This Business of Writing

Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Platforms—Why They’re Important and How to Develop One

In blogging, How-to's, Marketing Your Book on April 15, 2010 at 8:10 am

Why is building a platform important, even if you’re an unpublished writer? Besides the future promotional benefits, you also develop the discipline of writing (sometimes daily) for a responsive audience of readers. Writing interesting content daily is wonderful practice. And having an established online community that you’ll later be able to promote to is always a plus for a publisher.

Some things to consider when building your platform:

Do

Do use your blog as a way to practice writing regularly. Try to post on a regular schedule, even if it’s just twice a week. If you feel more comfortable having a buffer between you and the demands of your blog, consider building up several weeks’ worth of posts before you even launch your blog. But—continue writing posts as much as possible to keep that buffer up.

Do make blogging friends and network. You really only need one active blog to follow to get you started. This could be a blog in your genre or just a general writing blog. Active blogs usually have healthy blog rolls in their sidebar. Start clicking on blogs. Each of those blogs will also usually have a blog roll in their sidebar, too. In addition, when you add a blog’s RSS feed to your blog reader (e.g., Google Reader), when you click on “folder settings,” Google will recommend blogs that are similar in content to the one you’re adding to your reader (“More Like This”). That’s another great way to discover new blogs in your niche. The next step is commenting on blogs and developing a network, really more of a community. That step is extremely important to finding a readership for your blog.

Do consider Twitter and/or Facebook. Both are excellent ways to network online with other writers and industry professionals. You’ll learn a lot, discover resources that can help you with your writing, and network with other writers. Writing can be lonely and finding friends online is a tremendous help.

Do make sure your blog, Facebook, and Twitter presence is professional-looking. Professional doesn’t mean it has to be created by a web-designer—just that it’s carefully edited for typos or grammatical errors and that it has your contact information readily available. Plus…consider the content you’re putting on your blog and how it might look to an agent or editor.

Don’t

Publish manuscript excerpts on your blog. Many publishers and reviewers will consider your manuscript published if it’s appeared online.

Overpromote yourself. It’s much more effective to take a soft-sell approach when getting followers for your blog or (later) when promoting your book. Instead, look for ideas or resources that you can share with other writers. Try to contribute something of value to the community.

Hound agents or editors via social media about your query or submission. It’s not a good way to make friends.

With blogging, I’ve gotten ideas from other writers on plotting and character problems. I’ve developed friendships and readers—for my blog and my books. I’ve exchanged resources that help me with my writing. I’ve analyzed my approach to writing, which has helped me write other books. I’ve also known a couple of bloggers who found literary agents through their blogs—obviously a more tangible benefit to blogging.

Is platform building hard work? It is. But the rewards are worth it.

Elizabeth Spann Craig
http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com
http://elizabethspanncraig.com

Elizabeth Spann Craig writes the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and is writing the upcoming Memphis Barbeque series for Berkley Prime Crime as Riley Adams. Like her characters, her roots are in the South. As the mother of two, Elizabeth writes on the run as she juggles duties as room mom and Brownie leader, referees play dates, drives car pools, and is dragged along as a hostage/chaperone on field trips.

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Tips on Building Your Author’s Platform

In blogging, General Information, Marketing Your Book on February 26, 2010 at 8:12 am

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Sitting at a keyboard and typing is only a small part of the industry in which we all work. We’ve all volunteered to participate in The Business of Writing, yet most of us either miss or ignore a major component of what it is we must do to become successful at the craft of writing. That’s marketing our novels. I’m sorry to say, if we ever wish to derive enough income to worry about from those many hours staring at a computer screen, we need to learn how to market, or get the word out about, your writing.

Marketing leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths and I think it’s because they either don’t understand what it is or how to do it. Many people confuse marketing with sales and envision themselves having to don a used car salesman’s plaid coat to hawk their books. Not true. Marketing is simply letting people know your novel or book, exists. In fact, today’s marketing is all about the soft-sell. You establish yourself as someone to know and your prospective readers sell themselves.

Once you decide to market your wares, you have two major choices from which to choose. Hire a professional or do it yourself. Hiring a professional like BookBuzzer or TheCreativePenn is an excellent idea, but it takes money. A quality marketing expert is worth their weight in gold, but like anything else, you’ve got to have the money to make the money. Should you choose to do it yourself, you’re facing quite a row to hoe, but it’s doable for anyone with a bit of time, willingness to learn, dedication and a propensity toward hard work. Today, I’ll offer you a few of the best tips for marketing your book on your own.

First of all, like any endeavor, you need both knowledge and a goal. Your goal is easy. Indentify your target market, those people who might buy your book. Well, it’s a bit more involved than that as you also need to know their demographics such as where they live, how much they earn, their ages, their genders and the like. You should have derived this information even before writing, but developing your market is first and foremost. How to determine your market is beyond the scope of this article, but post your questions and I’ll be glad to help.

Once you have your target market identified, how do you reach them? Well, that’s where the knowledge comes in but today the secret lies hidden within technology. It offers us exciting, inexpensive and effective avenues by which to reach your market. Your first marketing step as a writer involves blogging. It’s today’s preferred methodology to getting noticed. Check out WordPress or Blogspot for no cost options. Read this article for ideas on how to build your blog readership.

You should also get involved with Twitter and probably Facebook. If you write nonfiction, consider Linkden, too. Identify your specific target within these sites and learn how to use social networking to your advantage. Readers are more prone to purchase your book if they know you as a person. Be cautious however, and don’t’ introduce them to too many of the skeletons in your life. They really don’t want to know you that well.

Become a member of niche market sites like Chowhound.com (food and feasting), LibraryThing.com (books & novels) and Yelp.com (metropolitan trends cities). It’s here you’ll find people interested in your genre of writing.

Participate in other writers’ blogs. This is quite effective in enhancing your viral growth as it exposes you to a wide number of people with whom you’d not normally connect.

Publish articles to sites such as Ezine, Scribd and Isnare. They might develop readership numbers that will amaze you. Be sure to have a resource box at the end of your articles listing all those many ways people can reach you.

Learn to use Google Analytics. This will inform you as to who refers readers to you. Visit those blogs and get involved. As long as you leave links as to how they can find you, this is a another proven method to build your audience.

Be sure to educate yourself on the use of keywords. Strong keywords allows Internet uses to find your blog, your web site and other tools you employ to sell your books. A bit of research on the Internet will teach you all you need to know about them.

Search out the better book reviewers. Word of mouth will sell more books than anything else. Review Amazon’s Top 1,000 Reviewers and ask those interested in your genre to put out a good word for you.

Do you belong to a church? Live in a condo association? Edit their newsletters and everyone there will learn you’re a writer.
If you work these and other avenues well they can help to get your book sold. Yes, it takes time, knowledge and effort, but without either professional on hands-on marketing, your book will likely languish.

Best of luck with your marketing efforts and let me know if you have any questions. In the mean time, I wish you only best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze
Author of the emerging novel, “Born to be Brothers.”

More Tips on How to Increase Blog Readership

In blogging, General Information, Marketing Your Book on January 4, 2010 at 8:23 am

My last post, (click here), offered basic secrets on how to increase the readership of your blog. In this post, I’ll add to those ideas. More ideas to consider include:

1. Blog regularly. We live in a world dominated by information and if your information comes in slow or infrequent drabs, readers will gravitate toward someone who offers them more.

2. Submit your blog to search engines. Not only should you submit to Google and Yahoo and the like, keep an eye out for niche search engines which are developing. I heard about a search engine that specializes in Arts and Crafts, for example.

3. Make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog via an RSS feed. This is a tool that allows those who have registered on your site to receive any updates to your blog. Though this sounds like something for the more technically proficient among us, it’s easier than you might think as most blogging sites have a fill-in-the-blank format for the rest of us.

4. Create a blogroll. A blogroll is simply a list of links to other sites. Many of those on your blogroll will reciprocate and link to your site, thus sending their readers to you. Of course, these links should be relevant to your topic. As you might suspect, it will do you little good to link to a sports site if your blog is about knitting.

5. Post on other blogs and list your blog as your web page if they ask for it. This helps with “searchability” of various search engines.

6. Allow comments on your blog and let them post whatever they like. Regardless their comments, respond to each one. Everyone likes to be acknowledged. This is so powerful I’ve actually had people comment on my commenting to their comment.

7. Allow readers to “Digg” or “Stumbleupon” or “Del.icio.us” your blog. And don’t forget sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These social networking bookmarks allow your readers to tag what they like which helps your post to infiltrate cyberspace.

8. Insure your blog is automatically posted at such sites as Facebook, Twitter and the like. If you can’t figure how to do this on your own, physically embed a link with each post. Again, any worthy word processor can do this by filling in the blanks.

9. Don’t get into too many advertisements. It’s called monetizing your site and it irritates people. Blogging is about information, not sales. If you are blogging to sell something, create a link from your blog to your sales site.

10. Promote your blog at every opportunity. Your business card, your email signature, your comments to other blogs, etc., are all opportunities to let others know about your site.

11. Give something away. Possibly the number one method of promoting your blog is to give away an eBook. Write an eBook on whatever topic your blog covers and offer it to readers for free. Insure it’s something useful to your readers and capture their email when you give it away. Of course, in your eBook, you’ll link to your blog, right?

12. Interact with your readers. Ask for their advice or input. You might have them name your new puppy or advise you as to which seminar is the most useful. (Here’s a chance to give away your eBook to the winner, right?) A great way to get people involved is to publish on current and controversial subject matter that relates to your blog’s subject matter. For example, if your blog topic is sports, you might ask if Tiger Woods really deserves what he’s experiencing. Find a way to insure they get involved. It takes creativity, but the payoff will be worth the effort.

13. Link to other blog posts. Within the body of your post, promote other bloggers by linking to their articles. They will appreciate your promotion of their work and may just do the same for you, thus sending more readers your way.

I do encourage further reading and study. As an example, on Twitter I follow @problogger to help me with my blog.

Best of luck with your blog and let me know if you have any questions.

Until I hear from you, I wish you only best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze

Tips on How to Build Blog Readership

In General Information, Marketing Your Book on December 17, 2009 at 9:34 am

A couple of readers asked if I might post an article about how to increase readership of a blog and today’s the day. There are a thousand things you might do to increase readership, but let’s focus on some basic ideas even those new to blogging can initiate.

Determine why you’re doing this. You’ll spend time, energy, forethought and effort. And it helps to know what is it you wish to gain for this endeavor? If you have no goal in mind, why even spend the time? In my case, I want people to recognize my name so when my book is published, I’ll have a market already established.

Determine your target audience. Once you’ve determined your goal, determine your target audience and make that target a restively small group – a niche. Don’t even try to have the world read your blog. They won’t do it. Instead, aim for a realistic number – a niche. A niche market is one interesting in a single subject. More than six billion readers are available to you and even the guy who focuses on the chemical makeup of the pecan shell can find a million followers. There will be plenty of people interested in what you have to say. Identify your market and shoot for it, ignoring everyone else. In my case, I want aspiring authors to read my articles so to gain a bit of notoriety within my industry.

A blog is not about you, it’s about them. After you’ve established your goal and audience, then you must determine what it is they wish to know. Focus your blog on what THEY want to know. A potential reader must immediately understand what is in it for them. Your articles must have some sort of value to the reader or they won’t take their time. Consider this, I write to writers. If my articles were about cooking, how many writers do you think I would attract? (Here’s a secret – they don’t want to know about you.)

Next, consider the design of your blog. When you look at my blog, it’s quite minimalistic, on purpose. In fact, the one of the most common compliments I receive is the easy to read design. You should design yours based on your audience. If your market is young, say in their teens, it should be flashy, with color and motion. An older crowd would prefer something more staid.

Make people aware of your site. Joining communities is one way to do this. In my case, writers use social networking. So, I followed my audience. I set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Scribd and Ning then mention my articles. If they find a title interesting to them, they’ll click through to my site and, with a bit of luck, tell others about it. Learn the social networking end of it first and you’ll be well on your way. Though there are a thousand ways to make people aware of your site, but they are outside the scope of this article.

Write well. If your writing looks amateurish, you’ll not be able to develop credibility with readers and they’ll move on.  You don’t have to master the skills of Tolstoy, but you should learn how to write with skill. The occasional typo won’t kill your blog, but too many will.

Allow your personality to show through in your blog. Some say you must have something unique to say. Not so. I’ll bet there aren’t a dozen blog with truly exclusive concepts. In lieu of being one-of-a-kind, be you. Your audience numbers in the billions so you’ll find plenty who appreciate how you say what you say. However, you should keep profanity and vulgarity to a minimum. It ain’t as cool as you think.

Okay, my friends, this is your primer on building blog readership. In later postings, I’ll get into some more detailed methodologies.

Until then, I wish you only best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze