Friday, March 25, 2011

Websites Versus Blogs

I started the week off by talking about the need to create an online presence for your work. This should be done sooner, rather than later. The more time you have before your book comes out, the better off you'll be when it comes time to promote it because you'll already have a loyal readership.

Let's talk about websites versus blogs for a minute. As I mentioned in my earlier article, the first thing I look for after receiving a review request is the author's website.


I'm looking for review blurbs, excerpts, where the book is sold, and I like to see how serious the author is about promoting his work online. If his website looks like something a kindergartner put together, I might pass on the book, which is unfair, but at least I'm honest. Sometimes authors are limited by their grasp of technology, lack of funds, lack of time, or in my case--the ability to find someone to actually complete the job (thankfully that is in the past and a new personal website is coming soon.)

Websites are important because they tell the world about you and your work. They help readers who are browsing the Internet find out about your books, even if it's by accident--thank the Lord for Google and Bing.

I won't go into what should be on your website, but if you type this question into Google or Bing, "What should be on an author's website?" you'll get a slew of results.

Websites are static, however, so they don't allow you to engage your readers. Yes, some sites have guestbooks, but people don't seem to comment on those as often as they do on blogs. The other challenge is how to provide new content for your website--unless there is a blog component to it.

I started my first blog for two reasons: 1) to create an online presence, and 2) because I had no clue how to create a website. What I soon discovered, however, is that I love blogging. While it took me a while to decide on my blog's focus, once I did, I was off and running, providing new content on a regular basis to my readers.

Blogging is also a creative outlet, in addition to, putting me in touch with numerous authors I might never have heard of before. New York Times bestselling southern fiction author, Karen White, is a good example. I learned about her books when I hosted her during a virtual book tour for The Memory of Water. Since then, I've read each new release. A blurb from one of my reviews appears in the opening pages of some of her books. How's that for exposure? As a result of my blogging, I've also been asked to provide several other endorsements for books.

I believe authors who don't blog are missing out on a great opportunity. Granted, not everyone wants to be a book reviewer, but you can use your blog to write about your characters, the craft of writing, how you develop your stories, and so many other aspects of your books that it's a shame not to take advantage of it. Blogging also allows readers to get to know more about you as a person. You're no longer that untouchable author. You're a person they can communicate with, perhaps even relate to.

Now it's your turn. Do you have a website and/or blog set up yet? If not, what is holding you back? If you have a blog, what do you like about it?


Nancy Stewart said...

This is terrific, Cheryl, and I agree with everything you've said here. I began kicking and screaming to blogdom. Now it's one of the best things I do professionally! Wise words here.

Cheryl said...

Glad you liked it, Nancy. Your blog lends itself to some great topics, which is very helpful.

Mayra Calvani said...

I have all kinds. I admit I love blog websites. Much more dynamic!

Ellen said...

This is great advice. As a blogger, I find that maintaining and updating a blog is much easier than a website. I've had a traditional website in the past and blogging is a lot more fun. That said, I totally agree that a blog needs to look well put together. If you're lacking in technological expertise (like me), find someone to do it for you.

Janet Ann Collins said...

My blog is connected to Facebook and I get most comments there. Would editors consider that a problem?

Anonymous said...

I've had a blog for a few years, but came to the realization that it's target audience is not my book buying prospect. I've started a new blog and target that audience (kids, parents, teachers & homeschoolers). It only has 5 followers, but it will grow in time and hopefully generate book sales and a buzz amongst my buying demographic.
J. Aday Kennedy
The Differently-Abled Writer & Speaker
Children's Author of Klutzy Kantor & Marta's Gargantuan Wings

Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. I appreciate the comments.

Jan, are you talking about your Special Kids group? How has the response been there? I've known some authors who set up a page or group, but have trouble getting the response they are looking for.

J. Aday, you're right. While A Writing Playground is a great blog, it's geared more toward writers than your target audience. I just followed your new blog. I must have missed it before. Keep up the great work.


Nicole weaver said...

Great article! I love blogging, but still have a lot to learn .

Nicole Weaver

Janet Ann Collins said...

No, I'm not talking about that group, just my general Facebook page. I have over 1000 Facebook Friends there but very few of them go to my blog page when they can read the posts on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

I've yet to do a website, but I love my blog. I do a lot of author interviews there and on the sides there's "my" stuff. I'm just getting ready to spread my wings for FB.
Thanks for sharing Cheryl. Your articles are always informative and interesting.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I enjoy blogging and need to get back to it. When life permits. :)

Susan Hornbach said...

Thanks Cheryl, life has gotten in the way, and I needed some inspiration to get my blog working again. Hopefully soon.

Kevin McNamee said...

I have a both a blog and a website. The biggest challenge I have with the blog is coming up with fresh content. But it is a great way to stay connected.

Kate Dolan said...

On my old website, I wrote a column that I changed monthly - in theory, at least. Now with my new website I have a blog that is very easy to update. My problem is still making time to write regular, informative posts. I can write about any subject, but to write something meaningful, which I try to do most of the time, I need to do research. And then I get caught up in that and well... then I'm out of time. So I need to be as disciplined as you!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Nicole, I'm glad you liked the article. Blogger is easier than Wordpress, if you ask me, but they both have their advantages.

Janet, I'm not sure how an editor would feel about it, but I can say that I met an author at a conference last year who said her publisher told her the reason she wasn't selling as many books as she had been was because she wasn't blogging. I don't know what else she was doing for promotion, so I'm not sure what to make of it. The important thing is that you're online and promoting.

Kay Dee, author interviews are a great way to keep your blog updated. Thanks for sharing.

Bev and Susan, I add blogging to my weekly to-do list that I post on the forum - This helps motivate me to blog even when I'm not hosting clients.

Kevin, new content can definitely be a challenge. Your books are so wonderful, you could talk about writing in rhyme, interview your characters, the inspiration behind your books, and topics of that nature. If you have some type of theme it can make coming up with new content easier. Nicole's upcoming GAP release is about twin sisters, so her new blog talks all about twins.

Kate, research can definitely be an obstacle to getting things posted. I love your blog because I always learn something new; but don't be afraid to share something personal that doesn't require research from time to time. It will help people get to know you as a person, just like learning more about a character you care about encourages you to keep reading.

Keep up the great work on your blogs, everyone. Let me know if you need any help.

Donna J. Shepherd said...

I'm afraid my website leaves much to be desired, but I love working on the blogs. Great post on the differences and advantages of blogs and websites.

- Donna
Topsy Turvy Land