Sunday, May 30, 2010

Should fiction writers have a blog?

I have known and know of some professional authors who never blog, yet they are doing quite fine with their writing career. On the other hand, I've known several authors who might not have been able to make a career out of writing without the help of their blog.

As example, science fiction author John Scalzi first published his novel Old Man's War online and that combined with his blog, Whatever, were huge boosts to his career. Thriller/horror author J.A. Konrath has also boosted his career quite a bit with the aid of his blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

Plenty of other novelists never blog. Ever.

So if you're a budding fiction writer, what should you do?

One argument against blogging is that it takes time away from a fiction writer, time that could be spent writing ... well, spent, writing fiction.

However, a blog can be a huge promotional tool for a writer. Remember, the actual writing itself is just the beginning of the work. Most writers have to spend plenty of time also doing promotions, making sure potential readers have heard of them. To that end, a blog makes perfect sense.

The key is not to spend so much time blogging that it takes away from actual writing time. A little self restraint might sometimes be in order, or perhaps a writer would even want to put himself or herself on a schedule; maybe they would only allow themselves to blog for an hour a day, or during a certain time of the day.

Of course some writers blog their fictional works. As a hobby, this is fine. Even as a self-publishing author, this fine. But if you are trying to sell your novel to a traditional print publisher, or even many ebook publishers, you need to think twice about putting your fiction out there for everyone to see for free; many publishers will not want to try to sell to readers material that is already available for free elsewhere than through the publisher.

Well, should a fiction writer have a blog? Considering the importance of self-promotions for writers nowadays, and considering the growing importance of electronic publishing, I lean heavily toward blogging. Even if a writer should land a book deal with a major publisher, that publisher is going to expect a certain level of self-promotions from the writer.

And what better, and easier, way to do a little promotions than to blog?


Stewart Sternberg said...

You know, I am constantly pushing blogging. I obviously believe in the importance of maintaining an online presence, but it's more than that. I like the idea of being part of an online community. I can't tell you how many other writers I've developed friendships with who I've met online.

And to show you how sick I am...I have three blogs I work on. THREE. House of Sternberg (my writers' blog), Sternberg's Mind Matter (an educator's blog), and now Eldersigns Press's blog. And two twitter accounts.

It can be work, but like I said, I think I've seen results. The trick is to continue pumping out and reaching out.

Ty Johnston said...

Stewart, thanks for the comment. I know what you mean. Right now I've got five blogs altogether, plus I freelance write a bunch of articles. So, heck, it's difficult to find time to write fiction sometimes.

Leslie Shimotakahara said...

At the urging of my agent, I started a blog that runs parallel to my memoir in progress. At first, it was work, but now I'm really enjoying it!

SusanKPerry said...

I just gave up one of my two blogs, realizing I was truly putting too much thought (if not time) into blogging about writing rather than WRITING (fiction). Maybe the time for the biggest push and greatest need for connecting online is when your novel has just been sold. It's so easy to kid oneself that blogging is going to help the fiction. Maybe, and only maybe.