What Should I Blog About as a Novelist? With Jenny Bravo
The “What Should I Blog About?” Series gives you examples of what real business owners are blogging about to promote their work in their industry. These interviews from others who blog for business will spark new ideas for your own blog and give you encouragement in overcoming your blogging struggles. Check out other posts in the series here. Today we’re talking with novelist Jenny Bravo. Jenny is the Batman of writers: working in insurance by day, authoring by night. She's a writer and blogger who is as passionate about coffee as she is about breathing. Jenny is the author of contemporary romance books, including These Are the Moments, and is the founder of the award-winning blog Jenny Bravo Books. Jenny is a big supporter of indie authors and people in general.
Writers face tough questions when it comes to blogging. "How will I have time to write my book if I'm blogging all the time?" "What can I blog about that will actually make people want to read my novel?" Jenny has found smart solutions to these questions and more. I'm so excited to introduce you to her and her smart blogging strategies for novelists!
Tell us about your writing and yourself.
Hello, friends of Ashley! I’m Jenny Bravo and I write love stories for twenty-somethings. (I’m constantly refining my elevator pitch. Sometimes, I say, “I write books that’ll break your heart.”) I’m a mid-twenties work-in-progress who blogs at Jenny Bravo Books and is constantly complimenting strangers on Twitter.
At my core? I write because I love it. It’s my safe little world where I can make mistakes and fall in love with stories all over again.
When did you first start blogging as a novelist? What did you write about as a new blogger?
I started my blog, Blots & Plots, as soon as I became serious about writing a novel. My sister runs a successful Paleo food blog called Bravo for Paleo, and she set me up with my own Wordpress site. Man, it’s come a very far way. As a new blogger, I had a lot of freedom because nobody was watching me yet. I wrote about books and my novel-to-be.
As I continued to talk about my novel, people started to pay attention to the story of my writing journey. They wanted to know how I decided to self-publish and how they could do it, too. They were there from the first scene that I published, to my title reveal, to the finished product of my brand-new first novel. Many of the people who started reading my blog three years ago are still reading it today. It’s a reminder to me that numbers aren’t important. People are.
What does your blog look like these days?
My blog is much more informative now than it was at the start because I’ve learned along the way. On that note, I make sure to center my blog around tried-and-true methods. I share writing tips as I go, knowing full well that there’s always a different and possibly better way. It’s also evolving into a place for me to celebrate other independently published authors, which is basically my way of helping readers and writers find each other.
In the beginning, I incorporated guest posts, but have since backed off from that. I wanted the voice of the blog to stay consistent, especially now that I’ve changed the name to my actual name. That’s another big change. This year, I felt like my website name, Blots & Plots, wasn’t fitting with the content. It marketed me as a brand instead of a person, and I wasn’t happy with that. I wanted more flexibility with the posts. Specifically, I wanted to write about writing and reading.
I’m much more relaxed about my blog now than I have been in the past. I don’t keep to a schedule of posting because it led me to post content that wasn’t my best work. Because my schedule is so crazy, I want to keep this piece of my life less structured and more creative!
Many authors are afraid to be too self-promotional online. How do you approach blogging in a way that both promotes your writing and offers value to your readers?
Great question! I struggle with self-promotion, but I found a way to make it both fun and beneficial to my readers.
In terms of blogging, I structure my posts as information based on my own writing experience. For example, I recently wrote a post called Ten Crazy Realities About Writing a Sequel, referring to my own experience writing my follow-up novel, That Was the Year.
Since I employed this method from the start, my readers are used to this post structure. It’s helped me to offer value while providing exposure for my books. But most importantly? It’s a setup that makes sense for me. It makes my blog posts flow because it’s advice that I wished I had been able to read as I was going through this writing process.
How do you balance creating new blog content with doing the actual work of writing your novels---not to mention working at your full-time job?
It’s not easy! It’s a discipline of sorts. Trust me, I don’t always get it right, but I’m starting to find a rhythm with my writing life. As I write my books, I know that I need to find space to put in serious work when I reach the editing stage. This usually involves weekends spent holed away with my laptop.
I’ve also learned that I would rather write a lengthy, informative blog post than a short, skimpy one. So, that means less volume of posts, but higher quality. These are things I’ve developed over time, and are tailor-made to my personality.
In summary? I don’t keep a strict routine, but I prioritize work and rest in equal amounts. There are days where I stay up late and hammer it out. There are days where I don’t open my laptop or pick up my notebook at all. Either way, it works out.
Any tips to share with other novelists or writers looking to build their platform through blogging?
So many tips, so little time. My first piece of advice would be to blog about something that excites you and is true to your writing voice. You don’t need to blog about writing just because you are a writer. You can blog about a topic related to your book subject, about a genre you like, or even about yourself. Also, feel free to change as you grow in your writing life.
Remember, this should be fun! There’s no need to stress yourself out about blogging and building your internet presence. In fact, we can tell when this is forced. It’s much better to be yourself and to let the rest flow.
Check out more of Jenny's amazing advice for writers on her blog, and connect with her on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. You can also hear more about Jenny's writing life and creative routine on her episode of Chasing Creative. And if contemporary romance is your genre of choice, you won't want to miss out on Jenny's book, These Are the Moments!