Should authors blog?

I’ve asked this question for a long time, and over time, my answer has evolved.

Simon and Schuster is supposed to have told their authors that they must blog . . . in 2010. It’s been five years. Internet marketing isn’t on a different plane five years later—basically on a different planet now. I’ve been blogging since 2006. Two. Thousand. Six. Blogging’s simply not as effective as it used to be—not for getting traffic, not for bringing in search engine users, and especially not for sales.

However, you might still want to blog as an author. Why?

The advantages of a blog

A blog still gives you a chance to “own” or “host” the conversation with your fans—if you can get them there. They are already on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., but remember that the content you post and the fanbase you build there could go away in an instant.

A blog gives you a quick and easy website. You might not even use the blog functionality if you’re just using the pages, but it’s good to have the place to stick your latest news as well as the usual, static information you’d want on a website.

Along with that, a blog gives you a place to promote. It’s your homebase where people are less likely to be annoyed or feel like you’re getting in their face to sell to them (versus social media).

HUGE caveat

There is one HUGE caveat: if you are a nonfiction writer, you probably need to blog. It’s the cheapest and perhaps the fastest to way to start your platform, which is super important for publishing whether you’re going indie or traditional. This helps to build your authority and your writing.

Also, it’s way more likely that people will be searching for a nonfiction topic than for “clean spy romance,” so it can be more effective with search engines as well as social media—because which would you rather share: a post with an interview with a character/list of fun facts about an author/pretty pictures of a book’s setting OR an informative post on a topic you’re interested in and that helps you with your life?

The effectiveness of a blog

Have you EVER bought a novel because you read the author’s blog? I don’t mean, “I went to an author’s blog because I liked her other books and there discovered that she has another book out so I bought this book because I was already a fan.” I mean, “I discovered this author through her blog and have purchased novels (or fiction of any length) by her.”

[click through for poll]

I’m a nonfiction author, too, so I’ll keep blogging, mostly focused on that side. I’ll still have announcements about new releases and promotions on the fiction side, and I’ll be using the pages of my site just like any other author would—to highlight good reviews, to share deleted scenes and bonus features, to be the “center” of my promotions—but when it comes to blogging about your fiction? I just don’t see it making a difference to your search engine traffic or your sales. Your mileage may vary—and if it does, great! Come share your story!