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Do Fiction Readers Really Read Author Blogs?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year! During my blogging break last week, I evaluated the direction I wanted to take my blog in the coming year. I asked myself some hard questions about my blog and what I’m hoping to accomplish through blogging.

Among the many questions I asked, one in particular kept surfacing: “Do fiction readers really read author blogs?” I’m not talking about a one or two time visit. I’m talking about a regular following, week in and week out.

I’d always imagined at some point after I published my first book, I’d slowly transition my posts, gearing them toward the readers of my books and fans of historical romance. I believed readers would come to my website and blog, and that I’d be able to connect with them there.

But now, several months past publication, I don’t think it’s working out the way I imagined. A few readers have left blog comments, but they’re not flocking to my site. Granted most of my posts are geared for writers. But even when I’ve ventured into other more generic topics that might interest readers too, I’ve still had a hard time drawing them in.

Most of my readers connect with me through personal emails or on Facebook. So, again, I can’t help wondering, do fiction readers really hang out on author blogs?

I honestly haven’t seen too many fiction authors who have large followings of blog readers. As I pondered the phenomenon, here are a few of the reason why I think many fiction author blogs fail to draw their readers:

Blogs are largely non-fiction writing. And our readers are interested in our fiction. Even if we talk about our characters or interesting facts from our stories, readers don’t usually have the time or interest to keep coming back to our blogs to hear ongoing facts about our books or about us. In other words, blog posts are not our books. And that’s what our readers like and want.

Topical non-fiction blogs tend to generate more consistent traffic. Think about the blogs we read on a regular basis—they usually involve sports news, parenting, or some other topic that is of particular interest to us. We go there because we’re getting something—sports scores, parenting advice, etc. So when we writers use our blogs as public journals to talk about a hodge-podge of ideas, like our families and cats, most people aren’t going to seek us out on a regular basis unless they’re loyal friends or family. If we hope to develop a larger readership, then we have to go beyond posts that are just about us.

If we pick a topic for our blog, it might not necessarily appeal to our fiction readers. For example, if we choose to blog about writing, or historical trivia, or romance, or mental illness, or whatever—we’ll likely draw readers to our blogs who are interested in that specific topic. And those readers may not necessarily be interested in our fiction. Sure, there may be some overlap. But let's say I geared my blog around historical trivia. There's no guarantee that the history buffs who seek out my posts would be interested in my historical romances. In other words, with topical blogging, we could end up building a different readership than we have for our fiction.

Blogging is an excellent tool for non-fiction writers hoping to develop a readership. Non-fiction writers should use their blogs to showcase the topic of their books and draw in future readers. But I’m realizing that for average fiction writers, unless we’re a big brand name with a hug fan base, it’s not likely our blogs will be a huge magnet for our readers.

So what’s a fiction writer to do? What should we blog about?

When I tossed around ideas for the direction to take this blog in 2011, I came to the realization that perhaps I don’t need to switch what I'm doing. I’m passionate about writing and publication, and since that’s something I love, why not keep blogging about it? Writers seem to find my posts helpful and insightful. Perhaps some of the readers of my books (when they do stop by my blog) will enjoy getting an inside glimpse of the writing and publication process.

Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves when trying to discover what to blog about:

What are we most passionate about? What topics interest us?

Then once we’ve narrowed down our focus and topic, we should begin to ask: How are we going to make the world a better place through that topic? How can we help others with our blogs? What can readers take away from our posts? If we want them to continue to come back, then we must meet a need they have.

Question for readers: If you’re a reader, what would you like to see in author blogs? What would draw you back on a regular basis?

Question for published authors: If you’re a published author and you have a steady, growing population of your fiction readership visiting your blog, what are you doing to keep them coming back?

I’d love to hear your opinions. Do you think fiction writer blogs can really attract their fiction readership on an ongoing basis? And if so, how?

80 comments:

  1. Interesting discussion, Jody. I've thought about this before too.

    I just listened to Allan Arnold's CE class from the 2009 ACFW conference (the man's very inspiring) and he talked a lot about tribes. About the importance of building them. The thing he said that really stuck with me is the idea of getting members of your tribe talking. Not to us, the author, but to each other. Tribe members talking with tribe members. Because it stirs up more excitement and talk about our book. Think of all the Twilight forums out there, or man, all the Harry Potter forums that used to be out there. Not sure if a blog is the best tool for this or how to pull it off....it's just something that's sitting in the back of my head. Food for thought. Hopefully I can do something with it someday. :)

    PS I just saw your tweet about starting the next manuscript! Woohoo!!

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  2. Great post... I do love the support, inspiration, help and interesting reading on authors blogs... yes most of which is about writing and publication ....
    So I love that you are going to keep your blog going along the same lines as you have been..

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  3. Hi Jody! I think one of the possible answers to your question "do fiction readers really hang out on author blogs?" is this: Many of our blog regulars are both fiction readers AND fiction writers. Many of the author blogs I follow seem to attract a large share of other authors who read and want to emulate or learn from said blogger. So to answer your question: Fiction readers DO hang out at author blogs. It just so happens that most of those readers are also writers. Great post, Jody!

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  4. What an interesting post. I agree with Mike on that, many of the blogs I follow do get a lot of writers following them, but the writers are also readers who are interested in learning more about the author and their story. Blogs are a fantastic way to find out information about an author, so I agree that writers do hang out at authors blogs.

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  5. I consider this topic often. Anytime I find a new author I like, I immediately go to their blog to see if they have a following and what they're writing about. I'm learning there are ways to make sure our voice is coming out in our blogging even when we are fiction writers. For example, if your fiction writing is humorous, I kind of think the blog ought to be funny.

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  6. I'm a writer, but I'm also a reader. Your blog appeals to me because I love the transparency in your posts, no matter the subject. I love reading your experiences as a first-time novelist.

    You may not be connecting with non-writer readers as you'd like, but I believe you're making a difference for those who are reading your blog.

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  7. I don't really follow many author blogs. They are so often just full of notices about signings, which conferences the author has been attending and so on. I don't find that particularly interesting, but then I'm not much of a stalker.

    To be brutally honest, if you talked about your characters and stories all the time, I'd probably stop reading! Very, very few writers create characters that are so strong they can survive outside the pages of their books. If they are that strong, fans will set up their own sites about them, and you can then thrill them by participating...

    I've been following your blog because it's interesting to watch a newly published author think out loud about the whole process of being an author. You are very purposeful about your career, and give a great deal of thought to what you're doing; it's all interesting information, and I look forward to seeing what happens as you move into your second, third, fourth book and so on.

    So my take on this would be, if you enjoy the kind of blogging you've been doing, keep it up. Your blog followers and fiction readers may not be looking for the same things, and eventually you may have to set up a separate site for your fiction, which is more static and focused on your books, characters, historical background and so on. But right now, I think you've got it together.

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  8. I don't often search out my favorite author to read their blogs. Sometimes. But I only keep coming back if they're interesting. I look for personality and something I need, like writing tips or a view into the publishing world that I don't have yet.

    Why would you change your blog? Obviously what you've done has worked. Why change a good thing.

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  9. Good morning, everyone! I appreciate the discussion this morning! I'm really hoping I can learn a lot from the comments today.

    And that's a great point, Mike. Many of my blog readers (who are writers) have supported me and bought my book, even if they're not particularly interested in historical romance. And I've really appreciated that! Thanks everyone! :-)

    While there is some overlap, I also realize that there will still be many of my blog readers who come to my blog for writing and publication insight that won't be interested in reading my book. And that's okay. I'm coming to realize that with a topical blog like mine, I'll have different readerships. But that's not to say my blog hasn't helped in the marketing of my book. Many of my blog readers have been some of my biggest supporters in spreading the buzz about my book.

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  10. And once again I think it comes down to voice. If a reader is attracted to the writer's voice in a novel, then they'll hope to find that in a blog as well.

    Great point on blogging what you're passionate about. It's always so evident to me when someone is just trying to throw a post up as opposed to having invested interest in what they're writing.

    I'll be thinking about this one today.
    ~ Wendy

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  11. Excellent post, as always. And the comments are just as helpful. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about my own blog and this discussion will help me narrow it down.

    As far as your blog goes, I wouldn't change a thing. You are so very helpful and encouraging to me. Thanks for being there.

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  12. As a writer I follow writer blogs and if they happen to be published, well all the better.

    As a reader, I don't follow anyone. As someone above said, most authors only have signing dates and stuff on their blogs.

    I think a web-site is more appealing to readers. They can peruse all they want and feel like they know a little something more about the author.

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  13. Jody, as usual, you have stirred my thought process. What a way to start the New Year!

    I have turned my blog around, focused more on the things I enjoy and I can tell you I have never been so excited about it.

    Do you find that you like writing your blog? Or is a chore?

    I like reading your posts, so my guess is for you it's the former and not the latter. Maybe that's part of the importance of finding readers. If your passion is evident on the screen, they will flock to it.

    What does Field of Dreams say? If you "build it" they will come? : )

    Happy Monday!

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  14. As a reader, I'm looking for information about the author's new release, tidbits, deleted scenes, etc.

    As a writer, I looking for a how they work though the tough scenes, etc.

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  15. This is a really interesting post. A while back (on another blog) I wrote posts on Shakespeare's sonnets and it attracted another type of blog reader - the student. So, I've decided to have one blog a week be for the students or readers of a certain genre or multi-published author. I'm going to try it and see what happens.
    CD

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  16. Good morning, Jody. Happy New Year! I just returned from a month-long break from blogging and am pondering similar questions, so am finding this discussion both interesting and helpful. I'm leaning towards just following my own passions and writing about those, hoping others will glean something useful or meaningful. It's hard to target market on the internet.
    Karen

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  17. This is really great... I've been thinking about my blog lately and the direction it needs to head and I've asked myself the same questions (except regarding non-fiction). My book content obviously doesn't lead itself to a lot of blog content so I'm left in the same situation as you are... unsure about where to head.

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  18. This is a great question, Jody!

    As a writer, I love to read writing blogs about craft, publication, style, etc., like yours. I read for writing tips and the personal journey. If I was not a writer, I don't think I'd read blogs by authors.

    Very interesting! I'd never thought about it before.

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  19. I'm a fiction writer and reader, and I'm also a blog writer. But I'm really not interested in the blogs of *famous* authors. Their books- yes, their blogs- no. I am, however, interested in the blogs of aspiring authors and not-so-famous authors. I make time for those. Great post!

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  20. As a reader, I have just started tracking down some of my favorite authors and reading their blogs. I have noticed that a few of my favorite fiction authors do not have a normal blog that they update.

    As a writer, I like coming to your blog to learn all I can about the craft. I am of the mind that you can always learn new information and the information you present here keeps me coming back, even though I write a completely different genre. Keep up the good work!

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  21. I just recently discovered your blog after your book was recommended to me. I'm an avid reader and aspiring author. If you have a chance, please visit my new blog: www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com

    As a reader, I visit author blogs to learn more about their work and upcoming projects.

    As a writer, I visit to to see if they are offering speaking events, compare experiences, learn from their mistakes and successes etc.

    I think blogging is a great experience for writers. Keep doing what feels natural or what you feel the need to write. The success is there even if you don't always see the result first hand.

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  22. I've read two authors because I first read their blogs: Maureen Johnson and Kiersten White. Both fantastically interject their voice into their blog posts. Some of my favorite authors have terrible media interfacing, and some great bloggers write books I don't care for, but voice is voice, and I'd follow some voices anywhere and listen to them talk about anything. Well, almost.

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  23. I do think blogs are followed by readers/fans. I think it's important to write about what's on your mind, new ideas for stories, great books you've read. That's what I look for anyway. It's your b"log" after all...

    All the best & Happy New Year~ :o)

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  24. I've thought about this a lot as well since getting my book deal. My blog is a writing blog and well, attracts writers. However, I do agree with what others have said--writers are ultimately readers. So if a thousand writers are following you and like you, then some of them will buy your book and then hopefully start some word of mouth to those who may not be reading your blog.

    I do follow a few authors who don't focus on writing and their posts are mostly about upcoming releases, some snippets (which are effective if your a fan of a series and are waiting for next one), and their own personal things--vacations, holidays etc.

    However, one method I have seen used effectively is to have a steady stream of other writers in your genre do guests posts about different things and promote their books/do giveaways, etc. I like visiting those blogs(as a reader) because I find new authors I hadn't heard of before.

    Having said that though, I think totally switching a blog's focus once you build a following is kind of unfair to your current readers. People come to your blog and mine for a specific reason. Don't want to do a bait and switch.

    So my tentative plan this year as I get closer to my book's release is to do more guest blogging--maybe on topics not always writing related. And I'm also considering getting together with a few other authors and creating a reader-focused group blog. We shall see.

    Great post as always! You always inspire long comments, lol.

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  25. the journey.. the story.. I read for it. blogs are appealing to me because of the autobiographical sense of it.. how one person does life, specifically how one person does the writing life.. all of it. It helps me do the same in some way.

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  26. I've noticed a tendency for writers to write to writers not readers. It stands out to me in sharp contrast to what I'm used to in the New Media Community and I think it goes back to a misunderstanding about what constitutes "platform" in the community of letters.

    I don't have a "writing" blog. I don't write about writing, as a rule. I actually have separate blogs for my various universes -- one for the sci fi crowd and a second for the fantasy group. I have some rules for each:

    1. I only write the stuff that I think a *reader* wants to know.

    2. I only write when there's something new.

    3. I never sell anything there, altho I do put links up to stuff I think they may be interested in.

    While my rule violate several of the "accepted" rules of blogging and audience building, they've done very well for me -- growing my audience from zero in 2007 to over 15,000 today. My science fiction universe gets around 500-700 visitors a day. (My fantasy world has only one book in it at the moment so the traffic is much smaller while we're all focused on the space opera.)

    As I'm watching all these writers writing their writerly blogs about platform building I keep thinking I should write a post of my own .. something like

    "I am not your platform"

    There are two things at play. I think writers *can* develop skills by communing with other writers, and that's what writers writing blogs are about.

    But I am firmly convinced that platforms are made of readers--people who are your fans and talk with each other about your work as much as they talk with you.

    Just my opinion. It works for me, but your mileage may vary.

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  27. What a thought-provoking post, Jody. I'm getting a lot out of the comments as well.

    Personally, I think what you're doing works well, and I'm glad you've decided to keep on doing it.

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  28. As always, you've left us thinking, Jody. I would love to see you continue with what you've always done. I NEVER fail to leave your blog feeling as though I've learned something, gained something by having visited. It never ceases to amaze me how you can so consistently blog with such insight and wisdom. For me, you are a real source of info and writing help - in terms of both writing skill and writing encouragement! :-)

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  29. I'm going to pick a different theme since I am a writer and it's hard to separate myself and look at this as a non-writer.

    So, instead, I'm going to look at an actor's blog. Because I'm not an actor.

    There are one or two that I like to read. But they don't write mostly, or even frequently, about acting. They write about their lives, interests, what they like to do on the weekend.

    That's why I like to read those blogs. Because they provide an insight into who they are as people. They become more normal. More accessible. More human.

    However, I really like your writerly knowledge and your insights into publication. You've demystified the process and made it less terrifying.

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  30. Great blog topic! I'm in the "platform building" phase of my career as I wait for my first book to be released early in 2012. I began my blog as a writer's blog but have gradually shifted it to be a book blog. I sometimes talk about my writing, but do reviews and giveaways of books in my genre. Will the readers coming to read reviews and win books turn around and buy mine when it comes out? Only time will tell! I am going to start posting free fiction next month and we'll see how that does or doesn't draw more readers.

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  31. Jody, you are tackling the stuff we all are mulling over- how to make an impact on readers. Tough stuff!
    For me what you addressed about writing what we are passionate about is key. It keeps the focus for the reader and maintains our author voice.
    Thanks for this discussion!

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  32. This is a great question! As a reader I don't read a lot of author blogs. But as a writer I do. What makes that really interesting is what I'm looking for. As a writer I'm looking for advice and tips on the author's experiences.

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  33. Jody, I write a weekly column (Sundays) for The Kill Zone blog. We are writer oriented, but occasionally have a view into our lives, which readers appreciate, I think. Our goal is to give consistently solid content, because that's what is going to bring readers back. I find my blog mates very wise and generous.

    Personally, I'm in awe of you and what you do by yourself here. Thanks for your generosity and all the hard work.

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  34. WOW, this is a fantastic discussion everyone! Am loving hearing from everyone! So many of you are providing some very insightful comments.

    Bonnie, you raised a great question. "Do you find that you like writing your blog? Or is a chore?" Readers can definitely sense when we enjoy what we're writing about. And if it's become a chore, then they can sense that too. That's why I truly think we need to write what we're passionate about, but in a way that meets our readers needs.

    I'm still curious to know what non-writing readers think! Do you think that the lack of voice from non-writers here today is helping to answer the question I've posed today? :-)

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  35. Great question and article. :) As a reader, I typically don't visit writers' blogs. However I do visit review blogs. Once in a while I'll visit a writers' blog for research purposes (what was the last book they wrote again?).

    As a author, I spend a lot of time on other writers' blog. It's more of a social situation. What are you up to these days? How's your WIP, marketing scheme, editing going? Can I drool over your success?

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  36. I try to gear my main blog more toward readers, and while I don't get a lot of comments, I do get quite a few hits on my serial novels every week. The most *vocal* people on my blog are writers, but the majority of those also read and support my work...and they come back for the fiction too. Writers who aren't necessarily fans of my work might only visit on Mondays for my goal posts, which is fine. Readers are looking for something to read - and while it's not a popular option with other *writers*, I give my readers fiction, and it seems to be what they want.

    I'm not really worried about interaction - readers can read and go about their day, and hopefully I've given them something enjoyable in the meantime. The serials have translated to sales for me, so it's valuable there as well.

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  37. I've worked in marketing/PR/corporate communications for 10+ years, so I'll admit that when I started my author blog a few weeks before my three-book deal was announced last February, I did it with my marketing geek hat on.

    I agree with you 100% that most author blogs are read by people who also want to be authors, so why not embrace that as a powerful, built-in audience? It was my plan when I started blogging, and so far it seems to be working. Will there be a point when the scales tip and blog readers are plain old READERS? While I do see this on some of the blogs I follow by besteslling authors in my genre (Jennifer Crusie, Lucy March) I still believe a good portion of their readers are at least toying with the idea of writing. That's why I think you really can't go wrong catering to that audience.

    There are plenty of other marketing tools out there that allow us to target regular readers, but the blog is a great way to build a team spirit and a sense of community with writers who also happen to read.

    Tawna

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  38. I'm not sure it's so easy to split the notion of blogging for writers and readers. Thing is, most writers are very avid, prolific readers. They have followers through twitter, facebook, etc. who have an interest in their writing. So blogging a lot about writing (in a useful, interesting way) can be, I think, productive to achieving our goal of selling books and building a readership.

    I certainly doesn't hurt to blog about other aspects of life beyond writing. It makes us more interesting to folks, but writing is likely what we know best, so it makes sense to blog about it. I also like to blog about writing. One can take this interest in other directions though. For instance, my book has a heavy paranormal element. I love paranormal stuff, so I'm trying to incorporate that as well into the blog (still working that out btw). The point is, blog what you know and are good at, and try to make it interesting enough for blog readers to care and participate.

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  39. You're such a wise lady, Jody. I loved reading your thoughts here.

    I think a lot of readers might check out an author's blog, but unless they see something that fans their flame of interest from reading your book, they won't keep coming back. It doesn't necessarily mean they won't buy and love your next book. Readers are just not into the blogging community like writers are. I'm always amazed when one of my friends (on Facebook or real life) tells me as an aside how much they love reading my blog, because I never see their presence there. Unless a person has a blog of their own, they may read yours, but they won't comment or follow. They're just not into the whole blogging etiquette thing, and that's okay.

    Anyway, those are my rambling thoughts. I've been thinking through this a lot lately and moved my blog and its focus a bit as a result. Obviously what you're doing here is working so I say stick with it. :)

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  40. Great point Jody. I agree with you, I don't think most readers check authors blogs daily. I know I don't, even for my favorite authors. One time when I do like to access a writers blog is when I'm planning to recomend a book for book club, or planning to host/attend book club and discuss a book we've read. I love to have little tidbits that help inform the discussion and the group.

    I have found that reading blogs helps me stay informed about what's going on in the publishing world, and writing blogs helps me stay focused on my writing, (even though it takes time, the improved focus makes up for the lost time)

    I hope you will continue to do what you've been doing, because I've learned so much from your blog.

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  41. I tend to agree that most fiction readers to not come to blogs to read about the authors. They may go to your site to learn about your background a little more, to read an excerpt of a new MS, or to check on signing tour dates. Beyond that, it would be hard, in my opinion, to write a blog focused on that audience.

    I follow author blogs to learn, to share in their experience, etc. As for you blog... I wouldn't change a thing.

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  42. Looks like you hit on another hot issue! My take: If I wasn't also a writer, I probably wouldn't spend time on authors' blogs. I'd be on to the next book by the same author or another one.

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  43. Good questions, but pardon me if I come across as an asshole; I'm not, but I play one on TV. ;)

    Here's my situation: I get a lot of readers (few comments) on my socio-political non-fiction blog, where I also post short stories and the occasional poem, but I get few on my blog about my book. I have two other blogs that are for serialized novels, and those are fairly new, so the numbers haven't kicked in yet. I am hoping for a steady flow.

    I like to keep things exclusive. One might find some info about my book or other online noveling efforts on my main blog, but it's mostly politics and social issues, and those topics tend to generate a lot of interest overall.

    One thing that I do like is that all of my blogs are on Blogger, and they are easily accessible from one another. If anything, I need to do a lot more to cross-pollinate.

    Now, as for reading the sites of authors, I don't do much of that. One can only read so much advice on writing, most of which I think is reused, worn out and likely not worth reading in the first place. If I want writing advice, I tend to trust people like Stephen King over someone like, well, me -- the author of one whole book that may or may not be worth reading. ;)

    Also, if the author is writing books, what is he/she going to say in the blog without giving away the plot or major character issues or whatnot? He can't write about the book everyday. If he writes short stories or poetry, there will lots of new content, so if you like it, you stay tuned. If not, not so much.

    So, what one ends up finding is endless writing advice, the same 20 "how do you?" questions to authors you've never heard of, and a bunch of contests and reviews of other books -- these involve writing, but it's not really content generated by the author. It's all filler, if you ask me. The important writing is done in MS-Word and ends up between stylized covers on sale in B&N.

    Now, that said, what would I like to see? More writing by the authors, which is why I post excerpts and related short stories -- actual content related to the main focus. I'd like to see authors cross-pollinate from blog to blog and share, but not in a cutesy hug-fest kind of way. I'd like to see well-thought out interviews that demonstrate that the interviewer has actually read the interviewee's book and wants some insight into the hows and whys. I'd like to see authors telling us the hows and whys of their novel and their characters, what those things meant to them and where those ideas came from. Novels are very personal things, and there are likely a lot of very personal issues involved in the plot, selection of locations, characters, character names, backstory, etc. Talking about that kind of thing really makes me see the author and gives the story more meaning, and that's frankly what I'm looking for -- less fluff, more meaning.

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  44. I've been thinking the same thing. Last year, I broadened my focus. My writing-related posts generated the most hits and discussion.

    I love your blog and hope you keep it the same!

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  45. You gotta do what's right for you and if it does morph into something different and new then that's ok too. Follow your passion. :O)

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  46. I follow alot of author and group author blogs such as 'murderati,' 'The Kill Zone'that scott mentioned, "riding with the top down'. Plus yours. I enjoy your posts even though I may not comment alot. I enjoy learning about the writer's life and process of writing. Even before I started writing, I follow the blogs because I learn alot about their books and insight into the author. If I were you, I wouldn't change a thing and just keep with what you are doing.

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  47. I was just checking my contest blog... I've had several visitors and comments, but no entries! Somehow (probably operator error) my contest form disappeared. It's back now. If you tried to enter my give-away, please give it another shot.

    Thanks,
    Lily

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  48. Hi Jody,
    An interesting topic and I have been learning a lot from reading the comments...some great thoughts out there.
    Being a children's writer, I struggled with what I was going to blog about...after all who was my web presence for...editors...publishers... other writers.. kids who read or parents and librarians who buy...?
    In the end I decided that my main blog would collect items of interest around the blogosphere for other writers in my country...this satisfies my research, teaching, geek habits and for the kids I have a largely static blog which I write into books when I am signing or that you can get to from my main blog. This has out take scenes...background info... reviews
    etc on it, that the kids might find interesting...or other people (you never know..;)
    I think that blogs are evolving things...I write differently now than when I started two and a half years ago...I am gradually increasing my readers...(I only blog once a week, the least amount for the search engines...)
    In the end you have to be honest to yourself about why you have a blog and what you are comfortable with putting in the public domain....
    So if you are forcing yourself to write a certain way for your blog readers...is it worth it for them and for you....?

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  49. This post really got me thinking about my own blog and posting...I added your link to my post. You can check it out here if you like: http://wp.me/pQ3NA-jY

    Thanks for sharing your ideas, so helpful!!!

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  50. I'm not sure. That's hard to consider because I'll never not be an aspiring writer. I'm curious to see what the consensus is. What a great topic!

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  51. I think there a couple of really important things to consider here. I don't think a typical writer's blog will draw fiction readers unless the entire blog is built around the world consistently created by that series (maybe a Harry Potter blog, etc). However, I do think that the blog is a valuable resource even if it only draws other writers, agents, etc. The majority of books I have read and recommended this year come from the blogs I read.

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  52. Hi Jody..I have asked myself the same question few weeks back. As I am passionate about writing I restrict my posts to writing tips, Character growth, marketing and everything related to publishing.

    Frankly speaking, I have only seen very few readers (whether they have read my articles in newspapers or my books) visit my blog.

    But I have made lovely writing friends all over the world via my blog. And thats much more than what I asked for.

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  53. Okay, so I know I'm a little late to the party here, but I just wanted to say that I have zero interest in your genre, and yet when I saw your book at the store where I work I thought, "Aha, I know this person. Well, maybe not. But I read her blog!"
    It was almost enough to make me pick up a copy. Almost.
    But without the blog and that sense of familiarity with you that I developed beforehand I wouldn't have had any interest in the book at all.
    So blogging does help. Keep up the good work.

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  54. Albert, Thanks for sharing your experience! It's always really cool to hear when someone spots my book in a store!

    It's true, even though my blogging readership is different than my fiction readership, many blogging followers have still picked up my book just to support me (even if they don't particularly care for historical romance!).

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  55. Loved this post, Jody. I shared it on my FB. I have my thoughts about blogging and the topics to blog about -- mainly I keep up the blog because it is part of my writing community and connects me to my writing friends. I don't think I get many "readers" at all. But that's okay. I try to cover things that are of interest to me and are in my world. I usually only get writers who comment on my blog. But I am noticing a good generation of traffic and views since I started incorporating the We Are Not Alone book's ideas and principles.

    I love your blog. Write about what you're passionate about and consider me hooked.

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  56. This was so interesting, Jody. I've never planned on my blog reaching readers because I don't think 8-12 year olds ever read blogs, but you would think grown ups would. I have followed only one author blog consistently over the past few years. She writes random stuff on her blog-- a little about writing, a little about parenting, a little about her books and her friends books. I think I keep going back now because she seems like a friend. I want to know what's going on in her life.

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  57. I am going to make a number of points, but I hope they give you a degree of encouragement.

    I think it is a fallacy to assume readers aren't going to your blog. Most of us probably have a lot of traffic comprised of people who don't take the time to leave a comment.

    Most people reading blogs are readers to some degree. I mean they are reading your blog, aren't they?

    The problem I have seen with many fiction authors is that they don't blog in ways to connect to readers. Their blogs seem more internally focused instead of outwardly serving. I believe NF authors have an advantage in that they are already calibrated to gear their content to serve others.

    Fiction authors tend to write self-serving blogs, talking about their creative process or their characters. But, keep in mind a blog cannot do what only our novel can. A blog about our characters isn't going to get people to love our book...our book will do that. Our blog is to get people to like US and support US.

    I gotta be honest. I don't read romance and I don't read historicals by choice. But, I bought and read your book because I like YOU.

    I know that you have had blogs that talked about other things than writing, but not often enough that you would draw in a population of non-writer readers. It isn't like every Friday you blog on history or parenting or some non-writing topis that is scheduled and predictable. Thus I think it might be tough to measure that "external" population. For instance, if every Friday you blogged on home-schooling, you could see hits to that blog compared to others.

    People who read you religiously are going to be writers, because that is the majority of your topics. And that isn't bad. There are plenty of writers and they have family and friends and a network to share.

    The "problem" with social media is that we cannot accurately measure influence. Your blog IS reaching non-writers....but often indirectly. I read your blog religiously and guess what? I know of at least 5 of my non-writing family who bought YOUR book based on MY recommendation. And how did I know you? Your blog. So is your blog reaching readers? Maybe. Maybe not, but it is still reaching them even if it has a degree or two of separation. :D

    Kristen Lamb

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  58. Hi Jody,
    One component for me, as a reader (though I don a writing cap, too), is that sometimes-reading an author's blog is like peeking behind the curtain and finding the wizard. There's this feeling of disillusionment for me. It's not always the case, but a lot of times I'm surprised to discover what the author is "really like". I get so caught up in the world they've created for me, that having that "I don't know you at all" feeling afterwards is a real discord.

    I tend to check out author websites/blogs just to see what else is written, or if there are cool factoids about the book I've just read, but following their blogs? Not usually.

    You my dear, are one of those exceptions. I found your blog first, via writerly connections, and am now devouring Preacher's Bride- but I'm reading it w/ my writer's hat nearby and am in awe of the world you created.

    Anyhow- that's my 2 cents.

    Don't stop blogging because the readers-only of the book aren't here, blog because your followers love what you are writing here. I don't find the posts on writing old or repetitive. It's just like reading the Bible or any other handbook you cherish, new gems pop up all the time- even if you've read it a thousand times before.

    Blessings Jody,
    Lynn

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  59. When I began blogging, I was much more a reader than a writer. I gravitated to the blogs of my favorite authors. Over time, I found that I stayed with the blogs of those who offered writing and publishing information as my desire to write grew.

    Authors who blogged outside of publishing industry topics didn't hold my attention. After a couple of posts about their individual lives, I wasn't interested. Not the voyeur type, I guess. Beyond miscellaneous stuff, the posts were often sales pitches or coming soon announcements, and I found other places where I could get that information, like monthly newsletters.

    I think an author who has a specific interest, like cooking, knitting, windsurfing, will gain loyal blog followers interested in that thing. Blogging authors without a specific interest area won't capture readers attention for long. I find interacting with authors in Yahoo or ning type groups more common, because the bulk of the interaction then becomes between the readers with the author occasionally popping in. That tribe thing, I guess.

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  60. Thank you for your comments today, everyone. This discussion has just been so incredibly fascinating to me. There are a diversity of opinions, but I'm also picking up on a common thread--that as readers you don't usually visit your favorite author blogs, epsecially for "readership" purposes. You might visit with the writer's cap on to gain writing tips or publication insights. But it seems very few visit blogs for the purpose of hanging out with authors (at least on an ongoing basis).

    THANK YOU so much, everyone for providing such great insights into this subject! I've really enjoyed each and every comment!

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  61. I don't have only writers who follow my blog even though my theme is mainly writing. I've included the occasional theme on blogging/social media as well so I have followers who are bloggers (not necessarily writers). I think readers/fans are more likely to follow silently and certainly less regularly.
    Thanks for another great post :)

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  62. I blog because I like to do it, plain and simple. A blog is like a journal, but public. Something about that is fun for me, and I like to log in my experiences for others to peruse if they desire. Readers or writers, I don't mind who comes over. :)

    I think you're doing a fantastic job. Look at your huge following and how many people you touch! You're doing something right. :)

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  63. As a published author, I've asked myself the same questions many times.

    But here's the deal...I never would have known you if it weren't for finding your blog. And because of that, I went out and bought your book. So, while I am a writer, I'm also a reader.

    I'd be interested to learn what you find out from this posting.

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  64. What a discussion! I don't always have time to read everyone's comments (I'm mainly interested in what you have to say in your posts), but I'm fascinated with everyone's input on this subject.

    As a reader who writes, I visit only a handful of author sites and that's often just to find out about their books. The ones I return to regularly include a blog with up-to-date posts on the author's writing and publishing experiences and glimpses of the author as a person I can relate to.

    I enjoy your blog just the way it is, Jody. Your Godly personality shines through; your earnestness and commitment as a Christian writer, friend, mother and wife are evident. I'm not sure that changing the focus would draw in more of your novel's readers but doing so might cause it to have less appeal for those who currently follow it. That's my humble opinion, for what it's worth.

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  65. I'm going to chime in on Kristen's comments (WarriorWriter above). I subscribe to Randy Ingermanson's newsletter and read an interview he had with Bob Mayer. I liked what Bob said, so I went to his website. He had Kristen as a guest blogger, and I liked reading what she had to say. I subscribed to both Bob and Kristen's blogs. Low and behold she mentioned you in her blog today about having a great writing blog. I clicked the link and it came to your blog. I'm not a romance reader either, but I immediately recognized your book cover. My mother was reading it when I went home for Christmas. I don't know if she'll be interested in your blog or not, but I'm going to forward her the link. As well, my mother-in-law reads quite a bit of romance, and I will recommend she try one of your books based upon Kristen's recommendation. So, having said all of that, I agree with Kristen's comment that even if you don't directly influence readers with the blog, I definitely think you indirectly influence them.

    My two cent,

    Kerry

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  66. Hey Kerry! So glad you stopped by from Kristen's blog. I love her posts! Social media definitely has a way of making the world seem smaller! Thank you so much for sharing with me about your mother reading my book! How cool that you'd already seen my book before coming here to my blog!

    I agree. Maybe I won't get a lot of non-writer, non-blogging readers that hanging out on my blog. But indirectly, my blog has been a huge help in spreading the buzz about my book.

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  67. Hi Jody -

    First, I thoroughly agree with Mike Duran's comments.

    As I thought further, I realized people come to your blog because they plain like you. Writers are a supportive bunch and glean tidbits they can use in their own work.

    Blogging is about relationships and learning.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  68. Oh my goodness there's loads of comments on here. I would have to guess to pull in readers who are not writers to plug your blog every now and again on FB where the general public hang out more than ever and drop some clues about your next book without giving too much away. Maybe even ask them some questions. As for blogging you are so right about doing what you are passionate about above all else, your voice comes across when you are flagging. Can't wait to read your next book.

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  69. I often wonder the same thing and just when I'm about to quit blogging, I realize I have a bigger impact than I think - that many, especially today, read and run. People seemed to comment more before Facebook. But I think the important thing is to ask, "Do you like to blog?" And I do, so I continue to blog.

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  70. What if the subject I am passionate about is not necessarily pretty to read for most people? I am passionate about healing body, mind and spirit from chronic illness and chronic pain. I also like to write fiction and hope to get published this year. I have not really begun an author's blog because I don't know what to write about. I have a separate blog that talks about the healing path. This is actually something I am struggling with a lot right now because I know I should have a blog for my writing, but I don't know what to blog about.

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  71. Hi Tamara,

    If you're passionate about something and have the focus of helping others, then hopefully people who NEED what you're offering will be drawn to your blog. I'm not convinced that every writer needs to have a blog about "writing." While I do think there's value to mingling among the general writing community, making friendships and connections with other writers, that doesn't necessarily have to happen through your blog. You can mingle with writers on Twitter and Facebook.

    All that to say, if you blog about what you enjoy the most, your readers will be able to sense that passion too. But if you're blogging about something because you feel you "have" to, readers will sense that too.

    I wish you all the best as you wrestle through that tough question in knowing what to blog about.

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  72. I am a new writer and that is how I found myself in here. Someone has recommended your website.
    But as an avid reader, I may try to answer your question.
    The reader who posts on writer's blog is very much interested in their work. That is why they came. Then the contest of the things discussed should catch reader's attention. I have found blog of Mary Lu Tyndall very active.
    Readers come to read about things that she brings out from scripture to bring us closer to God.
    I enjoy her comments as well.

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  73. I like your blog,Totally interesting also extraordinary blog.Give more pictures related to this topic.Thanks for sharing this wonderful detail.

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  74. Thanks for a thought provoking blog, Jody. Through blogging I've made friends with other aspiring writers. A few have now published eBooks through smaller presses and since I now count these writers as 'friends' I definitely support them and buy their books. So yes, regular blog followers can be turned into buyers.

    As a previous commenter said, it's about building your 'tribe'. The results of blogging might be hard to measure, but there are still results.

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  75. Hi, I've just come across this interesting post on a link from a more recent one. Sorry to be late to the party.

    They say write about what you know. This is normally advice on what sort of story to write but I feel it is just as correct when it come to blog subjects. I write comical fictional adventure stories (one so far) set in the modern world with characters who are members of the modern pagan community. Lately I've discovered a genre called urban fantasy and it's sort of what I write except I try not to have too much out and out supernatural, prefering to leave it unexplained as the supernatural is in our world. I write this because I'm involved in the scene in my every day life and have been for nearly 30 years. I treat it lightly because it can be that way but with room for the more serious when it's appropriate.

    So my blog is about that same scene. I will post blogs about the writing process but I don't give advice because I need advice. I'm not qualified to give it. In this way it really is a like a diary. If I experience a pagan event, celebration or new experience I'll blog it but if it's a bit boring then I'll not bother. I'm guessing that my readers are interested in the scene that I'm a part of. Beyond that I have the odd rant or write about observations but my work is observational so that's what you get if you read my fiction.

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  76. Hi Jack,
    Nope, never to late to the party here! I read each comment, no matter when it's posted! Thanks for adding to the discussion. Sounds like you've discovered your blog's focus and if it's working then it's worth sticking with!

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  77. I think Jane Steen's comment is very appropos as well as an interesting and fun goal to shoot for--I've been a fan of Jody's for a little while now and find it helpful if I don't always comment.

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  78. Howdy, all -

    I am a Longtime follower of Neil Gaiman's blog, and I think I know why.

    The guy is charming, probably to a fault. And his "author voice", his characteristic writing style, is like none other. And it's not too far from his blogging voice. His stories are fantasy, and he seems an insatiable reader, of various media, and blogs about music, social issues (he champions the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, even though he's not writing comic books any more), various humanitarian causes, and other writers he finds interesting.

    So, liking a writer's sense of humor, interests, and writing voice are all things that keep me coming back. I've met a few other authors I check in with from time to time, just to see what they are up to.

    (I should point out that prior to blogging, Mr. Gaiman had a MASSIVE readership anyway, worldwide. So, not too surprising that his blog gets zillions of hits per month :-)

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  79. Thanks for asking a great question.

    As a reader, I only follow a writer's blog if their blogging voice is related to their fiction writing voice. And if the things they blog about reveal more about how they see the world or reflect on the ideas embedded in their fiction.

    If the blog reveals a lot of personal stuff or doesn't connect me emotionally with the fiction somehow, I won't continue reading the blog because I want to keep my connection with the fiction unmediated.

    As a writer, I will read the fiction of writers who blog about writing if I like their blogging voice.

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  80. Thanks for stopping by, Kate! I've really appreciated getting to hear everyone's thoughts on this particular topic!

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