Blogging as an author. Must you do it? Should you do it? Can you do it?
Five years ago, when Allison Pang and Jeffe invited me to join this blog, I did so to be more appealing to agents and editors. ~gasp~ WUT? It's true. Five years ago, all the gatekeepers expected you to have a blog. A regularly updated blog. A blog with fresh, exciting, and engaging content.
I have a "personal" blog--still--that is not particularly active. I usually post there if I'm on a tear about a particular topic or want to share something that requires more than 140 characters to properly convey. I never kept journals not even as a kid, so the ritual of public journaling--which blogging is--never took root as a creative or therapeutic outlet. Sure, I have lots of ideas for how to make the blog entertaining, but I'd rather spend the time and effort writing my next book.
I should sunset the personal blog.
Thankfully, most of the gatekeepers of fiction have come 'round to understanding the Opportunity Costs of blogging and no longer pretend it's a requirement. Probably because many of them were held to the same expectation. Experience is a wonderful teacher, right?
I continue to participate in this group blog because it gives me the best of being a blogger without the burden of it. It allows me to create and maintain a presence in the book-world of readers, reviewers, and fellow authors. I have six peers who also choose topics, own their dates, and introduce me to their readers. This blog is my publishing-centric outlet on the Web. It is different from my presence on Twitter and both are different from my engagement on Facebook.
If you are going to be a blogger, here are three tips based on my successes and epic failures:
Blog Regularly: Releasing content is like having enough fiber. You need to be regular in your posting schedule. You don't have to blog daily. It can be weekly. Only on days that start with "T," or days divisible by 3. Whatever it is, pick a schedule and stick with it, because it's all about creating reader expectations. As an author, you know all about the Contract of Expectations between author and reader.
Vary the Theme of Your Blog: Don't be too narrowly focused because you'll run out of topics. You should be in this for the long-haul. There are only so many times you can talk about Toddlers Without Pants. The point of an author-blog is to let readers know you better, to know the person behind the pages. Filtered and Edited. Never post in anger or righteous indignation. Remember, there is such a thing as TMI.
Rejoice in Guest Bloggers: Invite guests to post on your blog. Be a guest on someone else's blog. You'll welcome the change of pace. Plus, cross-promotion is wonderful for you and your readers. Yes, the blogger community is weary of being abused by parasitic salesmen and trolls. Be mindful in your solicitations of guest bloggers. Similarly, when you are approached to be a guest blogger, check for strings. Otherwise, go forth and enjoy being a member of the blogger community.
*Note: If you want to be a guest blogger on the SFF Seven, our contact form is at the bottom of the page.
An author should have a Web presence. There is no excuse to not have a Web page with a bio and a list of all your books--barest minimum. It'd be nice if you had a social media presence on whatever platform best suits you. However, if blogging regularly ain't your thing, don't do it. Don't even get in the game. There's no need to fake the funk.