Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Bit on Blogging

Hello Everyone!

The September authors are wrapping up their extensive blog tours, the October authors getting ready for theirs, and I just sent the November authors their tours. Sufficed to say, our authors are saturating the book blogging community! And that’s a good thing!

As I’ve mentioned to all of you before, guest blogging has become the newest and easiest way to connect with readers. Yes, it’s a lot of work and yes, it’s hard to come up with topics and yes, it can be totally annoying—but I’ve had many a conversation with industry professionals (including booksellers) who think it’s really great and proactive that our authors are out there talking about their books.

So, I’ve put together some tips and info that I think everyone will benefit from!

1) Give Good Blog: Keep your blogs at a conversational length—I think a good length to aim for is 750-800 words, but in general blogs are around 500-1000 words. Anything less than 500 looks like you’re lazy and anything more than 1000 becomes way too wordy and the reader can get bogged down.
Tip: Remember to end your blogs with a question to encourage the readers to comment!

2) You don’t have to talk just about your book—let’s face it, mentioning your book summary and the blurbs you’ve gotten and where to look for it and where to find more information on you can get tiresome and boring!
Tip: One thing I’ve started doing is asking bloggers to give me topic suggestions to help you all get the wheels rolling for guest blogs. This also helps because then we get to know what bloggers (and therefore readers) want to know not only about your books, but also about you as an author! Some of the most commented on blogs I’ve seen aren’t because I’m sponsoring a giveaway, but are about the funny things writers do in their day to day lives!

3) But you do have to talk about your book—first and foremost (even though I just said you don’t have to always talk about your book), your blog tours are about promoting your books, and doing whatever you can to drive your audience into stores or online booksellers and actually purchase your books. So, yes, have fun talking about your favorite song—but you do have to tie that in to your book, or your writing process, or something related to your craft and/or creation of the current book.

4) Sneak a Peak—Bloggers love it when they can say they have an exclusive excerpt. But, personally, as someone who reads book blogs anyway (and not just because I get paid to do it), I think it’s a bit of a cop out when an author just sends and excerpt and that’s it.
Tip 1: Be sure to explain why you chose an excerpt to share—does this reveal something surprising about the hero or heroine? Is it particularly funny? Did something happen to inspire you to write it? Or maybe the research behind a scene was interesting and might not be totally clear to the reader upon reading it?
Tip 2: I think many readers like escaping through romance novels, but I do think they want to take something away from them as well, and guest blogs are a great way to explain this to them.

5) PROOFREAD. PROOFREAD. PROOFREAD.—or if you don’t catch your own mistakes, find someone that can. Please remember that I am a publicist not an editor. I have most of my press materials looked over by fellow publicists, copy editors, etc. (and sometimes, outside parties [like my mom or my boyfriend] who have no idea what I’m talking to ensure it makes sense on a literal level)
Tip 1: I do look over your blogs for content, and sometimes I do catch a random grammatical error or typo. And I do let you know when I think something can be re-worked, edited down or changed. But the last thing I want to see happen is that snarky commenter (see #9) who is just waiting for an author to do something wrong, and call them out on it!
Tip 2: Additionally, I’ve had bloggers not post a blog based on bad grammar. Seriously. It hasn’t happened in a while, but it’s been done.

6) Organization—This is more of a personal publicist preference rather than an overarching idea—send me your blogs in an attached word document, saved along the lines like “September 10 Casablanca Authors Blog DJackson.doc” (date, blog, name). You have no idea how many guest blogs I receive that are “guest blog 7” or “blog.doc.” Nonetheless, this will keep them organized on your computer, my computer and the blogger’s computer when I send them out.

7) Say Cheese! And send me a current (ie within the last 2 or 3 years) author photo—bloggers and readers want to see your dazzling smiles! Putting a face with a book yet another way to connect: what, authors are real people? Who woulda thunk?
Tip: I know for some of you, we run into penname issues, and that can be worked around.

8) Be Social! Aside from my #1 rule (which is #10 on this list)—you MUST MUST MUST check comments. Even when there aren’t any, YOU MUST SAY SOMETHING. It’s poor internetiquette not to say “Hey Blogger McBloggerson, thanks for having me today! I hope you enjoyed this little bit about my new book. Readers, I’ll check in during the day to answer any questions and join in the fun discussion!”
Tip: Now, I know—you have a day job and kids in school and errands to run and deadlines to meet and any number of other things to do, so if you KNOW you are going to be super busy or are going out of town or there’s an emergency—let me know! You don’t have to tell me minute by minute details, but you do need to let me know so I can tell the blogger you might not be able to check on comments. And if you know far enough in advance, we can schedule around it.

9) Don’t Fight with the Readers. If someone says something mean or disrespectful or ridiculous or rude and totally stupid and irrelevant, DON’T RESPOND TO IT. If you have to think twice about pressing save or send, DON’T PRESS THAT BUTTON.
Tip: Remember my mantra: the internet never goes away. Say it to yourself for a few minutes.

10) Have FUN! Guest blogging is definitely work—but it is something every author should start considering a part of their overall publishing career (and if they don’t, then they will be surprised at the state of the romance market). And you should be HAPPY and EXCITED to share your work with eager readers—both those that know about you, and the new readers out there who should know about you.

Now wouldn’t you know it, I’ve gotten very wordy (1,196 words—oh man). But if you have questions I’ll be around all day and answer them in the comments! Also, share some of your own blogging experiences or tips!



18 comments:

  1. November release author raising her hand* I've been working on my blogs.

    #9 is a keeper. When I was in the online contests and people would write a not-so-nice comment or question my research, I'd just thank them for taking the time to read and say sorry it didn't work for them. But those authors who engaged the nasty posters suffered greatly for it.

    I keep the comedians' mantra in my mind at all times - don't heckle the hecklers.

    Because, you are SO right, the internet is forever.

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  2. Judi--I like that mantra too. And yes, if you feel the need to say something, being respectful (even when it is tough to do so) and maybe even a little bit vague, is the way to go!

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  3. Hi Danielle,

    I needed to hear your top ten points once again. Thanks for putting them out there. I'm trying to do/be better at blogging this time around!

    Amelia

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  4. Amelia--

    I know I tell you this all the time, but you weren't bad at all with your last blog tour!

    :)

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  5. Danielle you are right on the spot with these tips. I also check for spelling and other mistakes just to make sure something hasn't slipped through but hey we're all human. I would have to say the best bunch of authors I've had to date are my Casa Babes! You gals rock and I so appreciate every minute and word that you send my way.

    Okay a couple of tips from me. I promise not to lecture you like Danielle (:p)(just kidding sweetie)!

    1. When you have a reader who has posted a comment that is more than I love this book please, please give them more than Thank You. I see so often readers telling authors what they really like or don't like and the authors pretty much ignore them and give them a small lame response. I can understand if you think they are picking on you in which case being quiet is the best route but if they are trying to interact with you in a positive way please be more responsive with them.

    2. I personally will put in more artwork in the blog if you send it to me or if you send me your website linky. I tend to check out your sites to see if I can dress up your articles more to catch the readers eye as they are strolling through blogs. I find the readers not only respond more to a blog article about the author, her work, her habits, oops moments, ect but to "Color" and "Pics". As for an example check out my blog and see what Cindy Miles asked me to do with hers. Man that is a eye catcher.

    3. Instead of giving me a prologue or Chapter one of your book to use for an excerpt, give me a nice juicy part that will grab that reader and make them lust for this book. The point we are trying to get across to all the romance readers is, "You must go buy my book cause it's Hot!".

    4. I know you gals do it but I have had a number of authors who haven't. Please send a little Thank You to your host/hostess via email after your dating. I'm not sure if you realize how much we do as blog hostesses to plug your books as much as we can. I personally take quite a bit of time in looking for artwork, setting up the article just the right way, adding colors so they mesh and not clash and then I do invites. I send out upwards of 3000 invites or more per blog dating. I have almost 2000 on facebook alone and that site is PITA most of the time. I also use Good Reads, Book Obsessed, Book Crossing, Yahoo Groups, Facebook, Twitter and whatever else I can to snag more readers into coming to take a look see. So it usually takes me a good two to four hours the night before the blog event to get this all ready for you. I'm not looking for glory or praise but I am looking to help all of you connect with the readers.

    Okay I think I'm getting into lecture mode so I will shut up while I have a chance. I do hope you will think on these items as well as Danielle's. I luv you guys so keep up the good work.
    huggs,
    Terra

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  6. I'll keep following you round. Maybe one day I'll have a blog tour of my own.

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  7. Thanks for the reminder, Danielle. It is easy to forget the basic rules when getting bogged down into the here and now aspect of writing blogs. I am glad my time is up, for the most part, and hopefully I can rejuvenate before January when it starts up again!

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  8. Terra--

    Thank you for your tips--straight from a blogger's mouth everyone! I'm glad you had some insight and were willing to share it with us :) We love working with Yankee Romance!

    Danielle

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  9. Thanks Sheila! I think you will have your very own blog tour(s) very soon!!!

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  10. Sharon you did a graet job on your blog tour! And I'm sure youll be ready in January!

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  11. Thanx Danielle!
    I love your first one: Give Good Blog! SNORK!!

    And HUGE thanx to Terra!
    You blog is definitely one of the best around in terms of graphics and interactions with blog commenters and guests.

    I'm printing both of these out for future reference. Like Sharon said, I have another blog tour in the not-too-distant future! ;-) I LOVE 'EM, but they do wear me out.

    AC

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  12. Sorry I'm late, Danielle~

    Thanks for the reminders. My tour is coming up and it's always great to have a refresher course. Thanks to you too, Terra! Yours is one of my all-time favorite blog stops. Thanks for all your support!

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  13. I just want to make everyone aware that I keep a list of bloggers willing to guest host romance authors. You can find it on my website by clicking on "Blog list."

    I keep it updated, so if anyone wants me to add their blog and contact info, just let me know!

    Ash

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  14. AC--

    I was hoping someone would find #1 as funny as I did when I wrote it :)

    And you've had a great tour! I know the readers and bloggers are loving it.

    Danielle

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  15. Robin--

    Get ready! You've got a little bit of time yet (I'll start putting yours together in early October), but start thinking of some topics!

    Danielle

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  16. Ashlyn--

    I've seen your list and it is very comprehensive! A great resource.

    Danielle

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  17. I'm a day late but I wanted to say thanks for posting this blog. I'm still aspiring so no blog tours for me, but I'm part of a blog group that hosts authors (Your own Ms. McGary and Ms. Fennell have been sweet enough to visit with us) and that talk to commenters thing is SO important.

    On any blog, if I leave a comment for a guesting author, I'll check all day to see how she responds. Childish? Maybe. But true. LOL! You have to ENGAGE people. Really, if not the blog dies and it's a sad day all the way around.

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  18. Hi Terri!

    Thanks for stopping over and I'm glad you found my tips and the tips in the comments useful! I know we'll see you on your own blog tour very soon :)

    Danielle

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