I started writing the Creating Craft: A Guide to Designing Original Pieces book blog in early September. I had wanted to write a book about designing original craftwork for some time, but was reluctant to take on the project because I knew I’d be unlikely to finish. I’d already tried to write one book before, but gave up after writing the outline and sample chapter because I felt bored and overwhelmed, all at once. Writing fifty thousand words (!) seemed like an unachievable goal, when I’d barely managed three thousand.
Then, on one of the social networks I frequent, someone asked, “Is anyone blogging a book?” This intrigued me – I had no idea what blogging a book meant, so I hopped onto her link and found the How to Blog a Book site. I read through a couple posts and immediately bought the book. I read through it that afternoon, and within a week I had set up my book blog and begun writing.
Here is why blogging a book works for me:
First, it keeps me writing. I don’t write well in a vacuum – if no one is reading, I eventually lose interest and stop writing. Knowing I have readers, and that they look forward to my thrice-weekly posts, keeps me motivated to write.
Second, it lets me get feedback as I’m writing. After my first few blog posts, I wrote a post asking my readers for feedback. I got some wonderful, well-thought responses, and I changed my writing based on that feedback. I did have to rewrite three or four upcoming blog posts, but that was only about fifteen hundred words. Imagine if I’d gotten that feedback after writing fifty thousand words? Writing in blog format lets me refine my work as I go, based on feedback from my actual audience – the best source possible.
Third, it lets me develop my audience as I go. While I haven’t invested a great deal of marketing effort yet (with the upcoming holidays, I haven’t had time), I’ve already gotten quite a few readers: between Facebook “Likes,” email subscribers, and Google Reader subscribers, I’ve got over 150 readers. In addition, I get about 50-60 page views per day on the site, and that number keeps increasing. These are still fairly small numbers, but much larger than the zero readers I’d have if I weren’t writing the blog. And I expect to get more readers when I get more time and start seriously marketing the site. When the book comes out, that’s a reader base who will evangelize the book.
Fourth and finally, it lets me break down an overwhelming task – writing fifty thousand words – into small bits. Fifty thousand words? No way. But four or five hundred words for a single blog post is easy. And, over time, it adds up. In the ten weeks since I started my book blog, I’ve written a total of sixteen thousand words, a feat which simply amazes me – that’s 1/3 of the way done! I could never have done this if I weren’t blogging.
Here are a few tips based on my experience:
Write consistently. Early on, I committed to my readers that I would publish a post three times a week – on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I take that promise very seriously, and it has been the best possible motivator for me.
Write ahead of time. I try to keep about two weeks ahead, because that gives me enough time to revise and revisit posts, and means I’m not in a panic if I fall a bit behind. It takes some of the pressure off.
Don’t hover over your site statistics. I went through a major slump when my page views declined after the first month or so. I wondered whether I was writing the wrong book, whether anyone would be interested in what I wrote, why I was putting so much effort into writing when apparently no one was reading. But a friend pointed out that a month is a very short time, and blog stats can fluctuate for no apparent reason. She also asked why I was writing the book, and whether a few readers more or less a week into Chapter 2 were really going to make a difference. I realized then that I was writing the book because I wanted to write it, not because I expected to make huge amounts of money or become a New York Times best seller. And I already knew it was helping people because of the comments on my blog.
So I kept writing. And you know what? Readership continued to increase, and I’m now back to where I was before the slump. But I could have saved myself a lot of stress if I’d stopped hovering over my statistics.
All in all, I’ve loved the process of blogging a book. I think it’s working really well for me, both because it keeps me writing and because it helps me develop an audience. I hope you’ll hop on over to Creating Craft: A Guide to Designing Original Pieces and check it out!
About the Author
Tien Chiu has been crafting for over three decades, specializing in complex, multidisciplinary fiber arts projects. She has won many awards for her work, including “Best in Show” at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers, and has had her work featured on the cover of Handwoven magazine. Her handwoven, couture-sewn wedding dress is part of the permanent collection at the American Textile History Museum.
Tien writes regularly for Handwoven and Complex Weavers Journal, and is a member of the editorial advisory board for Handwoven. She has also written for WeaveZine and Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot, and is a co-founder of Weavolution, the social network for handweavers.
Creating Craft: A Guide to Designing Original Pieces is her first book.
Photo courtesy of worradmu | freedigitalphotos.net