Camy here, answering a question I received just this week about blogging for promotion.
First off, NO, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BLOG TO PROMOTE YOURSELF.
(I heard Julie heave a gigantic sigh of relief.)
It’s true. Some people simply don’t enjoy blogging and that is perfectly all right. You will not make or break your career by not blogging.
Different people are gifted with different ways of interacting with people. Some people are good at blogging. Others are good at contributing to conversations on email loops or forum boards. Still others are great at booksignings. Others excel at meeting bookstore owners.
Whatever your particular gift, use it. Don’t be stressing yourself out, trying to develop a skill you simply don’t have.
Yes, it can be useful to start blogging even before you are contracted.
It is never a bad thing to make your name known before you have that book contract. Blogging won’t contribute significantly to your marketing plan when you submit your proposal to a publishing house, but it will make it easier for you to jump-start sales when your book releases.
A blog can also be a good place to showcase your writing style and voice. For example, my blog is just like my fiction writing—irreverent, funny, chatty. People who like to read my blog posts will like to read my novels because they’re very similar in tone.
When you blog, make your blog tone and voice similar to your novel voice. That way, your readers will be attracted to your writing through your blog voice. Try to pick topics that your readers would be interested in, and write them in a voice similar to your novels.
For example, if you write historicals, you can blog about little historical tidbits, or your vacation to a historical town, or even chat about your family’s history. You can mix up your posts with current events or other things that readers would be interested to hear, but keep the tone of your writing the same as in your novels.
Also, you never know if that editor you submitted to goes to check out your blog to see what kind of a person you are, and what kind of a writing voice you have in your blog. If she likes what she sees, she might be more inclined toward bringing your manuscript to pub board.
Blogging can be a good promotional tool, but it requires commitment.
You will notice that the successful blogs in the blogosphere have authors who post regularly. Three or five times a week, every week. Very few missed days.
Readers are more likely to return to visit a blog that has new content every time they visit. This means committing to post on your blog.
Of course, if you can commit to posting on your blog, that’s great—you’ll eventually see your readership grow, and you’ll develop followers who will be foaming at the mouth to buy your book when it’s available.
Do some research on how to blog well.
One of my favorite blogs is ProBlogger, who posts about effective blogging. His focus is blogging for income, but his tips on the elements that make good blog posts is very valuable. You can subscribe to his blog via Feedblitz and get his posts in your email inbox everyday.
Another useful handbook I’ve found is the Suite101 guidelines for their article writers. While blogging doesn’t require use of pure third person (no I’s), a lead paragraph or subtitle, the guidelines they have are still useful for bloggers to blog effectively.
I also wrote an entire series of articles on blog marketing at the CAN Marketing blog.
Once you get into blogging, you’ll be glad you did—it can be a useful tool for promoting yourself without seeming to promote yourself.
Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!