There is a lot of advice for new authors. Books. Blogs. Newsletters. All overflowing with advice. A riot of tips, strategies, and essential to-dos. One of the most common is to blog. To be relentlessly helpful. To offer tips, strategies, and best practice to-dos for the potential audience for your book. To give it away as honey to attract the reader-bees to buy your book (or service).
It makes sense.
I did it.
One thing most advice givers give is that a writer must watch the numbers: the likes, follows, people signing up for your mailing list, and ultimately, people buying your book to know what works, and what doesn’t.
I did this too.
A handful of likes, here and there, scattered followers on this or that post. Nary a book sold.
I dutifully put onto one side of a balance scale all the hours per week spent creating and distributing the content and on the other side the number of book sales (the end reason for doing this), as well as followers and likes on the other.
The scale immediately fell over to one side: it’s been a waste of time.
After probing the nagging suspicion that most of this advice is given with non-fiction in mind, using nonfiction authors as the primary examples, with fiction as an afterthought at best, I was forced to reexamine this whole idea.
- How can a fiction writer be relentlessly helpful?
- What can fiction writers blog about to create content to give away, to stir up excitement for a book?
- To get people interested in their fictional world?
- To get people interested the author as the teller of tales?
After far many months of fruitless labor, I finally googled it.
(Don’t laugh that it took this long. Failure is a far greater motivator than success and an infinitely better teacher.)
To sum up the general thinking: unless you’re a literary star, or are a true expert in the same field as your fiction is, blogging is wasting time better spent on getting the rest of your platform in order, perfecting your sales copy, and working on outreach, especially with influencers and reviewers.
Sifting through further advice for fiction writers, I sought examples specifically for creators of things that don’t exist.
Only then did I come to realize that being helpful for a fiction writer is very different than for a non-fiction writer.
Some advice tries to twist the meaning of expertise into dealing with philosophical problems or life issues, but these contortions miss the real point.
Fiction writers don’t (typically) write to help people solve specific problems. The whole idea of being helpful needs to be flipped. [Social activist fiction is unique in this regard, and blogging about the issues in the book could help sell it, but still…]
What a fiction writer needs to do is be relentless in helping people who would in enjoy the book find it, and in helping those people who are reading it enjoy it more.
So my blog will cease being a blog in a traditional sense.
It will become a sandbox, a place for experimenting with ways to help people find the worlds I’ve build and once in that world, helping people get the most out of being there. Perhaps even enjoying it long after it’s finished.
And so that is what “One Candle in the Darkness” will shift to—a place to invite readers. Both those initiated into A Perfect Blindness’s world of the late 80s Chicago music scene, where we are all just misunderstood characters in the stories other people tell themselves, and those who haven’t yet discovered how much they would like it.
Welcome to The Interzone a space where I host jaunts to the way things could have been and offering glimpses at the way things still might be, places where people strive after dreams, fight back at disaster, struggle with demons in both themselves and others. Enjoy.
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To join Adventures in the Interzone: excursions to the way things might have been or might yet be click here.