Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To Blog, or Not To Blog?

I'm being a bad writer today and breaking from my schedule (Bad Ishta!), but I saw Elana Johnson's blog post yesterday on whether we promote good books, or books by authors we like based on their online presence, and it really got me thinking.  I decided to do some field research (online, of course - who says "field research" has to involve actually going somewhere?) on just how much of an online presence these mega-best-selling authors have, anyway.

The answer?  A lot.  Of the top ten books on the current New York Times bestseller list for MG and YA books, only one is by an author whose debut novel came without a whole whack of blogging, tweeting, facebooking, and other e-fanfare beforehand.  And since that debut 6 years ago, the author has stepped up his e-presence considerably, with a regular blog, website, and Twitter account.

What does this say for aspiring authors everywhere?  To me, it says an online presence is pretty important.  Will blogging your butt off make a mediocre book into a best-seller?  Probably not.  You still need to pour the bulk of your effort into writing an amazingly good, un-put-downable book.  But in an age where tweens and teens are almost universally wired, being accessible (and likeable!) online will almost certainly give you the edge over authors who aren't.

What do you think?  Is an e-presence essential to the debut author's success?


  1. An online presence is a must, but it takes so much time. {sigh} I find if I do too much blogging, etc., I never get around to writing. My answer (I just came up with this) is setting a timer for 20 minutes and when that it done, I'm done blogging and have to do something else.

  2. Interesting, no? Thanks for doing the research to check it out. Even more reason to keep the web presence happening.

  3. Lois, that sounds like a great solution. I'm trying a block of time for blogging, and another block at a separate time of day for writing. I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

    Casey, I was surprised at how much of an online presence most authors had before their book even came out! But how much of that was developed after the ink had dried on the contract? Probably a lot. There`s something to be said for focusing on making your book the best that it can be. On the other hand, if you've already got something going, you might as well maintain it. It can only help you in the long run.

  4. That's interesting. I think you're right that an online presence is important. I guess we all have to decide when we take the plunge to start our own blog. Even if you don't for awhile, I find that reading and commenting on blogs helps to make connections.

  5. Natalie, I agree. So much of an online presence is done outside of one's blog - commenting on other blogs, tweeting, etc. You might not have a blog, but it doesn't mean you're not there!