Three Different Ways to Approach Blogging as a Novelist [With Examples]

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If you’re a novelist, should you have a blog?

Opinions differ! You might have been told that you should blog, because you need to build a platform, or because it’s a good way to get people onto your site and then onto your mailing list, or because publishers / readers / the media will want it … or for almost any number of reasons.

My take on it is this: You don’t need to blog. It might well be helpful to have a blog, but it might also end up taking time that could be better spent on other novel-marketing activities.

If you do decide to blog, there are a few different ways in which you might approach it. Here are three quite different examples from three different authors:

Example #1: J.F. Penn’s Articles: Designed to be Shared and Found Through Search Engines

One great approach to blogging as a novelist is that taken by J.F. Penn (the fiction-writing alter-ego of awesome blogger Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn).

On The Creative Penn, Joanna has what we might think of as a fairly “standard” approach to blogging: she writes regular articles, of varying lengths, aimed at an existing and growing readership.

On her site JFPenn.com, though (which is aimed at readers of her fiction), she takes a different tack. She doesn’t post frequently – but when she does publish a new post, it’s in-depth, carefully crafted (usually with lots of images), and designed to appeal to people sharing on social media and/or searching online.

Typical blog post titles include:

Jo’s genre is thriller/horror, set in exciting international locations, so her topics tie in really well with this: someone who enjoys a blog post on her site might well be interested in her fiction too.

This approach might suit you if:

  • You don’t want to blog regularly (say, every week or two), but you’re happy to occasionally spend quite a lot of time creating an in-depth piece.
  • Your fiction is the sort of thing that readers might well pick up on impulse. It probably needs to be quite cheap (Jo’s novels are priced at $2.99), and in a popular genre.

#2: Example #2: George R.R. Martin’s Journal-Style Blog

Okay, you can probably do what you like if you’re George R.R. Martin. 😉 (He’s the author of the books that were adapted into HBO’s Game of Thrones, in case you’ve not heard of him before.)

I wanted to bring him in here as an example of how some fiction authors have a very “old school” approach to blogging. In fact, GRRM calls his “Not a Blog”. This is the antithesis of what I’ve heard called “problogging” (after the blog ProBlogger) – instead of writing carefully crafted posts with calls to action and so on, GRRM writes whatever the heck he wants.

Typical blog post titles include:

There’s nothing at all wrong with this type of blogging – so long as it ties in with your goals. GRMM, presumably, finds his blog an enjoyable outlet and source of connection with his fans and friends.

This approach might suit you if:

  • You’ve already got an established fan base – or you simply want to use your blog to connect with friends. Fans and friends may be perfectly happy to read your blog simply because it’s you
  • You enjoy a personal, diary-style, informal type of blogging – perhaps you’ve used sites like LiveJournal or Tumblr in the past.
  • You’re happy for blogging to be a writing outlet, a bit like morning pages or keeping a journal … you’re not bothered about using it to drive book sales.

Example #3: K.M. Weiland: Articles About the Author’s Writing Life

You might want to see this approach as a middle ground between the previous two. Some authors like to write about their life – but in polished, structured articles that concentrate on their writing life, rather than bringing in their other interests.

K.M. Weiland is a good example. She’s an author of historical and speculative fiction, and has a brilliant blog about the craft of writing, Helping Writers Become Authors. On her site KMWeiland.com, she’s got both her audiences in mind: readers of her fiction, and people who are interested in writing.

Typical blog post titles include:

This approach might suit you if:

  • You want to keep a fair amount of “you” in your blog, but not to the extent of making it a personal diary.
  • Your readers are likely to have at least some interest in the process of writing, not just the end result!
  • You’re aiming to blog fairly regularly and build up a steady readership.

 

As a novelist, you don’t have to blog … but you might want to explore whether a blog would be a good addition to your writing life. You might use it to connect with other writers and readers, to build and nurture a fan base, or simply as an outlet.

If you’re thinking about starting a blog, you might find this post of mine helpful: Three Different Ways to Name Your Blog or Website [Pros and Cons].

And if you’ve got a blog already, I’d love to hear about it! Just leave a comment below. 🙂

Thanks for commenting! I read all comments, and reply to as many as I can. Please keep the discussion constructive and friendly. Thank you!

5 thoughts on “Three Different Ways to Approach Blogging as a Novelist [With Examples]

  1. Hi Ali,

    As a blogger, I know that a blog always helps in building new connections and strengthening the ties with the existing readership. I take my blog as a pedestal to provide value to the audience without asking anything in return, and it gives me leverage when every few weeks a prospect contacts me for blog writing.

    Sure, you better understand being a novelist as you’ve shown some examples, but I think it comes down to self-awareness; if someone wants to write a blog, I’d highly recommend doing it. At least, it opens up a marketing channel for them.
    Hassaan Khan’s last blog post ..Every Blogger Uses Free Stock Photos – Here’s What You Should Do To Stand Out

    • Thanks Hassaan! I completely agree with your reasons for blogging, but I recognise that many novelists may not be interested in (e.g.) freelance blog marketing, or may have different channels through which they’d like to market their books.

      Certainly I think that if anyone wants to write a blog, they should! It’s very easy to get started and it can be a great writing outlet. 🙂

  2. A really helpful post Ali, I’ve been pondering blogging, and it’s great to see the different types contrasted. Lovely to discover JF Penn’s blog as well, I follow her other one but I didn’t know she had that one. I’ve been thinking about starting a sort of motivational writing blog, it’s something I’ve read on quite a bit and I often seem to be sharing things with people, so that might work for me. You’ve got me thinking!

    • Thanks Claire! Have you come across Jeff Goins? (goinswriter.com) He’s got a writing blog that focuses very much on the motivational side of things, and he’s done very well with it over the past few years.

      Best of luck with your blog, if you do go ahead. 🙂

  3. I have a website that needs help. I blogged, but not regularly. I am gettingmy website updated and adding a new blog. I plan to blog my book with interaction from my readers as soon as I have readers. (Smile)

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