Monday, April 18, 2011


As I approach my 300th post, a few thoughts about blogging are rattling around in my head on the subject of readership. I imagine that most writer-bloggers ponder these at some point, and now it's my turn. Who, exactly, is my audience? Are the people who read my blog actually going to be interested in my novel once it is published? Are the people who buy my book once it is published actually going to want to read my blog as well? Does it matter?

With non-fiction, it's a more obvious connection. Those authors have special and specific knowledge about a particular subject that can be the basis of their readership across a variety of platforms. Someone who writes about science can also blog and tweet about science, and the same demographic applies. It's all non-fiction.

But the non-fiction "voice" of an author is not the same as the fiction "voice" of a novel's narrator. Sure, a writer of comic novels may want to cultivate a comic tone in her blog, and a writer of middle-grade books will probably want to keep his blog PG-rated so that there is some overlap between the stories and the writer's online presence. But ultimately, the things I want to talk about may not have any appeal to my future readers, and vice versa. (Jody Hedlund covered these issues quite nicely in a blog post she wrote earlier this year.)

If I write about my path to publication, I'll naturally be attracting mostly other writers. Now, other fiction writers should obviously also be fiction readers*, but who knows if they read the kind of fiction I write. Will the fiction posts get lost in the shuffle of "regular" blog posts, making it too hard to find for the readers who do want it? Might putting my fiction on my blog (as I did here and here and sort of here) actually be confusing and unwanted for my regular blog readership? Because as much as I want people to read (and eventually buy) my fiction, I like blogging. I hope that my posts on the craft of writing have been genuinely helpful to people. I hope that people can save time when looking for their first agent because of resources I've provided.

I've decided that one blog cannot be all things to all people. So I've created a second, fiction-only blog. People who want to read my short stories can go there. People who want to hear my personal, struggling-writer's voice can stay here. I hope a lot of you fall into both categories, but it's cool if you don't.

Readers, WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE OF IN THIS BLOG? What have been your favorite posts so far? Tell me a little bit more about yourselves, so I know who my audience really is.

*If you're one of those people who thinks you can write a novel without reading extensively... you're wrong. Go watch So You Want To Write a Novel and then for the love of all that is holy go get a library card and start doing your homework.


  1. I've enjoyed your posts about Grub Street, and about the Rock Bottom Remainders, and anything that gives me a whiff of a sophisticated city that embraces the written word (San Antonio is lovely but our focus is a little different here!)

    I also enjoyed your posts about Serious Girl, because I too am a mom and I know how difficult it can be to balance personal interests with family obligations.

  2. It will be an interesting experiment with the fiction blog added to this current one. I tend not to read fiction on blogs since I am here more for information or to learn from the experiences of others, whether it be writing experiences or just life experiences. It's nice to get to know the person behind the blog.

    I have found that my outright fiction posts have not attracted as many comments as my posts that are true or appear to be true--these seem to draw the interest of the readers more. My blog posts that have to do with the topic of blogging also seem to generate a lot of interest from readers who want to add their thoughts. Also the posts I have done about encouraging others or trying to inspire what they do in life have gone over well.

    I think that many readers are trying to find something with which to identify and relate to. Since you are mostly focused toward other writers this might be a good area to focus on. I like hearing about the writing events you attend or what knowledge you've gained from blogging or writing.

    Finally, showing readers that you truly care about them (or at least appear to) by responding to their comments and occasionally visiting their blogs and commenting creates a strong rapport and loyalty with others.

    The way I see it, for a fiction writer, the blog is a marketing tool for building yourself as a name brand and for promoting what product you have. The blog is one of many areas where you can give your sales pitch (politely and tactfully), nurture a loyal fan base, and establish a springboard into other marketing arenas. The connection with other bloggers is vital when it comes to taking your book on a virtual tour and expanding your internet presence.

    That's the way I see it from observing the other authors and from my experience so far with my year and a half of blogging. Once I get a book out there I'm going to my fellow bloggers first to help me promote and hopefully I will have maintained their loyalty to me by my being a blog friend to them.

    My opinion---I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Tossing It Out

  3. Thanks for your thoughts, guys!

    Lee, you're right about connecting with other bloggers -- I used to be good about it, then stopped when I started spending (too much!) time on Twitter. We'll see if I can't get my priorities straight this time around. And you'll be pleased to hear that I'm going to another writing conference in a couple weeks! I'll definitely report back on it.

    Jenna, I'm especially pleased that you like reading about the writing-mom perspective. Serious Girl just turned four, and I think I'm only just now starting to figure out how to balance her needs and my own properly! And, I'm sure both our needs will change again soon and I'll have to start from scratch. Phew!