Three years ago, I was stuck writing my first book and was chatting to a friend about how to get published. She’s worked as an editor at some major publishing houses in Australia. She said, “Start a blog.” I said, “Huh?”
A few weeks later, a blog title came to me — “Out of print writing” — so I created a blogspot account and wrote my first post, followed by a number of unfocused and uninspiring posts. I wrote about rejection letters, putting myself on Twitter and Authonomy, about an article I was trying to submit to the inflight Qantas magazine about Commie leaders lying in state. It was all horrible and I cringe to even think about most of them–but, somehow, I started getting some reads. I discovered if I put stuff out there, people may discover it and read it. My blog actually helped with my writing. I finally abandoned that book I’d been stuck on for 8 years, and moved onto something new.
My blog is constantly evolving, and I’m always learning how to make it better. The beauty is that I can change it when I need to. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned over the last three years about writing an author’s blog …
How To Blog For Authors And Writers: Build A Platform & Start Blogging
1) Write about what interests you, about your own personal journey–but also find something unique that will interest other people.
Who is your audience? Who are you writing for? Is it potential readers or other writers? My blog has always been for other writers, so I’ve focussed on things like small publishers around the world and new digital publishing platforms. Lately, since I’ve self-published a book and a few of my books have been picked up by small presses, I’m now blogging about book promotion. My blog is tracking my own journey and my interests change as my situation changes.
2) Be mindful of the presentation of your blog.
It’s your precious real estate to promote the best things about you. For a long time I’d littered sidebars with Twitter, YouTube and Goodreads widgets. I thought it was a great idea to show people where else they could find my precious content – but it looked like a dog’s breakfast. Rather than sending people to other sites, where they’re likely to start playing with other people’s content, I’m now trying to keep people in my web, looking at my content. My sidebars now feature my top posts to keep them on my site reading and a subscribe to my blog by email tool – so I can maintain contact in the future.
3) In terms of design, often less is more.
4) Write in a positive way.
I can’t stand reading a blog post that is negative or whingey. As Margaret Atwood said: “Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.”
5) Always be flexible.
Change your blog as you need to. Recently I discovered the “jump break” function that puts a paragraph to preview on the main page and people have to click on ‘read more’ to read the rest of the post. This saves people scrolling through slabs and slabs of text to find something interesting. It also helps track what posts are more popular.
6) Connect to Google+.
I recently connected my blog to Google+ and this has increased my ranking in Google searches.
7) Think about your blog’s navigation and what information people will want to see easily.
Have the “About me” and “Contact” links in a really easy to find place. Think about top and side navigation bars.
8) Bring others into the process.
It’s hard coming up with fresh content all the time, so consider interviewing other writers or people in the industry, or asking them to write a guest post. Be selective in who you ask and make sure whoever you approach is someone that you want to align yourself with. It’s interesting how many people will say yes to contributing to your blog–so don’t be afraid to ask! It’s also a great way to connect with other writers and people in the literary world.
9) Be organised about your blogging.
I used to email people Q&A questions and just post them when I received them back. Sometimes I’d do three in one week, sometimes nothing for four weeks. I now try to post on a Wednesday and I plan a few weeks ahead with my posts. I let people know what date I’ve scheduled their post for – so expectations are clear.
10) Write an introduction for each of your posts.
Why did you decide to interview this person? Why are they relevant to what you are doing? An introduction is a good chance to market yourself. It also presents better if you’re syndicating your posts to other sites where they show a preview paragraph.
11) Treat your blog posts as you would treat any of your other writing.
Draft a post, sit on it for a day or two, then revisit it. Edit it, delete anything clumsy, embarassing or plain boring.
12) Promote your blog posts.
Don’t expect Google to just pick them up. Tweet about them 5-10 times in a week at different hours, syndicate your posts to Goodreads and Google+, post on Facebook and anywhere else to help spread the word.
Rowena Wiseman writes contemporary fiction and children’s stories. Her novel Exit Stage Left will be published by Merge Publishing late 2014. Jet Black Publishing will be publishing two of her children’s book series, Aunty Arty and Astro Circus Kids, in 2014/2015. Her novel Searching for Von Honningsbergs was longlisted for the 2007 Australian Vogel Award and is published on Screwpulp. Her blog, Out of print writing, for writers trying to get published, was selected for the National Library of Australia’s archive program PANDORA. Connect with her online at Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Wattpad.