Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Viewpoint Question: Are Blogs Necessary for Fiction Writers' Platforms?

Wednesdays are for News and Views here on Write of Passage. Today I'd love to get feedback from readers on an important and controversial topic to all of us writers/authors. Specifically, how important, really, are blogs for fiction writers to establish platforms that translate into readership?

I have serious doubts about this one. It seems strange to me that most agents seem to think that a blog and followers establishes a large base of readers who will buy the blogger's book when it comes out. If it's a non fiction book, or if the fiction writer has a particular area of expertise that is central to all her books and is the theme of her blog, as well (like the law, or medicine, or flying airplanes—hi, Karlene, or even something like knitting or cats), then I can understand the agents' request/demand. Otherwise, not so much.

Furthermore, I've heard, as all of you probably have, that blogging about writing is not what agents want you to do because other writers are not the platform audience you should be building. That begs the question: if, like so many writers, you don't have a particular expertise/theme like those mentioned above, then, from the agent's point of view, why should you blog?

  • What do you think? Is this different for traditionally published authors than for indie authors?
  • What has your blog-to-readership experience been, or what do you think it likely to be?
  • Why do you blog? (Personally, I blog because I love the content nature of blogs. I love writing about what's important to me and connecting to the people who read my blog and getting their ideas about books/writing.)


  1. I do think blogs allow you to share more about your book and your road to publication. And run contests to give it away that creates excitement for the book. And you can make blogger friendships that may help you spread the word about your book when it releases. Not sure if that means more sales.

    I blog to make connections with other readers and writers and to promote the books and authors I share on my blog.

    1. Hi Natalie. You make some great points. I would probably never give up blogging because I love the connections with other writers and readers, too, too. Not too sure about the $ value as a marketing tool, and would love to see actual numbers if anyone in the publishing world has put them together. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.

  2. I haven't yet blogged, but I know many writers who do. And as a reader, I often look to see if the writer has a blog. That way I can contact that person through the blog. And I agree that a blog helps you market your book.

    1. Thank you, Lin, that is really good to hear!

  3. Linda, this is a great discussion. I think that blogging to writers is only important if you plan on writing a book on writing. Because then they will be your audience.

    We all need support, but the writing community is not your audience. However, I actually skew those odds because I buy a lot of books from recommendations on blogs. Something that I wouldn't go to find on my own. But would I buy a book on the history of the amazon because I enjoyed reading someone's tips on writing? Probably not.

    But then, if I become friends with the the person because of the blog connection, yes, I would support them. However, is it possible to truly have 5000 friends?

    Blogs help build writing skills. They keep your name out there. If someone googles you, they know you're legit. But, to build an audience, that is the question.

    The real key to marketing to your audience is creating a readership that are readers, not writers. Is this possible with a blog? I think... YES.

    Back to audience...

    Are they mystery readers? Why do they read that genre? What do they look for in a good mystery? With that said, if you're a mystery writer... maybe you could write a blog of the "Mysteries of Seattle." A little crafty, creative mystery of something that happened in the city... leave a cliff hangar. Then they will want to come back. If you're capturing their interest on the blog, those people "will" be your market.

    The trick is finding your niche, whatever it is. Flying. Location. Activity. Something that others want to join in with because it fills their needs of interest in their activities. Then they will be a "real" audience.

    Back to the original question... Blogging on writing really is not going to help sell books and won't be the type of platform an agent wants, and publishers need.

    This is a really good point Linda. I'm feeling a shift in the wind.

    1. Excellent comments, Karlene, thanks! Your idea about finding a niche that allows the blogger to use her/his writing as an teaser kind of example of genre writing is a great one.

  4. Love this discussion on why we blog..I do it just because it makes me happy to share little observances I've made, ideas, strange things that are going on in society, etc...I've been writing things down since as far back as I can remember. I've never written a book or anything like that, but I can see how a blog could be helpful in marketing...when people,(readers)can contact someone through a blog it makes the book, and the author more 'real' to them. I'd love to write a book one day..

    1. You should, Eve. If you've been writing things down as long as you can remember, you love to write. Believe it or not, that is maybe the most important qualification for any writer. :) That may sound obvious, but so many people know they have a great idea for a book, but just can't get comfortable with the whole writing thing. Love your comment about connecting as a reader to writers through their blogs, too.

  5. Good question, Linda! I have a few thoughts on this.

    I don't know if the people I reach are all writers. I may be reaching readers as well. In fact, I have a huge following in Russia! I have no idea if those peeps are enjoying the blog, or what, but my Russia page views sometimes out number US.

    I've quit blogging so much on writing at my main blog, and do it at another one, now. Plus, right now I can't post any pictures in the blog itself.)^;

    I blog merely because I like reaching people & I love the friends I've made on blogspot--you included! (^;

    My publisher has had me blog at his site, and because I have limited time, he's reduced it to once per month. I get huge page views there too. So, I think from my perspective, if you have a publisher, and they want you to do some blogging on their site, do it. You do reach readers that way.

    Indies, that's a tough one. I think facebook and other social media is the clue to getting some readers for your work, so maybe inclusion of these are a must as well

    Giveaways, reviews, being on other blogs, etc. are important, because you may pick up sales that way, too. Writers are readers, and if they love your book, who better to recommend it to others?

    In as far as what agents think you should do? I've no idea why they want you to blog, now. I think it was important 8-10 years ago, but not so much anymore because so many of us are doing it, I don't know how anyone has time to read every author that's out here.

    You brought up a great question, Linda. Can't wait to see what the next one will be on.

    1. Great thoughts, Lorelei! Blogging to reach people is a great reason, and I especially like it that your publisher wants you to blog on his site. That makes total sense to me, and it's good to here that you get lots of page views there. Yes, it does seem like no one has time to read all the blogs out there these days, but I take heart from the idea that blogs can be used well as marketing tools if they're targeted well. Thanks for your thoughts.