This is a reprint of an earlier blog of mine that hit a nerve with many writers. The dilemma of spending time marketing your books vs. writing your books clearly resonated and drew lots of responses. I’ve tried to practice what I preached in that post and have cut down my time on social media. Some. Yet, here I am writing something that is not my next book. How effective is this use of my time?
There are two sides to this new dilemma of blogging. Both sides take time from writing your book. The first is writing blogs. The second is reading them — other writers’ blogs, that is. Writing them takes a great deal more time. Is it worth it? Actually, yes. It’s difficult to know whether my blogs drive sales, but I do know it drives people to my web site. I can measure the number of hits on the actual blog. That’s a good thing.
The other positive about writing blogs is that I actually learn from my own blogs. When I write about characters or scene or POV, I am focusing on the good, the bad and the mediocre. I am reading and re-reading other writers’ to see what works and what doesn’t, which characters shine and which fall flat, which scenes and settings have atmosphere or how point of view affects the story.
One of my blogs was about how to use animals to give your characters character. The topic forced me to think about my animals. How does my character interact with her dog or his parrot? What does it say about them if they leave them alone for days at a time, or if they are constantly worried about them? Great device for character development.
Another blog dealt with the forensics of fire. The fire took place in 1911. What was arson forensics like then? The blog helped me organize the details of my research so I could determine what was missing in the mystery.
So, the answer to the first side of this dilemma, is yes, writing blogs can be very valuable to the writer. After all, it is writing. However, I have no hard evidence that it drives book sales. As to the second part of the conundrum, reading blogs can also be a valuable use of time. There are some blogs I find extremely helpful. A good blog has a message that is of particular interest to me as a writer. I probably won’t read a blog about cookbook recipes, auto mechanics or pit bull fighting.
I will definitely read blogs on forensics, crime-solving, digital photography, art, and many historical subjects. Once the topic is of interest to me, I will take the time to read a well-written blog (yes, that’s important), and hopefully, one with a sense of humor. I will often share those with writer friends. Here are a few I can share right now:
http://barbararogan.com/blog/?p=711#! Specifically on how to create a good scene.
http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/ Great, knowledgeable forensics Q&A and more.
http://www.blogher.com/bloggers-beware-you-can-get-sued-using-photos-your-blog-my-story – How not to get sued as a writer using photographs. Handy info.
For the moment my dilemma is solved. I’ll keep writing weekly blogs as long as folks keep reading them. I’ll keep reading blogs that can help me write better. In the end, I hope both of these activities will help drive book sales.