Start Your Author Blog in Five Easy Steps

HfHA few months ago, I wrote an article on using Twitter to turbocharge your writing career. That was like five months ago, so you should have about 20,000 followers by now. After mastering 140 characters, you’re now ready to write exponentially more words and reap far fewer tangible rewards by starting your own author blog. I’ll show you how.

Getting Started

“Blog” is short for “weblog,” which is only six letters, so I’m not sure why it needed shortening. Think of it like an online journal you can update even if you have no HTML skills or sense of shame.

You can set up your blog for free using several popular platforms. If you like descriptive names, Blogger is pretty much what it sounds like. WordPress is also widely popular among writers for its usability, customization, and recognizable visual layout that instantly proclaims to visitors, “This is a WordPress blog! I’m using WordPress!”

photo by Beth77
photo by Beth77

Find Your Niche

What type of blog should you create? It depends on what you write. Mystery writer? I recommend a writing advice blog. Literary fiction? You might consider blogging about writing advice. Paranormal romance? A writing advice blog is your best bet. If you write LGBT YA as a way to reach out to teenage misfits and tell them they’re not alone, there’s no better way to do that than a writing advice blog. Blogs are how authors build a wide, diverse readership by catering to a tiny subsection of the market. If you read a few authors’ blogs, you may conclude that hardly anybody buys books except for other writers. This is pure cynicism, but with hard work, we can make sure that books are read exclusively by other writers by 2030.

You may be considering blogging about some other interest of yours–say, woodworking or crafting, for example. If you’ve got time for hobbies, you’re obviously not spending enough time on writing. Those hours spent enjoying a stress-free pastime for its own sake could be far better spent chiseling another few thousand words into the unforgiving white page on your monitor.

Blogging is like a never-ending online writing conference that focuses on the panel discussions and business cards, without all the pesky bar crawls, romantic entanglements, and face-to-face meetings with your literary idols that get in the way.

Linkbait

Which Hogwart’s student does J.K. Rowling think has a secret criminal past? What secrets from the DaVinci Code does Dan Brown not want you to know? Which five daytime TV stars have ghostwritten James Patterson novels? I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, but I’ll bet you’d click on all of them if they were blog headlines. The big secret to driving traffic to your blog is to create headlines so juicy, people won’t be able to resist them. If you come up with a great headline but can’t write an article to go with it, remember that there’s nobody whose job it is to make sure your headline corresponds to the actual article. As soon as someone clicks on your article, they’re officially a reader and a fan, a fact which you should include in your query letters.

Networking

Once you’ve written a few starter posts, it’s time to go out and meet your fellow bloggers. Blogging is like a never-ending online writing conference that focuses on the panel discussions and business cards, without all the pesky bar crawls, romantic entanglements, and face-to-face meetings with your literary idols that get in the way. Start your online networking session like this:

  1. Simply find an interesting blog article about a book that you loved.

  2. Carefully read the article to pick up as much wisdom as you can.

  3. Go to the comments section and write, “THRILLING ADVENTURE, MY NOVEL “CHUPACABRA-CADABRA” FREE ON AMAZON! 14 FIVE-STAR REVIEWS!!!”

  4. Go to Amazon and watch your sales rank skyrocket.

And that’s pretty much how networking works.

Set a Schedule

Blogging involves writing for an audience, and audiences like content on the regular. Develop a posting schedule so your readers will know when to stop by. You’ll boost your productivity through the unrelenting pressure of four extra deadlines every week for the remainder of your career. In no time, you’ll notice small, impossible-to-quanity gains for your personal brand, and all you had to do was double your workload! As I’ve discussed before, branding is important stuff, so you may have to go a few days without working on your WIP to meet your editorial calendar.

That’s all there is to it! Follow my advice for the next twenty years or so, and you’ll be blogging your way onto the best-seller list. What are your blogging tips and tricks? Share them in the comments! Or save them for your own author blog!

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About Bill Ferris

After college, Bill Ferris left Nebraska for Florida to become a rich and famous rock star. Failing that, he picked up the pen to become a rich and famous novelist. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his wife, Jen, and his sons, Elliott and Wyatt, and he looks forward to a life of poverty and ridicule.

Comments

  1. Cal Rogers says

    “Blog” is only half the syllables of “weblog.” It also rhymes with “dog,” an animal that similarly requires constant attention and often barks for no reason.

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  2. says

    So what you’re saying, Bill, is what the world needs now is another blog offering fiction writing advice. I’ve often toyed with the idea of starting a blog on a topic that hasn’t reached the kind of saturation we’ve seen with fiction writing blogs. A few ideas: what’s wrong with the New York Yankees this year? Is there life for divorced people over 50? What’s up with Kanye West? I bet I would quadruple the number of followers–but then it would take time away from my fiction writing. Nice post and funny, too.

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  3. says

    If I may … not to be too contrary here because I like your post today, Bill, but I don’t see (your Networking points 1-4) how commenting on a book blog article with a pitch to “buy my book” works to skyrocket book sales, as you say. The self-promotion issue comes up, doesn’t it? I think most book bloggers would delete the comment because that kind of blatant self-promotion in their territory is more than just frowned upon in the blogging world that I know. Most book bloggers don’t want their comments section to be free ads for authors’ books. They want the networking of exchange of ideas and opinions. So, I’m really curious, Bill, for you to elaborate: could you be more specific on how/where you did that, how it was received by the host blogger, and how it paid off for you personally in sales? Thanks!

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      • says

        At first I took this blog as a serious post that had a clever and funny tone, thinking that–like all the wonderful posts on Writer Unboxed– this was another one that was going to offer good substance and insightful advice. I’m afraid the sarcasm came off as spotty to me, but I don’t know Bill and I’m not familiar with his kind of humor, so I guess I’m out of the loop here. Aside from all the ego-stroking for Bill, the best comment here is from Leanne … “Be yourself. Readers want to get to know the author behind the words.” And Werner makes a good point; not everybody who reads these posts are insiders here. Sorry, Bill, but Writer Unboxed is not where I come find humor. At least not an entire post written for amusement only. But if you do standup comedy somewhere ….

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  4. Werner says

    This kind of subtle sarcasm really doesn’t play well on the internet. Do you have any idea how many people are going to think this is real advice? Needs more hyperbole.

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  5. says

    I was enjoying reading this article. But then…then I stumbled across… What? What! Wait. Slow down. Breathe. He’s joking. He has to be. Breathe. Okay. Everything’s okay.
    I created my blog on 10-10-10 and currently has over 154k page views. My top tip: be yourself. Readers want to get to know the author behind the words.
    Oh, yes, and… Build a community.

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  6. says

    OK, you made me laugh. So now I’m your fan forever. Maybe there should be more blogs that are actually funny?

    Follow me on Twitter: @LizMain
    It’s like the junk drawer of my brain

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  7. says

    Thanks Bill,

    I was just trying to decide if I should revamp my blog while updating my website. You’ve convinced me. My time is better spent on my actual writing.

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  8. says

    This is very serious advice that should be taken very seriously. It is definitely not a joke. I know Bill personally, and can swear that he’d never joke about anything like this, any more than I would. That is why his personal blog is jam-packed with writing advice, as you will see if you click on his signature.

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  9. says

    Bill, the life of poverty and ridicule is even better than you imagined. Do you like cabbage? Excellent.

    I have a writing advice blog too, but after reading your post, I think I’m going to branch out into writing about hand-puppets.

    In fact, you inspired my first headline: J. K. Rowling and Her Hand Puppet: The Love That Has No Name. It will be a sensation, and I have you alone to thank.

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  10. says

    In looking at my comment again (oh, my parched ego), I considered that it might be misconstrued as being hostile or some peevish variant, when I was attempting instead to go along with the sense of fun. Some of the comments indicate just how interpretive humor is; my cat does think I’m funny, though.

    Anyway, Bill, I found the post quite amusing. I still say my Rowling blog would be a sensation no matter what.

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  11. Cal Rogers says

    I’m among those who thought this was going to be an important post about a serious issue. The first clue for me that this was actually intended to be funny didn’t occur until I read the words “Filed under: Humor…,” slyly tucked away under the title, just to right of the author’s name. The second clue was the artwork the author cleverly concealed just to the left of the first paragraph that says “Hacks for Hacks* (*sense of humor required).” About the only other thing that gave it away was the satirical tone dripping from every sentence. To make it clearer that his contributions are designed to be humorous (I know, I know, you shouldn’t expect humor from a Humor Contributor to WU), I think Mr. Ferris should consider enacting his future articles using Bozo the Clown hand puppets, while contriving a way for a pie to fly into the face of every viewer.

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  12. says

    I giggled out loud — score, Bill.

    For the sake of all that’s holy and uses the serial comma properly, I’m delighted for a touch of fun, even in (especially in) this writing advice blog.

    It’s a grim business at times and a sense of humor is a writer’s best survival skill.

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  13. says

    For me, the more difficult of a blog is write content. If your content is good with some traffic, our blog is grow up. Your five steps are essential.
    Good post Bill!

    Best regards from Spain.

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