I recently put up a huge blog roll of sites I read and authors I want to spread the word about.
Problem is, lots of them didn’t have websites or blogs to link to!
Sure, there are alternatives. For example, I linked to many Amazon pages, either for the author or a particular book. But an actual web presence can make an author seem more official, and in the indie world, this is very important.
We don’t have the Big 5 publishing houses behind us. I know they’re dying off, but that’s besides the point. We need to market ourselves, and a blog is a great way to do it. Here are my reasons why a blog or other website is imperative for independent authors:
- Fan interaction. You’re trying to build an audience, and to do that you need to build relationships with readers. To do this, you need to make a connection with people.
- Pulling back the curtain. I’ve written about this before: To make a connection with potential readers, they need to know what you’re about. This could be genre-wise, but increasingly these days it could be social, political, religious, and so on. Maybe you don’t want to advertise that you’re a part of red tribe or blue tribe. Maybe you do. Maybe this kind of stuff is not a part of your identity as a writer. Maybe it is. Maybe you really like, I don’t know, spaceships and therefore incorporate a lot of science stuff in you’re writing. It’s up to you. But with entertainment becoming so subdivided, and audiences as well, to find your core audience it helps to let them know you’re out there. And this isn’t to say it’s bad to seek mass appeal. It’s just that I think you can appeal to your hardcore fan base without necessarily alienating the other half or whatever of the potential readers out there a la Stephen King or John Scalzi.
- Sample of your writing. This is your place to demonstrate, free of charge to your potential customers, what you can do. Think of a blog or website as an audition. Make people want to pay money for more. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they made the jump to a purchase from the blog (and often got to here via social media). This is important! Provide some, but not all, value for free, and people will pay for more.
- Hype. This goes without saying, but a blog is a great way to let people know what you’ve written, where they can find it, how they can get it, what is coming up next, and when. It sounds axiomatic but I think it still bears resting.
- Community building. Not just with potential readers, but other writers. New and established writers. Exchange links. Review others’ books for free and tell them about it. Do review exchanges. Interviews. You get the idea. The name of the game is cross-pollination. Do it in a way that benefits both of you. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out; most authors are cool about it. And don’t forget to give other newbies a leg up when they ask you (if they’re kind about it).
- Supplemental material. You can have lore posts, artwork, character profiles, and little extras like that on your blog. I did the same with my The Swordbringer character profiles and concept art. Fun stuff!
Of course, blogs can be used in conjunction with mailing lists, YouTube, and so on. But don’t overlook blogs! Blogs aren’t dead. They’ve just smelled funny for a while.
Thanks to reading my blog, you know that my books are available on Amazon, and on 99¢ ebook sale until the end of April. Buy them here!
This is Part 3 of NortherWild‘s 7 posts in 7 days challenge.