At some point in our writing careers, most of us will feel the pressure to blog. I’m not really sure where that pressure comes from. Maybe there are some agents and editors who tell us it’s important. Or maybe we hear that writers should develop a web presence and then we think that means we should blog. Or perhaps everyone else and their brother is blogging, and so we think we should too.
Whatever the case, many of us jump into blogging long before we have an agent or publishing contract. But secretly we can’t help wondering if blogging is really necessary for unpublished writers. After all, it’s one of the most time-consuming of the social media outlets. If we’re going to start building a web presence, does it need to include blogging?
I loved this question by Brenda: "How important is blogging for someone who isn't yet published? I think I'm spending more time on blogging than I am on writing my novel. Am I putting the cart before the horse when I blog before my book is finished?"
As always, I can only share from my experiences and from what’s helped me. My journey isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Everyone needs to forge their own unique path and find out what works for them. With that said, here are a few of my thoughts:
Blogging won’t get us an agent or book deal.
Okay, maybe one or two writers out there somewhere have actually landed book deals because of their fabulous blogs and the fact that they have 30,000 visitors a month. But. . . the majority of our blogs aren’t going to be pivotal in sealing any deals.
When I landed my agent and my book contract, my blog following was still pretty small. And my daily visitor count wasn’t even worth mentioning. Of course I made sure my blog was as professional as possible so that any interested agents or editors could see that I took my writing career seriously. But ultimately, my blog had nothing to do with getting my agent or contract.
If blogging is taking away from writing time, then we need to cut back.
Yes, if we’re spending more time on blogging than working on our books or stories, then we need to cut back. As I mentioned, blogging won’t garner us book deals. Only a stellar story will do that. So, if we’re not putting our best energy and effort into our novels, then we may be working at building a platform we won’t ever get to use.
Notice I said cut back, not stop. If we’re seriously pursuing publication, then we’ll want to have a “home office” in cyberland, and for many unpublished writers a blog is that place (instead of a website). If we’re trying to maintain a professional blog, then sporadic, inconsistent posting won’t help.
I suggest picking a schedule, posting it on our blogs, and sticking to it. Some writers choose once a week and others twice. Because my writing career is at a hot spot, I’ve decided to continue with posting three times a week. But I honestly don’t think there are too many of us that need to post more often than that.
Blogging can promote community, but we have to know when to jump in and how deep.
I didn’t start my blog until after I’d been querying for many months. Before that I was content to observe from the sidelines and absorb all I could. In hindsight, I’m glad that during those growing years, I could focus solely on writing books and learning the basics of how to craft stories.
I personally think that when newer writers jump into blogging too soon and too furiously, they risk the chance of burning out. They’re trying to juggle the unnecessary pressure of building a platform too early in their careers instead of focusing on building their writing skills.
~My Summary: A well written book is THE most important thing for a writer’s career. We hear it all the time, but I’m currently learning that firsthand. Early reviews of The Preacher’s Bride are beginning to show up throughout cyberland. So far those favorable reviews are helping push my book into the spotlight in a variety of ways (book clubs picking it up, front page spots, etc.).
My blog won’t influence those reviewers. Only the book itself can do the impressing. Let's make sure to keep the horse before the cart.
What about you? How important do you think blogging is for unpublished writers? Are you feeling unnecessary pressure to blog, perhaps even burnout? What can you do to make sure your writing stays top priority?