Yes, You Should Blog and Tweet Before You’re Published

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Are you an unpublished writer without a blog? Not tweeting? Well, you should! And here’s why.

Today’s post was inspired by the guest post by Heather Kopp last week at agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog, 7 Reasons to Quit Balking & Start Blogging. She makes some very good points and I’d like to add some more to them from my own experience.

I’d meant to do this post months ago when I ran across a blog post from a writer who posted that tweeting and blogging, she discovered, was not beneficial. The problem was her reasons for doing it and her methodology. See, she’d just published her first book and wanted to get the word out and heard that blogging and tweeting helped. So she set up a blog and a twitter account and went at it, and got no results. The problem was not only her timing, but the way she went about it. We all know those tweeters, who only send out auto-tweets promoting their book and you’ve never heard of them and they don’t engage you on twitter. I think at her stage, her audience was readers, and only readers who’ve found her book through other means would seek her out and follow her. But would a reader only be interested in Buy My Book tweets? No. Anyway, let’s move from that example, as I think enough has been blogged about the perils of this type of approach by others more articulate than me.

Let’s just use the above example as Reason #8 (picking up from Gardner’s post)…

8. You need to build your audience BEFORE you’re published. True, at this stage you’re not targeting readers because they have nothing to buy and read, but there are plenty of examples of folks who did this who benefited when her book came out. I think Jody Hedlund is one, am I remembering right? She’d built up a tribe of supporters who then wanted to help promote her when she published.

9. You are missing out on a whole passel of contacts that can help you. I started blogging and tweeting in September and felt really, really self-conscious, since I hadn’t published anything. It felt very strange and I really thought I wouldn’t last past two months, because who would want to visit my blog?? And for what reason?? I forged ahead anyway, and boy, I can’t tell you how much I don’t regret it. I’ve made SCORES of friends who have helped me learn so much more about my craft, who have given me encouragement, you name it. I’ve also found my Beta readers this way. I can’t honestly imagine where I’d be right now if I hadn’t started in September, but I can tell you, I’d be a whole lot further behind on my learning curve.

One of them, Jami Gold, I connected with back around Thanksgiving when she needed some quick Betas. I stepped up and we struck up an email correspondence, helping each other with pitches and queries. I then Beta’d her full and she recently Beta’d mine and really truly helped me see just what I needed to do to make my piece stronger. She’s been so helpful and supportive she even let me call her to hash out some writerly stuff and we’re going to be roommates for RWA.

I also wouldn’t have met Stephanie Lawton (via Twitter) and learned about the Mobile Writer’s Guild, which I’m now Vice President of and have met other wonderful writers in my local area. I also can’t always attend my local RWA chapter meetings because of my day-job work schedule, but tweeting helps me keep up with my fellow members.

And where would I be without my Six Sentence Sunday buddies? I’ve made wonderful friends through it, and discovered some new fave authors whose books I’ve bought.

None of this, none of the knowledge I’ve gained, none of the friends I’ve made, would have happened if I hadn’t started. Plus, I’d be a month away from going to my first national writers conference (RWA) and not know a soul. I can just picture myself (cuz I’ve been there) wandering around, watching others greet people they know. But now I’m a month away from not only learning a bunch of stuff, but a month away from meeting all the people I only know by name and their profile pic!

10. It CAN help in your actual writing output. I know it can be a time sucker, constantly checking Twitter, but once you get over that need to stay on top of EVERYTHING (because you finally realize you can’t), it’s wonderful for not only making new friends and learning about writing, but it can also help you with your output. Just hop onto the #1k1hr thread and you’ll see. You’ll meet other writers who are wanting to sit down for an hour and just write. You agree on a start time and you don’t come up for air until the end of the hour, when you report your output. This has helped me tremendously in meeting my daily goals and to stop me from obsessively checking all my online stuff.

11. Potential agents can find you. I personally haven’t had agents find me this way, but I have heard of it happening. I have had an agent who requested a full who commented in her email that she loved my Monday Hunk Who Reads. They ended up passing, but still, that was cool :) By having a blog, you are showing your brand, what you are like as a writer and person, and it can help them decide.

12. You’ll be stronger when you do publish. This is rehashing #8 somewhat, but I think it’s important enough to circle back to after showing all the other benefits. Now, when you do publish a year, two years, three years later, you’ll not be one of THOSE on Twitter who is only me, me, me and no one’s ever heard of you. No, instead you’ll have writer friends who support you and want to see you succeed. THEY’LL promote you. I know, because I help promote those that I’ve met since September whose work I’ve read and liked. Writers read, and they have family and friends who ask for recommendations all the time.

What do you think? Are you a writer worried about jumping in before you’ve published? Are you already blogging and tweeting like me? Do you have any other reasons why it’s a good idea? Please share!

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26 Comments

  1. I still am resistant to twitter, but blogging has been a great experience.

    Reply
  2. stlaurec

     /  June 27, 2012

    Good post! I agree with you, I think it’s best to start blogging and tweeting before being published. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

    Reply
  3. A great post, Angela! I’m currently blogging/tweeting without a finished manuscript. I started doing so earlier this year, because I wanted to prove to myself that I’m taking my writing seriously. As you mentioned, I’ve met so many wonderful people that I wouldn’t have known without Twitter/Wordpress.

    I completely agree that it helps make you a stronger writer… it also helps your creativity, your voice, and your motivation. I might only blog once a week right now, but I know that if I don’t have a post up on Tuesday, I’ve done something wrong.

    Also: Browncoat girls for life!

    Reply
  4. L.J. Kentowski

     /  June 27, 2012

    I’m definitely with you on this one. Blogging and tweeting have connected me I so many people that have helped me and I have in return helped them as well. It’s a great way to learn new things about the craft of writing, sparking new ideas!

    Great post Angela!

    Reply
  5. I agree. I also think you should be at it for at least a year before you publish. Good post!

    Reply
  6. I just started blogging last November (to celebrate NaNoWriMo), and though the growth of my blog’s audience has been slow, it’s been steadily increasing with each post.

    One additional point for number 10 is that you might want to put commitments out there for your audience to read and hold you accountable (as additional motivation). This has spurred me to blog consistently and I plan to eventually do the same with my book.

    Reply
  7. I’ve been blogging since 2003 when a bunch of my friends on Yahoo groups started to use Live Journal. But I find that using social media as an ‘author’ is a very different and far less natural experience. I used to blog regularly as me but as “Ein” I’m pretty much tongue tied. I’m shy – very shy – so doing public things is nervewracking. What I have done is to make sure I promote other authors’s work, do author interviews, write reviews for books I have enjoyed, fact check and beta for historical novelists and generally do my best to make myself useful and supportive. Being helpful is far less stressful than trying to be a personality.

    Reply
    • Maybe being helpful IS your personality, Elin. :) Whatever you do, you need to be comfortable in it. The point of this is to let people see who you are, not someone you think they might like. You sound pretty nice to me, just being your shy, helpful self. Your personality is just fine as it is and more to the point will attract people who like it, who are likely to be the same people who like what you write.

      Reply
      • I have to agree! Elin, I would never have guessed you were shy. You’re obviously doing something right with your blog, and that’s the most important thing. As Kylie says, you need to like what you’re doing or it will show…

  8. I’m very grateful to you, Angela for suggesting twitter to me. I’ve made some great friends and found some wonderful new favorite authors as well. Plus, it’s fun.

    Reply
  9. It’s funny – I always have a lot to say. And even though I’m fairly new to being a writer (having only started in January) I’ve already learned so much that I like to tell others about. The problem is that I feel like most all the advice or information I want to pass on has already been said. And often “by others more articulate than me”, as some smart person recently said. ;-)

    So, any advice for how to get started blogging about stuff people care about when you feel like it’s already been said?

    Reply
  10. I had a website and blog in development when I submitted my first manuscript and was fortunate enough to have it accepted my first time out. That, however, resulted in diving headfirst into social media (the manuscript was accepted before the blog and website were finished). My book doesn’t publish until 10/8/12 but what a wonderful world I’ve discovered through Twitter and blogging! I’ve made so many friends and have learned so much. I’ve only been in the social media arena since February but couldn’t imagine jumping in AFTER publication. I think authors definitely need to begin building an online presence prior to their book’s release.

    Like Angel King, I was intimidated by the idea of blogging—what could I talk about that hadn’t already been addressed? I’ve since learned blogging isn’t just about content, it’s about context too. It’s hard putting yourself out there when you’re an introvert at heart, but it’s amazing what you find to share when you allow yourself the freedom to explore.

    A great post, Angela!

    Reply
  11. Wonderful, helpful post and so true. Recently my agent pitched the to big six publishing companies. She doesn’t deal with anyone below and executive editor. Three editors requested my submission packet and, also one associate editor that somehow found about that my agent was ready to submit my book. No one knew who she was, so I started to google her and discovered she was following me on twitter.

    Reply
  12. Great reminders! I also love your Monday Hunks Who Read:) Keep up the wonderful blogs please and thank u~cheers

    Reply
  13. You couldn’t be more right, Angela. Building things up so you’re prepared for a release ahead of needing to be just seems smart to me. But if you don’t like blogging, please don’t do it. It does take time and head space. The people who attack it cause they gotta get no where. Readers can feel it. You clearly love communicating this way and sharing a little of your life and outlook and it shows. It really does.

    Reply
  14. You said a mouthful, Kylie. You have to like what you’re doing. If you find it a chore it will take away from your writing time a lot more, because it will drain your energy. If you like it, even though it takes time, it will recharge your energy for writing. I resisted Twitter for ages, thinking that it was stupid, but having jumped in, I love it. I hadn’t realised that it is really just one big conversation – and I LOVE to talk! And perpetrate a certain amount of smart-arsery, which Twitter is also great for. ;)

    Reply
  15. Great points here… and I also liked the original seven on Gardner’s site. I’m also new to blogging, but find it tremendously useful and rewarding and a great opportunity to meet like-minded writers and to learn. I have resisted Twitter up until now though – I think it’s a great tool, I just need to rationalize my time and with work, family, friends, writing schedule, I feel I have to make some choices. The Rachel Gardner blog also had a good post on this (My Love/Hate Relationship with social media). Thanks for the interesting post!

    Reply
  16. Your advice is dead on, Angela! And I’m tweeting and blogging without a book too, because of all the reasons you’ve put up here. I also started blogging in September. I haven’t been as successful in building followers, but I believe it’s because I only post once every one to two weeks. It may not be enough, but I’d rather spend my time on my novel! For those hesitant about Twitter, I started tweeting maybe 2 years ago, and was baffled for a while. Though it took me a bit of time to work out how it worked, once I did, it wasn’t so baffling. More important, it doesn’t have to take all your time!

    Reply
  17. Aww, thanks for the mention, Angela! *hugs* Would you believe that I forgot that was how we first connected because it seems like we’ve known each other for so much longer. :)

    Yes, I agree with all your reasons. I wanted to add my personal experience to #10. I’ve found that treating blogging professionally, sticking to a posting schedule, has helped my muse. I don’t give him an excuse for “not being in the mood”–and that’s a great attitude to carryover to our normal writing too.

    Reply
  18. All so true! I’m still a relative newbie, but blogging and tweeting has helped me learn so much about writing and the business of writing. And… I’ve met so many other writers. Writing is such a solitary endeavor, it’s nice to know people in the same boat.

    Reply

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