I’ve heard many people in the publishing industry say, “Every author needs to have a blog,” but is blogging really effective? Every writer has to decide for themselves, but first it’s important to understand what a blog is and how to use it effectively.
A blog is a shortened version of the term weblog. It’s basically a journal or diary that is available to the public online. Businesses use blogs to share information about their products, new items in their markets, and other information relevant to their industry. Blogging is similar for writers who want to connect with readers, where books are the product and readers are the customers who want the product – at least that’s what they should do after reading your blog.
Blogging is an excellent marketing strategy for authors because it allows them to tell their stories, talk about their books, share information and articles of mutual interest to readers, and ultimately get people to buy their books. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, most authors tell a story, and blogging is just another way to tell a story—the story about you as the author—in a more personal way that readers will like and want to hear about you more of what you have to say.
Having a blog doesn’t mean just posting everything and when. As a writer, you want to have a strategy for your blog posts. Ultimately, your goal is to sell your books to your potential readers. Make sure your posts reflect this strategy. When you write romance novels, there’s no point in writing about your gardening interests—unless you can incorporate those into your book—for example, if your heroine’s name is Cecilia and she’s a gardener in your book, then you could get creative and present Cecilia’s gardening tips.
Here are some important tips to make your blog effective so that it engages your readers:
- Have an attention-grabbing headline.
- Keep the content relatively short – just a few paragraphs – a chapter a day from your book may be too long, so break it up into a few posts – remember that people on the internet have short attention spans.
- Publish a selection from your books.
- Write about why you wrote your book – tell the backstory.
- Provide insights into future books or ideas you are working on.
- Review products of interest to your readers – if you write historical novels, review other historical novels or historical films. If you write about the great outdoors, the outdoors, activities like rock climbing, then write reviews about nature trails, the best kayaking spots, or the latest climbing gear.
- Share information about your industry or genre—many readers want to be writers, so talk about writing, publishing, and book marketing—be helpful to anyone who asks for help (within reason).
- Offer points of view that can be a little controversial.
- Ask your readers for their opinion on what you post. Solicit comments from them. When you ask for feedback, tell your readers that you want to know what they have to say and that you’re interested in understanding your customers. Respond to the comments others write. Keep in mind that many people think of authors as celebrities. They will be pleased that you took the time to write back to them. The more comments you get, the more people will want to leave comments. Don’t worry about negative comments – you can control which comments appear on your site, but a little controversy can help, too.
- Ask your readers what topics they would like to post on. Ask them for ideas for future books or write something and ask for feedback.
- Link to other sites and exchange links. Find authors writing on similar topics or in similar genres. Question them or look at each other’s books. Links will help your search engine optimization and you will have more links back to your site to attract readers.
- Promote your blog. Merely putting up a blog on your website will not bring people to your blog. Promote it through your email lists. Participate in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter where you can promote your blog.
- Avoid trying to sell directly. Nobody likes a pushy salesperson. Share information and make people curious about your thoughts, opinions and texts. People like doing business with people they know and like. If they get to know and like you, they will be more curious to buy your book.
- Go beyond the written word. Include photos on your blog to attract people who are more visual. You can also add audio and video to your blog. Take turns playing with or swapping out different types of blog posts.
- Automate your blog so everything you post ends up on your social networking sites. Ping.fm is a good site that allows cross-posting.
- Get listed in blog directories so people looking for information or the topics you write about can find you.
- Follow other authors and people on the publishing industry blogs and post comments on those blogs – your site will be included so people will follow you back to your site.
- Publish an average of three or more blogs per week to keep your content fresh and readers engaged.
Blogging can be a fun and fulfilling way to promote your books, engage in conversations with readers, explore ideas for future books, and learn lots about how to market your books to attract readers. Ultimately, you won’t know if blogging is effective for you unless you try.
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