Why (and How) to Launch Your Author Blog Before Your Book

on February 4, 2016 in Book Marketing & PR
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Take your author blog for a spin even before your book launch

Maybe you're writing your first book. Perhaps it's off with your editor. In either case, you still have a ways to go before your book is in the hands of readers. That means it's much too early to worry about setting up an author blog, right?

Wrong.

You don't need to wait until your book launch to set up an author blog. In fact, you shouldn't wait this long if you want your blog to help you boost book sales at launch time.

Author Blog vs Author Website

Worried about launching a blog because you aren't ready to launch your ideal author website?

Don't be.

Sure. Your author website will have more than a blog. You'll want everything from your author bio to book sales pages. But there's no reason you can't give that website a jump start by focusing on your author blog.


-- Download my free Author Website Content Checklist for more examples of what to include on your author website --


As an example, I recently re-launched one of my author sites (under my A.J. Klein pen name) as strictly an author blog. But in time I plan to add a custom home page, book sales pages, a media room, and quite a bit more. You don't have to do everything at once. And if you're going to start somewhere, you might as well start with the blog.

Let's explore some of the reasons you might want to launch your blog while you continue working on your book.

3 Reasons to Launch Your Author Blog Before Your Book

The temptation to hold off on launching your blog until your book is released is understandable. After all, you don't have anything to promote yet. Right?

Not quite. The point of your author blog is less about marketing a specific book and more about author PR. In other words, what you're promoting is you. When readers feel connected to you as an author, they'll be hungry for your next book even before it's written.

Let's look at some of the key benefits of launching your author blog before you have a book to sell.

1. Your author blog helps you build an audience.

Think of your author blog, especially in its early days, as your introduction to readers. They get a taste of your writing style. They get to know the personality behind the stories to come. Most importantly, regular blog updates give your readers a reason to keep coming back.


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When you capture your readers' attention like this, you're in a position to keep them thinking about your latest projects, slowly building anticipation for your book release. Then, when you're ready to launch your book, you'll have an existing audience full of ready and willing buyers.

2. Your author blog allows you to test ideas with your target readers.

Another benefit of launching your author blog early ties into that audience you're building. You can gather feedback from your blog's readers which can impact decisions you make about your book or other writing projects. In other words, your blog becomes a vehicle for your market research.

For example, you might bounce story ideas around and let readers weigh in. Knowing what your readers want to see might influence what book you choose to write next or short stories you publish while they wait on your book.

3. Your author blog can help you build an email list.

When you update your blog on a regular basis, it becomes an ideal tool to help you build your email list. Instead of worrying about custom newsletters, you can allow readers to subscribe to your blog content via email. Personally, I like combining the two -- enabling blog post subscriptions alongside custom newsletters with unique content.

Why does it matter if you have an email list? These are the readers giving you permission to reach them in a more direct way, right in their inboxes. And when you have a book ready to be released, you're going to want to reach these readers in as direct a way as possible.

I don't necessarily recommend setting up an email list right away. It depends what you want to do with it. If you plan to write unique newsletters, for example, I'd wait a bit and grow your blog audience first. Then focus on converting blog readers to subscribers. If you only intend to allow email blog subscriptions, you might as well set up your opt-in forms as early as possible. When it comes to my A.J. Klein author site, I'll likely add opt-in forms as soon as I set up the custom homepage.

What to Write About on Your New Author Blog

If you launch your author blog early, what are you supposed to write about? I'm glad you asked. Here are 15 blog post ideas you can run with on your brand spankin' new blog:

  1. Publish short stories or flash fiction.
  2. Share your writing inspiration (such as the photo inspiration series I'm doing on my author blog).
  3. Post updates on your works-in-progress.
  4. Review other books on your blog, focusing on ones your own target readers would enjoy (think "if you like this, you might like my upcoming book.")
  5. Blog about your background with your genre or book's subject matter (why are you writing this book?).
  6. Share commentary on news related to your genre, book's subject matter, or other books that might be of interest to your target readers.
  7. Document your research to give readers a glimpse into your process. Did you take photos of a real-life setting in your story? Post them.
  8. Interview authors of related books. Not only will your readers be interested in their work, but you'll network in the process.
  9. Pose a question to your readers. It could be anything from asking them to comment with their favorite books in your genre to asking for feedback on potential character names (letting them take part in the creation process).
  10. Write a list post such as your ten favorite novels in your genre. As examples, on my horror author blog I shared my 2016 horror reading list and movie watch list in the genre.
  11. Publish tutorials in your area of expertise if you're building a reader base for a nonfiction book.
  12. Tell personal stories about your experiences as a writer (or anything that lets readers get to know you and might be relevant in some way to your book or author brand).
  13. Share audio or video segments with your readers. You might start an all-out podcast, or you might just post short talking head videos sharing personal stories or commentary instead of always writing those posts out.
  14. Assemble a collection of quotes related to your book's theme, reading, or your niche or genre.
  15. Publish tips, tools, and worksheets relevant to your upcoming nonfiction book.

There are two important things to keep in mind:

First, your author blog should primarily target the ideal readers of your book. In other words, don't use it to post a bunch of writing advice; that's for a separate blog unless your book targets writers or you have another good reason to do that.

Second, don't get discouraged. It can take time for your new author blog to take off and build a regular reader community. Don't worry if you don't see a lot of comments coming in right away. Keep blogging. Keep sharing your posts. And give it time. A blog is something you build from the ground up. It won't spring to life overnight. But the earlier you start, the stronger a foundation you'll have when you need that blog to promote your new book.

Can you think of other blog post ideas for a brand new author blog? Share them in the comments, or tell us how you're making the most of your author blog leading up to a book launch.

Thanks for sharing!
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. Through her company, 3 Beat Media, she operates All Indie Writers, NakedPR.com, BizAmmo.com, and numerous other blogs.

Jenn has over 15 years experience writing for others, over 11 years experience in blogging, and 9 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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5 Comments

  1. Amma February 6, 2016 Reply

    Hi! I really liked this blog post-very helpful. I wanted to ask what you think are the benefits of using a pen name?

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern February 6, 2016 Reply

      The main benefits are privacy and marketing. In my case, with the pen name mentioned in this post, I don’t care about privacy. It’s all about marketing. I’ve spent a long time building a business around my real name, so using pen names helps with things like SEO and audience segmentation through social media. If you aren’t worried about marketing considerations and you don’t mind having your real name out there, there’s no need to use one.

  2. Nicole Alicia February 8, 2016 Reply

    Excellent post!Thank you for explaining in detail about your choice for a pen name. I am using one as well that is different from my real name and was unsure of how exactly to go about explaining this to others.

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern February 8, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for commenting Nicole. Pen names are such a personal thing. I use a different one for each genre because it allows me to play with my marketing strategies more (marketing and PR are my specialties, so it’s important that I can experiment, test, and tailor things in different ways). Some just don’t want their real names out there. Others think a pen name sounds more genre-appropriate than their own. There’s no right or wrong decision when it comes to choosing to use one as long as an author is willing to put in the work required to build visibility and reach readers under a new name.

  3. Robert April 7, 2016 Reply

    I guess the downside to using a pen name is you have to start building a new following, but I suppose if the genres are so different, you’re going to have to start over anyway.

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