This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.
Should You Add a Blog to Your Author Site?
We’ve talked so far about doing an Author Website through WordPress. Now that you’ve built the thing, you need to decide if you will add a blog or not.
No, I don’t want a blog
First, let me quickly says that you do NOT have to have a blog. It’s just an option.
Blogging requires a commitment to writing that can be a strain on writing projects, family time and other time commitments. I’m not worried–really, I’m not–about whether or not you can find enough to write about. That’s the easy part. Time is the hard thing to find. If you commit to writing a blog the most important rule is this: be consistent in posting. You can NOT post just once or twice a month. Instead, just update your website. Or post on Facebook, Twitter or a social network. Don’t waste your time and your readers time by starting something you can’t keep up with.
Embrace uncertainty. On the other hand, when I started blogging six years ago, it was with uncertainty. Would I like blogging? Would I draw in any readers? Would I find topics to write about? And so on. I made a commitment to TRY. And here we are. You can do the same.
OK, I’ll try a blog!
Great! You will find an audience beyond your usual boundaries.
You will find topics that fascinate you and you want to delve into deeply. You will have a platform for doing that.
You will find the blog a task-master that you both love and hate.
You will find your audience to be an amazing group of people.
And when your first book/next book comes out, you’ll find people cheering for you. (Here’s my latest novel. Thanks for caring!)
You don’t blog to sell books. You blog to make friends.
What will you write about?
As I look around the blogosphere, I find bloggers using different strategies for content.
- Up-to-date news. One strategy for blogging is to keep your ears to the ground and as soon as you hear something, you blog about it in depth. Did Facebook just update it’s home page? Provide the killer tutorial on it before anyone else. As I am writing this, I got an email that Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press is going international. If I cared about the hottest publishing news, I would jump on this!
- Names. I once read about a small-town newspaper publisher who saturated the market with a single strategy: publish as many names as possible. When a baseball team played, the newspaper listed the name of every single team member. And the managers. And the coaches. Of course, people bought the newspaper to see their name in print. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog uses this strategy by listing everyone’s good news, interviews with almost everyone in children’s literature and generally spreading the love.
- Teaching. This blog, Fiction Notes, is about observing my own struggles and the struggles of my friends and colleagues and writing about how to solve problems. In a word, I teach. (My friend says that I can’t NOT teach; she’s right.)
- Diary. Some people live a transparent life online and don’t mind the glass walls. If that’s for you, you’ll find many who’ll take the trip with you.
- Thoughtful or thought-provoking analysis. Maybe you only want to post once a week, but you want it to be a longer, more thoughtful piece. That would be great. Don’t think you must post daily. But be consistent. On Thursday, I look forward to reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch‘s thoughtful posts about the publishing industry. I don’t have to agree with everything she says to look forward to the posts, because they always make me think. For example, a thoughtful person could write an interesting post about the Children’s Book Council 7th Annual Children’s Choice Book Awards. One of the awards is for the Author of the Year; the five nominees are always based on best-seller lists. The controversy this year is that Rush Limbaugh’s book, Rush Revere and the First Patriots: Time-Travel Adventures With Exceptional Americans, is a best-seller, which put him on the list for Author of the Year. A thoughtful or thought-provoking blogger could write about this in depth. Lots of issues to delve into there! (Should children’s book awards be based on best-seller lists? How easy is it to manipulate best selling lists? If we reject the bestseller list as a starting point for awards, where SHOULD we start?) This isn’t something I would do on my blog; I avoid the controversial. But if you’re up for it. . .
- Topics for which you have a passion. Maybe you don’t want to blog about books, publishing, or other authors. One author friend is interested in true stories of ghosts. Since she writes mysteries, it sounds like a great topic for a blog! She could interview people who have seen a ghost, joke about ghostbusters, include photos of ghosts (NOT!) and so on. What’s your passion? Bulldogs? Kidnapped kids and how they survive? Whatever your passion, it’s fine–no, it’s GREAT–for an author blog to take off on a tangent. You’ll find readers beyond your books and that’s not such a bad thing.
- Photos, video or audio. Maybe you are a cartoonist and can provide a humorous 3-panel cartoon daily. Maybe your hobby is photoshopping dog portraits. Great. Just post one picture a day. Or post one a week and explain how you photoshopped it. Use YouTube and pull the videos into your blog. Or do a podcast. There may be platforms that are better for each of these areas (For video, you need a YouTube Channel.), but they can also feed into a blog.
- Your Ideas. You may have another strategy for writing a blog. Please share it!
Notice: These strategies are about giving an audience something interesting to read. Entertain. Inform. Persuade. Provoke. It’s not about you. It’s about your readers. What type of content can you write about that others would want to read on a consistent basis?
It’s time. Decide. Will you try a blog or just stick with your author website?