Friday, September 21, 2012

What Offer Does Your Author Blog Make?

by Joel Friedlander

It seems that authors fall into two categories when it comes to author blogging:
1. Authors who are blogging regularly
2. Authors who think they should be blogging regularly

If you read blogs you come to the conclusion that there are lots of reasons authors are blogging. But sometimes I wonder whether authors have thought about the reason they are blogging—why their blog exists.

Now, admittedly there are lots of kinds of author blogs.
There’s a big divide between fiction authors who blog and nonfiction authors. And within nonfiction, there’s a big difference between the kind of blog you can develop if you write literary criticism or medieval history, or if you write about how to get rid of the weeds in your garden or how to make great vegan dishes.
So every author is different, and our subjects and audiences are infinitely varied.

But having some clarity about what purpose your blog serves can really help you achieve your goals. Even better, being able to sum it up in just a few words—why readers would bother to stop there and read it—is one of the best early exercises for new bloggers.

The Magic of the Tagline
When you decide to start a blog, you have to right away come up with a name for it. Or you can blog under your own name, on the “domain-name-of-your-author-name” plan.

No matter what domain name you end up with, you’ll notice that most blogs have a tagline, a bit like a book’s subtitle.

For instance, here are some taglines from blogs I visit:
• The Creative Penn: Helping you write, publish and market your book
• The Passive Voice: Writers, Writing, Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe
• Writer Unboxed: about the craft and business of fiction
• Copyblogger: Content Marketing Solutions for WordPress that Work
• Social Media Examiner: Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle
• We Grow Media: Helping Writers & Publishers Make an Impact and Build Their Legacies
In each case, the blogger has tried to sum up the value of the blog to the reader.
Creating the Tagline for Your Blog
Doing this exercise was a lot more difficult for me than I thought it would be. I already had the name of the blog——so that wasn’t a problem.

But it took several hours and a lot of thought before I arrived at the tagline. But going through that work was also very valuable, and I recommend this exercise to every author who is setting up, or reviving, a blog.

You can see my own end result in the masthead: practical advice to help build better books.
And no matter how far afield the articles here have wandered, this statement hasn’t changed, because my offer has never changed.
If you think about it, how well you fulfill the promise of this statement will have a lot to do with the success of your blog. And if it does succeed, it can become a vehicle capable of supporting your writing and publishing efforts, the ultimate foundation of your author platform.
We blog at the permission of our readers, and the exercise of creating a tagline for your blog is one of the best ways to focus on exactly what your offer is to your readers.
Joel Friedlander is a self-published author and book designer who blogs about book design, self-publishing and the indie publishing life at He's also the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, where he helps publishers and authors who decide to publish get to market on time and on budget with books that are both properly constructed and beautiful to read.

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