Should Fiction Authors Bother with Blogging?

The Pros and Cons of Blogging for Fiction Authors: Weighing Time Costs Against Marketing Benefits

In the digital age, authors are no longer confined to traditional routes of getting their work noticed. Blogging has emerged as a powerful tool for fiction writers to build their audience, engage with readers, and establish a personal brand. However, like any endeavor, it comes with its own set of challenges.

I have been blogging for over twenty years as a fiction author. These days I have this site, The Productive Indie Fiction Writer, along with author sites for my three pen names, and they all have blogs, too.

Recently, I came across an article (which will remain nameless) stating emphatically that unless you are a best-selling author with an inbuilt audience, blogging is a waste of time.

I actually had to sit down and think about that for a bit. Is it a waste of time?

The Pros

1. Building a Readership and Community

One of the most significant benefits of blogging is the ability to build a loyal readership. Fiction authors can share insights into their writing process, character development, and even snippets of their work. This ongoing interaction fosters a sense of community among readers.

2. Establishing Author Platform and Brand

A blog can serve as the cornerstone of your online presence. It allows you to showcase your unique voice and expertise, differentiating you from others in the crowded literary market.

3. SEO and Discoverability

Regularly updating a blog with relevant content can improve search engine optimization (SEO), making it easier for potential readers to discover your work. By targeting specific keywords related to your genre or themes, you can attract organic traffic to your site.

4. Networking Opportunities

Blogging can open doors to networking with other authors, editors, and industry professionals. Guest posts, interviews, and collaborations can enhance an author’s visibility and credibility within the literary community. Plus, the invaluable back links you earn from guest posts and comments on other blogs will make Google smile upon you.

5. Supplemental Income

While not the primary goal for most fiction authors, a successful blog can generate supplemental income through ads, affiliate marketing, or selling related products and services. This extra revenue can help support the writing career.

The Cons

1. Time Commitment

Maintaining a blog requires a significant investment of time and effort. Writing regular posts, responding to comments, and promoting content can detract from the time available for writing fiction. For authors who are juggling day jobs, family, or other responsibilities, this can be particularly challenging.

2. Potential for Burnout

The pressure to consistently produce high-quality content can lead to burnout. You might feel overwhelmed by the need to constantly come up with fresh ideas and maintain a regular posting schedule.

3. Limited Immediate Return on Investment

Blogging is a long-term strategy. You might not see immediate returns in terms of book sales or readership growth. The benefits often accrue slowly, which can be discouraging if you’re seeking quick results.

4. Distraction from Primary Goals

For some authors, blogging can become a distraction rather than a tool. The allure of immediate feedback and the satisfaction of publishing blog posts can sometimes overshadow the slower, solitary work of crafting a novel.

5. Market Saturation

With millions of blogs out there, standing out can be difficult. You need to find a unique angle or niche to attract readers, which requires additional creativity and strategic thinking.

Lesser-Known Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantage: Skill Development

Blogging hones various skills beyond writing, such as marketing, SEO, graphic design, and website management. These skills can be valuable assets in your career, providing more control over your marketing and promotional efforts.

Disadvantage: Vulnerability to Criticism

A public blog opens you up to criticism and negative feedback, not just about your fiction but about your views and opinions expressed in blog posts. Handling this criticism can be stressful and may impact your confidence.

Conclusion

Blogging offers a myriad of benefits for fiction authors, from building a readership and enhancing discoverability to establishing a personal brand and networking with industry peers. However, the time and effort required, along with the potential for burnout and distraction, are significant drawbacks. You must carefully weigh these pros and cons based on your own circumstances and career goals.

Ultimately, the decision to blog should align with your overall strategy and personal preferences. For some, the connection with readers and the marketing advantages will outweigh the costs. For others, focusing solely on your fiction might be the more effective path.

By understanding both the well-known and the nuanced aspects of blogging, you can make informed decisions that best support your career.

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2 thoughts on “Should Fiction Authors Bother with Blogging?”

  1. Wow, obviously, that nameless author doesn’t understand the multiple reasons why someone wants to blog. For example, ask Andy Weir of The Martain fame or Julie from The Julie/Julia Project. Both started a blog with no audience. None. Their blogs shot them into the best-selling status.

    It’s sad watching someone make a statement like that and then make it an absolute, which then new and/or frustrated writers take as gospel, telling everyone else it’s a rule.

    So many of these rules are simply standards — standards we each get to choose or discard.

    There is no one true and tried path that all writers should take. It’s all about using what works for YOU, the universal writer you.

    Great blog, Tracy! You’ve made out the pros and cons succinctly and truthfully.

    1. There are a lot of absolutes shot around this industry, Diana!

      It’s unfortunate, because I think some newer indie authors swallow the absolutes and try hard to abide by them…sometimes to their disadvantage.

      You have to be in the industry for a while to figure out if advice is worth listening to or not. And because everything works differently for every author, sometimes do exactly the opposite of the advice is the best for you.

      No wonder we all look harried and stressed these days!

      It reminds me of William Goldman’s famous declaration: “No one know anything.” He was talking about Hollywood, but it applies to indie publishing, too.

      Tracy

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