A blog about writing and all things story…
I recently spoke to a Literature class at the University of Washington in Seattle about (among other things) a writer’s use of social media. Writers are notoriously introverted and some even painfully shy. The idea of having to ‘put yourself out there’ can be equivalent to standing naked in a window at the Mall of America. But this worrisome mission can be accomplished–I offer myself as evidence.
In 2005 I started a blog as a companion for the advice column I wrote for a bridal magazine, titled (both column and blog) Romance & Money. I blogged about, you guessed it, romance and money, and then published a book, wrote
romantic-travel articles, taught classes, and had the opportunity to do some traveling for the magazine. This all culminated into a book, Romance & Money, 12 Conversations Every Couple Should Have, which successfully sold for a few years. Based on that I was interviewed by MSN Money Magazine, several radio programs and newspapers. It all started with the column and the blog; my non-fiction platform. Well, let’s not forget the twenty-year career in personal finance that preceded it all. Anyway . . . I grew weary of what had been my long time passion and career, and retired.
In 2008, my desire to write fiction inspired my next blog, titled, Literary Liaisons. I was terrified! Though I had been widely published in the non-fiction arena, and felt confident in what I wrote about, fiction was another universe. And in that universe I knew I’d be recognized as an alien who did not belong. I had no MFA, no lit degree, no fiction published credits; what the heck did I know and who would care what I had to say?
So after much deep deliberation, I decided to go with what I didn’t know and based my blog on that; my desire to learn about the writing world. Though I cringe when I read it, I dug up my first blog post on my old (blogger) blog; here it is if you also would like to cringe, click here. My point is that you have to start somewhere. I started not with what I did know, but rather with what I didn’t know and it matured from there to the wordpress site you are now reading. (BTW, Thanks for reading.)
I’ve written this blog, Literary Liaisons for over seven years. In the beginning I was terrified to write and post my blog pieces. It felt like I was revealing myself naked to a world waiting to expose my every flaw.
Whether you like or not, to get your work; novel, memoir, short stories or non-fiction into the hands of readers in these ever-evolving days depends in large part upon your existing audience scope/reach and influence, and your influence depends in large part upon your skill with social media, including blogs. And as is always evident when I speak to writers who are just getting started or authors who have fought the increasing demand to partake in the malevolent blood-sucking world of social media, this can be a scary thing.
In the class at the UW the other night, one woman whose eyes rolled back in her head when I mentioned blogging, said she didn’t have time, and could never blog about her book. I suggested she blog about her passion for what inspired the story. Though I won’t give her secret-sauce away here, it was akin to the underground world of a Voodoo society.
“Bingo!” I said, “There’s your topic.”
She’s fascinated by the history, myth, and all things to do with the rich tapestry that makes up the backstory in her novel. Readers will find her blog and begin to follow, because this is a niche topic that I’m sure has an audience.
Then, when her novel is finished, then published, she has a ready-made audience just waiting to read the novel that has that secret world interwoven.
That’s why a writer should start blogging long before they finish their novel/memoir/short stories and especially non-fiction. It’s a good recipe for success. Platform building can, and usually does start small, at a snail’s pace, and then grow organically. You can add Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or whatever social media tickles your fancy, but having a blog, which I refer to as ‘the mother ship’ is a sustainable way to reach and then grow an audience at your own pace.
And speaking of pace; that student the other night was concerned about time. Well, it’s your choice, blog three times (though I warn against that time suck) or once a week. Heck, blog once a month in the beginning. But blog with passion and stay on theme. Readers will follow.
Get Your Writing Published: May 6, 2017
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By Miri Elm
(re)Living History, with occasional attempts at humor and the rare pot-luck subject. Sorry, it's BYOB. All I have is Hamm's.
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