A net presence is a must for authors in the current world of book publishing. And a website is usually the focal point for authors to connect with their readers. Authors are finding out that another successful connection tool is an author blog.
This post is a summary of answers about blogging I have collected from a group of outstanding, award-winning authors interviewed at the HBS Author’s Spotlight. I value their opinions highly. To date we have conducted over 280 interviews.
Today our focus is on blogging and how you can establish goals and improve your communications. (Click on author’s name to view their complete interview.)
During our interviews I will ask the authors questions about their social media and blogging activities. The questions usually follow along this line.
What is your primary blog goal? Do you want to keep readers informed or market your books or provide useful information to other writers or all of the above?
Connect with Readers
One of the top goals mentioned in our interviews was to connect with readers. Whether it is about gaining exposure, showcasing your books and new releases or gaining name recognition, reaching out to readers is a solid way to market your books. Here are the answers from several authors whose blog focus is on the reader.
Author Donna Galanti @DonnaGalanti is the International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the The Element Trilogy.
“My primary goal is to connect with readers and I am now re-inventing myself as a children’s author, so that’s an entirely different avenue of promotion through librarians, teachers, parents, and school assemblies.”
Author Gayle Carline @GayleCarline is an author of the fun and quirky Peri Minneopa Mysteries and a Humor columnist.
“My primary goal with my blog is for people to get to know me. A lot of it is about my journey as a writer and the kinds of things I learn and want to share. When I read an author's blog, I like to read where their characters came from or how difficult a passage might have been to write. You don't sell books by shouting, ‘Buy my book!’ You sell books by saying, ‘Hi, my name is Gayle and I'm an author. Let's share our stories.’”
Author Jenny Hilborne @JFHilborne is the author of the Jackson Mysteries and Thrillers Series.
“As recommendations [from others] is one of my primary sources for buying books and trying new authors, I use my blog to spotlight my own work and that of other authors, and also to help readers find great books. I'll often post book reviews on my blog to share with readers who enjoy the mystery/thriller genre.”
Award-winning Southern Maggie Toussaint @MaggieToussaint is the Mystery and Romance writer who writes the The Cleopatra Jones Mystery Series.
“The secret seems to be to market yourself in ways that you find rewarding or enjoy. My primary goal is to build a fan base so that I’m not reinventing the wheel with each release. I’m zealous about protecting my writing time and sticking to my weekly writing goals. The rest gets squeezed in between the events in the rest of my life.”
Another top goal mentioned in our interviews was to help other authors. This goal is about synergy and paying it forward. Here are the answers from several authors whose blog focus is on helping other writers.
Author Kellie Larsen Murphy @aguiltymind is the Psychological suspense author of A Guilty Mind and a freelance writer.
“My primary goal with my blog is to take what I've learned and share it with others. The truth is, most of what I've learned about the publishing process has come from other writers' experiences as much as from the agents and editors I've met. I look at my blog less as a promotional tool and more as conversation.”
Jill Paterson @JillPaterson2 is a Mystery writer, and author of The Celtic Dagger, Murder At The Rocks, and Once Upon A Lie, in the Fitzjohn Mystery series. Also book reviewer and blogger.
“My goal in having a blog is to give aspiring writers and writer’s information on whatever I think might be useful to them. The posts on self-publishing have been very popular in recent times so that is why I decided to publish them together in an eBook. Self-Publishing-Pocket Guide. Even so, I’ve left all the original posts on my blog.”
Author, Editor and Robert Yehling @WordJourneys teaches creative and spiritual writing and conducts workshops around the country.
“As for my blog, I want people to feel the writing and reading experience, from an insider’s perspective. So I share the craft, the lifestyle, and lately, the lifestyles of other authors, through my interview series. I also do instructional pieces, since I’m a former college professor and still teach at writer’s conferences. Everyone wants good advice – and who better to give writing advice than those of us who work with words every day and, in my case, deal with editors, agents and publishers all the time?”
Many of the authors interviewed had multiple goals for their blog. They were trying to reach out to both readers and writers. Here are the answers from authors who were addressing different audiences and objectives.
M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series.
“I try, not always as successfully, to address the two different audiences for my blog: 1) those authors who want advice about becoming an indie author and how to market ebooks and 2) readers who are fans of the series. Up until now, most of my blogs (and I think most of my followers) have been other authors. But recently there are so many more people blogging about their experiences as indie authors that I don’t feel that needs to be my focus. Consequently, I hope to find more time to write the historical pieces about San Francisco that will please the fans of the series.”
5-Star Mystery Author R.S. Guthrie @rsguthrie writes Mystery & Thrillers, essays, and short stories. His book: INK: Eight Rules To A Better Book is a MUST read for all authors.
“The funny thing is, the blog is my outlet when ‘life’ has my muse hiding out deep inside me, unwilling to be creative at all. There are a million things I blog about, mostly writing, but other things, too. The blogs are both my catharsis and my therapy and keep me writing. That’s another key for writers: WRITE. Blogs, articles for your local paper, long-winded comments on HuffPost. Tapp the keyboard and write something. Every day, if you can swing it (I can’t).”
Author Elizabeth S. Craig @elizabethscraig is the author of the Myrtle Clover mysteries, the Memphis Barbeque mysteries (as Riley Adams), and the Southern Quilting mysteries.
“Thanks! I have several goals with my blog. One is sharing resources and information with other writers and having them share back in the comments. Another is connecting with other writers, since writing can be an isolating business. A third would be, frankly, channeling traffic to my blog, which is hosted on my website. Since my website benefits from the traffic, I gain more visibility on Google and other search engines, making my content and books easier for readers to find.”
James Moushon @jimhbs is a Mystery and Espionage author. He also writes several industry blogs including eBook Author’s Corner, the HBS Author's Spotlight, and the HBS Mystery Readers Circle.
“I try to focus my posts on helping other authors. I try to give good advice and help writers gain exposure with their books and their methods. I do include my book and contact information in the sidebars of my blogs. I think that old saying, ‘What goes around comes around’ is important in today’s book publishing industry.”
Prolific award-winning Author Nancy Gideon @NancyGideon is the author of the BY MOONLIGHT series. You might know her as Lauren Giddings or Dana Ransom or Rosalyn West (Pseudonyms).
“The blog was a part of the social media puzzle I put together when I first sold the series. Go big or go home. It’s another of those tools to reach readers and support my writer friends. Doing Blog Hops and Blog Tours like this one helps get exposure for my books without breaking my time bank. Blogs are something I can do during my lunch hour at work so they don’t cut into my creative writing time.”
Several of the authors interviewed had multiple blogs, usually with different goals. They are trying to reach out to both readers and writers. Here are the answers from authors who were addressing different audiences and objectives.
Author Carolyn Arnold @Carolyn_Arnold writes Mystery & Thrillers and Romance novels including the MADISON KNIGHT series.
“Well, I currently have three blogs [All with different goals].
My author blog: This one is going to keep focused on the writing craft, promotion of my work, and forensic topics.
Celebrating Authors: This is where I promote my fellow authors and their books.
I am a Shining Soul: This was created for the purpose of self-discovery and healing, with the goal of also helping others going through hurtful things in their lives. I think it helps to know we’re not alone.”
Author Margo Bond Collins @MargoBondCollin is the author of the A Night Shift Series.
“I started my primary blog as soon as I landed my first book contract—and then I realized that I didn't have anything to say! But I do know books. My entire professional life has been about reading books, writing about books, and now, authoring books. And I realized that the best way to get others to help me promote my books would be to help them, too.
So I decided to make my blog about anything writing-related and to promote other authors.
Initially, my primary goal was to promote my own books. But now it's more about getting my name out there in a variety of ways. I now participate in several blogs—both my own, and by co-blogging with other authors. Here they are:”
James Moushon @jimhbs is a Mystery author and the host/writer of the eBook Author’s Corner.
“I have three blog that I write on a regular basis, each with a different goal.”
The eBook Author Corner: This blog provides information about various author related issues like marketing, Internet use, and book content.
HBS Author’s Spotlight: This blog presents author interviews and book showcases to help authors gain exposure for themselves and their writings.
HBS Mystery Readers’s Circle: The focus here is to provide readers with books at reasonable prices with author profiles and contact information to help the reader make a buying decision and at the same time promote the author’s novel.
Changing Focus and Adopting
One of the continuing threads throughout the interviews was that you must be flexible with your blog content. Don’t hesitate to adopt and change your blog focus and goals. Do what works for you and your genre. Here are the answers from a couple bestselling authors who adapted their blog approach every time.
Bestselling Author L.J. Sellers @LJSellers is the author of the Detective Jackson Mystery/Suspense Series. Also, she is an award-winning journalist.
“My blogging goals have changed over the years. I started it just to establish an online presence and connect with potential readers. Many of my first followers were other writers, and I shared what I knew and learned about writing, editing, and marketing. Now with my group blog, Crime Fiction Collective, my goal is to be interesting to readers. With my personal blog on my website, my goal is to keep my readers informed about what’s going on with me personally.”
Author Rachel Abbott @_RachelAbbott is the bestselling author on the Kindle charts.
“My goal when I started the blog was to help other writers. It wasn’t easy to be self-published when I started, but I think it has become much easier, so the focus of the blog has changed to be more appropriate for readers who may be interested in the lives of writers, but are not necessarily trying to publish their own work.”
Something of Value
Another point that was made by authors in the interviews was to give your blog visitor something of value. Something that will make them return to your blog for more.
Award-Winning and Pushcart-Prize nominated author Gary Ponzo @AuthorPonzo is the author of the Nick Bracco series of thrillers.
“I began the blog by offering a forum for beginning writers to showcase their work. I offered a writing contest each month where a writer could submit their first scene for others to vote on. I didn't charge an entry fee and gave away $100 Amazon gift cards as first prize. After a while I received so many entries I couldn't possibly keep up the pace so I converted the blog into a place for readers to discover new writers. I've interviewed some NY Times bestsellers like Janet Evanovich and Tess Gerritsen and Catherine Coulter, but I've also interviewed writers like John Locke and Rick Murcer and Hugh Howey before their careers really took off. It's enjoyable to see these writers flourish in today's market.”
Award-Winning Author Arleen Alleman @aallemanwrites is the author of the Darcy Farthing Cruise Crime Adventure series.
“I started the blog as a way to talk about my writing, fulfilling life-long dreams, and also about the topic that is so important to me; health and fitness. It hasn't really evolved into a writer's blog per se. I have used it to talk about my book development and publishing and I'm sure I will start posting updates as the new book gets closer to publication. As soon as I have an image of my approved book cover, I will start posting information about it on various online sites. I don't know if there is any relationship between the blog and sales of the book.”
Award-Winning Author Barbara Ellen Brink @BarbaraEBrink writes Mystery & Thrillers, Romance and Young Adult Novels. Barbara has written the Fredrickson Winery Series and The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy.
“My blog started out as a place to write humorous snippets from my life or what I observe in the world around me. Erma Bombeck was one of my favorite humor writers when I was growing up, so that’s what I enjoy. My posts are usually light-hearted fun and may give you a chuckle or two. Sometimes I write about new releases or sales, reviews of books I’ve enjoyed, or promoting another author’s release. There is no primary goal for my blog, and sometimes I don’t have time to write posts as often as I’d like, but mostly I have it just for fun and to let readers know what I’m up to.”
Author Annette Drake @annettedrake13 is a romance writer and blogger just starting the long journey.
“My goal for the blog is to entertain. I’m told that writers start a blog to build a following, a ‘platform.’ I don’t know what that means. I hope people who read it get a chuckle or two and find me approachable.”
In conclusion, Susan Oleksiw gives some good advice about where your blog should be focused.
Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.
“I like the idea of blogging, of writing a short essay every now and then, and I admire people who can do this with discipline every week. I tend to blog only about once or twice a month because I don't like filler pieces, the kind of post that reads as though the writer had to put up something and this inane little piece is the something. I want my posts to be interesting and useful and thoughtful. I try to keep the focus on writing and on my personal experiences as a writer if they are at all relevant to others (not all are, in my view). I would have to say that my main goal is to say something that is honest, intelligent, and useful. I think the most important role of the writer is to be honest.”
So what is your blog goal?
Do you want to connect with readers or do you want to help other writers or do both?
Many authors have multiple goals with their blog. Sometimes they try to accomplish their goals with one blog, sometimes they use multiple blogs.
What is for sure is that you must realize that your goals may have moving targets and you must adapt to what works and what doesn't work.
At the end of the day the blog must channel traffic to your novel’s buy page.
Follow Me on Twitter: @jimhbs
Or EMAIL at: firstname.lastname@example.org
View my website: James Moushon – Mystery Writer
Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight
And the HBS Mystery Readers’s Circle
Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novels: