Blogging Part I–Meet the Bright Idea Fairy, then Shoot Her

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, the day based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I dedicate every Wednesday to teaching you guys how to rock it hard when it comes to social media. Today we are going to discuss blogging. In fact this will be the first in a series that will run at least through the beginning of the year. Heck we will stay here as long as necessary because you guys need to blog. Not only do you need to blog, but you need to blog effectively…in ways that will build your platform.

Stop whining. Don’t think I can’t hear you. This is for your own good, and you will thank me later. Yes, you must blog. No one will take you to writer jail if you don’t, but any writer who wants to succeed in the new paradigm of publishing needs to blog. Why? Here are my Top Five Reasons Why You Should Blog (and then we will meet the Bright Idea Fairy):

Blogging helps you develop skills necessary to be successful in our writing career. Blogging can help us transition from hobbyist to professional author. If we are blogging the way we should, we must post regularly so that we can gain/grow a readership. If we only blog 6 times a year and only when we feel inspired, our blog is worthless for our career. When we are held accountable for posting blogs regularly, we begin to work those self-discipline muscles that are so critical to a successful career. Blogging strengthens your skills as a writer and gets you into great habits.

Blogging can help you understand your subject matter better. What to blog about? We will talk more about that later, but I generally say blog what you are passionate about and blog on topic. Your enthusiasm will shine through and blogging on topic will help you grow as an expert.

Topic you are passionate about + Topic potential readers are passionate about = Hit blog! 

If you write paranormal romance, then I assume you are passionate about the paranormal world and even human relationships. So are your readers/potential readers. Blog about what readers of paranormal romance like…um, the paranormal! If you blog on topic, then it is less likely you will run out of topics to talk about. This also allows you to make double-use of your research. Not only can it help your books, but you can use that material for your blogs.

Someone who writes paranormal romance can blog on legends, myths, vampires, vampires in literature, ghosts, UFOs, possession, demons, angels. She can make fun of Ghost Hunters or compare thoughts about last night’s Mystery Quest. Basically, tap into what you are passionate about, then think if your readers are passionate about that topic too.

Less talking about you. No one cares. No one really cares about me either. Nothing personal. I am passionate about what I did on summer vacation. You, however, could give a flying rat’s behind what I did for summer vacation unless it involves terrorists, Great White Sharks or a wet t-shirt contest….or terrorist Great Whites in a wet t-shirt contest.

Can you blog about writing? Sure….the craft of writing. No one cares about our writer’s block or our quest for an agent. Really. Our friends care, but we want our blogs to have a following in the thousands. This means we need to tap into what thousands of people care about. Truth is, thousands of people want to be writers, so feel free to blog on the craft. Read the best books and then write blogs about what you learned. Not only will you grasp the material better, but other writers will gladly follow and even send other writers to your blog. Some of the best blogs about writing are written by writers (other than mine :D): Jody Hedlund, Chuck Wendig, Jami Gold, and Terrell Mims.

Blogging gives validation. Many of us became writers because we had/have something to prove. Heck, I did. My family laughed at me when I said I was going to become a writer. Here is the blunt truth. Do not expect your family to throw you a parade when you decide to become a writer. Expect criticism and rolled eyes…then get over it and blog. When you blog regularly, you get almost instant feedback on your writing. Unless you are just horrible and should be banned from Microsoft Word, people are nice and won’t tell you that you suck, unless you have broken my rule about controversy. No blogging on sex, politics or religion unless that is your platform. But so long as you blog on non-controversial topics, most of the time, if you get a genuine comment, it will be words of reassurance. The spam-bots are even pretty nice too.

It is also very encouraging to watch the hits on your blog steadily increase. By blogging we have tangible evidence that people are reading our writing, and that they like what we have to say.

Blogging makes us look professional. Walks like a duck. Quacks like a duck. Must be a duck. When we finally make the mental shift to I am a professional writer it helps to have the habits that are congruent with the identity.  Nowadays being published doesn’t mean what it used to. Hell, I could publish an entire book of exclamation points and claim to be a published author.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It would be a dumb investment, but I could do it😀. I would call my book,

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…okay, I’ll stop.

You don’t have to be paid or even published to claim you are a professional writer. You just have to take on new habits and attitudes. Trust me, if you tell others you are an author and send them to your blog and you post great stuff three times a week and it is clear you have a following, people will take your work seriously. Why? You are quacking like a duck. You are acting like a writer. We cannot blog a few times a year and write only when inspiration strikes and then get sulky when people don’t take us seriously. You don’t have to wait the four or five or ten years to be taken seriously by having a book at a B&N. Blog. Build a readership and connect to your future audience.

Agents and editors will take on a writer with a platform before the writer with no platform any day of the week. Therese Walsh posted an interview with Writer’s Digest contributing editor Jane Friedman (which I highly recommend you read in its entirety). When asked about social media, Friedman states, “All other things being equal, publishers will choose the author with the platform.”

Read last Wednesday’s blog if you haven’t already. Blogging is the best way to gain a following of people who know you, like you and support you and who will help your book be a success.

Okay, so at this point, hopefully I have sold you on the idea of blogging. It is a lot of fun, by the way. Yet, there is this vacuum. Everyone is telling writers to blog, but no one seems to be offering instruction on what to blog about. Expect a visit from the Bright Idea Fairy. She visited me too. So before we rally next Wednesday, I am going to just stop you before you do something…uh, dumb. It doesn’t look dumb at first. I know. Been there. But I am here to explain why these “bright ideas” are time-wasters.

Bright Idea Fairy Unmasked

When we begin to ponder the idea of blogging, many of us will consider writing:

A blog about ourselves. No one cares about us unless we are a celebrity. Sorry. Just reality. Blogs should always be for the reader. If we are telling a personal story it must either have a larger message the reader can take away or be inspiring or funny. Tawna Fenske and Piper Bayard are two great examples. Both these ladies blog a lot of observational humor. So if you are funny, use it! These two ladies are very entertaining and I don’t care what their books are about, I know I will buy them because I love their blogs and they serve ME…by making me laugh.

So unless you happen to be a socialite, grew up in the circus, were raised by wolves, or have recently escaped from a sex cult smuggling Chia pets stuffed with methamphetamine Pop Rocks, no one will really care about your daily life. On-line journals are self-serving. They are okay to have, but use them for what they are…a journal. Not a substitute for a genuine blogging platform.

If you are a socialite-circus midget raised by wolves, you are excused.

A blog from our character’s POV. This is a gimmick. If strangers don’t even care about us and what we are doing, why would they care about imaginary people we made up? Seriously. Why would some random person who doesn’t know us care about life observations from a fictitious character in a book that isn’t finished or published? I was visited by the Bright Idea Fairy on this one too.

There is no mistake I haven’t made, no gimmicky idea that I haven’t tried….and then found myself stuck in a tar baby. I am here to tell you to stay away from the tar baby with the cute button eyes and nose. Bad juju!

It isn’t to say your characters and story aren’t lovely or the next best-seller, but we have to look at WHY people love characters.

Why do we care so much about characters? Because we have been their partners in a journey against all odds. We love Frodo and Samwise not because they are particularly interesting in and of themselves. We love them because we were there when the Ring of Power surfaced, and we followed their journey and setbacks and heartbreaks and triumph all the way to Mount Doom. We were afraid when they were afraid, broken when they were broken, and elated when they triumphed. Assuming Tolkien lived in a time of the Internet, having “Frodo” blog ahead of time about life in the Shire and his longing for adventure would just be….weird and kind of creepy. Definitely boring. It’s like a stranger in the grocery store telling you her life story. Back away slowly. Don’t make any sudden moves.

Stay away from gimmick. People are looking for authenticity. Give it to them and you will benefit greatly. No hiding behind your characters. If you are a new author, it is likely your first novel will never get published. It is likely your novel will be like my first novel and banned by the Geneva Convention as torture. So what is the point of putting all this effort into getting people attached to characters that may never be part of your published works?

But, say you are an anomaly and you do get that first novel published. An editor may love your story but hate your protagonist and insist she be rewritten…and then you are buggered because you have been blogging from her POV for the past year.

Or, say your editor LOVES that protagonist and the people following the blog from the character POV love your character. Now, every book from this point forward, you will have to start from scratch building a following. I am here to save you time.

How many books did Michael Crichton write before (God bless him) he passed away? We were attached to Crichton, not the countless characters over the span of his long writing career. I know no one will find you interesting in the beginning. Sorry. I am not interesting either. We will be one day, though. So until we become interesting, we must blog on other topics that are interesting.

A blog where we post sections of our novel. Yes, I did this too. And I wrote a WHOLE BLOG about why this is a bad idea. So for the sake of brevity, just read my blog on the topic. Even if you are a good writer, posting any kind of fiction is just not good content. Why? Well, for a number of reasons. First, you need enough material to post regularly. Fiction is going to be tough to generate enough content to make a regular blog.

Also, if you read my blog on how search engines work, you will see how fiction does not rate well on an Internet search. This means no one can find your blog. There is just better material out there to blog about that will help you grow a fan following for YOU.

So I hope I have convinced you guys that blogging can be fun and that is a great step toward being taken seriously. I know I probably shot some Bright Idea Fairies out there. OxyClean gets the blood out. Again, you will thank me later. What are some concerns you guys have about blogging? What do you find to be the most challenging aspect? What are you excited about? Please share. I love to hear from you.

Now, before I give you This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness …a word from our sponsor.

My book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media lays out a step-by-step plan that is:

  1. FREE—I appreciate that most writers are BROKE. Aside from the cost of the book, your home computer and Internet connection, every tactic in my book is completely FREE
  2. FAST—If you are super motivated, it will take you a day to build your platform’s foundation. This foundation will give you roots on the top social media sites and link them together to where they feed each other.
  3. EASY—I tested this book on my 60 year-old mother who was afraid she would delete the Internet if she hit the wrong button. She now rules Facebook. Befriend her at your peril.
  4. LOW MAINTENANCE—Aside from writing blogs, which I highly recommend that you blog, you can build and maintain a platform in less than a half hour a day. The way I teach you makes you work smarter, not harder. You have blogs and best-selling books to write!
  5. RECOMMENDED–I have built many successful platforms using the methods I teach in this book.  My book is recommended by literary agents.

The Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Interview with editor Jane Friedman on the future of publishing on the super-awesome must-read blog Writer Unboxed.

Matthew Schultz has a fantastic blog on the Writers’ League of Texas site with tips to find more time to write.

Leah McClellan has a wonderful blog about proofreading.

Shennandoah Diaz has an excellent blog about showing and not telling

What to do when you hate your book, by literary agent Rachelle Gardner.

For the self-published authors out there, here is a great blog about how to take a negative review.

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  1. #1 by Alice on December 8, 2010 - 1:56 pm

    My biggest dilemma is: do people really want to read stuff I just learned? I wrote a couple of posts on premise, you know that one sentence of what a book is about. I’m not sure it’s right, I just know that’s how I finally was able to write a rough sentence on my premise. Maybe it would help someone else.

    Are there writers, readers out there that know less than me?

    • #2 by Patrick Thunstrom on December 8, 2010 - 3:36 pm

      Alice, if you know enough to know you need a premise, there are thousands of writers out there who know less than you. I understand that personal dilemma though, since I was in a very similar boat of looking for more information on craft, and visiting websites and finding myself giving advice more than receiving it.

  2. #3 by Carl Burrows on December 8, 2010 - 2:18 pm

    I found this blog interesting, learned a few things about the blogging world. Writing is a passion for me but I rarely submit blogs. After reading your piece I will give it more attention.

  3. #4 by Jessica Anne on December 8, 2010 - 3:19 pm

    Looking forward to this series. I need a new direction on my blog. I’m all over the place and none of it’s working.

  4. #5 by dtrasler on December 8, 2010 - 3:21 pm

    Liked this one a lot – especially as I just added a similar piece of advice to my blog: http://wp.me/pGKiJ-5M
    I divide my blog between writing about being immigrants in Canada and my experiences as a playwright. To prove your point, my highest hit rate was when I mentioned an argument leading to the possibility of divorce – domestic drama trumps the struggle to complete a script!

  5. #6 by M. McGriff on December 8, 2010 - 3:34 pm

    This series couldn’t have been more on time for me!

    I’ve been blogging in other areas (fashion/beauty) for over a year and I’m pretty comfortable with it, I thought starting my writing blog would be a breeze – WRONG! I feel like I’ve never blogged before in my life and am struggling to find things to blog about. So thank you for starting this series because I feel totally lost with my blog!

  6. #7 by Patrick Thunstrom on December 8, 2010 - 3:39 pm

    I’ve finally started blogging, though not as frequently as some people suggest, as my blog only updates once a week. It’s not a ‘writing’ blog, but I’m hoping to eventually use it to market fiction when I get there, since it’s about table top gaming, and table top gamers read science fiction and fantasy fairly regularly, both genres I explore.

    I kind of learned your lesson about focusing on craft instead of self the hard way as I recently wrote an ongoing blog series for improving games using literary techniques, and it’s gotten me the most feedback, and most traffic, of anything else on my blog. Makes me want to come up with other ideas for regular series on the blog.

  7. #8 by Piper Bayard on December 8, 2010 - 3:45 pm

    Thanks so much for the compliment and the mention. You rock! I can’t emphasize enough how much your approach works. I thought a Blog was cousin to the Creature from the Black Lagoon only seven months ago, and now I actually have one, and people actually read it, and people as kick-ass as you actually recommend it. Thank you for putting me on the Cyber-Map. All the best.

  8. #9 by Marilag Lubag on December 8, 2010 - 5:10 pm

    I break your rules from time to time. One time near the election, I blogged about how tired I was from seeing all the political ads. I wrote that all the negative ads do not mean anything. Once they were in power they would adapt the tactics of those in Washington.

    Another time, I wrote flash fics (which I removed since I had better place to put them). By the end of this week, I plan on writing a short story–my interpretation of fairy tales.

    Sometimes I blog about myself but those are rare. Usually, it involves details leading to what I think people should do (the last one ended up teaching people how not to prick themselves when they sew).

    • #10 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 8, 2010 - 5:59 pm

      Well I am just basically saying don’t make these topics the meat of your content. Of course you can post fiction and flash fiction. It is just that 1) they probably won’t get a lot of hits due to just the nature of the Internet and how search engines work, and 2) if you are like me and blog three times a week, that is A LOT of fiction to try and come up with.

      I am going to stand firm on the no contraversy though. I think your topic was general enough to be okay, but that is dangerous waters. There was a big sci-fi author (won’t mention a name) who posted an INSANELY politically contraversial blog about Ground Zero. She was supposed to be a keynote at a big conference. The conference basically called and said, “Um, no thanks. We don’t want you here.” She drew too much negative attention and heat…and she writes sci-fi! So instead of being known for her stories, she got labeled for a political stance and it hurt her platform. So if you are Rush Limbagh or Bill Maher, then blog on politics because contraversy sells books for you. When you write fiction, it can backfire BAD.

      Thanks for always taking time to leave a comment. It is very much appreciated,😀.

  9. #11 by Jami Gold on December 8, 2010 - 5:52 pm

    Thank you so much for the mention and link!
    And hey, I think you gave me an idea for another blog post. 🙂

  10. #12 by Susan Bischoff on December 8, 2010 - 7:12 pm

    I want to thank you again for the book, which I pimp whenever I have the opportunity. (Scroll to bottom of post for evidence.) I was thinking about you today, because, yeah, I’m one of the moaners and groaners on the blog thing, and you know it’s been a struggle for me. It’s still not easy, but I got email today from someone who wrote just to tell me they like the blog! Phrases like “treasure trove of information” and “beautifully produced and thoroughly entertaining” were used. And I just thought: wouldn’t Kristen be proud of me? I don’t really feel like I’ve got it yet, but I would probably have blown off blogging entirely if it weren’t for you. So thank you.

    • #13 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 8, 2010 - 7:32 pm

      Too cool! I am very proud of you and aren’t those words just a treasure. That’s why–if possible–I try to leave comments for other bloggers. It is a mainstay that can get you through the tough times when even our cat thinks we are crazy for wanting to be a writer. Thanks for the wonderful comment *hugs*.

  11. #14 by Amanda Hoving on December 8, 2010 - 7:44 pm

    Blogging can be such a time-suck, but the benefits, as you’ve shown, are great.

    Love the Mash-up of awesomeness — thanks for sharing it~

  12. #15 by Ezzy Guerrero-Languzzi on December 8, 2010 - 9:14 pm

    Another awesome post. Poring through the digital download of your book. Looking forward to part deux of the series. Thank you! : D

  13. #16 by Terrell Mims on December 8, 2010 - 11:10 pm

    I admit that years…years…years ago, I thought about creating a myspace page for a character in a torture novel (it wasn’t a novel about torture, but used to torture Islamic Extremists. God Bless the USA) Good thing, I knew it was a stupid idea. Thanks for reassuring me.

  14. #17 by Kay Whitby on December 8, 2010 - 11:44 pm

    Ah, but there’s the quantity vs. quality argument. I’ve seen several professional bloggers who have stated that they prefer (both as a reader and a writer) irregular awesome posts to a whole bunch of weekly mediocre posts with some occasional awesome thrown in.

    I agree with that mindset myself. If you try to write awesome blog posts every week, you’re likely to either burn out, not have anything left for your actual writing, slip into mediocrity anyway, or all of the above. Especially if you’re just starting out. Readers don’t like it either – with Twitter and RSS feeds and various and sundry alert systems, we don’t need to know in advance when something new is out so we can go check it. It comes to us. Scheduling doesn’t really benefit the reader at all – the only benefit is to the writer, because it teaches them to work regularly, and I believe you can do that without being compelled to present a product on such-and-such a basis.

    Of course, that isn’t an excuse to not post blog entries due to laziness, or to never let them see the light of day due to perfectionism. Rather, I think it’s a reason to work even harder: to be even more selective of your topics, and to research the hell out of them and add a little polish before they go up – and then get them up, and take your time adjusting your technique based on response. Maybe if you get really efficient at doing that you can start cranking it out on a regular basis, but I think new writers are going to need to build up to a pace like that. Plus it’s an excellent way to build up to it, I think, and can help hone the art of editing with extreme prejudice (and murdering your darlings😉.

    • #18 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 9, 2010 - 1:50 am

      Thanks for the comments. Writers need to separate what “bloggers” want and what “Publishing” wants. I agree, you can’t just slap any crap up there three times a week and claim to have a blog. But if an agent googles you and finds that in the past year you have posted ten times, that is worthless no matter how good it is. So my attitude is you will likely suck in the beginning. Hey, I did. I look back at my first blogs that I thought were distilled BRILLIANCE and realize it was crap. But I had 10 followers and eight of those were spam bots. So suck in the beginning. Who cares? Get in the habit of posting and your writing will improve and your advice is spot on…try harder. Thanks for the feedback. You ROCK!

      • #19 by Kay Whitby on December 9, 2010 - 5:57 am

        So then you’re saying that an agent who looks over a blog is going to completely disregard quality if quantity isn’t up to… which? The standards of publishers they work with? Their own personal opinion? What is that likely to be? Weekly posts? Biweekly? Daily? It just seems like an awfully big void of wibbly wobbly to me.

        Not that making a habit of writing isn’t a great thing, but your blog is your blog, not your stories. And I think what bloggers want and what publishers want isn’t necessarily all that far apart. Theoretically speaking, the bloggers are the people your publisher is ultimately trying to sell to – the people in your sphere of community or influence who might find your work interesting. In that regard, I’d think you’d want to appeal to bloggers first and publishing second. If bloggers won’t follow you, publishing isn’t likely to, but if publishing doesn’t like what you’re doing and you’ve built a following through awesome… well, indie and grassroots publishing has been picking up a lot of speed with eBooks.

        Of course, you’re in the industry and I’m not, and this is largely conjecture on my part. I could be completely wrong (or at least very much in the minority)! But speaking as a reader, not a hopeful writer, that’s what makes sense to me, and what I would personally gravitate towards as a consumer.

        • #20 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 9, 2010 - 1:26 pm

          We will talk more on this as the series progresses, but first of all, if you are a writer, then you should be able to post interesting content once a week. If you can’t do that basic thing, then that is a good sign this is not the career for you. And of course you want bloggers on your side, but what a blog does is it allows you to gain a following. I’m sorry but that will not happen posting ten pieces of brilliance in a year. When it comes to the blog, an agent is looking for platform…not an audition for our writing. Just because we write a brilliant piece on a blog in no way is a test that we can write a novel. Different skill set. You are missing what an agent is looking for when she goes to a blog. She is looking for signs of an existing platform. The platform is not our product (novel), it is our marketing plan.

          If we do have an excellent novel and an agent sees that we post a regular blog and have all the signs of a large following on our blog, that is a good sign that our sales will be far better than an unknown writer. We become more of a known quantity. Since you say you are not in the industry, you might not be aware of the terrible odds a new author faces. 93% of first novels sell less than 100 copies. Most first-time novelists fail to sell out their print run. When you don’t sell your print run, you don’t get another contract. Only 1 out of 10 authors will publish a second book. These are Book Expo of America statistics.

          Blogging helps new authors beat those horrible odds. Blogging brilliance ten times a year on a whim does not. And if a writer only has ten good blogs a year in her, then she needs to understand that she is up against writers who have 160. Some of those links I mentioned were unpubbed authors who blog 3X a week and the quality is some of the best.

          Jody Hedlund is a first-timer author who hit the best-seller list because she not only had an extremely good book, but she had a large blog following she’d worked very hard to build ahead of time. I recently had a fiction author write me in a panic. An agent loved the book, then wanted to see her marketing plan. That is a sweeping trend in publishing and she was taken completely by surprise. My goal is to get authors prepared for the realities of their industry and then to give them the tools to succeed. Years ago, all we had to do is worry about getting published. That has changed dramatically, and yet many authors are still operating off of an old industry model and my goal is to help them change that and to be competitive in the indusrty.

          Thanks for the comments,😀.

  15. #21 by Kay Whitby on December 8, 2010 - 11:50 pm

    Also, haha, this is relevant to this blog!

    In terms of relevance to the post, though, I direct you to this entry on blogging awesome, care of Scott Stratten.

    • #22 by Kay Whitby on December 8, 2010 - 11:58 pm

      –Dammit, right source, wrong link. This is the one in question: Frequently Futile.

      • #23 by Marilag Lubag on December 9, 2010 - 4:46 pm

        I’m gonna jump in. I know this is a little bit different but I am part of the wonderful world called fanfiction. I know this isn’t professional stuff but it still relates to posting regularly.

        As a reader of fanfiction, I prefer it if my authors post at least every week. If they don’t, I normally lose interest in the story. If you have ever been in fanfiction.net, you would see that there’s hundreds of entries everyday. If you don’t post regularly, your story would be buried in the middle. You don’t gain following if people don’t notice you. The same thing goes with blogs.

        Publishing or not, you want readers to notice you. You want to be in the first page so that other authors would notice you. Readers don’t normally don’t look past 10 pages so you want to keep yours on page 1.

        If there’s something that fanfiction and blogging had in common, it’s that people at the first page always gets noticed and people in the middle don’t. You gain following by making sure that your name is almost always in the first page. In addition, fanfiction readers are hesitant to read on works of new writers so you need to get yourself established in your fandom before you gain following.

        Kristen is right and totally makes sense. Of course, that means you experiment along the way trying to find your passion. Make mistakes especially if you’re just a beginner. But prolific bloggers on general get more attention than not.

  16. #24 by Tawna Fenske on December 9, 2010 - 4:43 pm

    Excellent post, as always! So many authors are being told they need to blog, but flounder when it comes to deciding what to blog ABOUT. Before I started blogging last February, I made a list of at least 50 blog topics I could use. I’ve continued to add to it as I’ve gone along, with the goal of only using it once a week. So far, so good, and the list is well over 100 ideas now.

    Tawna

  17. #25 by Roni Loren on December 9, 2010 - 4:46 pm

    Great post! Blogging has been such a great experience for me and has taught me a lot. I chose to focus on the craft of writing (didn’t start with that intention), but that’s what it morphed into and it’s really worked. : ) I’ve built a big following, but more importantly, I’ve met some awesome people and made some great connections. In fact, it was a blogging friend that referred me to her agent–now my agent. So if I hadn’t started blogging, who knows if I would be in the place I am now.

  18. #26 by Chuck on December 9, 2010 - 5:17 pm

    Thanks for the mention, as usual.🙂

    — c.

  19. #27 by Ryshia Kennie on December 10, 2010 - 2:40 pm

    Blogging is one thing, an audience quite another. But really they can be one and the same, great job in outlining how to do that.

  20. #28 by lifebelowthedoorknobs on December 10, 2010 - 8:00 pm

    That was a fantastic and enlightening post. I’m only now braving a toe into the blog waters. The time and energy spent to help us avoid mistakes you’ve already made is much appreciated. Although I am a little sad to find that the socialite-circus midget bit isn’t enough. I have to be raised by wolves too?

    • #29 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 10, 2010 - 8:04 pm

      Sorry…it is a tough bar. There is a lot of competition and being raised by wolves just puts you over the top😀.

  21. #30 by atwulf on December 11, 2010 - 8:00 pm

    Is it fair to say that blogging fictionally is bad? My primary blog is written by a character I created–not for a novel, but specifically for that blog. It’s in its infancy at the moment, but I do have a few regular readers.

    From what I know, blog fiction is a rising trend. Personally, I think it’s a great medium, especially for new writers: It’s easy to do and not terribly difficult to stick to if you want to write seriously. It might be a bit harder to gain readership as there are no specific search queries for a blog about a fictional character’s life, but it’s something that can be marketed. Plus, if you are a fiction writer, you already have some fiction published that you can point to and say, “Hey, this is the kind of thing I write.”

    • #31 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 11, 2010 - 11:48 pm

      What I am teaching you guys is how to blog to build your platform as a novelist. Totally different skill set. An agent cannot discern if you can write a novel simply because you do blog-fiction well. If your goal is to become a powerhouse blog and do a blog-to-book deal, then there is nothing wrong with that approach. If, however, you aspire to be a novelist, it is likely not the best use of time. I hope I cleared that up for you and thanks for the comment😀.

  22. #32 by G.H. Edwards on December 12, 2010 - 3:51 am

    Kristen, I think you just shot my Bright Idea Fairy for me. Now after reading your post, I wonder if I need to completely rethink the approach for my recent new blog. It focuses on my novel because it is my first and while it is self-serving in that I intend(ed) to write about things that help me think through issues with my novel, it is(was) also my intent and hope that by sharing my experiences as a first-time novelist, I would hopefully help other new writers and build a readership. I can’t position myself as an expert since I am not a published novelist but a number of people, including an internet book marketer, have assured me that there are readers out there who are interested in and could find value in this. Some of my posts have probably been too personal and I admit I have probably not stayed on point for every single entry…but now I just don’t know where to go with it. Since my novel is set in the early 1960s, some people have said I should focus on that. But it also deals with racial tensions and you and other have advised to stay away from controversial topics. I just want to make sure the blog writing doesn’t distract me from the novel writing I need to be doing, but I also fully understand the value of creating my platform now. You say to find something you’re passionate about…well, I’m passionate about my novel right now. Sorry, I’m rambling, but I’m feeling pretty lost!

    • #33 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 12, 2010 - 1:52 pm

      Okay, Gina. What I would recommend that you do is just shift to blogging on topic. If your novel is set in the 1960s then blog on the racial tensions, what it was like being black, a woman, a Catholic. This will 1) engage people who love that time period and 2) will bring new converts to love that time period. Ultimately this is a set-up for people wanting your novel. Since you likely had to do research, you can use a lot of that for blogs. And you can just blog on the era in general–music, fashion, womens’ rights, civil rights, civil disobedience, Vietnam. Use your talent as a writer to take us (readers) back in time and help us understand the tensions and triumphs of that generation.

      As far as distracting from novel-writing, we just have to be disciplined. I take one day and write all three posts for the week. My goal is to always have 2 week’s worth in the queue. I write fiction first, then when my brain is tired, I write blogs because NF is easier for me. Some people use blogs to “warm up” and “prime the pump” for fiction. Find what works for you.

      Notice I said something you are passionate about AND something potential readers are passionate about. We MUST have both or what we will end up with is an on-line journal. If you do wish to continue writing about your experience, I would pick one day to blog on that and one day to blog on topic (the 60s for example). As the following for one grows, they will get to know you, like you and CARE about your journey. Right now ur an unknown quantity.

      I hope that helps, and look forward to seeing you back.😀

      • #34 by G.H. Edwards on December 12, 2010 - 2:35 pm

        Yes, this is very helpful. I think I’ve veered too much toward the personal since it is “easier” to write, so I just need to spend some time making a list of topics pertaining to the ’60s and perhaps use your method of writing the week’s entries all on one day. I have a good bit of research to draw from and am accumulating more as I continue my novel efforts. Whew. I feel better now. I think I have come full circle. You just put me back on track with my original intent. Thanks for your help and your great blog. I will be back!

  23. #35 by evilcyber on December 12, 2010 - 10:42 pm

    Is there a posting on your blog where you -don’t- mention your book?

    If that is the one of the methods we could look forward to in your book, then I’m afraid to say that method fails😉

    Evil
    http://www.evilcyber.com/

    • #36 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 13, 2010 - 12:18 am

      Can’t please everyone, and yes it is in every post. Since the purpose of this blog is to further expound on elements of my book…um, why is it so shocking that I mention it? I do make an effort to put it at the end where readers can scroll past, but make it easy to make a purchase if someone wants to read the entire book. Part of marketing is to make it easy for the consumer to make a purchase. Hunting for my name and my book is frustrating for a reader, and I feel better erring on the side of caution. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

  24. #37 by unhingedandunhidden on December 13, 2010 - 2:02 am

    Thanks! Good tips and good hints – esp for someone as new to this blogging scene as I am. Now to actually build up some posts and hopefully a following?! Any ideas?

  25. #38 by rashmikamath on December 13, 2010 - 6:25 am

    we shouldnt write about ourselves, we shouldnt write fiction, we shouldnt write about a charater… then what the hell do we write about????????????????????????????????????????

    no offense.. but my blog is about 3 months old.. and this all i have done so far.. and your telling me that it was a worthless 3 months.. so please.. be a little clear and tell me which direction i can go in at least..

    but other than really frustrating me, that was a good piece of advice..

    now just tell me what i CAN do.. and not what i cant.

    • #39 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 13, 2010 - 1:18 pm

      I did start telling you what to blog about. Topic. I gave the example of a paranormal author writing about hauntings, spirits, ghosts, demons–things a reader would be interested in too. What is your book about? The subject-matter? We will talk more about that this coming Wednesday. And you can blog on whatever you like. I am just giving you advice for a blog that will attract a larger amount of regular readers and that will give you plenty of subject matter so that you don’t burn out.

      • #40 by rashmikamath on December 17, 2010 - 7:51 am

        oh.. ok.. thanks..🙂
        i’ll give it a try and let you know soon…

  26. #41 by Dawn Joyce-Reno on December 15, 2010 - 3:45 am

    I think my blog fairy has just been shot! ha ha…getting the oxyclean. My blog is all about me and my experiences as a budding writer. No wonder it isn’t doing all the well! Time to set up a new blog…again.

  27. #42 by dreamweaver38 on December 19, 2010 - 5:11 am

    Thanks for the awesome post, as always. Other than the “blog about myself” idea fairy, which I learned quickly about through my own suffering and naive-ness, the bright idea fairy never comes to me… Do I have issues?

    The biggest issue I ever have with things like blogging and writing is that I never get ideas. Like ever. I always need help with my ideas, and no one has ever given me a good way to come up with ideas that worked. I only ended up starting a “blog about myself” blog because that’s what I thought a blog was…

    The other issues I have with blogging are that I’m too afraid that my post will be stupid to actually sit down and write about something that comes to mind. I have the same problems with writing… either my characters scare me or I’m afraid this plot point is stupid. This is probably just me needing to get over myself, but I really don’t know…

    The third thing I had a question about was the idea of “writing to the audience.” I’ve always been taught that I should be writing for myself first, the audience second (YAY the high school education system!). I afraid that if I start writing about things that aren’t important to me, I’m not going to want to write at all.

    I’ve seemed to find my happy middle in blogging about Shakespeare as I read it… but in it’s infancy, it still has a long way to go…

    Maybe I’m just too young yet to be plagued by any of these evils… But is there anything wrong with trying to start early?😉 Throwing yourself into a world where people are usually twice your age can be annoying. As well as trying to time manage with school not understanding there is a life other than it.

    Thanks for the advice! You are truly wonderful!
    Amanda Out.

    • #43 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 19, 2010 - 12:55 pm

      Amanda, it all goes to your goal. If you are blogging to have fun, blog for yourself. But, if you are blogging to create a following, then your topic need to appeal to others. As far as finding topics? Read. Watch movies. Read other blogs. Great writers are observers of the world. I’m very happy you enjoy the blog,😀. Thanks.

  28. #44 by Donna Newton on December 22, 2010 - 3:29 pm

    Every time I read something of yours, I get more work to do! LOL.

    I now have 3 blogs a week to write. I’m afraid to read the next two😀

    This is a great post, Kristen. Onward to Section Two….

  29. #45 by kadja2 on January 2, 2011 - 5:15 pm

    I cannot wait until payday! LOL I have a Pandigital reader and it can download nookbooks! I want that Triple Threat!!! I love reading other people’s blogs too–especially those about the cooking–whether it is some great recipe or something, or (if like mine) why their own cooking might earn them a survival merit badge in the scouts simply because it isn’t lethal! I love to use humor, too.

    I love to make people laugh, but I love to monkey with storylines that have ticked people off for decades–like recurring risings of the dead on the soap operas. The other irritating thing is that the characters never “age” but they always have grown kids who were babies in seasons 1-5. What? Did they raise human babies or aliens? I “fix” these and make new stories evolve from the resolutions. This came after being subjected to various soap operas and such from the time I was five. Want a good example? Try “Days of Our Lives” with the whole Dimeara thing…JEEZ…Better yet “DARK SHADOWS”! I would soooooooo love to do for that latter series what J. J. Abrams did for Star Trek last year!

    Anyway, Kirsten, thank you for a wonderful blog. I’m the “newbie” on this, but I am also like a sponge and want to learn! I am hoping that I can go to the writer’s workshop in February up in Dallas, too! I’ve never gotten to go to one, EVER!

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