I find it fitting that my first blog for EME is about how important it is for an author to blog. As an agent, I greatly prefer an author who has an established online presence. Blogging helps accomplish that, but it also has several secondary benefits.
It helps you build and maintain an audience. Thanks to the internet, an “ivory tower” writer can now reach millions instantly through blogs and the like. Blogs fall into the recent explosion of social media in that they like to have communities. Live Journal was designed around the idea of grouping readers and writers with similar interests to create grand conversations. But no matter which site you choose to host your blog, there are groups you can join that list your blog with those with similar subjects. This kind of networking greatly increases your chances of people stumbling upon your blog. If they enjoy it enough, they’ll subscribe and maybe even tell a friend. And just like that, you have new fans?loyal readers who may be interested in buying your book.
It helps establish you as an expert in your field. If your book is about your experiences as a skydiver, then susieskydives.blogspot.com would be a wonderful opportunity to provide helpful tips, reviews of places you have jumped and maybe even bust a few myths about how dangerous it is thought to be. With the right kind of networking, aspiring skydivers searching the web could find you, see what you have to offer and come back regularly for the valuable information you post. They may even want to buy your book (see a pattern forming here?).
If you are not an expert, blogging can be a way to reach out to those who are. Be a good blogger. Read other blogs. Comment on other blogs. Ask to guest blog or invite others to blog for you. You’ll learn a lot, make some good friends and establish a reputation for being a good literary citizen.
It helps establish you as a real human being. Author blogs tend to be rather informal and conversational in their execution. As a result, a lot of the author’s personality comes through. I tell my authors to aim for this, spicing up their usually informative blogs with an appropriate amount of everyday events that relate to what they are writing about. If your book is about class struggle, your trip to the grocery store or your extreme dislike of cockroaches could very well be presented in a pertinent fashion. Your readers will appreciate the window into your life and develop feelings of kinship and loyalty, perfect for when your book comes out.
It gets you in the habit of writing. Perhaps blogging is not the highest form of literary creation, but it is creation, nonetheless. And to have an effective blog and a prolific writing career, you have to get in the habit of writing regularly. This simple act of taking time out to sit in the chair and get words out onto the page is so important when you go to write “for real.” Writing is like a muscle. You have to exercise it regularly or it will emaciate to the point of uselessness.
It can even kick start a writing session. When the muse is singing, you don’t want to waste that creative burst on a blog post. But sometimes, the vocal cords could use a bit of warming up. Often enough, the hardest part of writing is beginning. The simple, often conversational nature of blog writing is a lot easier to get out onto the page. Once the page is no longer immaculate, it becomes a lot easier to mark up. And once an imagination is in motion, it tends to stay in motion.
Agents ask for it, but it’s best when they don’t have to. The unsolicited keeping of a good blog shows a prospective agent (and later, publisher) that you are serious, proactive and effective in building your platform and marketing your work. I mentioned that I greatly prefer an author with an established blog. But if you don’t have a blog and your project is just too attractive to pass up, I may still sign you and then have you start a blog. Blogs are just about necessary these days. They may take time and effort, but I wouldn’t waste yours if it wasn’t worth it.
It’s fun. No, really. It harkens back to the days of keeping a childhood diary. You can, within reason, write fairly informally about whatever you want and have a great time doing so. Isn’t that why we write in the first place? To have fun? You get to blog. How awesome is that?
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