To Blog or Not to Blog…Does it matter as long as a writer writes?

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image: Graphics1796

So you’ve taken the first steps toward writing a novel. Congratulations! Holy carpel tunnel, what an undertaking!

Aside from a novella pubbed with a small house, and a self pubbed short story, I’m new to the journey of writing longer bodies of work. With a couple of novels closing in on completion, I thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the notion of blogging before your novel is finished.

So why blog at all? Why have a website before the writing is ready?

To answer, let’s measure some good points and limitations of blogging as a fiction writer, because if you’re like me-already writing every night-you need good reason to write some more!

Do you really need a blog or website?  I’m tempted to answer, “Hell Yes,” but that’s a short answer for a long journey. Asking two questions can help determine if having a blog or website is right for you:

  • Am I writing for myself or an audience?
  • What do I want the blog to do for me or my intended audience?

Well, consider what you are writing for.

If time spent at your keyboard produces content intended for just you or your friends and family: It is a closed circle of reader ship. In this case you’re probably fine without a blog unless you want to use it as a meeting place to share writing efforts. However, a blog is a great way to venture into new territory as a writer as well as learning time management.

A FEW TIPS

  • Get a timer. Dedicate a specific amount of time to your goal of writing daily, and don’t move from the keyboard until your designated time is up!
  • Explore other blogs for inspiration to hit the keys more often.
  • Link and share your thoughts and experiences with others beyond your current circle. Lots of friendly bloggers would enjoy reading your stuff…just enjoy theirs, comment and invite them to visit yours!

If you are a fiction writer, with an eye on publication: Whether you want to submit a 7,000 word short story for a magazine or anthology, or a George Martin-esque length novel, you want to begin building a name, a platform to launch your work and your presence. One of the simplest ways  is creating a public blog. As with a personal blog, a public blog can help you get into the habit of writing every day, as well as discovering an enormous community of online interaction and support for mutual interests and efforts.

When marketing my book *Stealing Time  I blogged and interacted with a lot of people. It didn’t feel like marketing, but a direct result of blogging vs not blogging was more book sales. *published under a nom-de-plume 2012 by Musa Publishing

A fiction author who blogs on a website and participates in bloghops and giveaways builds both brand and sales. Bonus: It’s fun!

  • A blog or website offers exposure. Your blog combined with email subscriptions is the marketing tool for your name.
  • Write a blogpost-geared idea every few days even if you’re not ready to post yet.
  • Once a week choose one of those ideas and expand it to around 50o words and you’ll have built a blogpost.
  • Balance Writing Goals: Hit your daily fiction writing goal first, then work in thirty minutes for your blogging goals. A timer helps.
  • Share what other writers and bloggers are doing that intrigues you. Post a link to their content from your site.
  • Build your blog audience through an email list; an email subscription button can make it easy for them to take action.
  • Consider creating a free newsletter to offer visitors who subscribe to your blog. ‘Cause giving back is beautiful. And you’ve learned so much from their blogs and input, too!
  • PS If you’re looking for my subscribe button, I’m in process of figuring how to add it and learn how it works using Mail Chimp. There is a Mail Chimp plug in, I believe, for WordPress that allows people to subscribe, and if I understand it right, maybe triggers a news letter message? I’ll tell you how this works in a post next week!

So. Now you are a blogger who aspires to submit fiction work for publication. Here’s the catch: You haven’t typed a short story in weeks. You have penned no poetry, and the deadline to submit it cannot be seen from your rear view mirror. Oh, and what about your manuscript? What manuscript? You’ve been so busy interacting and tapping away at the keys for your various social media sites that you forgot your original purpose.

WRITING

Blogging is a fantastic social/marketing tool. But best of all? It sucks your time away and you won’t even see it happening. Don’t let it be your master. Let it serve you while you write and serve others.

Unplug and WRITE.

Manage your social media time and don’t let it become a timesuck. Narrow your focus to one or two blogposts per week until your writing goals are completed. Your time will free up for finishing that 300 page doozy stewing in your brain. Hit the keyboard with an eye to target that submission deadline, or create an imaginary deadline because the person who submits is ahead of the pack.

Then consider blogging again.

If your brain needs a change of pace from the current WIP (Work in Progress) but you still want to write every day, that’s a perfect excuse to blog.

My own MS in progress is just past 150K words, earning me a late salmon supper and a bit of time to update this blogpost. Oh…and coffee. The writing is delicious when spiked with liquid roast-heaven in a cup.

Cheers!

Kate Dancey

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Write to Pub Wednesday: A Social Media Market List

MARKET DAY!

Hi Folks!

When you take a trip to the local market do you have a habit of tossing a motley group of unconnected items into your basket? What’s the problem with that strategy, you ask?

Purchase too much or too little and you wind up spending your time and money on random things that don’t work together to make a good meal, or you wind up with lots of  spoiled goods, which is like tossing money into the trash bin. For a better way to shop just make a list before you hit the market.

The same strategy can work for your visibility as a new author, or as a writer on the road to publication. You want to develop a marketing platform which can bring you into the blogo-sphere and put your name out in front of the world! So what do you need to achieve this feat? A MARKETING LIST.

List One: BLOG

Start with something cost effective. If you can get it free of charge, even better. The simplest way to keep your promotional costs low and get into the habit of engaging with your future audience is with a BLOG. There are several great sites in which to explore this arena. Try one of the following sites to nab a free blogsite and begin building your web presence and your brand.

http://www.wordpress.com

http://www.blogspot.com

http://www.weebly.com

Choose a blogsite, build some content and personality into it, set a schedule to post regularly, and you are on your way to Web visibility, where before you had no connection at all. My advice is to keep it free for as long as you can. Many successful authors are content with just the blog service itself; however, when you are ready to invest a few dollars into it, consider buying a DOMAIN. Most sites will do this for a small fee, converting what you already have on your blog service into your own personal WEBSITE.

Here’s an example of a regular blog address–  http://www.bathtublub.blogspot.com   –kind of long isn’t it?

This example reads like a domain address–  http://www.bathtublub.com  –much easier on everyone involved.

The value in owning your domain is the simplicity in which people can now find you in a search. It is also easier on you as a writer whenever you need to type it out, and looks cleaner on a business card or connected to other social media.

List Two: TWITTER

Signing up for a Twitter account is easy, and once again, cost effective because it is free! Did you notice I didn’t put Twitter on the list of Blogs? Twitter is in itself like a mini-quick blog to tell the world about yourself. The great advantage of Twitter is that if you are short on time, because all posts on Twitter are a mere 140 characters or fewer, you can spend the minimum of time getting the maximum from your efforts. If you allot time to re-tweet and connect with other writers and authors, really just be happy for them when something goes right, sympathize when the crap is hitting the fan, and enjoy the mutual company; all else will follow. The key is to support your fellow Twitter users, and they return the favor. Trust me; this works better with Twitter, but can apply for blogging, too!

So once again, what is the difference between Twitter and a blog besides shorter content? Currently Twitter doesn’t show all you might need to post as an author. You can link to cover art, or content for instance, but not show an image unless you use it as your avatar. You might also want to post excerpts form your published works, or tales that you don’t intend to publish, thoughts you pen for sheer enjoyment of the act, writing practice, and don’t mind sharing to an audience on the Web. A blog allows for you to post content of a variety of lengths, cover art, hold discussions, guest-host other authors and writers, post excerpts, and whatever else you want to do with the space.

List Three: FACEBOOK and GOOGLE+

Okay, this is where I diverge on usability and visibility.

Facebook appears to be a great reach-out community, but with the new arrangements in visibility on the part of the folks who run it; getting your brand out there can be a daunting task. I can say that being with a small publishing house came with some advantages; we connect to each other and therefore have a built in mutual audience. On the other hand, I’m not sure that the average Joe, unless he is already well connected is going to reach an audience unless he goes with one if its pay versions. Since my experience with this is still in an experimental stage, I will explore it further and report back to you.

Google+ is a new experience for me, but I find it easy to use, and it is beginning after only a couple of months to pick up speed as a viable social media tool. One of its best features is the Google Alert. The Google alert, once set up, will send a notice to your inbox anytime someone searches for you on Google! How’s that for staying on top of your social loop? I’ve only been using Google alerts for a week and already it has sent several messages to me. Some folk searched for me by name: C.K. Garner, and others by my website blog title: Blog, Paper Scissors. That surprised me. My book, Stealing Time, goes live in two days. I have just set the parameters for Google to alert me if anyone searches for it; very exciting!

So how do we make these items work together?

List Four: LINK IT!

Every one of the above mentioned formats can be linked to each other through an APP.  The simplest description for the function of an APP is that it enables a person to easily share content from one site into another. You can easily connect your BLOG or WEBSITE to your TWITTER account, FACEBOOK, GOOGLE+, and where ever else you’d like to connect your marketing platforms together!

So this is your final checklist for Try it Thursday–or later depending on when you read this!

Social Media Market List:

BLOG

(or)WEBSITE

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

GOOGLE+

LINK WITH APP
These are the beginnings of what I hope will be a successful marketing experience for you as Writers and Authors. Well, I gotta go now; need to post this to my other social media sites and get my brand out there! Oh, and remember; my E-Book Stealing Time, a steampunk novella, releases August 10, 2012! Come on back and I’ll have a purchase link posted!

Cheers!

C.K. Garner