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BLOG TIPS FOR BUSY WRITERS

I thought I knew a bit about blogging even though I didn’t come on board with it until my debut novel, The Cruelty of Lambs came out in November 2016. With great enthusiasm I created a blog page as part of my content managed website,   tingling with excitement at the idea of all the subjects I could chat about. Three people read the first one and six the second one. The dog didn’t count. It was then I realised this was not going to be easy. 

Writing a blog is the easy bit, if you follow a few general guidelines. Sucking folks into your star-spangled sentences is the tough part. Especially for writers who may not have a digital marketing background or an established platform.

 Running a business blog is  much easier because customers seek you out in search of something they need.

Authors are selling themselves, ‘Brand Me’ and it doesn’t always feel comfortable. These techniques  have helped me. 

  • Don’t make the piece too wordy.  500-750 words is about right unless you’re an expert on something and writing non-fiction.
  • Lay out your piece using bullet points with white space in between bite sized sections. 
  • Visual support – pictures (check copyright), graphs, sketches, cartoons and your own match stick characters help draw the eye to your key points and keep the reader interested. At the moment my blog only takes one image. 
  • Snappy headline – draw people in without tricking them.  
  • Write around your book – if it’s romantic fiction then pieces on roses, honeymoon venues, different kinds of love, clothes for a first date… give full rein to your imagination ( within the parameters of decency). Blogging gives you a chance to take the wadding out of your book and put it into a different file for your readers.
  • Make it fun, easy to read, accessible, diverse and inclusive. These are the essential ingredients for good blogging. Font, size, style and colour make a piece easy on the eye.
  • If you tend to write blogs about writing, ask yourself how is yours different to the zillions of others out there. Break the mould and without getting controversial, include pieces about your life’s lessons, inviting others to contribute theirs. The more eclectic the better because your followers need to be entertained with the unusual, the quirky and something that rings a bell in their world. 
  • How you solved a problem, made a difficult decision, got through a crisis – stories of resilience are hooks for attracting people to your site.
  • Blog regularly. A flurry in one week followed by silence for a month is no way to secure a loyal following. They will have moved on.
  • Invite comments (moderated) to help engage opinion. The more feedback you get on your content, the more helpful it is in getting you noticed.  

 

ATTRACTING FOLLOWERS

  • Controversial writing attracts followers but usually not the sort you want. 
  • In each blog piece, embed and repeat key words that Google can pick up and shuffle you up through the rankings. My piece, ‘The Silent Treatment’, has had the most views on my website because of key words – abuse, passive-aggression, refusing to engage, being ignored and the title repeated in the text. 
  • Use hyperlinks where appropriate. My book highlighted in blue takes you to the amazon.co.uk site). 
  • Social media is a great help to raise awareness that you have a new blog on your site. A big no-no is to tag followers on Twitter without permission in the hope they will RT. I have a few people that are happy to do this for me but I ask them each time and they get the chance to approve the piece first. 
  • You’ll attract followers if you persist. Make your writing accessible, not filled with jargon or long words requiring a dictionary. Of course, much depends on the audience you want to attract. Vary the sentence length. Short is good.
  • Let your personality shine through your writing. Blogging is networking and giving something of your work and yourself for free. It’s not about selling your book(s) nor is it a lecture. Consider the tone and your audience. 
  • It takes time to build a blog following. Why not add vlogs so people can see the real you or podcasts which are great for commuters. Mix and match. They don’t have to be professionally produced. A smart phone and good microphone is all I use these days.

 

I’ve learned this stuff along the way but it’s been reinforced and added to, hugely, by the purchase of a brilliant book, ‘The Author Blog’ by Anne R Allen. @annerallen 

Get yourself a copy today.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Author-Blog-Easy-Blogging-Authors-ebook/dp/B077Y5DKP9/ref=la_B005R2SBI4_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538296864&sr=1-1

 

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My recent blog tour - a few rambling thoughts.

I’ve recently been the star of a blog tour for my new book, The Future Can’t Wait which ran for over two weeks. It’s a popular form of online publicity which helps to create a real buzz around your newly released book and is the virtual equivalent to a physical location, bookshop or library, where traditionally the author  would turn up to talk about their book and sign some copies. For many authors, published by small independents or self-published, this is a model that isn’t working unless there are sufficient numbers to make it worth their while.

            This exciting form of promotion means authors can reach a much wider audience, either by offering up a guest post or asking the blogger to post their reviews of the book which will hopefully be supportive. I found the reviews of my book to be an author’s dream.

            My blog which ran from Nov 2nd to 17th 2017 was managed by an organiser, (you can find her here) https://annebonnybookreviews.com/ throughout the whole period and whilst authors can approach bloggers independently, I found this to be very helpful as it took pressure of me and let me do what I do best… write.

            Each blogger on the tour took a slightly different approach and picked out issues in the book that resonated with them personally. This meant that every review was not a rehash of someone else’s. It was clear that a lot of time and dedication was devoted to each blog even if the genre I was writing in wasn’t a particular interest of theirs.

            When I was informed about who would be participating in my blog, I took some time to look at their websites and without exception, have to say all are beautifully laid out and professionally presented. I am amazed at how much reading these bloggers are able to do, particularly as publishers are constantly sending them books and authors are bombarding them for help. It’s good to see that they’ve drawn up some clear guidelines on the practicalities. Agents and publishers have specialisms and rules of engagement so why not bloggers. They are a valuable part of the publishing business.

            I didn’t realise how much work was involved for the author. Quality guest posts of between 500 – 1000 words need time to plan as these will create an impression about the author. If you throw something together because the blogger is reminding you time is running out, then what’s it going to say about your book (which may be fantastic).

            Authors need to remember that they are not the only ones the blogger is working with over a given period of time.  Your blog organiser and the team are doing you a huge favour so co-operation is necessary to make the tour as successful as it can be. If you want it to be the start of a professional working relationship, then good communication, rapid responses and getting involved with the frenzy of retweeting and uploading or sharing their posts to your social media is a part of the process. It is tiring but also exciting. I woke with trepidation every day during my tour to see how the book had been received by total strangers but real readers, many of whom consume hundreds of books in a year. They know what appeals and they’re good at picking out what makes a novel “tick.”

            What really impressed me was the way the organiser took several quotes from the reviews throughout the day and flagged them up on social media, Twitter in particular. They’re carefully selected to be inspiring and encourage followers to check out the book with a view to purchasing. It’s a soft sell approach with an emphasis on connecting authors to readers as people not as another product.  

A few tips for authors on a tour

  • Help out with the promotion banners – post them to your social media and shout about it.
  • Keep track of your own tour and be sure to thank the blogger that day.
  • Engage with the buzz throughout the tour but be subtle.
  • Keep your publisher informed. He/she has many other authors to look after and can’t always be following every mention of your book.
  • Agree guest posts well in advance and send them off early.
  • Be flexible if there have to be changes.
  • Whatever you do, don’t engage in an argument because you don’t like what the blogger/reviewer has said about an aspect of the book. Everyone has their own opinion. Accept it.
  • Enjoy it… it’s great fun and I have made some new contacts some of whom have become friends whom I hope to meet next year.
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