Today’s readers expect to have access to authors in a way they never have before in history.
A blog allows you to stay in front of your readers between books, to remind them of your brand. Whether you see it as such or not, your blog tells people about you and your books. It is a marketing tool—even if you don’t think it is. People are forming impressions of you and your writing when they read it. They are making decisions about whether they’d like to read more of your work (i.e. buy your books, follow your blog) or not, each time they visit.
A blog is NOT a place for you to just vent random thoughts. That should be reserved for your personal journal, that you share with your best friend, perhaps, but not your blog. A blog is public—keep that in mind whenever you hit that “publish” button.
While a blog is typically informal in tone and style, each post still needs to have a point. You’re starting a conversation with each post—and you need to keep it focused.
A blog provides an easy way to listen to your readers, to find out what they are interested in. You can not only share your opinion but ask questions as well. The conversation on your blog may lead you to write on a topic you hadn’t considered before. It will get you in touch with the felt needs of your readers.
A blog can be a place where you run ideas up the flagpole to gauge response. It can be a way to do market research on your book ideas without having to write a whole proposal.
If you write fiction, blogging can be a way to share the research you’re doing, ask readers for input on characters, even profile characters in a book as a way of “introducing” them to potential readers.
Fiction writers can also review other novels on their blog—and ask the authors of those books to return the favor by reviewing your book on their blog.
A blog keeps your writing skills sharp. Blogging on a regular basis will force you to learn to write quickly and clearly. Blog posts can’t have the time and meticulous attention you’d give a book, but they should be clear. A good rule of thumb: write a draft. Set it aside and work on something else. Come back to your first draft. Edit for grammar, spelling and sentence structure. Make sure it has a point of view, is accurate, clear, and invites conversation. Then, post it. Don’t obsess over making it perfect.
A blog builds your platform. Publishers decide whether or not to accept a book proposal based, in part, on the author’s platform. If an author has beautiful writing and a strong idea for a book, but no platform, the chances for a contract go way down. But blogging consistently before you ever submit a book proposal can help you to establish a readership—which has become an essential selling point when pitching your book to a publisher.