Saturday, August 6, 2016

Why Start a Blog?

Well... Why not? But of course, there's more to it than that. Like many bloggers out there, I am an aspiring novelist. That is to say, I am a novelist, with far fewer readers than I would like and no publishing credits. Although I have three completed novels, only one of them is ready for readers and publishers alike (in my humble opinion).

I finished Wolfhowl Mountain about a year ago. (Anyone interested in the novel and some other shorter works can check me out here: Beginning in January, I gave myself a year to get as many queries out there as I could and to work my ass off to both court and interest a literary agent in the story. I figure if I can't interest anyone in a year, I'll get more serious about self-publishing and seeking a wider audience. I didn't expect it to be easy by any means, but about six months in, I realized that getting published is far more complicated than just sending out query letters and crossing my fingers. To date, I've contacted 57 agents/agencies, received 32 no thank yous and 25 non-responses. I'm not necessarily discouraged; many published authors get a lot more rejections than that (See: Stephen King). However, some of the agents have been kind enough to offer a little bit of feedback to help me find success with another agent. One of those suggestions is that I need to have a readership, a group of people ready to buy anything I might get published. It seems a little backwards to me, but I get it. An agent is less likely to take a chance on someone who can only name family and friends as loyal readers. And one of the best ways to attract readers (according to the Internet anyway) is a blog. Although I see the same problems with a blog as I do with my book - how the heck do you attract people to it? And once they're there, what keeps them coming back? It's about more than good writing and having something to say, I know that.

Another good reason to start a blog is to have a way to reach out to an audience (once you've got one, that is). It's a way to promote your book(s) and let your readers know when something new is coming out. Of course that doesn't apply to me (yet), but I'm willing to hang in there. The real trouble is that blogs tend to work better for non-fiction authors, for whom a platform is essential. A non-fiction author can blog about their research and adventures in developing their idea. A fiction author has a bigger challenge because I can't just post parts of my book here. For one, if all I do with this blog is promote my own work, readers aren't going to hang around. It makes you seem pretty self-serving and conceited. Plus, if I do that, what's going to make you read my work once I actually do get it published since it's all right here for free? But there are other options. I can blog about the genre of my book (supernatural, speculative, paranormal - it all depends on the agents you talk to), or I could include profiles of the main characters, deleted scenes, etc. So there are options for fiction writers, it's just a bit more of a challenge. The big thing that one really needs to understand, however, is that there will be no instant results. Just because I start a blog doesn't mean more people are going to read this blog or my book or my other work. It'll take work to attract readers here, just as it's taking work to attract readers and agents to my book.

And making money with a blog? Forget it. Pros can do that, for sure, but I doubt very much that will happen for me. And that part matters the least to me, both for this blog and for the book. Because money is not the reason I write. I don't write to make a living. I write because I want to and I have to. I have all these ideas bouncing around in my head and they have got to come out or might just go insane, or my tiny little head will get so filled that it just explodes. Really, the reason I'm here is because I just want to share my work with other people. I want readers to enjoy my book and my blog, to get that joy out of reading that I've always had. And the goal of attracting an agent isn't about money either. It's about getting my book out to the widest audience possible so that people can (hopefully) enjoy it. And I'm always on the look out for something good to read myself, so starting this blog will hopefully lead me to some other authors out there that I can enjoy too.

So what can you expect here? Well...

  • Information about my book, of course, and other writings. There'll be shameless self-promotion too, but I promise to do my very best to keep that to a minimum.
  • Links to other blogs: One of the things I've learned in starting a blog is that there are so many GREAT blogs out there about writing and for writers. It's a well of knowledge that I plan to tap into and I also plan to share that with you, because I know I'm not the only writer out there who is struggling to figure out the best way to get their work out there. One of the great ones is I'd recommend The Creative Penn to fiction and non-fiction authors alike. In addition to their awesome blog, it is a wealth of information on topics ranging from self-publishing to marketing. It's worth your time to check it out.
  • Book reviews: The only other thing I do more than write (and grade papers) is read for the joy of reading. When I find a great book, I'm going to tell everyone I know about it and do everything I can to convince others to read it so I have someone to talk to about it. For example, my father and sister would tell you that I've tried a thousand times ( far) to get them to read The Martian (a book so good I read it twice). It doesn't matter if you've seen the movie. The book is SO good. I'm on Good Reads too, by the way. You can check out my full opinion of The Martian here:
  • Thoughts on writing and exercises I use with my students. If there's one thing I've learned as a writer, it's that you should always be open to new ideas and new techniques to stretch your writing muscles. Even the best author out there can learn something new about writing and their ability.
  • Cats. I'm not joking. The only difference between me and a crazy old cat lady is a few years and a few more cats. Don't believe me? Check me out on Twitter (@MsCronan) or search Twitter for #dailycats. You'll find my 'children' all over that.
  • Thoughts on teaching, funny moments from the classroom, and what I've learned as a teacher - and trust me when I say, that's A LOT.
  • Thoughts and things I've learned on this journey that will hopefully end in a published novel.
  • A hundred other things I can't think of right now.

That's all I've got for now. If you've made it this far, thank you. I'll do my best to keep you coming back.