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Background

To be honest, I really didn't know how to title this question. Anyway, the background. I was sitting around in front of the plan for the second book of my trilogy. Woohoo! I finished the first one yesterday on new years eve, so I'll be able to say that that entire book is what I spent a lot of 2016 on. I was preparing my masterplan, my ultimate gallery of ideas. However, then the deathly thought crossed my mind...

What if what I'm writing will never be read? I might not get it published.

Now, I know in my heart that I am going to get published and I promise I will with every inch of my being. However, I know that it's difficult. So, I came up with a battle plan. I'm aiming to get a huge army of followers, we'll barge into the publisher and... No...

I decided it might help me get published if I had a few people supporting me and my book was anticipated by 'the public'.

Question

If I start a blog, or whatever else I might want to start to gain followers, will that help me get published? Is it worth getting people to support my writing?

I don't need people to praise me so I can keep going. I know that my writing is proper, professional... No, not professional, that just sounds egotistical. I know my writing is good, I know in my heart that I'm going to get published one day. I never run out of ideas or joy I derive from doing the work or anything, so I'm not looking at this in a praise-driven and inspiration-driven perspective. I'm looking at it in a marketing perspective.

Blogging is getting old anyway. Is there an alternative to blogging that's just as good? Maybe I'll start a youtube channel or something, and teach about writing on there, get followers. You never know, it might work.

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If you have supporters following your blog, you might be able to argue that you have an audience who will buy your writing.

However, to be meaningful to an agent and therefore a publisher, your audience has to be in the thousands at the least, and even better, have already paid for some of your stuff.

So if you can sell 10K copies of a self-published e-book, or several e-books, that will likely have more of an impact than 10K notes over 500 blog posts.


(on a separate note: merciful Freya, don't confuse writing and video. I read a hell of a lot faster than most people talk. I don't have five minutes to commit to your video. I can read your page in 20 seconds, and share it in less than that. I rarely share video links. Ain't nobody got time for that.)

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  • But haven't people stopped reading blogs? Youtube seems to be the thing these days, everyone tells me 'have you seen that video?' or whatever. Everyone uses it for music too. – Featherball Jan 1 '17 at 19:53
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    @DanielCann Know Thy Audience. There are people who are visual learners and those who must read words. It's very hard for me to learn from a video alone, even when the video is demonstrating a physical task. And a video about writing is... iffy, to say the least. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Jan 1 '17 at 22:03
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What you are asking about is called "platform".

For a writer of non-fiction, platform is essential for getting published. Getting non-fiction published without massive platform is almost impossible.

For a writer of fiction, though, platform is almost irrelevant. Fiction is not sold through being part of a community, but through marketing. If your book is good, it will get picked up by a publisher. Having a platfrom will help, but not having one won't be a deal breaker for fiction.

Only if you want to self-publish your fiction do you need to build your own marketing channels through your writer platform.


Google "platform" and "writer" to learn more. There are some good books out on what platform is, who needs it, and how to build it. There is also a lot of hype by people who want to sell you their books or services (e.g. Michael Hyatt), so be careful what you believe. The above advice, that you don't need platform for fiction, comes from the book Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino. The fact that he tells me that I don't need him, makes me believe him.

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  • I would dispute the notion of "almost irrelevant" for fiction writers. Once upon a time this may have been true, but with the ever-increasing number of writers whose work is being picked up by publishers only after they become popular online (cf John Scalzi, E L James, etc) it is something publishers are considering these days, alongside the quality of the work. – Periata Breatta Jan 2 '17 at 14:59
  • @PeriataBreatta Can you provide a source for Scalzi's online popularity being a deciding factor in the sale of his first novel? – user5645 Jan 2 '17 at 15:07
  • Turns out I was misremembering what I read about the event. The fact that he had published it online was the relevant thing, not the popularity of it. – Periata Breatta Jan 2 '17 at 15:14
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    What I learn from Scalzi's example is that he had a lot of practice honing his writing skills as a columnist before he attempted his first novel, and that he sold his second attempt. To me that means that what you need to sell a novel are superior writing skills. And the chuzpah to just email Patrick Nielsen Hayden about having published it online because you can't be bothered with the submission process. – user5645 Jan 2 '17 at 15:24
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    @PeriataBreatta The big success story I know of a writer gaining success after becoming popular online is Andy Weir and The Martian. – Erik Jan 28 '17 at 2:14
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A blog can definitely build an audience for a book, and the existence of that audience can definitely help sell the book to a publisher, and afterwards the blog can help sell the book to the public. That is exactly how I did it with my book Every Page is Page One, which is a book about writing for the Web, largely for technical writers.

But whether it works for fiction is a different matter. My Every Page is Page One blog (which is still going) is about the same subject at the book. A novelists blog, on the other hand, is not usually about the same thing as their novel. They are often very dull things repeating standard grammatical and writing school advice. There are thousands of them, and they are, for the most part, deadly dull, and almost certainly doing nothing to help sell books.

The other thing about my blog is that it is a niche blog in a technical non-fiction area. That means that although the audience is not that big, the conversion rate is pretty high. A lot of people who read my blog also buy the book. I don't see how a fiction writer carves out a niche like that or achieves that kind of conversion rate.

And I am not sure any of it matters. While there are probably more people writing novels than reading them these days, the fact remains that gifted storytellers remain rare, and publishers are eager to find them. Show them that you can tell a ripping yarn, and you don't have to bring an audience with you.

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  • How often did you post to your blog? Do you have to be really dedicated to it? – Featherball Jan 1 '17 at 19:58
  • I used to post weekly. Now it is more like when I have something to say, which varies a lot depending on what I am working on at the time. – user16226 Jan 1 '17 at 20:01

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