books with Athena

books with Athena

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Top 10 Self-Sabotaging Mistakes of Author-Bloggers


Aspiring writers are told we should all be blogging. If you're willing to make the commitment, I do think it's the best way to start building platform and getting your name out there.

If you have no Web presence, agents, reviewers and readers are a lot less likely to take you seriously.  The quickest, cheapest, and most reliable way to get that presence is to blog.

Before I started blogging, if you Googled my name, you'd find no mention of me until maybe page five. (I strongly suggest all authors Google themselves regularly to see what's happening to your name. It's not vain; it's more like checking in the mirror to see if there's any spinach on your teeth.)  These days,If you Google "Anne R. Allen" you have to go the bottom of page 12 before you find an entry for somebody else. (Carrie-Anne R. Allen, I apologize.) Almost all those entries relate to my blog.

So blogging does work. Not as a direct sales tool, but as a way of building platform.

But you have to do it right.

That means you need to keep your goal in mind.  If you are blogging to make a name for yourself as an author, then please, people, tell us what it is! I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but there are so many writers hiding behind cutsie monikers, I assume they're following somebody's bad advice. Don't listen to it!  If you want to become a professional writer, DO NOT bop around the Interwebz pretending to be one of your characters, an anonymous pundit, or your dog.

Unless you're planning to publish your books under the pen name "Fido" or "Anonymous Snarkisaurus" you're going to be wasting your time.

On the other hand, if your real name is Marilyn Manson or Stephen King, choose yourself a good pseudonym NOW and blog with that name. Otherwise everything you do online is going to be promoting Mr. Manson or Mr. King and not you.

Here are some of the other ways I see new authors sabotaging themselves:

#1 NO BIO 

Post a full ABOUT ME PAGE on the blog with a nice peppy bio and a good photo of yourself. Need help in writing your bio?  Read my post on how to write an author bio here.

And for goodness' sake, put your name prominently on the blog, preferably in the header. I’ve visited writing blogs where I can’t even find the author’s name mentioned.

Do NOT expect people to know that “Scribblings on Sand” is written by Susie S. Sands, paranormal romance author. You're blogging to promote yourself as an author--not beach scribbling. So give the Google spiders a fighting chance at finding you.

When people want a Stephen King novel, they don't Google "horror novels set in Maine,"or "scary clowns." They Google his name.

Make your own name Googleable. That's the whole point.

REMEMBER: YOUR NAME IS YOUR BRAND!!!

#2 NO CONTACT INFO

I’d say at least 75% of writers do this. You don’t know how much time I’ve wasted combing blogs for your email address so I can contact you to ask a question about your blog, ask you to guest blog, or ask you to participate in something that might help you with book promotion.

Opportunity knocked and nobody was home.

There is no point in blogging if people can’t reach you!! If you want to be anonymous, write in your basement with a kerosene lamp and a #2 pencil. Nothing wrong with that. But if you want to be taken seriously as a professional author in the 21st century, offer your professional contact  information.

The best place for your contact information is on your “ABOUT ME” PAGE.

#3 NO INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR BOOKS

Have books for sale? Tell us about them. List each book, give a synopsis, some review quotes and links so we can buy them. Your blog shouldn’t be one non-stop sales pitch for your books, but don’t go overboard the other way and neglect to mention them at all. Even if you have a separate website, you want to mention your books on your blog, too.

Contemporary consumers want things to be easy. This is why Amazon is so successful as a retailer. The one-click purchase is genius. So make it as easy as possible for people to buy your books.

I suggest all published authors have  a book page on your blog or a link to your website's book page.  If you want examples of book pages here's Ruth's Book Page and mine.

#4 TOO MANY BLOGS

How many is too many? For most writers, two is too many, because you end up neglecting one or the other 50% of the time. As Kristen Lamb says : "When do writers need multiple blogs? Um, never."

Unless you write erotica or extreme political stuff that’s not suitable for all readers, put all the stuff on one blog. Don’t make your readers jump through hoops to find your author blog.

If you want to blog about recipes AND zombies AND collecting floaty pens, use your pages. Blogger has 20 of them. Until you fill them all up, you do not need a second blog.

If you write books under different names, have a page for each. Ruth Harris and I share a blog. We don’t even write in the same genre. I write rom-com mysteries and she writes womens’ fiction and thrillers. But we are able to co-habit. We have a page for Ruth’s books and a page for Anne’s. We also have an About Ruth page and an About Anne page. And we still leave much of the blog unused.

If you write SciFi under the name Brad Goodyear and sweet romance under the name Beryl Goodwife, find a neutral color scheme and let Brad and Beryl share. Everybody who is trying to find you will be grateful.

#5 NOT LINKING YOUR BLOG TO YOUR WEBSITE AND OTHER PUBLISHED WORK

I don’t think most new authors actually need a separate website. If you have a professional-looking blog, it can provide all the information the media, publishers, agents and readers need. That way they don’t have to jump through extra hoops. Every time you make the reader click through to another site, you lose a goodly percentage of them.

I know not all people agree with me, but this is what I see when an author has a website as well as a blog:  “Look, I have a fancy, expensive website. It duplicates all the information on my blog, but hey, I spent money on it so I’m a REAL writer.”

So Ruth Harris and I aren’t real writers? Neither is Nathan Bransford?

But if you do have both, for goodness' sake put a link prominently on both sites. It is amazing how many times I've read a blogpost and come to the end and discovered there's no way to find out anything about the person who wrote it except to leave the blog and Google the author's name. How many people are going to do that?

This is also true of your published work. Have you guest posted on other blogs? Give us a link. Have you published short stories, essays, or done interviews for online zines? Let us know. Don't make us go on a scavenger hunt to find out who you are.

#6 MAKING COMMENTING DIFFICULT

Moderating comments on new posts is a big barrier to commenters. So is the CAPTCHA (that word verification thing that proves you’re not a robot.)

Yes, when you’re well established, you may get a lot of trolls and spambots and have to turn on CAPTCHA and moderate more closely, but until you do, make it as easy as possible for people to comment. The CAPTCHA these days is often so difficult it can take 5 or 6 tries to get it right. Guess how many people are going to stick around that long? Three tries is my limit, people, no matter how good your post is.

I realize most new bloggers don’t even know the CAPTCHA is there, and you should be warned that even after you turn it off, the Blogger elves may turn it back on.  So if your comments start falling off, ask a good friend to check for you to see if that sneaky CAPTCHA is back on your blog.

In Blogger, the place to turn off the CAPTCHA is in the “privacy” menu on the dashboard.

We're popular enough that we get a lot of spammers here, but I still have the CAPTCHA disabled and delete the spam by hand. Yes, it's a bit time consuming—but it's consuming MY time, not my readers'.  I think that's one of the reasons people keep coming back.

#7 MESSY, CROWDED, UNREADABLE BLOGS

I usually won’t read a blog that’s “monetized” with a lot of flashy ads. Unless the content is spectacular and unique, it’s not worth the annoyance. And if you’re not making any money from it, why crowd your blog with a lot of detritus? Don't use loud, quarreling colors or lots of flashy graphics.

Also note that many of your readers, especially those of us over forty, find a light font on a dark background difficult to read.

(I am so grateful to my readers who pointed out that a too-light color for the links is an annoyance too. You can change the colors and fonts in the "advanced" section of your design template. I discovered it's pretty easy, and if you don't like it, you can change it back to the default design.)

Yes, I know Blogger offers that cool Goth-looking template, but realize that a dark blog with light lettering will drive away a good deal of your possible audience.

# 8 SLOW LOAD TIME

Yeah, that video of your cat trying to kill the garden hose may be really cute--but if it takes so long to load that you lose ¾ of your visitors before they read your content, it’s not going to be building platform for you.

If you're a writer, you want to showcase your writing, not your video-making skills.

Any kind of animation slows your load time. People like me who check out dozens of blogs a day are out of there before we can see all your cute stuff.  I used to follow one writer’s blog regularly. He had great things to say. I’m sure he still does, but when he added animation, I had to drop him. We are all pressed for time.

Also, it’s good to be aware that Alexa rates blogs by loading time as well as number of hits.

#9 NOT BLOGGING TO A SCHEDULE

When people come back looking for a new post and don’t find one for a month, they’ll write it off as a dead blog.

But if you put a notice “Updated monthly” you eliminate the problem. You now have a schedule.

As most of you know, I advocate Slow Blogging (once a week or less: quality over quantity.) But of course daily blogs get popular faster and attract the Google spiders, so if you want to blog three days a week or more, go for it—just make sure you love blogging enough to make a long-term commitment to keep to that schedule.

The problem arises when you blog every day for a month, then leave the blog hanging for three. People stop coming back. But if you say initially that you’re going to blog once a week, nobody will be disappointed.

“No, No!” you say, raising hand to feverish forehead. “I’m not the kind of person who can be chained to an arbitrary schedule. I’m CREATIVE!”

Yeah, yeah, so are the rest of us.  Write the posts when your blogmuse is in residence, and save up the posts to post on a schedule.

#10 NO TWITTER HANDLE ON YOUR BLOG

Don’t make people click through your tweety bird icon to go to Twitter and find it out. It should be right there on the page. In fact, we should all get in the habit of posting our Twitter handle along with our byline so people can tweet the post and give us credit for it. Porter Anderson wrote a great piece for Rachelle Gardner on the subject that’s a must-read.


Do I say all authors should blog? No. Some authors aren't suited to it. Writing a nonfiction piece every week can be tedious, especially when you're in the middle of writing a novel. Some people can't come up with enough ideas, or they're not quite sure what their genre or author "brand" is going to be.

That doesn't have to keep you from participating in the blogosphere. You can build a simple website landing page as your home base (which makes you searchable) and comment on other people's blogs. (Wix offers a simple free website that looks easy to use and Google-friendly.) Commenting on popular blogs is a great way to get your name known in the blogging community.

But that means you want to comment under your OWN NAME. I'm going to say it one more time: YOUR NAME IS YOUR BRAND. Anything you do on social media needs to be branded with whatever name you write under, or you might as well be in that basement with the kerosene lamp.

What about you, scriveners? What annoys you about author blogs? Do you blog under your own name? Do you have your name in your blog header? Do you think CAPTCHA is offensive to the robot community? Is your real name Marilyn Manson?

Attention Email Subscribers! Feedburner has apparently had a meltdown and is no longer sending emails to many people subscribed to this blog. This seems to be happening all over the blogosphere. Many bloggers are switching to other email programs, but since I'm a cybermoron, it's going to take time, sweat and copious tears to figure out how to switch to MailChimp  (Plus I'd lose the subscribers who ARE still getting emails. It does work some of the time.) So if you'd like to get notifications of new blogposts, and Feedburner has let you down, just send me an email at annerallen at yahoo dot com. I will put you on my list of personal blogfriends and send you a notice when the Sunday blogpost is up. (I promise not to spam you with anything else.)

131 comments:

  1. Excellent checklist, Anne! I'm glad I set my blog up with my name as both the title and the address from the very beginning. (And it does serve as my website.)
    I am an A to Z co-host, so that blog is listed as mine. I think people can figure out which one is mine though. And I'm only blogging on the A to Z blog twice a month, since there are ten hosts.
    I will add my actual Twitter handle though!

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  2. Def. a must-see checklist. I've read enough of these kinds of posts that I've avoided most of these mistakes. :)

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  3. Smart & informative as always, Anne.

    As you know, I've gone in the KISS direction with a blog for readers & writers intended to amuse & inform. And very specifically to keep writers' muses well fed & their creativity sparking on all cylinders.

    What I do there is nothing like what I do here. Which I trust is a Good Thing. ;-)

    We're talking links without much (hardly any) BS from me. You'll find the Ruth Harris Blog here:

    http://ruthharrisblog.blogspot.com/

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  4. Great list Anne!

    I wish I had this when I started, especially regarding (a) too many blogs and (b) scheduled posts.

    Thanks for the great post :)

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  5. I've been blogging for almost a year. I'm not a blogger that has anything to say, I just post things for readers to read and that is it. Right now I have a paranormal romance story going and it seems to have a following although a small following but they keep coming back. They never make any comments. Maybe that's because I don't say anything.

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  6. Alex--Thanks! I'll add you to my list of successful authors who use their blog as their website. I should have made a note that a joint blog is different. Posting regularly on a large, popular blog as well as your own personal one is helpful for driving traffic to your site.

    Laura--It's true that a lot of us hammer on about this stuff, but it's amazing how many bloggers don't see them or ignore them.

    Ruth--I see your personal blog as a supplement to this one. And since you have all your info on both, you don't make readers jump through too many hoops :-)

    Emily--Great to hear from you. Your ears may have been burning last night. Danielle Smith and I were talking about meeting on your Writers Chronicles forum and your blog many years ago and how we were so surprised to find out we live in the same town in CA.I thought she was Irish like you for some reason. Your forum was very ambitious, but it did help a lot of writers and bloggers to connect.

    Vera--There are so many different kinds of blog and reasons for blogging. As you know, I'm not a fan of posting fiction because most blog readers tend to skim and read for information only.(I know an author who posted a couple of free short stories on her blog and they got no hits, but when she put them on Amazon and sold them for 99 cents, she sold thousands--go figure.)

    If you've got an audience reading fiction on your blog, and it's not something you intend to publish with a traditional publisher, there's nothing wrong with it. Maybe you'd like to alternate with some more information-oriented nonfiction, to draw in new readers.

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  7. On my blog I write about writing and publishing, and it's really for other writers. My website is a resource for my readers, I hope.

    Re Google, I made up the name 'Revellian' when I started to write, so I'd come up first in a search. This worked, once they stopped asking if you meant 'rebellion'.

    Totally agree about word verification. Most bloggers' problem is not spam, but lack of comments. I don't allow anonymous comments, which most spam is.

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  8. Thanks for the tips Anne! I've googled myself already, and the top and third entry are my blog, and the collaborative book of our upcoming project . . . admittedly I don't have much else as a platform (Twitter is blocked at school, for example), but I like to think it's your tips that helped! I certainly got rid of CAPTCHA on your advice :)

    Keep being awesome - these posts are fast becoming my writerly bible!

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  9. Great post, Anne! As usual. I Googled myself and was shocked to see that my name (and every article and blog post I've ever written) ran clear through page 20. A couple of other Sandy Nathans showed up on those pages, but very few. I was surprised at how much Google picks up. Everything.

    I did all right most of the items on your checklist, but not all. I also have four blogs. Why? One blog is for writers (YourShelfLife.com), one my personal blog. I used it for stuff I feel like sounding off about. I've got one blog each for my two book series.

    Does this work? No. The writers' blog and my personal blog get the traffic. The others are sad orphans. They are beautiful, though. Wordpress has gorgeous free themes. I got hooked by them and set up the blogs. The blogs do reflect the series' feeling and I can post news there.

    I'll be using your post to rethink my web presence in the coming days. That Wix website idea seems very good. I've had my website (and yes, it's sandynathan.com, my brand) for years. It's required a financial input, and I can't update it myself. Almost makes me wish I was starting over!

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  10. I'd like to add one caveat - there can be multiple reasons for your blog being in another name than your author name. Beginning writers might be tempted to put their name in neon on their covers, but I think more people know the name Jack Reacher than Lee Child. So you might want to feature the name of your main character prominently. Or, as in my case, you write a series like the Amsterdam Assassin Series, which is not only a series about an assassin in the Dutch capital, but also easier to get hits, both for people looking for the Amsterdam Assassin Series [Instead of looking for Martyn V. Halm], as well as people googling 'Amsterdam' or 'Assassin' or even 'Series'.

    The rest of the advice is solid and practical, kudos!

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  11. Lexi--I didn't know "Revellian" was your own invention, but it's a great name :-) Definitely having a unique name helps. I have the opposite. "Anne Allen" is even more common than "John Smith." When an author reaches your level of success, a separate website is standard, and I understand you wanting a separate site for fans, but I'll bet they'd be interested in your writing process, too.

    Charley--You have a special set of obstacles in building platform when you're in boarding school (I think the military blocks some social networking sites for servicemen,too) but having an accessible blog helps.

    Sandy-It sounds as if you've got a great platform. Is there any way you could integrate your book blogs into one of your other sites? That might make things more welcoming to the reader. I don't know anybody who uses Wix, but it looked so easy and user-friendly, I started rethinking my "one site" rule myownself.

    Amsterdam--If you're sure you're never going to write another series, then it might make sense to brand your series name instead of your own. But I'm not sure that Jack Reacher is better known than Lee Child, any more than Miss Marple is better known than Agatha Christie. It's great when your character becomes a household name, but most writers have more than one series in them, so marketing your name as your brand instead of your series makes more sense for most authors.

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  12. Well, duh. Because of this I made the connection that my blog, which I started before I self-published, is one of those where you can't contact me directly, not even through Twitter. I promise to change that. And put my name in the title and get my own domain name and merge by blog into my website. I do think my head will explode. But, I said the same thing as I prepared to publish. New learning and web adventures ahead!

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  13. Anne - wow! Yeah, I'm great for starting these projects but then I always take on too much - need to learn to streamline lol. Really glad you two connected, that's crazy that you're from the same place :) Just shows you what small world we live in!

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  14. You wrote:
    "Amsterdam--If you're sure you're never going to write another series, then it might make sense to brand your series name instead of your own."

    A) I'm an unknown writer right now, so I have a better chance at finding readers by making sure people find my blog by googling 'Amsterdam' than by googling 'Martyn V. Halm'.

    B) For now, the Amsterdam Assassin Series will be three novels and ten KillFiles [short stories], so by the time I intend to switch to writing books/stories outside the AAS, I will be a few years further along and, hey, I might attract readers who didn't google Amsterdam or Katla, but even then, 'By the author who brought you the Amsterdam Assassin Series' sounds good to me too.

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  15. Teresa--I'm not saying you can't have a blog AND a website, and most authors do, so you might be able to keep both as long as they're linked and you put all your info on both. Then just change the header so it says "Teresa Munroe's What's Write..."

    Emily--You're one of those people a friend describes as "having ideas that are too big for your head." Grand ideas that would make you go nuts if you tried to do them all. Still, those ideas are great. Maybe some day you'll be able to visit Danielle and me here in CA.

    Martyn--I just checked out your blog and actually, you're doing it just right. That's because you've got your "About" front and center and your name is all over the place. At some point, you can put "Martyn V. Halm's Amsterdam..." or something like that on the header. The url can stay the same. I lived in Amsterdam for a couple of years and the whole look of your blog takes me back there--so you're selling the city as much s your work. Very smart. I could learn from you :-) I'm going to check out your books.

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  16. GREAT post! I've been looking at several author blogs for the last 6+ months, and it's been a learning experience. Good lessons on what to do, and what NOT to do. Three things that drive me crazy: No author name on the blog, no contact info, and weird colors/graphics that look out of place and hurt my eyes. I like simple and clean. And easy to find contact info!

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  17. Sometimes it takes writers awhile to learn these things, but thanks for the education program Anne. Oh those Captcha codes. Pet hate. I only give it 2 goes. Thanks for the links also.

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  18. Terrific to meet you this weekend! As I commented then, you and Catherine Ryan Hyde teamed to provide quite an insightful seminar... THANK YOU! I found your advice intriguing and valuable.

    I plan to keep in touch. Please so the same.

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  19. A great checklist, Anne.

    Making commenting difficult seems a very common occurrence with blogger, which seems determined to make readers jump through hoops for the privilege.

    Ruth and Lexi - I read both your blogs regularly but neither will let me comment. The so-called Open ID options tell me my two-year old Wordpress ID does not belong to me.

    Same problem with most blogger accounts, including Anne's blog, but I can get round that here because Anne also has an option "Name/URL".

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  21. Excellent post!

    I can't believe the amount of blogs I go to that have no way to contact the author, or no bio, or bio at the bottom of the page, etc...

    And I'm a CAPTCHA-free blog crusader. I even have blog buttons offered on my blog to those who want to advertise it.

    I'll be tweeting this!

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  23. Lots of good advice. I finally gave in and redirected by blog to my website address. Also added a 'book' page, but need to organize that properly.

    With little to make visits to other bloggers, it's important to have a hub. My blog does that. I did notice that Feedburner had gone dead. Had to create a new feed to get my posts active again.

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  24. Handy--It's amazing how many authors don't tell you who they are isn't it? I think it's because we tend to be shy and are afraid of tooting our own horns.

    Denise--We see what others are doing and figure that's the best way. So many bloggers were anonymous in the first days of web-logging, we jumped in and did the same thing. I remember when I only knew you as "L'Aussie."

    Deborah--Thanks so much for introducing yourself and for being an enthusiastic member of that class. (I think a lot of them had post-lunch let-down. That conference needed more caffeine.) Great to meet you.

    Mark--It's true that Blogger/Google makes it difficult for non members to comment. I wish we had some control over it, but we don't. If you set up Google+ profile, then they'll be nice to you. I think it might be worth the few minutes it takes to join. I have a Wordpress profile and a Google profile so they'll let me comment on both platforms.

    Melissa--LOVE your anti-Captcha button with the rubber ducks. Can anybody snag one?

    J.L. You're right: "Hub" is the operative word. Some authors use their web page as their hub and others use a blog. Just make sure they're all linked.

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  25. Great post Anne. It was your blog that inspired me to start my own. One more I would add to your list is, not linking to other writers. I wrote a post the other day referencing an idea by American author, Les Edgerton, he came over and commented on my post and it was great to get his input, and my per hour reads shot through the roof. I am wordpress - I will have to check my settings on there to make sure I don't have captcha on, it drives me mad. Juliet O'Callaghan

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  26. Thanks. As always you put things into perspective. For lots of reasons, I am currently fairly inactive, but some time back you left me a comment that dissuaded me from quitting altogether. I have been grateful ever since.

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  27. Anne, thank you so much for posting this up. Your checklist is a must read to all authors and bloggers. I shall certainly be subscribing to hear more. I've just started out on my blogging journey and so far I'm finding it quite rewarding - I've met some very interesting and inspirational people on the way.

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  28. I was afraid to read this list and discover all the things I'm doing wrong, but alas, I'm not making any of these mistakes. Phew! Great list. I'll pass it on to my blogging students.

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  29. JUE--I'm so glad to hear I inspired you! Very good tip about linkage. Links are how the Google spiders find you, so links are gold. Don't be afraid you're sending people away from your blog. What you get back is worth much more.

    Judith--I'm so glad I kept you from quitting blogging. I love your blog. Do keep it up with a hiatus notice. Much better than letting it hang there or killing it off. Starting from scratch means you lose all the search engine stuff you worked for.

    Claire--Welcome to the blogosphere. It's all about meeting people, isn't it? Social media is social! :-)

    Meghan--I certainly wouldn't expect to find newbie mistakes like this on your awesome blog. I learned a lot of what I know about blogging from YOU.

    Kathleen--So great to hear from you! I'm going right now to check out the changes.

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  30. Great list, Anne! About a year and a half ago, I changed my blog's name to my name. I post bi-weekly but will now give that info on my sidebar. Thanks! I don't do FB because I don't like FB. Period. Twitter started off great, then I started getting nasty DM's from some weirdo handle that flat wouldn't stop so have pretty much backed off. Anyway, I can't write and work the social networks 24/7. There's got to be some kind of life so I can write.

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  31. Thanks once more for a great blog. I seem to be doing what I should but I really appreciate the reminder to keep doing it.

    So glad your blog nudged me to lose the CAPTCHA.

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  33. Great advice and sensible too! I also am glad I'm not doing it all wrong. Though I do need to get on a schedule. Urgh!

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  34. Kittie--Your blog's new look is great. I'm so with you on Facebook. I feel like I have to be there, but I hate it. Yesterday I spent hours trying to figure out how to get a guy to take down a page where he pretended to be me. The instructions in "help" told me to use a drop-down menu that didn't exist. Arrggghh. I ended up having to report him for porn. How stupid is that?

    Maggie--Congrats on going CAPTCHA-free!

    Amelia--The schedule thing seems hard at first, but if you plan an overall schedule for your writing, you usually end up getting more done on all your projects.

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  35. Debra Eve--You left this comment, but the spamblocker decided to eat it. NO idea why this happens. They have no problem letting in spammers from India, but they're blocking blogfriends who have commented many times before. So strange.

    Debra Eve/Later Bloomer:
    "I blogged under a cutesie moniker for over a year! Google is also cumulative -- the longer your name is in the system, the higher you rank. What a waste of time and effort. I just implemented Porter's excellent advice. Thanks for the great tips, Anne!"

    Debra--I'm so glad you're letting your own name shine out there! And you're so right that time is an important factor. That's why it's best to change the name in your header, but not your url if you started out with a different blog name. And Porter is so right about Twitter handles.

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  36. Thanks for the reminder, Anne. I've been meaning to put my email on my author blog for ages. Finally did it today - thnx to your post. Now I've got figure out how to turn off the CAPTCHA on WordPress - or rather first see if it's there. I DO get spam though. Won't the spam filters continue to pick that up? Or, if I have spam filters, then I don't have CAPTCHA? So much to learn...

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  37. Sandra--I just checked and you don't have CAPTCHA. Yay! And yes, spam filters work just fine without word verification. You don't need both, IMO.

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  38. Some great points about web presence, Anne! And CAPTCHA is super-annoying (though I do use it on my contact form, just not on blog comments).

    What-all irks me about author blogs would never fit in a single comment, but I think one thing authors need to start grasping is that a blog is a site is a blog is a site...in the web 2.0 world, you should never be trying to maintain these as separate entities. There's just no reason for it. It's all just "a web site constructed with a content management system that has the option of a page with dynamic posts".

    Gussy up your Blogspot with static pages or put a blog page on your Wordpress or Joomla site or whichever, but why do both and make readers hop from one to another when every click is a potential place to lose their interest? And I say this as somebody who has offered (more than once) to charge a client LESS to revamp their blogspot and add pages instead of doing a separate new site, and been turned down (i.e., they opt to pay me considerably more, and end up maintaining a new site separate from and in addition to the existing blog) because they simply can't envision their new "site" overlapping with their old "blog". Even if I explain that with private hosting nobody would even need to know it's Blogger. SIGH.

    /rant

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  39. Well, thanks to this post, and since the comment I made above, I've bought a domain name and set up a website/blog at Wordpress. I've spent a lot of time lately learning all that, selecting a theme and trying to set it up so it looks sort of professional. Still a long way to go before I officially launch it. Any opinion on have both my writer's blog and personal blog on the same site but on different pages? My old blog held both content. The intent of this new website is for my writing and book promotion.

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  40. I'm still new to the whole blogging thing, but the posts on your blog have certainly given me food for thought - thanks!

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  41. Delphine--Thank you!! So many indies think they need a "professional website" as well as a blog in order to be "real authors", but here you are--a trad pubbed author--supporting my advice: One site is plenty, people! And as you say "a blog is a site is a blog is a site...in the web 2.0 world, you should never be trying to maintain these as separate entities."

    Teresa--Congrats! I think Delphine answers your question above. And BTW, she writes erotica and steampunk and maintains the one blog for both.

    Annette--I'm glad I can help. Take your time and learn all you need to know before you jump in. I don't want to make anybody feel pressured. Best to do it right the first time.

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  42. Dear, oh dear. I have three websites and five "active" blogs. (A few more inactive or private.) Perhaps I'm addicted. Or, maybe, it's a clever plot to spread my presence across the tubes so that I am simply unavoidable.

    I'm linked back and forth and back again, but I'll go link some more after reading your advice...

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  43. The most annoying thing on an author's website, for me, is definitely the CAPTCHA code. Blogger, especially, has made it really hard to read. I often give up.

    The second most annoying? Not enough contrast between background and text...I just can't read those blogs.

    Thanks for this post. It makes a LOT of sense.

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  44. Great Blog again Anne!
    I removed captcha for about 6 months and got no comments at all...except spam....then I put it back and got comments so don't know what is going on there...hehehe It's probably because i do a weekly round up of the best stuff on the web publishing and writing and everybody is too busy checking out links to get back to me...Your name gets featured fairly often!

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  45. Dianna--You're probably one of those people who drive me nutty when I try to find you. I usually try to visit the blogs of people who comment, but I don't have time for more than one visit per comment. Two if I'm really procrastinating that day. Nine--ain't gonna happen. If I go to the one you haven't updated since Lost went off the air, I'm gone. I wonder if they have a 12 step program...

    Lauralynn--I was guilty of that too-light text thing until a couple of months ago, when an older guy complained in the comments that my links were too light. I agreed, but thought I couldn't fix them because they came with the template. But another commenter told me how to fix it (go to "advanced" in the Template) I like my dark brown links so much better.

    Maureen--I love your blog and vote for you to take the word verification CAPTCHA off again. Then ask a question at the end of each list. I bet you'll get lots more comments.

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  46. Instead of writing tonight, I immediately applied your tips to my blog (am too embarrassed to say how many changes occurred). Thank you so much for stating what should be so obvious to us.

    Yes! I also detest CAPTCHA, and you're spot on ... I'd rather clean out spam than discourage commenters because of those stupid filtering tools.

    Too shy to toot our own horns, really? Back covers and bio pages are crammed full of nauseating self-congratulatory fluff and slathered with overblown credentials. As such, I tend to believe we writers are myopic, focusing on writing and not the details of how we present ourselves. Frankly, I'm surprised you didn't hear the sound of thousands of hand-slaps-to-the-forehead within minutes of your post going live.

    Thanks again for your helpful and timely post!

    Take care,
    LC

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  47. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  48. LC--So glad I inspired the house-cleaning :-) There are definitely two kinds of authors--the shy kind and the horn-tooting kind. Some self-pubbers toot too much, I agree. Back cover copy used to be written by people in the editorial department, but when it's written by the authors themselves, it goes into some weird territory. Like that thriller writer who wrote himself 100s of sock-puppet reviews.

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  49. Brilliant blog as always Anne. Really good advice.

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  50. Sing it sister!!! I agree with every single there here. What I really don't understand is why every writer thinks that they're version of "Writing on Sand" or whatever is original. Nothing is as original as your name. It's YOURS. Use it.

    Don't get me started on Captcha. It was sent from Satan. I'm sure of it.

    The whole feedburner thing is going to send me over the edge. Don't know what to do with that issue either.

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  51. L.K--Thanks!

    Nina--I'm glad you agree. Since you're now a HuffPo expert on social media, I'm honored you took the time to stop by. Your blog is awesome! (And I agree that CAPTCHA must have been invented by Beelzebub, or one of his close personal friends.)

    And what's up with Feedburner? Everybody has a different story. They say everything will be "fixed" soon, but their Twitter and FB accounts have been deleted and they seem to be going under. But they're owned by Google, which isn't exactly going belly-up.

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  52. I do appreciate these reminders, Anne. I just checked my blog and realized I had not direct way to contact me except through Google+ which is confusing to a lot of readers. Fixed that. It was also a good reminder to update a bunch of small details on my blog! Thanks! :)

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  53. Bridget--I'm so glad you fixed that! As I said, most writers don't have contact info. It's unfortunate that standard "how to blog" tips don't remind people how important this is. I think it's because the "rules" are often left over from the early days of blogging when blogs were mostly places for anonymous snark or personal musings.

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  54. The captcha's a demon, as far as I'm concerned. I don't like those at all.

    I'll have to check my About Me section. I've got a seperate email account meant for formal matters, and I should make sure it's placed there...

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  55. I recently attended the Central Coast Writer's Conference (you mentioned it in your post 'How to Write an Author Bio When You Don't Feel Like an Author…Yet') as one of the teen writers, and I have to say that it was one of the most motivating things I've ever done.

    Since then, I've been writing like mad and reading up on my future. How best to build a reading platform, where I should spent most of my social media time, etc. Previously, I wasn't giving any thought to it, other than a meager little blog that I just deleted out of embarrassment!

    At the conference, I purchased you book 'How to be a Writer in the E-age, and keep your E-sanity'. I have to say, it's been extremely useful!

    But as a highschool student without anything published, where do I stop? When does my blogging and author bio become pretentious, vain, and arrogant? How much do I divulge over the internet, and how can I begin to blog when I have no idea what the name on my books will be? Right now, the name associated with this account is 'Rhykah', a pen name I've been toying with.

    Thanks for all the help I've found here, and in your book!
    -Leandre Ravatt

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  56. Leandre--These are such great questions! I wish I could have talked to you at the conference. The truth is that most of this advice is for people who are poised to start their careers--or second careers. You're a student who has a thousand choices ahead of you before you settle on a career. You are absolutely right that you shouldn't feel pushed to make any decisions yet.

    To a young writer like you, the most important advice I can give is WRITE. Write in private. Be wild. Write as if nobody is going to read it. Get to know your muse. Learn what your passions are. You might find they are very different from what adults tell you.

    The time to start building a social media presence is after you've written a couple of novels, had some short stories published and you're ready to start a business--because writing is a business. And starting a business when you're too young can make you feel trapped.

    Having an Internet presence is good if you're ready to send stories to editors, but you can do that with an "About.me" page or a Google profile. Those are free and require no weekly essays like a blog.

    The truth is that by the time you're out of school, the Interwebz will be a totally different place. Social media will have changed in ways old people like me can't imagine. So follow your own interests and be who you are. Forget about marketing yourself until you've had time to be wildly creative and make mistakes and, most of all...have some FUN!

    Maybe I should put that in the next update of the book...

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  57. Oh, okay, great! I've been confused on that for a long while, and have had some different opinions from different sources, and it's good to finally have a good solid choice!

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  58. Ryhkah--I was told by a world-famous poet when I was in college that I would never write anything worth reading until I was at least 30. I thought that was a nasty thing to say and I was furious. But you know what? He was right. Nothing I wrote back then was publishable. But no writing is ever wasted. It's like going to the gym--you're exercising muscles you'll need for when the time comes.

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  59. Hi there Anne! Thanks so much for adding me to your blog friend list...these tips are gold. I have a special folder now for your emails. Some of the posts are about topics that are not relevant to me yet - but they are earmarked as the first go-to place when I'm ready for the next plunge...(like writing a proper Bio, for instance) :) Thank you!

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  60. Alarna--I'm so glad you're finding them helpful! And--ahem, shameless plug here--if you want all this stuff collected in one easy-to-read format (plus some great tips from bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde) you can get it all in our book How to Be a Writer in the E-Age, only $2.99 for the ebook.

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  61. I really enjoyed reading this:) Thank you! I have a quick question about who should blog. Should those authors who haven't officially published anything blog? Or those who have a novel in the works but nothing to show for it to the public? I ask because I'd like to start developing a web presence but don't want to ruin it by starting too early.

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  62. Hope--Great question. I don't think you can "ruin" anything by starting to blog "too early". What you can do is waste time you should spend learning your craft. But blogging is writing, and any writing is good for exercising your creative muscles.

    What I tell beginners is: Don't paint yourself into a corner. Promote your OWN NAME, not a genre, place or type of writing. Call your blog "Hope Writes" rather than "Vampire musings in Old Virginia"--or worse, the title of your WIP. You want to plan for a career, not one book that may not even come together.

    And most of all DON'T BLOG YOUR WIP. I suggest not blogging any fiction. 1) You'll make that work unpublishable, because you've given away first rights. 2) Most people don't read fiction on blogs: they prefer to skim. 3) Your writing will probably improve and you might be embarrassed by it later.

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  63. Really helpful tips here Anne.

    Much appreciated.

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  64. I started a travel blog at the beginning of September and am having so much fun with it. I happened to stumble across your blog and have read all of your advice to novice bloggers. I actually just spend about half an hour composing a great comment about your website and advice blog and when I went to "post" it, all of my content disappeared. Really have no idea what happened. This blogging thing is forcing me to learn more about word documents, the computer and the internet. Yikes!! Not so easy for a 50ish or so youngish woman! This is how new I am to the blogging world....really need lots of help and guidance.
    I had no idea that you should blog under your real name. I will have to go into my blog and change that.
    Many thanks for your advice. I will follow your blog from now on in.
    Nora K(Pink Sneakers on the Go.blogspot.com).
    This is my very first comment to anyone, ever!!!!
    Wish me luck in being able to post it because the previous comment just disappeared and I was not able to retrive it.

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  65. Chris--Many thanks!

    Nora--I'm honored that you made your very first blog comment right here! And I'm so sorry Blogger ate it. If you have a WordPress blog, that may be why it happened. Blogger and WordPress get all corporate-competitive sometimes and Blogger seems to be blocking WP bloggers from commenting right now. WP does the same thing to me sometimes. I've learned to copy comments into Word before hitting "post." Definitely you want to use your real name in your blog title. I'll go check out your blog!

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  66. A total of 66 comments including your answers say that this is a great post I have ever read about blogging.

    My blog is of 8 months old and I'm learning from the scholars like you.

    I am totally impressed at reading this post and just going to change my author bio.

    I had lot more to say, but I stopped here writing. Because you might be annoyed at me reading a big big comment. Also, English is not my first language. So, there might have some errors in my writing.
    Thank you so much.

    Gaining Online Exposure

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  67. Shiful, I'm publishing this, but please note that your signature red-flags you as a spammer. Call your blog "Shiful's Blog" and people will respect you. But if you pretend to be an expert in "gaining online exposure" when you have only one follower, you look like a spammer. You don't have to trick people into going to your blog. Just have good content and people will come to you.

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  68. Anne, you wrote:

    "Martyn--I just checked out your blog and actually, you're doing it just right. That's because you've got your "About" front and center and your name is all over the place. At some point, you can put "Martyn V. Halm's Amsterdam..." or something like that on the header. The url can stay the same. I lived in Amsterdam for a couple of years and the whole look of your blog takes me back there--so you're selling the city as much s your work. Very smart. I could learn from you :-) I'm going to check out your books."

    Thanks for the compliments, I love your blog as well. I hope you enjoyed my books. I'm very pleased that Amazon has price-matched Locked Room - A Katla KillFile, so I can offer that for free, like I do on Kobo and iTunes.

    Changing the header to Martyn V. Halm's Amsterdam Assassin Series sounds like a good idea for the future, but for now I like the clean simplicity of putting only the series title central.

    I had a few visitors through your blog, I'm pleased to say, as well as visitors who seek information about Amsterdam.

    I also changed my header to contain not only my twitter handle, but als my email, to make it easier for readers to contact me.

    Thanks for your informative article!

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  69. Hi Anne. :)

    What a wonderful post - informative and engaging, and a real gem for a blogging newbie like me. Thanks for the advice and inspiration.

    I'm just wondering, reading your No. 10 about Twitter handles, is it important for an author to have Twitter? I've been told I should get it, but have always shied away because I'm already so short on time. Hmm... it seems to be becoming an online necessity...
    What do you think?

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  70. Holly--I don't think you HAVE to be on Twitter, but I recommend it. It only takes about 5 minutes a day. And it's a great place to get news. Just look for the hashtag "#" of the latest news events and you can find out stuff that you won't find anywhere else. People mostly use Twitter for information. Facebook is more for socializing. And Twitter is the best way to drive traffic to your blog.

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  71. Hello Anne I want to say thank you so much for this wonderful post. I self published my first vampire romance about 2 months ago and I have had no sells yet. I know I have made every mistake in the book. Believe me ignorance is not bliss. I have a site but what good is it if you have no traffic right. I did not know a blog is better, but hey of course it is. A blog is more up to date. Plus poeple are more likly to follow a blog then they are a site. I have had other blogs but hey like i said I made every mistake in the book. Well I'm starting over, staring right now. I'm going to get ridd of all my blogs. I will keep you updated if you like. thanks again Anne

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  72. Jessica--We learn from our mistakes, so the more you make the more you know :-) Also, there's lots of info out there that's wrong or simply out-dated. This is an industry that's changing at warp speed.

    Don't get rid of all your blogs. Keep the most useful one--that's either the one that has a name you want to keep, or the oldest one. (Older is better, no matter what the title. You can change the title without changing the url.) You can change everything on a blog but the url and keep all that history that makes the Google spiders pay attention to the blog.

    The best way to get traffic to your blog is let people know you're there. You can do that by visiting other blogs like this one. You don't have to be on twitter 24/7 or get sucked into Facebook if you don't want to. Google + and Goodreads are great places to make connections. Or join a community like She Writes or myWANA.

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  73. Hello, I just checked and saw you replied to my post...Wow that's new. Well thanks, and I will check out that link you gave. I got my blog up and it looks great if I may say so, but I still would like to get your opinion on it. jessicacatriceagnew.blogspot.com Please don't be kind unless you mean it.

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  74. Jessica--Just visited and your site is gorgeous. Easy to read and very pretty. Great About page. Even have your twitter handle posted. Now if you can just take off that CAPTCHA...:-)

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  75. Great checklist Anne! Unfortunately, I found blogger.com almost impossible to navigate and use. Noting your "3 try rule," I gave up after three days. If setting up the blog is this frustrating and complicated, I don't have time trying to actually use it. I'm not some caveman who hardly turns on his computer and only uses it to play card games and chess. I work with them every day and have more than a little experience. As an author, I think I will go with Facebook to try to sell my wares. But thanks! You have an excellent blog.

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  76. Robert--Sorry you found Blogger so difficult. You might want to go with a self-hosted blog from WordPress or GoDaddy or one of the other Web hosts. Then you can hire somebody to set up your website for you and and give personal instructions on how to blog. Some web hosts are pretty affordable.

    If you're trying to get published, or sell your self-published book, it would be a shame to limit yourself to the handful of people Facebook allows to see your posts these days. And people who aren't FB members won't be able to see your page at all.

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  77. Robert--It occurred to me that if you already work with tech, your problem with Blogger may be that you're overthinking. Pretend you're an 80-yr-old Grandma just logging on for the first time. Then look for the stuff that's actually on the page--not what you expect. The silliest, trickiest thing is that to get to your "Dashboard" you have to go through the "Design" link on your home page. I'm a cybermoron and I figured it out. Probably because I didn't know any better.

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  78. Thanks for the checklist. I started my blog almost a year ago, and this is a great way to go back and look at things I should revise - particularly ads and captchas

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  79. Thanks for posting this. My blog is less than a year old, and I can see one or two things I need to go back and rethink.

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  80. Rachel--Thanks for the double comment. I know you probably only intended to leave one, and then it looked as if it didn't go through, so you retyped something similar and then boom--they both go up. I've been through it dozens of times. Sigh.

    Yeah--a whole lot of the blogging advice out there steers you in the wrong direction, because it's for people writing monetized blogs and not authors building platform. But the great thing about blogs is you have complete control, so you can change everything but the url. This blog has gone through a whole lot of changes in its nearly 4 years. Yours probably will too. And it's all fine :-)

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  81. I am absolutely horrible at blogging. I never know what to say exactly.

    Would using a facebook page be a good idea instead of a blog?

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  82. Ninja--Facebook is one way of social networking, and it's good to be there to connect with fans, but it's not a substitute for a website or blog. With FB and Twitter and the many forums and sites like Goodreads and RedRoom, you have to be a member in order to visit an author's page--and that eliminates a lot of potential readers.

    Plus FB is constantly changing and can kick you off for minor offenses you don't even know exist (I got banned from posting links because some moron reported me for spam for posting a link to this blog on my own author page: go figure)

    Plus they plan to start charging for messages. You need a site you can control. If you hate the idea of blogging, you can get an inexpensive website at GoDaddy or BookBaby and many other hosts. But if you're at the point where you're thinking of getting published, you do need a website and/or blog.

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  83. Thank you so much for this post. I blog under my other biz and wanted to start a new blog for my writing...I spent so much time trying to come up with a "clever" name and am just going to stick to MY name.
    Maria Lopez Davis

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  84. Maria--I'm so glad I got the message to you in time. (Not that you can't change a blog name, but this will save time later.) An author's blog needs to advertise the author's brand. And that brand is...you. Good luck with the new blog.

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  85. I think that the worst self-sabotaging mistake is to have a horrible and out of fashion blog design.

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  86. Phew. I do most of these. Very helpful post! I'm going to take this checklist to heart and make sure I fix my errors.

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  87. Lokor-I'm not the fashion police, so I'm not quite sure what's out of style these days, but I do dislike the black background/white text that looks like an interface from 1987.

    Mary--Don't get discouraged. Just make little improvements slowly. I bet you'll find you get more traffic.

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  88. I was hiding for a long time, but I have now realised that hiding is for wimps.
    Thanks for the wonderful advice, it really helps to get everything clear!

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  89. Survival--Congrats on de-lurking. Not that there's anything wrong with lurking. That's how we all learn. (And we're all jonesing for survival right about now on this hot little planet.) I'm so glad to bring some clarity. That's what Ruth and I aim for. So you can learn from my mistakes :-)

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  90. Nice tips here! I'd like to add a couple of ideas. #1. Do not put a comment section if you don't have plans on approving comments. #2. If you do, please try to respond with the audience and interact with them to let them feel your not putting the comments section just to gain traffic.

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  91. David--True. Those go in #6 about making comments difficult. Moderating comments when you don't check regularly can really annoy people and drive away commenters. And absolutely, we need to interact with comments. As I keep telling people, "Social media is social!" Thanks for weighing in.

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  92. Great information! I started my blog in July and I am working on "getting it out there." I am an author / self-publisher. My blog www.biblisketch.com is to promote my children's stories, my inspirations, and other things. This article gave me a few good pointers and a few different ideas for myself and my blog.

    I am new to your website and will keep following. Thanks!

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  93. Kevin--Have fun with your new blog! I'll be posting on Sunday with a lot of information for new bloggers, so I'm glad to hear you're following.

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  94. I'm new to blogging and thought your checklist was very helpful. I'd already implement your suggested on my blog, so it was good knowing that I was on the right track. I just started following you and would be happy if you'd follow me at

    http://illyannafox.blogspot.com

    I googled myself and was first on the list. Actually I was the majority of the list. Guess I have a unique name.

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  95. Illyana--You have a fabulous and unique name. Perfect for a writer!Your blog looks great.

    You'll be more likely to find followers on other paranormal sites than a blog for writers in all genres. Read the big writing blogs like this one and Nathan Bransford's and Kristen Lamb's for information, and the newer genre blogs for friends and followers. You don't need seasoned authors like Ruth and me to follow you--you need fans of your genre. The trick is to find your niche audience. Marketing to the world in general can scatter your energies and waste valuable writing time.

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  96. This is a very insightful article, Anne. I will focus on your points as I build my blog, which documents the various creative issues of a first time author. Thank you!

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  97. Tim--I'm glad you found this before you got your blog set in stone. There's a lot of bad or old information out there that can waste a lot of time. Have fun blogging!

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  98. This is an emailed comment from Charles Beddington, who wasn't able to get Blogger to accept his Wordpress ID. I have no idea why that happens, but it happens to me with Wordpress, sometimes.

    Charles likes his CAPTCHA, which apparently is more flexible on a Wordpress Blog than Blogger. When a blog gets a spam attack, we either have to re-install the CAPTCHA (as Nathan Bransford did) or not allow anonymous comments (which is what I do.) But sometimes Blogger seems to think a Wordpress ID is "anonymous". No idea why that happens.

    Hello Anne. I've only just discovered your blog (via thepassivevoice.com) and immediately added it to my favourites and put a link on my contacts page. You have certainly made me rethink one or two aspects of my website. I was about to convert to a black background when I read your post, and will now rethink this change. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Regarding CAPTCHA, your readers might like to know that wordpress does not come with CAPTCHA ready installed; you have to install a CAPTCHA plugin yourself, so if you have not done so then it will not be active by default. I agree that CAPTCHAs are irritating, but I'm afraid I do use one on my website. Despite being a relative newcomer I was hit by a wave of spam that I struggled to keep under control, especially as I spend time in places broadband struggles to reach and so am out of control, so to speak, for days at a time. CAPTCHA then begins to seem the lesser evil. The regular wordpress spam catchers do work, but the CAPTCHA cuts down the burden considerably. The plugin I have only serves a CAPTCHA to new commenters. If you have one previous comment on my site you never get another CAPTCHA.

    However, after reading your post I revamped my CAPTCHA page to make it more friendly. At first it read "Please enter the appropriate digits to prove you are human", which rather tickled me when I wrote it, but on reflection it might as well have read "I don't trust you, you cheating slimeball...". It's a good deal more friendly now. I know you'll all still hate me for using a CAPTCHA but it is at least one that has easily readable characters rather than those tortured images that take two or three attempts to get past them.

    Hope some of this helps anyone with a spam problem.
    Regards, Charles Beddingfield.

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  99. Ooops: That's Beddingfield, not Beddington. Sorry, Charles. I'm doing too much multi-tasking this AM.

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  100. Very helpful piece, I admit I'm still playing around with my blog :)
    Caroline

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  101. Caroline--Playing around with the blog is good. See what works and what doesn't.

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  102. Thank you so much for this help. I am a first time blogger, just trying to get my name out there and basically practicing my writing and having fun. I have accessed this article numerous times in the last few weeks in order to see how I can update and perfect my blog. Thank you, again, for taking the time to write this out - I'm very grateful!

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  103. Elise--So glad this post helped. Have fun with your new blog! If you want more info on blogging, the book I wrote with Catherine Ryan Hyde "How to be a Writer in the E-Age" has a whole section of blogging advice.

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  104. Wow, you're the best. Not sure how I stumbled across your blog but glad I did. Just started following you on google+, you've provided priceless information for someone just starting out. Soooo guilty of the light font against a dark background haha.

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    1. dl--Welcome to the blog. Lots of info for new authors in the archives. (Also in our book How to be a Writer in the E-age: you can have it in a convenient format either on your computer or your Kindle.) The white font on black must be the most popular template for new bloggers. It looks "cool" at first, but it's simply too hard to read for most people, and it does have that 1980s primitive-computer interface look.

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  105. Authors do need a web presence and blogging is a great way to keep up writing skills.
    We don't always practice writing as much as we should and non-fiction writing takes Fiction writers outside of the box. Would also like to add that Booktrack.com is a great exercise for those who have completed a manuscript. Check out my short story. http://bit.ly/1gacSIh put Audrian in search box.

    Alia

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    1. Alia--I'm going to let this post, even though it's a little spammy. I haven't heard o f Booktrack, which looks like another sort of Wattpad venue to get comments on a WIP--often a good thing for writers starting out. But putting a link in a comment is considered spam by most bloggers, especially when it's off-topic.

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  106. This is a great checklist. I have a lot of respect for people who share what they've learned. When I was starting out I learned a lot from others. I'm sharing now too. I just published all of my web stats publicly, so others can learn from them, along with 4 key lessons.

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    1. Jared--I just went over and looked at your stats. Great piece. You prove just what I've been preaching on my blog: slow blogging is the way to go. Numbers are pretty meaningless. Congrats on your Random House deal!

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  107. Thanks for the great advice, Anne! I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how to link to my books and home page on my blog. :/

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    1. Eldonna--I just checked your website and the books and blog are right there on the site. If you have other blogs, you might not need them and they might confuse the reader. I do suggest you link to buy pages at Amazon, Nook, Kobo, etc, instead of simply having a "buy this book" button, because your website doesn't give pricing info and people might be afraid they'd find they'd bought with one-click and didn't even know what/where they'd made the purchase. It's easy to simply do it yourself with a hyperlink, if you run your website yourself. If you have a webmaster, make sure they link to all your buy pages. And if you have multiple blogs, I'd rethink. That's a huge amount of work and mostly all it does is confuse people. Thanks for stopping by.

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  108. Here's a comment from Tanya Hogan:

    "The idea of so many platforms was starting to feel claustrophobic. I already have Facebook and Twitter. The idea of adding a website and a blog, keeping them up to date, writing, promoting...and still juggling a full time job, family, actually writing and trying to get published at the same time. Let's say I was starting to sink under a little bit. The knowledge that the blog can work as a website, and you don't need to separate is like being allowed to gasp for air. "

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    1. Tanya--Thanks for sending the comment even though the Blogger elves weren't very friendly.

      Absolutely! Ruth and I have no websites but our blogs. It seems like overkill to us. We figure if somebody Googles us, we want them to come here (or to Ruth's blog) not have to click all over the place. Easier on us and easier on our readers. Nobody has any extra time these days!

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  109. I love this checklist! I'm writing a fiction novel and may start blogging, but does this mean I should post some of my book on my blog as well? If so, how much of it should I post and, if not, do I just discuss some of the book as I'm writing it? I'm new to the blogging thing, but I want to try it.

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    1. Cayce--NO! Never post parts of your novel on your blog. That will mean the book has been "published" and you'll be unable to sell it as new to a publisher. Fiction on a blog almost never works. People read blogs for information and tend to go to books if they want fiction. If you want to get feedback on your book, try putting chapters up at Wattpad. Because it's password-protected, it isn't considered publishing. Don't talk about your writing process that much. Talk about subjects that might interest your potential readers. I have blogged about this a lot. Put "What Should I Blog About" and "Blogging for Authors" in the search window in the upper left corner. (Also, when you start querying, make sure you don't use the phrase "fiction novel". All novels are fiction and that phrase flags you as an amateur.)

      I have all the info you need on how to start an author blog in my book I wrote with Catherine Ryan Hyde HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE. Only $2.99. Don't start a blog without educating yourself a bit, or you'll have a lot to undo. Best of luck! Blogging is a great way to meet people and establish an online platform.

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  110. Hi Anne, I'm a first time reader/commentator and I have to say this was a fantastic post. Straight and to the point advice while avoiding the dreaded soapbox of pedantry. I'm in the slow morass of trying to get published so I've been choking down a lot of advice columns and how-to's, but this one went down refreshingly smooth. If you have the time, do you think you could point me in the direction of any other helpful writers and their blogs? Any topic will do, really, I need help with just about all of it. Thanks for your consideration, and I will be sure to check out more of your content.

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    1. Grace--Thanks for your timely question. I'm putting together a "mother of all 'how to blog' blogposts" for today and I added links to a few great author blogs thanks to this question. It will be live around 10 AM Pacific time on 6/15/14.

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  111. Hi Anne,
    I have just put the skeleton of a blog together, as my first novel, a romantic comedy will be published this September. I have been a bit nervous about actually starting my blog but this has been very helpful. Thank you so much.

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    1. Sharon--I have a lot more posts on how to blog that might help you get started. Just put "how to blog" in the search window in the top left corner. I'm going to be putting together a separate page with blog tips and links for author bloggers. Best of luck with your launch!

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    2. Sharon--I've just put up the page on how to blog. You can find the link in the sidebar pages index. Thanks for the reminder it was time to get that posted!

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  112. Thanks Anne. It feels, like a big step putting the word "writer" next to your name, but it's an unavoidable hurdle to overcome these days.

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    1. Mark--Hey, a writer is a person who writes. You write? You're a writer. :-) You already made the big step when you started to write. Now you just have to own it.

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  113. Thanks for the post. Great info! Tweaking my bio has been on my to do list and you just put it on top. Thanks for blogging

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    1. A. E.--Actually, my "about" page is due for a makeover too. Thanks for the reminder!

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  114. Christopher Leary has sent this comment via email: For the neophyte indie-author book promotion is a pretty bewildering business. I have my own website and blog but I admit I struggle with the technology. Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to my pages and so I make life harder for myself by going the DIY route. Still, you offer lots of good tips and I'm going to do my best to follow them. Cheers. www.learyworks.com

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    1. Christopher--It is indeed a bewildering business, which is why Catherine Ryan Hyde and I put together our guidebook for writers called HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE. We've kept the price low so new writers can afford it.

      There's nothing wrong with being a "control freak" about your own blog and website. I think it's better to have something simple you control yourself rather than pay somebody for something you can't update yourself.

      I think a new writer should start slow and not try to make a big, expensive splash, but to build an audience slowly. Commenting on blogs is one of the ways to do that. I'm sad that it's so hard to comment on this one. Blogger seems to have made it more difficult over the years. They are nasty to people with WordPress IDs, so it's best to have a Google Plus ID. (Google Plus also helps with SEO.)

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  115. CAPTCHA is a blog's antichrist. I use a free antispam plugin for my blog and I'm very satisfied. I've always tought that commenting must be as easy as possible for every user who reads my blog. I don't use social network single sign-on options for the same reason. Just name, e-mail address, website (if any) and the comment text. That's all.

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    1. Gianluca--I wish Blogger had more options. I got rid of CAPTCHA, but I have to block anon comments because if we allow all comments I get literally 100s of pieces of spam every hour. I would have to spend my whole life deleting spam. Some spam is blocked by the spamblocker, but not all. In order to block anons the only other option is sign in with a url or other ID. I wish they allowed something easier for non-robots, but so far, they don't seem to know how to do that. (Or want to: they want everybody to have a Google ID. )

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    2. May I suggest you a third party commenting platform? Disqus and Intensedebate are the most famous ones. They have antispam features and allow users to login with facebook or twitter accounts, together with wordpress.com.

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    3. Gianluca--Alas, those are not compatible with Blogger. I would have to switch to Wordpress and lose my 100,000 hits a month and over 5000 followers. I would have to start over again as a beginning blogger with no guarantee it would stop all spam. Disqus and Intense debate are very temperamental. I would have to hire a web master and give up all my freedom and a whole lot of money. Not worth it. If I'm helpful to people, great. If they don't want to use a Google or Wordpress ID, they can send me an email. It's not like we're getting paid to do this.

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We LOVE comments, but we can't allow anonymous ones because of spam problems (like hundreds a day) and we moderate comments on posts older than one week, since older posts attract more spam. If you have a WordPress blog ID, try signing into Wordpress before you comment with that ID. If you have a gmail or other Google ID, make sure you're signed into Google. If you have trouble commenting, email your comment to Anne at annerallen dot allen at gmail dot com and she'll post it for you.