Blogs, Author Platforms, Connecting (Pt. 1)

 

Yes, I know.  I said I was going to start on the Sunlits “behind” the scene posts this week.  That is still on the table, I promise.  I’ll probably be alternating for a few months between this series, and the Sunlit series because I just can’t figure out when else to slide this one in.  Especially since I really need the series I’ve been reblogging on Mondays!  (My editor thanks you Susan.)

To kick this series off, I’m going to go back and revisit a concept I talked about waaay back in December of last year.  If you’re just discovering my blog, you can go here to read that post.  I’ll wait.

 

Ready to move forward?

Wonderful.

Now, as I said then, Twitter is the heartbeat of any platform.  Information you put up there is gone almost as fast as you hit enter.  There’s ways to help with that, and I’ll address those in a later installment.  If you are unfamiliar with Twitter, I’ll show you where you can find some excellent information later as well.

So, if we’re not focusing on Twitter, what are we focusing on?

The heart and soul of your platform.  Author’s blogs are different from just about any other kind of blog out there.  They are a place for your fans and potential fans to get to know you – the real you.  Because of that, there’s a few things that need to be addressed.

One of the most common questions I hear is “I’ve got a blog, but how do I come up with content?”

Even when this isn’t addressed to me, I try to answer.  For me, content is easy.  But, I’ve got an established blog, established series, and a wonderful group of followers (who don’t comment much… OK, I don’t give them much of a chance.)  But, for an author just starting out in the blogging world, even assembling a blog post is a daunting task.

Here’s a few ideas to explore for your content:

  • Research – did you do research for your book(s)?  If you did, you’ve got a HUGE gold mine you can use to develop content out of.  You don’t want your blog to be “my book this”, “my book that”, and “look at my book!”.   Not only is this irritating for the reader, it also does not feel professional.  When you are using your research for content, here’s some things you may want to include in the article:
    • Is it interesting?
      • The information you were researching is something you’ve been interested in.  If not, did you become more interested in it as you were researching?
    • Is it something you’ve wanted to learn more about?
      • Sure, it’s important to your book, but try to explain your reasons about including this in the story.  Even if you are writing a brutal, grisly homicide rape scene (something I’m sure most of us would not be all that interested in, unless it’s to look at how it was solved), you could explain that you’ve had an interest in such scenes because someone you knew survived a close encounter to such an event, or you work in a crime lab (outside of writing.  I know, that horrid four-letter word “J. O. B.” )  And, that is why your were investigating this information.
    • The process of developing your characters
      • Watch out with this option – it can easily slip into “Hey!  You!  Go look at my book!”
      • This is a wonderful way of introducing readers, and potential readers, to your work.  You can set up posts where you are doing character interviews, the character’s back story that won’t show up in the book, or even a personality evaluation.  Have fun with this, but try not to mention your book directly.
    • It is something you are passionate about
      • You already love the subject, and so have gone out to happily burrow through the mass of information available to find out something new.  Highlight that new piece, how you found it, and if/why you went searching for it.  This type of post can talk about your book, but keep it focused on the development.
  • Personal Interests – These can get a little slippery when you try to link them to your writing.  So, while you are getting your blog up and running I would strongly advise – don’t link them.  Just write about what you are interested in.  As you become comfortable with the content of your blog, you can introduce pieces of how your interest tie into your books, but try to keep the book from screaming at the readers from the page.
  • How your book(s) developed.
    • BE CAREFUL with this approach.  Yes, posts in this type of thread are all about your book.  They are going to scream “Look at me!  Look at me!”  However, you can still use this approach.  Especially if you have other post types already in place.  Focus on the creation process, not the fact the book exists.  If you have a work in progress, this is a wonderful post style to use.  Some of the benefits include:
      • Talk about the challenges you are facing in your writing
      • What plans do you have for the way the plot is moving?
      • What are your plans for the characters?
        • Did the characters behave the way you had planned, or did you wind up having to alter things on the fly?
      • If you are close to publishing, you can talk about when the book will publish (and where).  This is a very specific post.  Use it ONLY when you have a book approaching publication.
      • Cover reveals – a wonderful time to talk about everything that went into the cover creation.
      • Teaser snippets – for those of us who write in a linear manner, there are times when scenes slam into our heads that are too good to forget, but just don’t fit where you are in the process.  Write them out on the blog.  It lets you preserve the scene, shares some of the work with your followers, yet does not get pushy.

If these don’t help get the mind running with ideas, I have a few more options:

  • Flash fiction – Yes, flash fiction works.  It’s tough, it’s creative, and it provides content.
    • If you feel up to the challenge, you can set up a regular post series of your flash fiction.  Kind of a serialized story.  Handy to fall back on when you need a quick filler post.
  • On WordPress (and I think some other blogging platforms as well), there’s a wonderful thread of prompts and challenges.  Pick one from the list, and run with it.
  • Poetry or art – Still creative, yet it gives the writing “muscles” a chance to relax.
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