To Blog or Not to Blog: Is That the Question?


By Rachelle Gardner

Standard wisdom used to be that authors, both fiction and non-fiction, should build relationships with readers through blogs. As social media and online marketing have evolved, my thoughts on blogging have changed.

The proliferation of blogs in the last 10 years has made it increasingly difficult to stand out in the crowd. Many authors are blogging faithfully but it doesn’t seem to be increasing readership of their books; in fact most of their readers are other writers. One good indicator blogging might not be for you is if you have a hard time figuring out what you should write about.

So, how do you decide if you should have a blog?

HAVE A BLOG IF:

1. You have something important to say and it seems people want to hear it.
2. You understand that blogging is about offering something of value, NOT about promoting yourself and your books.
3. You enjoy blogging (for the most part, anyway).
4. You find blogging contributes to your creativity and enthusiasm for writing your books, rather than sucking all the energy out of you.
5. You can find the time for blogging without it completely stressing you out.
6. Your books have a highly defined target audience, making it easy to target your blog.
7. Your books are topical (especially non-fiction), so that you have a clear and obvious theme for your blog.

DON’T HAVE A BLOG IF:

1. You keep asking yourself and others, “But what should I blog about?”
2. You only want to blog to promote your books and/or because you think you “have to.”
3. The whole idea stresses you out.
4. You honestly don’t have the time in your schedule to blog regularly.
5. You’ve been blogging for a year or more, and haven’t built up to a traffic level that seems worth it.

If blogging isn’t attracting readers to your books, consider other ways to connect to your audience.

ALTERNATIVES TO BLOGGING
Here are some alternatives to blogging when it comes to online networking and promotion.

*Joining a group blog.
*Sending email newsletters.
*Using Facebook effectively.
*Leveraging the various ways Goodreads offers for promoting books.
*Attracting a readership through Pinterest and/or Instagram.
*Having an effective LinkedIn profile page.
*If you don’t want to blog or be engaged in online promotion, should you self-publish instead of seeking a publisher?

I get this question from writers frequently, and my answer is: What would be the point of self-publishing a book, if you have no intention of promoting it? Who will buy it? With millions of books available for sale at any given time, what’s your plan for letting people know that yours exists?

AUTHORS MUST PROMOTE

Blogging and other means of online promotion aren’t just hoops that publishers want you to jump through. They’re real and necessary methods of letting people know about your book. So if you have no intention of letting anyone know about your book, through a sustained, long-term promotional plan of online engagement, then think carefully about how and when you will connect with readers.

If you build it: they will NOT come. You must promote it. If that means blogging, and you love that format, then challenge yourself to get started.

Rachelle Gardner, an agent with Books and Such Literary Agency, has been involved in publishing since 1995, formerly serving as senior editor at NavPress and director of rights and marketing at General Publishing Group before turning full-time to representing authors. She acquires mostly adult fiction and nonfiction, with an occasional foray into books for teens. Her blog, named in 2013 by Writer’s Digest among 101 Best Websites for Writers, can be found at rachellegardner.com.