Saturday, February 4, 2012

On Writing: Look at Your Assets

I was reading Frank Viola’s Advice for Christian Authors a few days ago. I was a little discouraged when I read Tip 5:

Build a readership base.This is vital if a publisher will look at your work. It’s also vital if your book will be purchased by people beyond your best friends and family. Even if it’s self-published. The best way to build a reader base in our day is to start a blog and work on building it well.

“Make your first goal 1,000 regular readers (subscribers) who will be inclined to spread the word about your blog to their friends. Then build from there. See my Tips for Bloggers and What I’ve Learned in Two Years of Blogging. Also begin using Twitter and create a web page. For more ideas, see Daniel Decker’s 14 Platform Building Tips for Authors. Note: If your blog isn’t attracting readers, then you may want to rethink writing a book. Unless you’re writing the book only for yourself and your friends. Which is perfectly fine. And if the book is stellar, it will spread through word-of-mouth to some extent. Maybe even beyond.”

My blogs don’t have 1,000 subscribers (far from it!), and I’m not sure that all of my subscribers would purchase a book that I have written. But should that discourage me from writing a book? I’d say “Not necessarily.”

One reason is that my blogs do get readers. Granted, it’s not thousands per day, but it’s still a fairly respectable number, in my opinion (within the 100-200 range). Second, I have written articles for Helium, and some of them have ranked pretty high in terms of their ratings. Some of them have been duds, mind you, but I’ve written enough well-received ones that I know that I have potential. Third, if I were to write a book, I could promote it on my blog, and that could attract customers. Even if my blog does not have 1,000 subscribers, it does turn up in Google searches. If I write a book that talks about something that people are interested in, and they search for their topic of interest on Google or Yahoo, there’s a good chance that they will arrive at my blog and see my reference to my book, then they can decide for themselves whether or not they want to buy it. My blog is a way for me to get the word out, in short. And fourth, something that I have noticed about Frank Viola is that he writes—-he’s written books that he has published himself, he’s written books that others have published, and he’s written books for the Internet. What I glean from this is that a person who desires to write should write, rather than being discouraged from writing, even if the task is not successful (according to certain measures of success). And it may help if the writer submits articles online or writes guest posts for other blogs.

I’m not writing as someone who has written books. I realize that writing books and getting them published is far from being a cake-walk, and seasoned authors like Frank Viola and others do a service when they offer tips to would-be authors. (BTW, check out Viola’s links in the quote above.) But I think it’s important for people to focus on what they do have and what they can do, rather than being discouraged at what they don’t have. As a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy, that is a struggle for me! But hope is important, as long as one doesn’t expect a cake-walk.

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