One of the things I didn’t understand when I started my Livejournal four or five years ago was that an author blog is so much more than a way to showcase your writing or promote your books.
When other people read your blog, a small number of them will leave comments, which means the reader becomes the writer and the writer becomes the reader. That shifting reader-writer relationship plays itself out through a dialogue that makes the original blog post so much more valuable.
A blog is like a conversation that never ends.
A good blog post is intriguing and open-ended enough to spark off some kind of discussion. You don’t need or want to be the final authority on anything you happen to write about. You want to come up with something interesting and kick it out there and see what happens next.
And like any good conversationalist, a good blogger knows how to listen. This is something that I don’t think gets stressed nearly enough in books and articles about How To Develop Your Author Platform (at least that I’ve read so far).
To become truly masterful in traversing the Web and harnessing its energies in a way that benefits not just you but the readers you attract into your orbit, you need to play around and explore. You need to learn the terrain. This is how you’ll find the parts of the landscape that suit you best, the tools you’re most naturally drawn to and the places where you can plant yourself and grow toward the sun.
One of the best ways to listen and explore is to read other blogs, subscribe to the ones you enjoy and pull them all into a feed reader like Bloglines. By going through your reader on a near-daily basis, you’ll not only learn new cool stuff, you’ll get a feel for what other people are talking about and how you as a blogger can best contribute to the conversation.
And by discovering the blogs you feel an affinity with, you can start joining those communities and leaving comments of your own, which is an important part of reaching out to other bloggers. It’s also one of the ways readers can discover you. If you impress them with your thoughtful comment, they will click on your name and be delivered to your blog, where of course they’ll fall madly in love with you and become your True Fans and maybe even stalk you (in a good way).
One more thing. Make sure you subscribe to all kinds of blogs (you can check out my own Cool Links page above if you need a place to start). If you’re a writer writing about writing (ahem), you’ll come up with more original and creative posts if you’re able to synthesize ideas that on first glance might seem like they have nothing to do with fiction writing. Take advantage of the Technorenaissance and step outside your chosen field, your genre, your comfort zone, your natural groove.
Feed your head.
Let things cross-fertilize.
See what happens.