Andromeda | Should we blog our nonfiction book projects?

Given that I’ve been blogging since 2008, it’s perhaps ironic that I revisit the tricky question: “Do I bother to blog the nonfiction book that I’m currently writing or recently finished?”

Running versus blogging about running. Hmmm…

Help me out. If you’ve landed here because you’re pondering similar issues, I hope you’ll mull right along with me.

First, let me make it clear I’m not talking about novels, which I also write. Blogging and other forms of online marketing generally don’t help literary novelists. Even after all this time, most successful novelists’ websites are pretty lame, which might tell us, after all this time, that their success doesn’t depend on websites. (I still advocate having a “calling card” website with some content, including bio and interview links, just to help people find you, but I’m tentatively skeptical about spending a ton of time updating between books or significant events.)

Let’s also make it clear that just because Julie and Julia and a precious few blogs/memoirs-from-blogs found success in a long-gone era when blogs were new and fresh, does not mean that a person can blog away and then get a book deal. We’ll let an expert, agent Jane Friedman, cover that issue as well as its very few exceptions.

Let’s also consider, with help from this thoughtful post by Stephanie Bane that appeared in Creative Nonfiction, that the notion of author platform (especially digital platform) is vastly overrated. An anonymous source inside Amazon, and we all know how well Amazon knows numbers, evidently told one of its writers, Write more. Don’t waste time on social media. The single biggest factor in whether or not you sell books is whether or not you write books.


Note that the Friedman post is dated 2012 and the Creative Nonfiction post is 2014. The fact that my “should I blog my book” search turned up mostly dated entries is a clue all by itself.

A few pros and cons remain. Are you still with me?

Here are the pros for my running travel blog, based on my year-long project of running all 50 states in America, that I started last summer and then dropped in fall, when I got super busy (death in the family, child’s wedding, surgery). I am trying to decide now whether or not to get back to it, since the nonfiction book project is at the exact midpoint and I still have a good chance of bringing the blog back to life.


*It did get some visitors. Not a tidal wave, but more than some other projects, and that’s probably because certain types of nonfiction, especially ones that are more focused and practical, lend themselves to searches. I covered only a few of our travels but those posts did get hits and honestly, I love sharing my passion for running and public lands trails, so that makes me happy.

*It got visitors who matter to me. Most of the referrals came from Facebook, which tells me they are people in my circle or close to it, and people landed purposefully. Compare that to my general author website (focused on fiction), which gets a bizarre number of short visits from Russia. Something is going on there, and I don’t think it has anything to do with my fiction.

*The blog helps store images, data and casual thoughts that will help me write my later book. This is the argument I struggle with the most. My book, in tone and content, will not be nearly as “run here, eat there, aren’t we having fun?” as my blog. The book is far more personal and will include content I can’t and won’t dash off in a quick post, covering the gamut from a family death to personal health and aging issues. The readers of one won’t necessarily be readers of the other (though they definitely could be). But the blog does act as a sort of journal. It makes the project seem real in those months or years before the book takes shape and finds readers. It motivates me, in a sense, and it could motivate me even more if I could keep it up to date!

*If and when the book is published, the blog would already be populated with material that could support the book, even though the blog is much lighter in tone. After a book comes out, it’s awfully hard to get content out into the world. Nice to know I’d have some content pre-ready. And if an agent thinks the same way, all the better.


*The con is simple. Life is short, writers need to write and research, and all time away from that activity is usually time wasted.

In fact, distraction is so prevalent nowadays that the writers who prosper may be those who better understand not to dribble away their time and attention needlessly. (For more on this check out Deep Work, a self-help manual for learning to say no to the shallow work hobbling your projects.)

Need an excuse to back away from all blog/social media and most website activities? This is it. For the last decade, many of us have been drinking the poisonous “platform”-and-constant-connectedness Kool-Aid, and thereby losing focus and stamina. We don’t have to. Passing on the left!

Our own Deb Vanasse recently mentioned her belief in setting boundaries and balancing commitments.

The jury is still out. My half-started, ready-to-be-resuscitated-or-retired blog awaits. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Andromeda Romano-Lax is a co-founder of 49 Writers and the author of Behave. Her next novel, set in Asia in the years 1934 and 2029, will be published in 2018. Meanwhile she is writing two nonfiction books, including a memoir about running public lands in all 50 US states during a year in which she grappled with mid-life health and aging issues.

4 thoughts on “Andromeda | Should we blog our nonfiction book projects?”

  1. Michael Engelhard

    Thanks for this interesting post, Andromeda. I don’t quite agree with your statement that it’s difficult to get content out after a nonfiction book has been published. It very much depends on the subject, I’d say. I’ve guest-blogged and had excerpts and author Q & As for my book Ice Bear on about 50 different platforms (because polar bears and climate change are such hot topics) and even have noticed some correlation between Amazon sales and the appearance of individual posts. I cannot say, however, how effective an author’s personal blog might be or if this works for fiction.

    It’s the first time I’ve promoted this way and to this extent, and I have to say it seems to be paying off. Some of this “promotional content” has even created income of its own or led to spin-offs in the form of magazine articles. So, technically, it can be hard to separate “promotional” from “real” writing. And flexing one’s writerly muscles has its own rewards.

  2. I would agree that blogging probably matches well with non-fiction and probably helps the build up to a book if the wait isn’t too long. Is it a marketing tool worth the time away from the core project? I think that depends heavily on the writer and the project. I find blogging to be a writing exercise that takes me through the full writing process in a day or two instead of the year or two that a book project does. This I find refreshing and satisfying, more as a writing activity than as a promotional activity. I don’t think my blog does much to promote Secondhand Summer, a YA novel.

  3. Cool post, Andromeda. I don’t have any experience with nonfiction books, but it makes sense to me that writers should be cautious about spending too much time away from our main projects. A little well-placed promotion may be enough, and could be in a blog or other work.

  4. Up until recently, I would have been in the pros-of-blogging camp. But, I have to say, as a follower of this blog, it never ceases to amaze me how much you accomplish. Another fiction title due out in 2018? Alongside two memoirs you’re working on? This is what I aspire to.

    And I’m also noticing, in my own life, the effects of social media. The time wasted. The focus disrupted. The constant pull.

    I’m nearing the end of my journey of writing my memoir (and recently won a contest with the opening thanks to my beta-readers who live in AK), one that I started in Nancy Lord’s class in 2008. Many of those years were wasted on both, not being able to think about the project due to it being about a rather traumatizing event, and also, not being able to write at all due to severe depressions (that have finally been stabilized, for the most part). I hadn’t even thought about blogging about the topic, in part, because I’m so far removed from that world now that I can’t speak for it. But I’d been thinking about how I’d utilize social media for it and came to the conclusion that it would be a wasted effort because none of my other work will be on the same topic, and again, I can’t really speak for that world–the wildland firefighting world.

    I did recently start releasing sections of a Dystopian YA I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2015 on my blog. But it’s just for fun, just for the friends who’ll take an interest, and just to pass the time until I finish something else. And it doesn’t take but two minutes or so of my time.

    You’ve got me thinking about how I can wean myself off of social media further, and work to improve my focus on my work.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top