Image: Matthew Loffhagen
Last weekend, my wife and I wandered around a food fair for a while. We looked at all the delicious meals that were on offer, trying to decide what to eat.
One very clever stall was offering free samples of chocolate brownies. We went past once, and were very pleased to be given little taster chunks of food. We found an excuse to wander past again, and helped ourselves to another sample.
Finally, we caved in and bought our own tasty brownies.
A good author blog works in a similar way – writers give their readers a small, delicious free sample of their work in order to entice them to buy the book. As a full novel takes a long time to write, blogs also help to tide fans over until the release of the next work.
Starting a blog is easy – platforms like WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr mean you can have your blog set up for free in a matter of minutes (Click here for a 50% discount on WordPress hosting with Bluehost) – but sometimes authors can struggle to find the right voice for their blog, or aren’t sure what to write about.
For those who are unsure, or for seasoned bloggers who’d like to try something different, here are three ideas for posts that will make any blog an enjoyable reading experience, and will encourage readers to buy your book.
#1: Your personal life
Don’t worry – I’m not talking about explicitly personal secrets, or anything you feel uncomfortable sharing. It’s up to every writer to draw their own line as to what they feel is appropriate to share.
There’s a lot of abstract elements of your life that can be shared without needing to give too much away. Author and actor Wil Weaton, for example, recently blogged about strange dreams that he’d been having in the night.
The benefit of writing about your life is it gives your readers an opportunity to meet you, to know what’s going on in your life, and to become invested in your story. Think of personal stories as the little chunks of chocolate in the free sample brownie of your blog.
Human stories are very compelling, which is why personal blogs are so popular. In reality, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you’re willing to share – your main goal here is to show off your writing skills so that readers will be interested in your books.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to define ‘world-building’ as any supplementary literature that adds additional insight to your novels. This could be deleted scenes, backstories for minor characters, or hints at what you were thinking when you put the story together.
A fantastic example can be found in the blog of John Finnemore, a writer for the BBC. In a series of blog posts, he went through every episode of his popular radio sitcom Cabin Pressure, taking the time to explain his thought process while writing, giving insight into characters, and providing some deleted material from the episode.
Sharing tidbits from your storytelling has two benefits for your blog: firstly, it gives existing readers a reason to stick around, and secondly, it gives new readers a few free samples of your world, that will draw in their interest and help persuade them to buy your novel.
Your blog will benefit greatly from a few posts talking about your writing process – what books inspire you, how you go about crafting your stories, and what you do when you get stuck.
Television producer and author Lee Goldberg, for example, uses his blog to talk about some of the people and stories that have inspired him. Another blog post from Wil Weaton gives a humorous look at the internal struggles he faces while trying to write.
Fellow storytellers will relish the chance to read your personal thoughts on the creative process, and even those who don’t write their own stories will be eager to see what you have to say. A good blog that gives insight into writing is worth its weight in gold, so opening up about your experience will be a great help to growing your readership.
Don’t forget the links
As a final point, be certain to remember that the purpose of an author blog is to convince people to buy your novel. All of the blogs mentioned above are full of links to where readers can buy the latest books from those authors – from television scripts to dog handbooks to audiobooks, all of these blogging authors make sure that readers know where to go if they want more.
Don’t overdo this, of course, but don’t assume that a single link from six months ago is going to be enough. Even if it’s only a passing reference, be sure to mention your book every few posts, and make sure it’s easy for readers to find where to buy it.
Writing regularly about these topics will mean that when readers new and old stumble across your blog, they’ll want to keep reading. And the more times they visit your stall, the more likely they are to cave in and buy your brownie.
If you need more inspiration then click here for a set of 17 blog post templates crafted specifically for authors.
There are plenty of other topics to write on that’ll draw in crowds, though – perhaps while reading this article you’ve thought of some yourself. If so, leave a comment below so that your fellow authors have some more ideas of what to write about on their blogs!