Thursday, 5 November 2015

Do author blogs matter? One million hits.

Very soon this blog of mine will pass 1,000,000 hits - it has 994,396 at the time of posting and averages around 1,400 hits a day.

I blog when I feel like it and generally don't feel under pressure to come up with something to 'fill the space'.

The high traffic author blogs tend to be political, championing the causes beloved of the more extreme left or right. I don't go there. I'm more about curiosities of the genre, the business of writing, info graphics, and random shit.

I do get a lot of authors asking me whether blogging is 'worth it'. Mostly they're people who don't want to blog, find it a chore to come up with regular posts, but worry that they're somehow letting themselves down if they don't - missing out on book sales that would otherwise be theirs.

So, is blogging 'worth it'?

I tend to tell the authors who ask me this question that they can probably relax. If they enjoy blogging, go for it. It might help a little. But if they don't enjoy it, just don't. My feeling is that the difference between bestseller and getting pulped isn't ever going to swing on whether you blogged.

I suspect that many people who visit author blogs are just doing it to be entertained at 'blog-level'. If I write a blog post that gets 25,000 hits (and I have) I don't think my post on the world's best selling fantasy books is going to sell my fantasy book to any significant fraction of those 25,000 visitors.

Chuck Wendig writes one of the most successful author blogs I know about. His books sell perfectly well, but he's not one of the most successful authors I know about. His blog-readership doesn't appear to have translated into a book-readership. I'm sure it helps a bit, but it doesn't seem to be a major factor and I very much doubt that's why he blogs. Additionally if it was the reason he blogged - his blog readers would probably get that vibe and stop visiting. Nobody likes to be marketed to.

So that's my take on it. This blog reaches out to blog-readers and shares my excitement and interest in the fantasy world with them. Many of those people may also be my readers, but I doubt that many of those who aren't will decide to pick up my books just because I told them what books I enjoyed last year (12,000 hits) or ran a self-published fantasy contest (19,000 hits).

In conclusion, I leave you with a hedgehog in a beaker, because the internet loves animal pics.

(wait! this is a blender!)


  1. I like to read your posts, at least most of them. The self-published fantasy contest was/is great. I picked up several of the ten finalists.

    I'm no author but I agree with you that a blog does not lead automatically to new readers. But a readership could help to spread words about your books.

  2. Excellent and timely blog post. I was pondering the whole blogging consistently thing just this morning. It often does feel like a chore--I'd rather be working on my next book than coming up with an amazing blog post that will net a ton of subscribers (never happens). Thanks for your perspective!

  3. I look up the blogs of authors I like. I'm already sold on their work, though, so the blog itself doesn't sell to me per se. There are a number of relevant impacts though:

    For one thing, if I bookmark your blog and have reason to look in at least occasionally (for content) I will not forget that you have a book coming out. I have one author in mind whose blog was never updated and who I forgot about; as a result, he was two books into a trilogy before I even found out (by accident) that he's published something new. So there's the whole awareness thing. Of course, the author I'm talking about? I still bought the books. It just happened later than it would have. This kind of thing doesn't need daily blogging though; I'll bookmark a blog then check in every now and then. At least some content I really appreciate is all that's needed.

    There's an emotional loyalty thing too. A bit of personal life stuff goes a long way with me if it helps create and emotional connection. Political stuff, social commentary, whatever - if it intrigues me, interests me, and engages me emotionally or intellectually, that helps too. This stuff is important if I'm not wholly retained already. That can be if I enjoy your stuff but don't necessarily feel I really have to read it, for example.

    Another (underdeveloped) function of author blogging, at least for me, is cross-pollination. @Mark, I don't think your blog has ever sold me one of your books (though come to think of it I did seek reassurance on your attitudes before buying into the Thorns trilogy, having heard it misconstrued as rape apologia). But it was author blogging that led my to you, and to Joe Abercrombie, and to Kameron Hurley, and to Lauren Beukes (other writers too, but those I specifically recall as definitely having been introduced to me by other authors in their blogs).

    Eh, just a few thoughts. Probably a bit inarticulate thans to medication, but... well.

  4. We read your work for your work, not for your blog. Your blog is like to go-to for additional information. Spend your creative juices and time where it matters (work, family, inspiration-searching).
    You get something new published - write a blog, twitter and all that.
    You have something to report - likewise.
    You had amazing day or need to vent and WANT to write a blog post - sure, who's gonna stop you?
    You don't feel like it - your time can be better spent.
    As a reader, I read stuff because they're overall interesting to me. That's why I stick mainly to fantasy. If the book is slow in development, but I really really want to get through it - I listen to audiobook while I'm working or walking. Those rare books that I adore after the first page in the bookstore (or is very highly recommended to me by a reliable source that has a very similar taste to mine), I sit down, take a vacation if it's long in waiting and do everything short of EATING the book. After I decide that this book is the best thing that happened to me in a while, I track down the author and make sure I am up to date with publishings and whatnot. Then the little thing like 4 horseman comes up, and I read about it and I think it's an awesome idea, and stuff happens and I end up owning a stack of it.
    But if you wrote like mile long blogs for no reason than to fill the space, I would not look at it in details, and the gems like new publishings and 4 horsemen would probably get lost in the information given. I would go "meh" and track down the series on goodreads, check the new publishing date and mark it on my calendar. And would have no idea that you also post on wattpad which would suck.

  5. Visiting from Edi's site.
    Next Monday my blog hits six years old. And yes, I can say it has sold books for me. And not just because people find my site. I've over 2000 GFC followers alone and many of them have purchased my books after getting to know me. Plus those people are willing to spread the news when I have a book release, which is far more effective than anything I can do on my own blog.
    Either way, my focus is more on the Insecure Writer's Support Group site and helping other writers right now.
    And ironically, I never wanted to be an author...