Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gregory A. Fournier on Blogging and Branding

After a lifetime of teaching English Language Arts, I was ready to try my hand at something else in retirement.

Rather than read and/or teach fiction, I wanted to see if I could write a full length novel, so I began writing Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel. (See link.)

The transition from being a writing instructor to becoming an author was not a huge leap for me. Learning how to present and market my work has been the persistent challenge. 

In addition to traditional publishing which has long dominated the writing market, the explosion of self-published Printing on Demand (POD) books has glutted the marketplace making the field even more crowded.

I've found that speaking at libraries, bookstores, and book clubs is not the best way to attract readers and sell books. Those venues place the author in direct contact with some readers, but the reach of such events is limited. 

Reluctantly at first, I decided to blog at the insistence of my publicist, Paula Margulies (see link below). "You need to establish yourself and your blog as a brand," she said. "That's how you build an audience from the ground up."

I soon discovered that the care and feeding of a blog required a minimum of one post a week. Anything less than that and readers sense a lack of commitment and lose interest.

I feared that I would be spending more time writing blog posts than on my current project, The Rainy Day Murders, about the John Norman Collins coed killings in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Coming up with new material and keeping readers interested in my writing is work, no doubt about it. But what I originally thought I would dread has become an interesting exercise in honing my style and establishing my author's voice. 

My blog has grown steadily over the last two years helping me to interact and create a fan base which is opening some doors for me in the media and publishing business. 

What I once dreaded is now something I look forward to doing. Publishing a blog not only reaches out to potential readers, it also helps me work out my ideas for the book I'm writing. It allows readers to feel a sense of "behind the scenes" which helps me build and maintain an audience.

Effective blogging creates a sense of immediacy for the reader and a sense of instant gratification for the writer who can now publish with a simple stroke on the keyboard. My blog is a virtual electronic business card open twenty-four hours a day, every day, and its reach is global.


In April of this year, I was interviewed by a reporter from Eastern Michigan University for their alumni website and monthly print publication. Here is the link to that article.