You may have noticed that I haven’t posted a new blog entry in over a year. Actually, you probably didn’t notice, because why would anyone check this blog if I don’t even care enough to update it? Despite what it may seem like from this website, I have actually been writing quite a bit over the past year, I just haven’t been blogging about it. My question is: Does that matter?
I established this author website almost two years ago, after speaking to some other not-yet-unpublished authors at a potluck hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society. One of them told me that she had recently garnered the interest of an agent who wanted to represent her. What had the agent asked her? Not to see the first few chapters of her book, but rather how many people read her blog and how many followers she had on Twitter. When she answered several hundred each, the agent expressed interest. Other people sitting at the table around me began sharing their own stories of how they were promoting themselves through Twitter, Facebook, and their author websites. So I opened a Twitter account on my phone right there at the table, a Twitter account that I have posted to about one time. Later that year, I built this author website so I could start “building my platform.” It kind of makes sense—if publishers and agents already know I have a following, they will be more confident that people will buy my novel(s). On the other hand, if was really that brilliant at marketing myself, I would just go ahead and self-publish. Plus, I wasn’t really sure what to publish on my “author blog,” while I had plenty of ideas for my novels and short stories.
After New Year’s 2016, I decided that one of my resolutions would be to do more with this website. I still wasn’t sure if anyone was interested in my musings on writing and motherhood and life, but how would I really know if I didn’t try to update this site regularly? After all, my husband (whom I love dearly) has watched videos on YouTube of people talking about what might possibly be in the next Star Wars movie. These people don’t seem to have any insider knowledge, nor fancy special effects, yet their videos still seem to get a lot of hits. So I sat down to write a blog, and once again found myself uninspired. Instead of writing something, I began to research how much author blogs matter. The answer? Either very little, a whole lot, or everything in between, depending on who you ask. Some authors, like self-published bestseller Hugh Howey, blog regularly and have used the Internet to build a large following. John Green doesn’t exactly seem to blog, but he is all over the Internet and social media (personally, I love Crash Course videos), which has surely increased his book sales. Others, like Suzanne Collins, have plenty of people writing about them but don’t seem to create much online content themselves.
As I was reading about the varying degrees that my author website may or may not matter at this point in my writing career, a simple yet profound idea dawned on me—if I am not into my author blog, how can I expect anyone else to be excited by it? I didn’t let the daunting odds of becoming a bestselling novelist convince me not to write my first novel because I was really into that novel. And now I’m getting really into my second novel, despite all the hours of writing and revisions it will require before it is ready to submit. I believed in my work first, and hopefully at some point in the not-too-distant future other people will read it. Those people who make videos about what might be in the next Star Wars video are probably really into Star Wars and also enjoy make videos. Their passion came first, their followers came second.
There is, however, a big benefit I could get from writing online articles—the nearly immediate gratification of publication. Novels can take years, but I can write and publish an article in a couple of weeks or even days. And I do sometimes have ideas for articles, just not enough to update my blog on a weekly basis, especially when I don’t know if anyone besides my mother will read it.
Then, I came across the resolution to my blogging dilemma in this article about author blogs: Instead of trying to direct people to my own website, I should try writing articles for other websites. Websites that already have a following and are probably looking for content, content that could be vetted and edited and published within weeks instead of the months or years it can take to complete and finish a novel. So that leads to my new plan: Look for well-read websites that could use content and are looking for submissions, write something that could fit what they need, and then link to it on this author website (which I might as well keep, since I already created it). I’m going to aim to submit something at least once a month, which will still leave ample time to write my new novel.
How well will my new plan work? If anyone is actually reading this, you can check my author blog to find out. Go ahead and leave a comment so I know somebody is paying attention.