Wednesday, October 12, 2011

5 Reasons Why Blogging Works for Writers

There’s been a lot of discussion about blogging for writers. Anne Allen summed up the whole thing in her post last Sunday, which mentions Roni Loren’s post "Is blogging dead" and also Meghan Ward’s numbers post “Is blogging a waste of time?” post.

I don’t know if anyone else said this, but I have a huge problem with the notion that high visitor numbers is the only way to get you published. That completely belies talent, fantastic stories, and worst of all, makes things a popularity contest rather than relying on actual merit. It reminds me of hiring managers who only look at resumes from candidates from top schools rather than anyone with the right experience.

Blogging for writers builds community with other writers and it often serves as an outlet for our profusion of words.

But does blogging sell books? This is the real question that I believe people are asking when they wonder if blogging is a waste of time. The answer is, blogging probably doesn’t sell books--not at the level of numbers that publishers need. But on the other hand, if you don’t blog, or stake a toe-hold for yourself in cyberland, then you are missing out on someone finding you. You have no idea what percentage of people not finding you may be, but why take the chance when social media tools are free?

For most of us, blogging isn’t going to be our ticket to the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list. But here’s what I think having a blog and a Twitter account can do for the average writer:

1. Introduce you to other writers, with whom you can build relationships. These others writers might buy your book later on, or help publicize your book. Maybe the publicity doesn’t result in millions of sales, but you don't spend a dollar doing it! Or, the other writers might later recommend you to their agents, which is basically the golden ticket in querying.

2. Provide a place for you to showcase your writing and personality. Agents read writer blogs, and I know for a fact at least two unpubbed writers who have been solicited by agents after the agents read their blogs. As my writing pal and business colleague, Mike Chen, says, "I think the blog is just an area to show agents and pubs that you understand the industry, are involved, and have a strong writing style."

3. Provide an outlet for you to share your experiences. There’s so much information out there on craft and publishing, and things are changing fast. Blogs help us make sense of it all--I know I use mine as a way to sort through some of the issues I come across in my own writing.

4. Make you someone. You never know what will make your blog explode with popularity, which could lead to many doors being opened for you. Or it could lead to business. I met Mike Chen through blogging. Now we work together on many freelance projects, including author web sites. This has resulted in money in our pockets.

5. Spread your word. For published writers, you might not write what most of your followers want to read, but having a dedicated and popular blog can only help rather than hurt. And again I stress that it's a free publicity tool.

What do you think? What's your take on the whole issue?

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