Last month, I encouraged everyone to start a blog as a way to show fans and friends some of the things you’ve been up to.
With a blog, you can tell them anything you want, whether it’s your latest writing adventures, information about your stories and the worlds you’re creating, or even information about writing and publishing. Your blog is an excellent way to share information with people, especially if you like to keep your social networks smaller and more personal. Your blog will not only let you reach a wider public while preserving your privacy, it will help boost your search engine rankings for both your name and your story subjects.
Here are a few topic ideas for your upcoming blog posts.
Updates on Your Writing
This is one of the best uses of a writer’s blog. You can share updates about your writing life and keep people updated with what you’re working on. Whether you’re talking about your writing process, time spent in a new location, or even the latest news about your book, this is the kind of stuff your fans like to see because it helps them feel more connected to you.
I’ve known writers who treat their blog like a diary, especially if they’re on a writing retreat, residency, or fellowship. They’ll take pictures of their surroundings, showing where they are, and describing what they’ve been doing on their little journey. My friend, Cathy Day, had a research fellowship at Harvard to research Linda Porter’s scrapbooks at the Houghton Library, and she posted various status updates about what she was finding, including a couple blog articles.
Tell people what’s going on with your latest book. Are you reviewing galley proofs? Did you receive your advance copies in the mail? If you’re building anticipation for your book, your blog is a great way to do this. Share a few photos of you hard at work, poring over your manuscript, cup of cold coffee at your right hand. Let us see what you’re doing to make your next book a reality.
Write Short Backstories
Novelists are often encouraged to write short backstories about their characters, if only to help them understand the mindset of that character. But those usually sit in a forgotten folder on their laptop, never to see the light of day. Instead of letting them go forgotten and unseen, publish them to your blog so people can see what went into creating your characters.
Plus, even if these stories don’t become “canon” in your world, you can still share them as examples of your thought process when you were developing your characters. This can help your readers understand their development, and if they really love your stories, it gives them some additional materials they can sink their teeth into.
Harry Potter fans can delve into Pottermore at their leisure and read several of these stories about past characters or their favorite characters’ pasts. Douglas Adams even wrote a short story, Young Zaphod Plays It Safe, about his most famous character, Zaphod Beeblebrox.
This is also a great way to share information about historical incidents. I read J.K. Rowling’s short story, Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry a few weeks before seeing the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie, and it gave some valuable insider information, but was missed by anyone who didn’t read the story first.
Explore Secondary Characters
Sometimes there are some characters we create who demand stories of their own, but there’s just no space in the original story, and there’s no time to write a book for them at present. You can write a few short stories about those characters, fleshing out their realities and looking at their backstory. This way, readers can get a better understanding of how and why a minor character reacts the way he or she does.
J.R.R. Tolkien published his book of poetry, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, named after one of the minor characters who helped Frodo and his friends during The Lord of the Rings. The events supposedly took place before Tom and Frodo ever met. J.K. Rowling was also able to explore the history of Harry Potter’s ancestors in another short story, providing some context from names only briefly mentioned in the original Potter canon.
Or, if you’re so inclined, you could write your own stories about other characters in other stories, as a sort of fan fiction or even world building. Gregory Maguire helped launch this as a literary boom when he published Wicked in 1995, the origin story about the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.
Share Industry News
Do you keep up with what’s going on in the publishing industry, or your specific genre? Share that information with your readers. Chances are, your readers are fellow fans of the genre you’re writing in, so they’ll appreciate the news. And they may even be sources of information as well, so make sure you’re also following them on Twitter and Facebook to see what kinds of news they’re sharing.
But don’t just repeat the news you’re hearing; this is a chance to share your thoughts and ideas on a particular news topic. Not only does this show your readers what you’re concerned about, but it helps establish you as a “thought leader” in that field, which could help land you some speaking gigs. Organizers of writing conferences, especially genre specific, are always looking for speakers on related issues, and your blog can help showcase your thinking on that subject.
Write to Other Writers
One of my favorite writers is Chuck Wendig. Not for his novels, but rather, for his writing-about-writing articles and books. He offers writing advice and explains techniques and tactics on his blog, using plenty of NSFW language, which makes everything better. (Swearing: It’s like bacon for your word salad!) It’s very instructional and helpful, and I’ve used a lot of his information in some of my own writing about content marketing.
Other writers, like the aforementioned Cathy Day, publishes work for young writers, people interested in pursuing an MFA, and her own speaking and teaching efforts.
Write articles to younger writers, sharing your knowledge and expertise, and give back to the literary community in the same way you have been guided and taught by those who came before you.
Having a blog is one of the most important tools a writer can have for self-promotion, but it doesn’t do you any good if it just sits empty. With some of these ideas, you should be able to keep your blog filled and your readers happy with just a little effort each week.