So you’re an author and you’re considering starting a blog. That doesn’t sound like a problem. You just cook something up and post it on the Internet. It should be a piece of cake. Wait a minute. You say you better know what you’re getting into before you start. I agree.
Here is some advice from some outstanding authors who have experience with an author blog. They discuss the time issues and the problems involved in having a good author blog.
This post is a summary of answers about blogging and time management 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 important time management is along with some useful hints in handling the problems. (Click on author’s name to view their complete interview.)
It is imperative to know what you are getting into.
During our interviews we will ask the authors questions about their blog. The questions usually follow along this line.
Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do you sort of play it by ear?
Eden Baylee starts the discussion off.
Eden Baylee @edenbaylee is the author of a psychological mystery/thriller and three collections of erotic novellas and flash fiction.
“Every day is a juggle to write, read, and promote.
I use my blog as my home base for much of it. From here, I create the social media that links back to me about my books and my interests. There are many things that need to be done to spread the word of a book before and after its written. Selling books is a huge part of being a full-time writer. It’s what pays the bills and allows me to keep writing, so it’s important to stay positive and persist.”
Time and Problems
Time is a major concern for most indie authors. How do I find time to do everything? Following are comments made by my interviewees about blogging time and the problems they encounter.
Author Amy Metz @authoramymetz is an Author of Mystery & Thrillers as well as a blogger and book editor.
“…I don’t have a schedule. Now that I have the blog up and rolling, it’s not very time consuming. But I do have to admit that my laptop is almost an appendage. I write or market or blog every waking moment possible, although I have been known to be easily distracted by Pinterest.”
Author Dave Folsom is the Mystery & Thrillers author based in the Northwest.
“I enjoy blogging however time management seems to make it difficult on any regular basis especially when I’m working to finish a book. My photograph efforts do suffer as well. A good photography trip is always the highlight and a great break.”
Author Pamela Fagan Hutchins is an award-winning and best-selling romantic mystery/suspense and hilarious nonfiction writer.
“It’s so time consuming!! I’m having a lot of trouble getting the fourth novel ready because the demands the promotional and marketing demands seem to be exponential. I’ve cut blogging down to once or twice a week, and it’s generally newsy rather than creative. I used to write great blogs, in fact, I used a lot of what I’d written on my blog over the years for my nonfiction books. Case in point: I need to be working on Going for Kona right now, and I’m answering interview questions.”
Author, Editor and Poet Robert Yehling @WordJourneys teaches creative and spiritual writing and conducts workshops around the country.
“I don’t think about the time, because every time I do, I get overwhelmed. It stops me in my tracks – sometimes for a painful week of writer’s block at a time. I just move forward to the next project, and the next. I’m a very fast writer as well. Back to the newspaper and magazine days: We had daily deadlines. We had to produce every day for years. That discipline stays with you. So I write every day, and I’m very, very good at deadline writing (though my fiancée doesn’t particularly like how amped up I get! But she’s also a writer, so she understands.)”
Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.
“…I feel like I’m one of the worst at keeping my blog up to date. I do like to reach out to authors who are struggling with the writing process or the publishing process. I strive to provide them with a little insight to help them through their crunch...whatever that might be. No one really showed or told me what to do, so I had to figure it out as I went along. I want to offer to spare others that same strife. Social media became a time hog until I was able to streamline my process. It used to consume 3 or 4 hours of every day. I’ve whittled that down to about 30 or 40 minutes a day. That frees most of my day for writing and editing. (yuk)”
Author Cara Brookins is an Author and Motivational Speaker. Cara is the author of the TimeShifters series.
“I have so many ideas for directions with my blog that focus is my biggest problem. Well, unless you consider an actual blog schedule necessary, then that is a bigger problem! I write for the blog as I find time, and we never have enough of that. I am also a staff writer for a fun company called Riddle.com where I write the playful lists and quizzes people share across social media.
My long term goal is to incorporate more of what I write for Riddle into my blog. I also have plans to create a social media workshop through my blog to teach more writers to use social media to their advantage. Clearly the one thing not in my long term plan is more sleep.”
Planning and scheduling your blogging activity seems to help with time consumption problems. Again several of the Spotlight authors weigh in on what they do to cope with the problems.
Author Jeremy Bates @jemacba is the #1 Amazon bestseller author of White Lies.
“I don’t have enough time. I definitely prioritize. Writing always comes first. It’s something I do daily. Social media comes second. I’ll tweet something I find neat on the internet, or I’ll pop over to Facebook or Goodreads to check my messages. And blogging comes third. I simply find it takes too much time to try to write a new, interesting post every few days.
I know a writer who started a blog a couple years ago, which took off astronomically. Each post gets something like 100-500 comments. You’d think that would be great—and it is…if you are purely a blogger. But he’s a writer too, and I think he finds it more and more difficult to squeeze in time to write. Yet he feels obligated to his followers to keep up his posts, his reviews etc. So he has sort of backed himself into a corner.”
Amazon Bestselling Author Diane Capri @DianeCapri is the author of The Hunt for Reacher series.
“I have to say that time pressures often put my blog at the bottom of my list of work that needs to be finished, so I don't post as often as I'd like to. But I enjoy creating the blog posts and it’s fun to find interesting things to blog about to delight readers. My books are filled with eclectic information, which is one of the things readers love about them. So my blog is a bit eclectic, too. I blog about what interests me at the moment if I think it will interest readers as well. I also blog about the research I'm doing for the current book I'm writing.”
Author Jeff Edwards is the award-winning author of Adventure and Military novels.
“I have a lot of fun with the blog. I don’t follow any particular posting schedule. When something catches my attention, or pisses me off, or tickles my funny bone, it usually turns into a blog entry.”
And some authors get help to get the job done. Rachel expresses her view.
Author Rachel Abbott @_RachelAbbott is the bestselling author on the Kindle charts.
“I also have some help. I have had a marketing assistant now for about a year, and she does quite a bit of the work finding great content for social media. I’ve also just employed a virtual assistant who is going to do more of the admin tasks. They both work part time – probably only about 20 hours a month each – but it’s a huge help, particularly around launch time.”
Some authors feel that the time problem can be overlooked if they can gain exposure and sell books.
Author Lindsay Buroker is author of the The Emperor's Edge, Swords & Salt, Rust & Relics and Dragon Blood series.
“The original goal with the blog was to sell books, of course, and it does do that a little bit (I use affiliate links so I can see which sales originate on my blog), but mostly I just enjoy talking about the things I’m learning and helping other people out. Sometimes by being out there, too, not just as an author but as someone in the self-publishing community who shares useful information, it can open up opportunities.
I was invited to participate in a big multi-author bundle with some genre best-sellers (it debuts in a few weeks) because I’d interviewed someone who’s had success with bundles. I’ve been written up on Kobo’s Writing Life blog and also been interviewed for the Bookbub blog, because people there learned about me from posts and podcasts I’d done on self-publishing.
It also helps that I write fairly efficiently these days. With my first couple of books, I did a lot of rewriting, cutting whole chapters and changing endings, etc. Now I do outlines and there’s a lot less wasted time. My rough drafts are usually 90% of the way there, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time editing. I think that’s just something that comes with practice.”
Best-Selling Author Debra L. Martin @dlmartin6 Science fiction and fantasy writer. You can also find her writing Romance novels as Debra Elizabeth.
“I started Two Ends of the Pen in 2008 as a way to promote our books, but early on I found that talking about just us became rather boring. I wanted to know what other authors were doing and how were they managing this new self-publishing arena. I started offering author interviews over at Kindleboards and I quickly became inundated with requests.
It took me months to get to everyone. I also wanted to share information that I’d learned with new authors and that led to a series of Author Panel Discussions. Those posts are the most popular on the blog. From there everything just expanded into guest posts, new releases and finally book reviews. I’m currently closed to new submissions for book reviews, but I can always fit in another author interview. The details for requesting author interviews are in the right hand sidebar on the blog.”
The general consensus is blogging is time consuming but with the proper goals and a plan of attack it can be worthwhile.
There is an upside to blogging: Exposure, connecting with readers and other authors, book marketing, fun activity, new opportunities, etc.
And there is a downside: time suck, lack of fresh ideas, overwhelming, etc.
My advice: Know what you are getting into before you start blogging.
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