This will be a strange way to begin a guide to blogging, but I want to save you time, trouble, and heartache: The average author does not benefit much from blogging.
Yet blogging is still recommended to authors as a way to market and promote. Why? Because blogging does work, if certain conditions are met. The problem is that few authors meet those conditions. This post will delve into what it means to blog successfully and in a meaningful way for an author’s long-term platform and book marketing efforts.
For clarity: I define “blogging” as publishing material to a site that you own and control—usually your author website. Blogging is sometimes conflated with online writing for other websites or blogs, but that’s not what I’m discussing in this post.
Living In Interesting Times
This updated article crossed my facebook feed at just the right moment. I’ve been contemplating how to go about making this blog more relevant to what I write, and more plugged in with the works of fellow writers. I was on a potential right track (or at least part of a right track) earlier this year, but I felt unqualified to write monthly how-to articles when I’m still trying to push my own novels across the finish line.
Jane Friedman’s advice resonates for several reasons. Like several writers I know or have read about, my story was overtaken by reality in 2016-2017. It’s the risk writers in my genre run, writing about characters set in a near-future dystopia. The flip-side of the risk is this: each day’s headlines pose a series of what-ifs that can be incorporated into my story if I can extrapolate far enough. Not since the Cold War have current events and cautionary fiction so closely mapped against one another.
I’m not the only writer facing these challenges. I have an opportunity to study what is working and not working for other writers in my subgenre. And, I have an opportunity to write about where the trends I see may lead. The saying, “May you live in interesting times” is purported to be an ancient Chinese curse. The saying is aptly demonstrated as a curse in real time this year. But its origins are not Chinese at all. Stephen DeLong started researching this quotation in 1996, and managed after several years to trace it back to a 1950’s science fiction story: U-Turn by Duncan H Munro, a pseudonym for Eric Frank Russell. How apropos!
In 2018, I will read more. And I will blog more about my genre and about where it’s headed in these unusual and troubling times. And most importantly, I will story-write more.
Watch this space.