Saturday, March 6, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Alice Audrey


Should Unpublished Authors Maintain Blogs?

Before I start mouthing off, let me tell you a little about myself and why I believe what I do. I’ve been writing seriously for decades, but my first professional publication only came out on Feb 3rd of this year. If it hadn’t been for my blog and what I do with it, not only would my first book not have been published, it wouldn’t exist.

Moving In is about a man and a woman who move into the upstairs and downstairs apartments of a converted Victorian house on the same day. They become embroiled in one another’s lives through luggage.

How does this relate to my blog?

Every Friday I post something called Suzie’s House. It’s a weekly serial that has been going on for three years now. Moving In features several of the characters from that story. The book and the blog, though mutually independent, interweave.

I mention Suzie’s House to editors, agents, and everyone else I meet at romance writers' conventions. One editor not only checked out my blog, but read Suzie’s House. She asked if I had anything written that might be connected to it. I wrote Moving In because of her interest. She liked what she saw, and now it’s published.

I’m not the only one who made it into publication through blogging. I know a man, Marvin, who posted an autobiography of his twisted childhood on his blog, one episode at a time. Within a year, he had sold his book to a major publisher, and removed everything he had posted.

Do I think everyone should blog? No. The reason I blogged in the first place is because I saw it as an alternative way to reach out to readers. At the time I started, I already had several manuscripts under my belt and a pile of rejection slips.

Blogging is time consuming. It requires more than merely writing a post now and then. For a blog to be successful, it means posting regularly, making sure the posts are entertaining, responding to comments, and visiting other blogs. For those who are just starting out in writing, this is time stolen from much-needed novel writing efforts. If you are just beginning to learn what it takes to produce quality novels, blogging will be more distraction than help.

It’s also risky. Blogging about his childhood might have worked for Marvin, but according to editors and agents plenty of others were passed over for saying too much about themselves on their blog, while others don’t say enough and leave readers cold.

Likewise, if your blog turns into a ghost town through neglect, it will not look good to those in the industry, or to potential readers. You don’t necessarily have to blog every day, but posting around the same time on a consistent basis can have a huge impact on your readership.

Beginning to sound like unpublished writers shouldn’t blog? Think again. Blogging is the fastest and most effective way of reaching out. You can do it for free through platforms like Wordpress.com or Blogger.com. You can get signed up and have your first post out there in less than an hour.

What’s more, it’s hard for an unpublished author to come up with material for a static web page. Sure, you can post a list of your contest wins, but that won’t make anyone hang around, waiting for your first book to come out. A blog, on the other hand, can come across as very natural, whether you’re published or not. Blogs give potential readers a chance to get to know and like you.

Although it’s best to blog for at least an hour a day, it is quite possible to get by on much less. Memes and being part of group blogs can make up the difference. Even shy writers may find a niche for themselves through blogging.

If you are an unpublished writer, should you blog? It depends entirely on you.


You can reach Alice Audrey at her website at http://www.aliceaudrey.com/ She blogs every Friday at Alice's Restaurant.

24 comments:

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Alice,

That is very interesting, I really didn't think of blogs as being important, but obviously they do have a lot of potential. I do have a blog, a patehtic little offering that I never mention. I will have to do some work on it now, and get it up to scratch.

Regards

Margaret

Mitzi said...

Ladies (and any gents out there),

Last year at a writers conference I met a woman from Pakistan who recognized my name because she'd read my blog - in Pakistan.

A new member of our RWA chapter who'd moved across the country also recognized me from my blog...

There's gold in them dar blogs!

My blogs (at least the ones I own up to):
www.mitzimusings.blogspot.com
www.mitziwrites.blogspot.com
And the man in my life, also a writer, just started his own blog:
www.morgan-wordsmith.blogspot.com

Cate Masters said...

Great post, Alice! I agree, blogging is essential, and not just for marketing releases. Experts say authors need an online presence long before the sale. Your story's a wonderful example! I loved it. Best of luck with Moving In.

Joanne Brothwell said...

Alice,
Great post! Blogging for me as an unpublished writer is definitely a love/hate thing. I do find it steals my time from learning and writing and have many times considered closing my account.

But now that I have read this post I have a new appreciation for blogging! I had no idea that blogging could be so powerful!

Thanks

Janet said...

Welcome to The Prairies, Audrey! I've been looking forward to this since I had a look at your website and saw you were going to blog about blogging!

I started blogging in October - and I blog everyday - I love it! But I needed some structure; so I started doing a Wednesday Inspiration blog (with quotes) and I've just started a Friday Fiction (before I had visited your blog). Since finding your blog, I've been busy catching up with Suzie's House.

I don't know if my blog will lead to the same success you've found (congrats), but I do know that it quenches my thirst for writing. And as I begin a continuing story (Mickey Spencer, AC), I have renewed my enthusiasm for creating interesting characters and telling stories.

I believe that blogging is an important step in creating a readership. And, as you said, it's more current than a website - which I still contemplate setting up. But it is a huge committment and one that needs to be given much thought before launching.

Again - thanks for visiting and sharing your blogging experience. And, I love Suzie's House. Good luck with your debut Moving In.

Janet said...

K - not only did I ramble on my comment, I called you Audrey instead of Alice! Just finished reading "Ben's Story" over on your blog - where he calls you Ms Audrey, and the name stuck in my head. Of course, I was also sidetracked by the 'farted out a universe' line :)

Sorry, Alice. Again, Welcome to The Prairies. I'm off to refuel - coffee may help!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Alice,
Welcome to the Prairies! We're glad you could be with us today.

I'd didn't start blogging until just over a year ago when this group blog was formed. By that time I'd already been published for a couple of years. I love being part of the group. We can share the work and the fun. I've thought of starting my own blog several times in addition to this one but I don't know how disciplined I'd be about posting there on a regular basis. And unless you post at least once a week, I don't think you could develop any kind of following.

As a form of promotion, I prefer blogging to things such as chats because they are out there on the Internet for a long time, reachable to anyone. I kind of wish we had started this blog even earlier!

Jana

Vince said...

Hi Alice:

Very interesting post.

The case for blogging is similar to a company’s use of ‘free samples’. It depends on the quality of the product and the cost of the product. (Cost for a writer is time.)

If the product is great, nothing works better than free samples. If the quality is bad, nothing is worse.

Think of a blog as a free sample, then act accordingly.

Just a thought.

Vince

Alice Audrey said...

What a warm welcome! Thank you!

Janet, leave comments! Any time you leave a comment on my blog, you will not only endear yourself to me, you will draw my attention to your own blog. You'll also increase the odds that I will give you an award or otherwise draw attention to you. I don't mind rambling in comments, either.

Jana, I maintain both Alice's Restaurant, and am a member of The Romance Roundtable http://www.RomanceRoundtable.com I love being on the group blog. It is a lot easier and in some ways more fun. I could write a whole 'nother post about blogging solo or in groups.

As you said, if you aren't posting at least once a week, then you won't get as much benefit from posting solo. It is possible to do something once a month and still bring in readers, but for developing your readership, being in a group like this is more effective.

Joanne, I can easily see how you'd have a love-hate thing going, especially if you haven't completed your first book yet. It isn't bad to blog before you've completed your first book, but you do have to make an effort to put your fiction writing first.

Thanks Cate! Good to see you over here.

Mitzi, I haven't run into anyone in person who surprised me about reading my blog, but I have through email and comments on other blogs.

Margaret, I could say all kinds of things about blogging when you're published.

Alice Audrey said...

Vince, that is great advice. Those of us who actually have the nerve to post fiction on our blogs are taking all the risks of offering free samples. It's scary.

Karyn Good said...

We're happy to have you visiting us here on the Prairies today, Alice. Regarding blogging, I'm quite happy and feel very fortunate to be part of this group blog as I don't have time at the moment to maintain a solo blog. And frankly, I don't see having the time in the near future either so a group blog is the perfect solultion for me.

Thanks for chatting with us today about the ins and outs of blogging and it's promotional value. Now I'm heading off to your blog :)

Paula R said...

Hi Alice, welcome to the "Chicks" blog. I check in every now and then, and comment when I can. I love the topic you chose today. I am a newbie writer, and I contemplated going the blogging route, but it is hard to go solo. The time commitment, working full time and writing, can be rough.

I loved the first couple of sentences I read about Suzie's House. I am already intrigued. Your voice is definitely interesting and I am going to give your book a try. I will have to go back and finish reading, but I will save that as a reward for when I get my work done.

As a reader, I love the blogs because I feel like I get to know my fave authors as people. I love the ones that give us little glimpses of their daily lives as well as info about books. It helps me to see them as regular people.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Alice Audrey said...

Thanks for having me, Karyn. For a lot of people, a group blog is the way to go.

Paula, I like the blogs that give glimpses into personal lives, too. I've seen a few take it too far, as if they wanted to wear a hat that says "stock me", but most let me experience life through different eyes, which is part of what I read fiction for.

BTW, the Suzie's House I posted yesterday is not my normal voice. It was written in Ben's voice and is mostly set up for next week.

Jennifer Leeland said...

I've always said, if you don't enjoy blogging, it'll show.
Although an unpublished author needs web presence, blogging doesn't have to be the way to have it.
Me, personally, I enjoy it.
And I love yours, Alice.

Paula R said...

I haven't read Ben's story yet...I went back to the very first one where Suzie was in the kitchen...LOL!!! It might take me a couple of days before I get to Ben's Story.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Alice Audrey said...

Thanks Jennifer. I love your "Just Saying" posts too. I know, I know. I need to comment more. :) You are so right about it showing when a blogger isn't enjoying it. Frankly, I get real annoyed with those people. Why waste my time as well as theirs?

Oh my, Paula. That could take a while, though several people have done it in the last month.

Debra St. John said...

Great post. I think a lot of writers struggle with the question of blogging or not.

For me personally, I honestly felt I didn't have the time to devote to maintaining my own blog and having it be a good one. I chose instead to join a group blog where I post once a week.

Nell Dixon said...

I blogged before I had a website when I was unpubbed. I found editors looked at my blog as well as my submission when they considered taking me on. I still blog now and have a great time - I host my cyber book launches there and do giveaways.

Alice Audrey said...

I like to do all kinds of things on my blog, including a lot of give aways. Ironically, I didn't post anything about my book on the day it came out. I was too busy celebrating on tow other blogs at the time. Didn't matter. Everyone knew and talks about it anyway. It was so much fun!

Susan Macatee said...

Great post, Alice!
I started blogging before I was published as a member of a group blog. That way I didn't have to post as often and the other authors, some published, some not, gave me exposure that helped me build up name recognition and also to get readers to check out my website.

Now, that I'm published, I also have a personal blog, but it's hard to keep up the blogging with all the other work that goes with being published.

I do my best to keep it up.

Alice Audrey said...

Susan, you might actually be ahead by sticking with your group blog and letting the private one go.

In my case, I had been blogging daily on my solo blog for a year and a half before I joined a group blog. I already had a fair readership. Still, when the group blog was created, I seriously considered dropping my solo blog. In the end, it was the creative freedom to do whatever I pleased whenever I was ready for it that made me decide to do both.

Vince said...

Hi Alice & Authors:

I had just downloaded your book and began reading it when the power went off in the whole neighborhood!

I’ll put it on my eBook Reader tomorrow so I can carry it around with me. It’s on my office computer now.

BTW: What do you, and any other authors reading this, think about putting the price of your books on the blogs you visit? (List price).

Some books are $24 and some are as low as $2.49 new. I think a moderate price will induce more readers to go to a website where they can buy the book. If an author has a bargain price, it would seem that letting readers know this, at the earliest opportunity, would help build a fan base quicker.

Just an idea.

Vince

Alice Audrey said...

Vince, that's a great suggestion, one I have taken.

Yunaleska said...

Hi Alice - thanks for this. Yes, I think blogs are important. They can get the feel of the author across, their voice, their style. I don't think it necessarily has to have their written material up.

I don't put any of my work on my writing blog (which is more for light relief than anything else). Review blog is for, well, reviews :)