Should all authors blog? Of course not. We’re all different and we write for different audiences. There are lots of ways to establish an online presence. Anne Rice does a good deal of publicity from her Facebook page, and Stephen King is big on Twitter. Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert communicate with fans on Instagram.
Would a blog work for you? It might. Blogging is the best way to make friends with Google (otherwise known as SEO or Search Engine Optimization.) That means readers can find you through search engines. In other words, a blog helps readers find you and your books.
Unfortunately there are too many writers who are not supported by their loved ones. Thanks for this great article, Anne R. Allen!
I’m always amazed at how many people I know — friends who would go out of their way to help me physically — cannot say one supportive thing about my writing. Some even ask for one of my books and then never mention it again. Others make fun of the fact I’m a writer. “Yeah, but what do you do for a living?”
When I tell them I’ve written a blogpost about a subject that interests them, they make elaborate excuses for not reading it. Or they say “I’m not a blogger” as if that prevents them from reading online content.
Even after three bestsellers, a highly successful blog, and multiple awards. I have a lot of unsupportive friends who don’t acknowledge that I’m a writer. And I’ve discovered I’m not alone.
It turns out a whole lot of people can’t deal with having creatives for friends.
One of the things that will get you an automatic rejection from most agents—and a swift toss to the DNF pile from a lot of readers—is an unsympathetic character. Especially an unsympathetic protagonist. Personally, I have to admit if there’s nobody in a story I care about, I’m out of there after ten pages or so.
But what do we mean by a “sympathetic character?” What makes us care?
The truth is the protagonists of our most popular books, plays and films are often people we wouldn’t like to hang out with in real life. Some are pretty toxic.
From “wily” Odysseus to Don Quixote, to Heathcliff, Becky Sharpe, Scarlett O’Hara, Dexter Morgan, Walter White, Lisbeth Salander, and the “Girl on the Train,” we are fascinated by morally ambiguous characters who make bad choices.
But don’t these successful works negate the dictum that a protagonist must be sympathetic? Nobody wants these people as their BFF.
AdminBD provides us with a few good tips and hints on Anne R. Allen’s blog. Thank you very much for this great article.
on Anne R. Allen:
One of the primo, Number One “rules” for writers is write what you know.
Writing what you know is generally excellent advice for writers who are in the early stages of their careers. Knowing your setting — whether it’s geographical, professional, familial, is one less issue you’ll have to face when you’re still not yet completely comfortable with fiction’s basic craft elements — narrative, backstory, plot, dialogue, character.
What if you can’t — or don’t want to — write what you know?
Ruth Harris published a guest post on Anne R. Allen’s blog about how writers stand between themselves and success. Thank you for your very educational blog post, Ruth.
on Anne R. Allen:
A term used in scoring tennis, “unforced errors” are not caused by the actions of the player’s opponent, but they’re the responsibility of the player him/herself. S/he is caught wrong-footed, out of balance, unable to return the serve, incapable of making the winning shot.
The concept of unforced errors can also be usefully applied to writers. Unforced errors are the self-inflicted harm we do to ourselves.
Anne R. Allen wrote the perfect blog post about the first bad review, and I would recommend every young/new author to read it. She writes with compassion and humor. Thanks for this one, Anne! You rock!
I’m not sure anything stings as much as that first bad review. You’re riding high in triumph. You finished the project that may have taken decades to complete. Then you survived the crushing editing/ querying/ rejections/ revising/ editing again process. But now you’re finally a published author.
Whether the publisher is yourself or the Random Penguin House, the feeling is the same. It’s your baby and you just gave birth. You are experiencing a moment of bliss.
That review. Somebody hates your baby. They really hate it. You are a talentless hack and a worthless defiler of language. They say you should never write another word and suggest you take up underwater basket-weaving or making throw pillows out of dryer lint.
And it hurts like #$&@.
Anne R. Allen informs us on her blog about four newbie writer mistakes that can derail a great book idea. Thanks for your information on that, Anne.
You’ve got a fantastic idea for a novel. It’s been hanging around for quite a while, knocking inside your noggin. The idea keeps saying, “Let me out! Release me! Put me in a book!”
Maybe there’s a scene in your head that plays like a video, with every detail of the setting right there, as if it’s on a screen. You know those characters. They’re like real people to you.
But you’ve never had the time to write it all down.
Now you do.
So here you are, finally banging out that scene. And another. And pretty soon you’ve written 10,000, maybe 15,000 words of brilliant, deathless prose. It almost wrote itself. Wow. That was almost too easy.
It IS brilliant, isn’t it?
Well, maybe not. Maybe what’s on the page isn’t quite as good it seemed when you were in the zone.
In fact, it could be terrible. What if you have no talent for writing at all? Maybe you should be in the living room doing that kitten jigsaw puzzle with Grandma instead. How do you know if you’re any good?
You’ll have to ask somebody knowledgeable. Like a published author.
And this — this is when you fall down the rabbit hole.
Anne R. Allen provides us with an experience no author ever wants to make. Read the blog post and you know what I mean. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Anne.
Recently I got a furious Facebook message from a stranger who accused me of “using her life” in one of my books. It’s amazing how sometimes life imitates fiction.
She had apparently been a Facebook friend, and she dramatically unfriended me after sending a distraught DM describing the traumas in her life that I’d “stolen”.
Since she’d blocked me, I wasn’t able to assure her that Leona Von Schmidt, one of the suspects in The Queen of Staves, is an entirely fictional construct—a comic character who is not meant to resemble any real inhabitant of Planet Earth, living or dead.
When I wrote the book, I’d known nothing about the details of the Facebook woman’s life that she accused me of revealing. (Although of course, I know them now. Some things can’t be unread, alas.)
Julie Valerie writes a guest post on Anne R. Allen’s blog about influencers that can help authors reach agents, publishers, and readers. Thank you very much, Julie!
From Book Blog to Book Deal.
First things first, because I’m sure this question is on a lot of writer’s minds: does a book blog still land a book deal?
My answer? Of course, they do. Great writing and great content will always find an audience, and where there’s an audience, especially a sizable one, there’s typically a book deal waiting to happen. Think Julie Powell, Candice Bushnell, Jen Lancaster, and Jenny Lawson.
Not to mention, entire empires (with books launched along the way), have been built on the humble foundations of blog sites that just wouldn’t quit. Think ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse and Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi.
Anne R. Allen writes about a danger some of us writers are not expecting; sabotage in our own four walls. Thanks for this very informative post, Anne.
Learning to write well is tough. Getting published is tougher. And selling your published books is tougher still.
Nevertheless, we persist. Most writers feel compelled to write, and usually, nothing can stop us.
But we can be waylaid, distracted, and seriously discouraged. Some of us can’t write for years because of devastating “creativity wounds” and body-blows to our self-esteem. Misguided and untrained beta readers and critique groups can also kill a writer’s creativity.
Others quit writing after horrific experiences with scam publishing companies and bogus agents. I have written often about the publishing scammers who lie in wait for newbie writers. Do check out my posts on scams, and always check Writer Beware. Scammers can break your heart as well as emptying your bank account.
I’ve also heard from several authors who put their writing on hiatus after sadistic troll attacks derailed a fledgling writing career. (We had some great advice on how to fight online attacks from Chris Syme last week. Attacks like this were the inspiration for my novel So Much for Buckingham, which is on sale this week.)
But sometimes the writer’s most dangerous enemies are closer to home.