Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blogging to Get Readers for your Books-Does it Work?

I read an article I found through Twitter on my iPhone and can't seem to find it again, in which the writer made a very good point. She said that most fiction writers are under the impression that by keeping a blog we are building up our "platform" and increasing the number of people that will buy our books. She said that in fact this was wrong. Most writers, myself included, write blogs about writing and our writing life. And for most of us our readers are other writers, not necessarily the people we would expect to buy our books. We're actually doing this entire thing wrong.

Most of my books are for kids and young adults and very few kids or young adults probably read this blog. So I can't continue to think that blogging will increase the readership of my books. This is not to say blogging has not helped me as a writer, it has. I've met an important community of writers from all over the world. I get quite a few people contacting me about various things because of my blog. I still see this blog as an important part of my online presence but I need to readjust my thoughts about it as a way to market my books.

I wonder what other people think. Do you think it is important to be very clear about your readership and build up a web presence that caters to those readers? In my case, should I work on a blog for teens in Southern Africa? Do you think blogging helps to sell your books? I'd be interested to hear.


Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Lauri, this is a dilemma I've been wrestling ever since my launch campaign bombed. I've come to the realisation that blogging *does not* get your readers for your books, but it does get you some sort of media presence (I had about 45 followers before my launch, now sitting at about 140). Beric has the same problem in his profession with his marketing stuff he does - how do you actually quantify the unseen benefits of marketing efforts? I don't think you can.

So I've decided to keep my blog BUT (and this is very important) writing the novels is more important than writing the blog. I have to start on my second novel soon and when I do I'm reducing my blog presence drastically. I will keep it ticking over, but it will definitely not be as intense as it is now because I'm not convinced that the effort is worth the payback.
Judy, South Africa

Lauri said...

I know you find that a bit difficult to write Judy and I feel the same way.

I've tried not to do too much marketing on my blog and have tried to keep it about me and my life in Botswana but slowly I write more and more about my writing life. But the funny thing is that posts about Botswana are the most popular, so I suppose if I cared about bringing readers to my blog I would focus on those. But for me my blog needs to be guided by me, what is important to me at that moment.

Gutsy Living said...


That was one of the reasons I got away from blogging about writing, because:
a). I'm not interested in writing about the writing process.
b). I am not experienced enough to give great advice to writers and often read writing tips, etc. in the Writers Digest magazine.
c). Writers are my friends more than my audience.

My husband would tell me to forget about appealing to writers. Often in fiction, you want to pull out facts from your stories that are relevant to the news. If it takes place in a village in Italy and the family is into growing olives, you can bring stories about making olive oil or something. See where I'm going.

Just a thought.

Kiru Taye said...

Hi Lauri,

I guess this is a tough one. I only recently started blogging, about 2 months ago. So I'm new to it. I use it mainly to post excerpts of my work-in-progress so I'm hoping my readership are people who will ultimately buy my books.

I'll have to see how it works out after my first book is released in December.


Acoustic Strings Administrator said...

People blog for all sorts of reasons. I for one blog because I fundamentally celebrate all that is beautiful about life, particularly the artistic life of others through their inspirational work. Of course there are other unsavoury elements that inevitably make it to the blog because a picture only becomes complete with all there is to life, good an bad.

I write works of literature too and all these things are handled differently. There are layers on principles behind all that I write about, be it reviews, short stories or anything worth reflecting on through writing.

All i can say is that any form of insincerity surfaces at some point. And that may be a part where one's true motives emerge. But there are also forms of evolutions which come naturally.

Deon-Simphiwe Skade

Elaine said...

Hi Lauri

The truth is that running a blog can sometimes seem tedious. However, it is a great marketing tool. I did an interview with you and Kiru Taye read the interview and went on to Amazon and bought your book and since the interview I have been visiting CNA's to get my hands on a copy. Unsuccessfully and Amazon is out of stock!

Anyway, I got a message from wordpress and they gave some good advice. They said always respond to any comments. Guest blog and when you appear on a blog leave you URL so people will visit you.

ALso on facebook, do like Kiru "like" any comments left or comment (little comments) on each post. People feel validated as they took the time to visit you and you are responding to the visit.

Also, your blog keeps you electronically alive and you meet writer's like me you never would otherwise. When I did the interview with you, I logged onto your blog and got to know you before I drafted my questions.

I love your blog and like your energy. Keep it alive:) This is new to all of us, let's help each other along:)

Elaine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lauri said...

Elaine- I don't see myself stopping my blog. It's just that now since I finally have books that can be bought online and hopefully soon an ebook, I thought I should use it more to sell too. But I think you're right, selling should be incidental. And too, like I've said I get a lot of opportunities because of my blog, like your interview.

Acoustic Strings- I absolutely agree about insincerity. Anyone who starts a blog specifically to sell something is going to fail. You need to build up genuine relationships with your readers.

Gutsy Living actually discussed this very thing on her blog yesterday, you might want to check it out.

Sue Guiney said...

I known that my blog has increased sales and my readership around the world. But that sounds like more than it is. The numbers are very small and not really growing, from what I can see. But blogging has created a community for me and that community has helped me to then go and market my work internationally in other ways. So, I think it's important but must be used in conjunction with lots of other marketing tools, both traditional and "new media." But I can't imagine stopping my blog because although the subject matter is nominally about writing, it really is about connecting me and my passions with my friends andtheir passions.

bonita/ernie said...

Lauri, May I suggest visiting http://jillshalvis.com/blog/.
I find the actual diary part of the blog interesting that's why it's bookmarked. I don't mind the excerpts and other 'name this book' activities she has. (I'm not a romance reader)
I could do without all the commercial stuff on the right of the blog. I think your's hits a nice mix of who am I and here's what I've done. Please keep up the Botswana themed entries...but you may want to adapt some of Jill's marketing gimmicks. If you want teens /YA to know about your books, I bet you'll need to tie to Facebook and (gasp) get a twitter account. Something true here (maybe not BW) is that the YA librarians are a healthy lot and always trolling for books for their audiences. Maybe try some YA buzzwords to snag a few of them, if appropriate. Find one of their blogs and comment on it,,,Get invited to their monthly meeting...ask if you can come and talk to YA about a writing career,,,,,etc. Great that you've been so busy and books are out and about.

Anonymous said...

I think it's very difficult to marry the act of writing a blog and marketing a product. I, of course, have nothing to sell at the moment bring the lazy old soul that I am but I used to believe I would use my blog as a marketing tool for my writing. But it has morphed into something I didn't expect. I talk about everything on there as you know and the more 'life' stories I have the more readers I get. It's almost become a sort of magazine format in a way.

I am thinking that when I get myself together I will sell some of my short stories from there but the thing I like most about blogging is the sense of community so I am considering turning it into a mag and doing things like a radio show and getting guest bloggers on etc.

I think blogging is a valid form of social media but I'm not sure it does get more readers for books. It definitely is a work in process.