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Blogging can be a great way to grow virtually any sort of business, but that doesn't mean it's always to figure out HOW to go about it. That's particularly true for author blogs.
Should a mystery writer blog about unique and interesting murders that have occurred recently? Probably not.
Should every blog post be a short story or book chapter? That sounds exhausting – when will you find time to write things you'll get paid for?
Should you fill your readers in on your daily life? How many of us are actually interesting enough to make that work?
What Should Authors Blog About?
This is going to be a little different for every author.
If you're a non-fiction author, it's usually pretty straightforward. You'll likely blog about your topic, the occasional book excerpt, and any sales or announcements people need to know about.
For fiction writers, it's a whole different ballgame. Some ideas include:
- News of interest to readers – Conferences for readers, non-controversial stories that are in some way related to novels (not a great idea to promote your books with someone's tragedy), studies that might interest your audience
- Reviews, lists, or coverage of articles or books that may interest your readers – This is also a great way to help promote other authors in your space – and perhaps generate some goodwill that leads others to do the same for you in the future
- Character sketches and other bonus materials – This could include anything from history lessons about the time period of your novel to maps of the world to materials that inspired you as you were writing
- Personal experiences – This is one you need to be careful with (oversharing is a real danger, but when done in moderation, it can give your readers a bit of insight into your life and help them feel more connected to your work
- Book cover drafts or inspiration – Don't expect your readers to be as excited about a book cover as you are – but know that many will be interested in the process or pleased to see that your latest work is coming along nicely
7 Inspiring Author Blogs to Draw Inspiration From
We all know the big, traditionally published authors like David Sedaris, JK Rowling, and Neil Gaiman. All of them have blogs, and they're all wonderful.
In this post, though, we want to take a look at some of the smaller, indie-published blogs that may be very similar to what most writers here would be considering.
1 | Anna Castle: Historical Fiction Author
Anna Castle is a historical mystery author who's filled her blog with all the juicy bits of history and research she hasn't been able to use in her stories. While books need to serve the story, an author blog can be a bit more indulgent – allowing those who are interested to come in, sit for a while, and learn something new.
Visit: Anna Castle
2 | Laura Kate: Indie Romance Novelist
Laura Kaye uses her blog to showcase specialsNobody would ever call Laura Kaye's author blog “compulsively readable”, but it IS very functional. The blog highlights her latest books and specials, keeping readers in the loop with frequent updates.
This is a particularly good strategy for authors who adopt a “rapid release” approach. If you're getting 6+ books out each year, the books themselves will be your best marketing – and you won't have as much need to keep people deeply engaged as if you were doing just 1 book every year or two.
Visit: Laura Kaye
3 | Carolyn Arnold: Author of Police Procedurals
Carolyn Arnold has clearly put some real effort into her blog (or someone has). It's a great mix of promotional posts, interesting articles, interviews, and excerpts. The featured post graphics are enticing, and the sidebar is well-used to get people opted into her email list and social media (while also promoting a variety of featured titles).
Visit: Carolyn Arnold
4 | Linda Huber, Romance & Crime Fiction Author
Linda Huber's blog is the sort a reader could get lost in for hours. She highlights loads of different books alongside her own, and also includes interesting pieces on settings and scenery for her novels.
Visit: Linda Huber
5 | Mari Howard: Literary Family Sagas
If you're interested in seeing an example of an author blog that's really personal, look no further than Mari Howard's site. Unlike some of the very graphic-heavy, commercial blogs, this one is intensely personal and even a bit political at times. While that's not a great approach for mass appeal, her books aren't designed for the kind of broad appeal you typically seek with genre fiction.
Howard's books cross the line between literary fiction and family saga, so it makes sense that her blog would also be fairly wordy, with more niche-appeal. It's a great illustration of the fact that you can do MANY different things with your author blog and still make it work for you.
Visit: Mari Howard
6 | Joann I. Martin-Sowles: Young Adult Author
This particular author site doesn't truly have a blog, but it contains a lot of content you might put on a blog. That content just happens to be scattered around under a variety of easily-navigated menus instead of pushed into a blog.
That brings us to a great point. If you have a set of things you want to share in perpetuity, adding them to the navigation of your site may actually be a BETTER option than a blog. Why? Well, blogs are chronological, and unless you do a lot of tweaking, older content will get pushed down and eventually lost to people browsing your site (unless they know what they're looking for).
This can also be a great approach if you just don't want the pressure of publishing posts regularly. Another option, of course, is to simply remove the dates from your posts (though it can make promotional posts confusing).
Visit: Joann I. Martin-Sowles
7 | Erica Arndt: The Blog-First Author
Sometimes, it makes sense to put the focus on your blog and THEN find your way into publishing. That's especially true with non-fiction.
When you blog first, you build up a writing habit, you learn more about your niche, and you build a platform you can use to launch your books later.
It can also give you an income independent of your book – an asset you could sell, should you ever be so inclined.
Erica Arndt is a homeschool blogger who's built her own little empire with a blog, a book, courses, and items to buy in her shop. It's not the right approach for everyone, but if you're in the world of non-fiction, it's worth considering whether it might work for you.
Visit: Erica Arndt
There's No One Way to Build an Author Blog
As you can see from the examples above, there's no one right way to build your author blog. All of these blogs belong to successful authors, and they all suit the way those authors want to promote their work. Our recommendation is to browse them all, think about what would and wouldn't work for your personal brand, and then get started from there.