Make Blogging Matter Elaine L. Orr


Elaineforwebpage2March2015You’ve heard the expression, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears, does it make a sound?” There is a parallel in book publishing. If we write a terrific novel and no one hears about it, is it still worth reading?


It is a struggle to let readers know about a new book, and perhaps a greater one to help them get familiar with books published several years ago. In the wonderful age of electronic publishing, I sometimes wish I didn’t know so many authors personally. I want to read all of their books, but if I did that I would rarely write mine.


So what to do? Whether we have a traditional publisher or publish ourselves, it is still up to us to get our books in front of readers. I used to hate marketing, but I find it’s the best way to interact with readers and other authors. Not through advertising (which I do, of course) on, but by reaching them in ways besides saying “buy my book.”


When I started blogging, I struggled to come up with topics that were not directly related to my writing. I had written nonfiction for years, some of my own and some as part of a team, so it wasn’t difficult for me to put pen to paper. I finally realized I didn’t have enough confidence that people would be interested what I had to say about fiction.


After a year of few posts, much of that time dealing with the mechanics of self-publishing, I had something to say. Learning how to prepare a correctly formatted electronic book had taken me dozens of hours of reading and practice. When I was done, I realized that only about three percent of what I had studied was needed to do it correctly. The learning process had been good, but how many people have dozens of hours to spend learning material they may not use?


Now I had a purpose for blogging. I did several articles on electronic publishing and used the same material to develop a short lecture on the topic that I give, for free, at libraries. I wrote on audio book production and varied topics related to marketing, and then found I was comfortable writing about writing or producing short essays. In essence, helping others made me more comfortable with my own work.


Then I got crafty. We aren’t talking making things from popsicle sticks. An article on audiobooks could have a couple of links to my own. One on using Kindle Boards to connect with readers had samples of my own work.


Enjoying writing for the blog did not mean people would read it. I posted references to articles on my webpage and mentioned them in my bimonthly email to friends and fans. It wasn’t until I started using Twitter to mention the blog articles that readership took off. Most read are articles on marketing, but tweets to relevant hashtags bring readers for almost any topic. I’ve written about a World’s Fair baseball team, collectible cards of the 1960s, and books I’ve enjoyed.


If readers like what they’ve seen, there is now an index page that can take them to other articles. There is also a section on my Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series and a page that provides links to all of my books.


Writers often ask if posting to blogs, their own or as a guest on another, will lead to sales. There is no data. The maxim is still that writing a good book is still the best way to get sales. However, blogging has helped me reach readers and many have written to say it introduced them to my books. Since I write about marketing books, many who contact me are other authors. As this is my third career, I had a very small network of author friends. Though I have not yet met all of the authors I now keep in touch with, I know many. That may be the best return on the blog writing investment.


I firmly believe that writing interesting posts and letting people know about them through Twitter and other means is a great way to be sure someone hears that tree fall. Over time, an interesting blog attracts interested readers.



Elaine L. Orr is the Amazon bestselling author of eight books in the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series. The sixth, “Behind the Walls,” is a finalist for the 2014 Chanticleer Murder and Mayhem Awards, and “Ground to a Halt” is the most recent. Later in 2015, she will publish the first book in the River’s Edge cozy series. Elaine also conducts presentations on electronic publishing and other writing-related topics. A member of Sisters in Crime, Elaine grew up in Maryland and moved to the Midwest in 1994.


8 thoughts on “Make Blogging Matter Elaine L. Orr

  1. EARL STAGGS says:

    Elaine, you’ve convinced me. I really MUST get active again on my blog.
    Best regards to you.

  2. sunnyfrazier says:

    I decided early on NOT to have my own blog. What I saw were authors, now overwhelmed with keeping up their blogs that they had other people guesting on their sites writing for them. Which is the tactic I chose to take. I blog on two sites that I love: Novel Spaces and Buried Under Books. I do my more “authorly” blogs on the first, but at Lelia’s site I’m pretty much allowed to say anything and that’s where some of my fun, and rowdy, blogs show up.

    But, the trick about blogging is making sure you round up people to comment. This means promotion in a big way. And that’s what makes a blogger valuable to the host. I have my terrific Posse who trusts me to lead them to worthwhile blogs (like this one!) and who check out my rants as well.

  3. sirsteve says:

    i was told early on to have a blog because it would promote sales. Then after awhile I was scolded by the same person for promoting the blog. I post on a lot of topics and the ones centered around writing tips are fewer and farther between nowadays. Currently, I’m into a series of author interviews.

  4. maggie8king says:

    I’ve cut my blogging from once weekly to twice monthly. At first my blogs were writing-related but I switched to reader-related postings as I wanted to appeal to that segment. I think the main problem with blogs is that there are so freaking many of them out there. And most writers don’t have the time to read as many as we’d like.

  5. Very interesting post, Elaine. I post to my blog every week and I write about a variety of subjects. Sometimes, I promote my own books but, much more frequently, I promote the books of other authors.

  6. lindamthorne says:

    I enjoyed this. I’m still learning. I don’t keep my blog totally current, but I usually either have hosted from someone else’s (making a comment of my own progress while introducing the guest), or I’ve posted about an event I’ve been at or a link to one of my blog posts. These are not daily or weekly. More like quarterly. I have more coming up starting early in September as my book is coming out August 29th. If I posted much more than I already do, something would have to give, and I’m not sure I should take any more time away from writing my 2nd book or other needed promotions. I’m still looking for the right balance here. I enjoyed this article.

  7. Marja McGraw says:

    I’ve been blogging once a week since 2010, and sometimes it’s difficult to think of new topics. I promote my own books from time to time, but I also enjoy having guest bloggers in, too, to offer advice and promote their own books. Great post, Elaine. I’m glad I stopped in.

  8. Radine Trees Nehring says:

    Thank you Elaine–very helpful and encouraging.

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