Blogging and Maintaining Our Sanity–Part One

Last Wednesday I talked about the two things we authors can control–Product and Platform. Our main concern is to write a book that consumers will want to buy. No matter how great our social media platform, we can’t wrap a bow around dog poo and call it a rainbow.

But, to be blunt, writers have ALWAYS had control over writing a really great book…and still 93% of novels sold less than 1,000 copies (per BEA statistics). Novelists have always had a staggering failure rate. Why? My opinion? I feel it was because fiction authors (until very recently) had little to no control over platform. Well, here is our chance to beat the odds, but it’s gonna require work. How much work, depends on our approach.

Blogging is a totally different form of writing, and today is just the introduction for my new series to teach you guys how to create blogs that generate a large loyal following for you (and your books).

What exactly is a blog anyway?

Many people make the mistake of thinking that blogs are on-line journals. No. That is an on-line journal. Blogs serve the readers FIRST. But, many people also believe that blogs are on-line articles. Not necessarily.

Blogging in the form of articles is great if you are a NF author. I use my blogs to get the information wandering through my gray matter down on the page. I then harvest the blogs for my books and workshops.  Providing consistent, excellent information can help build your reputation as an expert, which is essential for selling NF. No one cares about our book in the beginning. Platform can make them care.

But, if you are a fiction author, writing three articles a week might wear you out, so today I am going to let you in on a really cool secret that will help you be more creative with your blog and will also save time.

Feed the need.

First, we need to look at WHY people are on social media.

Why are people gravitating by the millions to social media?

Information and entertainment.

Noooooo. Why are they really on social media?

Community.

Nooooo. Why are they really, really on social media?

Purpose.

Most people when they start a blog stop at that first tier of wants/needs. Hey, I did. The problem with this approach is that it isn’t primal. It isn’t resonating at the deepest emotional level. A blog that is essentially a journal does nothing to serve the reader, so we’ll just ignore that. But, our blogs can be more than just article after article.

One of the funniest things I have witnessed in fiction authors, is that we have the imagination to create entirely new worlds and civilizations, but then we seem to lose all creativity when we try to start a blog.

So today we are going to pry apart the blog like a cheap pinata and go for the gooey candy guts inside. Blogging, aside from your actual novel, should be the highlight of your day. It should be FUN. If we aren’t about fun, then we need to forget this writing thing and stay working in Corporate America, the place where meetings and metrics steal our will to live little by little.

Blogging needs to work with your personality.

When it comes to blogging, a lot is going to depend on your writing personality. I have members of my critique group who can bust out three thousands words, and that is just a warm up. I happen to be a talker. I talk through things. So when I write these blogs I am not writing so much as taking dictation from the voices in my head.

Boy that just made you guys feel reeeeaal secure,😀. The voices haven’t told me to kill anyone…yet. 

I know my subject matter so well that the words just pour onto the page. That’s how I can be so prolific. Maybe you aren’t this prolific. Maybe you struggle and have to research and outline and write and rewrite. Perhaps blogging is making you hate me, your dog, and every fluffy kitten you see you want to punch in the face. It happens. Guess what? Change tactics. It is permitted. Blogging police will not take you to jail.

We control our blogs. Our blogs don’t control us.

News flash. You can change topics…and our head WON’T explode. Seriously. It will not rip the fabric of my reality if you are blogging about writing now, but since it is making you crazy you decide to blog about history or gardening. We are smart. We’ll catch up. This is why your blog’s title should always be your brand–YOUR NAME. Then we are following and supporting YOU, not your topic. We are loyal to YOU first.

If I have a blog called Fairy Rainbow Glitter Dreams I, first of all, give every one of you permission to slap me. My NAME is most important. But aside from diluting my brand by using Fairy Rainbow Glitter Dreams…I am also pidgeon-holing my content. I’m severely limiting my topics.

If I blog on all things fantasy and fairy and it doesn’t do well, how do I change tactics? I really can’t. Also, I could get so sick of fairies I want to punch them in the face…with a fluffy kitten. Again, I have painted myself in a corner on content by naming my blog Fairy Rainbow Glitter Dreams. When we use our NAME, then our blog posts have more freedom to be dynamic and change as we change and as our audience grows.

If I change topics, do I need to start an entirely new blog?

It is a total time suck to start a new blog if we want to talk on a different subject. It is a formula to be spread so thinly that you want to scream. My goal is to have you funneling all your work into one place…YOU. If our blog is under our name and we want to change topics, just ease readers into the change. Gradually shift topics. OR just blog another day on the different topic.

Our psyche will not fracture if you blog on writing on Monday and then add in history on Wednesday. If we don’t care about history, we will just read Monday. We won’t need therapy. Honest. Also, if you find that your history blog is far more easy and enjoyable to write AND it is gaining a following, you can eventually either stop blogging on writing, or make both days history. By building everything under your NAME, you now have a freedom to be flexible.

But what if I named my blog something specific like Fairy Rainbow Glitter Dreams?

Um…change it. This blog started out as Warrior Writers and it is in the URL. In the beginning I didn’t know as much. I learned a lot through trial and error. Just change the blog’s title to your name and make sure your name is in the tags every post. Most people won’t pay a lot of attention to the URL name. As long as your name is in all of your tags, your blog will show up on a google search for your name.

But Kristen, I am afraid I just don’t have TIME to blog and write.

Last week, some of you expressed concern that you just didn’t have time to write blogs AND a novel. I feel your pain. I have a curtain-climber who actively pursues death every waking moment. Trust me when I say that it does affect my writing time.

If you have a hard time getting out word count without it seriously cutting into the time you have for writing your novel, does it mean blogging isn’t for you?

No. You just have to do things a bit differently. First, I want you to embed this in your brain:

No matter how much we try, our blog cannot do what only our book can. Only our book can make readers fall in love with our characters and our plot. You must keep this in mind for this entire series to come, because I think I am the only one teaching this stuff.

Our brand is US, not our books. Books and topics just make up the larger brand…YOU.

I am about to say something shocking. Great bloggers are not necessarily great writers. Great bloggers are master community-builders. I have actually been saying this for almost two years, but in this upcoming series, I am going to break this down to bare bones.

We can be excellent writers and our blog can be failing. Go look at my first blogs on this site if you want a great example of a one-way dialogue. I was writing “articles.” I was only getting to that first layer of wants…entertainment and information. What I didn’t yet understand was that a blog isn’t just about information and entertainment. It was about creating a community. How did I learn this? I read a lot of other blogs. I watched what successful bloggers were doing that I wasn’t.

Blogging is to make followers fall in love with US. Part of defining our brand is figuring out what kind of community-builders we long to be. Blogging, if done correctly, becomes kind of a community watering hole for our followers, and we are the Host with the Most who throws the best parties. Great bloggers get people sharing opinions and feedback and they actively encourage a two-way dialogue. Our blog not only is popular because of content, but it is also a place we like to go on an emotional level, because the blogger is filling our deeper needs–community and purpose.

We will talk more about this in the weeks to come. There are a lot of ways to grow a popular blog other than writing article after article. We are going to explore some creative approaches to blogging that hopefully will make writing your blog FUN. I will warn you now that my approach is unorthodox. This approach is to make you guys community-builders FIRST. Our blogs are useless for building our platform if we don’t blog often and consistently. I would rather you guys be unconventional, than absent.

What have been your biggest challenges with blogging? What is your attitude toward blogging? Do you have any tips or tactics to help others balance their time? Hey, I don’t know everything. I like hearing your ideas and opinions. What do you love about your favorite blogs? What makes them different from blogs that don’t capture your attention? What makes you loyal to a blogger?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end on March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced). For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer has a fantastic blog over at Genreality about Author Platform. Go READ!

Fact vs Truth in Writing Fiction by Susan Cushman. For all of you out there worried about being sued for libel.

Brave New Whatever by Anne Aguirre.

4 Tricks for Getting to Know New Characters by the talented and amazing Tawna Fenske.

Lies Writers Tell by the hysterically funny genius word pirate Chuck Wendig.

Does a Blog Make You Buy a Writer’s Book? Roni Loren.

An Interview with…YOU! Cute and fun and worth a look.

Confused what the heck is going on with Lybia and Ghadhafi’s crazy cross-dresser-esque outfits? Are you like me and too lazy to keep up with the news? Look no further. Pop by Piper Bayard’s blog for her special series on Lybia written by that man of mystery we only know as Holmes.

So You Want to Be A Writer is an amazing mash-up of resources for those who want to kick ass and take names when it comes to their writing career. Great job Peter Saint-Clair!

World Building: What Came Before? GREAT World Building series by Cid Tyer.

How We Write–No Conflict? No Story by the talented Jennifer Holbrook-Talty. Great blog and a MUST-READ.

Did I miss any blogs you think deserve to be on the Mash-Up of Awesomeness? Or MUA as I like to call it. Put their link in the comments. Hey, I can’t be everywhere. We always want to know about great blogs.

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  1. #1 by Bob Mayer on March 9, 2011 - 5:13 pm

    I’m seeing a lot of writers on social media complaining that their efforts aren’t resulting in book sales. My instinct is that those writers are like the ones who used to complain they didn’t get an agent within six months of finishing their manuscript or that they were getting dozens of rejections.
    I’ve received hundreds of rejections. It took three years to get my first agent. What is going to happen is 95% of these writers who tweet, blog, etc. etc. to establish themselves will eventually quit. But if you’re one of the 5%, as I mention in Warrior Writer, who are self-motivated, you will succeed.

  2. #2 by educlaytion on March 9, 2011 - 5:35 pm

    Add this to the greatest Kristen Lamb quotes coffee table book: “No matter how great our social media platform, we can’t wrap a bow around dog poo and call it a rainbow.” Better yet, you follow THAT statement with “to be blunt.” Don’t mess with Texas is all I gotta say. Fluffy kittens beware.

    Thanks for mashing up with the rest of your awesomeness. I haven’t felt this good since I was sprinkled with fairy, rainbow glitter.

  3. #3 by Piper Bayard on March 9, 2011 - 5:37 pm

    I think blogging is the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing. I had no idea how I would squeeze it in while trying to write a book, but it forces me to be more disciplined, and it gets easier all the time. Also, I’m constantly amazed at the variety of topics my readers put up with from Holmes and me, but then I realize it’s our voice that brings in the readers, and the fact that none of our topics is aimless rambling on a page.

    Interesting what Bob said. I wonder if those authors complaining are the ones who only blog about themselves, their books, their book sales, their books that they want to write, their hopes and dreams about their books. . . . Are we seeing a trend here? I find their blogs worthless, regardless of how much fiction they have published, because they offer me nothing as a new author or as a person who thinks life is too short to be bored.

    Thanks for the shout out and for another awesome blog. You are the true Social Media Maven, not to mention a hell of a writing teacher. All the best.

  4. #4 by cegrundler on March 9, 2011 - 5:37 pm

    My mantra these days is “It can be done.” I’ve seen other authors who had strong social platforms succeed with solid sales and rising ranks even as I blogged sporadically, dismissing FB and Twitter as time wasters and my well reviewed book languished in the realm of mediocre sales. Kristen, you’ve opened my eyes to the error of my ways, and your regular postings keep me motivated and moving forward, further reinforcing the value of regular posting. I’ve taken blogging from something I’d do when the mood hit me to something I set time aside for each day. Some days, if I’m on a roll, I’ll even stockpile a few drafts for those dry spells, which takes the pressure off and helps the words flow. It’s like exercise; the more you do it the easier it becomes to stick with the habit.

    I know it will take time to build a strong platform; let getting in shape I know it won’t be an overnight fix but I keep reminding myself that I must stick with this. Perseverance is what helped me write this book in the first place; perseverance is what will help me reach readers and build an audience.

    Yet again, my thanks for another timely post!

  5. #5 by Rhonda Hopkins on March 9, 2011 - 5:39 pm

    Kristen — Thank you so much for all your advice and sharing your knowledge. I started my blog last week, with a mix of topics and realized I needed to focus, but didn’t want to limit myself to one. I just wrote today’s blog about focusing and using three days for three different topics. I’m so relieved to see I’m on the right track and it won’t hurt to change things if it’s not working well. It’s sort of like you’ve given permission! LOL I’ll have this latest post up soon. Thank you again for all you do for us misguided souls.🙂

  6. #6 by Brooke on March 9, 2011 - 5:51 pm

    I’ll be adding this post to my list of links (all already by you, from your blogging series a couple months ago) for my “blogging for dummies” post. You really know your stuff, and I’m glad as hell that you share it all. It makes my writing life easier!

  7. #7 by Darla on March 9, 2011 - 5:53 pm

    Kristen,

    I appreciate your gift of communication and step by step approach. Your brillance shines! BTW, I love the updated pic🙂

    Darla

  8. #8 by eyeamImran on March 9, 2011 - 6:03 pm

    what makes me come back to a blog, again and again, would be the blogger’s liveliness and style, in some cases. and in others, it’s the promise of helping me see me, the way i’d like to see myself, as a writer, a lot sooner than it would take me to do so, if i had to do it on my own. that’s two. and that sentence sucked.

    people like being told that a certain thing/dream can be done/is possible and then having told them that, , offering them ways to accomplish things energises them. and when one has energy, one is willing to form a relationship. and that’s how i’ve formed a relationship with the bloggers i follow, regularly. purely for selfish reasons. sadly or otherwise, but then hey, i also like them, that’s why i follow them and read their stuff –

  9. #9 by Carrie Sullivan on March 9, 2011 - 6:09 pm

    I took your courses on blog writing at the DFW con, and they were fantastic. I have since revamped my author blog to cater more to my audience and less like the dreaded online journal. Thanks so much for teaching the classes–this blog post pretty much hits the high points! Oh, and since I made my changes, I have two new followers–people who just found me through the tags and whatnot. Very cool!

  10. #10 by countrymarketcooking on March 9, 2011 - 6:09 pm

    Kristen: I am teaching a class right now where questions about the value of blogs, the mechanics of blogs and the purpose of blogs are front and center. I just pointed them all to this blog post since you’ve already said most of what I wanted to tell them. Thanks for making my teaching job easier this week. Guess I have to slide you some cash now, eh? :-p

    -Laurie McLean, Literary Agent

    • #11 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 9, 2011 - 6:33 pm

      Hey, that is part of the Kristen Lamb Mission Statement–Make agents’ jobs easier so they have time to sell our books and broker great deals😀. I am happy to help by empowering your writers.

  11. #12 by rising writer on March 9, 2011 - 6:19 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who writes as the voices in my head speak🙂 Another spot on post! I have been looking around at many of your suggested authors and I think I was concerned about privacy, but the reality is if people can’t connect with you they will not want to connect with your writing.

    I’ve found that it works better for me to blog in the mornings as soon as I get to the office (before work) as my ideas are fresh and then my “project writing” is better to do in the afternoons after I’m home, that way I can have more uninterrupted time.

    • #13 by Charlotte Firbank-King on March 15, 2011 - 6:17 am

      Kirsten, you have just potentially added to my very full days. I read all the comments here and became intrigued. I know blogging exists, but how the hell do I go about starting a blog. I feel as if I’m crawling around cyber space like a kid in Faraway Land. I sit in my cave and write or paint all day, every day. I am not good at promoting myself, but realize I need to get over myself and do what needs doing to get my name out there. This takes courage, admitting I’m cyber challeged. I am going to investigate the wheres and hows. I met your site, this one, through one of my fellow editors, Joy beth, in Inspiration For Writers.

      • #14 by The Mad Hatter on March 17, 2011 - 1:53 am

        Charlotte,

        It’s actually fairly easy. Go to WordPress.com, sign up, and they’ll give you a free blog. I host my own, which costs, but I also host several other web sites including Web Lit Canada on the same server, so you could say the blog gets a free ride.

        Wayne

  12. #15 by Jean on March 9, 2011 - 6:46 pm

    Looking forward to the next “blog” post. So glad I found your blog and book.

  13. #16 by writerwellness on March 9, 2011 - 7:00 pm

    Writers write. Blogs are an excellent way to keep the “writing muscle” toned and disciplined. Looking forward to future posts on blogs.
    Joy

  14. #17 by Anne R. Allen on March 9, 2011 - 7:07 pm

    You are the source of all social media wisdom, Kristin! I’m so glad you’re telling people to put their names in their blog titles. I have the hardest time finding the blogs I want to read again, because I have to scroll through my Dashboard asking myself if Sue McGillicuddy’s blog is called “Musings and Ramblings” or “My Writing Journey” or whatever. “You are your brand.” Gotta scream that from the rooftops of Cyberia.

  15. #18 by dtrasler on March 9, 2011 - 7:09 pm

    Sanity already gone. Damn.

    Loved the Chuck Wendig post. All too true, damn him.

  16. #19 by Amanda Bozeman on March 9, 2011 - 7:31 pm

    The are are so many things that can draw one to a blog, but you’re right… it is community that keeps readers coming back.

    All I can say is that I’m glad you teamed up with Bob, Kristen. I read WANA last week and I’m sure that your expertise is going to save me from a lot of unnecessary headaches as I start building my platform. Thanks!

  17. #20 by gator1965 on March 9, 2011 - 7:42 pm

    Two informative, insightful and intriguing blogs flying under the radar (wish I could change that a little) “Writers Welcome Blog – A John Austin Blog” http://alturl.com/4z88 and “Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue” http://alturl.com/6izif

    Kristen, after reading this post, I have to ask: Any suggestions on better names for my blogs? I know I don’t have my actual name in the second blog…and I’m taking that suggestion to heart.

    • #21 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 9, 2011 - 7:49 pm

      For fiction, though, you are going to want more than just writers reading your blog. We don’t hook people with the blog’s name…we hook them with the titles of our posts. I would just make it John Austin’s Blog. If you feel the need to add more, make it John Austin’s Blog–Insights, News, Intrigue.

      Think of it this way. Bertolli is not a highly creative name. It is the ingredients that make Bertolli exciting. It is the Spinach Pasta Primavera or the Portobella Ravioli that all are exciting….but fall under the BRAND of Bertolli. Make sense?

      • #22 by gator1965 on March 9, 2011 - 9:05 pm

        It makes sense. Actually my two blogs are in the same niche…and are based on the business side of publishing and writing. I should combine them I suppose, but I wanted to learn about & try the two most popular blogging platforms (Blogger & WordPress)..

        My blogs are nonfiction and in a niche I got interested in when I started writing my bio, coming-of-age story “Havana Harvest–When Cuba was Naughty” and started to hear about all the built-in publishing roadblocks & mismanagement, etc.

        I thought: ‘I need to find out about this fragile business’…So, I started blogging about publishing as I learned about it.

  18. #23 by Laura Lee Nutt on March 9, 2011 - 8:06 pm

    What keeps me coming back to a blog is when I get a real sense of the blogger’s personality and when the message is positive, uplifting, or presents solutions to struggles I personally face. Also, just plain fascinating information can get me. Though, ss much as I appreciate some blogs that mostly just announce conventions and such, I get bored with them quickly.

    As far as writing blogs goes, to me, it’s like any other sort of writing. I get a lot more done if I just sit down and do it.

  19. #24 by ellieswords on March 9, 2011 - 8:11 pm

    You’re great fun to read, but also a very dangerous person. Because of you I’ve had to leave my lonely brooding writer days behind me.🙂
    A thousand thanks for all the things you have taught me. I linked back to your blog and mentioned WANA in my post today, doing everything I can to spread the Kristen Lamb love around to my writerling friends.

  20. #25 by Judythe Morgan on March 9, 2011 - 8:41 pm

    Kristin, I love your idea that the blog does not have to be topic orientated. But I’m confused because the list of your MUAs were primarily topical. So I’m getting the idea that while using your name as you do builds your name platform through blogging and having mash-bang content is CRITICAL.

    I think Randy Ingermanson’s blog idea with interviews and blogger questions is great blog. I’d consider his Advance Fiction Writing a MUA. Also follow Chuck Sambuchino and Nathan Bransford through their feeds.

    Love your book. Learn so much from it and your MUA blog! Hooking back to it via FB and twitter and will continue to talk about your WANA.

    • #26 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 9, 2011 - 9:11 pm

      I will clear that up in the weeks to come. I do recommend finding topics and sticking to them because it is easier to grow a following. But over time, people will come to like the blog for YOU. So if you change topics BUT maintain that voice everyone likes, you will still do fine. Think of it like being at a cocktail party. If you talked to me, I could talk writing all day. For a while we would both be interested, but would you stop talking to me if I changed topics? As long as I was equally interesting and you still felt part of a dialogue, you likely wouldn’t feel the need to jump ship. Our blogs can be the same.

      Now we don’t want to be like a fruitfly with ADD. Consistent topics help gain a following. But we can be dynamic, too. Being flexible (with a plan) keeps readers interested. Does that help?

      So happy you loved the book. Thanks😀.

    • #27 by Gene Lempp on March 10, 2011 - 9:44 am

      Love Randy Ingermanson’s blog as well, it is actually what led me to Bob Mayer and Kristen through an interview Randy did with Bob on changes in the publishing industry. Another great one is Larry Brooks (storyfix.com) check it out.

  21. #28 by Tiffany White on March 9, 2011 - 8:42 pm

    Question – should I blog from a blogging site like blogger via yahoo or a personal website? My name is my brand…but what if there is already a published fiction author out there with your first and last name on the www? No offense, I don’t want to be mistaken for her and I don’t want to confuse my community…

    • #29 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 9, 2011 - 9:15 pm

      If your website allows, blog off your website. As far as blogging platforms, I recommend WordPress. It is free, it looks great, it is easy to use, has great analytics, and it is easy to upgrade it into a web site eventually.

      Um…people are smart. They will catch on. Your names might be the same, but your platforms–those things uniquely you–are different. If you are going to take the leap and get a website, just get the .org or the .net. Or get creative and put AuthorTiffanyWhite as the URL. The fact taht you share a name with another author really isn’t as big of a deal as people make it. Just define your brand and that will set you apart.

    • #30 by Les Howard on March 10, 2011 - 4:56 am

      You could include your middle name as part of your brand. For example, TiffanyAnnWhite.com. I have the same problem. There are at least three other people using the same name as mine for websites and two of them are photographers like me.

  22. #31 by Tammy Eldridge on March 9, 2011 - 9:01 pm

    Angela Hunt includes YouTube videos that she finds interesting on her blog. Usually, I enjoy them as well.

  23. #32 by Maria I. Morgan on March 9, 2011 - 9:47 pm

    Great post, Kristen! Very specific question for you. Is it okay to submit a compilation of blog entries to a publisher as a proposed book? I’m an inspirational writer and would love to ‘harvest’ some of my blog entries in the form of a 30-day devotional. Noticed you mentioned doing something similar, and wanted to make sure I was understanding your statement: ” I use my blogs to get the information wandering through my gray matter down on the page. I then harvest the blogs for my books and workshops.” Would appreciate your feedback!

    • #33 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 10, 2011 - 12:51 pm

      I actually have opinions on this subject, but am really not qualified to answer. I believe it would be up to the individual agent. There is an increasing trend in blog-to-book deals. Publishers like getting a blogger with a large and loyal following. So I would recommend that, yes, you harvest your blog for your NF. Then find a forward-thinking agent who is open to giving you at least the right advice as to how to proceed. That help?

  24. #34 by gingerclub on March 9, 2011 - 9:50 pm

    Dear Kristen,

    Sure, I would love to have my name in your hat, but then I would have to reveal my name first. This means, I would have to follow your advice first and change my entire blog name. It makes absolute sense what you said, unless there is a 200 million award set on a blogger*s hat. Yet, I hope that all storywriters do not first practice what they will write about later.

    Anyway, thanks a lot! Glad that I found you!

    Ginger

  25. #35 by Tamara LeBlanc on March 9, 2011 - 9:54 pm

    When I read this, “One of the funniest things I have witnessed in fiction authors, is that we have the imagination to create entirely new worlds and civilizations, but then we seem to lose all creativity when we try to start a blog,” I smirked. Not an irritated smirk, but a, Yep, that’s me smirk.
    Blogging scares me about as much as synopsis and query letters do. I’m afraid I won’t have anything to say, or worse, what I have to say is irrelevant, boring, inarticulate, dumb…you get the idea.
    I’ve said this before, I’d be afraid that blogging would do my platform more harm than good.
    But I’m looking forward to learning more from you about how to make a blog popular, and what it takes to earn a following. I’m betting your wisdom will change my mind about launching Tamaraleblancrw blogspot one day.
    Now in answer to some of your questions: My favorite blogs are the ones I learn something from, specifically writing. Whether it’s social networking info, platform, mechanics help, synopsis dos and don’ts, It’s all good. I’d rather not read about how someone’s pet Yorki is so cute they had to tell the world. I’d rather dig my eyeball out with a spoon than read that kind of fluff.
    When I find a blog, or two, or three, that not only motivate me as a writer, but teach me something about the industry and craft as well, I’m as loyal as a Labrador…I sometimes even drool over the info if it’s really fantastic. (I may have drooled more than once while reading your words of wisdom, but not in a creepy way:)
    So, I guess I harbor a boat load of negativity regarding blogging, but with authors like you, and positive posts, I think I might just be able to sail that over loaded boat home without a hitch:)
    Thanks for the help.
    Have a great day!!
    Tamara

  26. #36 by gingerclub on March 9, 2011 - 9:57 pm

    Dear Kristen,

    Sure, I would love to have my name in your hat, but then I would have to reveal my name first. This means, I would have to follow your advice first and change my entire blog name. It makes absolute sense what you said, unless there is a 200 million award set on a blogger*s head. Yet, I hope that all storywriters do not first practice what they will write about later.

    Anyway, thanks a lot! Glad that I found you!

    Ginger

  27. #37 by Julia Mozingo on March 9, 2011 - 10:12 pm

    Kristen, great information … and timely. I’m giving a talk at an RWA Chapter Saturday. I plan on giving you a shout-out — sharing your URL and suggesting they visit your blog.

  28. #38 by Marian Pearson Stevens on March 9, 2011 - 10:55 pm

    Great post, Kristen! Thanks for the information. A fun read as well! I’ll be back!

  29. #39 by Judythe Morgan on March 9, 2011 - 11:15 pm

    Kristin said: Think of it like being at a cocktail party. If you talked to me, I could talk writing all day. For a while we would both be interested, but would you stop talking to me if I changed topics? As long as I was equally interesting and you still felt part of a dialogue, you likely wouldn’t feel the need to jump ship. Our blogs can be the same.

    Never thought about blogs like cocktail party conversations. Perfect analogy. II’ve had some interesting conversations with people at parties. Makes perfect sense. Now to create my blog and think conversation. Thanks.

  30. #40 by Manon Eileen on March 9, 2011 - 11:21 pm

    My biggest challenge has been the “not writing articles” part. I’m used to it because of the style. I write in for my uni, but also it’s because the topic I write about (psychology) is not very… Not article friendly. Or perhaps that’s just because I’m used to it that way. I’m trying very hard to make it less article-ly, but it’s definitely my biggest challenge.

    I absolutely ADORE blogging. It’s one of the parts I love most as a side-job as writer, lol (and Twitter too). This, however, makes it hard for me to stay focused on what’s also important – writing my book! So far I’ve been scheduling all of it in my Google Calendar to make sure I balance my time. This works for me (even if I’m mostly focusing on studying for an exam right now, I’m a little out of balance, hehe.)

    Honestly, my favorite blog of all time is a blog I used to read long before I started on the writing path. It’s a Fashion/Pop culture blog. They cover Red Carpets, they discuss celebrities’ outfits, but also some TV shows. They’re extremely funny and they produce a high rate of blogs every day. Like, 3-5 A DAY. They’ve made a living of it, though. I’ve tried other Fashion/Pop culture blogs, but they’re never as good as they are. Also, they address you as “kittens” and “bitches” (and they’re the gay fashion-lovers), and all in all it’s just a little corny but so hilarious. They also invite you for your opinion and to discuss, and there is usually a very lively discussion (200+ comments) going on. I’m often too intimidated by that comment-count to participate myself, but that’s okay.

  31. #41 by Mj cache on March 10, 2011 - 12:13 am

    Hey Kristen, I have recently subscribed and love your advice and humorous style. I started blogging because I was writing a book- a manuscript on the 3rd edit- and I was against it at first. I loathe all that self promo. But It has been great, I enjoy support and encouragement from my readers and subscribers. It has motivated me to finish my book because my readers are enthusiastic about reading it! It is my first and I know how difficult it is to get a firsty published, but I’ll try. Thanks for the info on twitter… I get it now and gonna join in.

  32. #42 by Marilag Lubag on March 10, 2011 - 12:28 am

    Challenges about blogging… There are times when I couldn’t write anything but there’s times when I write 5-7 blog posts in 2 days like last week. Now I’m back to writing 0 blog posts (but I’m editing the ones I had thought of). Basically, I write when the spirit moves me. It should be as fast as I can in order to catch the overflowing ideas coming from my mind.

    I love blogging. It helps me discover things I never know about myself. At times, they offer me insights and realizations I never know I had. My tactic is to carry at least a pen and a paper so that I can write whenever inspiration struck, and also reading a lot of self-help books (I’ve been reading them for years). Basically, be open to inspiration.

    My favorite blogs are blogs that I could relate to. Usually, I think of them as someone I could be comfortable with in a public setting. They usually have an approachable boys and they don’t ramble.

    What makes me loyal to a blogger? If he or she seems like a friendly person. If he or she doesn’t come off as hostile, for starters.

  33. #43 by nrhatch on March 10, 2011 - 1:34 am

    I am getting sooooooo tired of saying this to you, Kristen.

    You.
    Rock.

    I’ve been sharing your link right and left in the past few days. People need Twitter advice, “Go see Kristen.” People need advice on building a blog, “Go see Kristen.”

    Rock on!

  34. #44 by Aisha on March 10, 2011 - 1:40 am

    I love this advice. Thank you. I will be linking to your blog soon and would love a chance to enter! [I would have been linking anyways though]🙂

  35. #45 by Jess Witkins on March 10, 2011 - 1:47 am

    I’m already eager for your new series! I like how you discussed branding and what makes a blog stick out, it’s always voice for me. Majority of the blogs I read are personal blogs from writers, so it’s constantly a mash up of whatever interests them, or helpful tips on writing, but because I like their voice, they feel like my close friends. I like the variety in their posts as long it’s got that personal voice I’ve come to know and love. Good advice, Kristen!

    P.S. I think you missed a tag in this blog. How can I find you if you don’t add “Fairy Rainbow Glitter Dreams?” lol.

  36. #46 by Peter Koevari on March 10, 2011 - 1:56 am

    Kristen, as always I love the way you cut right to the heart of the information that we all need to hear.

    First of all, I have completely run out of fluffy kittens… apparently punching them in the face is bad… scratch that one up to the learning post LOL

    On a serious note, As a fantasy writer, I 100% agree that we struggle more with blog posts than non-fiction writers. You, and of course your book WANA has helped me realise that I was doing all of the wrong things by writing blog posts aimed at writers rather than readers… not really endearing myself to my target market.

    I really do think that non-fiction writers have it made when it comes to blog posts. If they write a book about their area of expertise, well… they can easily find many areas to blog about that their readers would not only find, but then be enticed to purchase their book to learn more… your blog is a perfect example

    It is incredibly difficult as a fiction writer to blog three times a week, or I fear that not only would the quality of the posts drop, but so would my readers.

    I aim to post at least once a week, but if I am focused on writing my next novel… I put that as a priority over pondering about my next blog post.

    I have seen some pretty bad examples of blogs that I want to follow because I know the author, but it tends to become a big list of rants and more of a diary than a blog… and I find it exhausting to try to follow those, so in the end… I just give up.

    Much like Tamara LeBlanc, I love to follow blogs where I learn something (like yours!) to enhance my craft / life, I gravitate to those blogs.

    We do control our blogs, but every time I write… I share Tamara’s fears, which I suppose is human nature at its best. We are fiction writers, and that is where our craft excels… trying to put our craft into non-fiction blog posts can be a daunting task.

    I remember you telling me, write what you are passionate about, invested in and what your readers are interested in… as a fantasy writer, there is a lot to write about as I am also a fantasy reader as well.

    Your methods *do* work, and I look forward to what else I can learn from you.

    Peter

    • #47 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 10, 2011 - 12:45 pm

      Actually it is easier to post three times a week than you know. We will talk about some unconventional ways to blog that will connect to an audience and leave time to write. Ultimately, once a week is still fantastic so long as we stick to it for the long haul. Most bloggers burn out and give up pretty quickly, so even just regularly posting once a week is tremendous. I personally feel 3X a week is easier. Your following will grow faster and you remain top of mind. But, that said, I know it is tougher for pure fiction authors, so I am here to help you out😀.

  37. #48 by sam on March 10, 2011 - 2:26 am

    Hi Kristen! *brings over brownies* Just discovered your blog today and boy, am I glad that I did. I’m a newbie blogger with a debut novel coming out in August. I found this post EXTREMELY helpful. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    Sam

  38. #49 by trish nicholson on March 10, 2011 - 3:27 am

    Hi Kristen, this is just the sort of help I need at the moment – info and encouragement. I have planned time this evening to take my courage in both hands and find WordPress, and click a button that probably says “make a free blog now” and then ……….

  39. #50 by Patti Mallett on March 10, 2011 - 3:29 am

    Zoom! You hit it out of the park again! I’m going to need a larger sized hat after taking in all of this information. Tonight I eat, tomorrow I’ll digest. Thanks TONS! (Your humor is a rare treat and so right-on-the-line.)

  40. #51 by Jenyfer Matthews on March 10, 2011 - 4:25 am

    Another great post in an interesting series. I learn something new every time I stop by… but I’m still resisting Twitter! LOL

    • #52 by Pam Asberry on March 10, 2011 - 1:26 pm

      Jenyfer, I resisted Twitter for the longest time. All I can say is try it, you’ll like it. But beware – it is highly addictive!

  41. #53 by Pam Asberry on March 10, 2011 - 4:51 am

    Kristen, you have inspired me again. I blogged about you, linked to this post, and bought myself a copy of “We Are Not Alone.” Your words ring true, and you explain these concepts in a way that makes sense to me. That makes you a great teacher; I should know, because I am a teacher myself. Except, as I explained in my blog, I do not have enough experience to speak with authority on the craft of writing. So in my blog, I’m just going to be myself. What a relief! Now I’m looking forward to following the rest of this series and receiving more words of wisdom from you. Many, many thanks.

  42. #54 by Les Howard on March 10, 2011 - 5:29 am

    Interesting point about making yourself the brand. One of the best examples of that is photographer and author Scott Kelby who uses a blog, http://www.scottkelby.com/blog/, several websites, Twitter and a Facebook page to build his own online community. He also includes video and regularly scheduled webcasts. Scott is the #1 selling non-fiction author for about the last 8 consecutive years so he’s gotta be doing something right. His associate, Matt Kloskowski, is doing pretty much the same thing.

  43. #55 by Training4now on March 10, 2011 - 5:56 am

    I can’t say much because I feel like I am about to lay my writing life stoy all out but other than that, I thought the post was kind of vague. I know in my writer’s Craft class we spoke about voice allows the reader to connect with their audience but you didn’t touch on that at all. So my question to this blog is:

    Is how you detrimental to your blog’s health or not?

    P.S: Thank you for this blog and for helping up and coming writers. I have been trying to get my class onto this blog but my teacher is not intrested. Maybe this article will change her mind.

    • #56 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 10, 2011 - 12:42 pm

      Chuck Wendig’s blog is a great example of a writer’s voice becoming the main attraction for a blog. I don’t care WHAT Chuck talks about, he is funny and interesting. Does that answer your question?

  44. #57 by Gene Lempp on March 10, 2011 - 9:52 am

    Some days I feel slow on this transition to using social media, but as Kristen has pointed out, research it first, have a plan. No one wants to drown in Fairy Glitter (probably allergic to it anyway) and after a couple of false starts (man I hated reading some of Kristens posts on blogs at first because it highlighted every mistake I had made) it just makes sense to plan and study.
    An old saying though: “Surround yourself with great teachers and one day you will be great as well”.
    Thanks again Kristen, can’t wait to see the rest of this series. My wife and I are currently reading your book and love it!

  45. #58 by Bridgette Booth on March 10, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    Kristen, you’ve answered my unasked questions!🙂 I’ve been thinking about switching my blogging focus (and have some posts in the queue) but wasn’t sure quite how to handle it. Excellent advice. You’ve got me hooked for this series.

    And to add to your conversation: I’m a loyal reader of those who seem genuine. I appreciate transparency and friendliness.

    Thanks!

  46. #59 by Roni Loren on March 10, 2011 - 2:44 pm

    Thanks for including me in the mash-up!🙂 I posted the results from that survey you linked in my post yesterday and it just underlined your point about community. 71% of my followers who said they were going to buy my book said they were buying not because of the blurb or the genre, but because they liked me or my blog and wanted to support my career. If that isn’t an advertisement for community building I don’t know what is.🙂

    This was a great post, but now you’ve gotten me wondering about my blog title again. It’s Fiction Groupie, not my name. But it’s been that title for almost two years and a lot of people think of it that way. *sigh* *contemplates*

    • #60 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 10, 2011 - 2:47 pm

      Just add your name in front of it. Roni Loren–Fiction Groupie. It is easy to change a blog title. Your name really needs to be front and center. Makes it easier for people to buy your book because your NAME is how we will find your fiction. Easy fix. You are welcome, and I was really glad you ran the survey. Proves what I already know to be true😀.

  47. #61 by Jenyfer Matthews on March 11, 2011 - 1:23 am

    @Pam – I am sure I would LOVE Twitter -that is why I am resisting it🙂

    At least I did one thing right when I started my blog – I blanked on a “clever” name and just went with my own name!! LOL

  48. #62 by amy rubinate on March 11, 2011 - 4:43 am

    Wow, thanks so much for this thought-provoking post. I am researching and observing in anticipation of starting a blog, and this is the best info I’ve come across so far!

  49. #63 by Jessica Thomas on March 11, 2011 - 2:19 pm

    I was just thinking yesterday how stressed out I am trying to run a blog, write a novel and work 40 hours a week, and oh yeah, take care of hyper toddler and new baby… So if you can help me make blogging fun, I’m all ears. Keep up the good work!

  50. #64 by The Mad Hatter on March 11, 2011 - 9:27 pm

    Interesting post. Sat back, thought about it for a bit, changed the name of my blog to my name, and then wrote about why I did it. And why the blog’s direction is changing.

    Thanks very much. I’ve learned something. And with me that usually involves using a sledgehammer😉

    Wayne

    • #65 by gator1965 on March 11, 2011 - 9:44 pm

      Hi Wayne,

      I like your post…mainly because I immediately identified with the sledgehammer-learning model!

      Have a good day…

  51. #66 by Jeremy Duley on March 14, 2011 - 3:13 am

    Blogging feels a lot like being in front of a video camera. You’re having to pretend there’s an audience of live people in front of you when really you’re just filming some YouTube video in your backyard.

    • #67 by The Mad Hatter on March 14, 2011 - 2:10 pm

      After I stopped laughing, I just had to reply. Yes, that’s exactly the case. But that’s also why you have to sell yourself!

      Because all said and done, us authors have nothing else to sell. We are naked to the world, with only our personalities to sustain us.

      Wayne aka The Mad Hatter

  52. #68 by Jen on March 15, 2011 - 3:38 pm

    Just found your blog. I’m subscribing because you speak my language.

    What do we do if we really are in need of keeping some of our online life separate from other parts of our online-ish life? As authors, we’re told to brand our name, but what if you write two very different genres and really don’t want the readers crossing over? Is the answer twice as much blogging? Or tearing your hair out and hoping your town has a good wig store?

    • #69 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 15, 2011 - 3:43 pm

      Why don’t you want them crossing over? They’d buy twice as many books. Brand is about YOU. Pen names and separate platforms is a formula to go crazy. Just be open that you write two different genres. Okay…here is a test.

      Jen, I write non-fiction AND thrillers.

      Did your brain melt? Give it a sec. No? No urge to claw out your own eyes now that you know I write different genres?

      I am a HUGE fan of Bob Mayer’s writing, and he writes sci-fi, thriller, romance, NF, and now historical fiction…and I buy them ALL because I LIKE Bob and his writing…no matter what he writes. I like his writing voice. And even if I didn’t (I do), I still like Bob and I enjoy supporting friends by buying their books.

      Blogging is to build community and you are the shining star around which everything revolves. Our blogs cannot do what only our book can. Only our book can make people love our fiction. Blogs make people like and support US. That help? I am running a blogging series which I think will help you. Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.

  53. #70 by J M Cornwell on March 19, 2011 - 11:44 pm

    Interesting topic. I guess I’ve been doing it wrong, just writing instead of building a community.

    J M Cornwell
    Among Women

  54. #71 by Jen on March 20, 2011 - 1:26 pm

    Kristen, I write erotica and YA. =:o If I want to write the one, I can assure you that yes, knowing about the other will cause heads to explode somewhere in the vicinity of the local concerned parents group. I’ve just started reading “We Are Not Alone” and branding one name would be really easy. Unfortunately, I feel like I’d be the creepy person opening the door to the girl scouts when there’s a triple-x film on in the background. Eep! I don’t know a lot, but I do know that if I’m not comfortable with combining the two, it’s not a good fit for me. Any suggestions?

    • #72 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 20, 2011 - 2:33 pm

      Pick a genre or expect double work. My concerns are that it really is not possible to hide behind a pen name. Are you going to hide from every photograph and public apprearance too? All it takes is one picture loaded on someone’s FB page and tagged to pull down months or years of building a pen name…and possibly earn you the ire of parent groups.

      There are benefits to social media and the Internet…but there is a cost too. The cost is maybe we have to pick a genre if we are mixing sex books with writing for children and young people. It might be different if you were writing thrillers or mysteries and erotica. All it takes is one parent putting 2 and 2 together and your goose could be cooked. It would be wonderful if people were all logical and understanding, but parents tend to lose all logic when it comes to their kids, and can we really blame them?

      Sorry if this isn’t the answer you wanted. I think when we write for young people, it is kind of like writing Christian Inspirational. People are looking for a continuity of character of who they are going to expose to young impressionable minds.

      This is more than a genre question. I think if you were always writing both genre choiced for adults, this wouldn’t be an issue. But you are writing for children. I doubt very highly you could hide behind a pen name like in the old days. I also think that even if you could, it would make you a nervous wreck. Is it worth it?

      Of course, this is just my opinion. I am sure there are people who feel you could have two identites. Yet, search engines are getting better and better and everything is computerized. It is a Brave New World and we have to appreciate that as writers. Nowadays, there is little inquiring minds can’t find out with the right key strokes. This isn’t to make you paranoid as much as to make you think. Is it worth the possible headache? You might write both and be fine. But I think there would always be an anvil hanging over your head, especially if you enjoyed any measure of success. If your YA suddenly hits and gets as big as Meyer, you don’t think that other identity wouldn’t surface? And it might be fine, but likely it will be a huge contraversial headache. Just prepare for that very reasonable possibility should you write both. All the best!

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