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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Social Media Secrets Part II: How to Blog your Way out of the Slush Pile and onto the Bestseller List


"Blogging doesn't sell books."

"Don't waste your time blogging."

"Spend more time on Facebook/Pinterest/Tumblr/Twitter/YouTube/ Goodreads/Soliciting reviews/Spamming your friends with newsletters."

You're hearing this stuff every day.

But in a survey published this week, 63% of readers said they discover books most often on author websites (a blog is a website.) Facebook nearly tied with that, but other forms of social media were also-rans, with newsletters at 36%, Goodreads at 27% and Twitter at 18%.

I think every author can benefit from a well-maintained blog. Even if you only blog once a month. (I'm a big advocate of slow blogging, but I think it's best to post on a timetable: write at your leisure, but post to a schedule.)

Why do I think authors should blog?

Because it worked for me. Let me tell you my story—

Four years ago my career was over. My publisher had gone under. My third agent had dropped me. All my freelance writing gigs had dried up or stopped paying.

I was bloodying my knuckles on the doors of agents and publishers. If I got a response at all, it was to let me know that nobody wanted a washed-up author of funny mysteries. (Humor never sells; just ask any agent.) I was advised to change my name and start writing steampunk or YA zombie romance.

If you Googled my name you'd have to go through 10 pages before you found one entry about me or my books.

On a sad Friday the 13th in the late 'oughties, I decided to start this blog as a place to post archives of my old columns from Freelance Writing Organization International.

I promptly lost the blog. Yeah. Don't do this. Remember to bookmark that baby blog!

But three months later, I went hunting and found it again. And I started blogging once a week or so. For the first year, nobody read it. Seriously. I have posts that still haven't had more than 10 hits.

But posting once a week gave me back some of the confidence I'd lost when my career fell apart. I felt like a professional again. I could communicate with other writers all over the world. (As well as close to home: a book blogger I met on an Irish site—so I thought she was Irish—turned out to be my neighbor in San Luis Obispo, CA!)

Then, in 2010, after I won a guest post spot on Nathan Bransford's blog, more people started to drift over here.

Fast forward to 2013.
  • My mystery boxed set has been in the top 50 bestsellers in comic fiction for two months. I'm playing bestseller-list leapfrog with my idols: Dave Barry, Douglas Adams, and Lisa Lutz.
  • I've got seven books in print, another in final edits, and my work is in over a dozen new anthologies, magazines and literary journals.
  • Both my publishers came to me—I didn't have to query.
  • I share my blog with Ruth Harris: a NYT bestselling author.When I first started reading Ruth's books in the early 1990s, I never dreamed I'd even meet such a famous author.  
  • I've written a book with Amazon's current #1 bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde (and we're now preparing a set of webinars for new writers.)  
  • I'm invited to speak at writers' conferences and seminars—and magazines now solicit my work.
  • When you Google my name, you get 47 pages of ME before you get to Anne R. Allen the San Jose stockbroker, (who must hate me. I apologize, Anne.)
All of this happened directly because of my blog.

I'm not saying all blogs will do this. But with patience, a blog can help you meet the people who can take your career to the next level.

I know many authors who, like me, have met their publishers, agents, and writing partners through blogging. (And that neighbor I met on the Irish writing site? She's now a literary agent.)

Do all authors need a blog? Maybe not, but you need to be on social media somewhere. You can't just have a launch party in your local bookstore and get a press release into your hometown newspaper and expect to make significant sales. (And don't count on your publisher for much help with marketing.)

Today, a writer's market is global. Do you know the country where people read the most? India.  Or where the 2nd biggest population of English speakers lives? India. Followed by Pakistan and Nigeria.

A blog is your home in that global marketplace. It's a place where people can drop in and get to know you and find out about your books.

NOTE: Blogging isn't for direct sales of books. No social media is about hard-selling. (See my post on Social Media Secrets from July 21.) Social media is about making friends. (With people and with search engines. You want Google to be your BFF.)

For an example of how making friends on social media can help your writing career, here's a heartwarming story of how Aussie novelist Prue Batten was able to get first-hand knowledge about a Knights Templar building in 12th century France for the next in her bestselling Guy of Gisborne series—through a social media connection.

When should you start blogging? Not when you've just started that book you’ve always wanted to write. Don't scatter your energies. If it’s either blogging or writing the book, the book should always win.

But I'd say if you don't have a blog yet, you should start one when you’re getting ready to send out queries or preparing to self-publish. (Which should probably be when you're polishing up your second book.)

Why blog?

1) You need a website anyway. Sending out a query when you don’t have a website is a waste of time. Most agents and reviewers will reject on that item alone. (And yes, if you're getting lots of form rejections on a polished query, this may be the reason. Stop revising the query and start blogging.)

2) It gets your name into the search engines faster. A static website gets less traffic, so the Google spiders don't notice it as often.

3) You’re a writer. Blogs are writing. This is your medium.

4) Other social media are subject to faddism. MySpace, anyone?

5) Other social media can kick you out any time. I get put in Facebook jail all the time, because some troll loves to mark links to this blog as spam.

6) Control. Unfortunately, the Internet is infested with trolls, rage addicts, and spammers. I know a woman whose Facebook account got hacked by some diet-drug spammer who hit all her FB peeps with insulting ads. Several promptly "defriended" her before she even knew what happened. Another friend got hit by a porn site who "tagged" a bunch of amateur porn with his name so it went all over his page. Stuff like this happens every day.

But on your own blog, there's that little trash can icon. A troll, spammer or furious fool shows up and you click it. All gone.

OK, now I'm going to tell you my #1 big, huge secret that nobody will tell you about how to have a successful blog:

1) Visit and comment on other blogs!!!

Even if you don't have your own blog, you can start building your online presence by commenting on popular blogs. Check the list of great blogs to follow on our new "HOW TO GET A BOOK PUBLISHED" page.

A comment right here can put your name in front of 10,000 people in a week. It could take years to reach that many people with a new blog.

  • Commenting on high profile blogs is the quickest way to get into search engines. Most of my 47 Google pages come from my comments on other people's blogs.
  • My blog took off because of what I posted on Nathan Bransford's blog, not my own. That's how people learned my name and style.
  • Discussions on high-profile blogs can lead to discussions on your own. Find yourself making a long comment? That's your next blogpost. Invite people to discuss it further on your own blog. 
  • Support somebody's argument on a high-profile blog and you have a blogfriend. That's how I got my first followers.

But for a newbie, commenting can be a daunting task. They ask you for some kind of ID and you've got no idea what that *&%# is about, right? You may be allowed to comment as "anonymous"—but that doesn't get your name out there, and you can't comment on blogs like this one where anon comments are disabled (because of spam and trolls, alas.)

So here's my #2 secret: if you're not commenting on blogs because you don't have a blog ID—

2) Join Google+ 

It's an easy, no-strings social site where you can participate or not (just unclick "email me" functions if you want to keep participation to a minimum.) It gives you a "user ID" that allows you to comment on most blogs without jumping through all those hoops.

Once  you join, Google knows who you are, and that profile not only allows easier blog commenting, but it comes up when you're Googled, with your photo and contact info. If you have gmail, it's super easy to sign up, and it's not hard for anybody, even a confirmed Luddite.

And you'll be in a position to get more involved when you're ready. Google + is considered the up-and-coming social media site by most top social media experts. Guy Kawasaki says it's what Twitter was in 2008.

Google+ doesn't charge you for reaching more than a handful of readers the way Facebook does, and it doesn't invade your privacy or target you with ads. Right now, it's not as active as Facebook, but with 400 million users, it's a growing force.

You can also join Wordpress without having a Wordpress blog. You can sign up for a username only account.

Here are some more "secrets" I learned by trial and error

3)  Put links in each post.

I happened to have done this right by mistake. (It's my academic training. Write those footnotes! Cite your source!) I always link to my source material, so people don't think I'm making stuff up.

Turns out those hyperlinks are how Google finds you. That's the bait that lures their robo-spiders to your site. That's what they mean by "SEO—search engine optimization"—three words that usually make my eyes glaze over.

Another way to "optimize" those search engines: don't get thesaurus-happy. That means avoid using what grammarian H.W. Fowler called "elegant variation."

Normal sentence: "It was a good bull, a strong bull, a bull bred to fight to the death."

Elegant variation: "It was a good bull, a strong animal, a male creature of the bovine persuasion bred to do battle..."

But search engines who are looking for something about bulls will be drawn to that repetition you're trying to avoid. So go ahead and repeat yourself. (But not so much that you look like you're gaming the spiders.)

4) Write Tweetable titles.

I often find a blogpost I want to Tweet about, but the title says nothing, so I have to make one up, and often I don't have time.

So make it easier for people to tweet you:  No one-word titles. Nothing generic or enigmatic. This is one place to be a salesperson rather than a poet. You want stuff like "How to's", lists, and questions. Think magazine cover teasers: stuff like "What Your Teacher Won't Tell You About the Oxford Comma!" or "Does Chocolate Make You a Better Writer?"

Look at what you click on when you're skimming the web. Are you going to click through to read something titled "Alone" or "Scribblings" or "Sad Thoughts"?

5) Don't try to maintain more than one blog. 

If you write in very different genres under several names, you may need more blogs, but do NOT have a blog for every book or every character. You can't keep them all up, and readers who are looking for you do not appreciate having to click all over the cyberverse looking for your current blog.

Note: the Internet is littered with abandoned blogs. Unfortunately, the old ones will show up higher in the search engines than a new one. So if you want to start a new direction with your blogging, use the old url, or at least leave a forwarding address on the old one. If an agent or reader Googles you and finds a blog that hasn't been updated since your rant about the cancelling of Boston Legal, they're not going to be impressed.

And unless you write erotica and keep your identity a secret, be wary of having a "personal" blog (or FB page) and a "professional" one. Nothing is secret in social media and everything you do online needs to be professional. (I strongly advise a "closed group" family Facebook page for family photos and news.)

6)  Put share buttons on your blog

Those are those little "f" "t", "g +1" and other buttons that allow people to share your brilliant words to their Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts. They are the way you will build a following. Even if you don't use Twitter, Facebook, etc, you want people to spread the word.

7) Write a friendly, informative "About Me" page.

Have any awards, publications, etc? Have a claim to fame outside of writing—like winning the state chili cook-off or raising exotic gerbils? Have any online publications you can link to? This is where you crow about it. Here's more on how to write an author bio.

8) Invite comments.

Ask a question at the end of the post—a call to action.

And turn off the "prove you're not a robot" CAPTCHA. A new blog doesn't get much spam, so it doesn’t need protection from spambots. But it does need comments, so don't make people jump through hoops. Also, I think it's best not to moderate comments on your most recent post. I only moderate posts a week old or more. (Older posts attract the most spam.)

9) Don't forget social media is SOCIAL.

Reply to comments!

Full disclosure: I didn't do that for an entire year. I was totally clueless.

Oh, yeah, and visit your followers' blogs—especially when you're starting out. We don't have time to visit all 1475 of our followers, but I drop in on several each week. I always learn something.

10) Learn to write 21st century prose.

People skim on the Interwebz. Don't post big hunks of text. White space is your friend. So are numbered lists, bullet points, bolding, etc. Anything over 2000 words is off-putting. (I know. Sorry. I sometimes go over the limit myself.)

11) Make your blog easy on the eyes. 

No light text on black background, please. Besides looking like an interface from 1987, it's hard on the eyeballs. Ditto tiny fonts and images behind the text. Anything too busy will drive people away.

12) Put your name on the blog.

Resist the urge to use a cutsie title.  People will Google your name, not "Scribbles on Sunday" If you haven't got your name on your blog, just change the header to "Susie Scrivener's Scribbles on Sunday," (but keep your old URL, or you'll have to start from scratch with the search engines.)

***

And here's my personal #1 reason for blogging: It's the only form of social media (except maybe Google +) where you don't have to act all "OMG I'm totally still in high school!"

In TWO WEEKS, I'll devote a post to the biggest question I get from new bloggers: WHAT SHOULD I BLOG ABOUT?

What about you, scriveners? Do you blog? Have you found it helpful in your career? A total waste of time? Tell us your stories!

Next week: we'll have a fascinating post from the director of a writers conference on what she herself has learned from the conferences she's directed. Plus we'll have 10 must-read tips for anybody planning to go to a conference.

BOOK BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

This month, Sherwood, Ltd is 99c for Kindle US, UK, Nook, and FREE on Smashwords and  on Kobo. And for book-sniffers (I have to admit to some closet book-sniffing myself) it is available in paper for the marked-down price of $8.54. (regularly $8.99 on Amazon and $12.99 in stores.)  It's also on sale in paper in the in the UK for £6.81.



"It's not yer typical whodunnit, nor is the protagonist anything like a cop. Ms. Allen has crafted a wily tale of murder, deceit, and intrigue that can stand with the best of them. Her characters are all too real and her dialogue took me from laughter to chills to suspicion of everybody in the book. Good on her!

Editorially, the book is also refreshingly well-done and all but devoid of grammatical or other such gaffes. This was obviously written by an intelligent woman who is also a fine story-teller. My congratulations to her.

My suggestion? Read this book. It will be well worth the time.
"...David Keith

Special note to Camilla fans: If you've enjoyed any of the Camilla books, I hope you'll consider writing a review here. Once a book makes the bestseller lists, the trolls come out. And of course, comedy is always subjective. Genuine reviews from Camilla fans would be a huge help right now.

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS

1) SMOKE AND MIRRORS podcasts. Get your short story recorded FREE for an online podcast! Fantastic publicity if your story is accepted by SMOKE AND MIRRORS. They broadcast about three stories a week. Spooky, dark tales preferred. No previous publication necessary. They judge on the story alone.

2) Cash prizes for memoir. Poetry or prose. NO entry fee. Memoir Journal A prize of $500 and publication in Memoir Journal is given twice yearly for a memoir in the form of a poem or an essay. The editors will judge. Using the online submission system, submit up to five poems or up to 10,000 words of prose. Visit the website for complete guidelines. Deadline August 16th.

3) Authors: advertise to international readers with EbookBargainsUK. Yes, I keep pushing these guys, but they are growing like mad. I heard they've recently been contacted by Apple, so their newsletters should be great for reaching iPad readers. And their prices are amazingly reasonable.

Listings will be half-price through July and August and anyone listing then will get a credit for a free listing for September onwards (excluding the Holiday period December 20 – January 10). ALSO: They are launching Ebook Bargains Australia, Ebook Bargains New Zealand, Ebook Bargains Canada and Ebook Bargains India, offering authors a chance to target their ebooks at readers through local stores in those countries. Inclusion in these international email newsletters will not cost you anything extra! The one small listing fee will get your ebooks in all five newsletters, reaching five of the biggest English-speaking markets outside the USA.

Readers outside the US who want great deals—sign up here

4) FAMILY CIRCLE FICTION CONTEST NO ENTRY FEE  Submit an original fictional story of no more than 2,500 words. Three (3) Entries per person and per household throughout the Contest Period. Grand Prize: A prize package including $1,000; a gift certificate to one Mediabistro online course of winner's choice, one year Mediabistro AvantGuild membership; and a one year Mediabistro Freelance Marketplace membership. Second Place Prize: $500; one year Mediabistro AvantGuild membership; and a one year Mediabistro Freelance Marketplace membership. Third Place Prize: $250; and a one year Mediabistro AvantGuild membership. Deadline September 16, 2013.

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108 Comments:

Blogger Robynne Rand said...

Thanks for explaining the Google+ thing. I had no idea it was that easy. I've been putting it off, but I guess I can join now.

As for blogs, well, you know I now have 3, but they're all for different things. And, luckily, I've been doing it for so long, I come up on the first few pages with all three, so I'm good there.

Blogging is a dedicated medium, but if you build it slowly, it's worth it.

Thanks Anne. Another great post.

August 4, 2013 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You've come a long way in four years!
Good to know I'm blogging correctly. Except for posting a schedule. I need to do that.
I'm not afraid to comment on a high profile blog. As you pointed out, that can lead to some awesome things.

August 4, 2013 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Christine Monson said...

These are GREAT tips, Anne. I've been in love with your blog for a year and learn something new everytime. I'm sorry about the trolls and such. I believe in karma, so hopefully they'll grow warts on the ends of their noses so we can identify them in public.

I'm with you about the CAPTCHAs. They're annoying and most the time it takes me three hits before I get them right if I'm using my phone to comment. I never knew about the adding of links to your page adding traffic. I do this, so YAY!

Thank you for the tips and sticking with writing through all these years, good and bad. :)

August 4, 2013 at 11:22 AM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Anne, thank you so much for sharing your blogging secrets with us. I never fail to be amazed at your incredible knowledge. I think a blog is in my future. I just have to hunker down and bite the bullet. Another great and very informative post. Brava!

August 4, 2013 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger D.G. Hudson said...

I needed this post - thanks. (Gives me a checklist.)

I couldn't agree more re -

"And here's my personal #1 reason for blogging: It's the only form of social media (except maybe Google +) where you don't have to act all "OMG I'm totally still in high school!""

Thanks, Anne! I think I came over to your blog from either Nathan's or Alex's blog.

August 4, 2013 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Christy Farmer said...

Excellent post today, Anne. Congratulations on your success!

I got my start by entering a couple of writing contests. The results surprised me and it was a natural progression to start a blog and see if I could build an audience. When I finished the book of my heart, I started a website before I start the next book....

I'm very happy with the results and would say having a blog is very helpful. :)

August 4, 2013 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

Anne, another wonderful post! Since I first took your class a Cuesta Writing Conference a few years back, you have put me on the right path and now you are keeping me there.

Cudos to you on your successes and thank you for your generosity in sharing these 'secrets.'

August 4, 2013 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Robynne--Google+ is so easy. I haven't made any major connections there, but I've had some good discussions. Mostly it gives you a higher profile. I'm always in awe of you for maintaining three blogs. I think you've done it right--putting one or two on hiatus for a while and letting people know when you'll be back.

Alex--You have a pretty high profile blog yourownself! I came up with this post when I looked at an old journal from 2009. I was getting rejections every single day. A very depressing time. Everything changed with the blog.

Christine--Thanks! Sometimes when I look back--like when I read the old journal I mentioned to Alex--I'm amazed at my sheer stubbornness. Everything told me to quit, but I had a crazy faith in my muse so I kept going.

Paul--I'll be happy to help you start your blog. I think you'd be a great blogger. In two weeks I'll post about what to blog about. Having photogenic pets is a big plus, so you'll do great!

D.G.--Perfect example. Nathan and Alex have great "hub" blogs for meeting people.

Christy--Sounds like you're doing it right. Contests are one of the best ways to get a writing career started. They give you confidence and a great credit to put in your query. Blogging makes you feel more like a professional, which helps you complete that book!

August 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Cora--Your comment came in as I was writing that last one. I remember meeting you at Cuesta! Glad the class helped you. I'll be running a post on writers conferences next week from Judy Salamacha, the CCWC director.

August 4, 2013 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Stina Lindenblatt said...

Thanks for the great advice, Anne.

Until last weekend, I had a popular blog. And then I lost it (long complicated story about lost domains and problems renewing it). I started a new blog geared toward my target audience (instead of just writers). This post is what I needed to keep going with it. I'm not going to blog as often as I did (biweekly), but I do know the value a blog has when it comes to finding you. I had a great SEO before. Fortunately my Twitter, Facebook page, and Pinterest are still up there. And all have my new blog address. :)

August 4, 2013 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for all these posts on blogging. I so agree it's social and it saddens me to see people disappear from their blogs and being followers. It does take time to be social and follow other blogs, but it's the key to making friends and having a good following base that visits your own site and comments.

As I've seen more people come and go in the last year, I've been making more of an effort to follow as many of the followers who comment regularly at our blog. We have over 3000 followers and I used to get 60-80 comments before author blog fatigue set it, so it was harder to do. But it's manageable with 40 to 60 comments on a post.

August 4, 2013 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Vera Soroka said...

I have my blog which is just under two years old now. I do have a small following but I don't blog about anything, just post my stories for readers to read. I plan on having pen names and will have a website for them but will mostly use that to announce the next project.
Not much of social butterfly I'm afraid.

August 4, 2013 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Donna Hole said...

My blog is how I put my name and skills out there as a writer. I've made many friends, learned a lot, visited agents and publishers I wouldn't get to know anywhere else. I like that my blog gives me an online presence. A reader who Google's my name can see it, and possibly will buy more of my writings as she reads my blog and gets to know me as more than a name on a book.

You really have come a long way in four years. Isn't it great to look back and be able to appreciate the journey?

.......dhole

August 4, 2013 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

I've been blogging for a little over five years and without blogging, I wouldn't be here commenting on your blog nor would I have two shorts, a novel and a self-pubbed short story trilogy under my belt.

I do have three other blogs, but they're mostly feeders for my main blog. I have picture blog that I update about once or twice a month, an adult blog to post some of my R/NC-17 style posts that would get me some unwanted attention at my main blog and my book blog that I update about once a year as a place to where people can find details about my books.

August 4, 2013 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Hi Anne,
Trying to follow your advice & comment on blogs, though I tend to mostly comment on yours. Hmmm. I've been blogging for a couple of years, now - a weekly blog about etymologies called Wordmonger (http://csperryess.blogspot.com/). It hasn't gotten me published, but it certainly has increased hits when one Googles my name. I have hopes some future editor or agent won't drop me like the proverbial hot rock before reading whatever I send out. Also, thanks for the extra tips in this post that I now need to embrace.

August 4, 2013 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Catie Rhodes said...

I always learn from you. Today's lesson was "long comments on other peoples' blogs are your next blog post." *head desk* How could I have never thought of that? hahaha

I'm now officially slow blogging. The old true crime and paranormal articles still get the majority of hits. At least I'm no longer spending hours upon hours writing them.

Thanks for your advice, Anne. You are an inspiration.

August 4, 2013 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Deborah Sword said...

I also accidentally did one thing right; the blog morphed into a presentation at a professional association and a magazine article.

My professional blog as a conflict manager (conflictcompetence.com) led to my hobby blog (writing4life.ca) on the connections between being conflict competent and the joys of breastlessness post-double mastectomy.

Turns out, conflict competence is a great skill to have when life poops on your shoes. Blogging about the complex relationship of two otherwise old topics varied the theme enough to attract a bit of attention.

Deborah
conflictcompetence.com
writing4life.ca

August 4, 2013 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Love your observation about learning to write 21st C prose. "White space is your friend."

Not just in blogs but IMO also works for books. Shorter is better. No long sentences or paragraphs. Break them up into several short ones. The delete button is your friend. Rules I (try) to live by.

August 4, 2013 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Stina--That is tragic! You lost your blog? Yikes. But your name is so well-known that you ought to be able to assemble your peeps again. Still, my heart goes out to you. I'd be a mess if I lost my blog.

Natalie--With a super-high profile blog like Literary Rambles, you can't comment on every one. I think you do fine. You probably see people come and go more often because you're a trad-pub oriented blog and people who go indie may unfollow. Also people who give up after a few rejections. These days, it can take 1000s of rejections before you hit the right agent or publisher and a lot of people can't take it.

Vera--Most authors like a static website as well as a blog. I'm just cheap :-) plus I don't want to make readers click around to find my books.

Donna--You have a wonderful blog. I think you lost it when you first put it up and I helped your find it--am I remembering right? We met on Nathan's blog. Long time ago.

GB--When you right stuff that's R rated, you do need at least a second blog. You could put some of those other things on a separate page of your primary blog. But if it's working for you as is, great.

CS--Has the Wordmonger been around 2 years? Such a fun blog. You would benefit from cheesier titles though :-)

Catie--I figured that one out when I wrote a long rant on somebody's blog and it disappeared. I started to reconstruct it and then it dawned on me--don't do it here--do it on my own blog!

Deborah--What a perfect example of how to find a unique niche--combine two popular topics in a way that only you can write. Brava! So sorry you had to go through such an ordeal to get there, but you sure know how to make lemonade out of lemons!

August 4, 2013 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger LK Watts said...

Hi Anne,

I love my blog and without it I wouldn't have got my best ever review from one of Amazon's top reviewers. He was drawn to my blog because of my writing style so he decided to purchase my books and quickly became a fan of my work. And I wouldn't say he struck me as a fan of a backpacker's memoirs but he certainly is now!

August 4, 2013 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Susan Stuckey said...

Hi, Anne
Just wanted to say (as everyone else has) excellent post and very helpful. Thank you for posting it.

August 4, 2013 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Trekelny said...

So this is the kind of inspiring can-do insight you're posting on the same day I'm wallowing in self-pity over on my blog (which I won't link to here because even my shame has limits). Thanks again, Anne, here I thought I'd be in a funk for days but ten minutes reading this and I have plans again.

It was particularly interesting to read that your career had such a U-shape in it- I naively figured once one "made it" you simply went on being famous until you retire.

August 4, 2013 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger widdershins said...

I reckon this blog is the ONE I most refer people to when they ask me about interwebz stuff! ... and this post is why.

August 4, 2013 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ruth--You're so right. I've heard that James Patterson is the phenomenon he is partly because he is a master of white space. I've definitely gone for more white space in my books than I used to.

LK--Sometimes blogs DO sell books directly! Thanks for sharing that story. I've had some reviews from people who said they bought the book because they liked my blog, too.

Susan--Thanks for dropping by and weighing in.

Trekelny--If you want to see some self-pity, you should see my journal from four years ago. I actually made a will and was thinking of ways to check out. This is such a brutal profession. And my friend Catherine had a huge fall after Pay it Forward. Her publisher dropped her and she couldn't even get published in the US. She almost lost her house. Now she's the #1 author on Amazon and she's planning a mortgage-burning party soon. Welcome to the roller-coaster!

widdershins--Thanks for the day-brightener! I'm so glad you find our posts useful.

August 4, 2013 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Stephen del Mar said...

Great post, as always. I started my blog about three months ago now and I'm enjoying it. It is a fun outlet for writing about things that really don't go in the books. I try not to rant too much or excessively push the few stories I have published so far. I find it amazing that 20 to 40 folks seem to stop by every day.

Thanks again for sharing your wisdom.

August 4, 2013 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger Molly Greene said...

Hi Anne! Fabulous post, as always. As Ruth said above, great pointer re: “21st C prose,” thanks for the reminder. All I can say is that my blog gave me enormous confidence – two years ago I cringed every time I published my weekly post, fearing every word was awful and I was a hack. Now I can hold my head high, I’ve met fabulous people as a result of my efforts on social media, and I’ve learned to maneuver in a medium I knew nothing about. Life is good! Huge congratulations on your success and thanks for your generous support for all of us. Blog on!

August 4, 2013 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

For me, social media is all about learning and connecting! Sales would only be a side benefit :)

August 4, 2013 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Priscilla Strapp said...

The best part about your timeline was seeing myself in your year one and realizing where I could be in four years. Wow.

August 4, 2013 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

Amazing advice as always. I especially don't think people realize that you do have to visit other blogs. It's of course okay not to, but not if you expect and hope to get traffic back to yours! ;)

August 4, 2013 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

Great post, as usual. I agree with making tweetable titles. There are times when I've wanted to tweet a blog post, but the title is so generic and I don't feel like writing a new one, so I won't even bother to Tweet.

August 4, 2013 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Stephen--Congrats on starting your blog and getting so many followers right away! You're doing WAY better than I did at that stage.

Molly--You forgot to say you've become a blog expert with a wonderful book out on blogging. I highly recommend your blog!

Julie--It's true. I've met so many wonderful people in social media. They enrich my life in so many ways. Even if I'd never sold a book, I'd still enjoy all of it.

Priscilla--That's it--anybody can go from zero to bestseller if you find your niche. Anybody. You wouldn't believe the discouraging rejections I got!

Nina--That's the secret. Social media is social. If you sit on your blog like a spider waiting for flies, you won't get very far. You have to go out and talk to people and let them know you're there!

Handy--Don't you hate that? Great post, but the title is something like "Books and Libraries". Nobody's going to click on it, and you don't have time to fix the title. Bloggers need to learn to be a little cheesy with their titles.

August 4, 2013 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Jan Christensen said...

This was very encouraging, Anne. I'm glad blogging has been so good to you. I've been doing it twice a week for almost a year now. I don't have that many visitors, but I do see an uptick every so often. I think your advice about commenting on other blogs is probably the advice I need to follow now. So, here I am!

August 4, 2013 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger John Wiswell said...

I can definitely see posting on Bransford's blog helping you take off. Nothing helps a platform as much as another gigantic platform!

Thank you for this lovely and encouraging post. I keep plugging away at blogging on the daily schedule, wondering how much longer I can last.

August 4, 2013 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger eric tomlinson said...

Great post! Found through facebook, so that also has its place. It concurs with my own belief that I need to network on the wider stage.

Thanks and I will take this all on board

http://goo.gl/eG2K0

August 5, 2013 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger Ellis Shuman said...

Excellent advice as always!

(There, I'm following your advice and posting a comment on this article).

August 5, 2013 at 2:04 AM  
Blogger Gemma Hawdon said...

This is one of those rare posts that lifts your day, adding a skip to your step and a glimmer of hope that it's all worth it, that one day your blog will be followed by, not just your friends and your Aunt Boris, but a string of merry followers. As an added bonus, you have excellent information, Google+ especially. Thanks Anne ;-)

August 5, 2013 at 3:26 AM  
OpenID gargimehra said...

Anne, I remember regularly commenting on your blog couple of years ago. You totally deserve all the success that came to via blogging because your blog is and has always been a great resource for writers. I do maintain a blog, but have to learn to stick to a schedule – posting once a month as you suggest is a good idea.

August 5, 2013 at 4:52 AM  
OpenID pruebatten said...

Anne, thanks so much for the shout-out on my latest blog post. Your comments on blogging, as on so many other aspects of a writer's life, are on the money. And yes, very very good friends (of a lifetime) have emerged from this wonderful thing we call social media.

If I could just add -
in respect of myself, I rarely ever blog about writing, and only ever occasionally blog about my books. The reasons for that are that there are many writers far more able than me to create relevant blogs on those aspects of the authorial world. But what I did decide to do, was blog about aspects of my life and in most cases, and strangely for a writer, few words and lots of my own pics. I've got the advantage of being an Australian sheep farmer and am besotted with all things marine; it all seems to chime with what people want to read. They don't often comment, but the traffic is reasonable. And those viewers can, if they want, click on my pages which tell them about me, my hist.fict books and my hist.fantasy books. It's a subtle thing and I am relieved to think I'm not pressuring any viewers at all. I like to think they relax completely when they come to the blog.

Once again, thanks for the detail of your thoughts and experience and thanks for the link to my blog.

August 5, 2013 at 5:07 AM  
Blogger Oxford Writers Collaborative said...

Anne, another great post. Very interesting about Google+. Have just spent the last hour trying to sort it and the comment disappeared! Trying again.

I'm in the process of setting up a blog as one of my characters. He blogs in the book. It will have posts on his travels, recipes, photos, and excerpts from the book, etc. Am I crazy? A lot of the points you make above still fit this scenario, but there are some questions in my mind. Is blogging as a character a bit creepy, like fraud or stalking? Has anyone else tried this?

By the way, passed a lorry with 'Sherwood Press' all over it on the way north to Oxford the other day. Made me think of you.

August 5, 2013 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger Coleen Patrick said...

Thanks for the info about not getting Thesaurus Happy! Good to know. I like to blog, but time is a big factor. So it's great to know that there are good reasons to be doing it. Thanks! :)

August 5, 2013 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Johanna Garth said...

So much truth and wisdom in this post. I wrote a post about why I love blogging so much today. Sometimes it feels like a slog, but it's great writing practice and it keeps me connected with both fans and peers which is invaluable!

August 5, 2013 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jan--I'm glad it made you feel encouraged. Yes, visiting other blogs will definitely help build audience. Also becoming a regular on a forums or FB group.

John--Nathan really helped. I think belonging to the community on his blog is what made this one take off. Daily blogging is exhausting. I don't know how people do it and still keep plugging away at their WIP. I blog 3 times a month, which works for me. I actually now have a better Alexa rating in the US than Nathan himself. (I'm at 45K and he's at 49K. With Alexa lower is better.)

Eric--Welcome! I have a rocky relationship with FB because they enable trolls and punish the victims, but I really appreciate it when my readers post links there.

Ellis--Glad you're joining the party!

Gemma--How great to hear I've brought you some cheer. Yes, it does happen.

Gargi--Welcome back! Yes, a schedule does help.

Prue--Great advice. You have a unique and always fascinating blog partly because 1) You're a sheep farmer in Tasmania--most of us don't know many of those and 2) You're also a great photographer. I love the way your blog header has a gorgeous medieval painting, so we know you're a historical novelist, but your posts are about all aspects of your life as a writer/farmer/needleworker.

Oxford--Sorry. Blogger was having a hissy fit around 5:30 yesterday afternoon. I couldn't get into the blog myself. No idea what that was about. I don't recommend blogging exclusively as one character. It hems you in too much. You want a blog to launch a whole career, not just one book or series. It can be a cute gimmick, but only do one post from "him" a month or something. Do other stuff too.

How fun to hear there is a Sherwood Press! Sherwood Ltd. will rise again in the next Camilla book.

Colleen--Everybody tells you to blog, but nobody tells you why. :-) But it IS worth it. Just blog slow. Once a week worked for me.

August 5, 2013 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Claude Nougat said...

Anne, as always your blog posts are full of info and a joy to read!

The only point on which we differ, but then it's a question of temperament, is the question of slow blogging vs. flash blogging. For almost 3 years I did slow blogging, deep stuff, often innovative insights etc etc about once a week, maximum twice a week (but that was rare).

My blog soared, reached about 30,000 pageviews/month then, unaccountably, crashed by more than 50%!! In May, I suddenly got 300 pageviews/day where I had been getting 1,000. Who knows why, I have absolutely no idea what happened because I swear I did nothing different (plus comment as usual on other people's blogs and include links to posts etc).

Another odd thing happened: Zemanta disappeared. That used to be a useful Internet research assistant. Zemanta automatically listed blogs that had posts similar to yours. You could go over and check them out and link to them as needed.

Why did Zemanta disappear? I don't know. I tried uploading it back on my blog several times using different browsers (Firefox is my favorite but I do use Chrome) and nothing. It won't upload, it's broken!

So I decided on another approach: flash blogging. Flash blogging means doing a super short post, include (as always) a couple of links and above all images and videos.

Result? My blog traffic has somewhat recovered - up to about 500-600 pageviews/day but still amazingly low compared to 4 months ago. Also, I blog 5 times/week and I'm not sure I can keep it up. It doesn't take long to do (one hour every morning)and I've got a trick to find subject matter: just read the Heralt Tribune on my Kindle or some other journal (I vary) then dig into an article I find interesting - link to it, explain it in 2 words and ask a question. Simple!

August 5, 2013 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Rosi said...

So much good information in this blog. I didn't know about Google+, but I will be looking into it now. Thanks. I will be keeping this bookmarked and will link it on my blog.

August 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM  
OpenID rolandclarke.com said...

Timely post as reached point when my erratic blogging was putting of my followers I suspect. So a lot of lessons here.

Many thanks

August 5, 2013 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

via email (Blogger is being squirrely this week. Sigh):

Anne, you certainly deserved to flash forward in your career. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and offering excellent tips on blogging. I have been at it since 2009, but wish I had started earlier. Though my following is small, I know having the website not only is good for me when I want to publish, but it's an excellent writing habit--and sometimes we need more than just our novels to get us to sit at the keyboard.

Thanks again, Elizabeth Havey

August 5, 2013 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Julie Valerie said...

I think you and I are on the same wavelength yet again.

About a week ago, your post lined up nicely with my 3-part BookVibe coverage and today, as I read your post (AWESOME, BTW - the best I've read on the topic - and I'm definitely going to share it on social media) I kept thinking about my vanity URL Google+ post of a few days ago and a post I wrote for Meredith Schorr's blog (went live today) titled "Blogging vs. Bacon" which was my way of celebrating the merits of blogging but in a short, (hopefully) entertaining piece. Quick reference: http://wp.me/p318Hj-rz

I mention these not because I'm trying to do that spammy thing where you leave links, etc. in a comment section of someone's post (really, truly) - but to say, wouldn't be great if we could index each other across blogs? I wish there was a hashtag directory of weekly topics that bloggers could list their posts under - and then we can all blog hop across each other's sites according to topic. I often read your posts wanting to shout: "Yes! Me, too! I'm talking/thinking/writing/learning about the same thing!"

I suppose you must be reading your follower's minds and delivering to us each and every week wonderful content that is very relevant to our lives.

Gee, is THAT why you win so many awards?!?!

Great job, as usual, Anne. You're the bestest!

August 5, 2013 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Beth Havey@Boomer Highway said...

Anne, you certainly deserved to flash forward in your career. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and offering excellent tips on blogging. I have been at it since 2009, but wish I had started earlier. Though my following is small, I know having the website not only is good for me when I want to publish, but it's an excellent writing habit--and sometimes we need more than just our novels to get us to sit at the keyboard.
Thanks again, Elizabeth Havey

August 5, 2013 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Claude--Your invention of "flash blogging" probably works great for people who just want to stop in for a Tweet-type experience--and definitely blogging every day will get more attention from the search engines.

I've never used Zemanta--although I see they now have an app for Blogger. It seems to be still very much a player, so why it's not working on your blog, I don't know. I have no idea if they have help support or not.

Rosi--Google+ is easy and not much of a chore to keep up. I hope it will become more of a hub at some point.

Roland--Erratic blogging is the #1 reason for blogfails. (That and saying nothing but "buy my book" every post.) So posting a schedule and sticking to it will be a great way to get regular readers.

Elizabeth--Sorry about Blogger blocking you. No idea why. You're so right that blogging is good for your writing skills. When you're stuck on your WIP, you can write up a bunch of blogposts, line them up for later, and you're still working on your career.

Julie--I subscribe to your blog so I saw the notice of your "Bacon" post but haven't had time to check it yet. Will do. I love the idea of a weekly directory that organizes posts by topic. I wish somebody would do that!

I get a lot of my ideas for posts from the comments here and from questions my readers email me, so I guess we're both "listening" to what's out there right now.

August 5, 2013 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Anne, my computer got "sick" and put me out of commission for a couple of days. You know this particular posts speaks to something so many of us bloggers need to hear. Thanks so much ... here I am ... better late than :)

August 5, 2013 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Cindy Keen Reynders said...

Wonderful information. Thanks!

August 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Alicia Street said...

I confess, Anne, I've had a bad case of blog-droop lately. But you've inspired me! Thanks for the well-informed kick in the booty. :)

August 5, 2013 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Johanna--Your comment sneaked in there when I was answering those others. I'll go check your blogpost! I admit to some sloggy moments myself, but mostly it's fun.

Fois--So sorry your computer has been under the weather. But I didn't have to fish you out of the spam folder today, so at least Blogger has learned who you are!

Cindy--Thanks for stopping by.

Alicia--I like the phrase "blog-droop". I've seen a lot of droopy blogs recently. It's partly summer I think. This is always a low time of year for blogs. We have more fun (and healthy) things to do.

August 5, 2013 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Shauna Bray said...

Ann, I can't agree enough with this. I work in marketing for a small publishing company and I often writhe in frustration over authors who complain that they're blogging but don't have enough followers. Their posts are tedious and invite no interaction, the posting schedule is erratic and the author always claims he or she "doesn't have time" to follow other blogs. I think you get out of it what you put into it. I hope my sharing your post will spur some of our authors to action.

August 5, 2013 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Shauna--Thanks for stopping by--and spreading the word. Some of Celery Tree's authors are the bloggers I met when I was first learning about blogging: Clarissa Draper, Karen Jones Gowan, Ann Carbine Best. I admit I don't get to their blogs as often as I used to. And they may be suffering some burn out. As we find publishers, our focus has to change from other writers to readers. I hope Celery Tree is thriving!

August 5, 2013 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Mira said...

Wow, Anne. I remember that post you wrote for Nathan! I remember reading it and really liking it. But you were just starting out....

And look at you now! You have really built something, and you should be really proud! You bring a lot of really good information to a lot of people.

Cheers to you! :)

August 5, 2013 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Lohninger said...

Hi Anne
Thank you for another excellent blog! I particularly appreciated your SEO bit. Same reaction here... But it´s ALL becoming clearer now :)

August 6, 2013 at 4:08 AM  
Blogger Becky Rickman said...

I'm an eager newbie to the writing community and have quickly learned that marketing and networking is a huge part of the equation. I read every morning blogs like yours to keep me informed, but I gotta tell you, girl, this one blows them all away! You have given me more information, in a more readable enjoyable way, than any I can recall. I am going to my blog now and giving it an overhaul, incorporating some of the brilliant tips you've given us. Thanks, Anne!!!

August 6, 2013 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Mira--I remember chatting with you on Nathan's blog in those days! We seemed to think alike. Nathan has done so much for newbie writers--and especially for me. Such a sweet man. I hope he's happy back there in Brooklyn.

Elisabeth--I'm glad that helped clear up the SEO thing for you. I get so annoyed when people keep telling you to use SEO, but they never tell you what it is!

Becky--I'm glad to hear you find the post so helpful! It's a long learning curve, and the only way to find it is to read a whole lot of blogs and see what works for you. Unfortunately some people giving the advice don't quite understand how it works. Social media is not for hard-selling, which is how most marketers use it.

Thanks for the day-brightener! Nice to read on a cold, foggy morning.

August 6, 2013 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Belinda Pollard said...

Anne, what a wonderful post, and so timely for me. Feeling very glum about the whole blogging thing today, for some reason.

The thought that blogging was the factor that turned your writing career around... how wonderful. So many people say "you won't sell books by blogging". Maybe that's true in the way that they mean it -- you don't get a thousand sales a day just by starting a blog, and if you expect to do so you'll be disappointed.

But you do get to meet people and encourage and inspire each other, and even work on projects together!

I've found that Twitter was good for bringing some traffic to my blog in the first place, because otherwise no one would have known I existed. And now that it's getting a bit of Google attention for certain "long tail keywords" (did you like that bit of SEO speak? do I sound like I know what I'm talking about??? Ha! Don't believe it!), I get far more traffic from Google searches than Twitter.

But in the end I kind of hate the whole numbers thing. What I really love about my blog is the people it's brought into my life. Maybe that sounds a bit sappy, but it's just the truth. Thanks for inspiring me to soldier on! :-)

August 6, 2013 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Belinda--I'm so glad the post made you feel less glum about blogging. Agents, publishers and marketers tell authors they must blog, but they never say why. That's because many of them simply don't get blogging themselves.

Yes, Twitter was one of the big things that first built my blog traffic. The other was links from other blogs. Now that I'm friends with the Google spiders, it's almost all search-engine driven. Good keywords are probably vital, but I have no idea what they are. If I've done that right, it's by mistake.

And you've got it right that it's all about the people you meet. Not just for moral support. If one of them is an agent or publisher--they just might make your career. Happened to me.

August 6, 2013 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow! Thank you for an outstanding post! I went ahead and bought Sherwood, Ltd., and I'm sure I'll be referring back to this post in the future. I'm a copywriter, and the one book I've published is non-fiction, but I'm starting to work on fiction and I'm learning a good deal from blogs like yours, Joanna Penn's The Creative Penn, and others. I have already implemented many of your excellent suggestions Thanks again!

August 6, 2013 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Unknown--I hope you enjoy Sherwood! Nonfiction and fiction are such different animals. I used to find it very hard to write nonfic, until I started blogging. Now I'm much better at it. But it does use a different part of the brain, so sometimes you can't do both in one day--or at least at the same sitting. You need to give your brain a rest in between.

August 6, 2013 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger ihath said...

Thank you for sharing what you learned along the way

August 7, 2013 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Loved this Anne. I'm going to FB it so other writers take a look too. Such great information. I am elated to know I'm on the right track, even if I do have a few things to adjust too. I agree-- I think the big benefit of blogging is being able to write, and let people see you shine as a writer and person. Connection.

August 7, 2013 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger Sally Ferguson said...

Very practical info that can be applied immediately! Glad to hear I'm not the only one to end up in facebook jail!

August 7, 2013 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

ihath--I'm still learning all the time, & I'll be bringing the new info to the blog. Thanks for stopping by.

Julie--Thanks so much for the FB share! I'm so glad the post reassures you. Mostly we need to realize we're in this together and share information.

Sally--FB jail is so annoying. I wish they'd figure out trolls are just using the "report abuse" button in order to abuse people.

August 8, 2013 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger BECKY said...

Anne, I love your blog.You always share such an abundance of knowledge, I feel like I've just left a fabulous writers conference and I'm pumped! :)
Thanks much!

August 9, 2013 at 5:37 AM  
Blogger Mitzi said...

Anne:
I'd saved this to read and now saving it to reread and to learn from it.
Thanks so much.
Mitzi
www.mitziflyte.com
www.facebook.com/MitziFlyteAuthor

August 9, 2013 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger Jill Haugh said...

So, dear humble Anne. Yes, you wrote a blog, but not just ANY blog. THE blog. The TOur de Force blog chock full of so much information if your not ready for it it'll just kill ya--right there. Dead on the spot.
Plus, your frank and friendly writing always makes me want to try harder. So, thanks.
And if you ever write a YA steampunk apocalyptic vampire-zombie thriller,(with a humorous slant of course) I'll be first in line to read it!
~Just Jill

August 9, 2013 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Becky--Thanks so much. Speaking of writers conferences, I'm posting about them on Sunday. But it's true you can get most of the same info right here in the blogosphere.

Mitzi--Love it when you bookmark us! I'm glad you're finding lots of helpful info here.

Jill--You're so sweet! But I hope I'm not overwhelming people. Of course, they can do what Mitzi did and bookmark it and come back. And I do have a lot of this info in my book How to be a Writer in the E-Age.

And I may write some post- apocalyptic steampunk yet. And maybe throw in some zombie vampires. :-)

August 9, 2013 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Emily Cross said...

Oh Jebus, I had a lovely long comment and now blogger deleted it on me. . .

Anyhoo, Anne, I just wanted to say that this article (as always) was excellent and I really look forward to your next post on content, as often I feel a blog needs a 'take-home message' or 'focus' rather than randomosity (which is what mine is like :) )

Also I wanted to thank you for dropping by my dead blog, I appreciate it! Hopefully after 13th November (my viva, so keep fingers and toes crossed for me), I'll be much more active :)

Can't wait!!

August 10, 2013 at 4:00 AM  
Blogger Westin Lee said...

Hey! Part two is good also. I started my own blog (again!) this year and this advice does indeed work! It's still a young place but I'm garnering a ton of attention. I wish I had kept my previous blog iteration from like 2008, but I didn't follow your advice and deleted everything. At the rate things are going, I can expect to have a decent readership by the end of the year.

If I may add one more tip: When you blog (or use any website), you MUST have some kind of metrics to track. That's how you can zero in on where people are coming from and which of your posts are getting attention! My most popular posts are analysis and ruminations on the storytelling in video games.

Oops, if this is what the upcoming post is about, I will be quiet now. :D

August 10, 2013 at 5:01 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Emily--I have no idea why Blogger does that. It happens to me so often, I copy a comment to my clipboard before I hit the post button. It's so great to hear from you! You were one of my very first blogfriends. Love the word "randomosity"--which can sometimes work on a blog, so don't worry. I will indeed keep fingers crossed for you to get your degree and then have time to rejoin us in the blogosphere.

Westin--Congrats on getting your blog going again. Good point about the analytics: Blogger has them right on our dashboard, so it's easy to track. The posts that get the most comments don't always get the most hits. They may attract fewer people, but those people are more engaged. You want to have a balance of both types of posts.

On the other hand, I hate to tell a new blogger to pay too much attention to analytics, because it can be so depressing. I didn't even know I could check them during my first blog year, so I didn't know how depressed I was supposed to be. :-) Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

August 10, 2013 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger richard levesque said...

Thank you so much for this. I've been blogging for just over a year and after a while realized that most people reading my blog were other writers, not necessarily people looking for a good science fiction novel. I had pretty much decided that blogging was a better tool for non-fiction writers than it is for fiction, but I have finally started making connections with fans through my blog.
Most posts I see about blogging for writers just go on about why it's necessary and what to blog about, but yours actually gives real, practical advice on how to get that blog to actually do some work for one's career! Thank you again.

August 11, 2013 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger venkyiyer58 said...

You say "Anything too busy will drive people away." I find your blog fairly busy, and it did not drive me away. What is the criteria for "busy?" I ask this because I have been procrastinating over launching my own blog for months now, and it is high time I started the countdown.

August 11, 2013 at 7:19 AM  
Blogger Jason Matthews said...

Wow, Anne, are we inter-dimensional twins or something? I feel like I'm listening to a recording of myself with your advice here. Couldn't have said it better.
Blog to a schedule that works for you--do social media including G+, FB and Twitter--participate and network more than self promote--be in if for the long haul because it's good for you.

August 11, 2013 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Richard--I'm so glad this helps. It's true that a blog has more direct impact on sales for a nonfiction writer, but a novelist needs a Google presence too. And we need to be accessible to our readers.

venkyier--I'm surprised you find this pale green background 'busy'--it's one of the simpler ones around. We do have our books in the sidebar, but that's standard for an author blog. When I say 'busy' I'm thinking of backgrounds that are photographs or pictures, and pages with several columns of text, and lots of flashy gifs, bright colors, and ads.

August 11, 2013 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jason--You've got it DOWN! And you said it in much fewer words than I did. :-)

August 11, 2013 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Greg Strandberg said...

I definitely agree with your point about having just one blog.

I have 3 on two different websites and it can be quite the work to post to them regularly.

For three months I was doing it everyday to each, boy, how'd I do that?

Now I'm happy with 1 to 2 posts a week.

August 11, 2013 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Greg--How DID you do that? I'll bet you didn't have a lot of time for your WIP. There seem to be two ways writers approach blogging...the "oh no, you can't make me" attitude and the "jump in with both feet and see how much trouble I can get in" attitude. I advise moderation instead. One to two posts a week on one blog is perfect. I'll bet you're feeling a lot less stress.

August 11, 2013 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Creaky door writer said...

Hi Anne
Another great post. I have just sent the link to a colleague who has been tasked with starting up a blog at work - even though it's not a writer's blog, you provide loads of great general advice too. For me, starting up a writer's blog creakydoorwriter.blogspot.co.uk
seemed to help me overcome a huge psychological barrier. Having wanted to be a writer all my life, I didn't truly feel that I was one until I 'came out' online as a writer and began to write about writing. Your advice has helped me enormously and continues to be a huge encouragement. Blog on!

August 12, 2013 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Creaky/Sophie--I'm so glad this post can help a new blogger. You're right that the principles are the same no matter what the subject. Social media is social. You can't sit in your hidey-hole and wait for people to find you. You have to go out and be friendly. But, as you say in your own blog, most writers have conflicting feelings about being "in public." So getting a blog going is a great way to overcome that fear and feel like a professional writer. Congrats.

August 12, 2013 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Julmacray said...

Excellent blog. Lots of great tips. I am going to check out your books. :) Thanks.

August 12, 2013 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Really fantastic tips! Thank you for sharing these. Blogging, while fun, has been something that, I've struggled with. Twitter, even worse. Bookmarking this, thanks again!

August 16, 2013 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julmacray--Thanks. Really appreciate it when people take a look at my books too!

Caitlin--Glad the tips help. I'll be talking more about blogging this Sunday.

August 16, 2013 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Meghan Ward said...

Nathan Bransford also suggests commenting EARLY on a post so that all the subsequent commenters see your comment. As commenter #86, that is something I am not very good at! I always emphasize to my blogging students how important it is to comment on other people's posts, so I'm so glad you mentioned that here. So many people think they can just write posts and wait for people to find their blog.

And yes, Google+ is the future! I need to work on circling more people and sharing more posts. So far I mostly use it to repost what I put on FB. I haven't been very interactive. It's tough to find time for everything!

August 17, 2013 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Meghan--Nathan's advice is a great tip! Be one of the first if possible. Of course being at the end isn't bad, since people will see you if they're making a comment of their own.

I wish Google+ were simpler. Most of the people who took my advice are having awful trouble navigating it. Apparently Google+ messes with a Blogger blog and removes your bio and replaces it with something from Google+, even if it doesn't happen to be your own. Not good.

I hear you about not having the time!

August 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Patricia said...

I read your blog every Sunday, Anne, but rarely if ever comment. I'm daunted by the sight of 88 comments and just back away. But, I want to thank you for this advice about blogging. I've had a website for about 3 years now and blog every Wednesday without fail. I can't seem to increase my following and maybe that has to do with what I blog about which is totally eclectic, i.e. animals one day and teenage hairdos the next. Any advice?
Patti

August 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Hi Patricia--Thanks for scrolling all the way down here! (Today's post only has five comments, so you wouldn't have to scroll so far if you wanted to go say hi to Ruth.)

I just checked the two blogs linked to this profile and one seems to be a nice group blog for romance writers and the other is a fun blog for Boomers. But you probably have one attached to a website that isn't linked.

What I see is that maybe you're spread too thin. Group blogs are great, so I'd keep that. But maybe you could fold your beebop blog into your main one.

Then I'd suggest you spend more time networking with your niche. If it's Boomers, you can meet Boomers at the BoomerLit FB page or GR group (Although I'm not recommending any authors go to Goodreads right now. It's not author friendly.) But try Googling "Boomer Books" and see if you find any blogs you like. The way to get Search engines to notice you is to make comments on other blogs. It's also the way to meet people. A Boomer blog I love is Florence Fois's Fois in the City. It's pretty eclectic, but she has a nice following. She's taking a month off at the moment, but you could look around and see if you get any ideas. http://bit.ly/15aGlMZ

August 25, 2013 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Janis Van Keuren said...

Hi Anne, this is my first time on your site and I have found a lot of helpful information. Came here on a tip from Amy Lynn Andrews and I'm so glad I followed it.
I may be commenting months later but I'm not a troll. I have a blog but I'm having trouble building readership, even though I've been writing for three years. However, last year, I almost dropped out of sight. Couldn't handle it and a full-time special ed job that had me running all day.
Now that I'm retired, I'm trying to get things going again but I feel like my brain and ideas have dried up as well as an increase in the number of followers.
I am on Google+ and every other social media. Soon I'll have a Facebook page just for my blog posts.
Consistency is something I lack. Thanks for the suggestion on posting a schedule. I link up with other blog hops all of the time and hope to get exposure that way but I find the same people there all the time.
I will be bookmarking your post to remind myself of what I need to do. And I am following you now.
Thank you for all of the helpful suggestions.
Janis

October 12, 2013 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Janis-Welcome! No way would I ever think a comment like this is trollish. We get comments on posts from many years ago all the time. We consider it a compliment that people see our content as "evergreen."

Certain jobs take all our emotional energy. Teaching sure is one of those. Rewarding but draining. But we all owe you a debt of gratitude for educating the next generation.

Only do what works for you. Blog hops can be draining "busy work." You might get more rewards from commenting on a few high profile blogs than "hopping" around.

The best thing to do is post something on your blog every week or every two weeks on the same day. Then Tweet and Google+ it and don't pressure yourself to do more for a while. Work on "hooky" blogpost titles and great content, rather than running yourself ragged.

We're going to have a post on October 20 on how to use Google+ effectively. It's the best way to get yourself noticed by Google's search engine.

October 12, 2013 at 8:57 PM  
OpenID mardmood said...

Hi Anne, I came across this post from Amy's (Blogging with Amy) useletter. Thanks for this awesome blog post. No. 1, 5 and 9 were my favourites.

I recently came to realize that returning a visit to blogs of bloggers who "like" my posts are really essential in building connections. At first I thought it's just polite to do so, so at the very least I will stop by and thank them for stopping by my blog.

It made me realize that hey, it really helps to connect with the writer behind the blog and that is one of the things I love about blogging. And it's true you do learn something new!

Mardhiah

October 12, 2013 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

mardhiah--I'll have to thank Amy for sending so many readers our way. You've got it exactly right: connecting with the blogger is the real point of reading the blog. (And connecting with other readers of the blog.) Connecting on blogs is, in my experience, more lasting and useful than other social media connections. Twitter connections are fleeting and on FB and Google+ it's all about racking up numbers. But when you mutually follow other bloggers, you keep up with each other and a friendship can take hold. That's what it's all about: making friends.

October 13, 2013 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger E.S. Ivy said...

Thanks for the tips! I need to start updating on google plus, but at least when I google my name, es viy, it's my twitter account that comes up first!

October 19, 2013 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

E.S. You're in luck. Tomorrow, Oct 20th, we'll have a guest post on Google Plus that includes a tutorial video! A SEO expert will tell us all we need to know to get Google to notice us!

October 19, 2013 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger B Lee Draper said...

Thank you so much for this fabulous post - so incredibly useful for a total beginner like myself.
I found myself bookmarking so many of your posts I just subscribed (duh) & will go through & read every past entry, as well as all the future ones.
You're a resource all to yourself. :)

October 19, 2013 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

B. Lee--Why thank you [blushes]. Welcome! So glad you're finding the posts useful. It's partly because we get such fabulous guests. Tomorrow we have a guest post from an SEO expert about how to use Google Plus that comes with a free webinar!

Also, a lot of this info is available in a handy-dandy e-book (p-book, too), called How to be a Writer in the E-Age. :-)

October 19, 2013 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Delora Dennis said...

I'm so glad I subscribed to your blog. The information is always relevant and useful. Blogging continues to be my biggest challenge, but I'm determined to push on. With role models like you, I feel like this is something I can conquer.

Looking forward to your next post.

January 21, 2014 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Delora--Thanks! I love to hear that. Blogging takes time. I had many early blogposts that got zero hits. The secret is to comment on other blogs and see if you can get some guest post gigs--not necessarily on the big name blogs, but on other blogs in your genre where you can network. It's all about the networking. Good luck!

January 21, 2014 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Skint but Not Skiving said...

Thanks Anne, Ruth and Molly Greene for your helpful post on blogging and the internet. I've been blogging at my new website annieharrower-gray.weebly.com for a few weeks and I've been feeling that I'm being bogged down by my lack of internet knowledge rather than blogging. You ladies have explained things in the sort of simple straightforward way that men don't seem to be able to get to grips with. Every tutorial I looked at, seemed to assume I already had the knowledge I was looking for and went on to talk about things that make my eyes cross.
Thanks again girls.

January 21, 2014 at 10:17 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Skint--I'm so glad we helped. Molly Greene is the best! You've probably been reading posts by marketers and techies rather than writers. They tend to write in Klingon. :-) They throw around so many jargon words that the piece makes no sense in normal English. And most marketers really don't get it. They don't understand that social media is about connecting with people, not overwhelming them with data. Good luck with your blog!

January 22, 2014 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Charity Paschall said...

This may be one of the best "clicks" I have ever clicked so far as my career in writing goes. Thank you for sharing your tips. I have a blog that I have been posting to (off and on) for awhile now, but this post really opened my eyes on how to optimize it. My main problem right now is that I do write in different genres and have not made a decision thus far about using a pen name--if I use a pen name, it seems like it will just take that much longer to build a following for that pen name as well. (But I don't want to confuse my readers or have people turn away because they liked my first story and hated the second--since they were different genre). Oh, the woes of being a writer. :)

March 29, 2014 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Charity--I'm so glad this post "clicked" for you. I don't think that authors need to use different names to write in different genres any more if they're self-publishing. Dean Wesley Smith has written about it on his blog. He used to be into pen names and has changed his mind. He says indie publishing changes everything. You can brand your books with cover art and blurbs. Blogs have many pages, so you can have one page for each genre. Writers like Neil Gaiman write in many genres and use the same name. He doesn't have to have separate social media personas for his adult books and his YA books, comic books and screenplays. He has a great online presence as @NeilHimself. All one person. The only time you need a pen name is if you're writing things as diverse as erotica and Christian YA fantasy.

March 30, 2014 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Kat Loveland - Author said...

Anne,

There are days where I feel I have social media multiple personality disorder. I am on twitter, have a personal and professional page on FB, occasionally drop by Tumblr and on Wattpad and have my own site with a blog http://katlovelandauthor.weebly.com/ . As much as I know social media is about being social I am not much of forum crawler, mainly because most forums tend to devolve into cliqueish behavior. My blog allows me to say what I want, how I want, when I want and if much longer ways than other places. I have discovered that you never know how people find you though so I just keep putting things out there for people to read.

September 19, 2014 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kat--I think you've got it right. Your blog is the social medium that deserves the most attention. It helps to tweet your post (and tweet some of your peeps' posts) and visit a few blogs every day. FB may or may not be worth the time. It's finally starting to work for me, but Google plus is much better for getting you into a search. So do what's fun and not too stressful, then only look on the others occasionally. I've joined so many of those and I never visit at all. (Maybe I shouldn't admit that.) And I joined Pinterest by mistake last week (never "sign in with FB" to see somebody's page!) But the only thing that consistently raises my profile and sells my books is this here blog. I'm a confirmed blogophile. Keep it up.

September 19, 2014 at 3:45 PM  
OpenID theoldshelter said...

Thanks for sharing this, Anne. I loved it.

I’m a new blogger and sometimes I do wonder whether it’s worth my while. I do enjoy writing the blog a lot, but it’s so time-consuming and I only have a few followers and even less interaction. I know, I know, I’ve only been blogging seriously for a couple months, I should be patient, so you’re post really gave me hope that I am doing something worth. It takes years, even if I’d like to be there already.

Thanks again so much.

September 19, 2014 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Shelter--Starting a blog these days can be daunting, because there are so many of us bloggers out here. But it helps to compare it to a FB page or a Google Plus page--you have joined a community. So the first step after you get yourself set up in your new blog home is to get out and meet the neighbors. The more blogs you visit, the more people will come and visit yours. But yes, it takes a long time. Years. Nothing in this business happens as fast as we'd like it to, unfortunately. Keep at it!

September 20, 2014 at 9:12 AM  

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