You don't need me to tell you that self-publicity is a writer's secret weapon.
Bear in mind that when you decide you want to be a published author, it's most likely going to take you anywhere between two to five years to see your books in print - that's the reality of the traditional publishing world.
Even if you go the faster route - by self-publishing, then it's still a good idea to give yourself a two to three year period to really get to grips with your new career.
So why not use that time to build a following?
Why wait until the last minute to start your promotional activities when the Internet is a perfect place to get people reading your writing, and getting to know and like you through a regular blog?
It's not as if it costs anything - except your time - so you have no real excuse, do you?
Where to Start
Go immediately to Blogger.com and register a blog spot for yourself, either using your own name or some other phrase that means something to you.
Don't use Wordpress unless you're a complete masochist - and have time to waste on readme files.
I have no idea why people use Wordpress at all - it's the most complicated interface I have ever come across and requires a degree in engineering just to install.
I have one Wordpress site that I come back to every now and then but each time it just seems to get more complicated for no good reason!
In contrast, Blogger.com is easy.
It does everything for you - and the dashboard where you can add your own stuff is beautifully simple to understand.
The only drawback (if you can call it that) is that you need a Gmail account to get started.
What to Say
You don't need to have publishing credits to start talking about writing.
It's your blog.
You can say what you like.
That's the beauty of the Net.
Your opinion, your worldview, is just as valid as anyone else's.
In fact, that's the trick I think: to be as honest and as frank as you can be.
That's what will make you unique.
Don't just trot out the standard lines on writing issues.
Get in touch with how you really feel about your craft and state it, boldly, with pride.
Blogs become popular over time because people dip into them, enjoy what they read and remember you.
And they remember sincerity for a lot longer than you simply trying to sell yourself, your books and your writing.
How Often You Should Blog
The major search engines trawl the Net at least once a week. Their spiders are looking for new content.
Therefore, in order for a blog to start appearing in search listings you need to keep updating it.
Once a week ideally - but that's not always practical.
Regularity is the key - and relevance.
Add topicality to your blog by mentioning world events, personalities, and contemporary issues.
These all raise your blog's profile - and its popularity.
Building a popular blog can take around a year or two - there's no getting around that.
But that's why you need to start yours now.
Think of your writing career as a long term investment.
In a couple of years from now, wouldn't it be better to know that you've had blog readers - and loyal subscribers over that time?
Make sure you sign up for all the RSS feeds on offer - and you'll find, over time, you'll get more and more visitors.
Find an Angle
If nothing else, the media teaches us one thing: it's the angle that grabs attention.
Start a blog that details your week by week journey through your book or novel, for instance.
Write about a cause you believe in.
Save the Whales, Obesity, Cancer Cures for example.
Take a religious or political stance (and get ready for vociferous responses!)
Or simply write about where you live, or the history of a place you love.
You'll find like-minded people attracted to your site - and, one day, maybe a news service will contact you to use you as an authority in an interview.
These things happen.
Can You Get Paid to Blog?
Put Google Ads on your blog.
Blogger.com shows you how to do this.
It's free and whenever anyone clicks on an ad within your blog page, you get paid.
Easy. Money for jam.
You should also put an email catcher on your blog.
Getresponse.com is free - as are many others.
Do a search on 'free autoresponders' - and most will integrate seamlessly with Blogger.com.
I use Aweber.com - they've been around forever.
After a few months, when you've built a small list, you can offer ebooks you've written to your subscribers, maybe through Kindle - which is a very easy way to publish yourself.
Or you can offer other writer's book and courses as an affiliate.
Why not? Everyone's doing it - why leave money on the table?
In the Future You'll Wish You Started Now
Because when you do have your own published books out there in the real world, you'll have people you can tell about them.
Publishers and Amazon will like you for being able to say you have readymade fans to whom you can promote your work.
Book sales don't just happen nowadays.
You have to find avenues of publicity and ways of increasing the probability you'll sell your books on the publisher's behalf.
And every little helps.
Till next time,