Not every author needs or should have a blog. Blogging as an author is different than blogging in general because you’re cultivating readers for your books, so you need to choose a blogging schedule and topics that align with your other writing and publication timelines.
TOPICS AUTHORS CAN BLOG ABOUT
If you want to blog as an author, you are blogging to build your readership or platform. That means what you write about on your blog should be related to your books. Don’t blog about your life as a stay-at-home mom if you write erotica or your thoughts on children’s literature if you write nonfiction memoirs about a brutal experience in the Vietnam War. Your author blog should be a way to keep in touch with and cultivate readers for your books. This is going to look different for fiction and nonfiction authors.
If you write nonfiction, especially if it’s not a straight memoir, you should blog about your area of expertise. Use your blog to share things that didn’t make it into your book or illustrate how people have successfully implemented your advice. If you’re working on a new book, use your blog to explore those ideas. A nonfiction author’s blog should demonstrate their knowledge and skill, giving you credibility.
If you write fiction, you can share insights into the stories you’ve created. Use your blog to reveal your inspirations for your characters, settings, or story events. These are aspects of your writing you may have already written and cut; now you can put them to good use. I share the aspects of different classic fairy tales I incorporated into my modern fairy tale collection in my author blog. Like how “Voices of Sacrifice” is my version of “Bluebeard” and how the original fairy tale was actually a secret message.
You can also blog your research. William Liggett writes climate fiction, so his Cli-Fi Blog is about discoveries related to global warming. He focuses more on science than politics in his blog like in his novels. This is key. Your blogging voice should align with your book writing voice.
In addition to writing your research or expertise, you might share a bit about yourself. Many readers like to know the people behind their favorite stories, so share pieces of your personal life or recaps of author events. Quizzes, speaking engagements, photos, and character sketches are other things you might put in your blog (and send to your email list.) Regardless of what you choose to write about, remember your end goal is more readers for your published works.
TIME AND LENGTH: BLOGGING BASICS FOR AUTHORS
Before you start creating a blog posting schedule or writing articles, you need to look at how much time you will have to work on your blog each month. The most important quality of any successful blog is consistency. If you blog every week for three months then skip six weeks, your blog and website appear abandoned and out of date. How much time can you devote to your author blog?
After you know your time commitment, think about the length of posts you’d like to write. There may be some trial and error here. Because I write informative blog articles, my posts tend to be 1,000-1,500 words. I write 1,200 words an hour, so I know each blog will take me about 2 hours a week to write, quickly revise, create images for, and upload. It took much longer the first few times when I was still learning the process.
If you want to write an informative blog like mine, your posts do need to average 1,000-3,000 words in order to dive deep into your topics. If you’re looking to be more entertaining, you might be able to get away with shorter posts around 500-800 words. Your word count will depend on your topics and personal writing style.
Think about how long it takes you to write 500 words and how much time you have to devote to your blog each month. Then decide if you can commit to a post a week or more like 1-2 posts a month. General bloggers should release a new article at least once a week, but this isn’t the best advice for authors. You’re blogging to connect with your fans and build your readership, not develop a huge blog following you can monetize, so pick a publication schedule that meets your time constraints.
THEME AND BATCH YOUR BLOG POSTS
Once you commit to a blog, you learn real quick that planning out your next 4-6 blog posts prevents stress. Some weeks or months you’ll be too distracted or creatively drained to come up with great blog topics. In those times, you’ll thank yourself for planning out some posts ahead of time.
Every other month or so, I take an hour and sit down to plan my next 4-8 blog posts. I pick a topic or theme I want to cover like setting, then I list the different aspects of that topic I want to address. For a setting that might be climate, time, society, mood and tone, and description. Next, I write a brief outline for each blog post on scratch paper.
Now that you’ve thought about your author blog topics and posting schedule, you might want to do something similar. Think about some topics you want to write about, then look at how many posts those topics may require. Or create a schedule that alternates between different posts. For fiction, this might be a character post one month, a research article the next month, and writing updates the third month. For nonfiction, you might alternate testimonial story posts with new advice articles.
Once you have a plan, you can batch your posts if you want. Some weeks I feel inspired and will write 2-3 articles and schedule their publication. Other weeks I can barely manage one. Outlining my next few blog posts and batching help me avoid blog burnout and will do the same for you.