Tuesday, October 23, 2012
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
Lately I've hosted quite a bit of discussion here on my blog about the issue of blogging and platform for fiction writers, specifically whether it's a time-suck and whether agents and editors require it. My agent had a post yesterday that continued her thoughts about whether all authors should blog.
In the ever-changing publishing industry, it really should come as no surprise that the nature and need for blogging is changing too. We've learned a lot about social media over the past several years, and the bottom line is that social media, blogging in particular, doesn't significantly impact whether a novelist is going to find success with his or her books.
I'm traditionally published and I've come to the conclusion based on my own experience as well as through observing others, that one great book after another builds a successful platform for a novelist, not blogging. (That's NOT to say blogging is useless. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. Blogging CAN serve many purposes and has many benefits. It's just not going to tip the sale's scale too far.)
But what about fiction writers considering self-publishing? Do they need to work harder at blogging and building a platform? After all, they don't have traditional marketing dollars to help spotlight their books. Should they develop a pre-existing platform before self-publishing? Are they doomed to obscurity if they choose not to blog?
In order to get an answers to my questions, I turned to a successfully self-published author Addison Moore. I've been friends with Addison for a number of years before either one of us were agented or published. While both of us have chosen different publishing paths, we're still friends and it's been exciting to see where our writing careers have taken us.
Addison started independently publishing her books in March of 2011 with her first book ETHEREAL (Celestra Series Book 1). In May, she released her second book TREMBLE, and then by July she had two different producers interested in turning Celestra into a TV series. She opted to go with 20th Century Fox. Currently she has eight books available with a few scheduled to release before the holidays.
TOXIC, is ranked within the top 400 on Amazon's best seller list for Kindle. Although I'm not at liberty to share specifics on her sales statistics, I can say the numbers she shared with me are astronomically enviable.
I asked Addison a few questions about platform, namely if it's helped her to achieve her success.
First I wanted to know whether she thought novelist considering self-publishing needed to put time a lot of time into developing a blog or platform.
Addison answered with this: "For a writer considering blogging each day, I would say don't do it. Utilize your time writing and producing interesting and exciting books. Keep the blog current but don't become a slave to blogging. Your time is better spent writing your next great novel."
She also said: "I find that most of my readers don't have blogger accounts and it makes commenting difficult so I rely heavily on facebook for communicating with readers. I use my blog as a home base where readers can come and learn more about my books or read extra's that I've written. But overall facebook is a far more fluid venue for creating interpersonal relationships with readers."
I also asked Addison what role social media has played in contributing to her success (if any).
She only posts on her blog about once a week in a post she calls "Teaser Tuesday" in which she shares excerpts from her upcoming books. I don't see her much on Twitter. As mentioned above, she interacts with her readers mostly on Facebook.
Her OWN social media efforts were NOT what lead to her success. Rather it was the WORD OF MOUTH of her readers "via their blog’s, their generous facebook shout-outs, and twitter recommendations. Pixel of Ink picked it up in April of 2011 and they have a huge social media following via facebook, twitter and their own blog. They lifted the series off the ground a few times due to their incredible subscriber base."
In other words, Addison didn't have an enormous pre-existing blogging or social media platform that rocketed her into the spotlight. Instead readers enjoyed her books and naturally spread the word so that her popularity continued to grow.
Finally, I asked Addison what she considered the most important factor(s) in her books becoming popular and selling well.
She answered that "the most vital role in the series success was the low price of the first book. For over a year ETHEREAL was .99 and currently the book is free." She also offered this advice to anyone considering self-publishing: "Get a very good editor or two."
My Summary: I think it's really important for fiction writers whether traditionally published or self-published to keep blogging in perspective. The ingredients that make a book take off are a fantastic, compelling book and word of mouth by readers who are excited about that book. BLOGGING doesn't significantly sell more books. Great BOOKS sell more books.
So what do you think? Are you surprised by anything Addison said? Do you think blogging and developing a platform are more important for self-published writers? Or do you think it comes down to the book itself no matter which publishing route a writer chooses?
A HUGE thank you to Addison Moore for taking the time to enlighten us regarding blogging and social media for self-publishing writers. You can find out more about Addison on Facebook or her Blog.
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