Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blog Like Successful Authors

What do all the big names in Christian publishing—names like Rick Warren, Robin McGraw, Mike Huckabee and Max Lucado—have in common? No, it isn’t doctrine. Yes, they all have a huge platform, but that isn’t it. No, the thing they have in common is that they don’t blog.  Cindy commented yesterday about how it might be interesting to see whether successful authors have more followers who are readers or followers who are writers. The only way to answer that is to ask, so I decided to compose an e-mail message to send to each of the top writers. I went to Mike Hyatt’s blog, where I remembered that he had a list of the top Christian authors, thinking that would be a good place to start. I expected find their e-mail addresses on their websites and if I didn’t I would see if I could contact them through their publishers. As I moved down the list, I quickly noticed the problem. Not only did they not have e-mail addresses, they don’t have blogs. It would do me no good to ask about people who follow a blog that doesn’t exist.

But there are some exceptions. Victoria Osteen has an one-way blog. She or someone who works for her posts to this blog on a regular basis, but comments are not enabled, restricting feedback from readers. T. D. Jakes blogs infrequently. It appears he blogs about once or twice a month. Dave Ramsey is the one true exception to the rule. The other 10 of 13 have no blog, though most have a website of some kind.

The question we might ask is whether they are successful because they had sense enough to ignore blog and focus on more important things, they have no blog because success has put such a strain on them that they don’t have time to blog, or the two things are unrelated. Whatever the case, the path of the hugely successful author may not be a path that an aspiring author should take.

Author Blog Book Publisher Book Sales Rank Overall
Rick Warren None The Purpose of Christmas Howard 1,290,000 2
Jon & Kate Gosselin None Multiple Blessings Zondervan 523,000 12
Victoria Osteen One-Way Love Your Life Free Press 325,000 20
Robin McGraw None What’s Age Got to Do With It Nelson 289,000 28
Dave Ramsey Yes The Total Money Makeover Nelson 252,000 34
Don & Susie Van Ryn None Mistaken Identity Howard 235,000 44
Mike Huckabee None Do the Right Thing Sentinel 232,357 45
David Jeremiah None What in the World is Going On? Nelson 223,000 46
T. D. Jakes Infrequent Before You Do Atria 212,984 49
Joyce Meyer None The Secret to True Happiness Faithwords 190,851 55
Tim Keller None The Reason for God Dutton 155,104 67
John Eldredge None Walking with God Nelson 118,000 96
Max Lucado None Cast of Characters Nelson 110,000 100

Source: Publishers Weekly, via Michael Hyatt's Blog.


Cindy said...

That's VERY interesting. This tells me a lot of things and makes me ask even more questions.

So far, for me, there have been so many benefits to blogging. I definitely think it will help network and make sales once my book is out. But that's just the beginning. As far as doing it like the big, successful authors...that's a whole different world.

Hmmm...okay, now I'm going to have to think about this. (I can't believe you did all that legwork, by the way! Good stuff!)

Lady Glamis said...

Wow! Thanks for taking the time to put this together. This makes me step back and ask myself what blogging is really doing for me. But as I do that, I realize that at this stage in my writing career, blogging is absolutely imperative. I'm not a successful author. I don't make my living off my writing, and I'm not counting on my blog to bring in sales. What I do count is my blog to help me learn and grow as a writer. Which it is doing very well. So for now I'll keep blogging.

I'm wanting to ask you, Timothy, what benefits you have received from blogging. You're a published author and doing well. How does blogging help you?

Timothy Fish said...

Benefits I have Received from Blogging:

1. Book sales – to some extent. This seems to be more true with Church Website Design than the others, but I have seen people make a purchase after visiting the blog.

2. A place to express myself – blogs have pretty much replaced the letter to the editor. A book takes too long too create and costs too much money. A blog is instant and the writer controls it.

3. A place to point to—its good to have a place direct people to if they want to know more about me or my books.