page
- and more… so many more.
Why do I recommend having accounts on multiple social media sites?
Because from everything I’ve figured out and learned to date, the reason authors need these social media sites is… to increase the likelihood of discoverability… on search engines. The idea behind it is surprisingly simple in that…
The more you interact on social media, then the higher your chances are at being… discovered.
Please notice that this is discoverability via internet searching and not necessarily marketplace searching.
Yes, I’m making a huge assumption here that the largest book marketplace out there (Amazon) pays attention to your popularity on search engines (like Google) and I hate like hell to make that assumption, but I have to… because it’s logical and a distinct possibility.
So having social media presence in non-book marketplaces is about creating opportunities for future readers to stumble upon you when they’re least expecting it and actively Googling for reading material. Online. Because they’re searching… online… for a topic that you happened to have
blogged written about.
Not necessarily a book. But a topic.
That might (and hopefully will) lead them back to your website where your book is displayed… with a buy link… that leads them over to… their favorite “trusted” marketplace.
Which is why I included places like Goodreads (owned by Amazon), BookBub (not owned by Amazon, but makes a good bit of money being an affiliate who drives money back to the marketplace), and Amazon Author Page in the social media site list.
Because at the end of the day–your product is on sale and you want readers to find it in the marketplace.
But you also want the data crunchers at the marketplace to pay attention to that traffic. To respond to that traffic. In a manner that is beneficial to your career and bottom line.
Because the more traffic you drive to the marketplace, then the more likely it is that consumers will purchase your product and then… the more likely it is that the marketplace will increase your… discoverability via searches (or newsletter access in the case of BookBub).
So the basis for any writer plan for social media presence is (in my humble opinion) all about creating funnels that do one of two things:
- Guide readers to your web home and/or preferred place to chat–so they can get to know you and find your product
- Guide readers to the marketplace they trust (to spend their hard earned money on your product)–so you can improve your relationship with your vendor and get better marketplace placement
Most (but not all) of the social media sites in the list I made can create both funnels, but the only one that you 100% control the content on is… your blog.
You control how your blog looks. How often your blog is updated. How often a new post gets added to shove out an old one. You control the discussion–for the most part–and direct the narrative about your business and BRAND.
Oh and if I haven’t mentioned it yet–which I don’t think I have–my definition for BRAND is…
What your product means to the consumer.
That’s emotionally means.
On a gut instinct kind of level.
Not on the surface means, but deep down inside… what does seeing your…
author name + book cover design + font style + blurb words + book premise + book content + book quality + book formatting
What feeling does all of that inspire in your target reader audience?
Target book reader audience?
Target blog reader audience?
What feeling do you want it to inspire?
A good time with a happily for now?
A hot, quirky read through?
An on the edge of your seat mystery thriller?
A renewal of faith in a higher power?
Hope that even too stupid to live (TSTL) heroes and heroines can make it through chapter 13 to get their happily ever after (HEA)?
Not certain? Then take the time to find out.
Think about popular writers whose books you have actually read.
What feeling did you get about the writer when you read their work?
What feeling did you get when you saw their book cover?
What feeling from the font they used?
From the blurb they used to describe the book?
What feeling on the first page of the story?
On the last page of the story?
From reading their bio?
Then sum it all up in a simple phrase to describe the Brand they present and inspire in you.
Then go to their website and see if their web home matches what you expect the name (that IS that Brand) to look like.
Do that exercise a couple of times–or every time you read a new author–and I guarantee you’ll be amazed at what you discover about the name behind the product.
Heck, you might even get a clue or two on what you would and wouldn’t do on your own blog or in your own books. 🙂
And on that note, I’m done with today’s Get Out of the Box Already and Blog mini white paper.
I hope what I’ve shared here has been helpful or, at the very least, give you a different perspective on how to make blogging as an author work for you.
Until next time… happy reading, planning, and social media presence conquering!