I read a blog this past week from an author who had some strong viewpoints on why authors should not blog for marketing of their books, but should only utilize social media for fun and the pure social aspect. I agreed with some of this author’s ideas on this subject but not everything.
I believe that authors should find a balance between using the social media networks for fun and for marketing. The author I mentioned claimed that your circle of friends will get tired of your incessant self-promotion. I agree with that; however, I find that if you share snippets of the daily journey in your writing career, most of your network of friends and family will be supportive and won’t mind. Of course, if you constantly try to “sell” your books online to your social network, that could get annoying. That’s why I wrote in a previous blog entry that you should utilize the social media networks but also spread your marketing over to other online forums etc.
This author also wrote that you should focus on writing your next book and leave the marketing up to your publisher. Well, not every new or mid-list writer has the luxury of being signed with a big publisher who can push their authors’ works. Many writers need to do a lot of their own marketing. Remember, you are your biggest fan and if you don’t market your book, you’re not going to be successful.
This author wrote that your book will succeed on word of mouth of your readers. Well, that’s great and I truly believe that; however, you may have the best book in the world but if no one knows about it, how will anyone read it and thus spread the word. So, for many new authors, they need to latch onto this new phenomenon of social media networking and online marketing and utilize it to their own advantage.
Blogging is great, as long as you keep in mind that you need to be informative in your information you are giving out and don’t brag on yourself all the time. Keep using online marketing, but find the balance and always have fun while you’re marketing your book.
Blogging can become a chore if you run out of viable content for your blog—remember, content is key, and is a major factor in drawing readers back to your blog…as well as bringing new readers your way. So what do you do when you run out of ideas to keep your blog alive and healthy?
What’s the first action step—back up and try to give your blog a neutral review. Ask a trusted author friend for his or her opinion as well. Are there any aspects of your blog that seem to be working? How’s your traffic flow? If you don’t have a statistics tracker, you should get one. Many are free. You can have the stats show up on your blog sidebar or only be visible to yourself. My stats widget is visible, but you need to figure out what you’d like to do. Are there aspects of your blog that are not working? Don’t forget to hone down your projected audience--who are you writing for? Anyone…authors…readers…both…new writers? If you don’t have a “theme” for your blog, it’s not the end of the world, but it will hinder the growth of readership for your blog. Of all the successful blogs online, they have one thing in common—they have a THEME and KNOW their AUDIENCE. Do you?
Once you figure out what’s working and what isn’t, then you can get to work on planning the fix. If you need more traffic, evaluate what type of content you are posting. Are you blogging every day or at least a few days each week? Do you have guest authors on your blog? If all you write about are your daily activities as a writer that may not be a good draw to your blog—unless of course, you’re a NY Times Best-Selling author. Before you get there to that level of success—where people mostly love everything you say (ok, maybe not really, but hey…)—you need to pay your dues and do your time. Work hard to make your blog a venue where readers want to visit.
How is your record of responding to readers and interacting online with them? If readers come to your blog each day and comment and you don’t respond to those comments until days and even weeks later, that’s not so good. It’s not paving the way to good reader relations. Yes, I have a day job too so I know it’s not always easy to respond to reader comments. I do work from home, so I have more freedom than other authors who still work full-time for an employer in an office building—I totally understand time constraints on authors. However, try your best to be responsive to readers.
One other draw that I utilize at my blog is to offer giveaways. Now, this is not an expense to me because the majority of the giveaways are from other guest authors. It’s not a requirement to do a giveaway in order to get a guest spot on my blog—however; most authors see this as a big traffic draw and do offer giveaways.
Make sure that you also guest on other blogs as much as possible. When you guest on other blogs, you have a chance to—not only feature your books—you have a great opportunity to showcase your writing talent by what you write in your post or how you answer interview questions. Another benefit is that you can list your links and hopefully another readership will be introduced to you and be driven back to your blog. Once those new readers get there, you need to keep them coming back.
If you can’t think of content to write, and if you can’t find too many guest authors, can you read and review books? Authors are always looking for places to send their books for review. You can post those reviews each month. Depending on your available time, you can post a few reviews each month. I usually post two each month, because I don’t have time to read more than two books each month. If you decide to write reviews, make sure you actually read the entire book and give an honest review. I give a score of one through five, but only post reviews with a score of three or higher. I want to post reviews, but it’s not my goal to give authors bad reviews to hurt their careers.
If you need some topics to blog about, here are some ideas:
Share your experience towards publication
If something is working on your blog, share it
What struggles have you encountered along the way towards publication and after
Do you have any great marketing strategies for book promotion?
Share how to write a good book review and what’s involved
Share an excerpt of your current book release
Ask readers to comment on what they’d like to know from authors and be available to respond to questions during the day
I’d love to hear your thoughts on blogging. What have you done on your blog? What’s worked and what hasn’t?
In accordance with FTC Guidelines for blogging & endorsements, I want to post this disclaimer. From time to time, I do purchase and review some novels. However, most of the novels I review are given to me as a complimentary review copy by the author or publisher. I do not receive monetary compensation for the reviews I complete.