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Can Blogging Help Unpublished Writers Develop a Readership?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“Unpublished writers need to begin developing their platforms.”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 We need to ask ourselves: can blogging really help unpublished authors develop a future readership?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 For the average unpublished writer, blogging won’t develop our true readership.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?

76 comments:

  1. The main reason I blog is for the fellowship of other writers.

    Writing is a lonely business and the support, encouragement and sharing of the journey with other writers makes enjoyable.

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  2. It's true. That when I started blogging, I was trying to develop a platform. (Even though I had no idea what that was then.)

    But now, I blog for companionship of other writers. And I blog to learn from my fellow authors. And learn I have. I'm almost ready to celebrate my one year anniversary of blogging. In that year, I have learned more than I ever thought I could. And a lot of it has come from you Jody. And Katie. The ups and downs, the trials and joys of this journey we are all on.

    The pressure is off. (Now it's on the query process.)

    I enjoy it so much more now and the way I enjoy blogging more is reaping the friendships I have made, the prayers for Christopher. That's what I treasure now.

    Thank you Jody. I love my early morning visits with you. =)

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  3. From a reader's standpoint, reading an author's blog helps me to get to know the person behind the picture on the bookjacket. Interesting to see the creative process, the ups and downs. To understand all the hard work that goes into the creative endeavor.

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  4. I totally agree, Jody!

    Which is why I'm going down to 2 posts a week, and if that doesn't help, will go down to 1.

    It's also why I try to mix up my blogs to be some writing related and some genre related. I write fun contemp romance, so I try to keep my blogs, for the most part, a wee bit funny and entertaining. If a potential reader does stumble upon it, I want it to be for them too.

    But for now, I enjoy the writing friends I meet while blogging. I would have known so few of you if I hadn't blogged, and OH MY GOODNESS what a tragedy that would have been! I treasure my blogging friendships:-) Y'all keep me sane! *grin*

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  5. I think blogging for me is to learn, and for support. So far I have had the best support I coudl ask for. I continue to learn more everyday to help me become a better writer. I have a long way to go so I will continue my blogging.
    When do you suggest to start Twitter? I have been hesitant on dong this only because I have so many avenues open. I have a Facebook page but wondered when one decides to open a Twitter account.
    Thanks!

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  6. I kept checking my dashboard this morning, waiting for you post to pop up and it never did. So finally I googled your blog and noticed that you did have a new post today. No idea why it didn't show up in my dashboard. Hmmm....

    I totally agree with everything you said. It's something I've started to realize lately and I'm much happier as a blogger because of it.

    And as much as I LOVE connecting and forming friendships with fellow writers, I do long for the day when I can connect with people who read my books...not because they are a curious fellow writer, but because they truly love the stories God's given me to write, and maybe even uplifted and blessed because of them.

    I also agree that our blog focus...when we reach that point, will have to shift.

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  7. I agree to a point.
    Blogging is about connecting with people. People can't really get to know us by reading the books we write. They get in touch with our personalities by reading our blog posts.

    I think that unpublished writers CAN build a platform by blogging because the people who already know you, are interested in the work you will eventually produce. Besides, how else can you inform 200+ people from all over the world that your new book is available? You bought your friend's book because she was your friend. People who follow your blog will undoubtedly do the same for you.

    If blogging wasn't important for building a platform publishers and agents wouldn't do it as much as they do. They understand that blogging/tweeting are large parts of promoting themselves.

    When a writer finally is published, there are already hundreds of 'reader's' on tap to buy their work. Publishers will publish most things written by a celebrity simply because they already have a platform. They don't have to spend money marketing someone who's only got friends in her/his own village.

    Although blogging takes time and effort (away from our writing), I would say that it's an important asset to an unpublished writer. I'm a keen gardener and I know that unless the soil is well prepared, and the seed, well watered, the fruit will not be as juicy as it could've been.
    I enjoyed reading and contributing to your post.

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  8. I think the reason I enjoy blogging most of all the social network options out there is because I can do what I love to do most in my posts--write. Thankfully I haven't felt an overwhelming pressure to gain readership. Sure, I notice who's following and my readers, but I agree that during this time of being unpublished I'm loving the support.

    Maybe I feel this way because I don't feel like I have to prove myself. I feel like I have to be myself and that is helping it all stay sorted for me.

    ~ Wendy

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  9. I don't normally pick up Christian fiction titles. You made a sale on me!

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  10. I so agree, Jody. You are one wise lady.

    When I first started blogging, I thought it would "build my platform." Then I discovered it was building something else--my confidence.

    When it quits being fun and starts being a chore, we need to examine why we're doing it.

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  11. I do agree with you. Most of the people who read my blog are other writers as well.

    And, I like your idea to give ourselves permission to blog less. And, write more :) Lately, as I get deeper into my novel rewrite, I can't post as often. Your post is a nice reminder that blogging less and writing more is perfectly okay.

    Thanks!

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  12. Jody, I love learning from you about blogging. It's still so new to me that I'm not sure what I think.

    Readers do say they are reading the blog, and the numbers show that that just might be true. Perhaps they are not the commenter type but...the reader type!!!

    You always make me think!
    Thanks!
    Patti

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  13. Hi Jody,
    As always, this is a thoughtful post. I started blogging after my memoir was published. I soon began asking myself the very questions you pose here and came to the same conclusion. Most of my followers are fellow writers. I have sold some books as a result of my blog. If I tried to equate book sales with whether blogging is a viable marketing tool, the answer would be no. The truth is, I enjoy blogging now, and the connections I have made through blogging.
    I think once your book is published, your blog will be a great support to the other marketing and PR efforts to let folks know about your book.
    karen

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  14. I really enjoy your posts but have to very respectfully disagree. I think it depends on the purpose of your blog- many are directed to writers- with posts on the biz- some directed me to other writers and that is great- but there is no reason you cant take the subject of what you are writing and blog the excess you wont use in your book- I hate the idea of a platform- we both write historical fiction- when I get back from the research library- I blog about the subject I am writing about- you have to have interesting tibbits about the Puritians I would love to read about and might make me more interested in buying your book. Writers working in the modern era can write interesting things about the geoprahical local of their book, or start discussion on the conflict that is center to your story- peer pressure, parental relationships etc. and whose to say I might go to the coffee shop and share an interesting thing I read about the Purtians on this "author blog- who has a book coming out about a preacher's bride"?- there is your PR.

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  15. Thanks, Jody, I needed that. Been wallowing in self-pity for weeks now wondering, "where is all the traffic I was promised" by following lots of other blogs.

    I've been gearing my material for fellow aviation nuts, which is what inspires me to write most often, but the act of writing about it is also something I find my soul within.

    I've been wondering whether I should just do more blogging about writing itself, which has always seemed contrived to me, and not likely to entertain my flying friends.

    But if none of them are coming to the blog anyway, and since lots of other writers seem to feel the same, perhaps its just, as usual, I'm thinking too much.

    I don't know, what do you think...do these comments make my brain look fat? And don't just tell me "it's just the right size" again...I'm not buying it!

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  16. Jody, those are wise words. Entirely too much pressure put on new writers to build a "platform." That word really comes from the world of non-fiction, where someone can become an established expert in a subject, and thus sell books on that subject. The blurring of the lines over to fiction has not, IMO, been a positive for writers.

    It's extremely difficult to build a large enough blog following to justify the time as a marketing venture. Especially alone. I'm blessed to be part of an excellent group blog, and thus post only once a week. I tried solo blogging for awhile but it took too much time away from my writing and other, more beneficial, marketing efforts.

    To blog for "relationship" is fine, but in most cases it's not going to be a tipping point. What will be? A great book. And then another. If you provide that, your publisher will be more than happy to assist you. I am not at all convinced that just because you have a blog, that will make the difference in whether you get published. As if a book that's only OK is going to get the nod because of that. OTOH, a book that excites the publishing house is not going to be passed over just because the author doesn't have a blog.

    So my advice is, do it if you like, but not at the expense of your writing and stress level. Spend the majority of your time getting to be the best writer you can be.

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  17. I enjoy blogging. I find it's a way to challenge my writing and improve upon it. I also enjoy developing reader friendships.

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  18. Instead of considering myself a writer with a blog, I think of me as a blogger who writes. Most of my readers are not writers and most of my content isn't about writing. I'll mention here and there what I'm up to and many of my readers have asked where I'm at in the process of writing my novel, but I use my blog to connect with people. Not to share what little I know about publication. I'll leave that stuff up to talented folks like you that actually know what you're talking about!

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  19. Good analysis! Blogging should NOT be just one more thing on the to-do list. (Like anyone needs a longer list!) I do it for the fellowship, and because other writers are people who "get it." I love the camaradarie (how sp?) and the fact that I am not a lone voice out there.

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  20. I would LOVE to have other writers reading my blogs! I blog because I have stuff I want to say, and because my goal to be published in some form this year starts with me developing the habit of writing more. Since I want to write creative non-fiction and personal essay pieces, blogging seems right for that. (don't read my blog thinking every post is magazine-ready though... yikes!)

    Great thoughts! Thanks for sharing.

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  21. Nate: I think you're in the situation where you may be able to develop a readership with your aviation theme. You have that "specific niche" I was talking about. If you write interesting posts about your experiences with aviation and put your soul into it, then you'll appeal to a segment of your future readership which will include aviation fans. In my opinion, I think you should stick with that theme. The trick is finding more of those readers who are interested in your topic and drawing them to your blog.

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  22. I reduced my blog days to 2 days a week. When I'm swamped, I keep my blog as simple as possible and even give myself a day off when needed. Family and other obligations (work/writing, volunteering, etc) have to be a priority.

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  23. This is an excellent post that is all true. The comments are all very good as well and there is not much more that I could add to any of it.

    Reading my post today or some of my other posts that I've done about the topic of blogging you might think I have a personal problem with blogging. I don't--blogging just continues to fascintate me.

    When I started my blog it had nothing to do with platform, or networking, or even writing. It was all about "adsense". Then I discovered adsense is nonsense. Now for me it's all about the writing. If I'm building a platform, that's cool. I love the networking and support. But the bottom line is I love the blogging and I'm glad that I've discovered a way to focus my writing interests and have an outlet for my writing.

    Lee

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  24. Phew! I feel better already!

    I agree with your thoughts Jody, most of my readers are writers. Right now that is what a crave, developing relationships with writers that pour into my journey. We can share insight and information. Blogging teaches me discipline- which I lack on my own. It strengthens my writing too.

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  25. Like Robyn Campbell, I started my current blog as a way to build a platform, but found the community of other writers to be a fun bunch to talk with.

    I also use my blog as a place to put up some experiments with my fiction. It helps to get some feedback on the extent to which something works.

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  26. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this, Jody!

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  27. Yes, true it will come later, BUT this is a wonderful beginning. I cannot wait to buy your book as well as my other fellow blogging buddies novels. And I do think it helps with the buzz. Every little bit must help, right?

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  28. You always give me something to think about, Jody. :) I agree with your analysis.

    I didn't begin blogging to sell myself or my non-existent books but as a venture into visibility. I'd heard all those rumors that said successful writers need an online presence, but because I knew I wouldn't have a big following, blogging became another aspect of my writing experience, not an attempt at marketing. The focus will undoubtedly change when/if my novels are published, but for now I don't find blogging a chore at all. I just write... and love the support and interaction that is a growing byproduct. It doesn't crowd my other more serious writing; it complements it.

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  29. I don't have a huge following. I don't have massive hits. I don't get a bazillion comments. But I have readers who tell me I make them cry. One reader says she was encouraged to step out of her comfort zone and attempt some "impossible things." That, to me, makes it worthwhile. At least for now.

    I started blogging for self discipline--and to start water walking. To put myself out there a bit to see if people think I totally stink before putting too much energy into actually submitting stuff. ;)

    Connecting with other writers has been a blast, too!

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  30. Getting to know the community of writers is the main reason I blog. It really helps me to know other people are going through the same things I'm going through (or went through or will go through). I really love the people I've been able to meet through blogging.

    But... it's a time suck. Every new follower means I need to visit one more blog regularly and my blog list is already insane. That aspect of blogging really does stress me out. I love meeting new people, but I just wonder how long this can go on. I've thought about cutting back--just blogging once a week instead of 3 times. I've noticed most of the published authors I follow only blog about once a week.

    I don't know. The balance between blogging and book writing has been a constant challenge for me. But I'd hate to quit blogging altogether.

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  31. I think it is for encouragement and support, but also I think it is building a readership. Maybe there are some who will end up being columnists and this is their niche. The possiblities are endless as to where this all will lead. :O)

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  32. Very wise words, Jody. I started my blog knowing that it wasn't going to attract readers since I didn't have a book to sell but I needed a web presence so editors could check me out after my agent submitted my book. So, I thought about what would be fun for me. And sharing a little bit of Alaska and my writing process with other writers, and hopefully hearing from them about their writing process seemed like a good balance to my fiction writing. I really love the connections I've made with other writers, yourself included, and I've enjoyed writing the nonfiction that makes up my blog entries.

    I agree with Natalie that it can be a time suck. I have a goal of posting one semi-polished entry per week on my blog. I'm totally impressed by all the people who do more and I love the blogs I read. Thanks everyone!!

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  33. What a wonderful post. You've hit so many points I've been discovering lately too. I agree with everything you say.

    I like how I've met so many other writers in the blogging world, and I love the friendship I've started with so many of them. But I'm also excited about changing my blog more for readers once they start drifting my way.

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  34. I too have boughten books that I might not have purchased if not for this blogging world.

    In the end, while blogging might not totally increase your readership I don't think it's going to hurt.

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  35. I don't think blogging can help build up a true readership for an unpublished writer, but I do think it accomplishes many other things, and therefore is important. I do agree with you about not stressing ourselves out over it, though. It's just not worth it.

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  36. I do agree with your analysis! I am encouraged and supported by your thoughts. Thanks for sharing:) I have found all of this to be true - as far as developing friends, support,education, expression, etc. through blogging. Until about a year ago I didn't know it existed beyond ordinary writer's groups. I've learned a lot and appreciate all the friends and support I've gained. Thanks, Jody!
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  37. I started blogging three months prior to publication with the intent to build a platform, and it worked. While blogging was only one part of my strategy (social media was another large piece of it), it certainly was no small part in terms of time commitment (and results!). I suppose I fall into the "specific niche" category since my book, and my blog, appeal primarly to pet lovers, and cat lovers in particular.

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  38. Jody, I had come to much the same conclusion myself. Were I seriously trying to build up my future fiction readership, I'd be offering them what they'd really want: fiction. I'd be offering short stories for free, excerpts, maybe reviewing existing books in my genre. So far, I haven't done any of that, for a couple of reasons.

    Frankly, I don't really know my future readership. As I learn the craft of writing, I've written a couple of science thrillers and an urban fantasy. I'm even considering something historical next. Part of my learning experience has to do with writing different genres and trying to find the best fit. I like them all so far but I doubt I'm equally good at them.

    I'm unwilling to devote as much time to my blog as it would take to really increase the visits there. I'm uncomfortable taking time away from writing novels and I can't really afford to stop writing non-fiction.

    I had wondered out loud this morning on Twitter about Josephine Angelini's platform--the debut author who scored a 7 figure deal for her YA trilogy. Where is that platform? Although it may have escaped my googling efforts, I think she may have been too busy writing.

    Thanks for this timely post!

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  39. Excellent points.
    Blogging is a great way to build support from other writers. And we all need that support. :)

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  40. Not much to add to what's already been said, however...

    I think that Terisa's comment about Josephine Angelini's 7 figure deal and apparent lack of a platform due to being "too busy writing" to develop one is one of the most spot on comments so far.

    I think we get so caught up in the gotta be blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, MySpacing mindset that we neglect our primary job (particularly unpublished authors): getting the book done and submitted to agents.

    While building a platform prior to publication is great, I think it's probably more critical for non-fiction authors ("experts" in a field) than for fiction.

    What do you think?

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  41. As aspiring writer I really appreciate this post. I think you're very insightful.

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  42. If you are a fiction writer, I don't see how it can possibly help to have a blog unless:

    1) You have a huge number of agents following your blog for some unknown reason.

    2) You are a member of a very large group, association, etc., and are well-known enough to them that they would be interested in reading what you have written.

    3) You improve your own writing skills as you write your blogs. I know this will happen over a period of time.

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  43. Great thoughts, Jody! Thanks for removing the pressure from my shoulders. LOL

    I love blogging about things that span all aspects of my life, not just writing, so hopefully when I get published some day, my future readers will enjoy those snippets. That's such a fun thing to dream about...interacting with people who read my books.

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  44. I agree, Jody! I think of blogging more as a good habit. Eventually, I plan on shifting the focus of my blog to appeal more to readers as opposed to writers, but in the meantime, it's fun figuring out how to write posts people actually want to read!

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  45. Lyn,
    I can only echo what James Scott Bell said in his comment above:

    "Entirely too much pressure put on new writers to build a "platform." That word really comes from the world of non-fiction, where someone can become an established expert in a subject, and thus sell books on that subject. The blurring of the lines over to fiction has not, IMO, been a positive for writers."

    I agree with him 110 percent. When I visited my publishing house in January, I talked with marketing about my blog. They encouraged me to keep at if I have the time and I enjoy it, but they also said it's not going to make or break my readership. The big readership will come down the road (hopefully!) after I actually have a book out there!

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  46. Right on, as usual. When you think about it, blogging might bring exposure to the writer, but only the writing will sell the books. So, no matter what, we have to keep working on our babies, growing them until they're mature enough to go out in the world. ;)

    Lynnette Labelle
    http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

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  47. Interesting post and yes I am new to blogging hence only 4 followers! I do it for various reasons already mentioned but a main reason was to gain support from other writers - although I get more support from Twitter currently.
    I may not have many followers because my blog doesn't look as amazing as others - i still don't know how to put up pictures from the web - holy moly.

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  48. Hi Jody -

    Blogging is never a chore for me. I love it, and connecting with writers and readers brings delight to my heart.

    Whether I'm building a readership will only become apparent when my books are published. At the moment, I'm doing what God wants me to do - encouraging bonds of friendship between His kids.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  49. I agree with what you said about first time authors. A following seems to come first by someone being impressed with your work, instead of you. I haven't started a blog for that very reason. I believe people will not follow me until they enjoy my craft.

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  50. I agree to an extent. I think most of us blog for encouragement and friendship and all that. I do think it helped me with my platform though. I've gotten conference bookings from the blogging I do. And the marketing department at a major house thinks my blog would be a great place to build my readership. And so, for now, that's all good.

    I do think, eventually, the readership will change. Not sure exactly how, since I'm not there yet, but I think you're right about that. :)

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  51. I not only agree with you, but I'm also reassured by your analysis. I blog to play with my writing and to connect with a community that has become really important to me.

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  52. Blogger keeps crashing on me! Grrrrrr

    An unexpected and wonderful side effect of blogging is the wonderful support group of writers in similar situations, frustrations, angst, and joy.

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  53. I was just having this conversation with my husband! Too funny. You are awesome, Jody. I have an award for you at my blog. :-)

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  54. I love your point here, Jody. It will be very interesting to see how readerships change blogs.

    Blogging is dialogue-based. As long as there is real conversation going on, a blog will flourish. Often that conversation takes place in the comments section, but just as often we are "talking" by exchanging posts on subjects that interest all of us.

    My question is: will readers want to talk to authors in public forums like blogs, or will they prefer to communicate privately? Nonfiction topics like writing tend to elicit discussion, but a reader's reaction to a novel is often visceral and private.

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  55. This is a very good question and one that I have asked myself frequently.
    I love what William Zinnser says: Be sure to have a good time. If you're having a good time, the reader will sense it and enjoy what you write. (That's a paraphrase, but a pretty good summary of what he says in Writing About Your Life)

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  56. All so true, Jody. Thank you! I like to see what's true for me for right now...and then let that be the end of it. I have friends that comment on Facebook and aren't blogging regularly, but want to jump into the conversation. I used to think I should be doing more, but now? I've got to earn my stripes by keeping my 'butt in the chair' and getting it done!

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  57. My blogging has evolved over the years from stressing about building a readership to not worrying about one at all and blogging whatever I wanted. I think as a writer who some day plans on being published, I need to find a happy medium. And I'm always conscious of attracting non writers, though haven't' figured out the magic formula.

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  58. Jody! James Scott Bell commented on your post!!! How cool is that? I go through waves of wondering if blogging is worth the time involved. But I love the interaction and encouragement and will continue...for ME! :)

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  59. Thanks for some useful pointers. I blog as part of a team, some published, some aspiring. That takes away a bit of the pressure and increases the social part.

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  60. Jody, I totally agree. My blog isn't going to make me a writer nor increase me as a writer. But, just think how excited my loyal followers will be when I do get published again. woo who.

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  61. I totally agree!
    My blog is NOT going make me become a published writer. But it has given me strength to attempt more writing because I have support when I do from other writers.
    I don't think I would have ever decided to start to be a contributor to a popular website (Not mine, MMB) If it was NOT for the support I felt about my writing.
    It is a great feeling!

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  62. You make great points, Jody (as usual). I started blogging because I thought I was "supposed to" and ended up getting so much more from it. So now, I don't blog because I think it will sell my future books, I blog for all those reasons you listed: support, learning, building friendships, and well, I like it. :)

    However, I do think that having a good blog definitely can't hurt, especially if you are trying to get with any of the e-publishers. For a publisher to know that you have taken the initiative to market yourself a bit and aren't afraid of the internet can only be seen as a positive. :)

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  63. I think there are as many reasons for blogging as there are bloggers. The least appealing among those reasons, imho, is for the sole purpose of building a platform. If that is what you are doing, it will show in your writing and probably turn people away. Blogging is about creating community, and in so doing, that community might become part of your readership. As with any type of writing, a blog must be authentic, from the heart and genuinely "yours." If it's just a marketing tool, a static website is probably best.

    That said, I do think it is important for authors to have at least some social media presence, whether that includes a blog or not. Readers are becoming more accustomed to being able to find out more about the "person" behind the author and that desire can only increase over time.

    One important aspect of blogging for unpublished authors that hasn't been touched on yet is the fact that it is a huge learning curve. It may be simple to set up a blog, but developing a quality blog - customizing themes, adding features, getting up to speed on the etiquette of blogging, linking to other forms of social media, and most importantly, finding your blogging voice, take time and practice. I've only been blogging for 4 months, and I still have tons to learn. It would be beyond overwhelming to try to do all of that learning at the same time your book is coming out. Far better to test the waters and make mistakes with your early blog readers (most likely friends and family) than your customers (people who purchase your book).

    The focus of my blog may change after I am published, but even if it does, I'll be grateful that I'm not starting from scratch.

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  64. I do agree with you. I started blogging mainly for the support of other writers and to learn about publication, not with the express intention of building up a readership. I wanted to know first whether I had "it" and whether I could keep up with the other talented authors here, aspiring or not, and to make friends and find a critique group. Someday if I get published, my readers will be most welcome, but until then (and if it never happens) I will have had so much fun writing and networking with people who love and understand what I do.

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  65. This is a wonderful post. I started blogging for fun. I ended up putting pressure on myself to blog every day or keep to a tight schedule. Sure, the discipline is needed (much needed) but I was beginning to feel bad about not blogging the days I said I would. I'm changing a lot in my life at the moment so there are some days I'm just not able to blog for one reason or another. I'm feeling better about it and realizing that blogging is an outlet, a way to support and meet others, and have fun while doing so. When I do have a reader base, I'm sure I'll change a little of what I write to include them. That's only fair. They want to know about the author and about what they're doing next. I'll let the changes happen as this writing thing grows.

    Jen

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  66. Totally agree. In fact, in a backwards way, that's what my own blog post is about today...

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  67. I agree. I blog because I like to write and I like the friendships I find with others. I enjoy making a little money from my blogs as well so I can support my writing habit:)

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  68. I absolutely agree with this post! Excellent!!!
    Before I became a writer I never thought about who wrote the book (possibly because I was young? Maybe older readers think about authors?)
    Anyway, I like to keep to a schedule with blogging and I've also bought fellow bloggers' books for support, but I honestly don't consider my blogging network to be a readership.
    You all are so varied and unique in what you write that I know if and when I get pubbed, some of you will like my work and some of you will not. But we'll still be blogging buddies. :-) That's what I love about it.
    But I do think it's useful for having a web presence.

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  69. I don't blog to create a platform, either. I knew going in that without a published book behind it, my chances of attracting any followers to a writing blog were slim. But I started one anyway because I enjoyed the authosphere community. And I realized, after a certain period of leaving serious comments on other people's blogs, that if I really wanted to have my own say, having a blog was the best way to get it. Whether or not people would listen was another story.

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  70. Jody -- Great post, and great conversation here in the comments. (I love reading through and finding new blogs to follow!)

    I do think most of blogging is about connecting with others who are on the same journey. But I also feel like I'm building my readership for when my book is published. Who said we can't do both? :)

    I actually just changed my blog from Aspiring Writer, which attracted almost all writers, to The Traveling Writer, which I'm hoping will attract both writers AND travelers. Since I'm writing a travel memoir, travelers are more of my audience. And I enjoy building relationships with both of those groups of people!

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  71. Agreed. When I began, wasn't much talk about platforms and marketing. So it was more about finding and being part of a community of booklovers, readers and writers. Through my blog, I've had the opportunity to connect with lots of folks in publishing that I otherwise might not have. I also been able to garner advice and encouragement from both writers and non-writers on this writing journey. I love it.

    I think that's why a website is important for the published (or soon-to-be) author, not the aspirantrade. That, to me, is more about marketing oneself and selling one's books (although of course a blog is good for this too).

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  72. Writing is a solitary activity and blogging helps me connect with others. I also use it as a warm up exercise before I start writing on my WIP. Anything that gets words flowing from my fingers is a win!

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  73. It's true. That when I started blogging, I was trying to develop a platform. (Even though I had no idea what that was then.)
    work at home in india

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  74. I love one of the final paragraphs ("But until that point...") and find it very calming. I am presently a journalist/photographer and teacher but also an aspiring children's author. I've been blogging for 2 years and recently reading more about how to improve, build readership, etc. but the truth is my blog--like my life--is not narrowly focused enough to fit into the advice of many other bloggers. I'd been feeling like it's unlikely to ever have a larger following, but your post reminded me to keep my blog true to me and there are still rewards to be had from doing it (and loving it)!

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  75. Hi Kara! Thanks for stopping by. So glad that post was inspiring! If we're not having fun at blogging and remaining true to ourselves, then I think our readers are going to sense that eventually.

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