Congratulations! You chose to become an author. Maybe be not full-time yet, but taking a decision counts too. And just like every other author who started out writing (just like we did) at some point, you dream of publishing your book one day.
Yes, we too want to experience that moment of seeing our hardbound lining up the racks of Crossword.
But as we research on the endless “How do I……” search queries on Google and spoke to a few lucky ones, who’ve been there, done that. We gave jumping straight into writing our bestseller a second thought. We wizened up a bit after learning about the unforgiving and ruthless world of book publishing, especially for amateurs like us.
Since there are many a slip between the cup and the lip we thought we’ll first start with a blog. And here’s why….
Sharpen The Saw
Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Do you think that a great book is the one that is well written? We think so too. And indeed a lot of effort goes into creating a product, a work of art that people want to pick up, pay for, read and then talk about it to their friends and family.
We learned that blogging is the best way you can become a better writer. But like what President Lincoln meant, a blog is basically your tool to ‘sharpen the saw’. The preparation needed for the finale.
We bet you’ll learn and improve as a writer, one blog at a time.
Yes, blogging may not carry the prestige of a published book or even an article in a well-known magazine. But do you have a publisher or a mag ready to take your work already? Most likely, no.
So if you’re just starting out, we think having your own blog is a great way to get you to start writing, quickly.
When was the last time you forgot to brush your teeth?
The idea behind having a blog is to get into a mind numbing, boring routine. This is one habit that’ll come to your rescue when you finally jump onto your debut novel or a non-fiction. Whatever time you can give to writing, that should become your ‘toothbrush’ time.
Getting even a 150-pager novel out is not a cakewalk. Especially if it is your first. Unless you make writing a habit, that book ain’t coming out. It’s a fact.
And as we said earlier, blogging is the best way to build that routine and make it a habit.
You see the thing is, as writers all of us want our work to be read and appreciated. The appreciation will happen only if there is a reasonable traffic coming your way. And traffic on a blog is directly proportional to new and fresh content being published regularly.
There is more. For each blog post, you may need to spend some time in prep – the characters, the plot, research etc. And all this contributes to pushing us in the right direction. One blog at a time.
Live The Writer’s Block
If you’ve known an author within your circle they’ll tell you that writing a book is akin to getting on a roller-coaster ride. More than the ‘ups’, the ‘downs’ are a drain on your progress. The surrounding environment surrounding also doesn’t help either.
Have you heard of the writer’s block? It is a condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing. Here is a nice article on 10 types of writer’s block (and how to overcome them).
Many think writer’s block is not that common among amateurs. Mmmm…we don’t agree. Since we face it ourselves. Our symptoms may have been very different to what an established author may face but we do have it.
The reason why blogging helps here is that one, you are not on a tight deadline. As in, no one sitting on your head if you don’t publish for months. Two, you’ll get to know the type of block(s) you get and figure out your own unique ways to deal with them.
And that in our mind is a huge advantage for a new author. It really toughens you up to deal with the big ones when you actually start putting your bestseller together.
Build An Audience
If you’re an absolute beginner in the writing world, we’ll assume you are not yet familiar with the term “Author Platform”. Yes dear! Every industry has its own jargon.
Simply put, a publisher is likely to take your proposal a seriously if you already have people following, reading, liking, sharing advocating your work. Here’s a detailed post by Jane Friedman on the topic. [In case you wonder, Friedman is the co-founder and editor – The hot sheet, the publishing industry’s must-have newsletter for authors; among many other of her accomplishments.]
Think of it as one of the tools publishers use to justify the risk they take on first-time authors. Having an existing audience following your work is a huge advantage, mainly for non-fiction writers. And from what we learned, as first-time authors you’ll need to put in a decent amount of self-marketing and promotion work yourself besides what the efforts of the publisher.
Having an audience that likes your work, makes it easy to promote your first hardcover. And blogging is probably the quickest (though not the easiest) way you can build that audience.
Learn The Trade
Every trade has its tricks – the being at the right place, at the right time and saying the right thing (ok, we made the third one up).
As you immerse yourself in writing you’ll reach out to other more experienced writers (which you should, btw) for advice. You’ll research for your stories or ways to improve your writing. You’ll read other writers. You’ll get feedback via comments and a whole lot of things.
This is probably the implicit value your personal blog will deliver to you.
So my “future-best-selling-author” friends, get cracking on that blog.
Hey, you can write for us too if you wish. There are authors with published work who started with a blog. Many publishers also recommend new authors to have a blog. Why not just have one for a start?
What do you think?
Author: Jabal Shah
Accidentally ending up in digital publishing while helping his wife publish her book, he now spends his waking hours learning and blogging ideas on book publishing and marketing strategies, digital tools and web 2.0 to help authors including himself find success with self-publishing.