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Readers: What Do You Want to See on an Author’s Blog?

Just about all the experts agree that authors should be blogging on a regular schedule (it helps build a fan base, turns random visitors into followers, etc) but there’s one point that no one has explained adequately – What should authors blog about?

I am hoping you can help me answer that question.

There are many opinions on what authors should blog about; just about every self-publishing or freelance writing site will tell you exactly what authors should do. I have an opinion on the topic myself, but rather than pontificate I thought it would be better to find out what readers thought (market research almost always trumps personal opinion).

So I have a few questions for you:

What type of posts do you like to read on an author’s website? What keeps you coming back to that site?

This question is intended for readers, but authors are also welcome to comment – for example, what is the most popular type of post on your blog?

I thank you for your help, and all the authors who read this also thank you.

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Mackay Bell December 3, 2017 um 5:25 pm

I can only speak to my personal experience, but I’ve found that blogging regularly is a lot less important that writing something interesting, funny, helpful or provocative. Also, contrary to the advice normally given, my longer posts are much more effective. (3,000-5,000 words.)

Now, because of my day job, I’ve never been in a position to blog every day, so I can’t really speak to the effectiveness of that. But, given the choice between putting up some short fluff once a week, and a longer more thoughtful post once a month (or every two months even), the longer more thoughtful posts always win. And it usually doesn’t matter so much if I’ve been blogging regularly before that.

I think the most important thing I learned about blogging is that you want to have posts that pop up when people are googling a particular subject because those are the ones that will keep on generating traffic months and even years later. I have several posts a couple years old (one on the Amazon vs. traditional publishing controversy and one on The Tragedy of the Commons) that continue to generate traffic even when I’m not posting. It also helps, a lot, to have posts that get linked to by someone else (Thanks Nate!) so the quality of the writing in the post needs to be worthy of a link.

So what to post about? I think you need to post on subjects you know, are passionate about, and have a strong opinion to share. I get good traffic writing about controversies in self-publishing and tips on self-publishing. I get even more traffic when I write about Apple computer because there are a lot of fans out there who are interested in that. Posts related to my life are generally ignored. (My life is pretty boring.)

I also get a lot of traffic on my cartoons, so visuals are important. Even just a little piece of clip art can help.

Carmen Webster Buxton December 3, 2017 um 7:03 pm

I blog about the publishing process a lot. My single most popular post by far is the one where I compare Nook Press Print with Createspace. Second is a post on putting non-Amazon books on a Kindle.

Linda Maye Adams December 3, 2017 um 7:43 pm

This is actually hard to answer. Most of the writer’s blogs blogs I follow blog about writing to other writers. And it seems like the ones who don’t blog about writing don’t blog regularly enough for me to stay around–it’s almost like "I’ll put up a post when I think about it."

For the ones blogging about writing, please, please, please, do not just blog about writing craft as if every single person reading the blog was a beginner writing their very first book. It does tell me a lot more about why I probably won’t like your book than you might realize.

Harvey Stanbrough December 4, 2017 um 7:34 am

In addition to being a novelist and short story writer (collectively, I say I’m a "fictionist") I’ve been a writing instructor for 30+ years. So as Linda Maye Adams wrote above, I blog once a week on how-to stuff for writers and indie publishers. As a result, my nonfiction books (on writing) have always sold well. On that main blog I have around 600 subscribers. Of course, even with 17 or 18 nonfiction titles, it’s easy to saturate that market fairly quickly.

On the fiction side, for a time (over a year) I was involved in a challenge in which I would write and publish one new short story every week. I "pre-published" that, also on my main website, on a second blog. I had only about 60 subscribers on that blog. Go figure.

I also maintain around 60 subscribers on a third blog, a Journal that lays bare the life of one professional fiction writer, warts and all, and the writing process. For almost two years, that one was daily. Now I’ve laid off it for a bit, with a promise to return soon. The goal with that one is to maybe provide a way to skip some of the learning curve for subscribers.

As to whether any of those three blogs are "effective," my only direct indication is the occasional thank-you note from a subscriber.

Jim heskett December 4, 2017 um 8:30 am

I follow the common advice, which is: write about stuff of interest to my readers. So, I post cover reveals, chapter sneak peaks, giveaways, announcements about future books. Also, I do some book reviews and other nonsense.

Straker December 4, 2017 um 9:47 am

As a reader, I don’t expect a writer to blog every day but I would expect at least a short post every week or so to assure me that the blog is still active. When I visit a new blog and see that the author only posts once or twice a month I’m not encouraged to come back again. As for content, one thing I don’t want to see are screeds about politics. There are a million other places I can get that if I’m so inclined.

John Stanton December 5, 2017 um 4:20 am

Nate Thank you for continuing this blog. I havehave read it for many years. I look for info on ereader updates, problems. For me there is too much author minutia. Perhaps 2 days for this and the rest for general interest. Also there is not a need to have 6 articles each time. Some are repeats. Great work, I check it everyday ! Be well !
John Stanton loyal follower !

Nate Hoffelder December 5, 2017 um 11:30 am

I’m not sure what you mean by duplicates, but I will take the rest of your comment to heart.

I just recently identified an interesting problem that contributed to the "too much author minutia" you mentioned. While author minutia posts are the most shared on Twitter, they’re not the most read on this blog. Consumer tech posts like you mentioned are read more, but not shared as much.

For a while there I was responding to what was popular on Twitter, writing more author minutia, and I was missing out on the fact that this did not drive most of my traffic. That was not a good idea.

Make Kay December 16, 2017 um 1:46 pm

Ooo, I totally agree with Straker above, about expecting to see at least a couple of entries per month., Otherwise I’m not motivated to check out the bog repeatedly.
I love to learn research tidbits that authors come up with when writing. Also about challenges the writer is having in their current WIP.
If it’s a writer who I really connect with (either I adore their work or I lose their authorial voice) they can talk about pretty much anything and I’m interested.

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