Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blogless and Lost

By now, you realize you need a blog or a website to be a published writer. If not, don't waste your time reading this, because you'll disagree with me and want to leave a nasty comment.

Reality check...

1. Travel is expensive making booksignings and public appearances less appealing and less efficiency financially.

2. People research their books online.

3. Amazon is humongous and isn't going away.

4. Ebook sales are growing faster than Jack's beanstalk.

Online is where it's at! Be there or...don't sell books. Okay, scolding aside, what the heck are you supposed to blog about? If you are a nonfiction author, it seems easier, doesn't it? After all, you're already an expert. But what if you're a fiction author?

Here are some suggestions for your blog. But remember first:

1. You need your own voice that rings true no matter what you write.
2. You need to update several times per week.
3. You need to promote your blog in your email signature, blog comments on other blogs, forums, listserves, Twitter, Facebook, et al. It's now a part of your being.

You'll start off with hesitation, but you'll warm up to the process. I suggest you don't write epistles each time. It's okay to write 200 words one day and 700 the next. Just as long as all those words are needed. Blog readers like stuff that's easy to read. They get bored after 300-400 words unless you're really on your game.

But eventually, you'll run out of ideas. Yes, you will. There you are trying to meet deadlines or create a new twist in your novel, and bam, you have to update the blog. Or you go out of town, and ugh, you need to write several posts to automatically go up while you're gone. Or maybe you have the mother of all head colds and can't think straight. Here are a few cheat sheet ideas on where to find blog ideas:

1. Interview Someone
Regardless of what you blog about, you can find an expert or celebrity that fits, that your readers would enjoy.

2. Play Devil's Advocate
Pick a topic that's floating around and take the opposite stance. Even if you don't believe in it, play it out and show how there's another side and why it is or isn't important.

3. Review a Book
Whether you're reviewing a peer's book in your genre or a how-to book for writers, you can find one worthy of your feedback. Good way to get others to review your books in return.

4. List Your Top Ten Favorites
Whether it's other blog sites, specific topics blogged about, books, characters, authors or agents, make a list. People love bullets on blog posts. List ten things that make writing hard. Ten writing habits you can't do without - or better, should do without. Ten conferences with merit.

5. Regurgitate News With Your Spin
Amazon has announced it's hired a leader for its traditional publishing arm. Do you like that? How will this change publishing for small presses, for the big six, for self-publishers? Amanda Hocking's six-figure sales of her ebooks made for ample blogging fodder for a month. Just don't rehash. Add your spin to it.

6. Solicit Guest Posts
Have a fellow writer, your agent, your editor, or an expert post his thought and give you a break. Maybe you want to have a guest each week for a different flavor.

7. Your Success/Your Failure
You are your best resource. Why didn't your query fly with 42 agents? What did you learn about editing your book down by 25,000 words? How did you break into a magazine? What made you decide to quit writing for SEO writing mills? You've stumbled and skinned your knees. You've unexpectedly soared. You set a long-range goal and met it. People are hungry for these actual moments.

Be candid, insert humor, but be yourself. Seriously, you can never run out of ideas if you take blogging seriously. Yes, it's a little effort at the outset, but before long you can pen posts in your sleep. And you seem to always keep your eyes and ears open for new post ideas.


JD said...

You said it, Hope! I was hesitant to blog, myself, but soon grew to enjoy it, as well as embrace the blogging community.

Indeed, it can be daunting coming up with blog post ideas. Enter interviews and book reviews, as you mention, as interesting blog post staples. Chronicling our triumphs-in-the-making also provide fodder for blog posts, be it losing weight, potty-training a toddler or training to run a 5K. There are always people who can relate and may appreciate hearing someone else's story.

Thank you for your post!

Rebecca G. said...

Thanks again for yet another astute post, Hope.

I decided today that if you become rich and famous over your book sales (to come!) and have to discontinue this, many of us will go into withdrawal.

You are that good--and helpful.

Sending good thoughts your way as your book heads toward "life on the outside world."

Rebecca G.

D.G. Hudson said...

Great information, Hope. I haven't yet done an interview of someone for my blog, but I've considered it. It seems like a lot of bloggers are doing that.

I like photos on a website since it breaks the monotony of too much text, but I like the photos to relate to the posts, if possible. And I like the link lists some blogs offer.

I've followed most of your blogging points at my blog:

BTW - I've been a fan of your blog and newsletters for a few years now, taking your advice when it fits for me. Also, you treat everyone with respect. That's what keeps me coming back. (Good information and a great attitude.)

Please continue to encourage us.

Lisa said...

Thank you so much for the advise. I really wonderded what to blog too. I called myself "clueless" for sure! Now I can get to work.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

That was a good post, and very informative. The ideas are good as well, and I will have to keep a few to try like the lists.

Anonymous said...

Being timeless as well as having a bad creativity day (similar to bad hair days)comes to us all! I like your idea of guest posts for those days. Maybe we could create a circle of friends to call on for those timeless times. Will you be in mine?

Hope Clark said...

Oh, Joyce,
The last thing I need to do is be a regular anywhere other than where I am now. I will do the occasional guest post here and there, but never on a regular basis on any one site - not unless it was so huge it warranted doing less on my own! Time, time, time. Why is it so limited?