All the advice I’ve read recently suggests that a writer needs to build a platform, a network of followers who will buy your book. But all this advice is written by people who have already published books, whether via the traditional route or self-publishing. What if, like me, you have yet to sign up to that elusive publishing deal?
In my day jobs as news reporter and press officer I’ve been published lots of times but so far no luck in getting any of my fiction out there. I started out many years ago trying to write romantic fiction and short stories and entering competitions but that failed to bear any fruit. Instead I turned to my first love and started writing crime. After a two-year battle to complete my novel (writing in my spare time around a full-time job) and then spending a year editing, I started to submit it. To date it’s been sent to eight agents – and since we’re keeping score it’s five ‘thanks but it’s not for us’ and three haven’t responded.
Now I’m not one for quitting and it has been my dream for as long as I can remember to see my published book in a shop, but my efforts to crash on with my second book have been hampered by a crippling lack of self-belief. With no professional feedback on my first book I feel that I’ve lost my confidence in my writing. So far it’s had some positive feedback from friends and interested parties, but with no confidence in what I’ve written it’s been difficult to continue with the submissions.
Which brings me back to the question of should an unpublished writer have a blog? Or more accurately does an unpublished writer need a blog? After all, I don’t have a book to promote or encourage my followers to buy. I have no formal qualifications in creative writing – apart from taking a short course ‘Start Writing Fiction’ with the Open University – so I don’t consider myself an expert in it. So what are my reasons for starting this blog? Well, basically there are four:
- Support and advice – I very much enjoy reading and commenting on other people’s blogs and I’d like to be part of that community. If I can help or advise anyone who is more of a beginner than me, then I’d be delighted.
- Writer’s block – I’ve been suffering from writer’s block for several months (although this may just be the self-doubt I mentioned earlier!) and I’m hoping that if I’m forced to write for my blog it might just get the creative juices flowing.
- Building a network – ok, so there will be a ‘platform building’ bit to it as well, just in case publication ever comes knocking at my door. I would hate to get to the point of publication and find it would be much better if I had a group of followers already.
- Sheer stubbornness and desire – I recently read a blog post by Mark Edwards who has been writing novels since he was 23-years-old but has only recently seen a book, co-written with a friend Louise Voss, published. His message? Never give up. I like that idea. I’m hoping to channel that attitude and carry on writing for myself and enjoying what I’m writing – not worrying about whether it will ever get published.
Are there other unpublished writers out there who have blogs? Why did you start? If you’re a more experienced blogger, do you have any advice for a newbie just starting out?