Thursday Teaser: Blogging for Authors by Barb Drozdowich

Share

blogging-for-authors-silver-awardWhy do I need to blog?

THE QUESTION that comes up repeatedly during my discussions with authors – Why? Why do I need to blog? There are several answers to this question. At the top of the heap, blogging is a writing exercise, another opportunity to develop that writing muscle. The second reason is to communicate with your readers and develop a community.

We all figured out how to make friends in Kindergarten: “Hi, my name is Barb. Do you want to play with me?” As adults in the electronic world, the way to make friends is admittedly a bit more complicated, but not impossible. It goes something along the lines of, “Hi, my name is Barb and I write books. Let’s explore interests we have in common and chat about stuff over a cup of virtual coffee.”

The third reason, as I mentioned in the previous section, is to communicate and share with your community of readers in a fairly permanent way. Unlike the other parts of your platform, your blog posts can be searched and found months or years after they were first shared. So a post that attracted a new reader into having a virtual chat with you two years ago could easily be found today and have the same effect on a new reader.

Your blog is your public face to the world. In today’s society if we want to find out more about a public figure, we “Google” them. Frankly, we expect all public figures including authors to have a website of some sort where we can find out more about them and their books. As we’ll find out in the coming chapters, it’s important to have a blog, but generally not necessary to have a website and a blog. A blog offers an author the ability to add fresh content on a regular basis to their site – something that Google LOVES!

Think of Google as a toddler. For those parents reading this, you realize that toddlers don’t stay interested in anything for long. Even shiny, new toys are quickly abandoned for the box they came in. Google is similar. Google is attracted to new content. A blog that’s posted to on a regular basis provides a steady stream of “shiny new toys” for the Google search engine. This helps a site rise up the ranks in a Google search. While it’s true that the majority of your traffic will initially either come from your friends or be referral traffic from other social media, you want readers to be able to Google the genre they read and find your site in a search. We’ll talk more about this in a future chapter.

One last comment for this section is about tone and language. As I’ve mentioned previously, I feel that your blog should be a conversation – a dialogue with your readers. A blog post that’s a dialogue with your readers is typically casual in its language and tone, like a conversation between friends. It’s meant to share information as you would over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer with your friends. If your blog post is more formal, it will sound like a dissertation or even a monologue. It may end up conveying information to an audience, but it typically won’t turn your audience into a community. In short, your audience will react differently. Think about how you react when reading let’s say a Wikipedia page. You’re looking for information and you get it. Compare this to reading a chatty, personalized blog post. You’ll have a different internal reaction.

I’ll continue to remind you to keep the word “dialogue” in your mind as we go through this book. I find when you think of something as a dialogue, that is what you create.

Blogging for Authors can be purchased from Amazon

*****

BarbDrozdowichPicSocial Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She delights in taking technical subjects and making them understandable by the average person. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance novels.

She is the author of 10 books, over 30 YouTube videos and an online WordPress course, all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

She can be found on her Author Website, Business blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Goodreads, and YouTube

 

Share

Monday Musings: More Thoughts on Blogging

Share

by Kathleen Valentine

bloggingFor the last several weeks I have been blogging here about using social media for marketing. My emphasis has been on book marketing—I am a writer after all—but a lot of these techniques can be used for nearly any sort of marketing. As I have been working at increasing my social media presence, I’ve come to the belief that getting readers to come to my blog is probably my most worthwhile effort.

I started my blog in June 2006 which means I’ve just passed my 10th anniversary. Recently, when I was looking at my blog stats, I realized that a lot of my old blog posts had very low numbers of visits. Then I realized that a couple years ago I changed my blog’s URL to include my name (www.KathleenValentineBlog.com) and all the stats reset at that point. So, though I’ve been blogging for ten years and have over 2,000 blog posts, the actual stats are only for the past two years.

When I set my blog up I chose Blogger as the host so I am familiar with how they present stats. I am sure other blog hosts have similar reports, I just can’t tell you where they are. Recently, for the first time ever, I had over 1,000 visitors in one day and I credit that to using Twitter to promote past posts. Over the years, I’ve kept an eye on my stats and am frequetly baffled why some posts get so many more hits than others. One post about my cookbook has had over 20k hits but I suspect that is because the word “bacon” is in the title. I don’t get any special credit for that. It is not always easy to figure where traffic comes from, but I do notice that a lot of it comes from Facebook and Bitly URLS that I use on Twitter. Some observations on the value of blogs:

It gives readers a sense of who you are. I blog a lot about events in my town, mysteries, legends, and lore that interest me, and how these things are useful in my writing. I also blog about books I am reading, recipes, knitting and sewing, and random thoughts on life. If a reader reads my blog regularly, they know how I write and what I write about. If they like all that, they may like reading my books.

Individual pages/Tabs add extra information. It took a long time for me to set up separate pages in tabs across the top of my blog, but I’m sure glad I did! My individual pages have received a lot of hits. The largest number of hits have been on About Kathleen (over 5,000), a separate page for my 4 Marienstadt books (over 4,000), and a separate page for my 4 Beacon Hill books (over 3,500). What that tells me is that visitors to the blog were sufficiently interested to have a look at those pages.

All my books are listed, with buy links, in a single column on every page. Do people use these? I don’t really know but I do know that regular readers of my blog cannot escape noticing them. They know how to find what I have to offer.

How important is all of this to the individual blogger? Only time can tell. I’ve blogged regularly for 10 years but it is only since I’ve started using social media to promote my blog that I’ve seen a BIG increase in traffic. I am happy about this.

Another good thing about blogging is participating in blog events, like the A-to-Z Challenge and the TMI Challenge. If you participate and, as part of your participation, visit other blogs and comment, you build community and attract new visitors.

Let’s face it—we all know that getting the attention of potential readers is what marketing is all about. We don’t like it, but we do it. By making it as much fun as possible and following our own bliss, we cannot help but attract new audiences and isn’t that what we want. Have fun.

Thanks for reading.

Share

Monday Musings: A Gold Mine on My Hard Drive

Share

by Kathleen Valentine

Over the last few weeks I’ve written about using social media to connect with potential readers and to promote our work. Believe me, this has been as challenging for me as it is for you. I am always astonished by the things I learn. Recently I’ve been trying to build my “brand,” whatever the heck that is, and I discovered something interesting. For years I have been creating content for my blog and for other social media which, when taken together, shows something interesting—I apparently have particular fascinations for:

  • folklore, legends, and mysterious places

  • handcrafts, particularly, sewing, knitting, and working with beads and shells

  • cooking—especially baking and making relishes and preserves

I am a fiction writer and most of my stories involve components of those things. Many of my stories incorporate folklore and legends. From The Old Mermaid’s Tale to my Marienstadt Stories and The Crazy Old Lady’s Secret, I have built these stories on a foundation of legends. In most of my books my characters do a lot of cooking—from Syd Jupiter teaching Tempest how to cook catfish in Depraved Heart, to the Dumpling Contest in The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall. And many of my ladies knit, quilt, and sew—especially the ladies in The Monday Night Needlework and Murder Guild! So, though I’m not sure what an author’s brand actually is, those three themes show up consistently as I write.

Quotes-AllisonAs I try to improve my use of social media, I have been trying to figure out how to better use Pinterest, which is a deliciously visual medium, and Twitter which is great because it is quick fast and easy to use. So, I started going through my files and I realized that I have close to a thousand of the little Inspirational Quotes for Writers (like the one on the left) that I have posted daily on Facebook for years. I post them on Facebook and then they just sit on my hard drive. So a couple weeks ago I started posting them to Twitter. Almost immediately I saw an increase in Likes and Retweets. People started adding me to lists and I even started picking up followers.

Giddy with the success of that, I went to my blog for which I have written over 2,000 posts. Some of them are silly or dated, but within a short time I had culled out over 30 posts I’d made about the subjects above—from less than a quarter of my posts. I crafted Tweets for them, including a picture, a link, and some hashtags and Tweeted those. Again, people responded. I checked my blog stats and my recipe for cooking a roast in my Ninja 3-in-1 had over 6,000 visits.

I started a DOC file that I keep on my desktop and every time I create a Tweet that people seem to like, I save it there. I can Retweet them periodically along with my writing quote memes and my normal Tweets. By using TweetDeck, I can schedule a days worth of Tweets in twenty minutes and then not think about it for the rest of the day.

Will this help market my books? It’s too soon to tell. But one thing it is doing is gathering Followers and getting me on lists for people who love the same things I do and since my books are full of those things, who knows? Next I have to conquer Pinterest but I am enjoying this and finally feel like I’m getting someplace.

Take a look at all those files you have been creating for years and see what may be lurking on your hard drive—there may be gold that you can use to attract like-minded folks.

Thanks for reading.

Share

Focus Friday: The Book Blogger Platform, by Barb Drozdowich

Share

TheBookBloggerPlatformLarge

Just as all book bloggers are different, their approach to book blogging is also different. Some book bloggers consider themselves primarily book reviewers. Some book bloggers consider themselves primarily promoters of books. Some book bloggers will only post about a book they have read. Some book bloggers will post about any book that belongs to a genre that fits the profile of their blog.

Book bloggers who consider themselves primarily book reviewers make their reviews the main focus of their blog. They often take their self-imposed “job” of reviewing books very seriously. They put hours of work into reading a book and then creating the right combination of words to best describe their thoughts and impressions. It’s a labor of love.

Many book bloggers, such as myself, consider themselves primarily promoters of books. I began my blog posting reviews of books I’d read, and I worked hard to grow my blog’s audience. I am very proud of my blog and the work that goes into it. However, I have a full-time job and a family. I don’t have enough reading hours to review one book a day, so I fill my blog’s days with a mixture of reviews and promotions. I don’t post more than once a day, but I use the platform I have built to promote as many books and authors as I can that fit within my reading taste.

As I mentioned above, some book bloggers will only post about books they have read. They feel that posting about a book is a recommendation of that book and they don’t want to recommend a book they haven’t read.

Have I read all the books that are promoted on my blog? No. I fit into the other camp of book bloggers. I see promoting books, whether through blog tours, reviews, or other promotionsas simply sharing information. I leave it up to my readers to decide whether to read the book or not.

Another area in which people hold strong feelings centers on whether or not to post negative reviews. One camp feels that all book bloggers who review books need to post negative reviews. They feel that having an assortment of positive and negative reviews creates balance. It allows readers to read about what the blogger likes and doesn’t like and why. It is often said that reviewers who only post positive reviews risk having their honesty questioned.

I am of the camp that doesn’t bother to finish a book if I am not enjoying it. I feel no need to talk about a book I didn’t like. I have boxes and boxes of books to be read. My Nook (e-reader) is full of little gems waiting for my attention. Maybe it’s my age, but I don’t soldier on, I move on. I do, however, make it clear in my review policy that I only talk about books that I enjoyed reading.

This topic will come up again later; you do need to give some thought to your philosophy on book blogging. Are you going to only post reviews? Are you only going to promote books you have read? This isn’t necessarily something that will be decided on at the beginning and that you can never change. Many book bloggers change their views as time progresses.

Accompanying your philosophy of blogging is your view of how much of a platform you are going to have. I started my blog to express my thoughts about the books I’d read. It never really occurred to me that other people would read what I had read, let alone comment on it or share it with friends!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating a book blog to share your thoughts with friends—old friends as well as new. If, however, you actively seek out blog tour posts and post promotions of author’s books, you should also be actively growing your book blogger platform. If someone is paying to post on your blog via a blog tour, you should be able to share this information with as many people as possible.

Everyone starts out as a baby blogger. Everyone has a different view of what they want their blog to be. There is no right or wrong answer. Every blog should be a reflection of its owner and its owner’s tastes.

I hope to use this book to describe the Book Blogger Platform in its entirety. I hope to give you a lot to think about. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and my blogs every day. My contact links will be listed at the end of this book. I love answering questions and chatting about books!

The Book Bloggers Platform is available on:

About the author

BarbDrozdowichPicSocial Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught at Colleges and Universities, trained technical personnel in the banking industry and, most recently, used her expertise to help dozens of authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular Romance Book blog, Sugarbeat’s Books.

Barb can be found: 

And follow Barb on Twitter @sugarbeatbc

Share

Focus Friday: The Author’s Guide to Working with Book Bloggers, by BarbDrozdowich

Share

 

So who are book bloggers?The Authors guide to working with book bloggers bigger (2)

 

The only thing that we all have in common is that we love books; we love books so much that we have created blogs to express our thoughts about the books that we read. Book bloggers also have access to a computer. Other than that, they can be male or female (although in my survey there were many more females than males), they can vary in age, be quite computer literate, or just barely holding their own as far as technology is concerned. They may be teenagers, sharing their love of Young Adult (YA) as they conquer their high school classes; they may be a stay-at-home mom spending her free time, sharing her thoughts on her favorite books as an escape from the kids. They may be budding authors using a book blog as a way to experiment with their writing. A book blogger may be a parent/child duo, with the parent encouraging the child to read more. They may be newly retired looking for a mental challenge and a way to share their life-long love of books.

Book blogging is usually a hobby; it is something that is done in a blogger’s spare time. If book bloggers make money from ads on their blogs, it generally isn’t much—it might keep them in lattes. There are a few exceptions, of course, but book blogging and reviewing books is something that book bloggers do for no pay.

Many book bloggers started blogging to simply share their thoughts with other book lovers. Have a look at this selection of the answers that I received when I asked the question “Why did you start book blogging?”

  • “Because I wanted to be able to share great books with other readers.”
  • “I am very supportive of many changes taking place in the book industry. I am particularly supportive of ebooks and talented Indie and small press authors and LOVE helping spread the word about their books. I also personally enjoy discovering new to me authors who can help support my book addiction.”
  • “I love to read. This was a way to share what I like and to find new books and authors to read.”
  • “To talk with other book lovers, and to have a creative outlet online.”
  • “To have a place to talk about books, to be a part of a community.”
  • “To encourage my students, to share my love of books.”
  • “As a hobby/just for fun.”
  • “Nothing is better than finding ‘that’ book. The one that rings your bell. I like helping people find it!”
  • “To share my love of books with the world.”
  • “Because I wanted to find new readers like me who are big romance fans to discuss books with and share this big passion of mine!”
  • “To create a space where my kids and I give our opinions about children’s books— we don’t always agree!”

 My favorite of the list above is: “To share my love of books with the world.” 

About the book

Do you feel out of your comfort zone when dealing with book bloggers? They are the New Gatekeepers to book publishing success—but how can you tap into that source of free promotions by putting your best foot forward?

The Author’s Guide to Working with Book Bloggers combines the advice of 215 blogging professionals collected in a survey covering all aspects of communication between authors and Review Blogs. Whether you are a new author, or have many titles under your belt, let us demystify the promotion of your book on a book blog.

You’ll learn about whom and where book bloggers are, and the following:

  • The Query,
  • The Review,
  • The Giveaway,
  • The Author Interview,
  • The Guest Post,
  • The Book Blurb Excerpt and Cover Reveals and more!

“I’ve found Barb’s advice on forging a professional relationship with the blogging community indispensable. Her step-by-step approach will help you garner the reviews needed to increase book sales.”

–Christine Nolfi, bestseller author of Treasure Me

The Author’s Guide to Working with Book Bloggers is available on:

About the author

BarbDrozdowichPicSocial Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught at Colleges and Universities, trained technical personnel in the banking industry and, most recently, used her expertise to help dozens of authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular Romance Book blog, Sugarbeat’s Books.

Barb can be found: 

And follow Barb on Twitter @sugarbeatbc

Share