If you won't have a blog, don't bother sending us your manuscript

That’s a pretty strong statement – not taking on a new author unless they are prepared to have a blog, but in 2011 a decent blog has moved from important, to a mandatory requirement. Why? Three main reasons. Consumer behaviour, the market and promotion.

1. Book buying, along with most shopping these days has become an internet search enabled activity. With the speed and accessibility of the web post broadband and mobile devices it only takes a few mouse clicks to check out the author of the book you are considering. I’ve noticed that I do it subconsciously myself over the last few months checking out people’s expertise in many situations - from finding out about someone ahead of a meeting, to validating the credentials of an author. In a similar way to hunting out reviews of consumer goods you are thinking of buying, a blog represents the easy access impression of that person’s writing credentials. People are much more web savvy than before, and according to Google UK adults spend a staggering average of 52 minutes on the internet per day.

2. We face an ever more congested marketplace. There is more choice than ever in almost every possible subject area, with the velocity of new books only likely to increase. Although the greatest influences on sales remain things like reviews, word of mouth etc., the buying public respond to coherent and easy ways to decide whose book to choose. A well written, informative blog can be that differentiator. Especially important in the early life of a title before reviews build up – and simply critical for new or lesser known authors.

3. Marketing. I’ve mentioned social media before [I’m not proclaiming to be an expert in the field just agree its vital], and there is a general consensus that marketing success these days is all about offering the consumer quality content. From our Twitter activity, Facebook posts and other social tools, it’s the offer of an interesting blog article that gets by far the greatest number of click-throughs – and importantly the viral interaction that is the holy grail for the social marketer. On Twitter #newblogpost tweets we send out are re-tweeted [forwarded on by interested readers] more than any other and linking to articles on Facebook can create multiple comments. Articles are a very nice subtle kind of marketing. We linked to Alicia Eaton’s recent article on using NLP to manage fear, and it led to an increase in sales of her NLP bedwetting book – unrelated subjects you may argue, but the article re-enforces her credentials in both NLP and as a child psychologist which is the same underlying buying criteria for her book.

Finally, there has been a lot of talk about the author being the brand and to a certain extent I subscribe to that in our social media dominated world. Not being prepared to have a blog could point to not having enough time to maintain one (worrying) or having an aversion to public interaction (more worrying). I will however draw the distinction between our two divisions NLP/Therapy and Victorian Literature. For practitioners, if they are to survive as businesspeople, they need to be geared towards self promotion. For historians and mystery writers for whom it is not part of their business it is a bit different. For them it is down to how many books they want to sell– authors with good blogs sell more books, it’s as simple as that. Take Keiran McMullen - a brand new first time author with a brilliant blog - lots of interaction through Facebook and a big source of sales, especially in his native USA. He includes relevant things to his writing, reviews of other Holmes books and details of his events and signings.

So for the reasons above there will be no more new authors without blogs for MX – or are we being too harsh?

Comments

It's not really about the blogging

djbressler's picture

Though the comments are all "right", I agree with Steve on his original statement. Perhaps though not how you'd expect. 

I put my thoughts into a blog post of my own, and did a linkback to the original post here.

http://infinite-probabilities.com/2011/02/its-not-a-blog-its-a-media-hub/

Enjoy

David Bressler

Solid Digital Marketing Strategy: Yes Blog Only? No.

Rejecting a brilliant manuscript because that author doesn't have a blog isn't just harsh, it's foolish and short-sighted.

I've worked in the digital branding/marketing field for many years, and I've found that a blog is not a cure all.  One size does not fit all when it comes to reaching and connecting with readers.

For instance, we work with one author who has a target demo of older readers (age 50 and above) based mostly in the midwest.  Her sales are excellent, her site traffic is excellent, but her blog traffic is abysmal.  Not because the content is bad, but because her readers aren't interested in a blog.

Many of these readers are on dial up, and they'd rather spend their limited time reading short messages on Facebook.  They connect with her there in droves.  They also love her print newsletter (I know! Print!  In a digital age!  How can that be!).

Another author has a target demo of busy work professionals in their 30s.  He tried a blog and it was an absolute flop.  But his demo audience IS on Twitter and prefers their info in 140 character bursts.

In addition, not every author is cut out to blog.  You tell me what's worse: an author with no blog, or an author who has no talent or stamina for blogging, forcing out sub par content, while the daily comment count hovers at a big fat zero?

As Phil said, the savvy publisher recognizes that a social marketing strategy and demonstrated online following is crucial.  But limiting it to a blog... that's insane.  The whole reason the "long tail" of marketing is so key, the whole reason multiple delivery formats have become the new digital frontier, is because every target audience is unique and the way they consume content is varied.  

You cannot herd them, or their authors, into the blogging corral and expect that to pay off.

Kelli

Solid Digital Marketing Strategy

steveemecz's picture

Hi Kelli - just the kiind of response I was hoping for from the article and great to hear that you are adapting the strategy to suit the audience. A key thing you mention here is 'try' which is what the point of the aritcle is. Social media is all about trying new things and you are so right when you say its almost impossible to tell which tools will work for which author based on their readership. We too have very successful authors on Facebook whose blogs bomb, and some who do everything through Twitter very sucessfully and, yes, we deal with the Sherlockian community who love their print newsletters too....But if an author isn't even prepared to try a blog [substitute the word for 'Facebook', 'Twitter', 'YouTube Video'] then that's what we mean by a solid indicator of trouble. It's an extremely rare book or author that isn't prepared to engage with social media that will be successful in 2011.

Misguided

Saying that an author has to have a blog just shows how much you don't understand. You don't understand marketing. You don't understand social media. You don't understand fans. A blog should be considered to be part of an overall plan, not a requirement. If a blog makes sense, then it should be used, but it's by no means a necessary piece that will make or break an author.

Seems to me that the focus should be on the book, the art, not whether or not a blog exists. If the book is good, and the author does a good job of getting the word out (in a way that makes sense) then the book will sell. Blogs don't sell books, the book itself does.

Actually, if you understand fan behavior, you'll know how useless a blog really is for authors. In fact, most authors I know actually write content towards other authors, not fans. It's great content, but fans could care less that you found that magical price point and now your sales are skyrocketing.

 Think about it, do YOU go to your favorite authorS blog often? I like Dean Koontz, but I have never been to his blog - hell, I don't even know if he has one. There's only so many hours in the day, and if you want people know you exist, or your book exists, you better be where the people are, and that's not your blog. Nobody cares. 

There are many ways to engage with fans. There's Twitter. There's Facebook (where half a billion people are, compared to a few hundred at best on a blog). There's YouTube, uStream, and even Amazon. These are all places where people hang out and interact with others. I could list others, but the point is that depending on what you write, find places where your audience hangs out and talk to them. 

Authors need to educate themselves on marketing, and not listen to these "jump on the social media bandwagon zealots" that clearly don't understand what they're talking about. 

Let me be clear, I'm not against social media, or blogs. In fact it's a big part on how I make my living, but simply having a blog, twitter account, Facebook fan page doesn't make a marketing plan. 

So in closing, Steve, I encourage you to rethink your stance, and encourage authors to have a strong marketing plan. Encourage them to save the writing for thier books, and spend their other time having conversations with their (potential) fans. 

That's my 2 cents, and I thank you for reading my rant. 

Phil

 

 

Spot on

steveemecz's picture

Thanks Phil, your comments are much appreciated and a blog stand alone is, you are quite right not enough. I've found, however, that it is a really good indicator of whether a (particularly new) author is prepared, or indeed capable of engaging in a rounded marketing plan which these days is going to be heavily social media orientated. Nothing will ever beat the word of mouth of a quality tome and no, I haven't read any of my favourite crime author's blogs - but the key thing is I already know they are good. Many of our authors are first (and maybe only) time writers on their specialist non-fiction subject and many of their potential book buyers are their peers - and a blog really helps there.

My wife, who is a thriller

My wife, who is a thriller writer, has no blog (she's also the one who brought this post to my attention). That was a decision, not an oversight. She also has a very, very well thought out marketing plan. Like I said, there are other indicators to see if someone has a solid plan - do they have a twitter account, and how are they engaging (convo's, RT's)? Are they a YA author and focusing on Twitter (a bad sign). Are they active on FB? What's going on there? 

It takes about 2 minutes (literally) to set up a blog, so really that should be the last thing you look at as an indicator, but I respect that you guys at least recognize the importance of social engagement. 

 

Too Harsh?

No, certainly not too harsh. I read blogs about Social Media on a weekly basis and they're all saying the same thing - a few years ago Agents and Publishers were sceptical about Social Media, now a Social Media platform is a necessity. Some authors do appear to be reluctant, seemingly feeling that having written a book, they should just be allowed to sit back and count the money, but it's obvious that developing a relationship with your readers (and little these days is more personal than the interaction available through FaceBook, a blog and Twitter) will increase sales, word of mouth promotion and interest in any future projects. It's gone from innovation to common sense in a few years.

Author Blogs

I don't think that you're being too harsh.  It's a competitive world out there with so many new books coming out each year you need an author who is not only unique, but is accessible!  On Tawna Fenske's Blog, (utterly hilarious) she spoke about how she bought three new books from one author...because they followed each other on Twitter.

I think authors need to stay relevant and blogging is a great way for a reader to get introduced to them.  I don't really want to read passages all of the time.  I tend to enjoy author's blogs who give me a peek inside their world - if I like them, I buy their book.

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