Blogging – am I wasting my time?

blogger3aIn a recent series of blogs I described my experience of taking the James Patterson master class on writing.  This was triggered by the simple fact that I’m not selling many books, despite the fact that those who have read them have enjoyed them.  And yes, taking that master class has changed the way I think about my writing and book construction.  So having, I feel, made positive progress in that direction I am now looking at the other activities surrounding my writing.  Top of the list is marketing and part of that is blogging i.e. this blog.

For three years now I have blogged every week on writing, science and science fiction and a few other things.  Recently though I have read other blogs that are making me question what I’m doing and why.  Firstly, one blog seemed to say that any blogging was a waste of time for a writer, on the grounds that it is simply taking up valuable writing time and it doesn’t sell books.

The latter, not selling books, is definitely true in my experience.  At least it is from the way I have been blogging.  I’ve told myself that I look at blogging more as a way to get my name out there, build some sort of on-line ‘brand’, ‘persona’ or whatever you want to call it.  I may well have achieved some of that but that hasn’t resulted in book sales.

The other blogs that have really made me think are by Laurence O’Brian of which I am a member of.  His philosophy is that you should blog on your writing, themes, research, locations whatever, but tie it into your books with a link to those books in the blog. i.e. remember why you are blogging in the first place.

Perhaps, I’ve fallen into the trap of blogging on topics that will bring people to my blog rather than promote my work.  I admit it’s something that has nagged at me for some time.  I’m a writer of science fiction and my blog is not focusing on that.  I’m blogging more for other writers than readers of science fiction.  There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not what I set out to do.

Equally I don’t want to just bang on and on ‘buy my books’.  I’ve seen that on twitter and it is a complete turn off.  So I need to strike a balance between what I think readers of my blog will be interested in and what I’m trying to achieve.  Now that might mean fewer, more focused blogs.  Still the occasional writing blog etc. which was sort of my promise in the beginning and science (linked to scifi).  However, it does make sense that if I can interest people in topics explored in my books then they might be interested in the books themselves.  Perhaps, blogging less often will Marketalso give me time to update other parts of the site, which I admit have been neglected recently.

Bottom line – I have to be more professional.   I heard an interview on the radio recently with the author Rachel Abbot who is a successful self-published writer.  She said to start with she was just selling the odd book here and there, then she realised she had to treat it as a business.  It’s no good having a great product if you don’t get the message out there.

Now this blog is going out while I’m on holiday on a Greek island (tough gig I know).  However, the one writing task I’ve set myself is to have a long hard think about this blog and how to make it work for me, as well as keep it interesting for those who are good enough to read it.

As always thoughts and comments (and help!) are welcome.

Ian Martyn


Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

24 thoughts on “Blogging – am I wasting my time?”

  1. Please continue to present your reflections on SF writing. They tend to push the boundaries outwards and give one something to think about.

    1. Thanks,and will do. If anything I think I need to be more more SF focused, even if they are less often.

  2. I only started blogging 2 months ago, and what I appreciate about it is that I can focus on things that interest me and get regular writing opportunities, instead of spending hours on social media, randomly reacting to whatever pops up first, which was beginning to drive me quite loopy. So I was interested to see this post (and here I am reacting, though not randomly).Also It may have sold one or two books, but at least if it doesn’t it’s a pleasure in itself (so far). I looked at your related blog posts and they were readable and informative, so I would say keep going but not at the expense of your next novel if it’s taking too much time.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Coming up with a regular blog is an interesting challenge in itself. However, as I mention in the post it’s perhaps time I looked again at a few things I’m doing and blogging is part of that. I won’t stop but the content may change a little and perhaps frequency.

  3. So reassuring to hear from another writer who’s grappling with the same conundrums that have recently been knocking me senseless! There has to be a Better Way. If I find it, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, I’ll keep watching to see what you’re discovering.

  4. Hey, you have to call it as you see it and make a decision based on the facts. That means reassessing occasionally, and you’ve done that.

    Honest information is always appreciated.

    1. Thanks – I have always tried to blog ‘warts and all’. Doing so helps form my thoughts and I hope it helps others as well.

  5. I thought you knew the answer to this question without needing to open the blog, but as you can see I d open it so perhaps I didn’t actually know the answer after all – if you get my drift.

    I think I’m going to have to give up on the passive resistance and finally get round to trying out one of your books

  6. I have an aversion for actually >writing< a blog, so I found the means for the automatic curating of articles that relate to my science fiction novel (Artificial Intelligence, brain-scanning, cognitive computers, etc.) I came across Ian Sutherland with his claim that there are great automatic tools that give you the benefits of marketing with only 30 minutes a day of paying attention to your little digital slaves. I did implement many of those tools, although I'm still not doing it right. There are programs you can hire that automatically send out Tweets on the topics that relate to your book. You can even mix in the occasional promo for the book itself. About every couple weeks, I select a science article I think is especially relevant, and put that up on my WordPress page. Here's a link to my latest:
    Net results, lots of "impressions–currently running at 2300 per day!! but I have not seen anything like a boost in sales! If I didn't waste so much time looking at all those reports and checking Facebook, email, notes like yours, etc., I would have more time for writing. But I'm fairly confident that if I were bitten by the writing bug for a new novel that got me excited, I'd be able to break all these nasty habits and write, write,write!
    I applaud your effort to break the mold and try something new to free up your time. Best of luck!

    1. Thanks for the comment and I like your idea and I’ll check out your link. Whatever I do decide to do at some point I’ll assess it here in this blog.

  7. I look at a blog for extra information about a writer or his/her novels. The blog is a useful extra, if it makes a reader buy the next story that’s a plus. My own blog is a scrapbook of research information and travel memories, with occasional author interviews. But I see no benefit in slavishly sticking to a weekly post. Post when you have an extra bit to share.

    1. Thanks for the comment and what you say is the conclusion I have come to. I don’t regret my blogging, and don’t want to stop. It’s just time to re-evaluate and move on

  8. Ian, I’m not a published writer yet though I have a few projects in the works that will hopefully see the light of day. I have been blogging for the past eight years and I enjoy the activity — for one, I find it entertaining, and two, I have met lots of wonderful people in the international blogging community. I have more blog friends than real friends! On the flipside, I find time spent blogging and on social media is cutting into my writing time. I’m now trying to balance the two. I put up fewer blog posts every month, though I visit other blogs, and I usually go on Fb and Twitter during office commute. Of course, it doesn’t always go smoothly.

    1. Thanks. I think you’re right a blog has to work for you and the people reading the blog. If it becomes a drag for you then that will be reflected in the blog

  9. Blogging doesn’t sell your books in any quantity (I’ve had a few people tell me they bought because of my blog, but not many – then again, we don’t know why people buy, mostly!), but it DOES build your online platform. As long as you blog in such a way that people want to read it. The title of this one made me click the link, which is what it’s all about. I think the idea that writers-have-to-blog is a bit outdated, now, especially now that people have realised that no, it DOESN’T sell books. I’d say only do it if you want to. I know quite a few writers who sell a good amount of books who don’t blog at all. I sometimes write 3 pieces a week, but might not write anything again for another 3 weeks. If you’re having to force it, it probably won’t be that interesting, anyway.

    Perhaps it’s more visibility that you need – have a look at these posts:

    There’s a series of four, links to previous ones at bottom.

    One thing I will say – never, ever write blog posts about not being able to sell your books! If you ever feel the need to have a whinge about that, do it in private to other writers!!

  10. Just wrote a long comment and it didn’t send, so here’s the short version! No, blogging doesn’t sell books, not in any great quantity, but it does build your online platform. More visibility might help. I’ve written four posts about this, link below, links to others at the end of this last one.

    I think the way forward is to only blog if you want to. Pointless if you don’t, and I know a few writers who sell loads of books and never blog at all! Oh – not that you have, but one word of warning: never, ever, write blog posts about not being able to sell your books…. it’s like wearing a t-shirt saying ‘I’m a crap writer’!! If you need to whinge about it, do it to other writers, in private.

If you have a view on this, let me know: