YOUR Secret Weapon – And Other Tips For Better Book Writing & Blogging

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A visual representation of me if I were a middle aged blonde woman, which I am not.

HOW I CAME TO KNOW WHAT I’M ABOUT TO TELL YOU

I used to have a job where I drove around a lot. My wife would get in my car and wonder why I never listened to music, and it was because you can only hear the same five songs so many times before you go crazy. Satellite radio changed that, but my habits had been etched into stone pretty well by then, and there were shows I liked better than the abundance of crappy songs they played on the radio anyway.

A visual representation of my wife listening to talk radio instead of Katie Perry.
A visual representation of my wife listening to talk radio instead of Katie Perry.

I listened to a lot of talk radio. (I know, yawn. Hear me out.) Some was sports, some was politics, and some was just a guy in the afternoon here in Tampa who was kind of a loveable curmudgeon. He was Glenn Beck’s predecessor here, before Glenn Beck moved here but wasn’t world famous yet, if that tells you anything. I’m not sure it does. Anyway, this guy was about as nonBeck as you could get. He told stories and all sorts of stuff. He was funny, but just as often he’d rip a caller to shreds. He was interesting, though, almost no matter what he did. I listened to him on and off for years.

A visual representation of the number of followers my blog had during my first year.
A visual representation of the number of followers my blog had during my first year.

One thing he said that I’ll never forget is some huge number of listeners will tune in every day but never call. Other talk radio guys have mentioned that over the years, and since they get data on how many callers they get to a show and how many listeners they have, they know it’s true. The same is true for readers of newspapers, and, to a lesser extent, readers of blogs.

I always knew that just because of how many ways it was reinforced over the years. It’s a really, really low percentage. So when you write your blog, don’t get discouraged by how few likes it gets or how fewer (?) replies and comments. It’s not like that. You can have lots of readers and not a lot of comments OR subscribers/followers OR likes. Don’t write your blog for that. Write for the reasons you want to or need to write your blog.

It's what we teach our kids, right?
It’s what we teach our kids, right?

Another thing he said that resonated was a comment about honesty. Honesty connects. People sniff out a fake eventually. If you are talking five days a week for three hours LIVE on the radio, listeners will remember if you are inconsistent. That has been echoed time and time again in other media and it’s worth repeating here. Your blog is YOU, not your book. Readers come here to interact with you, and if you’re being phony, they will figure it out.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU

This applies a little differently to your books. Your book is you, but it’s not. You aren’t a murderer, or a sex maniac, or an alien from planet Zena, but you may have to play one in your book – and that stuff’s all made up. Hopefully. Especially the murderer stuff. (If not, feel free to unsubscribe now. Best wishes! Happy travels! Hope I didn’t piss you off! I live in Seattle.)

And you are one crazy SOB!
And you are one crazy SOB!

Conversely, your book is you. It’s a visualization of your thoughts and ideas, what you thought was interesting, sure, but also things you think are compelling enough to tell others about. One of the most commented-on characters in my romantic comedy – which has a LOT of hilarious and bawdy scenes – is the role of the MC’s child, a five-year-old. She’s not in any of the sexy scenes, of course, but she says and does cute things that a large number of readers connect with because they have or have had children that age. They know how kids react to things, and what kinds of things kids that age say. I find her interesting, so readers do. (I write her well. That helps.)

Me and the five year old. Isn't she cute?
Me and the five year old. Isn’t she cute?

WHAT TO DO WITH THIS AMAZING NEW KNOWLEDGE

Your truth, your reality, is your secret weapon. I have a five year old kid. I may use a line she says – or one I’d imagine her to say in a certain circumstance – in my story. Readers connect with her, and end up connecting with other characters as a result. And that’s just one example. They like the secondary characters because the MC likes them, and they came to like the MC first. See?

That’s part of being true and real. The MC has a kid and the kid is affected by what the MC does, but they are also a loving family, and that affects the story when we’re introducing them to the reader.

(Read two sample chapters of Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure HERE)

Do not deny yourself to your reader. That’s a mistake.

You’re an interesting person who had the guts to write down your heart and put it out there for people to step on and laugh at – or to applaud. With blogs, there can be lots of readers and little or no applause for loooooong spans of time. Don’t worry about that.

There will be more applause if you’re honest and truthful. Remember that.

But there can’t be any if you aren’t in the arena at all.

Congratulations on your improved blog.
Congratulations on your improved book and/or blog.

Keep after it. It’s a slow process, but you’ll get there. Write and blog about what interests you and what’s happening to you, so that one day when a reader finds you, he or she has lots and lots of interesting stuff to read about you, just like you’d like to have when you discover somebody. Then they’ll feel as though they know you. That’s connecting. They’ll like your posts and then occasionally comment on them, and maybe even one day buy your books. And that’s all nice. But the farmer who plants a seed today with the intention of picking crops tomorrow and taking them to market is in for a big disappointment.

And things that are forced or fake aren’t going to bear much fruit anyway.

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16 thoughts on “YOUR Secret Weapon – And Other Tips For Better Book Writing & Blogging

  1. Talk radio ughh, my husband loves that stuff, and while I’m not a Katie Perry fan, I prefer music because singing makes me happy. Everyone around me hates it (my singing), but tough, like I said, it makes me happy!! You did say to be honest 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • When we drive to Disney, I’m outnumbered so I put on the 70’s and 80’s channels until they fall asleep. Then I can listen to whatever I want. But I have been known to sing along with some classic 80’s rock. Not so much the 70’s. “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head?” Nah.

      They pay me back when we’re in my wife’s car. I don’t EVEN know the artists they’re listening to, but my 5 year old daughter does. All of them. And if I’ve been really bad they make me watch Lip Sync Challenge with them. Uuugh. The Worst.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No no, I was born in the late 70s and I really don’t like much 70s music at all. I consider myself to be mostly an 80s child in music terms. I got my children into Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler when they were younger, but now, at 9 and 11 have their own preferences, Katie Perry being one of them! No thanks, though I would take that over talky stuff because I can’t sing to that, and I love to sing! 🎶

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think building a blogging community is harder than three or four years ago. The majority read each others blogs back then and became friends through comments. Now it feels like people say, “Hi,” and wave while running to the next new shiny object on the Internet.

    Being honest is important. After double boobectomies and a partial knee replacement, I felt my honesty had taken my wild rider brand and moved it into the nursing home. I had to rebrand myself. Regardless of my setbacks, They were in the past. I hosted a Wild Rider Fitness Challenge this summer. Although I didn’t get the participation I had hoped (it’s hard to get writers out of their chairs) it helped to restore my image. I hope. And I truly am back

    Liked by 2 people

    • Susie, you may be right. I communicate MUCH more with author-type people I’ve BEEN communicating with than I do newer author people, but I do try to fold in new friends.

      Hosting a fitness challenge sounds amazing! What a good idea. If it didn’t get the turnout you wanted, remember most events like that don’t do too hot in year 1 because it’s your first time doing it, too. The people come, they have fun, and they tell others and come back themselves, so in subsequent years it does better- and you know more about how to promote it as well.

      I have a friend in Colorado that does n Oktoberfest to raise money for Long QT Syndrome, a rare heart condition. It’s a glorified party in his back yard. I think he’s on year 10 and has to bring in 20 port-a-potties and zillions of kegs and sausages, hundreds of people go every year, raising over $11,000 last year (maybe $15,000, I don’ remember). He just said each year they learned a little more about promoting it and getting sponsors, and it just kept growing.

      I looked at the MANY amazing pictures on your blog and I can’t imagine somebody with your spirit and determination NOT making next year’s Wild Rider Fitness Challenge even bigger and better.

      BTW, who TAKEs all those pics of you doing all that crazy stuff?

      Like

      • Thanks so much! My husband takes pictures if I’m in them. Otherwise it’s yours truly behind the lens.
        I may do the WRFChallenge next year and see how it goes. I’m always challenging myself to go out exploring anyway! We saw moose last weekend. Right now, I’m focusing on writing books and screenplays. It’s a crazy life in keeping everything in the air!
        Thanks for stopping by the Wild Ride.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed this post and totally agree with you. Very nice photo of you and your daughter. 😃 I haven’t been blogging long ..just posted my 100th post, according to what it showed when I hit the publish button, but I’m not interested in numbers…I just wonder how you keep up with so many responders. I would like to acknowledge each. But even with the ones I have right now…I just can not. My email box is full and it takes time to open them and clear the box…I can’t imagine what yours looks like! I enjoy spending time reading others posts and working on my stories, etc. There is such a wealth of knowledge out there and I love having the opportunity of tapping into it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great question, Lucky!

    I have it set up to email me, and I can use my phone to see the emails as they come in. Now, that can be tedious, but maybe it takes about two hours to reply to all of them – but that’s all spread out. It’s usually 2 minutes here and there, whenever I have a second. Most replies are don EARLY in the morning or on Sundays and Monday which are slow days for me.

    But what I do MOST OFTEN is check it when I’m in line at the grocery store, stuck in the drive through, resting between sets during a workout (that’s a biggie)… I try to put productive stuff into the tiny gaps I see all day.

    Like

  5. Ah yes, the lack of readership. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve vowed to walk away from my blog because it isn’t paying off. A platform? Ha. This puppy needs legs! But then I’ll get a great comment, or a surge in readership, and I’m back in the writing saddle. It’s best to write your truth as you say, and leave the stat-checking alone. Just write the darn thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Diane. And the worst thing is, you only see blogs that have more comments than yours, or more followers, which may not be a fair comparison. Meanwhile, it’s hard to see how many people are actually reading another blog, so you never really know who’s doing what.

      Like

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