Content ideas for fiction authors’ blogs and newsletters

Blogging by Frances Caballo
I am thrilled to introduce you to Michael Kelberer, the author of today’s post. Michael is an author with an MBA, which puts him in a unique position to help authors with their publishing businesses. 


Introduction

Authors are told in numerous places and ways (including this blog and mine) that delivering great content to readers via a blog or blog/newsletter is the best way to grow and cement relationships with readers. Which, in turn, leads to more sales.

The questions are, what makes for great content? And if you’re a fiction writer, what on earth would make a great topic?

Great Content

Both visitors and readers come to your blog looking to dive deeper into the world of your fiction and, to a lesser extent, to your world as an author. If the content they find there induces them to stay for a while (and come back!), you’ll be moving those visitors along the path from curious to avid fan.


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What makes for great content? Focus on these four criteria:

  • Relevant: Create content that “brand-true.” Make sure both the content and the voice is relevant to your fiction. If you write food-based cozies, use your cozy voice and while recipes are fair game, politics is not.
  • Interesting: Create content that is reader-focused. What are readers of your brand of fiction interested in? Share stuff that benefits them, not to get things off your chest (except occasionally – then start off by admitting a rant is coming – it’s okay to be human).
  • Entertaining: If you have dry information to share, try to liven it up with personal experiences, heart-felt opinions, or an entertaining style.
  • Emotionally resonant: Look for content that will trigger an emotion or touch a nerve.

All four is great, one or two is fine.

Best of all, content that follows these guidelines is also the most fun to create!

Great topics

Frances Caballo provided some great ideas in an earlier blog post. Here’s another take.

Share your Writing

Sharing shorter pieces of your fiction with your readers is a great way to spark interest in your work, and gives them an excellent way to introduce you to their friends by sharing the post/newsletter.

  • Flash fiction
  • Short story
  • Excerpts from your work-in-progress

This last idea works on many levels – you’ll give new visitors a look at your writing and give your fans anticipation chills for your next release.

Share shorter pieces of your fiction with your readers @MichaelKelbererClick To Tweet

Share the story behind the story

Everyone loves to be invited to look behind the curtain, readers perhaps more so than most. Sharing the story behind your fiction will deepen your readers’ appreciation for your books and can also attract newcomers who find your fictional world appealing.

From your world- and character-building

  • Character profiles (from your exploratory writings)
  • Character background outtakes (ditto)
  • Plot outtakes (“director’s cut” concept)
  • Character interviews
  • Post “by” one of your characters

I’ve seen author blogs written entirely as their main character’s diary.

From your research

  • Share pictures / descriptions of your places (Pinterest, Instagram etc.)
  • Write about social themes covered in your books (homelessness, women’s rights)
  • Write about issues faced by your characters (dealing with depression, loss, etc)

These posts will especially appeal to potential readers who aren’t familiar enough with your fiction to appreciate the character-related posts, but who are interested in the issues.

Write about social themes covered in your books via @MichaelKelbererClick To Tweet

Share your writing life

But remember, these are readers. They are probably not much interested in the technical or business aspects of the writing life. But they will be very interested in how your writing life impacts your fiction. And by all means make this content especially personal in tone – personal connections

  • Share things/events that sparked the locations, plot elements and/or characters in your books
  • Share pictures and/or a personal description of your writing space
  • Writer issues you’re facing (although you don’t want to write for writers too much, many of your readers have secret dream of being one, and/or are just curious)
  • Writing progress updates (let them be part of the process, excitement)
  • How your experiences at book events and book groups affected you (and provide pictures!)

Along these lines, many authors I know find that book groups are perhaps the most effective public appearances around – and having some nice stories on your blog about those appearances will encourage others to invite you.

Aside on sharing from your personal life

As a rule, don’t.

Remember that your author website, blog and newsletter are business venues: people are here for you as an author and your world of fiction. Too much information from your personal life will have same effect on visitor retention as random information dumps in a novel – people will just leave.

This is especially true if your author persona is much different than your real self. Don’t dilute your brand. Think Don Imus sharing a baby-kissing picture.

That said, briefly sharing important milestones (getting married, having children, winning the Nobel) is fine – it does remind readers that you are a real person.

Interact with readers

One of the best ways to engage a readership is, well, to engage. Besides the one-way content sharing described above, look for ways to make your blog/newsletter more interactive.

Interact as a fellow reader

  • What are they reading?
  • Favorite books in genre by other authors (helps build allies too!)
  • Pictures of your reading space
  • Share what you’re currently reading and TBRs
  • Issue “favorite” book lists

Hard to imagine a more direct, personal connection with a writer than to know she/he reads the same other authors you do!

Interact as a fellow fan of your genre

  • Interview fellow authors about their fiction and fictional worlds
  • Ask readers for nominations
  • Guest posts from similar authors
  • Thoughts about the industry
  • Themes of general interest in the genre (for mysteries, new ideas or tools in crime solving for example, even if they’re not in your current works)
  • Interesting facts from the history of the genre

Ditto. Hey, you’re a fan too!

Interact as the focal point of your reader community

  • Share reader feedback and comments with your thoughts
  • Regular Q&A feature
  • Create a contest
  • Ask a question/post a survey

Conclusion

Probably the most common reason that fiction writers don’t blog is that “it takes too much time away from their writing.”

On the other hand, one of the comments I hear most from writers who (reluctantly) start to blog on a regular basis on topics like the above is – wait for it – how much their blogging has helped their writing!

Second most common – how much they love the interaction with their fan base. All of a sudden their books aren’t going out into the great unknown – they’re in the hands of readers they actually know and interact with.

Priceless.


Not sure when to post your social media updates? Get the Cheat Sheet than tells you when. Download now!

Free Social Media Cheat Sheet by Frances Caballo


HOq4TPzu_200x200About Michael Kelberer, the author of today’s post: Michael is an author business enthusiast who blogs about what he’s learning about how to make a living as an author in the 21st century at AuthorBusinessHub.com, where you can download the free booklet “Author Platform Basics.” Follow him on Twitter @MichaelKelberer.

 

Sell More Books with These Tips by Frances CaballoAbout the Author: I’m Frances Caballo, an author, podcaster and social media strategist and manager for writers. I’m a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and have written four books including, Twitter Just for Writers, which is available for free here on my website. My focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. My clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. You’ll find me every day on Twitter.

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