Can Blogging Help Unpublished Writers Develop a Readership?

Most writers who are serious about publication enter the blogging world at some point. I’d venture to say most of us stake a claim in cyber land because we hear things from industry professionals like:

“Unpublished writers need to begin developing their platforms.”

“The bigger the writers’ platform, the better their chance of drawing agent/editor attention.”

“Publishing houses want to see that writers are willing to partner with them in marketing.”

“Blogging is a good way to begin to develop name recognition/web presence.”

These are a sample of the kinds of things floating around blogging land. Often we jump into a blog, eager to start building a platform and gathering a following of readers, who will potentially support us and our books.

While there’s truth to each of the above statements, they can also be misleading. We need to ask ourselves: can blogging really help unpublished authors develop a future readership?

I’ve thought about that question for a while, and here’s the conclusion I’ve come to. For the average unpublished writer, blogging won’t develop our true readership. How can it? When we don’t have anything published that can attract readers who are passionate about our genre? We don’t have a product to sell yet, and let’s face it, our pretty faces alone won’t draw the crowds.

Most of us attract other writers through each other’s comments, follower gadget’s, and twitter. Sure, I have a handful of non-writers and real-life friends who read my blog. (Thanks guys. I love you!)

But the large majority of my blog readers are fellow writers. And I would guess that’s the reality for most of us. Unless we have a specific niche that targets future readers, we really don’t have any way to attract those outside the writing community.

Okay, yes it’s true, writers are readers, and will potentially buy our books someday. Many of us are friends and want to support one another’s difficult writing journeys. Whether out of kindness, curiosity, or something else, a percentage of our followers will probably buy our books.

Just last week I bought three books of fellow writers—and not within the genre I write or read, not books I’d normally buy. I did it simply because I wanted to show them my support.

Our followers will help spread some buzz, offer to do interviews, maybe post kind reviews. But. . .

Before we’re published, we don’t have the capability to develop our true readership base—people who pick up our books, fall in love with them, google us as the authors, and look for some way to connect to us.

But after publication new, true readers will come to our blogs, and that’s when our following will change. We may even need to gradually shift the focus of our blogs so we can include our reader “fans” in our amazing writing journeys.

But until that point, blogging for unpublished writers is less about developing a writing platform and readership than it is about a whole lot of other things: support, encouragement, friendships, education, expression, self-discipline, giving back to others, sharing our journeys, building a web presence, starting some buzz, and so much more.

All that to say, I believe unpublished writers put way too much pressure on themselves with blogging. Eventually, we’ll develop a real readership—people who are crazy about our books. Until then, let’s give ourselves permission to stop worrying about platforms and readerships.

Instead, let’s figure out what we like about blogging and focus on that, because when we’re truly enjoying our blogs, our readers will sense it. And likewise, they can tell when it’s become a chore, just one more thing to do in the long list of making our way to publication.

Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? If we can’t really develop our true readership until after publication, then why worry now? What can YOU do to take off the pressure and enjoy blogging more?

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