Wednesday, November 2, 2011

They’ve Seen The Light! 3 Successful Fiction Bloggers

From the wandering mind of Tamela Buhrke

For the past several weeks I’ve been pretty brutal about the dark side of of author blogging -- where blogs go wrong and how bloggers go wrong. Maybe it’s the spirit of Christmas making me a bit jolly this week, but I’ve decided that today we will look at three fiction bloggers that have gotten it right and found success.

Hometown Pie in the Kitchen Goodness

I have lived in large cities like Chicago, Houston, Phoenix and now Denver. I love city living, but I will admit that a part of me longs for a small town. I dream of a place where Aunt Bea has pie cooling in the kitchen and Floyd the Barber is sitting outside his store swapping stories. It’s a place where life is slower and we can feel safe and sheltered. Americana at it’s finest.

If any author has captured that place, both in her fiction novels and on her blog, it is Gail Fraser. Her novels are set in a fictional small town called Lumby, nestled in the foothills of the Rockies. Visiting her blog is like entering that world. The blog has maps and drawings of the town and surrounding hills. You can find regular updates about Lumby’s weather, local gossip and local animal antics. There is even a cartoon moose that lumbers its way across the page.

Her blog has become so popular, that not only has it helped her to reach her niche market of Americana lovers, but it is creating something of a tourist attraction at her real farm in upstate New York. There she sells t-shirts, mugs and other swag to support her writing.

Thinking Outside the Binding

What do Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Alexandre Dumas have in common? They all wrote their most famous novels as serials. This art form is finding a revival in the age of blogs and smart phones. It provides people who don’t have the time to sit down with a novel the experience of enjoying a story each day on their smart phone while riding the bus or at their office computer while nibbling on their lunch.

Today you can find one of the most successful serial bloggers right here in Denver -- our own Claudia Hall Christian. She is the author of the Denver Cereal and the Alex the Fey serials. They have become a world-wide success, with readers as far as Bangladesh. The serials are offered for free on her blogs. At the end of each story line, the serial is put together into a book. Some are given away and some sold. Her blog is supported by some advertising and the sale of the books or ebooks. Christian has formed her own publishing company, giving her complete control over the process. Her stories have become so successful that she has recently had requests for a serial with a national news outlet.

Serial blogging is a great way to build your writing skills and gain exposure. However, it is not for the faint of heart. Christian is proud that she has never missed her weekly deadline in three years of blogging. She warns that, unlike writing a novel, there is no going back to correct earlier mistakes or change facts. You must be able to write consistently and keep the story progressing forward, while keeping the reader engaged each week.

Special Populations

As you probably read in my post last week, I believe that blogging should benefit your reader. With that in mind, this last author came to me as a recommendation from the queen of author platforming (yes, I turned it into a verb) Christina Katz. She featured Laurel Snyder (and other fiction authors) in her article The Successful Fiction Platform, written for the December Writer’s Digest.

It’s easy to see why Katz featured her. Snyder writes children’s books and her blog is a treasure trove of information for parents. It offers reviews of children’s books, provides lists of recommended reading and offers her personal experiences of being a working parent.

It is important to note that though her books are for children, her blog is mostly for the parents. She also has a section on her site for teachers and kids. It offers ideas for book clubs, classroom interaction programs such as “Inside the Creepy Classroom” and even poetry workshops. Her blog helps her to reach out to her complete audience, not just the readers, but the teachers and parents. She shows them how her books and her blog adds value to their lives and their children’s lives.

As you can see, there are a number of ways fiction blogging can be successful. The key is getting the right match up of what you offer, what the reader wants and how you present it to them. These authors have found a successful mix for their market. Next week we’ll talk about how to determine what is right for yours.

Stay tuned for next week's post: The Number One Rule of Blogging!


Patricia Stoltey said...

I guess it's a lot easier when the writer/blogger is focused on one genre, isn't it?

Claudia from Denver Cereal said...

Thanks so much for the conversation yesterday and this lovely piece! :)

~Just Jen~ said...

Claudia Hall Christian is an AMAZING writer. I have been hooked on both Denver Cereal and the Alex the Fey series from near their inception. I own every one of her books and recommend/gift them as often as I can.

Her story lines are captivating and her characters are engrossing. You feel like you are a part of the characters day to day lives and not just reading another piece of fiction. The fact that she is able to continue to write with such quality and keep us interested is a nod to her immense talent.

Chiseled in Rock said...

Hi all,
Sorry the holidays kept me too busy to respond.

Patricia, it is easier to have one genre but even with multiple genres there is often a thread or theme. If a writer has the same readers for each of their genres then finding the common thread is the key. Your blog is wonderful because you offer so many reviews of books across the mystery spectrum, plus you often talk about books you are reading outside your genre. That is great benefit to your readers!

Claudia, it was wonderful meeting with you! Great food and great company!

Just Jen, I agree. Claudia is a wonderful writer!