I’m still relatively new to blogging, and you may well legitimately ask – what authority does a non-published, aspiring author have to blog about creative writing? Well, let’s see…
- To establish an online platform: It has 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 are able to reach a wide audience and develop a strong following into the bargain, is one such means of expanding your readership, brand, 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 showcase your ability to write – or otherwise.
- To learn from the experience of others: All aspiring authors have to start somewhere. There is an appealing sense of solidarity in sharing with others the trials and tribulations of our trade as we each follow our individual journeys towards publication. 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 for me 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 simply celebrate or commiserate together along the way.
- Instant gratification: When you first set out to write a novel you know it is 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 an 80,000 word + novel, the sense of gratification that comes from completing an engaging, well-written blog post and the sense of reward that comes with it is comparatively instant – and rather addictive – which is what spurs me on to write more.
- Clear aim: I have started this blog with the great optimism that one day, ONE DAY, I will be a published author who can offer value via my blog by sharing the steps I have taken to achieve that success – whether it’s through providing examples of a query letter or synopsis that worked (or failed) – or simply recounting a J.K. Rowling-esque story of rejection, rejection, rejection – success! Even if it doesn’t quite pan out this way however, I will still have a story to tell and information to share about the process as I have experienced it, pitfalls and 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, and remind us that there is a world beyond the as yet unwritten page before us.
- 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 ‘made it’ in their chosen field. Like you I am on a journey, and I simply invite you to share in it with me – I’m as keen to hear about your experiences as I am to find an outlet for my own.
- May compromise opportunities: Establishing a writer’s blog before you are published could compromise potential professional opportunities if: your blogging skills do not live up to the quality of the writing you have demonstrated within your manuscript; you share experiences of criticism or rejection about a piece that’s still on submission (if it’s been rejected by other agents or editors, why should someone else accept it?); or should you vent your frustrations with certain agents, editors or publishers. If you hope to make a career from your writing, you should at all times retain a level of professionalism, respectful communication and accountability. Avoid oversharing aspects of your novel too – providing a sample is OK, but if you release your manuscript chapter by chapter recognise that an editor is unlikely to invest in work that has essentially already been ‘published’ online.
- Distraction: This is a big one for me as I do find myself torn between the responsibilities of blogging often enough to attract and maintain reader interest and further developing the manuscript of my third novel. The blogging appeal is even greater for me at the moment because it’s more achievable than novel-writing in the short snippets of time I have available whilst parenting two dependent children (and because I’ve reached a sticking point on book 3 that has scuppered my momentum – though once I get back into the flow it’ll likely be the blogging that takes a hit). I find that the key is to establish a realistic, achievable blogging schedule – the frequency in which you aim to post – and to otherwise dedicate your time to what matters most – your novel.
- Limitations: If your manuscript is currently on submission there may be many subjects that have cropped up about the process and lessons learned along the way that you’d love to share with your readers – but now is not the 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. For me, writing has always been a safe and enjoyable outlet; the one consistent avenue through which I truly feel comfortable to express myself. A writer’s blog I turn to again and again is written by Carly Watters (Literary Agent) – you can find her at: www.carlywatters.com. Admittedly she is well established in her field and has earned the authority to share her extensive knowledge on the subject – so perhaps I have just contradicted my entire blog post – though I do hope you have found some value from your visit here too!
Do you think that a writer’s blog written by a non-published author can offer value? I’d love to hear what you think, please comment below.