Guest Expert: Laurel Marshfield
On Earth Day this year, Friday, April 22, I found myself reading a book about beekeeping, appropriately enough — given that bees pollinate flowers and, as a result, make the Earth fruitful. And so, that book (A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell – pictured in her vintage bee-farming truck above, in a photograph by Scott Dine), became my Friday Reads tweet that week. (You know — the Twitter group where readers tweet what they’re currently reading on Fridays, using the hashtag #FridayReads.)
No doubt you wonder what beekeeping has to do with blogging, and how it could, in turn, be an author’s best friend. The answer to that comes from the reason why I was reading a book about bees in the first place.
And that reason is, I’d just read the same author’s wry and engaging book of essays about living on a ninety-acre farm in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. And I got hooked.
So much so, that I wanted to get back into the world of those essays, which I’d found as oddly uplifting as it was laugh-out-loud funny. It was Hubbell’s first book of essays, which were originally newspaper articles (and which resembled nothing so much as blog posts) that “pollinated” my hunger to read more about the quirky world she’d so skillfully created on the page – even if it came in the form of a book about raising bees.
Blog Posts & Personal Essays
Sue Hubbell hadn’t always been a published writer, nor had she always lived on a Missouri farm. In the 1970s, she quit her job as a librarian at an Ivy League university in New England, at the same time that her husband quit his job as a professor of electrical engineering. The Hubbells had been involved in the peace movement, and they wanted to drop out of a war-supporting economy to live a self-determined life, one surrounded by real nature – not just an occasional foray into a city park.
It was their new rural adventure and the many calamities they faced which made their “immigration” to the Ozarks so captivating — at least in Hubbell’s artfully written essays. That and her discovery that she could earn much-needed income by writing articles for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch — and later on, The New York Times and The New Yorker — before ultimately becoming the author of eight books of nonfiction. (And though her books aren’t about becoming a published author, they indirectly chronicle a writerly success story that writers of all kinds will find inspiring.)
With that explained, here’s the message that Sue Hubbell’s essays so aptly embody: “blog pollination” can be a subtle but highly persuasive way for authors to cultivate an enthusiastic audience of readers.
That’s because, just as Hubbell’s essays (or her pre-blogging-era “posts”) so enchanted me with a wry, word-created world that I wanted to read any other book she’d written – so, too, can other talented writers-aspiring authors hook their readers with engaging blog posts, turning them into loyal fans who are eager to read any book they write.
This is what every author needs most: loyal-fan readers who can’t wait for the next book to appear. And who will, in the interim, content themselves with blog posts. Which are, after all, more and more likely to be the reason they became that author’s fans in the first place.
So that is what I learned by getting hooked on beekeeper Sue Hubbell’s books: how the pollinating effect of blogging can be an author’s best friend.
If you’ve experienced the “blog pollination” phenomenon as a reader — or better yet, as an author — please share your story in the Comments section below. (Hilarious and uproarious “Mom Blogs” are one example of the way blogging can pollinate readers so they can’t help but buy those Mom bloggers’ books. And you probably know lots of others . . .)
Laurel Marshfield is a professional writer, developmental editor, and ghostwriter who helps authors shape, develop, and refine their book manuscripts for publication. She offers manuscript evaluation, developmental editing, co-writing, collaboration, ghostwriting, book coaching, and consultation for authors.
Her blogsite publishes inspiration and advice for the author’s journey: Blue Horizon Communications And her free eBook, available for newsletter signup (see the upper right-hand corner of her homepage) is titled: I Need to Be a Bestselling Author – Is That True?: The Five-Destination Roadmap to Authorship.
On Twitter, you can find her at: @BookEditorLM