Judging from the comments section of yesterday’s post, it seems that we’re all in agreement that some sort of web presence is necessary for published and unpublished authors alike.
But how much of a web presence is ideal? How much time should an author be devoting to their site? And how much of a difference-maker is it?
I know authors who are incredibly busy, who have day jobs in addition to successful writing careers, and time for book promotion is markedly limited given that they also have to, you know, write books. So what should they be doing with the limited time they have to promote their books? Is blogging and/or working on a website the most effective use of that time?
And, ultimately, does blogging sell books? Are there authors out there who have made “the leap” because of their blog? Or do successful books drive successful blogs? Is the time it takes to build a successful blog worth it?
Really looking forward to this discussion.
My 2 cents –
I’ve bought 3 authors based on their blogs. Folks I’d never heard of. So yes, I think it sells books. BUT as others have mentioned, you gotta have the book to sell first. So I think blogs help authors w/ books in print (or coming soon), and not so much for the unpublished authors.
As for what kind of content works? Not the Buy My Book stuff others have commented about. Otherwise, what I enjoy is a mix of the writing business w/ what the author’s working on, with anything else. The point being – keep it entertaining, keep it short unless you REALLY have something to say worthwhile. Following a bunch of blogs means I have a short attention span 😉
WitLiz Today says
Probably not enough to burn your ass over the midnight oil in order to keep them up. The profit margin is simply too small going the traditional publishing route, because like 98% of all authors aren’t selling their books like Dan Brown.
Readers determine who’s gonna be the next Dan Brown. And there’s still a kajillion readers out there who don’t get on the internet much, if at all. So while a website/blog amps up your visibility to a degree, that can work for you or against you. An author needs to weigh more than a few factors if/when they decide to put one up.
For instance, supposing famous romance novelist Kermit decides to website/blog. What Kermit’s fans don’t know is that he likes to get real down and dirty when he’s not writing. He puts that on the blog. Reader fan goes into shock……….Pig farming? P ewwww….
As a reader, I don’t particularly care whether an author has a website/blog. But if I’m excruciatingly bored one day, I could check it out. And yes, I might have visions of pigs grunting and poinking in my head the next time I read your romance novel. That might take some of the thrill away as you can imagine.
So, if an author is going to take the plunge and put a website/blog up, then they definitely want to sell the novel and not alienate their fan base.
And if I ever, God forbid, become one of dems famous authors, I’ll throw a site up, because at that point, I hope to have acquired enough credibility,(and wisdom) to give advice and support to the newbie writer.
I bought J.A. Konrath’s books from reading his blog and website.
My Semblance of Sanity says
I am a lurker and rarely comment here but I love this post. A very good friend of mine, and mommy-blogging-overnight-sensation, got a 6 figure, 2-book deal from agent presence on her BLOG!
She had never sent a manuscript anywhere, she was simply a really funny blogger who used ebay every now and then to pump up her blog hits.
Last summer, during one of her ebay auctions, she made history! She had been getting 40 hits a day and her hits skyrocketed to 530,000+ in 30 days!
Her books will be out next spring.
Hoping for the same luck through my humorous Mommy blog but I have a feeling this is a once in a lifetime gig!
I buy hundreds of dollars worth of books every year based on the blogs of the authors or on reviews I find on other authors’ blogs.
I had a blog; I wrote on it everyday; it was linked to my local writers group’s website. I finally took it private because while the group seemed to like it because it was getting a lot of hits for their writer’s site, they considered it more of a “guilty pleasure” than something they could really be “proud” of.
In art, as in life, there is no filter on my mouth . . . These days I pour all my artistic energy into my screenplay . . .
Nathan, when is your office going to open a branch in LA to read nothing but original screenplays? All it would take is a rented room, a desk, and a telephone. Oh yeah, and maybe a chair.
Kim Stagliano says
Is it JA Konrath who counsels that if yous blog is a fun place to visit – a destination for readers – and not a “sales tool” then it can be helpful? Readers can smell a sales job a million bytes away. I agree. Readers know instantly if you’re plugging yourself without adding value. I love my Kim blog because I’ve met so many wonderful people through it, and it has saved me millions in therapy bills. Not to mention Chivas.
I’ve bought books by authors because I feel like I’ve gotten to know them. And I like them. That said, I’m far less likely to go to author websites – because they are too static for my Tigger-like mind.
R. Daley says
In short, yes.
For my more in depth perspective, first let me qualify its origin. This involves my experience as a writer and as an entrepreneur. I have a background in sales and marketing for a start-up software company (we have been growing steadily for over three years now) and I have learned a lot about the web and search engine optimization (SEO) that some of you may find useful.
As a writer, you are hoping to build and grow a successful business. To drive that business, you need sales. Sales are driven by marketing.
Websites that are optimized for search engines are a very powerful marketing tool. Wouldn’t you love it if someone Googled a few words that go with the themes of your work and your website came up in the first few pages? Better yet, your name came up several times in the first few pages…
If you are talented (and lucky!) enough to land publishing contract, you can expect your publisher to invest their own resources in marketing your work, but the Internet is a big place, and every little bit counts.
One thing that is key in SEO is the frequency of information posted to a site. The major search engines look at the web constantly, and they remember what changes and what doesn’t. If your site doesn’t change over time, it will not maintain a high ranking (assuming, of course, you had one to start with).
Blogging is an excellent way keep posting original content, and there are free and easy tools to use. Blogging can drive traffic to your website and help to promote your work. It also keeps you writing every day.
Julianne Douglas says
I have bought books because I liked the writer’s blog. If I’m on the fence about buying a book, an entertaining or informative blog can tip the balance for a sale. If I like the author’s presence in the blog, I’m more likely to give her book a shot.
I write historical fiction and use my blog as a way to familiarize potential readers with the time period I write about. I try to find interesting anecdotes about historical figures, events and daily life that will whet readers’ appetites for novels set in the time period. My hope is that by knowing more about the historical background, they’ll be more likely to pick up a novel set in the era when they see it in the bookstore. Plus, the blog is the place to post all the fun stuff that research turns up that doesn’t fit into the story! But I agree with Nathan– posting regularly is a very time consuming endeavor.
Will it translate into more readers? I don’t know yet, but I do know that my readership has been steadily increasing. I hope that readers who enjoy my blog will also enjoy my books. I have fun getting to know readers of historical fiction and learning what they look for in hf novels.
I’ve bought books as a result of reading writers’ blogs. And I have suggested authors whose novels I haven’t even read to other readers, solely based on the autors’ blogs. So yes, I’m easily duped by blogs.
Shakespeare's Housekeeper says
i’ve read this post and comments with interest-
My husband’s a writer and doesn’t like blogging. He believes his computer is for writing only.
I find this hugely frustrating as i can see the potential for reaching a wider audience through this medium.
So, i’ve taken matters into my own hands and started a blog about what it is like to be married to a writer and will incorperate his work into my blog, as seen through my eyes.
A bit like two stories in one.
Personally, although i’m no writer myself, i’m sure that blogging is a way forward for potential and published writers alike.
Like Josephine Damian I used to believe you had to have an agent to be in this business. I had one, sold my first book and she quit being an agent, so back I was to square one. A couple of books in the same series ready to go, but no agent. So I wasted a year trying to get someone to even look at my stuff. Is it no good you ask? I think it’s better than the book I sold. But none of the agents I sent it to would know, since they wouldn’t even look at it. Since I have fans of the first book eager to gert their hands on more, I can’t sit around waiting for someone to take me on, then go through the whole lengthy process of selling it, so I found a royalty paying publisher who is very excited to be publishing the next 2 books.
Yes,I blog, and belong to all the social networks as well as have a web site I’m in the process of revamping. I don’t think there’s a magic wand that can produce sales and I no longer think having an agent is some kind of panacea.
The only truly magic thing is writing a really good book that resonates with readers.