Only a Blog Away
“Every writer should be blogging,” editor Dan Elliott told me during an animated breakfast meeting. “That is, unless you’re the rare celebrity who doesn’t need to worry about getting your work before the public.”
Publishers are finding new authors through blogs, Dan said. And they are encouraging authors to use their blogs to build close, interactive relationships with their readers.
“Conversation, connection and relationship” are the key terms to describe the author’s role and purpose today.
Dan, the editorial director for books at Tyndale House Publishers and MAI trainer, has witnessed many changes in the publishing world in his two decades-plus at Tyndale. One of the biggest is how authors are gathering and targeting a niche audience of devoted readers through blogs and social networking like Facebook and Twitter.
One example is author and MAI Board member Robin Gunn, who developed a loyal readership of young girls through her “Christy Miller” series. These girls have grown up and Robin now reaches them through her “Sisterchicks” novels that model ways that female readers can find lasting friendships.
On her website, Robin tells of a reader who wore her Sisterchick T-shirt to the airport. A flight attendant spotted the shirt and said, “Are you a Robin Jones Gunn fan?” The reader said, “YEEES!” and that she’d just met Robin at a book signing. The next thing she knew, the reader was bumped up to first class. (I need one of those shirts!)
One of the historic disadvantages of writing—compared to public speaking or teaching—has been the
relative lack of immediate feedback and interaction with readers. Today’s social media are changing that; authors using blogs and facebook can hear exactly what their readers think, sometimes in unvarnished terms.
Finally, the new social media help authors go global. The internet introduces them to an international audience, who might never see the author's writings in hard copy. MAI finds this exciting, because Christians in the West now have easier access to the wisdom and experiences from writers elsewhere in the world.
For example, Mexican fiction author Keila Ochoa Harris has a regular personal blog, and contributes to MAI's Spanish writer blog Aventura de Escribir. Another MAI friend, Marlene Legaspi Munar of the Philippines, posts challenging devotional pieces. And award-winning blogger and MAI board member Wambura Kimunyu of Kenya offers insights on faith, culture and politics from an African female perspective.
I can see why Dan emphasized, “Having a blog is one of the most important things a writer can do."