I have completed my first novel, done two rounds of edits with a freelancer and embarked on the agent querying process. I've received twelve rejections in the past month, which I've read, is nothing. (I'll admit that it does sting a bit.) One problem is that I have no publishing credits and very few connections. Now I'm wondering if I should I start a blog about writing or my life... or perhaps both. It seems rather self-indulgent because I'm unpublished and have zero followers. Do any of you first timers have blogs or web pages?
I was right where you are about 6 months ago, and I did start a blog. I also joined twitter and started following lots of people in publishing--writers, editors, agents, etc.
I started the blog because I wanted somewhere to write about some of my experiences, but also to start building my platform. My background is in product design, and I would never have taken someone seriously who didn't have a web page, so I think that mentality carried over. To me, having a web page, even a basic one, is a sign of commitment to being a professional. It also gives you somewhere to showcase your work and share information and lessons you've learned.
The key is identifying your unique perspective on writing. I don't think blogging about what you ate for breakfast gets anyone good attention, unless it's hilariously funny writing. Everyone has some kind of unique perspective. Figure out what yours is, and write about it. Or just start writing book reviews of books in your genre--lots of writers do that to get started.
I explored creating a website and building connections in twitter, and ended up realizing I had a LOT to learn about writing. There are so many great articles shared on twitter every day on the craft of writing, or how to use social media to your advantage. In the early days I had twenty browser tabs open by the end of every day, waiting to be read.
Over time, I realized my first novel was a warm-up. A good, entertaining, sweet story, but not properly targeted at today's trends or markets. So, I kept moving and started working on a couple of new projects. I followed those to much greater success.
So, whether you start a blog or not, I would advise opening the doors to some more learning at this juncture. You are at a natural stopping point. You need something else to push you forward. Putting something else out into the world might not be the answer now, maybe taking more information in will show you your next step.
Best of luck! Find me on twitter, or at my blog and you've got a friend :)
Lots of excellent advice here Melanie, thank you!
Thanks so much for the feedback, Melanie. I think you're right about the web page or blog showing commitment to being a professional. At first, I dismissed the social media outlet, but I can see when and how it's helpful. If a business doesn't have a web page these days, I'm generally suspicious.
I've looked at your blog and think it's great, especially the preview of your book. Do you feel that it helped you with agent representation or are you self publishing? How did you find followers?
Thanks, Alison :)
It's funny that you say that--I'm in the midst of agent talks right now, but not for the book that's previewed on my website! It turns out that book may have been a bit of a "warm-up."
I do believe that the website helps me appear as a professional to any agent that clicks through to it--although I couldn't tell you how many have done so. I know that it gives me a better chance of forming connections with established writers, because they see I'm committed and "worth" interacting with.
I'm sure you understand that--how often do you go to a page and say, hmm, this looks too crappy, I'll skip it? For me, I do that all the tie.
Most of the followers I have gained are people I've had conversations with. Either on twitter, or here, or on their blogs, or on other writers websites. The best way to make friends is to be a friend!
I set up a blog and a Face book page. Quiet Dreamer is the mane of my Blog and My Face book page is under Heather Rowan. I am certainly unpublished.
Have faith in your work. A friend on mine was searching for an agent for 3/4 years.She faced refusals and the etc s. she carried on working on her next project as she waited. She made it this year.
Join me if you like. I'd be glad of your input. You post blogs on She writes as well. I have. The best.
Valerie I tried to find your blog and facebook page but there seems to be quite a few Heather Rowans and a few derivatives of Quiet dreamer! I'd like to link in with you if I can figure out how to! Edith x
Hi Cheryl, I'm just beginning too! I only joined She Writes a couple of weeks ago and already my writing output has quadrupled...not difficult given the little I did previously...... While I have had a facebook page for a couple of years, it is only recently that I am learning how to use it properly. In the past I tended to take a look, have no clue who the people there were, and turned it off in fright! My children think I'm incredibly stupid! It is a steep but exciting learning curve. :-)
Thank you, Cheryl! I've already visited your blog and think you're probably right. Who else will market us if we don't?!? Now all I have to do is clone myself to handle my three boys and find time to fit a blog into my schedule.
I met with an editor a few years ago to talk about the possibility of publishing my manuscript. The editor then advised me that I needed to establish a following of readers and a great way of doing that would be to start a blog. I have been blogging/tweeting ever since! It's a good way for others to get to know you as a writer.
I just recently joined this site and your question caught my eye as I have been wondering the same thing. According to Writers Market 2012, a personal blog will get the most followers and attention if it contains useful tips and knowledge that people can walk away with rather than just focusing on your life. I have a blog started and had been focusing primarily on my own insights and experiences, but after reading this advice I have decided to make it more of a tips for the day type of format. Hope this helps! I have also wondered at what writing stage you need to be at in order to create a website, it seems like such a great tool to promote ourselves :)
I know exactly what you mean. I'm revising my novel as well, (I'm virtually unpublished in all other aspects too), and I've often wondered the exact same thing--who cares if I have a blog, if I don't have a book! Last December though, I told myself to just do it and I started a blog. It's been coming along slowly, but it's always great when someone reads a post and comments! I simply write about writing, and my perspective on the art. I've also recently joined Twitter. I've been told it never hurts to begin the platform early.
If you aren't sure to where to start, it helps to simply take a step back and read other blogs, Twitter feeds, etc. just to get a feel what other writers do. You can visit mine if you'd like!
Let me know if you set one up! I'd love to check it out.
And by the way, I give you credit for getting as far as you did with the querying/agent hunting process. I'm still trying to get my novel "just right" and it feels like it's taking forever!