Author Blogs–Solid Platform, Wrong Audience

Happy Friday!!!! Today I have a really special treat for you guys. I do have to say that I love being right, but sometimes it kinda sux being right…but then it goes back to being awesome that I am right. Confused? Okay, well I started a ton of controversy surrounding writer blogs with such posts as Sacred Cow-Tipping–Why Writers Blogging About Writing is Bad and More Sacred Cow-Tipping–Common Blogging Misconceptions.

We have big folks in publishing claiming that blogging is dead, that blogging is a waste of time and does nothing to drive book sales. Yet, I counter with, “What if blogging isn’t the problem? What if writers just don’t know how to blog?”

GASP!

I mean if I ran out and spent $2000 on a Mac computer and the promptly used it to swat mosquitos and then loudly proclaimed that Mac laptops were a waste of money, everyone would think I was a lunatic, right? Yet we have the hubris to believe that because we can string together sentences that we instantly have the know-how to write a blog that connects to thousands of readers in a way that creates loyalty and drives book sales??? Hey, I’m not judging. I learned this stuff by making all the mistakes.

Yet, we have this amazing tool–the blog–and think that with NO instruction, we can be successful. Can we? Sure. Are there better approaches that are more effective? YES!!!

Blogging isn’t dead, but blogging is an art and a skill that needs to be learned. It can be learned by trial and error (like me) or it can be learned by those who have made all the dumb mistakes and who are willing to share their knowledge (from me). It feels good to be right, but sometimes it can bum me out, too. Yet, the awesome part is that, if I am right and I offer instruction to writers who want to blog, then there is a path to success and that is great reason to get excited.

Today my pal Susan Bischoff-who is an amazing writer and very sweet/supportive person-is going to share her experience. A couple weeks ago, Susan courageously e-mailed me and asked if she could share her story so that other writers could learn from her mistake. I think that is awesome and very brave and adds one more reason I adore her.

Thanks, Susan for doing this….

***

Kristen’s recent post, The Secret to Selling Books Part I–Let’s Get Sticky, certainly got a lot of people talking. Part of what’s interesting to me about the post and the buzz it’s created is that, in a lot of ways, it’s the same thing Kristen’s been trying to tell us all along. This idea that writers talking to writers about writing is not optimal use of social media if you want to sell fiction is something that’s clear in her books We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media (a.k.a. the WANA Guide) and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

So I wanted to talk about why, knowing and understanding Kristen’s advice regarding blogging to and for writers, I basically ignored her and did it anyway. More importantly, I wanted to give you a bit of case study about how that’s worked out for me.

Blog on topic…

From the time I read the WANA Guide, around the same time that I released my first novel, and I determined to get serious, to retake my neglected blog, to make an effort on Twitter, etc., I’ve experienced the frustration of not feeling like I had anything to talk about except writing. Kristen says to blog “on topic.” On something related to your book.

One suggestion she makes is to take the research you did for your book and write articles about that. If your fiction is set in a historical period, write articles about that period, about the clothes, food, events, technology, etc. People interested in that period will find you and may be interested in reading your fictional perspective. Write about ghosts? Then write about ghost hunters, paranormal science, ghost sightings, ghostly legends.

Even for those of us who don’t feel like we do much active research, like what we write comes purely out of our heads (Purely? Really? Not inspired by anything?) we could probably find something in the real world to tie in to our fiction.

I write about teens with superpowers. So I could write about comic book superheroes, superhero TV shows and cartoons, superhero movies, books about kids with abilities…

Yah. If had time to actually take that stuff in. And then analyze it for something to say besides ZOMG Squee! or Thor’s six-pack! :flail:. And then write about it in some way that makes it actually worth someone’s time to read about it.

Writing about writing is easy. It’s accessible to us. We think about it all the time. We discover things that are new to us, and we enjoy sharing those things with people who get it—the people we rarely meet in real life. Writing a writer blog is very gratifying.

In my case, I know that I didn’t see how I could maintain an “on topic” blog because I didn’t want to see it. I really wanted to keep doing what I was doing. And I see this from others all the time, in comments on Kristen’s posts and in what people say on their on blogs.

Just doing what came naturally…

It was very easy to convince myself that my writer blog was totally working for me. I was building a following on my blog. People were subscribing. I was selling a lot of books, in large part due to the Amazon machine. The way it works is that you hit a certain level of sales compared to everyone else, which causes you to achieve a rank, which causes you to hit their charts, which causes you to be easily seen by browsers, which increases your sales dramatically, which causes you to chart higher and more widely, which increases your sales even more, which means that some of those people are actually reading and some of those reading are actually reviewing, adding buzz and credibility to your visibility, getting you some more sales…

And where did I tell myself all of that started? In part, with all of my writer buddies. Every sale counts, and it doesn’t matter why someone bought the book, it still helped its rank.

  • I wrote a whole blog series about marketing ideas that helped me. It was very popular.
  • An article I wrote was published by a company which helps authors market. Many of those authors publish independently as I do.
  • Every time I wrote about a level of success I experienced, people who wanted so support independent publishing would say, “See, she’s sold more than 150 copies!”

And not only did those things send visitors to my blog, it did sell some books because the book itself was very inexpensive and people were curious about my writing. Some wanted to know how good a book has to be to sell like that (not like it was a huge seller) and some wanted to know if I was doing something so right that I was selling even a really crappy book. But they were all sales.

So I was writing about writing and catering to writers and I was doing just fine, thank you very much. I was being supportive and instructive. I was paying back and paying it forward, and getting all kinds of nice comments and blog love. I was building a blog and a solid blog following—something that I doubted I could accomplish. Yay!

When I realized it didn’t work…

So I went to publish my second book. Allegedly I had thousands of readers of the first book. But, uh-oh, I don’t know how to get in touch with them. Even though I offer a newsletter, only a few hundred people signed up for it. And what was really interesting to me about the newsletter, during the year in which I collected subscribers, was the fact that I didn’t know them. They were not the people who commented on my blog or talked to me on Twitter. They were people completely unfamiliar to me.

Oh, look! I think that may be a retroactive clue.

Okay, so I got ready to put the book out. I let everyone know on my blog. I asked for their help to spread the word. I wrote some extra good posts that brought in extra high traffic—posts aimed at writers and indie publishers.

The book went out. I let everyone know on social media. I posted links. My friends supported me with Twitter mentions, liking me on Facebook, carrying the badge for the new book on their blogs, writing whole blog posts mentioning the release. They were awesome. And they probably reached all the same people I reached because we have all the same followers.

Last time I put a book out, I had not built up my social media platform. If a writer friend promoted me, that message reached people I couldn’t reach. A year later, we’re all hooked up, linked in. Homogenized. I think people must get that on some level, which accounts for some of the scurrying about to find new friends and hobbies the wake of the “Sticky” post.

See, of all the people it was in my power to inform, only people who were fans of my books bought my second book. Right now I have a follower base who are fans of my writing/publishing advice.But that’s not what the book is about.

I neither want nor expect fans of the writing advice to buy my fiction if the content doesn’t interest them. I neither need nor expect pity or loyalty sales. The advice I gave, I gave for free. And I don’t regret giving it away in the slightest. I got a lot out of giving it, and that’s a big reason why I kept doing it, to the exclusion of focusing on my fiction/genre/topic stuff.

I built a writer blog. And that in itself is cool. In a financial sense, it would be cooler if I’d monetized my blog, if it carried ads. Then I’d get paid to build that following just for the sake of building it. In a marketing sense, it would be super cool if I also had books about writing or publishing to market. Then my blog would be selling my product. But my product is fiction.

Looking at my blog content as advertising, it’s like I wanted to sell jewelry and so I wrote about sports and ran the commercials on ESPN. Will I hit a few viewers who might be curious enough about me to look more deeply, a few who happen to like jewelry and then become my customers?

Maybe.

But in terms of ROI (return on investment), it is not the best use of my time and creative energy to maintain focus on a topic that has very little to do with my product. Nor to focus on a demographic that isn’t necessarily part of my target, a demographic with lots of book consumers, yes, but consumers who are over-saturated with book choices.

Solid platform, wrong crowd…

When I released my second book, I felt like I was standing on my platform, looking out over my sea of followers. People who respect me professionally or like me personally and care what I have to say about writing. People who have appreciated what I’ve been sharing with them as I’ve learned it. And there I was, ready to make my big announcement. And I said, “Hark, oh ye loyal followers, for now I have NEWS!”

And upon hearing the news, a few of them jumped up and gave me a squee, because a few of them actually like what I write. And some of them took the time to give me a grin and a thumb-up, and even a pat on the back, because they like me. But mostly they just went right back to talking to each other about writing like we always do.

Because we’re all writers. We’ve all got books coming out every week. Big deal.

Logical. Obvious. But I needed to have this experience for it to really hit home. To really understand what Kristen was saying. I had taken my evidence, my sales figures and my blog subscribers (and other social media numbers), and made them tell me something I wanted hear—that the writing about writing was really working for me. (Must be because I was just soooo good at it.)

(Please, girl.)

I want to continue to serve, to share what I learn, to be kind (and yeah, rack up some good karma). I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to do. But I need to understand that putting too much focus on that doesn’t serve what I say my goals are. That’s me becoming known as Susan: sweet, sensitive, and sometimes insightful writer girl. That’s not me developing a reputation as Susan: author of kick-ass teen paranormal romance.

If I focus on the writer persona to the exclusion or detriment of the author persona, for the sake of serving the writer community instead of my writing career…that seems a little martyrish.

So what now?

In terms of selling book 2, sales will come. I’m a good writer and it’s a solid piece of work. I just have to wait for a slow build that might have been faster if I’d been more linked in to my actual market.

And the platform?

I have a lot of thoughts. I mean, this element of what I did non-optimally is really only part of my recent mind-blowing epiphany. I think I have a better understanding of how I want to use my blog. One hundred topics for my blog that might actually sell my books? Nope. Don’t have those yet. A clue where I’m going to go to find my target demographic and how I’m going to reach out and interact with them without being spammy? Nope. I think I’m going to take Kristen’s upcoming workshop to try to figure it out. After all, it somehow seems like she’s always right.

***

THANK YOU SUSAN!!! And I really look forward to having you in class. For those reading, the class is still open but you need to sign up FAST. Class is about to start. It is $40 for TWO MONTHS. One month is for lessons and the other month is for launch. I help each participant create a brand that is special and unique and designed to connect to more than just writers. My goal is to help you connect to your future readers. 

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

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  1. #1 by Catherine Johnson on September 30, 2011 - 9:14 am

    Great post!

  2. #2 by susielindau on September 30, 2011 - 9:18 am

    Great advice! I am writing a paranormal fiction set in modern day France. I just wrote a post about Gothic Fiction. I plan to write about my experience at the Stanley hotel and my own haunted tales. I probably would not have written about my dreams that have been premonitions which is more closely related to the book I am writing…I will now!

  3. #3 by Amy on September 30, 2011 - 9:31 am

    Great post – I’m in much the same boat I think with an upcoming novel – where my characters are supernatural and I’m not interested in writing in depth about the history of immortal pirate queens… but could Susan maybe write a blog that is BY her characters? Posting and tweeting things they do in their everyday lives so the YA’s into the book feel like they are “friends” with them?

    • #4 by Author Kristen Lamb on September 30, 2011 - 2:59 pm

      No, that is gimmick. Everything needs to serve your author brand and be authentic. WANA has a whole chapter dedicated to that. If people don’t care about me, why would they care about imaginary people I made up? The story is what makes people care about the characters, not the other way around. When we try to reverse this relationship it just gets weird. Social media is best when it is genuine and serves the reader, not our agendas.

  4. #5 by Piper Bayard on September 30, 2011 - 9:33 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, Susan. I’ll be honest. I rarely read blogs about writing. I love visiting the blogs of people I know, and I love it more when they blog about something other than writing. I’m really looking forward to learning more about you and the things you like to think about when you’re not writing. Please send me links on Twitter so I can RT. Good luck with your new direction. :)

  5. #6 by SandySays1 on September 30, 2011 - 9:35 am

    Very good info. A large amount to digest- so good and so large my human read and reread it 3 times. My human’s need to know more about your “class.” How can we find out more?
    Sandy
    http://www.sandysays1.wordpress.com

  6. #7 by Trish Loye Elliott on September 30, 2011 - 9:51 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, Susan! I seriously just ‘got’ it. I too blog about the writing life, mostly because that’s easy for me. I realize now that I need to blog about topics related to my stories and what’s important to me. I need to sign up for Kristen’s class. I haven’t published yet but am hoping to (like everyone else out there!) Thanks for saving me from going down the same path you did.

  7. #8 by michelle derusha on September 30, 2011 - 9:52 am

    I appreciate this honest look at your successes and mistakes, Susan. Thank you.

  8. #9 by Jessica O'Neal on September 30, 2011 - 9:55 am

    This is something that I have been thinking a lot about lately. I don’t blog about writing, mainly because I don’t think I know enough to presume to give advice, but most of my Twitter friends are writers. This is a fact that just recently dawned on me. If I want to build a community on Twitter that will buy my books one day, then shouldn’t I have followers other than just writers? And if I want those kinds of followers shouldn’t I tweet about things other than writing? I love my community of writers. They are wonderful and have helped me tremendously, but I need to also reach my potential readers. I could go on and on with the thoughts that have been going through my head about this, but I won’t.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Susan. It was so nice to have someone else confirm the things I’ve been contemplating. Hope to see you in WANA1011. :)

  9. #10 by Wendy Dewar Hughes on September 30, 2011 - 10:04 am

    Thanks for helping me get a clearer picture of how it’s done.

  10. #11 by Nichole Chase on September 30, 2011 - 10:17 am

    Very informative. Thanks!

  11. #12 by Nigel Blackwell on September 30, 2011 - 10:50 am

    Hi Susan
    Interesting stuff, and I share your dilemma – how to build a platform and reach the right target audience. Kristen has very good ideas, and as she says, blogging about writing (1 in 1000 people?) isn’t it.
    Last night I heard Lee Child espousing the same sentiment as Kristen. Reaching die hard readers is easy, they reach out for you, but reaching the masses who only buy one book a year (the majority of book sales) is way more difficult. Even “reacher” Lee didn’t have a silver bullet answer.
    Good luck on Kristen’s course.
    Cheers

  12. #13 by Jennette Marie Powell on September 30, 2011 - 11:07 am

    Susan, thanks for sharing. I’ll admit to being one of those who do read writer blogs… because I’m a writer – one who’s always hoping to learn something. (Yup, I’ve enjoyed yours.) But I totally agree that it makes more sense to focus on something that will resonate more with our readers. I think I’ve done that, but I’m obviously not there yet, as my blog stats and book sales aren’t anything to get excited about. I also haven’t figured out the “still have time to write” part, so I enrolled in the class. Looking forward to seeing you in WANA1011!

  13. #14 by Angela Orlowski-Peart on September 30, 2011 - 11:23 am

    I have to admit, this was me in the past — blogging, tweeting, facebooking (is that a word?) about writing and not giving my followers much of an insight who I am as a person, with all my flaws and a day-to-day life. I thought being a writer means just sharing my writing style with people and keeping everything else out of my blog because it is irrelevant. How wrong!

    Thank God, Diana Murdock suggested that I sign up for your workshop, Kristen. During those two months of the class I’ve learned so much about social media, and especially about blogging, that my head was buzzing with ideas day and night. I’ve been constantly talking about it and many of my friends are reading We Are Not Alone because I think it is the best on the market. Three of my critique partners are signing up for WANA1011 workshop. I couldn’t be happier since I know they will gain an amazing knowledge and make invaluable connections.

    Thank you for all you do, Kristen.

  14. #15 by M.E. Anders on September 30, 2011 - 11:47 am

    Susan, thank you for being so transparent about your success with the platform-building, but its inability to translate into fiction sales. This hit home for me, as a newer writer.

    Thanks for posting this, Kristen.

  15. #16 by Hartford on September 30, 2011 - 12:12 pm

    Wow – fantastic post Susan (thanks for bringing it to us Kristen). They way you spelled it out helped me totally have an “aha” moment about everything Kristen taught me in the July/August workshop. Now as I build my WIP, I have a good sense of “how” I need to tie it in and brand my blog at the same time. Thank you for being brave and sharing your experience!

  16. #17 by Anne R. Allen on September 30, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    I think every blogging writer faces this dilemma if we started blogging before getting published. Most of us don’t know what’s going to sell to publishers, so we don’t know what niche to choose.

    Roni Loren is a great example–she started out writing YA, but then wrote erotic romance that sold. If she’d devoted her blog to attracting 15 year olds, she would have had to start all over when she sold the romance.

    But because she blogged about writing, she now has great name recognition and I sure will think of her if I’m in the mood for a steamy romance novel. If she’d shut down her writing blog and only blogged about hot men, she’d maybe appeal to more romance readers, but she’d annoy her base. She’s solved the problem with two blogs, but not all of us can do that. I think we have to figure out a way to transition a blog from an ‘unpubbed writer’ blog to an “author blog” without annoying our original base. It involves blogging on different topics on different days, I think.

    • #18 by Author Kristen Lamb on September 30, 2011 - 3:03 pm

      YES…but this is why I tell writers that they can still blog about writing if they enjoy it. Just don’t talk about writing non-stop to the exclusion of everything else. It won’t connect to readers. And if we have a topic on a certain day people don’t care for, they don’t have to read. Easy.

  17. #19 by Leanne Shirtliffe on September 30, 2011 - 12:29 pm

    Thanks for your honesty, Susan. One of the best things about Kristen’s blog (and your post) is that so many of us are able to learn from not only our mistakes but the mistakes of others. My own could feel a book, but Kristen (and now you) have prevented me from adding even more.

    Piper makes a good point that I hadn’t even connected to Kristen’s advice: I don’t really read writing blogs. I want to read about journeys and be entertained and learn something and get to know people, be they published, aspiring, or “merely” bloggers.

    Another point is that if a blog is about writing, you don’t get a lot of chance to try new topics or voices, to take risks.

    Thanks again for your contribution here! Happy weekend.

  18. #20 by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer on September 30, 2011 - 12:46 pm

    So sad! I tried to sign up for the class but it has ***** meaning not available. I’m to late. :(
    Diana

    • #21 by Author Kristen Lamb on September 30, 2011 - 3:00 pm

      No worries. I will be having another one in January. Get my books in the meantime and follow this blog. That should help. I had to cap it at 100 for fear a larger group might be too cumbersome.

  19. #22 by Elisa Michelle on September 30, 2011 - 2:03 pm

    I think the key to beginning writers who start a blog is to realize they aren’t writing for other writers. I had this issue and am only recently shifting to focus less on trying to brand myself as a writer to other writers and to focus more on myself as a novelist-in-training. Branding myself as a writer attracted other writers, not really other readers — and I want readers, not writers. I think all fiction (and non-fiction, really, but I can’t speak for that area of writing) authors want to attract readers as well as get recognition from other writers, but they go about it in reverse. They go for the other writers first. I did because writing was what I knew and I wanted to start in a familiar kiddie pool. So yeah. My two cents! Much luck to Susan though. =)

  20. #23 by Diana Douglas on September 30, 2011 - 2:12 pm

    After reading WANA I realized I was doing it wrong and I’m changing my ways. Now I get excited everytime a non-writer follows me on Twitter. The writing community is wonderfully supportive, but most of our readers won’t be reading their blogs. Finding ways to reach out to those readers only makes sense. Thanks for your sharing your experiences, Susan.

  21. #24 by Jolyse Barnett on September 30, 2011 - 4:09 pm

    Thank you, Kristen! One of the wisest moves I’ve made in my writing career this past year-anda-half was taking your online class through my RWA chapter. I hadn’t started blogging yet, and your advice has helped me create a platform appropriate to my style and genre. Your sage advice has also given me the confidence to begin making connections through social media. I was so afraid of Twitter, but now I love it.

    Thank you, Susan, for sharing your experience. Much appreciated. :)

  22. #25 by EmilyR on September 30, 2011 - 7:02 pm

    Too late for me to sign up, but I’m looking forward to reading your book, Kristen.

  23. #26 by Tahlia Newland on September 30, 2011 - 7:03 pm

    It’s good to read about other people’s experience, so thanks. I think it’s just common sense to blog on topics that will gather your readers, but I didn’t see that at first. Same as other writers, I wote about my journey to publication. Now after following Kristin’s advice, I have created other blogs that are drawing people who would never bother with an author blog. One of them is taking off without much effort and it shares the philosophical basis of what I write. This shows me that there are a lot of people outr there who will like that aspect of my writing, and it’s giving me a way to connect with them. So thanks for the tip Kristin.

  24. #27 by bridgetstraub on September 30, 2011 - 7:07 pm

    So glad I found this before I publish my first book. It is great food for thought to determine if my blog reflects my works of fiction. I think it kind of does. It might just need a little tweeking.

  25. #28 by Guerrilla Wordfare on September 30, 2011 - 7:17 pm

    I think one of the key points is the need to diversify your efforts. Twitter, Facebook, a mailing list and a website with fresh content are all things that you use to attract readers but choosing just one can be a recipe for disaster if something happens to that source.

    When changes to Google’s algorithm a few years ago pushed certain websites from page 1 to page 5, a lot of those sites went out of business. The ones that made it survived due to having other sources of communication with their fans (like email mailing lists).

    An eye opening exercise is to figure out how much money you need to consider yourself a “monetarily successful” author, how many books you can write a year and how much you make per sale. This will give you the minimum number of fans you need to acquire. You’re number is probably over 20,000. That’s a lot!

    Your top priority has to be writing but if you’re only doing the same self promotion activities as every other indie author, then you’re likely to get the same results that most of them get. In that scenario you’re basically gambling that your book will make it in front of that special someone who will love it and has the clout to make it a smash hit. This can and does happen every once in a while but I don’t like those odds.

    When you’re building your brand make sure to try everything, but don’t think you need to spend a lot of money. The internet is full of people trying to provide indie authors with a “retail path to enlightenment” when all you really need to do is make a few friends and discuss best practices and new ideas together. Maybe you can write a free short story tied to one of your novels and push it out to all of the “free eBook” sites. Maybe you can offer a freebie to drive people to sign up for your mailing list.

    I have a list of “things to learn about” that I’m constantly adding to. I’ll thoroughly research a topic, formulate a methodology, start executing it and move onto the next item. It requires some time but if you want to have more success then 99% of your niche then you need to out-hustle and out-think 99% of your niche. Make a few friends who are as committed to putting in the effort it takes to be a success as you are and you can really do great things together.

  26. #29 by Elizabeth Flora Ross on September 30, 2011 - 7:49 pm

    This really resonated with me, b/c I had this experience as well. I started blogging about writing and connecting with writers, and that was great for a lot of reasons. I have found beta readers for my work and critique partners that way. I joined writing groups and participated in challenges. And I have improved my craft. But it wasn’t until I shifted my focus and began to blog about the topic of my current book that I connected with my AUDIENCE. Huge difference. Writers will always support writers. They are great about that. But if you want to sell your work, you need to connect with your intended audience. For me, that meant doing something I had never thought I would do, be a mom blogger. But changing my focus has had more rewards than I could have imagined.

  27. #30 by Marcia on September 30, 2011 - 10:01 pm

    I began my blog writing about writing because someone who is considered a social media/marketing guru said that’s the way to do it. (It obviously wasn’t you, Kristen–You’re a Maven) I hated writing about writing. I didn’t feel qualified to give other writers advice. Oh, they loved it…the few who subscribed. I was bored and frustrated when it was time to write the next post. After taking Kristen’s class, I learned what I should be writing about. What a difference. I love writing my posts now and my subscritions increased 500%, my page views are even higher. I do 3-4 days weekly, all different topics: One directly relates to my genre, one indirectly relates and is the most popular, one is just for fun and for more of my personality to be exposed and the 4th is for author interviews, author book launch promos, book reviews, author guest posts and the like. Can’t deny that ‘Kristen Knows Best’!

  28. #31 by Susan Bischoff on September 30, 2011 - 10:13 pm

    I’ve had difficult time in my personal life this week and haven’t been around much, so it was a surprise to find out that Kristen had run this post today. Thanks everyone for the support, and thank you, Kristen, for letting me share my thoughts with your readers.

  29. #32 by Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos on September 30, 2011 - 11:23 pm

    I wrote a book, published it and then thought, wow, it’d be nice to sell a few to someone other than my mother. Another wonderful writer helped me find Kristen’s author platform class, and I was in the July/August class. I write romance. I can fill page after page with romantic stories, but had NO FREAKING idea what to blog about. After taking Kristen’s class, I have a clear plan for my platform. I started blogging 4 days a week in August. I can’t even believe how it has made a difference in my book’s sales. I was like, oh, a millionth on the kindle sales list at the start of this month. About mid month, I messaged Kristen and told her how thrilled I was to be ranked around 30,000th. As the month ends today, I am ranked just under 2,000th. Moral of the story is- THE WOMAN (MAVEN!!) KNOWS WHAT SHE’S TALKING ABOUT!!!

  30. #33 by alicamckennajohnson on October 1, 2011 - 8:50 am

    I’m taking Kritin’s class- just reading her book was overwhelming to me- not that what you need to do isn’t clear- it is, but I personally felt like I wanted someone to say yes, that’s what I meant, or no try this. 90% of the non WANA writers I know blog about writing or have constant author interviews. I read these .001% of the time. This blog is the only writer baised blog I read consistantly. And if she didn’t make me laugh so often I might not do that :)

    • #34 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 1, 2011 - 12:16 pm

      LOL…yeah, you are an exception if you write comedic writing lessons ha ha ha ha :D.

  31. #35 by Linda Hoye on October 1, 2011 - 9:32 am

    Thank you for sharing this. It can be challenging to find that sweet spot where we should focus our time and attention but it’s extremely important!

  32. #36 by Kim Kircher on October 1, 2011 - 10:55 am

    Yep. Exactly what I’ve been saying all along. Writer’s blogs are great if your selling books on writing. If, instead, you write fiction or for other audiences than fellow writers, how, exactly is this helping?

  33. #37 by A.F. White (@albrtwhite) on October 1, 2011 - 2:52 pm

    I actually have two blogs (well, three if you count my fun gaming blog) – one directed toward my writing friends where I share what I’m learning about the writing process (and sometimes I wonder if I write that for others, or just to help me process thoughts, ideas, and information) and another dealing with my primary writing project. The project is a customer service book with a unique angle. My postings there relate exclusively to customer service – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  34. #38 by Sylver Blaque on October 1, 2011 - 9:55 pm

    Kristen, this is a hugely informative post – thank you! I used the link to try to sign on for the Blogging to Build Brand course, but it’s full. I would really love to take this course. Will it be offered (and taught by YOU) again? Please, when?

  35. #39 by Jess Witkins on October 1, 2011 - 11:09 pm

    Susan thanks for sharing your story. I can empathize with you in feeling like what you had was working, but sometimes we need outside eyes/advice to help us be the best writers/bloggers/selves we can be.

    Thanks Kristen for sharing Susan’s words with us too.

  36. #40 by Debbie Johansson on October 3, 2011 - 7:39 am

    Thanks for this informative post Kristen and thank you also to Susan for sharing your story. You’ve certainly given me plenty to think about when it comes to my blog. You’ve just earned yourself a new follower and I just bought your book on the Kindle. I’m looking forward to reading more Kristen. Thank you so much. :)

  37. #41 by Dawn Luellan (@DawnLuellan) on October 3, 2011 - 3:38 pm

    I just added your feed to my Reader, Kristen, and am catching up on the ‘unread’ entries. This happened to be among them, and I’m glad it was.

    I started a blog back in July that has had a slow start to it. Most recently, though, I found some direction, something to write about. My writing journey. Not from the point of an expert, but one who is learning and coming across many bits of useful information and resources. Having read this, though… It makes sense to me, while it is good to connect with other writers, I need to start connecting with those, who will (hopefully) be among my audience in the future.

    Thank you, Kristen AND Susan!

  38. #42 by Kathryn Byer on October 18, 2011 - 9:50 am

    This is interesting, but how do you build a platform and sell books if you are a poet and what you want people to do is READ MORE POETRY. Good poetry. I had a Laureate blog while I was NC Poet Laureate, set up to promote NC writers. Now I have two other blogs in which I’m trying to promote and encourage people to read—and to connect reading/writing with concerns about place. How does a poet follow your advice?

  39. #43 by Micah Saccomanno on January 13, 2012 - 12:29 pm

    Focusing on the wants of a reader rather than the writer is such a simple key to success. How could anybody think otherwise? I haven’t published anything yet, but I’m about to shop around my manuscript. I’ve taken to blogging about Le Monde’s 100 Books of the Twentieth Century as a platform in order to align myself with a reader’s viewpoint. As the list is structured by how memorable the books are, the entries aren’t just summaries or reports on the books, but rather personal essays that are triggered by my reading.
    Do you think this is an effective way to communicate with my (hopefully) future readers?

    • #44 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 13, 2012 - 12:48 pm

      I think you will reach only the very small percentage of people who define themselves as readers, but likely won’t reach the fat part of the bell curve that will be a major driver of sales. I recommend my blog the WANA Theory of Book Economics.

  40. #45 by The Hook on August 31, 2012 - 11:35 am

    “Blogging isn’t dead, but blogging is an art and a skill that needs to be learned.”
    So true! I’m still learning, but at least I’m trying, right?

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