Six Important Lessons from SF Author Blogs

I wanted to comment on a couple of SF author blogs that I have had toward the top of my feed reader for a couple of years now. When it comes to online reading, my viewing habits often change, but these two authors have survived the maelstrom of feeds that have entered and exited my Pulse catalog.

18461683John Scalzi – Whatever

There are a few key points that I believe make Scalzi’s blog a success and joy to read.

  1. He posts with regularity. Scalzi typically posts once per day and there is rarely a long period where content isn’t updated on his blog. You know what to expect and when to expect it.
  2. He encourages discussion through the comments. It is quite common that a given post will get over 100 comments. A recent post where he said nothing more than he was off for the day still received a handful of comments. The posts are often left open ended and Scalzi will often comment in the thread as well. This creates an interaction between the author and fans, making him approachable and creating a fan community.
  3. He pays it forward. Scalzi has a regular feature on his blog called “The Big Idea,” which spotlights an author that may be under-read within the community. Given that his blog receives up to 50,000 hits a day, this is a big boost for up and coming authors
  4. He adds flavor to the blog through his hobby. Scalzi regularly posts photographs on his blog. This added dimension attracts others who share in this very common hobby — especially among creative types. From sunsets to vacations, readers get a glimpse into Scalzi’s world, while appreciating the aesthetic quality of his art.

17817631Chuck Wendig — Terrible Minds

Like Scalzi, Wendig has become sort of a social media maven. He absolutely nails it on his blog, but for an entirely different set of reasons that I feel are worth mentioning.

  1. His theme is not about him. Chuck Wendig blogs about the craft of writing. While fans of his writing are also likely consumers of his posts, Wendig’s real audience is writers. I think the tendency for authors is to blog about themselves. But what they forget is that not many people care. The reader cares for number one and Wendig has something to offer.
  2. His voice bleeds through the f***ing screen. I admit that I blushed a little bit when writing this bullet point and blush a little more when I read his blog. Wendig is not afraid of four letter words and manages to use his crassness with a sense of style that so many fail at. But his voice is consistent, unapologetic, and conjures up strong imagery that is indicative of his fiction. The voice he uses on his blog will certainly steer people to his novels. It just may have to be done after work time.

In addition to these points, Wendig does several of the things on his blog that Scalzi does well:

    • He posts to his blog every weekday.
    • He encourages discussion through his flash fiction challenges and through comments on his posts.
    • He pays it forward by doing a series called Ten Questions, which uses a template to ask authors about how they employed their craft to create a book or product.

I think that many SF authors and fans would benefit by paying attention to what John Scalzi and Chuck Wendig do so well. With regularity and consistency, they continue to meet and exceed their audience’s expectations, delivering great content for free, while steering readers toward their fiction without coming across as used-car salesmen. Nobody tunes to a blog for the advertisements and these blogs offer a product that delights the customer.

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