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Friday, October 28, 2011

Welcome to Base Camp

When you head out for a serious expedition - say climbing Mt. Everest or invading a foreign country - one of the first things you do is establish a base camp. This camp serves as a staging ground, an area of retreat, and the place of protection for your support team. Without a base camp you are permanently behind enemy lines.

Guess what? Your blog is your base camp. Those followers on your side-bar are your support team.

A blog is your base of operations on the internet. When people Google your name you want them to hit your blog. It needs to have all the major information (contact, where they can buy your book, bio, you know the drill).

What it doesn't need - and what many people don't seem to understand - is that a blog should not be a three-ring circus.

Unless you are a professional blogger (i.e. someone who is paid to run a blog) you shouldn't be devoting hours of your day to blogging and blog-bling. \

Let's look at the difference...

- Tom and Lorenzo - a fashion blog updated 3-5 times daily with relevant content. They make money on the ads. They have an established online persona and use the same style and word choice for all their posts.

Professional Review Blog - Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews - a review blog for the sci-fi and fantasy genres. What (if any) money is made from the site I don't know. There are ads and the books are review copies meaning they are free. There are 10+ posts weekly and the author has an established reputation in the review/reader community.

Professional Lit Agent's Blog
- PubRants - Notice this is not a professional blog, but the blog of a professional. There is a difference. This is the personal blog of Lit Agent Kristin Nelson. She writes about all things related to publishing, what she's acquiring, and tips for authors. Note the simple background and the personal style. This is where you go to stalk an agent for information about them. New posts 4-5 times a week.

Professional Author's Blog
- Lisa Shearin - personal blog of fantasy author Lisa Shearin. No ads. Background is genre/series relevant. Book covers are there and easily clickable. There is a simple list to make navigating the web easy. Blog posts once or twice a week between books, more frequent when a new book is headed to the shelf.

Casual Blog - The Southern Experiment - the personal blog of a college student. Created, used for a week for college class, abandoned.

Do you see the difference here? A Professional Blogger is making a career out of blogging. The blog is store-front, office, and ad all in one. Unless your goal is to turn your blog into a cash machine you don't need to do that.

If you are an author you want a personal site that gives people a clue what genre you write and what style they can expect from your books. People aren't going to read the blog daily.

Did I say that loud enough?

An author's blog needs to be updated enough to give fans updates and keep them interested. If you want to write more because blogging is how you wake up, or you need to think out loud, or you just can't fit a thought into the 140 character allowance on Twitter that's fine. But it isn't compulsory. Especially if you don't have a book to sell.

Worry about your book first.

If you are a casual blogger you need to worry about the blog even less. Put up a post often enough to keep friends from calling to ask if you died.

But wait! There's more!

Unless your job is a professional tallier of blog posts and someone pays you cold hard cash to find tidbits from the blogosphere you don't need to read five billion blogs daily. Not even this one. That's why Goggle was invented.

Go ahead and try it. Google a blog's name and subject. "Liana Brooks editing" Hey! Look! Old blog posts you may have never read but that are relevant to what you need! And over on the side-bar, what's that? Why it's a search engine and the labels so you can easily dissect this blog and find whatever you need whenever you need it.

CONFESSION: I do this all the time. Blogs are a wonderful resource. I love being able to find an author and their books with ease. I adore the agents who blog and have an updated wish list sitting next to a link for submissions. It makes to easy to find places to submit my work to.

A blog is your base camp. It's a place where people can find information about you. It is not where you come to linger. Get out on Twitter, Google +, or Face Book to network. Get to conferences to meet people. Get your book written. Let your blog be what it's meant to be and not the battlefield.


  1. Having a rather directionless blog have to kind of wonder if I helped inspire your blog. My blog started out with a shotgun approach, but it is starting to get some direction. My daughter the Spanish Teacher, she got me started, was here this week and showed her computer illiterate Dad how to do some things today. So hopefully it wlll start looking better. With my background in history I tend to do a lot of current event comments. My goal is to do a self employment help blog. With a little cost cutting, money saving, energy conscious and green thrown in for good measure as fillers. Still to broad but I am just starting to get the feel of it.

  2. No. This was inspired by someone asking how many blogs she should read daily.

    My answer is: as many as you want when you have the time.

    I don't think blog reading should be a major part of your day.