26 May 2011

A Writer’s Guide to Successful Blogging, Part 1

Last night on Agent Query Connect, we had a fabulous chat about successful blogging. It was so awesome it inspired me to create a series here to recap the discussion and touch on some of the topics we didn’t get to cover.

We spent a good deal of time talking about branding. Your blog is a way to develop your brand as a writer. It doesn’t so much have to be about you as it does have to say something about you. It should give the audience a sense of your personality (because Voice is not just for manuscripts and queries anymore, it’s for blogs, too!), it should have content that will make people come back again and again, and it should not – I repeat, NOT – be one giant advertisement for your book(s). After all, how many times would you visit a blog where the posts only say things like “Buy my book!” or “Read this review of my book!” or the thinly veiled “Here’s some advice on writing… and see how I put it into practice by BUYING MY BOOK!” I mean, seriously.

Your blog should have some sort of theme, focus or niche that it fills. It doesn’t have to be super-narrow in focus, but you want some cohesion. Utterly confusing randomness is not a good idea. If you blog about your current book one day, rant about your in-laws another day, post a political manifesto yet another day… well, there’s nothing for your audience to rely on. They’ll never know what to expect from your blog. While you might think that’s a good thing (Yeah! I wanna keep ‘em guessing! That’s fun!) it can get old real quick. My time is precious, and I don’t always have a lot of it, so instead of reading your scattered blog, I’ll end up visiting other blogs where I at least have some idea of what I’ll be getting.

So how do you begin to develop your brand via your blog? Newer writers especially may be thinking they have nothing to offer the blogosphere. I’m not a writing expert, I just started! I’m not published. I’m still learning. What the heck would I blog about? For starters, never discount your position on the path to publishing. (Ooh, love that alliteration!) There are plenty of people who are at similar levels, or not even at your level, who would love to hear about what you’re learning, techniques you’ve picked up along the way, etc.

Of course, there’s no rule that says as a writer you have to blog about your journey to publication. Many do, but there are other aspects. What are some social issues you tackle in your stories? (Bullying? Date rape?) Or more concrete events or ideas that you write about. (Does your main character love classic cars?) Also, think about your non-writing life. What are some other passions or hobbies you have? (Music, food, etc.) What’s a unique skill set you have? (Can you solve any crossword puzzle in ten minutes flat? Can you sing?) What’s your day job? (Graphic designer? Teacher? Bartender?) Do you know a lot about a random topic? (Are you fascinated with kitschy art?) Use these answers as a starting point for finding your unique take on what would otherwise be just another writer’s blog.

Still unsure? Would you like a few examples? Of course you would! Shout out to some of my Agent Query Connect peeps: here are three blogs that have voice and a brand that you can count on time and again.
  • Ink Rock – This brand-spanking-new blog belongs to Stephen L. Duncan (Twitter: @stephenlduncan), who started last night’s AQC chat down the road of defining your blogging niche when he described Ink Rock for us. In his (paraphrased) words, his plan for Ink Rock is to become the Anthony Bourdain of the literary world. Who wouldn’t love that?
  • Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire – Anyone who’s gotten to know Mindy McGinnis (aka bigblackcat97 on AQC, @bigblackcat97 on Twitter) can tell you that she is spunky and a ton of fun, and her blog reflects that personality. She has interesting interviews and great writing advice and insight, and chances are you’ll laugh more than once while reading her blog.
  • Greenwoman – Michelle Simkins (Twitter: @Green_Woman) was in our AQC chat last night and was worried that her blog wasn’t focused enough. To which a bunch of us chimed in with “We love your blog!” She is a self-described “writer, knitter, gardener, radical homemaker.” And she’s funny! (Search #queenofhashtags on Twitter for even more fun.) And you’ll find little bits of all those things on her blog. EDIT Jan. 2012: Michelle's new Twitter handle is @MichelleSimkins, and she's now blogging at http://flowersandfbombs.wordpress.com


  1. Thanks for the blog love! I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the posts in your series.

    And it WAS a great chat. It gave me tons to think about.

  2. The parts of the chat I was able to see last night were terrific! (I got frozen out by my computer multiple times!)

    I didn't get to all the blogs, so thanks for the links :)

  3. Thanks for stopping by, ladies! The chat was awesome, despite some of the chat room glitches. Jemi - you can also find a list of a lot of AQers blogs in the social networking forum on AQC.


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