Today’s guest post is written by my colleague Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of Your Blog, Your Business and a new edition of the multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter.
I often coach authors with their blogging projects. I not only give them personal help but I also recommend the best of the blogging books out there. Now I have Nina Amir’s new ”How to Blog a Book” from Writer’s Digest Books to add to my list. Authors always want to know what they can blog about and this book sure answers that question!
Authors know it’s important enough to the health of their books to hire me, but they haven’t explored their blog’s features and they tend to go blog-happy and forget that a blog intended to market their books must stay focused on, well, books. At the very least. Actually the focus should be a little narrower than that. It should follow a track aligned with the genre the author writes in or even the specific book he or she has written.
Here are some basic (and frugal!) guidelines for a beginning author’s blog if the blog is to do more than serve as a fun hobby.
- Map out a campaign for your blog. Reread your book. What are the themes? What do the characters do for a living? What genre is it? Make notes. I mean it. You should be able to make a list of ten or twelve essential aspects of your book. Now decide which of them you want to cover in your blog and name it according. Often your name or the name of your book will work.
- Type “labels” or keywords into that little window-like form located under your blog post window. They help people—you know, people like READERS—find your blog.
- Don’t spend a lot of money getting someone to design your blog page. Sure it should look good, but the free templates will work just fine. People come to hear what you have to say.
- Don’t bury your blog on the most obscure service you can find. It should be on one that Google’s spiders visit and record. That’s one reason I like blogspot.com or blogger.com. It’s owned by Google and blog posts get noticed practically immediately. Others (Nina included) prefer WordPress.
- Like just about anything else in your book’s marketing campaign, exposure is important. Use Real Simple Syndication (RSS Feeds) to send notifications to Twitter, your Facebook page, even your Web site.
- Don’t choose a blog service that tells you in its terms of service that in will censure and censor what you write. What if you write chicklit? Or streetwise crime? Or just like to rant? And trust me, blog visitors tend to love a good rant!
- You know that voice you developed when you wrote your book. Don’t lose it! You blog isn’t a high school essay.
- One of my writing pals (Peter Bowerman) ends almost every one of his blogs with a question. It’s a good habit to get into.
- Read. Ideas come from reading everything from The New Yorker to Time magazine to other people’s blogs. (But do check the chapter on plagiarism in the new edition of my Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) . It will help you navigate things like quotes and the borrowing of ideas.)
- Promote your blog by leaving comments on others’ blogs—especially if they relate to yours. But do add something to the conversation rather than using a cut-and-paste comment that obviously shows no interest in the blogger or her post.
- Add images, widgets, or ads when you can. Some blog services help you by automating gadgets that will help with this.
- Use a service like Google’s Analytics that helps you assess where your readers are coming from and which of your blogs attract the most readers.
- Occasionally mention some of the other things you do on the Web, like your Web site, your Facebook Like page, and your Twitter stream.
If you are a fiction writer, read the white paper Phyllis Zimbler Miller and I wrote on blogging for fiction writers (www.fictionmarketing.com). And the chapters on blogging in The Frugal Book Promoter. Honestly, do these things and you may not need to pay me or people like me the big bucks (Ahem!) to get your blog started.
Effective blogging involves others—writers, readers, and other bloggers. Effective blogging connects with your other online entities. You can have fun with it. You should have fun with it. But blogging effectively adds to the joy. Think of how much more fun it will be when you look at those stats and see that your blogging efforts are in fact a viable way to market your book.
About the Author
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of Your Blog, Your Business (www.budurl.com/Blogging4Retailers), and a new edition of the multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkProm) which has been Expanded! Updated! And is now a USA Book News winner in its own right! It’s also now available for Kindle at http://budurl.com/FrugalBkProKindle.
Photo courtesy of Isebastian.