A common question from writers is whether or not it’s necessary for them to develop a blog or join a social networking site such as Facebook. The majority of us seem to think it is. However, there are differing opinions as to when, why, and to what degree networking is important.
For those who are published, or soon-to-be published, a website, blog, and social networking may be essential marketing tools. The trend in publishing is for writers to take over much of the responsibility for promoting their own work, and online activities can make a big difference in the success of a book.
For unpublished writers not actively submitting stories or articles for possible publication, though, an online presence may not be helpful. Devoting time to blogging, participating in forums, and updating Facebook may distract us from writing and studying the craft, which we should be doing to make our work marketable. On the other hand, those activities can be fun, and help us find like-minded people who will encourage us and possibly become critique partners.
I have mixed feelings about the value of a blog at this stage in my writing career. The people who read my blog tend to be other writers, but writers also tend to be readers—so somewhere down the line, this may become a valuable asset. Since I enjoy blogging, it makes sense to keep at it. For those who haven’t started submitting work for publication and don’t enjoy blogging, I think it’s more beneficial to spend time working on writing stories and articles than blog posts.
I haven’t joined a social networking site, so can’t say from personal experience whether or not they are worth the investment of a writer’s time. My opinion on blogging may not mean anything to those of you reading this, either. So, I’ve compiled a list of sites where publishing professionals discuss this topic. If you’re trying to make up your mind on how much you need to be doing online at a certain stage of your career, you may find these sites helpful:
http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/03/author-platform-what-are-you-waiting-for/ Joel Friedlander on author platforms
http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/03/lets-talk-about-platform.html Rachelle Gardner talks about platforms
http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/07/social-networking-vs-writing.html Rachelle Gardner on unpublished authors and networking
http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2009/04/building-platform-for-fiction.html Jessica Faust on fiction platforms
http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2010/03/more-on-platform.html Janet Reid on nonfiction platforms
What online activities do you participate in? Which ones do you think are useful for promoting your work? How much time do you spend each day blogging and/or networking? What topics do you talk about most often on your blog or networking site? When do you think an aspiring author should start building an online presence?