Gone are the days when the only place where your writings can be found is in your published books. As we move towards the digital adolescence, writers turn to other platforms to extend their works without appearing overly self-promotional. As a matter of fact, a writer’s choice of online platform shouldn’t be all about himself or his own works but a lot about how to fulfill the desire of his audience.
Almost all writers today, whether they write fiction or non-fiction, have a website of their own where they regularly post blog updates, about 2-3 times a week.
Blogging is reliable because it contains most information about you as an author more than any other platforms on the internet.
This is not to discount the use of other applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc. They’re useful in their own right and what these apps can do may not be readily accessible via a blog.
Nevertheless, a blog is a preferred place to represent you as an author because it’s where you can post longer texts without worrying about character limitations or flooding your follower’s feeds.
But what else can you write about other than what you’ve been writing on your fiction stories? It should not come off as a surprise but the answer is: STORIES.
These are dialogues or simply texts that didn’t make it to the published work. You can always expect that a lot will be taken out from your manuscript when you hand it over to your editor. There are some portions which altered the story a bit but there are some which did not have any impact whether they’re retained or not.
These are the ones you should share.
You don’t want to kill the vibe that’s already there. If you put that part which could change how the story has been known to your readers, they’ll throw a tantrum for sure. But if you share that little dialogue that did not make the cut but which did not affect the published story, your readers would be glad that you shared them as if you have a private little secret between you and your fans.
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Personal life stories
I don’t mean your autobiography.
Remember that time when you were 10 years old and your Dad bought you a new bike? You excitedly rode it but had a bad fall sooner than you learned how to bike. With minor scratches but major embarrassment, you cried helplessly to your Dad. But what your Dad said helped you become a man. “Rise from where you fall,” he said.
That wasn’t my story, it was an example. You can stretch a story like this a bit to make about 3 paragraphs, good for a 20-second read, and you have a new blog post! The example may not be relevant to your genre but you can always look back from the past and weave a nice blog post out of that which is in the same melody as the genre you’re writing.
Out of the stories you share, be sure to sprinkle some lessons that your followers may pick up as they read it.
By learning from your posts, they would be inclined to share it to their friends. You will not know who would be reading it or who would be touched by it but that’s the beauty of it. You will be able to engage as many people as possible if your post is something that’s representative of your genre.
Finally, visit Paulo Coelho’s blog and you’ll get a glimpse of how it’s done.
Stories that your fans can identify with
If you are thinking of expanding your readership, step back and take a deep breath. Ponder on this wonderful quote first by Thich Nhat Hanh:
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
What does it have anything to do with your followers? A LOT.
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Do not seek to simply grow your fans by numbers. You must seek first to make your current fans loyal to you. How? By building tight relationships with them, by loving them first, by making them bloom into the most loyal followers who will speak of good things about you. They’re your biggest investment who will tell those who are not your fans that you are someone worthy to follow.
Don’t overdo promotion as it’s so obvious and flat-out cheap.
Tell stories that they can identify to, such as how having them as followers gave you an idea on a story, or how they collectively helped you come up with a new character in a novel you’re working on. Even telling them that your latest book design was inspired by using their fan arts will make them feel giddy about being recognized.
Stories behind stories
You are a fiction writer. You create stories. Most of the time, your followers are talking among themselves about how you’ve come up with the story.
Let them in on the secret. Tell the story behind the story.
You didn’t simply look out the window and found a very nice plot to write about. That may happen but not all time. Many times, your fictional characters are borne out of real persons and events. You will not tell who those persons and what those events are exactly as your friends and your relationship with them may be in line. Just give a bit of reference. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, mentioned in an interview that Dumbledore, the Headmaster at Hogwarts, was loosely based on her headmaster when she was in school. It doesn’t mean though that the character and the real person are the same in every way. You should be getting the idea now how it’s done.
Your readers are most interested to know what’s on your mind when you wrote your stories. It fulfills their desire and that desire may come in different levels and various shapes. Just try to fulfill that and you’re on your way to gaining their trust even more.
Stories of others
It may be your blog site but you’re not the only fiction writer on earth. There are other talented authors out there writing in the same genre as yours. Notice that I want you to keep within your genre all the time. You don’t want to confuse your readers.
Share the stories of your contemporaries. As a wise man says: “We are here to help each other.”
Then help another. Help another writer.
He may be more successful than you and you don’t think he needs help. But the help you give may come back to you in many folds. This is where keeping within your genre, even when sharing works of other authors, becomes truly vital. You practically have the same kind of followers. If you reach out to your own followers to help another author, the followers of your author-friend may come out following you as well.
Share an excerpt of another author’s work. He may just do the same for you.
Blogging as a fiction writer should not come off as a difficult task for you. For one, you write fiction. But knowing what to write about is critical to the success of your career. And even more critical if you want to keep your followers lingering for what you will write about next.