It can be tough for novelists who want to use a blog to gain new readers. Most advice for blogging authors is only practical for nonfiction authors. So, what can a novelist blog about to build a crowd of the right kind of readers?
Glad you asked! Here are some suggestions…
BLOG ABOUT NONFICTION TOPICS
Unless your audience is other writers, you should avoid writing about the craft of writing. However, there are still a number of ways you can use nonfiction to shine the spotlight on your fiction.
#1 Write articles related to your fiction
Does your particular brand of storytelling fall within some category that lends itself to related articles?
- Do your characters have interesting jobs?
- Do your characters represent a particular culture?
- Are your stories set in a historical era or in interesting locales?
Think about whether you might write some background articles that explore the context of your characters and their world.
#2 Publish a Q&A with yourself
This is another way to share what you were thinking as you created the story. Be sure to stick to questions and answers that will engage your target readers. Shoot for coming up with between 5 and 20 questions. You can include all the answers in one article, or spread them out over several entries.
#3 Answer questions from your readers
Do your fans have questions about your work? Maybe they want to about your research, or the backgrounds of your stories. Your audience may have some great ideas for blog topics that will point people to your fiction.
#4 Write about what’s trending
You might look for a topic that’s in the public consciousness and then explain how your own story contributes to the larger dialogue. This can range from current issues in the media, perennial topics, or even holidays. This can work if your story is relevant. Be careful not to trivialize an event or post something in poor taste.
BLOG ABOUT FICTION
It’s always helpful to associate your fiction with appropriate examples that are well-known to your target readers. Think of how retail stores use endcaps to group related items together. What books or authors would make sense being grouped with yours?
#5 Write reviews
Write up reviews of classic and current titles in your genre. You can also post reviews of movies, television shows, or anything else for fans of your genre.
#6 Make list posts
A list article is an easy way to include several books or movies at the same time. The list should be related to your fiction--that way, it makes sense to reference your book or even include your book on the list.
Examples of lists for fiction:
- Favorite locations in fiction
- Characters who have the same occupation
- Authors who write a particular sub-category of a genre
- Books or movies set in the same historical period
#7 Conduct interviews
An interview with another author in your genre is a quick way to get new content, and network with them as well. This can be an email Q&A, or an interview recorded off a phone call or video chat. Remember to discuss topics of interests to readers. Focus on authors who write in the same category as you; the most famous author in the world can't help you if he or she brings the wrong readers to your website or blog.
BLOG ABOUT YOUR FICTION
When you watch Blu-rays or DVDs, do you watch or listen to the bonus content? The best bonus materials pull back the curtain, provide context, and illuminate the personalities and process behind the work. Here are a few suggestions to create "bonus materials" for your fiction…
#8 Imagine a Q&A with your characters
Instead of an interview with yourself or with a real person, craft an interview with one or more characters from your book.
#9 Create featurettes
Another kind of behind-the-scenes content is a short featurette where one or more people discuss certain elements in the film or genre. For your purposes, these can take the form of articles, audio, or video. Think of 3-5 topics from your novel that you can talk about. Some examples:
- The nature of heroic characters in storytelling
- The best kinds of villains
- The best examples of your genre
- Issues or topics raised in your novel
#10 Share deleted scenes
Even the best manuscripts are trimmed. Sometimes, whole scenes are cut. Sharing this cut material might provide context or provide a glimpse into a character. It may also show why it was wise to cut it from the final work.
#11 Provide an author commentary
Just like a Blu-ray or DVD commentary track, a novelist can record an audio “commentary track” that offers behind-the-scenes info about the book. Why did the character do that? What are some interesting bits of trivia? What real-life person (or people) inspired this character? What research or real-life inspiration led to this scene? (You may want to transcribe your commentary and post it as a series of articles.)
BLOG YOUR FICTION
Often, the best way to get new readers is for them to sample your work.
#12 Post the actual text
For some authors, the easiest option of all might to just post the fiction on the blog. But even here you have a number of options...
- Post excerpts of your novel. These need to make sense as standalone pieces, with little context. Avoid posting any excerpts that give away too many details. Of course, the excerpt won’t prove that you can tell a complete story.
- Post self-contained short fiction. An interesting exercise would be to write a short-short story every week. Every few months, bundle up your short fiction into an eBook collection.
- Serialize your novel 300-1500 words at a time. If you have a finished novel that is not under contract to a publisher, one option is to serialize that.
- Serialize something brand-new. A reasonable word count for a blog post is 300-1,500 words. Each post can be a chapter of a longer work you share over several weeks or months. If your blog allows comments, readers can take part in the process. Their comments--and corrections--might help you shape the work as you create it.
#13 Read your fiction aloud
Another way to engage readers is to create audio and video files of you reading the work aloud. On top of sharing your writing, this also allows them to hear your voice, drawing them closer to you as an author. There are a few ways to approach this idea:
- Make it a podcast
- Upload audio files on your blog
- Upload videos to YouTube and embed them your blog
You should host large media files on a separate media server. This reduces the risk of slowing down your website, or even making the website crash.
But if you're just posting short audio files, you can just upload them to a Word Press blog. (If you're on a different blog platform, check into availability.) Don’t call these “podcasts”--that term refers to the distribution model, and not the content.
YouTube is a free media host, and YouTube videos are easy to embed on your blog. How you can take advantage of this:
- Make a video of you on camera reading from your work. Make sure you have good sound (use a microphone) and good lighting (more light should be in front of you than behind you). Give the video file some light editing and post-production, and then upload it to your channel on YouTube.
- Record an audio file of you reading from your work. Use a microphone. In a video program like iMovie, you can combine the audio with an image (like your book cover) to make a video.
ARE YOU A NOVELIST USING YOUR BLOG TO PROMOTE YOUR FICTION?
Do any of these ideas resonate with you? Which sound like the best strategy to promote your fiction? Have you tried any of these methods? Share links below to show me examples on your blog or website!