Agents say you need to have a platform before you approach agents. This is really true only for nonfiction writers. But for fiction writers, when you dip your tootsie into publishing, it doesn't hurt to have a professional web site and blog, and I would even say that having followers looks pretty good too.
Not everyone who is a writer blogs for a platform. Some do it as a personal journal of both their writing process or publishing journey. Here are the reasons I do it, straight up:
- To establish my name and brand
- To give outlet to further writing urges (I like blogging)
- To work through various aspects of writing and publishing that I may not understand fully until I blog about it
- To build community
Because I work in marketing, marketing myself as a writer before I am published feels like a necessary and normal step. My friend Meghan Ward and I were talking about this a while ago. She's written a memoir and has different reasons for blogging but both of us are very interested in the personal marketing aspects of it. I know that it was a big step for me to build my own web site and get this blog started. I've been blogging since 2006 on a private blog for family and friends, mostly about my whippersnapper. Meghan said she knew a published writer who had three books out (or a three book deal, one of the two) and the writer didn't blog, have a web site, do Facebook, or any of it. We both agreed that writer was missing out on reaching readers and building community. How much was she missing out? We don't know. But we thought it was a heck of a lot better bet to do those things than not.
How public is public?
Some of you blog about your query trials and I'm pretty sure you don't use your real name. Perhaps you do this so you can maintain the freedom to say what you want. A good example of this kind of desire for anonymity is a certain self absorbed nutcase's blog in which almost all his commenters post as Anonymous. But when that hurts you is when your blog is really good, like the INTERN's. INTERN is publishing a book and judging by her blog writing, it's probably pretty good. She's smart and has a way with words. But she'd built up a huge audience and no one knows who she is! Will she announce her book and her identity when it is released? Who knows!
So here's what I want to know. For those of you who blog with your name all out there: what are you hoping your blog will do for you? For those of you who blog under an assumed name: do you do it for the freedom of speaking your mind and what will happen when your book is published?