Whether you traditionally publish or indie publish, a lot of people talk about platform. One way to get yourself out there is to run a blog. Granted, blogging isn’t for everyone. Writing and promoting posts eats a lot of time that could be spent on your novel. But let’s say you’ve thought it through and like the perks of blogging and have decided you want to jump in. Great! Next question.
What on earth do you blog about?
The “How to Write a Novel” Trap
Once upon a time, someone apparently came up with the idea that readers would be really interested to know how an author’s creative process works. (You know, like those “making of the movie” and “behind the scenes” features on the DVD bonuses. I love those, by the way.)
So authors started blogging about how they write their books. And wouldn’t you know? The blog-o-sphere became flooded with authors talking about how they write their books … which quickly slipped into “how to write a book.” Because, low and behold, the audience who was most interested in this topic … was other authors.
We now live in an era in which author blogs, collectively, have become an online writer’s conference. Fellow writers happily gather ’round to talk shop … and the readers have been left on the outside. POV? Showing vs. telling? Grammar and punctuation??? Somehow, these tricks of the writer’s trade aren’t as exciting as watching CG animators and a guy in a white leotard bringing Gollum to life.
Does that mean you should never talk shop? Nah. Some people – authors and readers alike – are still interested in the creative process. But how can you make your blog more welcoming to readers?
Non-Fiction Authors Are on to Something
Let’s pretend for a moment that you were writing non-fiction. (Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t. Stick with me. There are lessons to be learned here.) If you’re writing non-fiction, all of a sudden, finding topics for blogging becomes a whole lot easier.
What is your non-fiction book about? What ideas did you mention in the book that you can elaborate on in a blog post? There was no doubt a lot of information you had to leave out, and a blog is a great place to let all that cut material see the light of day. What’s going on in the news that’s relevant to your topic? Who else is an expert in your field? What is their opinion, and what do you think about it?
As an added bonus, it’s just naturally easier to grow a following around a blog dedicated to non-fiction. There is more demand in this world for actionable facts than for made-up stories. (Sad reality.) People Google stuff. They look up hashtags on Twitter. They find you. If your blog is good at answering questions and solving real-life problems, people will subscribe. And click little “share” buttons. And help you expand your reach.
But wait. Why not create that kind of demand around your fiction blog?
What to Blog About if You Write Fiction
As imaginative as fiction gets, it always contains a certain basis in reality. Yes, even fantasy and science fiction. If fiction were completely detached from our world, there would be no sense that the story we’re reading has anything to do with our lives, and thus no feeling of connection. And thus we’d quit reading.
Every single book is based on human experience. All of ’em. Even if your main characters aren’t human.
We just took a non-fiction book and turned it into blog post material by asking, “What is this book about? How can I elaborate on those topics in blog posts?” Now let’s take a fiction book (I’ll use my current work-in-progress as an example) and ask that same question: What is it about?
- The Lake Geneva Mailboat (a real tour boat that delivers mail dock-side via mail jumpers)
- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (a summer resort town near Chicago known as the Newport of the West)
- Fatherless children
- Foster care
- Parents of the incarcerated
- Survivors of trauma/PTSD
Do people Google these topics? You’d better believe it! Have you researched these topics in order to write your novel? I darn well hope so! Would people searching for the above topics be interested in both your blog and your novel?
I don’t seriously have to ask that, do I?
Your book may be a work of fiction, but it is pieced together from non-fiction. And therein lies the key to blog post topics that would be of interest to readers. And not just any readers – your readers!
What do you think? Do you run an author blog? What do you like to blog about?