I saw several blogs, maybe three weeks ago on whether authors needed blogs to sell books. There was some decent advice mixed in, but I think, frankly, they were addressing the wrong question, because the relationship is not as direct as that sentence would lead us to believe.
Running With It
(not the scissors this time)
The Missing the Point Point: *cough* If you are blogging to reach readers and convince them to buy your book, you are either ALREADY FAMOUS or delusional. No, I don't mind either one, but I just need to be REALLY CLEAR. Readers do NOT LOOK for blogs of DEBUT AUTHORS. People who WRITE may FIND AUTHORS and then become curious to read their books (it's happened to me--I've read some of YOUR books) but non-writing readers are not going to go about it that way. DO NOT BLOG TO REACH READERS.
The way you increase book sales by blogging is by expanding that 'on the ground' force... the BUZZ creators, the people who get to know you over months or years, who end up LIKING you well enough to follow through on such things as: “if you go into your local book store, will you make sure my book is there and email me if not?” or “Here is my book tour schedule, if you are in the area can you please show up so I don't sit there looking like an idiot?” or “My book is coming out Saturday, will you please Tweet, facebook share, and include on your blog?” The more people willing to answer YES to those questions, the better your chance of not flopping. You are NOT finding BUYERS, you are finding Co-Marketers.
And I would argue you SHOULD blog for your karma. This blogosphere will help YOU, so when you succeed, you should blog to help the writers who come behind you. They really could USE your wealth of knowledge.
The Not Getting It Point
I don't know HOW MANY blogs I've seen with three or four posts, all about the book. HELLO—you are shouting into NOTHINGNESS. I saw the MOST FABULOUS post yesterday—it is a few weeks old, but you need to see what Maureen Johnson has to say on the matter. It is a FALL DOWN funny read, but her main point is that all of YOU are people. You heard me. You are NOT a figment of my imagination, no matter HOW MANY times you tell yourself you are. What that means for ME, is I can't just talk AT you, I have to talk TO YOU. I need to listen to what you say and respond. I need to visit your blog and comment on what YOU have to say. Bloggers who fail to see this will not get their loyal following.
Now I know people who blog for DEEP relationships and don't go searching down lots of followers—and I totally RESPECT that—they STILL follow, comment, and interact with the dozen or so blogs they ARE connected with. They GET that it is two way, and are making a decision (usually about TIME) that they will only do what they can do well... Not everybody can keep track of 400 blogs and still be a superstar *cough*Elizabeth*cough*
But no matter WHAT you need to get that this process is interactive. Sure, Nathan Bransford has never once responded to me. You know what... You look like that and let me picture you naked, I will probably read you anyway... erm... actually... I read Pub Rants, Janet Reid, Editorial Ass and the Rejectionist too (all women)—NONE of whom to I expect responses from. I also read Nicola Morgan, who just manages to say helpful things pretty often, but I don't comment... as one of 700, I don't feel obliged... but for those of us with followers under... maybe 500, definitely those under 200... the comments keep us going. You want comments... you comment.
BUT THE PERK!!!!
And I can't emphasize this enough—by reading, (feeling obliged to comment, feeling compelled to share) I have managed to LEARN A TON about this publishing industry, the world of BOTH WRITING and GETTING PUBLISHED that I never would have gotten from a book. I probably couldn't have gotten it from an individual, even though there are masters at it. It just HELPS to see things a dozen different ways. There are freaks (and I include myself here) who even learn better by TEACHING. If I have to articulate something (like today) I manage to grind it into my head far enough that I never forget it.
AND THE EVEN BIGGER PERK!!!
(and the MAIN reason I personally blog). I LIKE IT. We should do this because we enjoy it. Otherwise it SHOWS and it is hard to sustain.Listen to Maureen... HAVE MORE FUN!!!
I blogged once before about HOW to blog, and I don't think THAT has changed, but I think there was the piece missing on WHY to blog... so now you know.