Novelists often ask me, “What do novelists blog about?”
It’s a great question. Do you blog about your story? Do you blog about how you wrote your story? You could, but that would constitute only one or two blog posts.
Thomas: Authors get confused about what to blog about because when they go to a writer’s conference and get marketing advice from a speaker teaching an audience of novelists and nonfiction authors at the same time.
Unfortunately, some marketing speakers give the same advice to both kinds of authors.
The problem is that you market fiction and nonfiction differently, particularly as it relates to blogging.
What Novelists Should NOT Blog About
Sections of Your Book
With a nonfiction book, you can post unedited sections of your book as blogs. In fact, that’s a great strategy. A nonfiction author can blog about different aspects of their topic and combine those posts to be added to a nonfiction book later.
However, novelists should not do that.
Jim: It doesn’t work for novelists. A nonfiction blogger can expand on a topic, but a novelist can’t expand on the story. It doesn’t work that way.
Thomas: It would get confusing. When you revise the story later, you may remove a character that appeared in a blog post, and suddenly, that character doesn’t exist in your book. Perhaps you change one character from male to female. It can confuse your audience.
Plus, it doesn’t help build your platform. Your public revisions and changes can make you look like an amateur. It’s your least polished writing, so don’t put unedited sections of your manuscript on your blog.
Authors get easily discouraged about publishing. Typing up a rant is easy, but people don’t want to read your complaints about the weather or the publishing industry.
It’s hard to eliminate this one because writing is the thing you know so much about. But you can’t blog about writing tips because your readers don’t care about writing tips.
Jim: A few of your readers might be writers, but only a few.
Thomas: If you want to write about writing, guest post on a blog specifically for writing; that could draw people to your website and introduce you to new readers.
What SHOULD novelists blog about?
As a novelist, you have sophisticated taste. You know about protagonists and the three-act structure. Your knowledge lets you effectively articulate your views about the books you read. It also builds your credibility and gets your readers used to coming to you for book reviews and recommendations. Down the road, when you recommend your own book, they’ll be used to purchasing the books you recommend.
Writing reviews about movies in your genre or adjacent to your genre can be fun and even easier than book reviews. It may even be interesting to a larger group of people. A million books are published every year, but less than a thousand movies come out every year. Of those movies, only a fraction are well-known or well-marketed. Reviewing movies is another great way to build credibility and trust.
Howard Taylor writes a science fiction comic, and he reviews every movie he watches that’s related to his comic. He ranks each movie so you can see how it compares to all the other movies he’s seen and reviewed that year.
I really respect his taste in movies, so if he doesn’t like a movie, I probably won’t like it either.
Poll Your Audience
Jim: If a reader takes the time to email you a question, that usually means 100 others had the same question. If a reader writes to me and asks, “How do you come up with the ideas for your books?” that probably means 100 other readers are wondering the same thing.
Use your blog to answer questions you get from readers. You can respond to the person individually in the email and then use that same text and post it on your blog. By doing so, you’ll be answering the question of the one who asked, the 100 who wondered about it, and the rest of the people who hadn’t thought to ask yet.
Blogging answers to reader questions also saves you time. Many authors often find themselves answering the same questions repeatedly. If you compose a great and thorough answer and post it on your blog, you can simply send each person a link to the post you wrote.
Your blog can save you time instead of costing you time.
If you already have a following, many readers are visiting your website, looking for information about the status of your next book.
- When is it coming out?
- How far along are you?
- Which draft are you on?
Book status updates can build anticipation about your book and give people the answers they seek. They feel like they’re on the inside track because not everyone gets that information; only the folks visiting the blog do. It builds camaraderie as well.
Stories From Your Life
Jim: Readers follow novelists because they love to hear the stories. Almost all the blogging strategies we’ve covered have to do with story. A movie review is talking about story. A book review is talking about a story. Book updates are a story about your book’s progress. Funny stories from your life can also be entertaining for your readers.
Thomas: If you want to attract readers to your website, particularly readers who read the kind of fiction you write, use stories to bring them in. Determine realize who you are and aren’t trying to reach.
Wisdom, Mistakes, or Lessons Learned
These types of stories can be timeless, especially if there is a practical takeaway. For some writers, these articles just bubble up, and in our day and age, we have the technology to make them public.
That strategy may not be a good fit for you, but sharing wisdom, mistakes, or lessons learned is attractive to most readers.
Themes of Your Life
If you tell me your three favorite movies, I can tell you what your life is about. You might not be able to see it, but an outsider often can. After you figure out the theme of your life, you can blog about those timeless, universal themes that are so important to you. They’re going to be important to your readers as well.
Thomas: Published authors can blog about fan art. Between 5% and 25% of your readers draw the characters from your book as they read it. Drawing is one way artists process stories they’re reading. Once you start posting reader artwork to your blog, other artists drawing your characters will also send you their drawings. Seeing these scenes and different artistic styles makes people curious.
You don’t have to draw the picture. Your fans draw the picture and are thrilled to share it with you. But don’t ever criticize fan art. That person has created a free drawing based on your book and will likely share it with their friends, too.
By sharing their work and saying something nice about it, you create an advocate who will now send people to your website. Friends of the artist who didn’t know about you will suddenly discover you exist because you’ve featured their friend’s art. That makes them curious.
Once you post your first piece of fan art on your blog, many other artists will start sending you their drawings.
Jim: I have a fan who draws anime and is incredibly talented. She drew herself in the anime style, holding one of my books, with an arm coming up from the book, grabbing her around the throat. The idea was that “Jim’s books grab you around the throat.” I had to post that because it was so cool.
If you have an idea about what fiction authors should blog about, we’d love to hear it. And if you have a blog for your book or another creative idea, please share your ideas at AuthorMedia.social.