Well, you know what this is. You’re reading one right now. The weekly blog can serve a variety of purposes; we’ll only go into a few here. There’s no reason to write a weekly blog unless you have a reason to write a weekly blog. There, I said it. It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Well, it didn’t to me. I tried to go weekly for awhile there, in the beginning. It was way too much for me, and it wasn’t doing much to represent me or my books. I pulled back, and narrowed my focus to get the ‘Walking Between Worlds’ trilogy written. The blog went out monthly for awhile, and the books came out in a timely manner.
Then came ‘The Year of the Zombie’. It brought with it some helpful tools like a writing program and a strict writing schedule, which combined nicely with the experience my first four books had given me. Finally, I had time to write a blog every week. Also, I had something I wanted to say. One is as important as the other, in my opinion.
I am an author that wants to do everything I can to get my books to everyone who will enjoy reading them. But that’s a very recent development. Four years ago I was a writer trying to figure out how to get my first book published. Two years ago I was a one-time author trying to my second book published. A year ago I was writing more than ever to get my first trilogy completed in a timely manner. A few months ago I realized that all this work had gotten me exactly the experience I had been looking for. Multiple books were in the works for this year, and I finally saw how I could blog every week now.
While I still remembered what it was like to wonder how to get started, I wanted to share a little every week on how I got started. It’s the perfect gift to my former self, the only person who can’t read it for free on the website. I hope that some other authors in the many phases of getting started are gleaning something from the series, as I have from others. But that’s not all this is for.
The weekly blog can be a great place to go a little ‘stream-of-consciousness’ on some things you always wondered what you thought about. You can leave a sentence like that last one in there (although I usually don’t) and people don’t get all bent out of shape. If you want to feel better about yourself, read some other weekly blogs. Many seem to be proud of their unfinished feel, and unedited flow. That’s not really my thing, but I’ll tell you what is:
There is a way to make something free and package it for sale all at the same time. Actually, there are endless ways to do this; but we’re just talking about one here. The weekly blog is the way. If you know anything about anything, go off about it once a week on your blog. If you’re currently learning something, or have only just finished learning it, that’s the best time to start a blog about it! If you’ve been doing something for thirty years, that’s the best time to start a blog too! Start writing about your thoughts and experiences, keep it interesting and somewhat consistent in length, and watch that content pile up!
A year or two later, go back over all of it. See if there is a clear through line that you can draw, and an outline to be built around it. If you want to be super clever about it, start out with an outline before the first post is written. Leave room for other ideas that might come up in your weekly writing schedule…maybe in the form of frequent bonus posts…?
Can you tell how I’ve been writing this series yet?
There will be little gems there that would not have come out if you just sat down and wrote it as a book, when you finally sit down to write it as a book. The time you’ve spent ruminating on this subject will be nearly equal to the time you’ve spent working on it, and you’ll have learned it almost for the purpose of teaching it. I don’t know if you know this, but they say the best way to learn something is with the intention of being able to teach it. See, blogs aren’t evil after all!
The gems you get to keep; but that’s not all. You also get to throw away the crap, and the misinformed or uneducated ideas you posted yesterday don’t have to end up in the book at all. They can still stay up on the blog, for free, but you should at least footnote them and tell folks that you also think it’s funny how wrong you were then. Then tell them to read the book, if they want to know what more you’ve learned. It all comes back around, of course; and the blog with purpose is most likely to be the blog that both lasts and matters. Same goes for the book with purpose, of course.
But I’m not a non-fiction author! I know; neither am I. Or am I? Do I not know a bunch of stuff that only benefits me and a few others in me knowing it? Have I not gone through some real and serious stuff that someone else might be going through, and have the right words for them in their moment of need? Have I not learned some things just for the sake of learning them, and because I was passionate to gain the knowledge?
That’s a bunch of yeses, for me. It’s probably the same for most writers: besides gory horror stories or gooey love scenes, we might have a little more to share. Not only that, we don’t have to stop writing the gore or the goo, and our voice might get more honed when its time comes by having written the other stuff. It’s kind of simple math, but it only figures that writing more books will only improve those book writing abilities. A project that requires a different set of skills may even bring a new level of attention or intention to your fiction than you had before.
Unless you’re a ‘take a reader by the shoulders and shake them a bit’ kind of author, like me. Then you might want to learn the sacred art of backing off every once in a while.
I’m not surprised that more weekly bloggers don’t compile into ebook or print or audio format. Even if we don’t consider the heavy editing job most posts would require just to get a ‘B’ in a sophomore English class, drawing a clear through line is a hefty challenge. Writing a book is almost easier from scratch, but then there should be no weekly blog. The newsletter is a way better idea for authors that want to keep their brand as fiction as possible, although it’s still a place to try to connect personally.
I may sound like I’m being stingy about my time, trying to multitask like this; but I’m really not. I give away some of my best stuff, for free, to newsletter subscribers. Then I compile it, with some commentary that is unique to the publication but not essential to the through line or the story, and release it as a book or series of them. It’s a similar formula to the blog, with bonus features for both me and the super fan. Non-subscribers can buy the book, and get stories without a weekly message reminding them what a dork I am. Subscribers get almost everything free, and can get more when it’s published if they want.
That’s how I have it tiered for now, another important thing that today’s author needs to learn about. Anyone can click on my website and read any of the information or anecdotes I share about my first few years in publishing. When I polish it up, and make it a clear map for the writer who wants to travel to the domain of the author, it will be an ebook that is available for a dollar and a print book priced as low as we can reasonably get it. It almost doesn’t matter whether the original blog posts stay up, especially if there is something new you want to put the focus on when people visit your electronic home.
These are not the time-tested practices of a professional author, and I’ll be the first to admit it. They are ideas that I have gotten from professionals, though; and I do have some amateur experience with them. As that experience grows I’ll share it with you in some form similar to this, unless I’ve found a better way by then. Each time I do, my library will grow and I will laugh at myself while I break another promise I never should have made over and over.
I’m not a non-fiction author yet, but I will be soon. I am grateful that I changed my mind, and am looking forward to sharing all the things I am learning as I learn them.
Or, a little after the fact. I do a lot of processing, and gads of editing. Then you get it. Feel free to grade it.
Thanks for reading!
All the best,