Friday, February 18, 2011

Aspiring Authors DO Have Something to Offer

Every Friday I like to chime in on social media, and today we're talking about a major concern many unpublished authors have about starting a blog before they're published.

Aspiring authors get conflicting advice about blogging. It's a hotly debated topic, one which writers, agents, and editors have differing opinions. Since the publishing industry stirs many personalities together, there can be no one right answer. Ultimately, starting a blog is an individual choice and should be made with care.

The two worries I hear over and over from authors who haven't taken the plunge to build a platform are:

1. If I start a blog, what do I, as an unpublished author, have to offer?
2. How can I find the time to do all that social media stuff and still write? (I'm not answering this today, but time is a big factor in building a platform and should be considered before signing up for a blog, Facebook, Twitter, and any other site. Check out Jody Hedlund's When Social Media Becomes a Time Suck for advice on not letting it overtake your life.)

Honestly, I get sad--my heart actually hurts--when I hear that anyone would think an unpublished author does not have anything meaningful to offer. Yes, I know there are some uninspired blogs (or blogs still finding their sea-legs, as I like to think of them), but the vast majority of blogs I read are written by aspiring authors, and the posts make a difference in my life.

Whether I'm reading an author's opinion on a writing technique, a personal essay about her writing struggles, a funny breakdown of the Grammy Awards, or a quick two-sentence line that the author is busy and promises to be back next week, I'm connecting with that author. I'm reading in someone else's viewpoint, and I'm learning from it.

The aspiring authors' blogs I come back to over and over offer three valuable things:

1. Friendship
They follow me back, and even if we can't read each other's posts all the time, we chat on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected.

2. Support
We shout out congratulations to other bloggers, we interview our friends during book releases, and we reach out when life throws grenades.

3. Information

I've learned grammar tips, conference ettiquette, agent news, contest information, writing craft nuggets, inspirational quotes, motivational devotions, and any number of items that have helped me on my writing journey.

You have so much to offer.Please, if you are an aspiring author and you think you will have nothing to offer until you're published--throw that thinking out. Seriously, erase it. That's like telling a student in high school she shouldn't volunteer at the local hospital until she's finished with her nursing degree. Or telling an eight-year-old not to enter the fair with his art project because he's not a real artist yet.

Here's another fact--many of the blogs I started following two years ago were written by aspiring authors. Now they aren't. They're written by authors who have gotten agents, sold books, and entered the realm of published authors. Do they have more to offer now than they did two years ago? No. They have something different to offer now. How fortunate to have received their wisdom all this time!

What do you think? Do aspiring authors have anything to offer?

Have a fantastic Friday!


  1. I think we all have a lot to offer especially in the friendship and support arena! Great post!

  2. I absolutely agree with all your points. It is a learning time and teaches writing too. I love all the new friends I've made! :O)

  3. YES! All blogs have something to offer. Even the 'leggless ones' They remind us to find our legs and that sometimes finding our legs takes a while :)

  4. This is a great post, Jill! I agree that aspiring authors have something to offer! I know when I first started I thought I didn't because, "What can I write that published authors haven't?" I had to find my niche. It's not always writing tips or advice(sometimes it is). I can only pray that people leave my site feeling encouraged, and maybe they laughed a little too.

  5. I'm with you... I learn so much from other authors and aspiring authors on the web. I'm always encouraged, motivated and entertained by the blogs I read every day.

  6. Love this. Blogs are such a great window into others thought, passions and trials. I think some of the best stuff ever can be found on blogs :) so yes. Unpulished authors have so much to offer!!!!

  7. Good morning!

    Laura: We do, and it should never be undervalued.

    Diane: Yes, I've learned so much from blogging--even from my mistakes!

    Tabitha: It took me a while to find my "legs" that's for sure! But the process helped me.

    Jessica: You're right--it's about finding our niche. I always leave your blog feeling encouraged!

    Erin: Me too! I LOVE reading blogs!

    Amber J: I agree. I'm consistently impressed with how much talent is on display!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Oh, totally. Sometimes I learn more things from aspiring authors than I do pubbed authors!

  9. I have nearly given up on blogging, as you feel no one reads it and yes I am probably still earning my sea legs.
    Thank you for the inspiration to continue.

  10. No doubt. Sometimes I like to think of myself not as an aspiring author, but as an author the world just hasn't discovered yet. ;)

    Yes, I learn from all kinds of people. The aspiring have a fresh passion to them.
    ~ Wendy

  11. Great post, Jill! For me, blogging is about making connections with people. That's what matters most.
    Thanks! Have a great day.

  12. I love your comparison of the future nurse and 8-year-old artist! So true. Great post, Jill!

  13. I am still new to blogging but already I can see some of the benefits you shared. Support for one. It is so excited to see that the people you follow are actually following you back! And to know that you have some faithful readership developing. Also, I have learned so much form others who are more experienced than me. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from others and support each other on our journeys.

  14. I agree Jill! We all have something meaningful to contribute. I enjoy blogs for their diversity, I never get the same information delivered the same way.

  15. You said it well. All in all, blogging brings us into a wonderfully supportive and sharing community. They're good company on this amazing writing journey ...

  16. God uses each of us in different ways. I many yet-to-be published authors' blogs because I'm so encouraged by their humbleness, their words of encouragement, and their world perspectives.

    Having a book published doesn't automatically unleash this fount of knowledge. It simply adds a new element.

    Those who are published have the advantage of sharing what they're learning in the industry.

    I've gone from aspiring to published in just a matter of weeks, but I want my blog to reflect the same thing--my transparency, love of Jesus, and encouragement for others.

  17. I blogged in a vacuum for several months (except for my mom!) but since I've started commenting on other blogs and getting comments back it's a whole new world. I originally thought it was just about having a presence, but it's really about making connections, making friends and learning from all the amazing aspiring and published authors out there. It's like being part of a warm and welcoming on-line neighborhood. Just wish we could get together for a community potluck :)

  18. Great points! I believe God has uniquely gifted each one of us with something different to say. Blogging has added so much to my life, and most of the people I started out with were not published at the time.

  19. Jill and everyone, I thank you for this post and all the comments. I understand the need and benefits of a platform, and have been seriously considering propelling myself into the blogsphere for some time now.

    I have been planning to start a blog in the very near future, but this week I was wondering if it was worth my time after reading a question and comments on another blog, "Have blogs peaked?"

    It seems some people think it's past it's prime and old hat now. Do you feel this is true?

    For over a month now, I have been planning and writing posts, in advance, before I actually start my blog. I want to give myself some space so it will not take time from my writing once I actually start blogging.

    I think your post and the comments helped me tremendously. I feel confident again and will be starting a blog very soon.

    Thanks a bunch everyone!

  20. Jill, I used to believe that an unpubbed author like myself had no business blogging about writing. But over the years, you have convinced me otherwise. Most of the blogs I have started reading are by struggling writers. It helps to be able to read the journeys of others trying to make it in the publishing world. Thank you for making me see the light!

  21. Jill, I have many blogging buddies who are pre-published novelists. In fact, the vast majority of blogs in my Google Reader belong to those awaiting their First Sale. I follow their blogs for the reasons you listed.

    Having recently received my first contract, I wholeheartedly agree with a point you made. I certainly don't feel like I have more to say now than before, although what I'm saying is sometimes different.

    I've told my husband I'm the same person I was before the contract. I still enjoy spending time with my cyber pals, celebrating their successes, offering support when they meet with disappointment, and learning more about the writing craft from them. We all have something to contribute at each stage of our journey.

  22. Aww, that's such a great thing to post about! Absolutely unpublished writers have some of the best blogs I know!! I love this blogging community and all the people I've met.

  23. Thanks for the reminder! :) Something I've been thinking a lot about lately.

  24. What a wonderful perspective! And I think we all have so much to offer, and so many do it so freely - it's what I love about this community! :)

  25. I agree with you one hundred percent! Not more, just different. I really liked that.

  26. I learn something from all of the blogs I read. And you are right, friendship is one of the biggest draws. I am encouraged in life because of all of you.

  27. I think each one of us has placed a stone in Blogland. Thanks for your stones. They're always enlightening! Enjoy your weekend.

  28. I had a friend say to me that having a blog doesn't make a difference in getting published, but to me it makes a difference in the friendships I've made and the great advice I've read.

    Great post.

  29. Jennifer: Yes, I find aspiring authors to be so enthusiastic. They often share terrific information!

    Lesley: Blogging isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy it in any way, I urge you to continue. Oftentimes no one is reading our blog because we haven't made it easy for them to. We need to have "follow" buttons or "RSS subsription" buttons for them to read it in a reader. We need to make an effort and read (and comment on) other blogs. And we need to put our posts out there on our Twitter and FB pages. Readers will come!

    Wendy: I love how you put that! A writer waiting to be discovered!

    Paul: I agree. The writers I meet online keep me sane!

    Sarah: Thank you. We wouldn't discourage our youth, and we shouldn't discourage each other, either!

    Angela C: Same here. I continue to learn and grow from examples of social networkers who are doing it right!

    Tamika: So true. Everyone has their own take on popular topics. Never a dull post!

    Joanne: Yes, it's a community, and it isn't exclusively for those who've "made it."

    Karen: Thank you!

    Lisa: I've only known you from social networks a few weeks and you come across exactly how you put it. I'm thrilled we connected!

    Thank you so much for stopping by!

  30. Sarah T: I started out the same as you described, for building a presence. But I quickly learned that was just the icing on the cake. I want a potluck too! I'll bring cheesy-potatoes!

    Georgiana: God does give us each a unique way of putting things. Good point!

    Loree H: Well, it depends on what you want out of it. If new bloggers expect to hit the Julie & Julia bonanza, they're likely to be disappointed. If they want a great way to showcase their personality, attract followers, hone their writing skills, and build a platform--yeah, they should absolutely start a blog. I've recently found 7-8 brand new blogs and I love them!

    Jenna: It is wonderful to share the ups and downs with other writers. By far, that's my favorite part about blogging!

    Keli: Same here. And I get pumped up about reading blogs by writers who once were aspiring authors and now are published (or soon to be) authors. It's exciting to share their journey--yours included!

    Lisa G: Me too! Bloggers rock!

    Heidi: Good! It took me a few months to even get the courage to add a "follow" button to my blog--I was pretty green--but I'm so glad I stuck with it.

    Susan Quinn: Yes! I love the community too!

    Katie: I'm grateful for those "different" perspectives, trust me. It's helpful to read about what happens between signing with an agent and getting the call, or how to deal with revisions, line edits and book signings. Very helpful!

    Nancy: I am too. You and I have been together a long time now!

    Ellie: Thanks for your "stones" too! I'm so glad you're back!

    Patti: Well, I'm not convinced your friend is right. I've read too many agent posts stating they expect unpublished authors to be actively building a platform. A blog is a good block in a platform!

    Thank you so much for stopping by!

  31. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words for those of us who are stil working on "breaking in!"

  32. Oh gosh, I agree! Unpubbed authors have as much to contribute as do pubbed. I believe that because both have passion and determination to go after their heart's desires. Almost all of the blogs I visit are of unpubbed authors. We are a warm, caring, kind bunch. =)

  33. Great post! I got a weird notice about more than one person editing my comment when I tried to post it. HUH?

    Let me know if you didn't get the first comment.

  34. Lauren: You're welcome! It takes time. Some bloggers have a knack for the whole process, while others like myself take quite a while to find our sea legs!

    Tana: Well said! Warm, caring bunch indeed!

    Cassandra: Weird! I'm so sorry. Blogger gets wonky sometimes. Let me know if the problem continues, okay?

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  35. Hi Jill,
    Thank you for the shout out! I love your list and your encouragement! No matter where we're at in our journey's we can all really share out of our experiences in our unique ways!

  36. Thank you for the inspiration, Jill. My 'sea legs' tend to travel to different waters searching for that warm spot. But you've inspired me to keep going. And I'm so blessed to have met many new writers. I look forward to reading about how to manage time and off to visit Jody's post now. Thanks for the link!

  37. Before I began blogging I didn't consider what I would blog about so much as who would find my blog and/or care to read it. Now, almost three years later, I'm surprised at the number of daily visitors to my blog. I realize it's partly because I also visit and respond to other bloggers. Only a small percentage of the visitors comment, but I've made several cyberfriends because of it, and I love the connections and new relationships.

    I hope my posts are meaningful to readers, but I have no way of knowing. Regardless of how they are received, at least the posts provide a writing exercise for me. :)

  38. Thanks Jill, a great encouragement for a 'newbie' blogger like me! I made a conscious decision to start blogging, even though I'm at the very start of my writing journey. I love generating more traffic on my blog and I do my best to achieve that goal, but in the end it's more about the people I encounter than anything else. So the whole 'community aspect' several commenters mentioned before me, that's my main motivation to do this. And let's not forget that I learn tons of stuff along the way that I would not have learned otherwise!

  39. Hi Jill -

    The five-year-old child can help his little brother learn his letters. The toddler writer can teach a scared, confused newbie what he's learned.

    We all have something to offer.

    Susan :)

  40. Absolutely! How sad that somebody would actually think that! My blog buddies have been sitting in my cheering section for years. Now that my dream is actually coming true, they're cheering even louder - it's almost like you're setting yourself up for failure by think you wouldn't have anything to offer by blogging. I really hope there aren't too many future authors who really feel this way.

  41. Jody: True! We always have something to offer--no matter where we're at.

    Lynn: I always enjoy your blog! Don't let those sea legs stray too far. Your posts inspire me!

    Carol: The majority of people who read our blogs are intimidated or time-crunched and won't leave a comment. Few comments does not mean we aren't connecting to readers--good point!

    Rachel: You're right--I learn so much along the way. And when I read blogs, I'm focusing on writing in general, and that helps me in less tangible ways!

    Susan JR: True! I love how you put that!

    Catherine: I feel the same way. Everything about this business takes confidence, so it's pointless to assume we'll be failures before we even start something.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  42. Wonderful post! The way I see it, every published author was at one time unpublished. Thanks for sharing this!


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