Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Do Author Blogs Sell Books?

Judging from the comments section of yesterday's post, it seems that we're all in agreement that some sort of web presence is necessary for published and unpublished authors alike.

But how much of a web presence is ideal? How much time should an author be devoting to their site? And how much of a difference-maker is it?

I know authors who are incredibly busy, who have day jobs in addition to successful writing careers, and time for book promotion is markedly limited given that they also have to, you know, write books. So what should they be doing with the limited time they have to promote their books? Is blogging and/or working on a website the most effective use of that time?

And, ultimately, does blogging sell books? Are there authors out there who have made "the leap" because of their blog? Or do successful books drive successful blogs? Is the time it takes to build a successful blog worth it?

Really looking forward to this discussion.






116 comments:

Josephine Damian said...

Donald Maass told me that it's what between the book's covers - the writing, the story itself - that sells books and nothing else, promotion-wise.

I blog to let agents know I'm here, what sort of books/projects I write and what my "platform" is.

Since you can't (or shouldn't) sell a book without an agent, that's my motivation for blogging, to let agents know I'm here.

Will my blog(MySpace/CrimeSpace/Twitter) sell copies of my book if - when! - I have a book out? That remains to be seen. However, I'm glad I have those promotional vehicles in place in case they do enhance sales.

That said, the only thing that gets me to read a book is being grabbed on the first page. I've met a lot of cool, fun bloggers, but as friendly as I am with any blogger, unless they wow me on their first page, I won't be reading their book.

I only read/look at author websites if I'm doing a write up about a book or an author - the website alone will not incite me to buy or read their book, nothing I learn about an author will make me want to read past the first page if the first page didn't wow me.

Dan said...

I think good ideas and writing drive both blogs and books - but the blog definitely grows easier because that's the nature of the web, but blogging is easier than getting published. There are two things to keep in mind:

1.) Have a blog with regularly updated content (whether its weekly, daily, or whenever the author gets inspiration - so much as people know when to expect new things)

AND

2.) Getting to know other bloggers (because if you write a blog and no one reads it, it doesn't make a sound). They'll point to your blog (as many comments posted yesterday said).

###

A well-written blog with the help of a few fans/friends will grow in popularity on its own. Tucker Max is a good example of this - he became an internet celebrity based on his stories and turned them into a book and now a movie (regardless of whether or not you like him, his stories, or his writing style).

People read his stories in college and we pointed our friends to them - and they did the same - and suddenly there were more than a hundred thousand people linking to Tucker's webpage/blog.

And you can do all this for free, or the price of a domain name.

julcree said...

no and yes.

If a writer has a blog with a large audience of loyal readers, yes because the audience is built in.
If a writer has a blog with only a handful of regular readers, no.

December/Stacia said...

If my blog readers are to be believed, my blog has definitely sold books. I don't do a lot of outright promo on the blog because I'm simply not comfortable with it (and I believe an all-promo blog is a boring blog--same as an all-meme blog), but people find it, like it, and check out my books.

Of course they wouldn't buy the book if it didn't grab them, but they look for it because of the blog. It's not the only effective promo tool at all, but it is an effective one. And for me it's fun, which is the most important thing.

Adaora A. said...

I honestly don't find blogging takes up a lot of my time. I write, I go to school (full-time), I work in retail (part-time), and I maintain a social life. I do all of this, and blogging (and I have two which I maintain), take up 30 minutes or less of my time/day).

I did say yesterday that blogging does put you out there. It gives you an audience. People visit your blog because they like to read your posts and enjoy your insight into the buisness. If you were to publish a book right now Nathan, it would no doubt be a bestseller. The internet is an amazing thing. Blogging gives people a following. The people who visit my blog and comment are people who got a sense of my personality. They (hopefully), like what they read and they connect with it. That kind of thing is gold. People read my gibberish and comment on it, and anyone with the same kind of audience would hope (or imagine), that these are the people who would follow you when you first, second, and third book comes out.

150 said...

I've bought books(and borrowed some from the library) because I knew the author from her blog. Probably a dozen times or more.

Kandis Burns said...

I'm not convinced that a 'blog necessarily sells books. I'm a big fan of Naomi Novik and find her livejournal to be rather charming-- but it wouldn't have gotten me hooked on the Temeraire series--nor, in fact, would the webpage for the series. The books themselves (and, horror of horrors, the cover art) did most of that. That said, a 'blog certainly is a help-- especially if one hasn't yet earned his or her own wikipedia page-- when it comes to letting a reader feel connected.

For those of us who are unpublished, the 'blog is, maybe, a little more important as a source for encouragement and proof-readers.

Michelle Moran said...

I'm not sure if my blog sells any books, since I simply use the Fair Use rule to post excerpts and links to articles about history from across the web, but I can say with certainty that my blog has led to extra publicity. After a casting agent saw my blog, he called me and I shot eight episodes for Fuse TV's Ten Great Reasons. It was a silly show more interested about sexual escapades in history than the history itself, but it led to other opportunities, including a talk at a large book event.

So I guess I would say... it depends on the content of the blog. Mine has been extremely valuable, and you never know who will see it, read it, and decide they want to interview you. Blogs can be a lot more personal than websites since they are updated more often, and this fresh content leads to return visitors and possibly even more hits than the author's website itself.

If an author has an idea for a blog which won't grow stale for them (or readers), I think it can only be a bonus (so long as the author doesn't embarrass him/herself or create drama in the publishing community on that blog).

Chatty Kelly said...

I like to live in my happy place that some agent will stumble upon my blog and be SO impressed with my writing, that they engage me to write something for them.

It could happen you know.

Josephine Damian said...

I think for a blog to be an effective sales tool, a first-time author needs to start blogging at least six months prior to book launch, and hit the blogosphere hard with regular, pithy posts in order to building up a large enough following come book launch day.

A lot of first-time authors wait too long to start blogging.

Adaora A. said...

A blog is a web presence, a web presence means people who find themselves interested in your work can attempt to conact you. Web presence is advertising. People see you, your work, and it makes them remember you. They could automatically link you to their blogroll and people who read their stuff, are automatically connected to you. It's a wonderful circle.

Josephine Damian said...

Nothing turns me off faster to an author and their blog if their blog is all or mostly BSP about their book.

People read blogs for new, ever-changing, interesting, informative, entertaining content.

BUY MY BOOK!
BUY MY BOOK!
BUY MY BOOK!

is not interesting etc. blog content.

Laurel Amberdine said...

I believe there was a good panel on this at the recent WorldCon. (I wasn't there, but I heard it discussed.)

The consensus was that writers should spend time making their books awesome. Once you have an awesome book, then make sure people can find out about it... but until then, book-spiffing-time is going to pay off better.

(I just noticed the tab for your page truncates the title to say "Nathan Bransford - Lite" ... where do get the full-calorie version? *g* )

Yvonne said...

Here's a extract from the Font Agency blog:
http://www.fontlitagency.com/blog

"As some of you know, Font recently ran a Virtual Book Tour (VBT) for Orna Ross’s first novel, Lovers’ Hollow. This book was published in 2006 and was higly successful, getting unanimously good reviews and reaching, and holding for weeks, a #2 slot in the bestseller lists (just below The Devil Wears Prada).

But, as happens with almost all first novels, activity had quietened in the year-and-a-half since publication. The VBT changed all that, as other bloggers featured Orna and her book on their blogs.

“I started receiving emails from readers all over the world who had bought the book on Amazon,” says Orna. “The VBT brought Lovers’ Hollow to readers who would never have heard of me or the book. I now have a long list of people who want to be informed when my new book, A Dance in Time, launches in September so they can buy it. It has been a real boost to Lovers’ Hollow and I will definitely organise another VBT for A Dance in Time.”

I heard about Orla Ross from several blogs that I read, (usually a question and answer session about writing in the comments section) and I'm sure I wouldn't have heard of her if it wasn't for these blogs featuring her novel.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say that more than once I've read a blog and decided against purchasing the authors' books, because they sounded like such a ____.

(fill in the blank with whatever word you find appropriate.)

In addition, I've gone on a blog AFTER falling in love with an author's book and was disappointed by the self-importance of that author. Now I can't pick that book up without having to overcome that writer's personality.

Also, I've found that clever writers can have blogs that are so well done, clever beyond clever... yet when you read their books you find that sort of "clever" really is just annoying when it's presented in a 250 page book format.

(So... I'm with Josephine D. on this, I really just want the book.)

Dan said...

Nathan,

Has YOUR blog led to signing a client?

If not, I'm sure numerous readers have at least been helped by your advice even if you didn't sign them.

Nathan Bransford said...

Dan-

Definitely. Here's one success story.

ORION said...

I asked this question to the readers of my blog- The answer seemed to be that a few more books are sold. It can't be the exclusive reason for a blog. The real advantage for me has been accessibility to book clubs and foreign readers. While I agree with Josephine that a blog exclusively about an author's book is not interesting to most readers - it does serve as a connection and outreach to other writers and authors.
I can't post every day but I do post regularly - not so much as to get in the way of my "real" writing...
I think author Tess Gerritsen's blog is a perfect example of great interaction.

A Paperback Writer said...

I don't know what's true for the rest of the world, but here are my own personal results:
I've bought several books because they were reviewed on bookshelves of doom.
I bought more Neil Gaiman books because I liked his blog so much.
I stopped reading another YA author's books and blog because she spent so much time on her blog criticizing school teachers who assign classics to be read.
I bought another new author's book because I liked his blog, hated the book, will not buy another, but continue to read his blog.
So, my personal experience shows that blogs have an affect on me and my book buying. And I expect I am not alone in this.

Michelle Moran said...

I agree, Orion. I really enjoy Tess' blog.

Erik said...

I think they can - if the blog is about the author's motivations and stylistic influences. Some people want additional clues as to what the book is really about, and the blog can explain that. Free samples of shorter works probably help as well for the same reason.

I believe that the whole "author as celebrity" routine is desperately over-played, and if the blog is all about that I don't think it'll sell a copy. Self-indulgent people aren't fun to read about, much less read their craft.

Polenth said...

Blogging is a low time investment. You can fit it while you have a moment in the evening. It's not like you'd be out book-signing or doing a radio interview in that time. And it does work, if the book is good. Loyal blog readers will buy books and blog about it. Their blog readers will buy the book and blog about it. It builds up.

Most of my recent book purchases have been from online recommendations. Some directly from the blogging author. Some from a person a few steps down the line. It does need to be a good blog though. I don't like blogs that constantly talk about 'buy my book' and how many words they've written today. I do like blogs that have interesting posts. I also like an author's website, with sample chapters and the like. I don't want to have to dig through blog posts for that information.

Kimber An said...

My opinion is based on my experience as a blogging book reviewer at enduringromance.blogspot.com

It really depends on the Author and Genre/Subgenre.

Some authors are great bloggers, like Patricia Wood. Some authors are good, but don't have much time. They do well with group blogs. And some authors really should stay off the Web completely, except for a basic author's website they have little to do with personally. They may be perfectly wonderful in person, but not have the talent for a web presence.

When it comes to marketing, authors really need to go where their audience is. For example, authors of any flavor of Science Fiction had better realize their readers are computer saavy and all over the Internet. They'd darn well better get themselves out there too! If they're not so good at blogging, they should explore other options for making a love connection with their readers via the Internet.

RED STICK WRITER said...

I would not buy a book solely on the basis of a blog or a website. After discovering a blog or a website that piques my interest, I will search for other information about the writer and works, including reading that ever important first page or few.

The big grab doesn't necessarily have to absolutely be on the first page, though evidence of quality writing does, but I do like to like to experience whiplash early on. I like my entry into a suspense novel to simulate the back side of the first hill on a great rollercoaster.

That folks are kind enough to spend time on blogs and websites for the piquing is something for which I am grateful. Speaking of piquing, when is Nathan's book coming out? More research.

Lapillus said...

I think author blogs definitely help promote aspiring authors. I’m not very good at it myself but I certainly enjoy reading the blogs of other authors. I have found quite a few authors via their blogs and fully intend on purchasing their books once they are released (many are debut novels.)

Websites on the other hand have been more interesting to me on a post-read perspective. If I really like a book and am thirsting for more info on the book or author I always see if the author has a website.

intotheforest said...

Maybe this is relevant: Yesterday I visited Kelly Gay's blog because she posted the query on it for the book she has coming out next year. I was looking for examples of good query letters. I ended up bookmarking her blog so that I can keep an eye on things and know when the book comes out because it sounded so interesting. I've also visited other author's blogs and decided to buy their books. I don't decide to buy their books based on blog posts about other topics, but the blog can bring them to my attention so that I know they exist and then I look up what they've written and if it sounds interesting I'll purchase it.

The thing is that walking into a bookstore can be kind of blind. It's hard to find new authors that way, at least for me. On the other hand, if I stumble across the writer's blog I can check their work out right there (assuming they talk about it or give links to places where I can learn more) and I've actually bought quite a few books based on websites and blogs that I wouldn't have bought otherwise because I didn't know they existed or they aren't available in my local bookstore (a very small store with a limited selection).

Dave F. said...

Sure a blog or website can help sell books. It's like a networking site. The author has to talk up the book or get people interested in some way. I've bought books solely based on web chit-chat and recommendations. I have as much luck getting a book I enjoy as my browsing the bookstore.

Mary said...

Because of everyone's comments today and yesterday, I bit the bullet and started a website. So I hope that everyone's right and it will help me find readers eventually.

I have a question for those who have been blogging for a long time-have you run into any problems from using your real name? I've read so much about protecting my identity on the internet, and it worries me to have content out there that's not scrubbed of all identifying information. Does anyone regret having put all their information out there?

Scott said...

I don't think I've ever purchased a novel because of a blog, but I think I've bought at least one non-fic book partially because of a review on a blog. The book I'm thinking about was already on my want list, and a blog review pushed it over the edge into a must-have.

Not saying I wouldn't check out a novel after reading about it in a blog, but I haven't yet, and the blog itself isn't likely to make me buy, although it might make me aware of the book's existence.

A Web site, on the other hand, could be more influential. If, for example, I'm checking out the Web site of an author I recently discovered, and there's a page listing her other books. I might buy one of them, if it looks interesting, and might even use the Web site to buy it, thinking that the author might see more of the money.

Scott said...

Oh, and one other thing. I once had an editor contact me because of something she saw on my Web site. It was ultimately a rejection because the book was for a younger audience than what she was looking for, but in that particular case, it was helpful to have a site.

I understand that it's rare for editors and agents to go out trolling for authors, but I know first hand it has happened at least once.

Anonymous said...

I will not create the web promo machine (author website (myrealname.com), blog, myspace, facebook, tiwitter, tweeter, youtube, etc) until I have signed my first pub ocntract. Then I go. Until then I prefer to remain anon and focus on the writing and getting a deal.

Rebecca said...

I've certainly bought and read a few books based on blogs I like, but only a few. Mostly it goes the other way around -- I google an author and discover he or she blogs. But my opinion of the author's blog definitely changes my opinion of the author's other works, at least a little. One writer whose blog is all about his books with heavy overtones of "aren't I awesome? look how many people have emailed me to tell me that!" I've grown really ambivalent towards. On the other hand, another writer whose books I was sort of so-so on turned out to have a charming, lovely blog; now I buy all of her books the day they're released because I feel sort of like she's my friend and I want to support her.

I worry for my own blog. I do a lot of media analysis and don't try and hide my political biases within...I know that can be offputting, but then again, it also informs my writing a lot.

Tracy Madison said...

As a debut author whose first book is being released in 2009, and someone who just began blogging this week, I read your post and all the comments with great interest.

I don't know if author blogs help sell more books, but I think (in most cases) it can't hurt. More to the point, it gives the author a place where they can connect with readers and writers, and can share their voice, ideas, and hopefully do a bit of entertaining.

Of course, I LOVE blogs. I have a list of them bookmarked I read everyday, and yes, there have been many times I've bought a book based on a blog.

Anonymous said...

How about a separate website for the book itself (with fancy flash intro, and flash games basedon the book), and one for the author?> OVerkill?

Book trailers?

Erik said...

I want to echo the point that blogging is a low-time commitment. I never take more than about 20 minutes to write an entry. Granted, that means there are horrible mistakes such as words that are used twice in the same sentence which shouldn't be, but in the blog world that is forgiven.

If I did a real edit it might take me 30 minutes tops to do an entry. Your blog shouldn't take any longer than that, which is to say you can do it while eating lunch.

Jessica said...

Coming from a reader's point of view, most author blogs are useless and pointless. I don't want to hear all about their new book.

However, I am a faithful reader of Joshilyn Jackson's blog. Because of it, I knew when her second and third books came out. And it definitely keeps her on my radar. But the reason I like her blog is because it's a really good blog, plain and simple.

I don't think an author should go about blogging unless they have something good to offer.

Anonymous said...

The other reason I prefer to remain anon until I gave a deal is becasue I don't want my real name coming up under goog searches about writing novels if I'm not published. OTherwise it just looks like an embarrasing hobby that might nmake prospective dayjob employers wonder about me.

So, pre-deal, I skip the web promo. POst-deal and pre-pub, I go into major web promo mode.

Heather said...

I've bought books based on reader blogs. That's usually how I discover the author and his/her Web site/blog.

>For example, authors of any flavor of Science Fiction had better realize their readers are computer saavy and all over the Internet

Oh my gosh, that is *so* true! Heh heh. *waves to Kimber An*

Speaking of this topic, Smart Bitches has a great post about it right now as well.

Mary, no one can guarantee that using your real name will not result in any kind of problem/danger. That’s always going to be a risk. However, I’ve encountered more and more people using their real names so I think the risk is less than it might have been years ago. I also think setting limits and establishing clear boundaries can go a long way toward protecting yourself.

Stephen Parrish said...

Maybe the question isn't so much, "Is blogging effective?" but rather, "Will not blogging make me look out of the loop?"

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lupina said...

I've been contacted by two different publishers who found me from my Web sites, and I received book assignments/contracts from each. They each also BOUGHT stuff I had posted on the sites and I had to remove the material. It can and does happen. I believe publishers with specific needs will go a'Googling for them like anyone else.

I did not spend a bundle on designers, either. My Web sites are made by moi, not flashy, but content-rich.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth said...

Do author blogs "work"? I think that depends on the author, the book, and the blog.

If an author has a boring blog, I'm going to assume they also have a boring book. Is that unfair? Probably. But if an author can't keep my attention for 200 words, who's to say she can keep it for 70,000 or more? There's more to life than the tuna fish sammich you had for lunch or your hubby's addiction to Activia. That's all I'm saying.

I've bought several books after having found the author's blog. I've also made sure to never buy certain authors ever again after reading their blogs.

If a blog is well-written and entertaining, no doubt I'll have more interest in the product she's trying to sell.

But if all she wants to do is whine about her publisher, her agent, her lack of sales, the negative review someone left on Amazon.com, etc, etc, etc, I'm gonna look the other way. Again, that's probably unfair, but that's how it is. Too much "woe am I" melodrama makes me think the author doesn't take her job seriously. And if she doesn't take it seriously, why should I?

Luc2 said...

Personally, I have little time and even less inspiration when it comes to blogging. Writing a blog is different from writing a novel. My blog sucks, and better no blog than a bad blog. I'll just focus on writing the best books I can.

Ameya said...

Well, I know that Stephenie Meyer's web presence definitely influenced me to get into her series. I friended her on myspace and scoured every inch of her site before I made the leap and started reading her stuff. I thought it was too cool that she was so web savvy (I'm showing my age there).

That kind of connection is important these days. I follow blogs of a lot of other YA authors, and every single one of them I hadn't heard of until that blog, but then I found and read their stuff. So, for me, yes, it definitely does. Especially on the smaller authors who communicate with the fans on said sites. I have no problem reading a mediocre book by a blogger I like. I go to a bookstore and I library and the sheer volume of books i've never heard of can be intimidating so while the spines of their books might not stand out, those authors do, and I will be more willing to spend my time and money on them.

The Podler said...

It all depends on how the blog is handled. And its worth remembering that posting the wrong thing on that blog could also cause people to stop buying that author's books.

Perhaps if it is an adjunct to the books, giving more information relating to the book, then it may make sense, but who wants to read just random thoughts about the writer's life? Added a new section to your house? Cool, but why should we be interested in that?

Erik said...

Wanda, I want to echo how important it is to not treat your blog like a kind of diary. I think it is far better to not have a blog than to have one that has entry after entry reading something like, "Today I had the large latte at Starbuck's" or whatever small thing was going on.

Narcissism doesn't look good on anyone, but it's especially bad when you're trying to sell something we might call "intellectual property". That generally requires intellect.

BTW, wanda, could you send me an e-mail? I'd like to chat and yours is anon. If you don't mind being less anon, that is. Thanks.

Jen said...

My experience as an unpublished author: I started a website a few years ago (back in 2004) because I wanted feedback on my writing from people who didn't know me.

I found software that let me protect my novels, so that only those with validated accounts could read them (and so I could keep track of how many people were reading).

I've just recently started looking for an agent, but I can tell you that my website and the visitors who keep coming back are the ones who keep me writing.

There is no better feeling as an unpubbed writer than knowing I've hooked someone who has no reason to be nice to me, or encourage me in any way.

Today, I have a very active website, a great pack of beta readers, and over 1,000 fans in 17 different countries.

If I never see my books on a bookstore shelf, I'll probably be a little disappointed. But knowing there are people in other countries talking about my characters...that's pretty awesome in it's own right!

Not to mention, there isn't a single one of them who wouldn't jump at the chance to be able to lie on their couch, the beach, or their bed with a paper copy of my books. And I can say that because I'm harassed, on regular occasion, to use a POD press and publish them myself. :)

So for me, having a website has been an amazing source of support and a hell of a lot of fun.

Sam Hranac said...

Well said, Josephine Damian. To that, I would like to add that it's kinda like fishing. A good book is the bait, so it comes first in attracting attention. The blog-sphere is the pond. (Man, I'm really reaching here - stay with me.) So you dangle your good book into the pond and sure enough, some fishy readers start nibbling. this activity increases interest, and soon more readers swim up to see what's going on. Now you're using your blog to increase sales on an existing book.

A good example of this is the Monster Blood blog (http://monsterbloodtattoo.blogspot.com/).

Kara said...

For me the determining factor is - is it a good blog? If, as an author, you're going to have a blog there's no point in doing it half-heartedly. You can tell the difference between authors who have a blog because they 'have to' and those who actively use theirs to engage with their readers.

Two of my favourite authors have recently branched out into a new genre. It's not one that I would ordinarily purchase, but because I enjoy their blog so much and, in a weird virtual way, feel like they are friends, I'll be buying their new book. If it wasn't for their blog and the great way that they engage their readers with it, I can confidently say I definitely wouldn't be.

There are a lot of great authors out there, whose writing I enjoy equally. For me, a great blog, is one of the things that helps catapult some of those authors from the 'will be nice to buy if I get around to it' category up to the 'am pre-ordering on Amazon so I get it as soon as its out' few.

Because I don't live in the States, I purchase a lot of my books on Amazon and don't always have the opportunity to do the 'first page' test

So, if there is a debut author and I'm tossing up between buying their book or going with a 'tried and true' author, one of the first things I will do is Google that new author to see if they have a blog, and if so have a read. There are definitely a couple of new authors that I recently took a chance on simply because I enjoyed their blogging style.

Kara

sex scenes at starbucks said...

One thing I'm not really seeing addressed here (I read half the comments, so apologies if I missed something) is that blogging is as much or more about "going calling" at other blogs as it is about writing pithy posts and sitting back waiting for adoration. The best bloggers (by which I mean: the most fun to read) are often the best at visiting.

Also, I simply can't stand bloggers who don't reply to their readers. I don't mean reply to every single commenter, but sometimes drop in your own comment trail, for pete's sake.

Nathan Bransford said...

I'd like to second SS@S -- good blogging is incredibly time-consuming, especially in the beginning. The networking, commenting, getting the word out, spending time writing something people will want to read.... all of that takes time, and it adds up fast. If someone is just dashing off blog posts they're either already at a level where they don't need to invest as much time anymore, or they're not doing it right.

Amy Nathan said...

I don't have book to blog about, yet, but I'll tell you that I have bought books from every single author whose blog I read. I have also bought some books by authors whose agents blogs I read.

I think blogs do sell books.

As a reader I end up feeling like I have a connection to the author. That's always a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Depends on the conternt of the blog too:

I don't like the blogs where the authors get too personal--I don't care about your pet cat, or that your in-laws are visiting, or even that you're on page 233 of your next ms.

My author blog will be strictly professional: news of major developments, ie, the mass market paperback of XYZ drops on x date, movie rights have been sold to balhblah, book store signing on y date, character contrst, check out the new trailer,,,,check out pictures from vacation while researching next novel...that kinda thang.

No personal chat on the blogs.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I have a question for those who have been blogging for a long time-have you run into any problems from using your real name?

I've been online four or five years and have had very few weird experiences (mostly a few oddities from MySpace). I started out anon, but now googling my real name often comes up with Sex Scenes, so I'm pretty well out of the closet now. Bloggers are truly some of the kindest, best-hearted folks out there, friendly in the truest sense of the word. It's not to say there aren't problem bloggers, but generally ignoring them makes them go away.

Anonymous said...

You may laugh at this, but I've purchased a LOT of books based on agent's blogs (both their recommendations and their client's work), and what's hilarious: is to read one of their client's books and to find the very things the agent's say you should never do, like having characters waking as the books intro. Do as I say, not as I do, I guess. I have purchased a few book based on author's blog, but not as many as based on agent's blogs.

Kate Lord Brown said...

Is this a chicken and egg question? In the UK at least we have had the dazzling success of Wife in the North, and most high profile journalists seem to have very active blogs. Personally if I'd realised blogging was this much fun I would have done it years ago - but writing a blog about writing has no relation to my 'real' work (though both can be done in your uggs and pyjamas).

Anonymous said...

I'm a great admirer of bloggers, but, as a fiction writer, I find that it takes energy away from my fiction writing, rather than adding to it. For me, it would be an excuse.

(Why do we do that? Put obstacles in front of what we really love.)

I am so thankful, though, for those of you who do blog!

Any publicity I received (if that was my goal in blogging) would not be worth the effect it would have on my fiction. The time we have in this life is so short, and the amount of energy finite.

VELMA SABINA!!! said...

two words: DIABLO CODY

ChrisEldin said...

Great post!!
We have a team blog that promotes authors for free. It's a Book Roast, and we've had great success so far.
We are matchmakers--authors with their fans (YAY!)
Fun, interactive, and humorous. Everyone wins. It's completely free.

www.bookroast.blogspot.com

Our next roast is coming up...

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

I agree with SS@S, “going calling” is a vital part of blogging, and a key distinguisher between websites and blogs.

Whether blogs sell books depends on the blog; a great blog will certainly help sales. But the blog is ancillary to the book, which, ultimately, succeeds or fails on its own merit.

Kristin Laughtin said...

In my own experience, I've only read author blogs that I've seen recommended somewhere. Yes, I've gotten interested and bought books by some of those authors, but I would never have looked for their blogs on my own. However, I do visit author websites without any outside influence, and those tend to get me more interested in their books. Webpages are usually just more focused than blogs, and I learn more about the product they want to sell--the book. If they have a link to their blog, so much the better, but blogs aren't the first thing I seek out.

Erik said...

Nathan said:
If someone is just dashing off blog posts they're either already at a level where they don't need to invest as much time anymore, or they're not doing it right.

You're right. I forgot what a big network I had to start with and how I built it up. Quality will get the word of mouth working, but you do have to start it.

I think that's why I came here at first, frankly. :-)

Jolie said...

Donald Maass is great and all, and it's true that what's inside the book is what makes it sell.

Unless nobody knows it exists. That's where the Internet comes into play, and it's important to take advantage of this vastly useful tool because promotional space in print media is hard to come by.

I'm too broke right now to buy books, but since I really got into reading publishing/author blogs, I add at least one book to my Amazon wish list every week so that I'll remember them later. Most of these books I will eventually buy or borrow from a library. The ones I like, I'll promote online and recommend to my family/friends.

Chumplet said...

Blogging friends have bought my book and told me so. As a matter of fact, I think my only sales came from fellow bloggers!

I know some authors who spend a great amount of time on their web presence, and it results in sales. But I don't have that kind of time with family and work, so I simply do what makes me most comfortable.

If my next book garners an agent or a big contract, I think I'll kick it up a notch, but not until then. For now, I'm just enjoying myself.

Adaora A. said...

Donald Maass is great and all, and it's true that what's inside the book is what makes it sell.

Unless nobody knows it exists. That's where the Internet comes into play, and it's important to take advantage of this vastly useful tool because promotional space in print media is hard to come by.

That's what I'm saying. Even hiring an advertising professional (PR), and doing other things to promote your book - which I've heard can cost money before you make money from it - is taxing. And here is a way that is free, fast efficient, and shoves you right into the screens of people's computers, and makes them know you exist. That your book exists.

Tom Burchfield said...

I agree with Adoara that it can play an important role in promoting my book, but by itself it means nothing, if the book is garbage; I could not see focusing every one of my little feuilletons on the writing process, but when I do I always try to induce a little guilt in the readers; threats are useful, too ("Hair will grow in the palms of your hands if you do not buy . . . .")

Anonymous said...

As an avid reader, I love nothing more than finishing a book I really enjoyed and then going to an author blog or website where I get more info about the book, the story (deleted scenes, extra backstory, etc not included in the book) and updates on when more books are coming out. It may not have sold me on the book that I just read, but it can definitely sell me on other books by the author that I have not read yet or are to be published in the near future. And frequent updates are a must to keep me coming back until the newest book is printed and on sale!

April Hollands said...

Surely a writer sells blogs and books. If a blog influences the sale of books or vice versa, it's surely the quality of the writing rather than the mechanism used that's important. I'd prefer to be writing rather than reading (www.lefrancophoney.com - shameless plug which will no doubt be removed).

In the same vein, I've read very few books in the past few years. Someone who asked me about my novel thought it absurd that a writer doesn't read. Why? I'd like to know how many books Shakespeare read, and if he had read more, would his originality and ability to create so many now commonly-used words (like 'extraordinary') have been hindered?

Karen Duvall said...

Of course having a blog doesn't "sell" more books. I imagine a blog will satisfy fans who already love your books, though.

I think of blogging more like having a telephone number. Everybody has one, and if you don't, you're somehow out of sync with society.

That's not entirely true... yet. But I can almost guarantee it will be before long, especially for authors. Same with (gag) myspace, which I'll resist for as long as possible.

K.C. Shaw said...

I've bought books because I liked the author's blog. Just recently, for instance, I bought two of Elizabeth Bear's books because I enjoy her blog so much. I figured it was a way to thank her for entertaining me, and the books look good too.

I started my own blog almost a year ago and try to post daily. It's not a great blog and I don't spend as much time expanding my web presence as I should, but I figure I'll kick into higher gear when I've got more to sell.

I also have a website (amateurish but at least it doesn't play music/have crappy eye-straining fonts/show pictures of me or my family, etc.). It's solely so people who Google me have an "official" page to land on besides my blog. I link to magazines where my stories are available, and update the page any time there's a change. I'm always surprised at how many hits it gets.

JES said...

Oh man. I feel SO ambivalent about this question...

First, I have sometimes (but rarely) bought a book based strictly on an author's blog. I've been delighted to find blogs about favorite book series, too (although I discovered the series well in advance).

One of the experiments I'm trying with my own blog is keeping track of the blogs of "writers to be read" -- that is, writers whose work I expect to read, someday, in book form, but whose work doesn't yet appear that way. I find these people in the comments sections of other (agent, editor, author) blogs and can pretty much guarantee I'll pick their books up. But established authors' blogs? Meh.

The main ambivalence I'm feeling is about how much time I spend blogging (not blog READING, but blog WRITING). The comments here about spending 20-30 minutes on an entry couldn't be further from my experience. (I do tend to write longer "thought-y" entries, though.) And I have no idea if, let alone when, I'd actually see some return on the investment...

Well, thanks. Now I'm all upset. :)

Bethanne said...

Anonymous said...
I'm sorry to say that more than once I've read a blog and decided against purchasing the authors' books, because they sounded like such a ____.

I've had this happen to me, too. BUT, I do love to visit an author's blog, if I read his/her books. So, I think it should be there...available and fresh. Like the books I'm reading. :D

Rob said...

Oh, in my case, my blog has definitely impacted sales of my book, and the marketing campaign for the book has driven traffic back to the blog, so I think they continue to sort of feed off of each other. St. Martin's figured that out early and started tying the book to the blog URL almost immediately.

But in my case, the subject of the book and the focus of most of my blogging is the same, so there's definitely a sense of a continuing story happening online. When I stray from that subject matter (particularly in reference to book promotion, which I try to keep to a minimum), attention wanes.

So I think that building an audience through blogging and also maintaining a continuing connection with the potential book reader can be helpful. Just cold-starting a new blog, though? I'm not sure that would have much effect. There are a lot of blogs out there. Catching the world's attention is hard work.

cindy said...

michelle m, i bought your book because julianne d mentioned it on her blog--and i saw your comment. =D

and i don't know about blogs selling books (i'm not there yet), but it helped me land a picture book contract with my editor. (she googled me while my YA novel was on sub with her.) so no complaints here!

great discussion!

Anonymous said...

Nathan,

I have a question that's been bugging me lately. If you're querying to mulitple agents, then this is the best worst-case scenario. What if two or more agents request partials? Is it okay for you to send it to all of the agents, or should you choose one? It seems that you could throw away a potential agent if you chose only one, but if you sent it to all of them they might not like that. What do you suggest?

Marti said...

Yes blogging can sell books. But you have to create a web "presence" by getting the word out about your blog and your book(s). It involves visiting other blogs, leaving comments and being conversational, not always hard sell. It also means being active on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. It is all part of this new age of author-as-marketer.

I sold a book to someone who is a big name on Twitter, who then mentioned that they read and enjoyed the book, and from that single mention, I sold close to a hundred books. So I know the power of Internet connections.

I have been on the Internet for ten years. My picture, name, age, address and phone number are all out there and I've never had any problems. No stalkers or identity theft, and even the troll (hateful) comments are rare.

My advise is to make time for it - it will help you become better known and will almost certainly sell books.

Thank you for bringing this topic up, Nathan. I've really enjoyed reading everyone's take on this.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

(Why do we do that? Put obstacles in front of what we really love.)

Because what we love is hard.

I'm the opposite. Blogging often "warms me up" to the tougher business of fiction.

It's reading blogs (and leaving comments like this, my third on this post) that takes away from real writing. Curse you, Nathan Bransford, for coming up with a cool topic!!

Michelle Moran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
December/Stacia said...

I hate to sound mushy, self-important, or like I'm patting myself on the back, but a few people have mentioned how when they become regular readers of an author's blog they start to feel like that author is their friend, and it almost sounds like you guys think that's kind of silly or like you're naive or silly for saying/feeling it.

My regular blog readers have become friends. I occasionally have conversations with them outside the blog; when I have news they often know about it first, before it gets posted publicly. When they don't show up to comment for a while I might email to ask if everything is okay (we're talking people who comment every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for months, even years now).

So don't feel like you're unimportant or like the writers in question don't feel a connection with you, too. Because we do. Every person who reads and takes the time to comment on my blog is appreciated and cared about, and I know for a fact I'm far from the only one.

Michelle Moran said...

Thank you, Cindy! And how you juggle three fabulous blogs is beyond me entirely!

Anonymous said...

John Scalzi would say yes, author blogs do sell books. His first 2 were published on his site before being picked up by Tor. His fan base is huge - built on the blog before the first book came out.

Kizmet

ORION said...

After reading the rest of the comments and thinking about it more - I really think that successful blogging is one that creates a virtual community-
I've met fellow bloggers at my signings and at conferences- I've connected with people I might never have met-
As an author I value those connections. I don't see it as mercenary "trying to sell books" I see it as outreach.

gerriwritinglog said...

Author websites and blogs don't sell me on books. In fact, I don't usually go looking for either unless I want to know the next book's release date. Sometimes I stick around, esp. if the author is a. saying something doesn't show him/her to be a tit (yes, some do), b. saying interesting things that may or may not be related to writing, and/or c. is a friend in either real or cyberspace.

No, I'm afraid I'm old-fashioned. Blurb at the back of the book, plz, preferably in a bookstore. The story takes it from there.

Gabrielle said...

Oh, absolutely. I don't think author blogs sell first books, but they sell second and third. For example, if I like a book enough to google an author, I'll find their address and hopefully, blog. If the blog's well written and interesting, I'll add it to my Google Reader.

This means that several times a week (depending on how much the author posts), that author's life and work are in my mind. You can't buy that kind of publicity, and it works on me. I'm always updated on their latest stuff, know more about the actual books, etc. If authors are not blogging, they better already be bestselling and Today Show-worthy.

AstonWest said...

The blog (and sites such as MySpace) can be a great tool to network with other people and introduce yourself (and your book) to them. The website offers a spot to direct folks who are interested in you (and your book) and want to read more...like an excerpt.

I've had several folks read a blog (either Blogger or MySpace) and be interested in my work enough to want to buy my book.

Ultimately, success is going to be in those people enjoying the material between the covers and telling other people about it.

At least from the folks who've read advance copies, it sounds like it may prove successful for me.

:-)

Anonymous said...

Consensus:

The blogs are good for promo material ad having a result come up when someone searches for an autor's name.

But any content besides release dates is at your own risk of alienating potential or existing fans. Stick to business and you can't go wrong. Let the books do the talking, use the internet to point people to the books, not as a platform for content that is already in the books or may be in future books.

Heidi the Hick said...

I have 8 books on my shelf which I read about on blogs and decided I had to have.

Maybe I'd have seen then in the store and bought them, but that's not how it went. I read about the book, read the author's blog, got excited about the project, and ran out to buy it when it was released (or after there was money in the bank at least.)

Obviously the book has to grab my interest. I have to admit though, if the author turned me off on his/her blog I might think twice about supporting that person's writing career with my time and money. So far that hasn't happened. I have been impressed with most writer blogs I come across.

superwench83 said...

An author's blog alone won't make me buy a book. But if I like an author's blog and I read a review of the book and I also read an interview with the author and liked that, then yes. For me, no promotion tool by itself will sell me on a book. But a combination of them can definitely do that. This is why I think it's important to have several methods of promotion.

I agree with Nathan's comment as well as someone else's that yes, blogging is time consuming. It's more than just the thirty or so minutes you spend actually writing each post. Just as with writing a good novel, writing a good blog means brainstorming on ideas for interesting posts and doing research on the topics you want to post about. And I also agree that half of blogging is about visiting other blogs and making connections there. Not a single one of my blog readers came along just because they stumbled across the blog accidentally. I met these people at other blogs and writing forums. Getting new readers takes as much or more effort as writing the blog itself.

Nettie Hartsock said...

Great question! I think the one thing that might help the discussion to is to make it clear that your website can be your blog all in one. So for instance you can claim your book domain name or author domain name and run the whole site off a free blog platform. You have the best of both worlds in that case and you can control the content without depending on a web designer if you want to make updates.

If you're an author who doesn't have time to blog, that's ok too because you can still set up your pages on the blog platform and just have the latest news etc. on there without blogging all the time.

Jinx said...

I'm not certain that blogging sells books. I wouldn't think so. I buy books when I browse through a bookstore like B&N simply because I just like being there. It's one of my favorite stores. I do think that an online presence of some sort is helpful, although published authors should have someone who takes care of their site for them, and I think most do. I take care of my own, and you can probably tell. LOL As for blogging, I think it can be good or bad, depending on what the author blogs about. Mine's all over the place. =p I think once an author has found success, what they blog about is crucial to their career. Some things can be damaging. Since there are 91 comments as I write this, I'm not going to scroll to see who said what, but someone mentioned that they were turned off by an author's blog because she kept criticizing teachers for teaching the classics. I'll agree with that. I'd be turned off, too, but I have a big mouth sometimes, so I'd probably leave a comment or two as well, if possible. As an author, you don't want to lose readers. After all, that's your paycheck, right? There are ways to talk about things without being harsh about them. We teach the classics in school for a reason.

An ideal web presence is difficult to gauge. Obviously, an author shouldn't sit on the computer for hours on end (like me--hehe) blogging and whatnot. If they choose to blog regularly, like some agents I read, it can be done quickly, especially if you have something like this. Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Colleen Lindsay put that one up. =)

Book promotion is something I dread with every passing moment if I have to do it in person. I can't stand it. I'll do it with a smile on my face, but I don't like it. But, on the internet, no problem. It's a wonderful faceless void.

Oh wait, my picture is going to show up, isn't it? Blast!

The Wannabe Scribe said...

I don't Know if this has already been mentioned, but Old Man’s War by John Scalzi was first posted on his blog, and he mentioned in a recent post that his book sold because it was posted on his blog.

I bought Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades as result of reading his blog and other contact's such recommendations on Amazon and so on.

I also stumbled upon Jeff Somers through Janet Reid's blog, so blogs definitely sell books, to publishers and readers, how many and how often is another question...

The Wannabe Scribe said...

Oh yes John Scalzi has been mentioned LOL

Another thing, my blog is mostly crap, I've done some word count type stuff, but I keep it about my writing and the problems wannabes face with all the real world stuff they have to deal with (i.e. day jobs), and writing/publishing in general.

I don't use my real name, and at the moment I only blog when in work, because when I am at home I can write my novel. It keeps me writing even if it isn't fiction.

When the time comes I'll start a new blog and website to start promoting the book, but I need to get to the end of that first draft before I seriously consider that. There'll be small excerpts on there and anything else I can muster up.

I'll also start using my real name. It won't be the sort of dross I'm posting at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I wonder about collaborative blogs? Two or three authors working together on a single blog? Has anyone tried it?

Seems to me, a poor website is almost worse than none at all. Since blogs are a lot of work, I would think the shared responsibility would lead to double/triple exposure.

Car pool anyone? Mary

Maris Bosquet said...

Ohmy, my daywork made me lamentably late to this party, but I do so much want to add a positive something or two.

Do writers' blog sell books? In my case, YES. Writers' blogs opened my brain to writers, genres and styles I might never have discovered getting lost in a big box--I mean, book store or trolling through the sadly stocked local shop. And yes, even the lovely agency tool we know as Nathan's blog has introduced me to even more writers, published or not.

Mary,

I, for one, do use a pen name. It began in an attempt to keep my fiction writing apart from my real-life writing. I've since come to realize that DOZENS of people in this region also have my real name, so my clients probably never would have known it was moi writing all that stuff, anyway. It's since evolved into a matter of applying my real name to my comedic writing and the pen name to the work that reveals my more sensitive side and excavates the depths of misery, humanity, the reason for our being...JUST KIDDING! But I DO use the pen name for the serious work.

maryhaas said...

Thanks for the reassurance everyone. It's nice to hear that, at least in this group, the experiences using real names has been positive. As you can see, I'm using my full name this time!

Shruti said...

Nothing can sell a bad book. A blog is a good promotional tool and I think it can create a market, although small. Even when contacting an agent or an editor, having a website gives you a slight edge.

For me, a successful book is a combination of brilliant content and brilliant marketing. A blog can be one arrrow in your arsenal. :)

Scott said...

A lot of helpful and interesting stuff here. Thanks to all.

I don't actively try and sell my stuff on my blog for a few reasons. One, its not my personal style to push product all that hard, and I don't want it to damage my agent hunting in any way. However, I do open the floor for feedback to ideas and have been doing a serial novel/treatment for a few weeks now. At first, I thought I didn't want to give away "gems", but eventually my growing sense of insignificance in the universe won out. As a result, I keep to a tight schedule which I enjoy and I get feedback that inspires my next session.

I have referred to the blog in letters to prospective agents, as there is a lot to learn about me without it being all about me, if that makes sense. But any visitor will get some hard background/platform info and a feel for who I am. Also, if I'm doing my job, they may return to enjoy my live writing experiment. So far, a fair amount do on a regular basis, which has been cool.

My initial impetus for creating a blog was to attract anyone that connected with my vision, and if that lead to a professional relationship of some kind, great. Now, it also helps me focus and keeps me working on getting better. Writing is definitely more fun, as well, and that has to be a good thing.

Carolyn said...

I've been wondering about this for quite a while. I've been blogging since 2001. Has my blog sold books? I suspect the answer is mixed, just as the comments here are mixed between people who've bought based a blog and decided never to buy based on a blog.

This is really not much different from people who read an author's book and are either fans forever or determined never to read him or her again. The internet offers authors more ways to connect with readers while simultaneously providing more chances to put one's foot in one's authorial mouth. That's just life in the 21st century.

My blog is fun for me and it provides a way for some people to interact with me. I don't really view my blog as a sales tool, at least not directly, but as a tool that gives readers a reason to visit hang around my web presence while I'm in between releases.

What matters, though, is the book.

My agent checked out my website and blog before she signed me, by the way.

Ryan Field said...

I just bought a book this morning that I'm really looking forward to reading that was mentioned on Jenny Rappaport's blog. I bought an excellent book recommended on Jonathan Lyon's blog about Washington Irving. I bought LOTTERY because of a blog (Miss Snark) and loved it...I'm a huge fan of a talented young writer in LA, Jonathan Stephens, and I'm going to buy a short story he recently had published because of his blog. I bought Hank Phillipi Ryan's book because of a blog. I bought Neil Plakcy's book because of a blog. And there are more, too. I even bought a cook book as a gift for someone from Rachel Kramer Bussel's cupcake blog.

And I don't even spend that much time blogging; I don't have one of my own. So I think there's something to it.

Just_Me said...

Yes.

Although it wasn't an author's blog, it was a community blog where an author wrote. Janet Reid blogs on the Dead Guys blog once weekly, so I followed her over. Monday mornings Jeff Cohen blogs about random things. I love his sense of humor. I figured if I liked his blogging I would like his writing.

I do. I bought It Happened On Knife and enjoyed it. It's not my usual genre. It isn't something I would have grabbed off the shelf on my own. His blogging sold me on the story.

Scott said...

I'd like to add that, despite my nearly total immersion into the the internet and all its blogtastic glory, my book buying habits haven't really changed. Sure, I've hit amazon for an order, but I already read or heard about the book by then from a third party source. In truth, I love rooting about in book stores and can wander around them endlessly. I also love the tactile experience of buying a book. Often they're wonderful to touch, and a quick passage read on the fly can sell me far better than dozens of reviews.

That said, film and genre forums clue me in to lots of books and authors. But generally, I make mental notes and refer to them on my next visit to Borders and the like.

So I guess author blogs don't really sell me on authors, but I'm not ruling out the possibility that one might someday. If mine sells me to someone, that'd be fine, too.

Pema said...

I have bought books that were on author's blogs, simply because the author was one of my favorite bloggers, or I found out about her book from a her blog.

Of course, a writer's life should be about 75% her books and 25% of blog, but a blog definitely helps sell books.

sbarret said...

My 2 cents -

I've bought 3 authors based on their blogs. Folks I'd never heard of. So yes, I think it sells books. BUT as others have mentioned, you gotta have the book to sell first. So I think blogs help authors w/ books in print (or coming soon), and not so much for the unpublished authors.

As for what kind of content works? Not the Buy My Book stuff others have commented about. Otherwise, what I enjoy is a mix of the writing business w/ what the author's working on, with anything else. The point being - keep it entertaining, keep it short unless you REALLY have something to say worthwhile. Following a bunch of blogs means I have a short attention span ;-)

WitLiz Today said...

Probably not enough to burn your ass over the midnight oil in order to keep them up. The profit margin is simply too small going the traditional publishing route, because like 98% of all authors aren't selling their books like Dan Brown.

Readers determine who's gonna be the next Dan Brown. And there's still a kajillion readers out there who don't get on the internet much, if at all. So while a website/blog amps up your visibility to a degree, that can work for you or against you. An author needs to weigh more than a few factors if/when they decide to put one up.

For instance, supposing famous romance novelist Kermit decides to website/blog. What Kermit’s fans don’t know is that he likes to get real down and dirty when he’s not writing. He puts that on the blog. Reader fan goes into shock..........Pig farming? P ewwww….

As a reader, I don't particularly care whether an author has a website/blog. But if I’m excruciatingly bored one day, I could check it out. And yes, I might have visions of pigs grunting and poinking in my head the next time I read your romance novel. That might take some of the thrill away as you can imagine.

So, if an author is going to take the plunge and put a website/blog up, then they definitely want to sell the novel and not alienate their fan base.

And if I ever, God forbid, become one of dems famous authors, I’ll throw a site up, because at that point, I hope to have acquired enough credibility,(and wisdom) to give advice and support to the newbie writer.

Marti said...

I bought J.A. Konrath's books from reading his blog and website.

My Semblance of Sanity said...

I am a lurker and rarely comment here but I love this post. A very good friend of mine, and mommy-blogging-overnight-sensation, got a 6 figure, 2-book deal from agent presence on her BLOG!

She had never sent a manuscript anywhere, she was simply a really funny blogger who used ebay every now and then to pump up her blog hits.

Last summer, during one of her ebay auctions, she made history! She had been getting 40 hits a day and her hits skyrocketed to 530,000+ in 30 days!

Her books will be out next spring.
Hoping for the same luck through my humorous Mommy blog but I have a feeling this is a once in a lifetime gig!

Kim said...

I buy hundreds of dollars worth of books every year based on the blogs of the authors or on reviews I find on other authors' blogs.

nona said...

I had a blog; I wrote on it everyday; it was linked to my local writers group's website. I finally took it private because while the group seemed to like it because it was getting a lot of hits for their writer's site, they considered it more of a "guilty pleasure" than something they could really be "proud" of.

In art, as in life, there is no filter on my mouth . . . These days I pour all my artistic energy into my screenplay . . .

Nathan, when is your office going to open a branch in LA to read nothing but original screenplays? All it would take is a rented room, a desk, and a telephone. Oh yeah, and maybe a chair.

Kim Stagliano said...

Is it JA Konrath who counsels that if yous blog is a fun place to visit - a destination for readers - and not a "sales tool" then it can be helpful? Readers can smell a sales job a million bytes away. I agree. Readers know instantly if you're plugging yourself without adding value. I love my Kim blog because I've met so many wonderful people through it, and it has saved me millions in therapy bills. Not to mention Chivas.

I've bought books by authors because I feel like I've gotten to know them. And I like them. That said, I'm far less likely to go to author websites - because they are too static for my Tigger-like mind.

R. Daley said...

In short, yes.

For my more in depth perspective, first let me qualify its origin. This involves my experience as a writer and as an entrepreneur. I have a background in sales and marketing for a start-up software company (we have been growing steadily for over three years now) and I have learned a lot about the web and search engine optimization (SEO) that some of you may find useful.

As a writer, you are hoping to build and grow a successful business. To drive that business, you need sales. Sales are driven by marketing.

Websites that are optimized for search engines are a very powerful marketing tool. Wouldn't you love it if someone Googled a few words that go with the themes of your work and your website came up in the first few pages? Better yet, your name came up several times in the first few pages...

If you are talented (and lucky!) enough to land publishing contract, you can expect your publisher to invest their own resources in marketing your work, but the Internet is a big place, and every little bit counts.

One thing that is key in SEO is the frequency of information posted to a site. The major search engines look at the web constantly, and they remember what changes and what doesn't. If your site doesn't change over time, it will not maintain a high ranking (assuming, of course, you had one to start with).

Blogging is an excellent way keep posting original content, and there are free and easy tools to use. Blogging can drive traffic to your website and help to promote your work. It also keeps you writing every day.

Julianne Douglas said...

I have bought books because I liked the writer's blog. If I'm on the fence about buying a book, an entertaining or informative blog can tip the balance for a sale. If I like the author's presence in the blog, I'm more likely to give her book a shot.

I write historical fiction and use my blog as a way to familiarize potential readers with the time period I write about. I try to find interesting anecdotes about historical figures, events and daily life that will whet readers' appetites for novels set in the time period. My hope is that by knowing more about the historical background, they'll be more likely to pick up a novel set in the era when they see it in the bookstore. Plus, the blog is the place to post all the fun stuff that research turns up that doesn't fit into the story! But I agree with Nathan-- posting regularly is a very time consuming endeavor.

Will it translate into more readers? I don't know yet, but I do know that my readership has been steadily increasing. I hope that readers who enjoy my blog will also enjoy my books. I have fun getting to know readers of historical fiction and learning what they look for in hf novels.

Sesselja said...

I've bought books as a result of reading writers' blogs. And I have suggested authors whose novels I haven't even read to other readers, solely based on the autors' blogs. So yes, I'm easily duped by blogs.

Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

i've read this post and comments with interest-
My husband's a writer and doesn't like blogging. He believes his computer is for writing only.
I find this hugely frustrating as i can see the potential for reaching a wider audience through this medium.
So, i've taken matters into my own hands and started a blog about what it is like to be married to a writer and will incorperate his work into my blog, as seen through my eyes.
A bit like two stories in one.
Personally, although i'm no writer myself, i'm sure that blogging is a way forward for potential and published writers alike.

pabrown said...

Like Josephine Damian I used to believe you had to have an agent to be in this business. I had one, sold my first book and she quit being an agent, so back I was to square one. A couple of books in the same series ready to go, but no agent. So I wasted a year trying to get someone to even look at my stuff. Is it no good you ask? I think it's better than the book I sold. But none of the agents I sent it to would know, since they wouldn't even look at it. Since I have fans of the first book eager to gert their hands on more, I can't sit around waiting for someone to take me on, then go through the whole lengthy process of selling it, so I found a royalty paying publisher who is very excited to be publishing the next 2 books.

Yes,I blog, and belong to all the social networks as well as have a web site I'm in the process of revamping. I don't think there's a magic wand that can produce sales and I no longer think having an agent is some kind of panacea.

The only truly magic thing is writing a really good book that resonates with readers.

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