I’ve always identified myself as a writer. Only recently have I come to admit that I’m also a blogger. I blog about writing, about the love of literature, about all things literary. But the truth is, I blog to sell books.
I really wasn’t sure what I was doing back in June 2005…more than six years ago!…when I created Writeful and put up my first blog post. For years, people who knew me as a writer (mostly techies, not fiction writers) kept telling me I should start a blog. “A blog? What for?” I didn’t even like the sound of the abbreviated word and called mine “a weblog for writers and readers.”
It took a few months for me to figure it out. I knew I wanted to showcase my published works and writing successes. But who would be interested in that? So I published posts that were just as interesting to me and far more interesting to others: I focused on writing and reading in general.
I posted announcements on local and national literary events such as useful writing workshops, opportunities to meet with literary agents, book festivals, and interesting author events. I posted tips on writing I’d picked up from famous authors at book festivals and workshops…John Irving, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, Alice McDermott, Alexander McCall Smith and the like. It turns out readers were interested in quick tid-bits from them.
I began to meet people at events who said they’d heard about it on Writeful. I started looking at my hits and profile views. People were actually paying attention! About ten months into the blog, I began posting some of my own stuff: an honorable mention in a writing contest, a story published by a periodical, a fiction reading. People didn’t stop reading.
To this date, Writeful is all about reading and writing and offers advice from prominent writers, news on local literary events, literary musings, and information about my own writing. That said, the “focus of the moment” shifts depending on what is going on.
For example, the past few months, after building a readership, I shifted focus to Tracks, my novel in stories that was published by Atticus Books in June. When Tracks scores a published book review, is featured in a magazine, newspaper, or periodical, or when I have a radio reading, interview, or a book signing or event, it’s posted on Writeful. In a few months, as activity calms, I’ll shift back into going heavier on advice and such.
But for now, Writeful is creating exposure and generating sales for my book.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog of your own, or you have one and want a fresh reboot, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Lure readers in with content that interests them, especially in the beginning. Gain your readers before hitting them with your pitch. If you begin with your pitch, they won’t pay attention.
- Keep posts short. More than a page or so is more than the average blog reader wants. Keep it short and link to more information or an appropriate source.
- Come up with catchy headlines. Often, the headline is the decision point for whether to read on, or move on.
- One to three times per week is the optimum schedule. More than that becomes white noise. Less than that and readers won’t remember to come back.
I broke my own rule during the release month of Tracks, when I posted a new piece every day. I had so much news to share that I decided it was worth the risk. I kept the posts short (sometimes just a blurb or a paragraph and a link), and tried to keep them catchy and interesting. My readers know the publication of a first novel is important in a writer’s life. They’re getting a glimpse into the daily grind of a new novelist. I’m happy to say my numbers haven’t dropped.
My blog averages about 1,000 views a month. Not gargantuan, but not bad considering these past few months have been Tracks-heavy. I’ll reward my loyal readers with more posts about literary events and tips from famous writers.
But in the end, I have a feeling writing about writing will continue to sell my writing…and a good blog can do the same for your writing, too.
Eric D. Goodman is a full-time writer and editor…and a blogger! His debut novel in stories, Tracks, was published by Atticus Books this June. You can learn more about Tracks at www.TracksNovel.com, where you can hear radio readings, read excerpts, find out about scheduled events, and more. Visit Eric’s blog, Writeful, at www.Writeful.blogspot.com.