NINC Conference – Day Three (Retrospective)

[From last week’s NINC conference, written in real time and then stored to be sent out a week later.]

Blogging for the shy

Had lunch with several lovely folks today. The question I try to ask everyone this year is “What thing did you learn that you think will completely overturn publishing next year?”

Not a lot of folks immediately jump on that, but it gets everyone to thinking, which is almost as good. From there, the conversation meandered around to the concept of audience engagement (and we were all even sober) and how to talk to your fans.

I’m fairly personable and garrulous with my blog, but folks paying attention at home will realize that I rarely ever put personal details up here. Happy to talk about my writing, my characters, my business, or even my farm and the critters, but you won’t learn much about me as a person.

This is not accidental.

But one of the women at the table was horrified at the concept of talking via a blog of any sort. She’s not a fast writer like me, but a serious SEO expert, which means she know marketing and those sorts of things. For her, she prefers to do big and wide advertising campaigns to draw in readers, without necessarily ever “engaging” them.

So we talked engagement, Fabulous Publisher Babe™ and me, trying to offer some ideas she could use to get past the moment of panic that people might want her to write about herself. The lessons apply elsewhere, so I figured I’d write them here and hopefully some other folks might find that thing that helps them.

I don’t set down to write on a topic. More frequently, something pops up and either irritates me or inspires me, so that becomes the source of a new blog post. (If you want to know how the writing is going, you’ll have to follow my Patreon. Don’t have to give me money, but I put that stuff over there, rather than here. This is public.)

Write what makes you emotional. Don’t write because the calendar says you have to write a blog post on Wednesday. That’s the fastest way to make it work and turn it into something you hate so much that you’ll fight yourself not to have to do it.

My wife has her chatty newsletter, where she just talks about whatever exciting thing came along. Or a new link so something she read somewhere. Or art.

Her goal is frequently to put a smile on other faces, because she already has one.

It’s okay to blog about your cats. People who want to know about the cats will follow you for that. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ also has her release newsletter, which just mentions the most recent and next.

Don’t talk about your cats in your author bio. That’s the one to make you look professional. But blogs is blogs. Readers want the authentic you.

That also means don’t hire someone to write your blog, because they’ll never get your voice right and will eventually end up turning of your very fans that you worked so hard to accumulate in the first place.

Instead, write out the words, and then you can have a personal assistant who you email it to, and that person can add pictures, links, whatever.

But your words. Always your words. That “you” is why people want to keep up with you. Talk about your characters. I assign birthdays to people who will not be born for thousands of years in the future, and then have the small birthday celebration for them. (Suvi will be born March 19, 7426 CE, by the way.)

And it does not have to be long. Some quick idea, or question. Maybe something that you might have put into a tweet. Or sent out as a tweet later. Maybe as much or little as 500 words. You don’t have to assign yourself a word count.


However, if you do blog, count those word. To date, I’m over 65,000 words of blogs and newsletters and whatever else is publicly consumed, because I figure all that is marketing ad copy.

If you write a few hundred words ever week, that adds up. More if you’re chatty on social media, where you write it on your website and then feed it out.

Always remember that the goal is to drive casual interest back to your website, where you can turn them into fans. Eventually, some will even be friends, but settle for fans.

Every person you can engage that way is likely to turn into someone that buys all your books.

We’re in the business to make money here, so use your words effectively. Be a storyteller, and not a writer. Writing is a business. Storytelling is pure art. Let the artist side of you write the blog, rather than the businesswoman.

But have fun.

Always have fun being you, and the fans will come along and celebrate.


Day three – ps

We’re in Florida. And at the end of the summer. Everywhere I go, I’m surrounded by tiny little lizards (of type unknown to this Pacific Northwesterner). About 2-5 inches long. Casually sunning themselves on the brickwork next to the paths, so they can skitter quickly back into the undergrowth as soon as someone gets too close.

Plus, it’s been hot every day, so I’ve been staying indoors with the air conditioning. Fun watching all the women dressed hard in many layers and cardigan sweaters, looking at me and most of the men like we’re aliens in shorts and light t-shirts.

Gulf has been fantastic. Last year, every afternoon it started a thunderstorm off shore. Sometimes they can in, sometimes it was just alien sf light show a few miles away.

So far, nothing but sun and stars.

Tradewinds on St. Pete Beach. Awesome place.

Also 1200 Chophouse. Oh My God amazing steaks, just a quick walk down the street and across. If you have the chance, eat there. Munching on leftover ribeye while I type this.