by Anne R. Allen
uest posting on
blogs is a great marketing tool. The frenzy for blog tours seems to have quieted down a bit recently, but whether you’re launching a new title,
promoting an editorial service, or simply building platform, providing content for other people's blogs is still an effective way
to reach potential new readers or customers in a personal, interactive way--and hey, it's free!
For writers who aren't comfortable with keeping a blog of your own, it's also a fantastic way to get yourself known in the blogosphere.
If you’re currently
marketing a book, you've probably been urged to line up some guest blogging gigs.
If you’re with a big publisher, you may have a publicist who will book a blog tour for you.
Guest blogging can
be a lot of fun. You can meet fascinating new people and reach out to readers. I’m so grateful to the wonderful bloggers who have hosted me. I
didn’t know all the ropes at first myself, so have to admit I’ve learned some
of this stuff the embarrassing way.
Unfortunately, a lot
of the information on the Interwebz about guest posting isn’t specific to publishing/
writing blogs. You may hear that you should search for blogs that contain
certain keywords and mass query them—or only approach bloggers with a high
traffic ranking. This advice can end up wasting your time.
And, um, make you
look like a doofus.
You wouldn’t believe
how many emails I get like this: “Hello Blogger: I see your blog, ANNE R.
ALLEN’S BLOG has an Alexa rating under 150,000, and you once wrote a post on
topic X on ANNE R. ALLEN’S BLOG so I (or “my client”) would like to guest blog on
ANNE R. ALLEN’S BLOG next week. We’re offering this content free of charge, Blogger.”
Do I really have to explain why that gets our hackles up? The assumption is that we don’t have enough good
content of our own, we don't plan ahead, and we’ll take any old content out of the blue, sight unseen. And—try
a little Golden Rule stuff here, publicists—who do you know who likes to be
addressed as a generic nobody by some robot?
We want posts from people who are familiar with our blog and have something valuable to offer
you, our readers—not something to throw on Blogger so Ruth and I don’t have to
write a post this week. And because we only post four times a month, every piece has to be fresh, hooky, and content-rich enough to keep our audience coming back. We also book our guests way in advance so we can drum up interest in the visit.
Here are some tips
on how to avoid annoying the bloggers and get the most out of blog touring and guest-posting:
1) Don’t judge a blog by Alexa rating alone.
You’ll only get a small piece of the picture.
is a Web analytics company that rates websites globally according to traffic.
(You can download your own rating icon by going to Alexa.com.) Google rates a
1. Amazon has an 11. Ours hovers around 125K. Most author sites are in
if you’re an author with a southern vampire saga, a blog with a small
readership of Sookie Stackhouse fans can reach more actual readers than a major
blog that focuses on something like Action-SciFi or Christian romance. I learned
that on my own blog tour: the guest post that generated the most sales was for the
blog with the “worst” stats. But the readers were in exactly the right
demographic for my romantic comedy/thriller Food of
the other hand, if your own blog has an Alexa rating of 12 million, it’s not a
good idea to approach somebody with a much better rating—especially a stranger—and
expect them to welcome you with open arms. If you don’t have a blog following
of your own to bring to the table, you’ve got to have some spectacular content
2) Don’t expect a blogger to be impressed with
That isn’t going to impress a blogger any more than it would
impress the staff of the New Yorker
Most successful blogs have a very specific style and audience and not everybody
is going to be a good fit. Most author blogs are not monetized, so we’re ALL
working for free.
3) Don’t offer “content” that’s just an
Offer something of real value to
the reader. This is the #1 thing we run across in guest blog offers. If we
monetized, a small ad on a site like this would easily cost $25 or more per day.
Professional publicists know that, so when they breezily ask for what is
basically a free, week-long, full-page advertisement, it’s insulting.
Show that your content is up to the expectations of this
audience. Our blog is getting up to 80,000 hits per month, but one mediocre post
can permanently lose some of that audience for us. You’re asking us to take a
risk. Convince us you’re worth it.
5) Address the blogger by name.
if the blog is called “Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris” this shouldn’t
strain anybody’s brain cells.
6) Make requests by email, not Tweet or FB DM.
Those get lost and people can’t find you again. A quick pitch in the blog
comments is OK with me—as long as it’s on-topic—but be careful because not all
bloggers feel the same way. To me it shows you read the blog and engage with
other readers, so a dynamite (short) comment pitch might get a request for more info.
7) Um, VISIT THE BLOG!
Read a few posts
and comment. This should be no-brainer, but most of the people who query us don’t
seem to have a clue what the blog is about.
helps a lot if you’ve commented a few times, too.
NOTE: Commenting on blogs may actually be an
even more effective tool than guest posting—and it sure is easier. Social Media guru Bob Mayer said on his blog last week:
“One of the best networking tools is to go to
people’s blogs and leave cogent comments. People tend to read the
comments on their own blogs. If you make sense, you will get noticed.”
8) Conform to the blog’s tone.
is lighthearted and fun. Doom and gloom and a “boot camp” mentality will
totally annoy our readership. So will posts that tell them to spend a lot of
money on services they don’t need.
9) Don’t offer off-topic content.
because I once made a joke about airport security doesn’t mean we want to run a
blogpost on the evils of the TSA. The blog header says “Writing about writing.
Mostly.” If you don’t have content for
writers, you’re wasting your time.
10) Always follow the blogger’s guidelines.
Some bloggers are very kind and post them. Alex J. Cavanaugh has a great set of guidelines here
We don’t post ours, because with four posts a month, we take very few guests
and we don’t want to be swamped with offers we have to turn down. Make sure you
find out how soon they need the material (I like a long lead time, so I can
pimp the post.) Also find out what the word count needs to be. (This varies
widely, so always ask.)
11) Include pictures, bio and links and send your copy as an attachment.
Don't make the blogger look up your buy pages, or go to your website for your publicity package. Your copy should contain live links, and you should attach a .jpg of your book cover and your author photo. You can also include a
short blurb for your book, if you’re promoting one, but make it short and sweet. The blogger may not use your blurb, but it’s worth sending
one along. NOTE: It's best to send your copy in a Word.doc (Word 2003) not a .docx, since .docx files can be incompatible with a lot of programs.
12) Offer a giveaway of your book.
Not every blog does give-aways (we don't do them often) but it's common practice, so be prepared to offer one.
13) Plan to be available to respond to comments
And check in for several days after.
14) Promote the guest post on social media.
Tweet, FB, and link from your own blog. You want people to read it, right?
15) Remember to thank the blogger
in the comment thread or a follow-up email. They are giving you free advertising, so a little gratitude is in order.
The rules for queries are actually pretty much the same
whether you’re querying an agent, a reviewer, a blogger or a potential boss: find
out who the person is before you take up their time— then take up as little of
it as possible.
Personally, who am I most likely to invite to guest post? Somebody
who comments regularly and has interesting ideas, not just a product to sell.
Ruth and I love our guest bloggers and we’ve had some of
the best: The legendary Lawrence Block
, Golden Globe winner Terence Stamp
, Amazon #1 seller Catherine Ryan Hyde
, uberblogger Nathan Bransford
, Molly Greene
, Jami Gold
, Nina Badzin
, Samuel Park
, Janice Hardy
, Jeff Carlson
, Elizabeth S. Craig
, Roni Loren
, Kim Wright
, Michelle Davidson Argyle
, agents Danielle Smith
, Laurie McLean
and Pamela Van Hylckama Vlieg
, publisher Mark
—and of course NYT
(who was such a popular guest I wouldn’t let her leave) –thank you
Labels: Alex J. Cavanaugh, Alexa Ratings, Anne R. Allen, Blog tour, Bob Mayer, Guest blogging, how to blog, How to Query a Blogger, Ruth Harris