Author blog 101: Content, engagement, best practices

An author blog is a website or online platform created and maintained by an author to share information, engage with readers and promote their books.

Creating a strong online presence is crucial for an author to effectively connect with their audience and promote their books. An author blog allows writers to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences with their readers and fans. The principles of an author blog involve:

  • creating engaging content that is relevant to the readers
  • building a sense of community
  • promoting the author’s work in an authentic way.

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about author blogging, from technical terms to content ideas and best practices. By the end of this text, you will have a solid understanding of the key features and purposes of an author blog, how to create one, what to write about and how to engage with your readers.

With the help of this comprehensive guide and glossary, authors can create an engaging and successful author blog that reflects their unique voice and style while also engaging with their audience in an authentic and meaningful way.

Glossary

It can be overwhelming for those new to blogging to navigate all the technical terms and marketing jargon. Here is a glossary of the most common author blog terms:

Alt textAlternative text is a brief description of an image for users who may not be able to view it and understand what it is about.
BacklinksLinks from other websites that increase your website’s authority and credibility.
Google AnalyticsA tool providing detailed statistics and analytics for website traffic. You can use it to track the performance of your author blog and understand your readers’ behaviour.
Google rankingThe position of a web page in search engine results for a particular query. Authors aim to improve it to increase visibility and attract readers to their author blog. 
Keyword searchResearching and identifying specific words or phrases that users commonly use when searching for content related to a particular topic. Authors use keyword research to optimise their blog content for search engines. 
Meta descriptionA brief summary of a web page’s content that appears in search engine results and influences a user’s decision to click on a link. 
Search intentThe motivation behind a user’s online search. It represents what the user is trying to achieve with their search. Also referred to as user intent.
Search queryWords or phrases that users type into a search engine when looking for information. 
Website trafficThe number of visitors a website receives. Authors monitor website traffic to understand how users discover their blogs, which helps refine promotional strategies. 
A glossary of author blog terms.

What is an author blog?

An author blog is a website or online platform created and maintained by an author to share information, engage with readers and promote their books.

Key features and functions of a book author blog include:

  • Book promotion: Authors use blogs to promote their books by sharing updates about book releases, cover reveals and promotional events. They may also provide behind-the-scenes insights into the writing and publishing process.
  • Engagement: Author blogs offer a platform for interaction with readers. Authors can respond to comments, host Q&A sessions, and build a sense of community among their audience.
  • Author insights: Authors often use their blogs to share insights into their lives, experiences and perspectives. This personal touch can create a stronger connection between the author and their readers.
  • Writing tips and advice: Many author blogs include sections dedicated to writing tips, advice for aspiring writers, and reflections on the writing journey. This can attract both readers and fellow writers to the blog.
  • Book reviews: Authors may review other books in their genre or related fields, contributing to the literary community and showcasing their interests.
  • Guest posts: Some author blogs feature guest posts by other writers, creating opportunities for collaboration and expanding the blog’s content.

What to write about on an author blog?

Here are some ideas for an author blog content:

  • book recommendations or reviews
  • discounts and competitions — discount codes for your book, a competition for the best name for a character in your next book or a poll on the book cover colour palette.
  • genre and industry news — the book premiers in your genre, recent movie adaptations of books or the role of AI in book writing and publishing.
  • guest posts featuring other writers or book bloggers.
  • news relating to your books — information about your next book launch or sneak peeks of your next book. This could also include new editions or formats. For instance, a launch of an audiobook of your book previously only available as an ebook.
  • other personal recommendations of whatever you are engaged in or consuming — films, TV series, music, podcasts, hobbies or events.
  • Personal essays or opinion pieces can be great content ideas for fiction writers. These may include reflections on your daily life or broader perspectives that can be relatable to your readers.
  • Posts relating to your field of expertise and the topic of your book. For instance, if you are a non-fiction writer writing about mental health, share resources for people experiencing mental health challenges.
  • Q&As or interviews with other authors or book influencers. You could also invite people involved in the publishing of your book, such as an editor, cover designer or publisher.
  • reader magnets — a sample chapter of a newly published book, a deleted scene from one of your already-published books or an unpublished short story.
  • behind-the-scenes — book research, inspiration or anything else that plays a role in the construction of your books.
  • ‘top 10’ lists and rankings — your top 10 favourite film adaptations of books or top 10 favourite books in a specific genre.
  • wrap-ups, lists or round-ups — rating all the books you read that month or a round-up of your favourite book characters or writers who inspire you.

What are the benefits of an author blogging?

An effective author blog can be a versatile and powerful tool for authors to connect with their audience, promote their work and enhance their overall author brand. But an author blog can offer several other benefits too:

  • Increased visibility: A well-maintained author blog can enhance an author’s online presence, making their work more discoverable to potential readers.
  • Audience engagement: Blogging allows authors to connect directly with their readership, fostering a sense of community and loyalty among fans.
  • Promotion and marketing: Authors can use their blogs to promote their books, share updates and announce events. Thus, an author blog can serve as a central hub for everything related to their writing.
  • Establishing authority: Non-fiction authors can establish themselves as authorities by writing insightful posts on the topic of their book and their field of expertise.
  • Networking opportunities: An author blog can serve as a networking tool, connecting authors with other writers, publishers and influencers in the literary community.
  • Feedback and interaction: Authors can receive direct feedback on their work, connect with readers through comments and gain valuable insights into what resonates with their audience.
  • Monetisation opportunities: Successful author blogs can generate additional income through sponsored content, advertising, affiliate marketing or selling books and book merchandise.
  • Polishing writing skills: Blogging is a great way to learn how to write concisely and clearly and express ideas in a way that is engaging and interesting to read.
  • Promoting other authors and books: Writing reviews, interviewing authors and sharing industry news can promote fellow writers and community members.

How to write effective author blog posts?

Writing effective author blog posts involves a combination of engaging content, a reader-focused approach and strategic planning. Here are some tips to help you create compelling author blog posts:

Know your audience

When establishing an author blog, you should consider who the target reader of your blog is. Generally, there are two options: blogging for other writers and for readers. Ultimately, the type of audience you should cater to will depend on your goals. For instance, if you want to build a professional community for writers and receive feedback on your work, then write for other writers. In turn, if you want to engage with readers and promote your books, then blog for readers.

An author blog tailored for fellow writers can help you connect, share writing tips and discuss the intricacies of the craft. The audience comprises aspiring and established writers seeking inspiration, guidance and a sense of community. Pros include the potential for valuable networking, constructive feedback and the exchange of industry insights. However, this type of audience may not necessarily contribute to promoting your book and increasing its sales.

On the other hand, an author blog targeting readers aims to connect directly with the author’s audience, fostering a deeper understanding of the books and characters. The advantage is a direct line to potential book buyers. However, the downside involves the risk of not engaging writers, missing out on collaborative opportunities and potentially overlooking the more intricate aspects of the writing process that writers might find intriguing. 

Research your competitors

Furthermore, researching other author and book blogs in your genre allows you to understand the currently popular topics and the types of content that resonate with readers. This insight can help you identify gaps or areas where you can offer unique perspectives. Moreover, you can differentiate your content by understanding what your competitors write about. Focus on topics that set you apart and bring a unique angle or expertise to discussions within your genre.

Competitors are also important in the context of collaboration opportunities. Building relationships with other bloggers in your niche can lead to collaboration opportunities. You might co-author a post, participate in guest blogging or engage in cross-promotion, which can expand your reach and audience.

Provide value

Create valuable content for your readers by focusing on book reviews, writing tips, author interviews, or industry insights. To boost your blog’s visibility on Google, implement a keyword strategy. This involves analysing search volume and keyword difficulty. Optimal success comes from balancing high search volume with low difficulty. Start with a broad, high-volume keyword and identify a niche variation with lower difficulty. For instance, while ‘best books for business’ may be highly searched, it is competitive (difficulty 36). A more specific keyword like ‘best books for business mindset’ maintains a decent search volume with much lower difficulty (9).

A keyword search comparison for keywords 'best books for business' and 'best books for business mindset.'
An example of a keyword search for an author blog post using Mangools.

Similarly, moving from the general ‘animal behavior’ (difficulty 50) to the niche ‘hedgehog behavior’ (difficulty 15) ensures relevance while optimising search engine performance.

A keyword search comparison for keywords 'animal behavior' and 'hedgehog behavior.'
An example of a keyword search for an author blog post using Mangools.

You can use paid services Mangools  (from $29 per month) or the more robust Semrush (from $129 per month) to find and analyse keywords. Alternatively, you can start with free tools like AnswerThePublic or Google Keywords Planner.

Understand the search intent

Once you have identified relevant topics, focus on understanding search intent — the underlying motivation behind searches. In other words, search intent (also known as user intent) is the reason why a user types a particular query into a search engine. It represents what the user is trying to achieve with their search, whether finding an answer to a question, looking for a specific website, purchasing a product or exploring a topic. For blogs, where users seek information, informational intent is common. Tailor your content to match this intent by employing formats like:

  • how-to guides
  • lists
  • definition post
  • comparison post

Finally, to enhance your blog’s ranking, examine top-ranking pages (top search results on Google when searching for a particular query) to determine the preferred content format among searchers.

Deliver quality and authenticity

Good-quality, informative content will likely help you achieve a higher Google ranking and improve your website’s traffic. According to Google’s guidelines, quality content should meet the following guidelines:

  • clearly organised
  • easy to read
  • following Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines
  • satisfying the search intent
  • unique and fresh

Therefore, pay attention to your writing style. Craft your sentences carefully, use descriptive language and aim for clarity. Simultaneously, remember to be authentic. It is not a coincidence that the word ‘authentic’ was chosen as the Merriam-Webster word of the year in 2023. Authenticity resonates with readers and helps build a genuine connection with your audience. So, share your personality and unique voice in your author blog. 

Optimise SEO

When doing search engine optimisation (SEO) for a blog, you also need to implement some practices. This way, Google can better understand your content and rank it properly. For instance, use the following tips to optimise the SEO on your blog:

  • Include your keyword in the title and headings to demonstrate to people researching this topic and Google that your text is a relevant result for this particular query.
  • Write a compelling meta description, which will help convince people to click on your blog post. It should also include your keyword and be no longer than 155 characters.
  • Use short, descriptive URLs to inform people what to expect from a blog at first glance.
  • Include your target keywords in the text to demonstrate to Google the relevance of your blog post. Still, only use the keywords where they naturally fit in the text. 
  • Link to relevant internal resources, such as your other blog posts. This creates a map of other relevant content on your website. In addition, include links to external pages in your post. This enhances content credibility, provides additional valuable resources for readers and contributes to a website’s authority and relevance in search engine rankings.
  • Add alt text (alternative text), which describes an image on a page. Google analyses alt text to rank images in Google images based on their relevance to a particular search query.
  • Include calls-to-action within your blog posts, directing readers to your books, newsletter or other relevant content.
  • If you use WordPress to host your website, installing a free SEO plugin like Yoast will make implementing these practices easier. Not only will it analyse the SEO optimisation of your blog post but also the readability of the text.
An example of an SEO check of a blog post by Yoast.

Link your posts to the cornerstone pages

Cornerstone content consistently draws new blog readers, typically through search engines or referrals from other sites. It often takes the form of a comprehensive piece addressing a frequently asked question, common issue, or popular cultural topic.

For non-fiction writers, crafting a 101 guide, FAQs or tutorials related to their expertise can serve as cornerstone content. Fiction writers can embrace creativity by creating an insider’s or guide to their books’ universe, compiling character-related content or curating lists of favourite reads tied to genres, moods or occasions.

Improve readability

If your content is difficult to understand, it will not attract many readers. To write informative and easy-to-read content, try the following strategies:

  • Use subheadings hierarchy (H2 to H6). Subheadings make the text easier to read and scan for the most important information. The text following each subheading should be a maximum of 300 words long.
  • Include an introduction that clearly answers the title question or summarises the blog post’s topic. In addition, include a conclusion or final thoughts section to summarise your key takeaways and highlight calls to action.
  • Add at least one visual per blog post. For instance, images, infographics or videos help keep your readers engaged.
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs. Ideally, less than 25% of your sentences should be longer than 20 words, and no paragraphs should be longer than 150 words.
  • Include bullet points and lists to provide information concisely.
  • Do not be afraid of longer blog posts; they should exhaust the topic or question they address while being concise and easy to read. Aim for 1,000–2,000 words.
  • Use transition words. They are words or phrases that connect ideas and guide readers through a text. Ideally, 30% of your sentences should contain transition words. 
An example of a readability check of a blog post by Yoast.

Include backlinks

Backlinks are hyperlinks that lead from one website to another and are an important ranking factor for Google. You can get some backlinks by appearing as a guest on other sites. For instance, write a blog post for another writer’s site or appear in an interview published on a book reviewer’s site. In return, they will include links to your website or social media accounts on their website.

Review older content

Do not forget to revisit your older content, which, with time, may become outdated. This is because the search intent of your target keywords may change or the information included in the post will no longer be relevant. As a result, your Google ranking may decrease. To avoid that, you need to refresh your blog posts. When reviewing and updating your older blog posts:

  • update outdated information, including dates and statistics
  • check if all hyperlinks still work
  • remove sections that are no longer relevant
  • edit and revise with search intent in mind.

Leverage Google Analytics data

For self-hosted websites, ensure Google Analytics is installed. Once you have accumulated at least a month of data, examine the following key metrics:

  • Traffic sources: Understand how visitors discover your blog, for instance, via search engines, social media or external websites linking to you.
  • Search keywords: Identify the search terms that lead people to your site, providing valuable insights into user intent.
  • Popular pages or posts: Determine which content resonates most with your audience by analysing the popularity of specific pages or posts.

In sum, with this information, you can make informed decisions about your blog promotion efforts. Identify the most effective social media channels, explore potential partnerships with websites driving traffic to you and prioritise the development of content that consistently attracts visitors over the long term.

How to create an author blog?

Creating an author blog can be a rewarding endeavour to connect with readers, showcase your work and engage with the writing community. If you already have a website, simply add a blog page rather than creating a separate blog. If you do not have a website, here are the steps to help you create an author blog:

  1. Choose a blogging platform like WordPress, Wix or Medium.
  2. Select a domain name that reflects your author brand. Ideally, use your name or something that closely relates to your writing.
  3. Customise the design and layout of your blog to create a visually appealing and professional-looking platform that aligns with your author brand.
  4. Create essential pages alongside your blog, such as an ‘About me’ page, your book portfolio and a contact page for readers to get in touch.
  5. Publish regular content. Consistency is key. Plan a content calendar and publish regular posts. Provide varied content to keep your audience engaged.
  6. Promote your blog on social media, writing communities and relevant platforms. Building an initial readership may take time, so actively promote your blog.
  7. Engage with readers through comments and respond promptly. Engaging with your readers creates a sense of community and encourages them to return.
  8. Include calls-to-action within your blog posts, directing readers to your books, newsletter or other relevant content. They are prompts that encourage readers to take a specific action, such as clicking a link, subscribing to a newsletter or purchasing a book.
  9. Set up an email newsletter. This allows you to directly connect with your readers and keep them informed about your latest blog posts and book releases.

What are examples of successful author blogs?

James Clear

James Clear has a degree in biomechanics and worked as a performance coach for athletes and executives before writing his #1 New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits. Clear’s blog, touching upon habits, decision-making and continuous improvement, centres around his book.

Looking at Clear’s blog articles, we can see engaging titles and lists (‘7 Ways to Retain More of Every Book You Read’) and personal reflections (‘What I Do When I Feel Like Giving Up”).

The author blog by James Clear
The author blog by James Clear. Source: jamesclear.com

Elizabeth Craig

Cosy mystery author Elizabeth Craig has published several books — traditionally with Penguin-Random House and Midnight Ink but also independently. Her blog is directed at other writers and includes craft advice and how-to guides such as ‘Make the Most of 15 Minutes to Write.’ Moreover, Craig publishes a weekly round-up called LitLinks that gathers valuable resources for writers in a given category, including business, creativity, and events.

The author blog by Elizabeth Craig
The author blog by Elizabeth Craig. Source: elizabethspanncraig.com

How to improve the quality of an author blog?

Professional editing services such as proofreading, copyediting or line editing can be a game-changer for authors looking to improve the quality of their blog posts. These services ensure that your writing is error-free, readable, engaging and consistent. 

Proofreading involves checking for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting. Moreover, a proofreader will also ensure that your writing is clear, concise and easy to read. Furthermore, it ensures that your blog post follows the appropriate formatting guidelines. This service is ideal for authors who have already written their blog posts and want to ensure that they are free of errors before posting them.

Copyediting involves more in-depth editing, including checking for consistency in style, tone and language. For instance, a copyeditor will also ensure that your writing is well-structured and that the content flows logically from one paragraph to the next.

Line editing involves rewriting sentences and paragraphs to improve clarity, readability and engagement. A line editor will also focus on the use of language, ensuring that your writing is compelling, impactful and consistent with your brand and message. In addition, they will make sure that the author’s voice is clearly conveyed and resonates with the target readers. Furthermore, they will also make suggestions for improving your writing style and tone, which can help make your writing more engaging and impactful.

By using professional editing services, authors can ensure that their blog posts are of the highest quality, engaging and consistent with their brand and message. Whether you are looking to improve the readability of your writing or enhance the impact of your message, professional editing services can provide the support you need to take your author blog to the next level.

Final thoughts

Creating an author blog is an effective way for writers to connect with their readers and a necessary step to building a strong online presence. By maintaining an author blog, writers can showcase their writing style, share their personal experiences and market their books.

If you need help polishing the content for your author blog, I am an experienced editor working with non-fiction, academic, and business books. Contact me for a free sample edit (and remember to use my early bird discount). 

Happy blogging!

Photo of author

Magda

I am an editor, indexer and a lifelong lover of literature with a PhD in literary history. I am an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), a student member of the Society of Indexers and a vetted partner of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).