For Whom Does the Blog Toll?

Writers are encouraged to start a blog and write about their writing experiences. Okay, I did that, and here it is. But who do I expect to read this thing?TollingBell

A blog is a great way to express yourself and to chronicle your adventures in writing. But if you want anyone other than your wife or your mom to read your blog, your blog needs a focus. Posts on random topics may attract the occasional reader who finds you through a search, but it won’t attract a subscriber who comes back regularly and possibly even comments.

I’ve seen other writers approach the focus issue in different ways:

  • They write for other writers. Their posts are generally about the writing or publishing process itself, not about their stories or characters, except in illustration of a point.
  • They write for themselves. Their posts are more or less a journal of their writing progress and their feelings about being a writer.
  • The write for the readers of their books. Their posts talk about their work, their motivations, their future plans, and all the other things fans like to know. Some go so far as to post their work-in-progress on their blog to get feedback.

My first few posts definitely leaned in the “writing for other writers” direction, but who am I trying to kid? I know a lot about publishing and writing non-fiction, but I know very little about writing fiction. I’m just getting started with it, and I can tell you right now that fiction writing is a completely different animal from non-fiction writing.

I thought my “chronicles” would be about my development as a fiction author. But who wants to read that? Perhaps other new or aspiring authors who are struggling with similar challenges and want to know how I handle them? Yeah, I guess. But is that who I want for my audience? I’m not so sure.

So, that’s the real question: for whom do I write?

Your Reader Determines What You Write

With non-fiction writing, the first thing smart authors do before writing a single word of their book is to figure out who will be reading their book. Authors who write for “everybody” are really writing for nobody. And that’s exactly who will buy your book: nobody. Your book needs to speak to a particular kind of person with a particular problem. If you don’t figure that out up-front, you can’t write the “right” book, and marketing your book becomes virtually impossible because you have no way to target your marketing efforts.

Is it any different for fiction authors? I think not.

Fiction writers also have to figure out who will be reading their books. Is it a teenage girl who wants to swoon over a too-beautiful vampire? Is it an adult who likes to read gritty crime novels? You see what I mean? These are very different readers, and you will find them hanging out in very different places on the Internet when you try to connect with them.

Your target readers shape your story. They influence your dialog and the nature of your characters. Your plot provides the kind of elements that attract them, and hopefully avoids the elements that repel them.

Of course, your blog doesn’t necessarily need to target the same audience as your books. Ultimately, it depends upon your goals for your blog.

A Blog without a Goal is Like a Ship without a Rudder

Ah, now we get to the heart of the matter. You not only need to know who will read your blog, but you also have to know what your blog will do for them, and of course, what it will do for you. In copy writing speak, you need a “call to action.”

So what possible call to action could a fiction author have for the readers of his or her blog?

It depends. If you want to write for other writers, the call to action might be for them to comment on your posts and share their experiences. If you write for the reader of your books, the call to action might be for them to buy your works.

Once you figure out for whom you are writing and why, figuring out what to write about becomes much easier. At the very least, you have a high-level filter that makes it simpler to decide what is appropriate and what is not.

So now I have another question to answer: what are my goals for this blog?

We’re Off You Know

We’re off you know to a distant land
And the only ones allowed to come are those who feel they can
Go right along with the master plan
For we’re all agreed that all we need is sitting there in your head

~ Lyric excerpt from the song We’re Off You Know, by Klaatu

So here it is. After all that preamble, here are my Answers to The Questions.

Who is my audience?

I want to write my blog for the readers of my forthcoming novels. Those are the people I want to meet, to get feedback from, and to (hopefully) entertain. I’ll explain exactly who that is in a forthcoming post.

What is my goal?

My goal is to share information about the “world” and the characters I’m creating for my novels and get potential readers excited about the idea of reading books set in that world, featuring those characters.

What is my quest?

Oops. I got carried away there. A Monty Python reference seemed inevitable. But hey, the posts I add to this blog will almost certainly include information about my character’s quests, so there you have it.

If you are a reader of Swords and Sorcery fantasy and like the idea of sitting in on the creative process of world-building and story development, this blog tolls for thee. I invite you to hang out with me as I write my first fiction novel, which I’m determined to release in January of 2012. I think we’ll both get a lot out of the experience.


I have blog comments turned off because of problems with spam. Feel free to use my contact page if you would like to get in touch with me.


  1. Jan of 2012, I think you mean, or you write REALLY fast.

    You are wise to be so clear on your reasons for blogging. My blog goal remains elusive.

    But I’m clear that my favorite color is blue.

  2. Thanks for catching that! I fixed it to say I plan to finish my book by Jan 2012. I wonder if one can write fast enough to reverse time? Hey, there’s a story idea.

    As for clarity, that’s one of the reasons for blogging, I think. For writers, it helps you sort things in your mind. I really wasn’t satisfied with the direction things were going with this blog, and this post helped me think it through.

    Even if you don’t know your goals for your own blog, you at least know your favorite color, which should save you from any involuntary cliff diving.

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