This is the first in a new series of posts about my publishing journey (which I’m still on, and still have a fair way to go before I can officially say I’ve done it). If you have any questions at all about my writing, just let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer them in an upcoming post.
Disclaimer: I want to be really clear before we get into this blog post (because my catchy title might be a tiny bit misleading).
I don’t have some kind of secret formula to getting a book deal. Nor do I believe that my blog itself increased my chances of getting published in the slightest.
Without this blog I don’t think I’d have a deal. Or even a book.
Confusing? Bear with me.
This blog wasn’t some magical portal into success. But over the past seven years, as a result of blogging, I’ve developed a bunch of skills and habits that I ultimately needed to write a novel and get it published.
You might also like: I’m getting published!
So with that cleared up, let’s talk about how blogging helped me find my way as an author.
10 Ways Blogging Helped Me to Get a Book Deal
1. It’s given me writing practice
When I started writing this blog all those years ago, I thought I was a good writer.
I look back now at many of my first posts and I physically cringe. My writing was terrible. I bet I’ll look back in seven years and think this writing’s horrible, too. Which is just to say that practice makes better.
Almost five hundred posts after I started blogging, at an average of eight hundred words per post, I’ve now written around four hundred thousand words, not including discarded drafts and guest posts.
And from all of that writing, I’ve learned how to form snappy sentences. How to create a rhythm and tempo by combining short statements with longer, more complex thoughts. How to write copy that works for social media, not just for a blog post.
I’ve stopped using words I wouldn’t use in real life. Like whilst.
As well as that, being a blogger led to me giving up my day job and becoming a freelance copywriter, which taught me more about writing than I could ever have imagined.
This blog has been something of a classroom (albeit in a home school environment) that’s allowed me to try and fail, learn and grow, and, most importantly, improve.
2. It’s taught me about consistency
Writing lots of words is great, but learning to write consistently, when I don’t feel like it, when I’m tired and would rather close the laptop and watch reruns of Friends…that’s a skill I couldn’t have written a book without.
Blogging is mostly self-motivated, so if I don’t write a post, no one will know (unless it’s a collaboration or sponsored post). There’s no one looking over my shoulder telling me to write, but if I want this blog to succeed, I need to be consistent.
Same goes for writing a book.
If I waited until I felt like writing, I’d never have even finished a first draft.
I had to say no to plenty of social events, had to wake up early (I got up an hour early every morning for months to write the first draft of The Guilty Wife before going to my full-time job) and stay up late to get it done.
But if I’d never learned how to just write a blog post – whatever my mood – I’d never have realised that just starting to type is really the hardest part. In my experience, once you just begin, the rest follows.
3. It’s made me better at multi-tasking
One day I hope to write novels full-time. What a dream, right?
But until then, I have rent to pay, a blog to run and clients to keep happy.
For the first few years, like most bloggers, I had a full-time job and had to learn to juggle work, a social life, commitments and this new website baby that demanded my constant attention.
Sitting on a train, a lunch break, evenings spent in front of the telly…all of these moments became brand new opportunities to get work done, bit by bit.
Planning my time wisely is key to getting everything I need done, from client work to the blog, and now my books!
4. I learned to accept rejection
If you become a blogger, your skin’s going to get thicker. Either that, or you’ll cry into your comments constantly.
Whether it’s pitching for a collaboration with a brand you admire or simply expressing your opinion online, rejection is inevitable. It’s never fun, and it doesn’t necessarily ever get easier. I still get upset when people leave me nasty comments (I mean, why can’t a girl just hate on Ryanair in peace?!), but I’ve learned not to take it personally, and more importantly, not to let it stop me from doing what I love.
I’m so glad I learned that lesson before I started hunting for an agent for my book. Getting rejected for something you put a few hours into writing stings, but getting rejected for a piece of writing you spent years creating? Ooooh, it sucks.
I dealt with it by keeping a picture of one of J.K. Rowling’s rejection letters close at hand, so that whenever I got one of my own, I could whisper to myself, ‘it’s OK, you’re more like J.K. Rowling now.’
5. I mastered the art of collaboration
Oh, you thought writing a book was a solo effort?
Well, at first it is. You’ve got to write that baby, and send it out and hope someone ooohs and ahhhs over it as much as you do.
But then, once you find that person, the collaboration begins. Editing a novel is no small task. I am astounded by what an amazing job my agent and editor have done in guiding me towards writing the story they could see, even when I couldn’t. But it was a challenging – and at times, frustrating – process.
Blogging for seven years has given me a chance to collaborate with loads of brands and other bloggers and creatives, and it’s helped me to understand that sometimes, although I might be proud of it, my work isn’t always the best it could be.
Learning to take advice, be gracious about change, and constantly learn, has been a huge help in navigating the novel editing process.
6. It’s taught me how to edit
Speaking of editing…
I used to bash out a blog post pretty quickly, skim it for spelling errors and hit publish.
These days, I’m a perfectionist. I read my posts out loud to make sure they flow. I’ll spend ages on one sentence because it just doesn’t sound right. And I’ll have ten, fifteen, and sometimes even twenty revisions of the same post before I actually push it live.
Maybe that’s inefficient, but I actually really enjoy the editing process now. Not so much cutting out huge chunks of my novel (bye, 20,000 words!), but tweaking bits and pieces so they sound exactly the way I want them to.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a professional editor, by any means. But blogging has taught me the value of going over my work with a fine tooth comb to make sure I’ve pulled out all of the knots and tangles before it’s ready for the public eye.
7. Blogging gave me the confidence I needed
Oh my goodness, this is a big one!
If I hadn’t been blogging for as long as I have, I would never have had the confidence to write a book, never mind cold pitching agents to represent my work.
Years of putting myself out there, posting my opinion (and photos of myself!) online, showing up at events without knowing a soul, learning how to work with PRs and brands, promoting myself, watching friends succeed, seizing opportunities, learning new skills and being featured in newspapers and radio shows and magazines…all of that has given me the confidence I never had before.
To put in the work of writing a novel, I had to believe I was good enough. I had to believe that I had what it took to get published. I had to believe that people like me can and do achieve their dreams.
I genuinely don’t think I’d have even started without the years of experience and small wins and slow progress. So even if my blog achieves nothing else, that alone will make it worth all the time and sacrifice and hard work.
8. I learned to learn
Unless you create and manage a website as your day job, starting a blog is an enormous learning curve, and throws you all sorts of problems you have to find the answers to.
I had to teach myself how to use WordPress, take better photos, write basic HTML, use social media, advertise on social media, edit videos, use plugins, write copy for SEO, make my site Pinterest friendly…and that’s barely scratching the surface of the skills I’ve gained.
Always being curious is a great quality as a blogger. The more receptive you are to learning new things, the better your blog will become, and you’ll find yourself ahead of the pack.
This skill was invaluable when writing a novel. Before I started, I had no idea how to craft a plot, build suspense, write dialogue or create a query letter.
So I did what I always do when I don’t know something: I researched, I learned, and I gave it a try!
9. I learned persistence
A blog doesn’t become successful overnight (well, for a few people it does, and I salute you, overnight success bloggers!).
But for most of us, it requires persistence.
I have to keep blogging, even when I feel like no one is reading. I have to keep posting when all’s quiet on the social media front. I have to continue to pitch brands and come up with creative new ideas and constantly think about how I can improve my little corner of the internet.
Being doggedly determined is helpful in all sorts of ways, including writing a novel. After being rejected by many an agent (see point 4), it was the persistence I’d developed over the years that drove me to send more pitches.
I believe in this blog. And I believe in my book. And I’d be damned if I was going to give up just because things weren’t going my way!
10. I’m a better planner
For The Guilty Wife, I didn’t really plan anything out. I spent a few weeks here and there, between clients, editing and re-writing and tweaking, over the course of a few years.
Now, I have less than a year to deliver novel two, which means faffing is out of the question.
I’ve gotten pretty good at scheduling content, planning my blog calendar, building my strategy and creating outlines for each of my posts to save time.
So now all I have to do is work out how to apply all of that to planning and writing a second novel. Piece of cake, right?!
*insert nervous laughter here*
So there you have it!
When I first started blogging I never imagined it’d provide me with many of the skills I needed to achieve my dream of becoming a published author, but somehow, over the years, I’ve picked up a useful thing or two.
Has blogging helped you develop skills you never knew you needed? Share your story in the comments!
And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of The Guilty Wife!Want to see more posts like this?
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