From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share tips and pointers for other authors. The following are the words of Dan Salerno; author of “20 Short Ones.” Dan, who previously shared the story of his personal publishing journey last July, returns to contribute his perspectives on the importance of authors use social media and blogging to promote their books. To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!
Chances are you have already heard opinions about blogging and Twitter. I’m not going to give mine, but I am going to offer five solid reasons why you should consider both, coming from my own experience.
- Writers write.
It’s what we do. And it’s about the only thing we have in common. We write about different subjects in different ways using our unique style. Blogging gives you a wide open opportunity to practice your craft. It also provides a framework and a discipline to motivate you to write. I typically re-post my blog 3-4 different times during the day to draw more readers. Each time before posting, I edit my blog to make the post stronger. It’s second nature to me now to consider whatever I write a first draft, in need of revision.
- Blogging will help you define your audience.
Nobody writes to everyone. It’s impossible to be successful (build an audience) by trying to appeal to all readers. In the beginning, my blog
(www.lifesomethings.blogspot.com), had no target audience. I wrote about everything from snowfall to butterflies to shooting hoops (basketball). But after a year or more of blogging I realized that what I wanted to write about was faith and spirituality. I had discovered my target audience! And once I discovered that, the number of people who actually read my blogs has vastly improved.
- You will discover a community.
My blog is linked to a Twitter account that I set up about six months ago.
At a writers’ get-together in May, 2015, one of the attending authors mentioned that she had learned a lot about writing via Twitter. Linking my blog to Twitter (www.twitter.com/dan_salerno_) in conjunction with defining my audience, has helped get more people to actually read what I’m writing. And it has provided a community of like-minded writers who use Twitter. We encourage each other. Yes, it’s true that Twitter confines you to 120 characters. That’s a great way to practice getting to the point. (I mostly use Twitter to link my blog, to send along quotes that speak to me, and to “like” and “re-tweet” other stuff that writers Tweet. I am also exposed to a lot of good writing by reading what others Tweet (especially links to other blogs).
- No one writes in a vacuum.
This point is an off-shoot of #3, but it bears separate consideration.
If you define success as a writer as having others read your stuff, then, by necessity, you’ve just signed up to be part of a community. It can be a scary thing to share what you’ve written with a public audience. Especially if you’re an introvert. But, there is no getting around the inevitable decision to send out what you’ve written and see the response. That’s how writers develop and grow. In community.
In addition, both my blog host and Twitter track readership. That means you can take a look at how many folks read what you’ve written. You can go deeper and notice trends. You can find out which blogs attract more readers? You can experiment with different headers (headlines) that attract reads. What works, what doesn’t?
- You will learn to deal with rejection.
No one writes without receiving criticism. Facebook friends can unfriend you. Twitter followers can decide to stop following. None of that means you are a “bad” writer. One of the most helpful reviews I ever received of my book, 20 Short Ones, was written by a guy who didn’t like the book. But within his review he gave some wonderful, constructive input!
For the longest time, one thing that kept me from publishing a book was the fear of rejection. I had grown up having articles I’d written published and worked as a freelance writer for a while, but that was completely different than book publication. I suspect that many other would-be writers also face this fear.
Blogging and Twitter have both helped me further overcome this fear.
So, what are you waiting for? Why not make a resolution that in 2016 you’ll begin to blog!
WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us @WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length.
This confirms my own thoughts about blogging and social media as a would-be writer. Thank you for the helpful nudge!