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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 18, 2013

Social Media Secrets, Part III: What Should an Author Blog About?


This is the third in my series on my "Social Media Secrets." If you haven't read the first two yet, you might want to check out #1: How to Avoid Twitter-Fritter and Facebook-Fail and #2 How to Blog Your Way Out of the Slush Pile and onto the Bestseller List.

When I teach blogging, the most common question I get is: "What should I blog about?" 

My answer isn't the same as you'll hear from most blogging gurus: I say it depends on where you are in your career.

1) If you're a new author/blogger, your primary goal is to build an audience. The best way to do this is to network with other bloggers.

Most people who read blogs and comment regularly are also bloggers themselves, so this is your potential core audience.

Blog hops can be very valuable at this stage of your career. Jump on any opportunity to participate.

Go to other blogs in your niche—that's readers, reviewers and other authors—to see what they're blogging about and get to know people. When you find yourself leaving a long comment: that's your next blog post!

If you hope for a traditional publishing career, you should also be regularly visiting agents' blogs like Janet Reid's and Kristen Nelson's and former agent Nathan Bransford's to find out how the traditional publishing process works. You can also interact with other writers who comment on the blog.

If you think you might go indie, do the same on indie blogs like Joe Konrath's and The Passive Voice.

No matter what path you're contemplating, hanging out at friendly, troll-free writing-community blogs like Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group, Nathan Bransford's forums, and Kristen Lamb's We are Not Alone, will make you feel less isolated and help you meet people who can help you in your career.

This is like hanging out with co-workers in the coffee room or cafeteria at a new job. You'll find a huge amount of information just by listening. Think of your blog as your cubicle where people stop by to say hello. But first you have to introduce yourself in a general meeting place.

This means yes, you CAN talk about writing and publishing when you're starting out. You can commiserate and congratulate each other as you ride the roller coaster of this crazy business. (As long as you don't complain too much. Believe me, we've all felt the temptation to vent about the unfairness of the industry, but it won't help your career.)

2) Once you've got a few followers and you're getting ready to publish, it's time to switch gears. 

You don't have to stop blogging about writing entirely, but mix it up so you can start attracting more non-writers—especially readers in your niche.

Remember people surf the Web looking for two things: information and entertainment.

Your blog can spin a good yarn, make people laugh, provide information, or all three, as long as you put it in your own honest, unique voice and you’re not too whiny or preachy. (Although experts generally advise against fictional yarns. More on that below.)

Joel Friedlander wrote a great blogpost this month on  3 major mistakes author-bloggers make . He points out you need to know who you're blogging for. If you're writing hard sci-fi, you're going to want to reach to a different readership than if you're writing cozy mysteries. Unfortunately, marketers often tell authors to market indiscriminately to the entire population.

Try picturing your ideal audience when you're deciding what to blog about. What movies and TV shows might appeal to people who would like your book? What's their age group? What other interests do those people have?

If you're writing a Hunger Games type YA dystopian, blogging news about the next Hunger Games film might attract your ideal demographic. Tweet Jennifer Lawrence news and you'll get the HG fans coming to your blog.

If you're writing Regency romance, run a series on your favorite films set in the era, or talk costumes and history. Or join a Janeite community and weigh in on controversial topics like the mental health of Jane Austen's mother and whether Colin Firth is the one and only Darcy.

What Works in a Writer’s Blog

This is a partial list. I'd love more suggestions in the comments.

  • Interviews and Profiles: These don't have to be interviews with authors, although that's a fantastic way to network AND reach readers. Write crime novels? Interview a cop, forensic expert or private detective. Write bookstore cozies? Profile a series of bookstore clerks and visit their blogs.  
  • Informative pieces: This is where you can use all that research you did for your books that sounds too much like "info-dumping" in your novel. 
  • Reviews and spotlights of books in your genre: But be wary of starting an all-review site if you're an aspiring author. Honest reviewers sometimes have to be negative, which can open you up to bullying by an authors' posse. Spotlights make more friends. 
  • Film Reviews and info about other media in your genre. Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog is a great example of how to do this right. (Alex will be visiting next month to talk about how to create a blog community.) 
  • Comic or inspirational vignettes about your life. This can be almost anything, as long as it's entertaining, has a point, and doesn't turn into a pity party. An author who does a fabulous job with the comic personal story is rom-com author Tawna Fenske.
  • Stuff about your pets. Seriously. Never underestimate the power of a cute puppy or grumpy cat to draw hits. Catherine Ryan Hyde posted photos and videos showing the progress of her new cat and old dog learning to get along: a lesson in diplomacy. It got so popular, the dog and cat—now best of friends—have their own Facebook page.
  • Opinions (as long as you avoid polarizing subjects: see below) Any opinion piece about publishing news will probably get a lot of readers in the bookish community. Weigh in on Bezos buying the Washington Post, or how you feel about "authorized" fan fiction.
  • History and nostalgia pieces: Write historicals, or novels set in an earlier era? Anything about that era will be of interest to your readers. This is where people writing books of military history can share their own experiences. If you lived through history, the world wants to know about it. A blog is the perfect place to share. 
  • Travel pieces about the settings of your books. Even if you've only made the journey via Google maps and Wikipedia, your readers will be interested. If it's your hometown, even better. Interview local business owners and people who live and work in similar places to your fictional ones. This is where your own photographs can be a big plus. (Make sure all other photographs you use are not copyrighted. Only use photos licensed through Creative Commons.) 
  • How-to's and recipes. Write crafting mysteries? Offer interesting quilt patterns or knitting directions. Have a character who likes to fly kites? Tell readers how to build one.  And no matter what genre you write, if food is involved, people will enjoy a recipe for it. Or maybe you can offer a recipe for the busy writer to throw in the crockpot, or a tasty snack to serve to your book group.
  • Almost anything of general interest—especially to the kind of people you think might like your books. Anything that might make a good magazine article will make a good blogpost—especially a magazine your ideal reader is likely to buy.
  • A series of articles or vignettes you hope to make into a book. For nonfiction, blogging your book is OK, although if you get a traditional contract, you may be asked to take down those posts because of "non-compete" rules.

Not so Much

  • Daily word count. Sorry. Nobody cares. (Unless you're a member of a writers' group encouraging each other on—as sometimes happens during NaNoWriMo.) Although the original "weblogs" were often personal diaries, today's blogs are "other" oriented rather than "self" oriented and you need to write stuff that's interesting to people who don't already know you. 
  • Rejection sorrows and personal woes. These belong in your private journal. The one with the lock on it.
  • Your writer's block. Ditto. 
  • Teachy-Preachy stuff. Especially if you're not an expert. Don’t lecture people on how to get published if you’re not.
  • Pretentious word-farts. I landed on a writer's blog recently that gave no indication of the writer's name, genre, or work. Random phrases were scattered around, like: "This is all there is," and "Unless you are in pain, you're not doing it right," and "99% of published work is BS." Um, speaking of BS...  OK, this person is obviously young and going through a stage, but this isn't something you want to do in public.
  • Apologies for not blogging. We know it's hard to get around to the old blog. You don't need to tell us the specifics. Just call it "slow blogging" and get on with something interesting. 
  • Writing about writing exclusively, unless you have a "how to" book for writers
  • Religion or politics: unless your work is exclusively for people of the same faith or political persuasion. Or you live in a  part of the world with interesting politics and you have a unique viewpoint. (Extra credit if you're in a war zone.)
  • Your Fiction WIP. Especially if you hope to attract an agent. Not only do agents not have time to hunt for novels in the blogosphere, but they generally won't take a novel that's been blogged because it's already "published." (Selling novels is a different process from selling nonfiction—which is generally based 99% on platform—so the rules are different.)

    Some writers ARE able to attract a blog following by posting some short fiction or poetry, but I don't recommend you do it exclusively, because people skim blogs and usually won't read denser stuff. Plus you are giving away first rights and can't enter it in contests or submit to journals after putting it on a blog. It's better to post work in progress on a place like Wattpad which is password-protected and therefore not "publishing."

    But especially don't blog your unedited, unfinished novel hoping for praise or critique. You'll thank me later when you're at your editing stage. Honest. (If you want critique, I suggest you join one of the many online groups for the purpose, like CritiqueCircle.com.)
A blog is an expression of who you are: the face you offer the world. So be real and have fun.

Sometimes blogging can take off and you find you'd rather blog than work on your WIP. There's nothing wrong with that. You may have a future as a professional blogger and content provider—a much more lucrative field than writing novels. Nina Badzin discovered she enjoyed blogging more than fiction writing and used her blog to launch a career as a freelance writer.

Or if you're a book review blogger, you may be invited to intern for an agent and even become an agent yourself. That's what happened to book blogger Danielle Smith, now an agent at Foreword Literary.

But if you have your heart set on being a novelist, remember your fiction must take priority. That's why I support "slow blogging"—blogging once a week or less, preferably to a schedule.

For fiction writers, here's a quote from Jason Kong's post "7 Reasons Why Social Media isn't Growing Your Fiction Readership" from Joel Friedlander's blog.

"Your key to more followers isn’t posting more frequently or having more conversations. Nor is it constantly checking your feeds to see who said what. A readership develops because they have something to value and talk about....Writing good stories, as always, should remain your top priority."

For a more in-depth piece on how the stages of your writing career affect your blog you might want to read my piece, How to Blog Part 3: What Should You Blog About?

And here's a great piece about how to make your content "addictive" from Jeff Bullas. 

What about you, scriveners? What do you blog about? What do you want to read on other blogs? Any suggestions for the new blogger?

Next week: Ruth Harris is going to tell us about METADATA: one of those things we're all supposed to know about, but if you're like me, you're not quite sure what it is.

THIS WEEK'S BOOK DEAL: 
The Camilla Randall Mysteries Boxed Set is now on sale INTERNATIONALLY! 

My publisher has now spread the sale to all outlets. Thanks everybody, for keeping it on the Amazon US comic fiction bestseller list all summer. (And this week on the women's fiction bestseller list in Canada and comic fiction in Germany.)

99c on Amazon US, NOOK, and now £0.77 on Amazon UK  and 99c CDN on Amazon CA and 49 rupees on Amazon IN, and the equivalent on all Amazon stores.



"The Best Revenge, Ghost Writers in the Sky and Sherwood Limited are hysterical. Anne Allen will keep you laughing throughout, but in the meantime she dabbles her fingers in some topics worth some serious thought: sexism, weightism, lechery, murder, duplicity, homelessness & poverty to name a few. If you love to laugh, you'll like these three books. If you love to think, ponder AND laugh, be ready to fall in love"... C.S. Perryess

Note to anybody who has read a Camilla book and enjoyed it 

I could use your help. If you have time to leave a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, I'll be eternally grateful. When you have a bestselling book, the negative nellies come out and your star rating takes a hit. Comedy can be so subjective and a lot of people don't "get" the same things. (And sock puppets abound: a lot of the nasty comments come from people who've never reviewed anything elseor give nothing but one-stars to every other book on the same bestseller list. Plus on B & N, people can give stars with with no text.) If you do like my humor, and you've enjoyed the books, I could really use your help. Just a star rating on B & N could make all the difference.   


OPPORTUNITY ALERTS

1) Find a Writing Group through Galley Cat! One of the most reliable and popular news outlets in publishing is creating a directory for writers to network to get critiques of their work You can sign up here.

2) Get your book international visibility for a reasonable price. EBUK is now advertising bargain books to close to a dozen countries, including the US and Canada, and they're still at half price through the end of August. You can get more info here. Make sure your book is under $3.99 and provide links to all stores, not not only Amazon (unless you're in Select.) Ads are a little over 10 bucks until the end of August.

And you can sign up for the newsletter for your country right here. I've signed up for the new US version. If you like bargain ebooks, this is a great free service.

3) Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards. Since most short fiction contests tend to favor literary work, this is a great one for genre authors. Choose your favorite genre and enter your best in 4,000 words or less. Six first prizes of $500 each and a Grand Prize of $2,500 and a trip to the 2013 Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. Deadline September 16th

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 16th.

5) The Harper's Bazaar UK Short Story Prize is open to all writers. NO ENTRY FEE. Are you the next Dorothy Parker or Anita Loos? Submit an original short story (up to 3,000 words) on the subject of 'spring' to:shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk. The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey's Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for Peter Pan. Deadline December 13th.

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54 Comments:

Blogger G. B. Miller said...

Wow, can't believe I'm first.

I started out blogging about the following items: 1) writing, 2) work, 3) chat rooms, 4) relationships.

After awhile, I expanded and started blogging about anything that happened to strike my fancy.

I still blog about my adventures in writing, but mostly it's for the following items: 1) keeping people up to date with what I'm working on, 2) explaining why I write what I write, 3) asking people's advice/opinions on the stuff that I write, 4) other writing related "headaches".

I'm willing to read almost anything in blog, except multiple long uninterrupted author interviews/pimping of books, and blogs that are the "woe-is-me" whinefests.

My suggestion to new bloggers would be not to concentrate solely on book blog tours/author tours. While you may think its a good thing to have because it attracts readership, in my opinion, all it does is potentially turn away the casual reader. Why? Because most readers want to know about YOU, not about THEM.

August 18, 2013 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd always heard that you shouldn't post anything on your blog you are hoping to have published.
Extra credit if you're in a war zone - funny.
I have a blogger friend who writes both historical fiction and non-fiction, and Sean blogs about the same topics, often with pictures. Definitely a draw for his audience.
Thanks for mentioning the IWSG (something big is about to happen with that group) and my movie bits. I even have a science fiction movie set for tomorrow.
Excellent check list!!

August 18, 2013 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Trekelny said...

Ouch! My last post was a self-pitying rant!
I started out by breaking most of these rules. As a small group of us were getting into independent e-pub, we cranked up a co-owned website and took turns blogging. So I do get the "slow-blog" part right, and I am a firm adherent of that.
But the subject matter has been mixed. I've always wanted my posts to be masterworks- I'm mindful that most of my readership is likely not those who buy the books, but family and friends. So I aim for a middle point, hoping that everything I write leaves an impression that here's an interesting guy, saying worthwhile things.
Slow-blogging and sharing the site have allowed me the freedom and flexibility to do that. Hopefully, even the self-pitying rant is worth a chuckle.

August 18, 2013 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Perfect advice & perfect list!

My Lutheran Mom + decades in publishing knocked self-pity out of my persona. Is kvetching the same? Or different? I need some expertise here. ;-)

August 18, 2013 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Great post. So helpful. I took your advice and started following a couple of the blogs you recommended. I've decided to let go and have fun with my blog. If it's not fun, why do it? Life is too short and so is a writer's time. Thanks for all your help!

August 18, 2013 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Gabby said...

Anne ... Had to log into google AGAIN. Okay. What I said ws that I love your posts. They teach us so much and I thanked you and Ruth for being so generous with your knowledge. AND when I finish reading Camilla, I'll leave a review.

Now then. I have a small, modest following on the blog. But I love and have tons of fun with my various features :) Thanks for another winner !

August 18, 2013 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Gabby said...

AND I AM NOT GABBY WHOEVER SHE IS. I AM FLORENCE FOIS FROM FOIS IN THE CITY AND I THINK I HATE GOOGLE.

August 18, 2013 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Molly Greene said...

Great blog topic checklist, Anne, thanks so much! I’ve been wracking the old brain for something different to blog about and I’m betting one of your suggestions will help me break my brain freeze. I can add to your list – a couple of times I’ve posted a pastiche of 6 or so author’s opinions on a single subject – print vs ebooks was one – and they did well. Bloggers can set up a private FB page and hold the convo in real time. Although I’ve found that organizing authors can be sort of like herding cats  THANK YOU as always for this wonderful post!

August 18, 2013 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

G.B.--In a comment on my last post on blogging, Social Media expert Meghan Ward said being first to comment gets you much more exposure. So congrats!

And thanks for all these excellent tips. You're right that when a blog becomes nothing but promos for other authors--the authors may be grateful, but your own readers are going to feel cheated. Also, when you're on the blog tour circuit, people tend to treat the blog hosts like employees. Minus the paycheck. Keep control over your own site.

Alex--That's what I've heard too. But apparently nonfic agents have different rules. Can't wait to see the changes at IWSG!

Trekelny--Well, now I'm intrigued. I'll have to go over and read your rant. The occasional rant can be OK. I feel one coming on myself...

Ruth--I think a bit of kvetching is OK. As long as it doesn't involve whinging--lovely Brit word for industrial-grade whining.

Christine--I can see you're having fun with that blog now. That's what it's all about. If it's not fun, people can tell and won't want to be there.

August 18, 2013 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Florence Fois NOT Gabby--I can't believe Google gave you a different name!! Ruth says when she joined Google+, they put a bio of a stranger on her blog! This is isn't just Big Brother watching us. This is Big Brother assaulting us while on crack. Jeez. I wish I could do something to make them stop. Anyway, thanks for the comment. I think you've got a great little blog that's unique, quirky and always entertaining. I always enjoy your posts.

Molly--Brilliant idea. Ruth has done that with some of her posts on WG2E. She asks the same question of six or so writers, editors, cover designers and gets the full spectrum of advice. But I agree the discussion might be too much like herding cats. I hope I helped thaw the brain freeze.

August 18, 2013 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger L. Diane Wolfe said...

Basically, avoid the negative. It repels rather than attracts.

August 18, 2013 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Priscilla Strapp said...

Such helpful advice. When I started blogging, another writer said "Why would you blog about writing, when there are so many more qualified people already doing that?" I heard her and made sure that my blog is always about my thoughts on life--any part of life. So I might get an idea from the news or I might get my idea from watching a middle aged woman steal a menu. Basically, I write what I'd like to read and hope there are people out there who will find me and interact with my thoughts.

August 18, 2013 at 1:33 PM  
OpenID bridgetwhelan.com said...

Great list and thank you for the wealth of links - just been reading my way through them (that's what Sunday evenings are for, right?)
I write about news from the publishing industry, especially if it's funny or downright odd and information about writing competitions in addition to a regular timetable of Monday creative writing exercise (I'm a cw tutor with one mainstream novel under my belt), Safari Friday where I focus on websites that would be useful or fun for writers and on Sunday's a quote from a writer (because I like quotes) Who is my audience? I guess I'm aiming at the kind of people who come to my classes. Adult (20 to 70+), articulate but haven't necessarily written creatively since schooldays
What I like in other blogs - I'm looking for information and guidance and I stay if the writing is good and the voice is right (engaging personality - my test is: would I have a drink with them - occasional flashes of wit, but not intend on finding the humour in every situation, and without a shred of pomposity). If they have all that I will carry on reading & coming back even if they write about other subjects outside my area of interest

August 18, 2013 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Diane--Always good advice!

Priscilla--Just checked out your blog and yes, you're doing it just right. Fascinating commentary on current events. I think you're right that simply calling somebody "evil" is a cop-out--dealing with real life crime and in fiction. Villains have to be motivated by something besides "I think I'll do something evil today." I like your theory about self-hatred. The Golden Rule says to love your neighbor as yourself, but if you don't love yourself, your neighbor is kinda screwed.

Bridget--You've got a great blog too. Lots of fun stuff. Love the quotes. Because you teach, you have an automatic picture of your audience. A big help.

August 18, 2013 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger Natalie Aguirre said...

I think the important thing is to be consistent in your blogging schedule and find other bloggers to follow that will follow you back when you start out.

And find your niche. For me, it's been promoting other authors and their books.

August 18, 2013 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Rosi said...

Thanks, Anne. This post is chock full of good, useful information.

August 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger D.G. Hudson said...

I'm a slow blogger, so my posts are more content focused. I blog about my interests (art, photography, Paris, books and travel), and I like to feature photography and book reviews. I use themes as well. I like your blog because of the content and your wit.

I like this series, Anne. It tells me what I'm doing right and not so right. Thanks.

August 18, 2013 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Meghan Ward said...

So glad Ruth is going to write about metadata! I started to write a post about it two months ago after attending a networking event focused on it and realized that I still had no idea what it was. I think if you don't have a book out, it's not all that useful.

And love your suggestions on what to blog about. I'll share this with my blogging students!

Another great agent blog to follow is Rachelle Gardner's, by the way. A lot of great tips.

August 18, 2013 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Natalie--I agree. I think keeping to a schedule signals to readers that you're professional and you value their time. Finding your niche is the most important thing. Keep flexible until you settle into what works for you and your readers.

Rosi--Thanks!

DG--Mixing in photographs (especially of Paris :-)) is a good idea for bloggers who are good photographers. Alternating book reviews is a great idea. I'm so glad the series is helpful to you!

Meghan. Rachelle! I don't know why I left her out. Been fuzzy-brained this week after some surgery. I usually recommend her first. She's an agent who also understands indies. She's great.

So glad you can use this with your students!

August 18, 2013 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Roland D. Yeomans said...

Basically, I post about things that interest and amuse,thinking if the subject is entertaining for me, it stands a chance of being fun for other writers. All your points are well-taken. I learned most of this by trial and error. Mostly error! :-)

August 18, 2013 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

After almost 5 years, I'm still trying to figure out what to blog about. Sometimes it's writing, sometimes it's personal, sometimes it's just a crapshoot.

I think it's best just to be yourself.

Thanks Anne, another great post.

Oh, and I tried to get onto Google+ but like "Gabby"/Florence, they gave me another name and like Ruth, a whole different bio. So I think I'm going to pass on the plus.

August 18, 2013 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Great list, Anne. I actually don't like reading blog hops. They're a great way to get new readers to your blog, so I see their advantage, but I find them kind of boring to read. I love when a writer invites me in to their world and personality-- something a little more personable and not too long.

August 18, 2013 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Roland--You've been playing this game as long as I have--and probably we've made the same set of mistakes. It's not just learning the ropes: it's that the ropes keep changing. If we're still at it, I figure we're doing it right!

Anne--Something weird has been going on with Google+ and I'm now regretting advising people to join. You and Ruth and Florence are pros in this business and you don't deserve to have this crap happen to you. So right now I'm going to say Guy Kawasaki and Jane Friedman are WRONG and GOOGLE+ SUX. Seriously, it used to be quiet and OK, and I never had any problem with it, but I know you guys are not cybermorons, so something creepy is happening. So sorry I steered you wrong. And anybody who has been blogging for five years has overcome all odds, so keep doing what you're doing.

Julie--Blog hops are only fun for the hoppers. If you wander by, you're going to be totally bored. It's just a clubby get-together for the people involved, and only works if you're a newbie trying to meet other bloggers in the club.

You're right that it's all about personality. Being real and providing something fun and entertaining for the visitor.

August 18, 2013 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Christy Farmer said...

"Pretentious word farts . . ." OMG, Anne thanks for the laugh!

I'm a great fan of travel/setting pieces. As a contemporary romance writer, I'm inspired by and write about small, Southern towns. It is my wish to show readers what that world is really like, what to expect, why it's great, etc.

I use my own photos and my biggest post ever is when I took readers on a virtual field trip of The Whistle Stop Café and showed actual filming locations from the film, Fried Green Tomatoes.

Like you, I've seen some of the "pro's" advise marketing towards a broad/general audience.

However, here's what happened to me, I recently re-visited Whistle Stop to take photos for my blog. The couple behind me? Flew in from Denmark just to visit and they were not the only ones!

This seems to be my niche. What I hope to inspire is even if you write about localized settings, there is an audience for it and they are very curious about what that world is really like. ;-)

I also agree about personality. If you are enthusiastic about what you write about, chances are your readers will be too.

August 19, 2013 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger Christy Farmer said...

P. S. I used google to post my comment, hopefully it's fixed now. ;-)

August 19, 2013 at 12:35 AM  
Blogger M.L. Swift said...

Anne, these were wonderful tidbits to follow and I think I'm doing most of them by listening to my common sense.

Currently, as I work on a couple of WIPs, I blog to network. To be known. I blog about writing advice that I'm learning and sharing, but I don't profess to be an expert, just a fellow scrivener sharing the high points and pitfalls of the process.

I'm an active member of a couple of groups (Alex's IWSG, for instance) and participate in occasional blogfests as a fun diversion and to meet others.

I really never talk about my writing, because my ideas are GOLD! LOL. Don't want anyone snatching them up. Of course, I jest. But yeah...most of the stuff I write I want published, so it's never put out on my blog.

Great post, and bookmarked. As I figure out my blogging direction more (I started blogging in October, last year), I'll make sure to refer back to this article. Thanks.

M.L. Swift, Writer

August 19, 2013 at 2:52 AM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

Anne, don't apologize for recommending Google+. It's not your fault it's messing up. I'm sure as Google takes over the world, there are going to be hiccups.

But you know, once you join +, I noticed that they're in your email, in your blog, in your pics, in everything. There doesn't seem to be any privacy anymore.

And there are certain things I'd like to keep private. I would hate to think a private email would be shared in my "circles" just because I hit the wrong button.

(I may have been around for awhile now, but I'm still not the brightest bulb in the fixture when it comes to computer technology.)

I think sometimes, too much SEO is a bad thing.

August 19, 2013 at 4:31 AM  
Blogger Kerry Ann @Vinobaby's Voice said...

So much valuable info—thank you!I'm bookmarking so I can review as I revamp my blog and platform this week.

August 19, 2013 at 5:26 AM  
Blogger Sudesh Roul said...

Anne, I am so much appreciate about your blogging tips, why we blogging? we have to fixed our goal and carry on our hard work.

August 19, 2013 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christy--I'm glad Google let you post the comment. I'd love to visit the Whistle Stop Cafe! That's the kind of thing I think most readers adore. Sounds as if you're really doing it right with the travel pieces.

M.L.--It sounds as if you're doing things right for this stage of your career. I think Alex's community and blog hops help newer authors get established.

Anne--"Too much SEO can be a bad thing" Too true! I'm so tired of them being in my face all the time. And if they decided to give me the wrong face--or a different name, I'd be even more annoyed. I don't know what's up with Google, but it seems to be just wacko now.

Kerry Ann--I'm so glad this series came at an opportune time for you. Welcome!

Sudesh--Thanks!

August 19, 2013 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Jane Bloomfield said...

Thanks so much for this great post, links etc. I was thrilled to find, as a newbie blogger I've been stumbling down the right road. Possibly quite by accident!

August 19, 2013 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jane--"Stumbling down the right road" That's a great way to put it. I have too. We learn by doing. Sometimes by doing it right and other times, not so much. :-)

August 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Oh man, I've definitely crossed into the "not so much" section on several occasions. Not quite as much as of late (thank goodness), so hopefully this means that my blogging skills are improving. Again, thanks for the tips. This series has been extremely helpful!

August 19, 2013 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger JeriWB said...

Such great ideas here. I'm going to have to try a few of them out ;) I love to travel, so I weave in posts on my various trips whenever I can. I take the approach that every trip brings me potential story inspiration. That way, I'm not just limited to posts revolving around the setting of my WIP and short story collection. Up until know, I've interviewed and reviewed writers in many different genres, but I aim to change that in the months ahead to be more in-line with the the type of writing I produce.

August 19, 2013 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger John Wiswell said...

Alex Cavanaugh's mini-reviews are definitely a feature. He's got the beginnings of a cult around him now!

Enjoyed this article, particularly for its emphasis on things one can do, rather than what not to do. Helps keep some of my behaviors in check.

August 19, 2013 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Caitlin--We have to learn by doing and it sounds as if you're learning just fine :-) Glad you're finding the series helpful.

Jeri--A travel blog will always find an audience, so it sounds as if you've got a great thing going.

John--I agree about Alex's mini-reviews. He has a wonderful community. I try to keep a balance between what to do and what not to do.

August 20, 2013 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Greg Strandberg said...

I kind of get around 'writing about writing,' in a way at least. At the beginning of each month I put up a post detailing which writing jobs I worked on during the previous month.

I try to make this funny, as I usually run into quite a few interesting characters who pay me to write.

August 20, 2013 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Greg--I just checked out your blog and you've got some fascinating content. The only improvement I'd suggest is to put your name in the header. Something like "Big Sky Words from Greg Strandberg" That gets your name into the search engines. People looking for you may not know the name of your blog, and then they can't find you.

August 20, 2013 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Stephen Bargdill said...

I really like what Anne Gallagher said about 16 17 comments up from this:
"After almost 5 years, I'm still trying to figure out what to blog about. Sometimes it's writing, sometimes it's personal, sometimes it's just a crapshoot."

Crapshoot. Yeah.

I've been waiting for this much publicized blog post for two weeks now and so glad it's up!

Ruth had some awesome-sauce ideas. And my blog has been something I've been struggling with. I started a Wordpress thing and abandoned it totally, rebooted on blogger when a facebook writer' group challenged me to do a series of posts on the 20 most common grammar errors. Scared the crap out of me, and surprised the heck out of me by actually garnering a small audience.

But, I'm still many times at a loss what to write about. I don't have, for example, any animals--kids, but not animals. Maybe they're the same thing?

Best bestest thing I thought Ruth said here though:
"A blog is an expression of who you are: the face you offer the world."

August 20, 2013 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Stephen--So glad you're finding this helpful. Actually, it's me, Anne (Allen) who wrote this post, so thanks!

Ruth Harris will blog next Sunday. She's talking Metadata, which I know I'm looking forward too.

Anne Gallagher is a terrific blogger who somehow manages to keep up 3 blogs, so her "crapshooting" seems to work great for her.

And yes--the blog is anything you want to show about yourself. If you're a grammar expert, and people are coming by for that, certainly give it to them. But intersperse with other stuff. If you talk about the kids, I'd be careful to give them a "nom de blog" and not offer too much personal info about them. There are evil creatures lurking in the blogosphere. Talk about films, or TV or your favorite sport or your favorite watering hole. Anything that says "you."

August 20, 2013 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Coleen Patrick said...

For some reason I don't like to write about writing on my blog. Not the process, not what I'm writing about, and definitely not grammar and the like (oh the scrutiny!). This has worked fine until it's time to mention I've got a book out. One lovely blog reader of mine was stunned when I announced my first book was out earlier this year. I kind of just said, by the way, here it is! Obviously I'm not blogging about marketing tips either. ;) I have to figure out the balance between mentioning my books and talking about how much I love barns (my last post). Thanks for the great advice as always!

August 21, 2013 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Coleen--You're very wise not to post about writing and marketing, since you write teen fiction. The last thing you need is to look like homework :-) Love the barns!

August 21, 2013 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

ALL great tips and especially love the advice against blogging about word count. BORING.

August 23, 2013 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nina--Thanks. I'm so with you on the word count thing. I love watching your career take off. Congrats on the gig at BrainChild! (Hope I've got that magazine title right.)

August 23, 2013 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Honoré Bazin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 24, 2013 at 2:06 AM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Anne, I am trying one more time. I think google eraced me :)

August 24, 2013 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Ah, I am back. Wanted to say I have Camilla and I'll leave me comments when I return in mid-September. Great post as always, Anne. Thanks for being out there for all of us :)

August 24, 2013 at 4:13 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Fois--So sorry Blogger gives you such annoying problems. I have no idea why that happens. I hope you're having a fabulous vacation--and that you have fun reading the Camilla books!

August 24, 2013 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger N P Postlethwaite said...

Thanks Anne, I keep returning to your pages again & again... as a new indie author & blogger, it's great to read frank, honest and useful advice when learning the ropes!

September 4, 2013 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

NP--Many thanks! I'll have more stuff on social media in October. On Sept 8, the #1 author on Amazon this summer, Catherine Ryan Hyde, will be talking about rejections--what they mean and what they don't mean.

September 4, 2013 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Laura Pauling said...

I love the less rigid blogging atmosphere these days. Authors/writers post when they want to once or twice a week on any day they want - a far cry from a couple years ago. A lot of the big popular bloggers who went on to publish - aren't even blogging much anymore. I love that writers are unashamedly focused on writing. I love the slow blogging approach!

September 21, 2013 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Laura--Me, too. I drove myself batty trying to keep up with all those blogs a few years ago. Now I only have to stop by once a week or less. And yes, my book writing is going much better because of it. Slow blogging rules!

September 21, 2013 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger JMagnan said...

I just started reading your blog, and I know I found it because of another author (I just can't remember who it was!)Thanks for posting this, and the two other entries regarding social media. All valuable information!

October 15, 2013 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

J--Welcome! I hope it will help you to use social media productively. I just clicked over to your blog to see your full name and saw you don't have your full name or bio there. My advice would be to put your "about me" up as soon as you can. No point in putting time into social media if nobody knows who you are. :-) For help in your bio, check out our post on "how to write an author bio when you don't feel like an author...yet."

October 15, 2013 at 10:09 AM  

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