No matter what kind of writing you do this probably applies:
1. Blogging allows you to keep an up to date backup of your work, and after you’ve written a few hundred posts your blog also serves as a historical vault.
2. It allows the general public to give you negative feedback. This might sound like a bad thing, but writers who get butt hurt over negative feedback from the public are like bikers who whine about riding in the rain. You knew this was going to happen. You deal with it. Embrace it if you can, and move on or get off the ride.
Anyway, negative feedback from the public can be used as constructive criticism if you look at it stoically. You can’t always trust the public’s opinions, but if somebody tells you that your work really, really sucks then there’s a really, really good chance you should try something really, really different. If you hadn’t figured that out yourself then apparently you needed somebody to tell you.
3. It allows professionals and semi-professionals to give you constructive criticism. It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes people will stop by and tell you in the most tactful way possible that you suck and point out what you can do better. If you don’t want to wait for that to happen by chance you can link your blog in any number of writers’ forums and beg for feedback.
Nobody wants you to E-mail them your amateur work. Nobody wants to open texts documents posted by strangers on public forums. But if they see you post a link to say a WordPress blog they don’t have anything but their time to lose by clicking it. If they were lurking on forums they were probably looking for amusing links to click anyway. A lot of people will click on your link just to see if you’re a hot chick. And if your “About Me” page does have a picture of a hot chick on it they’ll pay even more attention to you.
4. Even if you’re not a hot chick, every writer needs a home on the internet. If you don’t then you practically don’t exist. Traditionally, success in the publishing industry hasn’t been determined by what you know but by who knows you. In the age of digital publishing this is more true than ever. Popularity is success. And you don’t have to woo crusty old publishing executives to be a success anymore. All you have to do is find a way to make your work go viral, a task made easier by the fact that humanity’s artistic standards hit rock bottom decades ago. So you don’t even have to be that good. You just have to provide what people want. But no matter how good you are, nobody can throw you a bone if they can’t find you. Even if you could succeed without an official presence on the Internet, you’d just be making your job harder than it has to be.
5. Blogging allows you to compile a professional portfolio of work that you can always search, access and edit quickly and easily. Granted, your first couple hundred blogs you write are going to be crap that you should be ashamed of, but over the years you’ll add better posts. You’ll have time to go back and preen your old ones. After you’ve trashed half your posts and rewritten the other half 35 times you might end up with a site full of refined work that any professional would respect at a glance. Or you might end up with a site that shows you still have room to grow, but you’re obviously committed and have potential if someone would just give you chance. There’s no guarantee that will happen, but it’s like the Texas lottery commercials say, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”
6. Once you’ve got 1-300 pages of quality of work, regardless of whether that’s baking recipes, short stories, character descriptions, advice, opinions or bullshit you can slap that in an E-book and sell it on Amazon. If Tucker Maxx can make a fortune publishing stuff he had laying around then so can you….theoretically.
7. If you have a blog, and especially if you’re selling or giving away E-books, you get to obsess over stats. This will be depressing at first when nobody looks at your work. But that should also tell you something and motivate you. If that is enough to discourage you from writing then it’s just as well you quit early because you were going to quit eventually anyway. If you stick with it and your work is worth reading, and you’ve promoted it at all even just in the forums you happen to lurk on, you’ll start to see regular traffic. It’s exhilarating to watch the numbers grow. And sometimes someone will link to your site, and you’ll see a big spike in traffic. You’ll also be able to see what site linked to you and what people on that site are saying about your work. If you see certain types of sites tend to pick up your links then you’ll be able to identify your audience, and if you’re smart, cater to them.
Once your stats start moving up and down your blog becomes like a “Farmville” game. Whether you’re writing a blog or playing a game on Facebook you’re still just staring at the computer screen for hours clicking buttons. The face book gamer gets to watch their virtual farm grow as a reward. The writer gets to watch their stats go up as a reward. Every once and a while you get a bonus reward when someone clicks the “like” button on one of your posts. Sometimes you get penalized when someone leaves a comment telling you how stupid you are. And that makes the game more exciting. And as a reward for enduring all that negative criticism, eventually you get to watch your E-book sale stats, where each number represents real world cash piling up in your online bank account.
8. Having a blog will allow you to communicate with your fans. You never know what can be gained through networking. You might meet another writer who wants to collaborate. A fan might tell you exactly what your audience wants so you can give it to them. An agent might contact you with a deal. You might flatter a fan with a reply, which might motivate them to direct new readers to you. You might just have some interesting conversations and learn something new and random about the world. So even if your blog doesn’t open the doors to heaven, it’ll still open doors to opportunities that are enjoyable, if not lucrative.
9. Once you publish your best 300 pages and woo your fans into directing lots of traffic to your blog you can sell your book to them by linking your blog to your Amazon product page/s.
10. If your best 300 pages still aren’t as good as they need to be and the cover of your book sucks then you can try setting up a Kickstarter fund to finance editing and marketing your work. If you have fans following your blog then you already have an audience who might support you. Either way, when the public considers donating to your Kickstarter fund they’ll also be able to look at your blog site and see that you’ve put a lot of effort into your work and have potential worth supporting. They can learn a little more about you on your “About Me” page and can contact you on your “Contact” page.
This isn’t the new standard way to become a professional writer, but if you’re going to be writing anyway you may as well set yourself up for success and build the tools you’re going to need eventually anyway.
You might not want to post your earliest work because you don’t want to establish a reputation as a bad writer, but nobody is going to remember your bad work. If they do, they’ll be that much more impressed by your latest and greatest work. Even if one or two people get the wrong impression, you’re going to win more fans than you lose in the long run.
If you’re worried about people stealing your work, don’t be. Nobody is going to steal your early work because it sucks too bad. If someone does steal your later work, it’ll be free publicity, and the loss will be offset by the amount of legitimate sales you’ve gained through your web presence. If you simply can’t stand the idea of anyone seeing any of your work without paying top dollar for it then I hope your manuscript stays is your desk drawer for the rest of your life. The world will manage fine with one less greedy, tight ass in the publishing business.
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