I’m still relatively new to blogging, so you may well legitimately ask – what authority does a non-published, aspiring author have to blog about creative writing? Let’s see…
- To establish an online platform: It’s unfortunately become increasingly common for agents and editors to expect an author they’re considering working with to have pre-established a sound social media platform – some even request links along with your submission. Establishing your own blog or author website, especially if you’re able to reach a wide audience and develop a strong following into the bargain, is one means of expanding your readership and online presence; and it’s no coincidence this also provides a convenient starting point in the marketing of your published novel. This avenue could have the potential to backfire however, should you fail to post consistently and frequently enough to attract a following, if your blog and/or website does not present to a professional standard, or should the quality of your blog posts fail to live up to the standard of your manuscript. Though blogging demands a different skill-set to novel writing, keep in mind that both avenues aim to demonstrate your ability to write.
- To learn from the experience of others: All aspiring authors have to start somewhere. There can be a sense of solidarity in sharing the trials and tribulations of this industry as we each follow our own separate writing journeys. I’ve personally found that learning from, following and communicating with other writers via blogs, books, or writer’s forums has helped answer some pretty significant questions that have arisen along the way, such as – is a particular agent/publisher reputable? If a publishing contract is offered which requires money to be paid upfront, should it be accepted? (In short, no – but more on that another time). How should an invitation to revise and resubmit be responded to? What are agents/publishers looking for in a query letter and synopsis and where can I find some good examples? We’re all at different points of the process and like many things in life it can be helpful to learn what to do, or what not to do, from those who’ve trodden the path before us – or to celebrate or commiserate together along the way.
- Instant gratification: When you first set out to write a novel you know it’s likely that months – if not years – will have passed between the opening paragraph of Chapter 1 and those two little words at ‘The End.’ Though the composition of a blog post is not as demanding as the crafting of a full-length novel, the sense of gratification that comes from completing a blog post and the sense of reward that comes with it is comparatively instant – and slightly addictive.
- Clear aim: I started this blog in the hope that one day I might become published and could offer some value by sharing the steps taken to achieve representation. Even if it doesn’t quite pan out that way, there’ll still be a story to tell about the process; pitfalls, pinnacles and all.
- Connection: Writing is a solitary activity, and blogging or the use of other social media tools can provide an outlet and opportunity for us to connect with other like-minded people.
- Lack of authority: A person’s success in a particular field lends their voice authority and credibility, so it can be difficult to place confidence in someone who hasn’t yet achieved something significant in their chosen field. At the same time, everyone has a story to tell, and everyone’s an expert in their own experience – someone is bound to relate to and find value in what you share if they’re interested in the subject.
- May compromise opportunities: Establishing a writer’s blog before you’re published could compromise potential professional opportunities if the writing quality of your blog doesn’t live up to the quality of the writing you’ve demonstrated within your manuscript, or if you share experiences of criticism or rejection about a piece that’s still on query (if it’s been rejected by other agents or editors, why should someone else accept it?), or should you openly vent your frustrations with certain agents, editors or publishers. If you hope to make a career from your writing, remain professional, respectful communication and accountability. Avoid oversharing aspects of your novel too – providing a sample is fine, but if you release your manuscript chapter by chapter, understand that an editor is unlikely to invest in work that has essentially already been ‘published’ online.
- Distraction: For me, writing a blog post is often much easier (therefore more appealing) than working on my novel. A post is more achievable than novel-writing in the short snippets of time I have available while caring for two little children (and because I’ve reached a sticking point on book 3 anyway that’s completely scuppered my momentum). Try to establish a realistic, achievable blogging schedule – the frequency in which you aim to post – but otherwise (unless you happen to really love blogging) aim to dedicate your writing time to what matters most. Your novel.
- Limitations: If you’re already querying your manuscript there may be many subjects that have cropped up about the process and lessons learned along the way that you’d be keen to share with your readers – but now might not be the best time to do it. In this respect, having a writer’s blog as an unpublished author can be limiting, but the advantage is that you will be storing up valuable content for later on when the timing is better.
The decision of whether or not to start-up a writer’s blog is a personal one. A writer’s blog and great resource I recommend and go to most often is written by Carly Watters (Literary Agent) – you can find her at: www.carlywatters.com.
Do you think that a writer’s blog written by a non-published author can offer value?