books with Athena

books with Athena

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Are You Ignoring This Simple Platform-Building Tool? How to Comment on a Blog


Whether you're planning to self-publish or go the traditional route, every author needs a "platform" these days.

Some authors obsess too much about platform and waste time on pointless overkill. (More about how to skip the time-wasting stuff in my post, 7 Ways Authors Waste Time Building Platform.)

But others ignore it entirely, often because they're not quite clear on what it means.

It's true that "platform" isn't easy to define. But Jane Friedman, former Writer's Digest editor has written extensively about it. She says when agents say they're looking for author with platform:

"They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience."


They'll probably start with "visibility". The first thing any agent, editor, reviewer, blogger—and even many book buyers—will do when you approach them is put your name into Google and hit the "search" button.

The results of that search are a good indication of your platform.

If you don't appear on that first page, or nothing comes up but your letter to the editor supporting John Edwards' Presidential primary campaign, or that picture of you partying at Señor Frog's in Mazatlán on your Spring Break in 2005, your career is not going anywhere.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but:

  • The agent won't read those carefully honed pages. 
  • The blogger won't invite you to guest post.
  • The reviewer won't read your book.
  • The buyer won't pony up the $2.99 for your fabulous novel. (I know. Less than the cost of a latte, but buyers are tight-fisted in these days of the free ebook.)

I can hear the moaning now, especially from my fellow Boomers:

  • "But I'm still working on my first novel!"
  • "I don't have time for all that social media stuff!"
  • "I'm a serious literary writer. I'm not going to waste time on childish things."
  • "I'm not going to take up blogging at my age."
  • "I'm already on Facebook. Isn't that enough?"

But there's something quick, easy and relatively painless you can do right now to raise your search engine profile that won't take more than a couple of minutes from your writing time.

Ready for it?

Ta-da!

Comment on blogs. 

With your real name. (Or whatever name you write under.)


Yup. Comments on high profile blogs get your name onto that Google search page. Also on not-so-high-profile blogs that have been set up by somebody schooled in SEO.

I'm not just talking writing blogs. Any blog that interests you will do (although I strongly advise against anything controversial, because you're going to alienate half your potential readership.)

But I know writers new to the world of social media have lots of reasons for not commenting on blogs. I hear them all the time.

1) "I can't even find the comments half the time!"


If you're my age, the whole concept of blogging may be new for you. I remember being frustrated when I first started. Sometimes I'd find comments, and sometimes I wouldn't. Sometimes I'd land on one post with a thread of comments after it, but sometimes I'd get a whole string of posts with nothing but a thingy at the end saying "37 comments".

Here's the little trick "everybody knows" so they don't bother to tell you—

Click on the "37 comments" (or whatever number) and that will open the post in a new page where all the comments appear at the end of the post. Some blog formats make you hunt around in the sidebar for the "comments" link, but it's there. Keep looking.

Some blogs, like this one, will allow you to reply to a particular comment if you hit the "reply" button under that comment.

Or you can leave a general comment if you hit "reply" at the bottom of the whole thread. (On some Wordpress blogs the reply button is at the top of the thread.)

Click on the header (title of the blog) and it will take you back to the comment-less stream of blogposts.

See? It's not so hard when somebody tells you what to look for.

2) "Why should I comment on Nathan Bransford's (or Kristen Lamb's, David Gaughran's or The Passive Guy's) blog? They never comment on mine."


Nathan has well over 5000 followers of his blog. (He doesn't post the widget anymore, so I've lost track: it's probably over 10K now) He also has 100K followers on Twitter, and 10K in his Google circles. If he spent all day, every day, doing nothing else, even sleeping, he still could not keep up with all his followers' blogs. And remember he's doing it all for free.

But if you comment on his blog, Google will notice YOU, because his blog is on their radar and your name has become part of his "content".

That means you get a bump in YOUR search profile. He doesn't benefit that much from one more comment, but YOU do. The same is true of a comment here.


3) "I'd rather send the blogger a personal email and get a personal answer."


Sure. That's fine. Sometimes the blogger will have time to give you a personal answer. I try to answer them all, even though it gets pretty time-consuming.

But my e-mailed answer is no more personal than my answer in a comment thread, and nobody will see it but you and me.

Last week a number of people sent me personal emails saying they liked the blogpost, and of course I appreciated it. We always like to hear that people are benefiting from our posts.

But I noticed several writers mentioned their own books. Some of the books sounded fascinating.

So let's stop a minute and think about this: what's better for YOU?
  • Getting your book title in front of me, the world's slowest reader, who has 500 unread books in my TBR list.
  • Getting your book title in front of the 44,000 people who read this blog last month.
Are you seeing why it's better to put your feedback into a comment?

Plus, if you have a question, you can be pretty sure other readers have it too. If I answer in the comments, rather than in a personal email, that's helping ALL our readers, not just you.


4) "I can't figure out how to leave a comment. They want some kind of ID and I don't know how to jump through all those hoops."


Okay: this is a biggie. New tech can be daunting, especially for Boomers. And nobody likes to be rejected, especially by a machine.

Blog software likes people who have blogs, so if you have a blog ID you're in without a problem (usually. For some reason a handful of Wordpress bloggers get blocked from this blog and I don't have a clue why.)

But there are two simple things you can do that can give you IDs that allow you to comment on almost all blogs even if you have no Web presence right now.


1) Get a Gravatar ID

2) Join Google Plus


But before you jump in, make sure the name you're using is the "brand" name you want for your writing career.

First Google yourself (put your name in "quotes" for a more accurate search.) This will tell you if your name is already in use. If your name is as dirt-common as Anne Allen, you don't even need Google to tell you there are hundreds of thousands of women using that name too. There are three Anne Allens in my small town doctor's practice alone.

To stand out, I added my middle initial. Everywhere I go on the Web, I'm annerallen. There are other Anne R. Allens but not as many, and at the moment Google gives me top billing.

Making your name unique is especially important if you share it with somebody famous. So if you're called Rush Limbaugh, Lindsay Lohan or Justin Bieber, choose a pseudonym or trot out a middle name, initial, or use a nickname. Try Rushton Q. Limbaugh or Elle Lohan or J. Montague Bieber.

You want to make this decision before you start to set up your profiles, or you're going to be adding to the other Justin Bieber's platform, not building your own.

And don't use a cutsie moniker. Unless you plan to write all your books under the nom de plume  "scribblersally", "pufferballsmom", or "#1belieber" you don't want to comment on blogs with that handle. Use your professional name, because you're building a professional platform.

Gravatar (which stands for Globally Recognized Avatar) is affiliated with Wordpress, so if you have a Gravatar ID, you can comment on any Wordpress blog and your picture will show up with your comment. (A big plus—you're trying to get visible, remember?) Lots of Blogger blogs will accept a Gravatar/Wordpress ID too. So this is where I'd start if you're brand new.

It's easy. Just go to Gravatar.com and post a profile. Have a short bio prepared (info on how to write an author bio here), and choose a photo from your files before you go. The best kind of photo is a friendly, smiling picture of yourself in tight close-up. If you don't have an author photo, you might be able to crop an existing photo (You can crop for free at PicMonkey ), or even use a selfie, as long as it's professional and friendly looking.

And please do use a picture of yourself. Not your cat. Not a baby picture or a cartoon. It needs to be a grown-up picture of you. With clothes on. Beachy photos end up looking like porn spam in thumbnails. Even if you write erotica, save the skin for your website.

Here's more advice on how to sign up for Gravatar from Joel Friedman.

Google Plus isn't hard either. Most people think of Google Plus as a slightly geeky version of Facebook, but you don't actually have to use it for socializing. Simply putting up your profile will get you into Google's databanks. Remember you're trying to get the Google search engine to notice you, so that's a good thing.

If you don't want the hassle of dealing with another social media site right now, simply turn off all "notifications" and they won't bother you. But you'll have a nice profile where people can find out about you, Mr./Ms. Writer, with links to your website/book pages/and any blogs you contribute to.

Make sure you put "writer" in your "employment" even if you're not getting paid to write yet. If you flag yourself as a writer,  it will come up in that Google search. Plus you'll be circled by other writers you can network with when you want to get more social.

In a guest post written for us by SEO expert Johnny Base, there's a video showing you exactly how to sign up.

He has you start by getting a gmail address if you don't already have one. It's a great idea to have a dedicated email address for your writing business, anyway. The only hard part of any of this is choosing a good password and then remembering it. And that's true of anything on the Web, alas. And if you already have a gmail account, you're halfway there.

5) I don't know what to say!


I understand. Writers are shy persons. We'd rather lurk in the shadows. I lurked for months before I started commenting on blogs. That's fine. Do lurk for a while if you're just starting in the blogsphere.

But eventually you'll probably feel moved to say something.

Most bloggers will put some questions at the bottom or the post to invite comments. Good questions will invite you to share your own opinions or experiences with the topic. For some examples of great comments, look at the comment thread from last week's post. Our peeps came up with some wonderful ideas and shared interesting experiences.

You don't have to heap praise on the blogger. Bloggers like praise as much as anybody, but it's best to say something that adds to the discussion. That doesn't mean you should be confrontational or put the blogger down, either. (That's a good way to get deleted.) But say something like,  "Love these 10 tips for getting your cat to eat dry food and I'd like to add a #11..."

Or you can say, "I understand what you're saying about blogging nonfiction only ...but I blog daily cat haikus, and I have 400 followers who love them." You can even include a link to the blog. Every rule has an exception and if you're it, let people know.

You can even say something like, "I'm glad you say it's okay to be a slow writer. It took me 23 years to write Love is a Cat from Hell  but I finally launched it last week." Don't put in a link to a retail buy page, but a mention of your book is fine.

Or, "I love what ScribblerSally said about Maine Coon cats in her comment." This can bring the added perk that ScribblerSally might click on your name to find out more about you and your cat. If you've joined Google Plus or Gravatar, that will take her to a profile with an address for your blog and an email address. She may follow your blog or even buy your book.

You can also say, "I've quoted this post on my blog today and we're having a lively discussion." It's okay to link to the blog here, too. Make sure you always link back to the original blog.

The most useful comments add something to your "authority".
Remember what Jane Friedman said in her definition of platform. So if you can say stuff like, "I was in law enforcement for 20 years and this is what really happens when somebody reports a missing cat..." Or "I'm a social worker who also writes cat haiku and I have proof that cat poetry has healing properties," that will add the most to the discussion.

Plus that little fragment of text that comes up in the Google search of your name will show your name and "I was in law enforcement for 20 years..." A huge help to agents, reviewers, and other people who are trying to find out if you're a reliable person they want to work with.

A good blog comment can be anything from 10 to 300 words. I wouldn't go much longer. If you feel the need to go on and on, you probably have a blogpost of your own there.

Other than that, almost anything goes, with a few caveats:

1) Don't spam.
Bringing up your book when it isn't relevant to the discussion is spamming. Ditto links to your website or buy pages if they don't illustrate a relevant point. Begging people to read your blog is spammy, too.

2) Don't be a troll. Saying insulting things about the blogger or other commenters, or using language that's inappropriate will get you deleted. Ditto political diatribes or religious screeds. Be professional and polite.

3) Don't use emotional blackmail. Don't say, "I just followed this blog, so now you have to follow my five blogs, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and get me a double caf latte while you pick up my dry cleaning." If you demand any kind of quid pro quo for a comment or a follow, you'll look like a doofus to the whole community. Remember everybody who reads the blogpost will see your comment.

4) Don't whine. Dissing Amazon, agents, the publishing business, or trash-talking a bestselling author will generally not work in your favor. Ditto complaining about how nobody reads your blog. Getting your blog noticed by search engines involves many factors: SEO, tech savvy, Tweetable headlines, and original, general-interest content. Nobody owes you readership.

Besides, every author does not need a high profile blog. You simply need a place where fans can find you.

5) Don't expect Nathan Bransford or Kristen Lamb to follow you back or critique your blog. Not because they're snotty. Blogging doesn't work the same way Twitter and Facebook do. If you follow a blog, it shows up in a "dashboard" rss feed, and the number you can follow is limited. (And they can never be deleted as far as I know. If anybody knows how to delete a dead blog from an rss feed, let me know!)

Also, people who get thousands of emails a day can't subscribe to everybody's blog by email or visit every blog. Inboxes get stuffed and carpal tunnels get injured. Nobody has more than 24 hours in their days.

6) "How do I know if it's a 'high-profile blog'?"


To find the big blogs in the publishing industry, just go around to a few writers' blogs. Many will have a "blogroll" in the sidebar. Here's a great example on author Meg Wolf's blog.

If you're planning to publish traditionally, agent blogs are a good place to comment. Rachelle Gardner's and Janet Reid's have big followings (although I see Rachelle's comments have fallen off in a big way: no idea what's up with that.) Writers Digest editors have a number of high ranked blogs: Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents is a biggie.

I use Nathan Bransford's blog and Kristen Lamb's as examples of great all-purpose writing blogs, because they host helpful, nurturing communities, and both of them are generous, savvy industry professionals. But there are dozens of other great blogs for writers, both indie and trad, too many to list here. Don't try to read them all.  Choose one or two to follow and drop in on others when you see them mentioned elsewhere.

1) Followers. Blogs that have more than 500 followers have probably been around a while, so the search engines will have found them.

2) Comments. Blogs with a lot of comments are probably being read by a lot of people, since less than 10% of readers comment.

But many top blogs do not get many comments. Joel Friedlander's and Jane Friedman's don't, but they're a great place for Google to find you.

3) Check out the blog with Alexa It's the most-used website ranking system worldwide. Just copy the url (web address) for any website and paste it in their search window.

Or you can download an icon for your own toolbar (go to "toolbar" on the Alexa site and choose the one for your operating system.) It takes seconds to install, and then you can click on it to automatically see the ranking of any website you visit. Also, if you have the Alexa icon on your toolbar, your own site will rise in the Alexa ratings more quickly, because they'll know you're there.

Alexa lists the top five websites in the world as #1 Google, #2 Facebook, #3 You Tube, #4 Yahoo, #5 Baidu (the Chinese language search engine.)

A blog with an Alexa rating of 500K or less is getting a lot of readers, since there are tens of millions of websites. (Alexa measures all websites, not just blogs.) Our ranking right now is 140K (28K in the US), which we think is kind of crazy for a couple of Boomer authors, but we sure are pleased. But we don't beat Nathan B. at 133K or Kristen Lamb at 112K (way to go Kristen!)

4) But don't just comment on the biggest blogs! Comment on the blogs that interest you. Comment on you favorite author's blog. Comment on cat blogs. Or food blogs. (But avoid the snark-infested waters of political blogs unless you're using a pseudonym.) Alexa ratings rise and fall, but your comment is forever. It may be picked up years from now by some search engine that hasn't even been invented yet.

And be aware that a smaller blog with an engaged audience can be much more useful to you in the long run.

For more info on how to research blogs, check out this great post from Brian Dean at Boost Blog Traffic.

Commenting on blogs is also a great way to make friends. And in the end, that's what a platform REALLY is: how many people feel they "know" you well enough to want to buy one of your books.

What about you, scriveners? Are you out there lurking, not knowing how to comment on a blog? Does this help? Does anybody remember when they made their first blog comment? Was it scary? How did you learn the basics of blogging? What writing blogs are on your "must-read" list? And does anybody know how to delete a dead blog from your Blogger feed? 

LURKERS: WIN A FREE EBOOK!

If you DO jump through all those hoops and make your very first comment on this blog, you'll be eligible to win a copy of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE. Just mention "this is my first comment on a blog" and I'll go to random.org to choose a winner to gift with a copy of the ebook. (Or another of my titles if you already have it.)


If you don't have any ID the Blogger elves like yet, and you'd like to make a comment on this blog, email me through the address on our "Contact us" page. Sorry we can't allow anonymous comments. We get so much spam, we either had to block anons or put on the dreaded "CAPTCHA" prove-you're-not-a-robot thing. We decided blocking anons was the lesser of two weevils. 

Book Deal of the Week

No Place Like Home 
99c this month on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Amazon CA, and Nook






"A warp-speed, lighthearted comedy-mystery"...Abigail Padgett
"A fun, charming novel about the rich and less so" ...Karen Doering
"A cross of dry British humor and American wackiness, and it all adds up to a fun read." ...Deborah Bayles

Coming up on the Blog

Next week, we're going to have a visit from Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg, senior agent at the cutting-edge literary agency, Foreword Literary. She'll be talking about the role of agents in the new publishing paradigm.

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS

THE NEW GUARD FICTION AND POETRY CONTESTS entry fee $15 $1,000 prize for fiction in any genre. Up to 5,000 words: anything from flash to the long story. Novel excerpts are welcome if the excerpt functions as a stand-alone. $1,000 for an exceptional poem in any form. Three poems per entry. Up to 150 lines per poem. Deadline July 14.

Writers' Village International Short Fiction AwardEntry fee £15. This is a biggie. Stories in English up to 3000 words in any genre from anywhere in the world. £3000 First Prize. Judges include iconic mystery author Lawrence Block and Whitbread & Orange short-lister Jill Dawson. £4500 ($7200) in total prizes. The top 50 contestants also get a free critique of their stories. Deadline June 30th.

The 11th Yeovil International Literary Prize Prize categories for unpublished novels, short fiction, poetry. Agents and publishers pay attention to this one. Entry fee £11 for novels. 1st prize £1000. Deadline May 31st.

Flash Prose Contest $15 entry fee. WriterAdvice seeks flash fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction running 750 words or less. Enlighten, dazzle, and delight us. Finalists receive responses from all judges. First Place earns $200; Second Place earns $100; Third Place earns $50; Honorable Mentions will also be published. Deadline April 18th.

Writers Digest Self-Published Novel Awards. First prize is $3000, plus free tuition to the Writers Digest Writers Conference, promotion in WD and a marketing consult. Many second, third and hon. mention prizes. This is a pricey contest, with entry fee of $99, but a win can open a lot of doors. Fiction or nonfiction. Send bound books only. Early Bird Deadline April 1st

238 comments:

  1. What's better for you - Getting your book title in front of me, the world's slowest reader, who has 500 unread books in my TBR list? - that really gave me a chuckle! (Because that's me.)
    Good to know meaningful comments add to your own worth and ranking. I average a hundred a day. (And I just have 2000 followers - couldn't imagine 5000 and trying to keep up with every single comment.)
    Will definitely set up a Wordpress Gravatar.

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    1. Alex--You are the blog comment king! So you probably don't need a Gravatar, unless you're having trouble commenting on Wordpress blogs. So you're a slow reader too? I like to read every sentence and savor it, but it sure makes me useless as a reviewer or blurb-giver.

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  2. I think making comments on blogs can help for sure. I have a bit more traffic coming through my blog and even my pen name that I linked to from my own blog has been checked out. No one makes any comments and that's okay. I'm still very new and I only have one novella published under my pen name. So I've got a long ways to go.
    Good stuff.

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    1. Vera--Commenting on other blogs is also a great way to drive traffic to your own blog. Good point. I'm glad you're getting readers. It's a slow process and takes a while, for sure.

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  3. Just to add -- the A to Z Challenge is coming up (26 blog posts in April). There's over 1,000 bloggers participating, and it's a great opportunity to find blogs to comment on on, all in one place.

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    1. Linda--Great suggestion! Thanks for the heads-up. the A-Z challenge from the Insecure Writers Support Group is big "bloghop" a great way to meet other bloggers and get your feet wet in the blogging process.

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    2. Glad you mentioned this. I hadn't heard about it and it sounds like fun reading...and commenting! :)

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  4. Great post! Very valuable, especially when I Googled my own name and the first entry that came up were pornographic pics of a naked guy (not me!). That's not the image I want to present to the world!
    David Jarrett
    http://highdesertlit.com

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    1. DRJ--Yikes! Googling yourself often is so important to any writer trying to establish a name. I hope "David R. Jarrett" isn't a porn star too. You might want to write as D. R. Jarrett or D. Randall Jarrett, or whatever your middle name is.

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    2. I started using my middle name so I would pop up better on search engines. The spelling is so unusual that I'm now getting at least three pages of Google on my name.

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    3. Ha, it's true! I just checked! Hmm, maybe if agents aren't intrigued your query letters, they'll be attracted by "David Jarrett's" other "assets"....

      J/K. That's nightmarish. I feel very fortunate that my name is unique enough that no pictures of naked women pop up when I Google myself. Lots of pictures of food, though. I used to have a food blog, and I commented on a lot of other food blogs, so if you search for my legal name you'll see a lot of bread dough, pizzas, wilted spinach....Oh! I just found an old picture of my cat on the image results. Gosh, she's gotten fat.

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    4. Linda Maye--Very smart! Congrats on those three pages.

      Tamara--LOL. Isn't it weird when you find those strange pictures? Nothing wrong with food pictures, if you write about food. That's part of your platform.

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    5. Thanks for all your insight on blog commenting! I'm going to try to comment on blogs more. I just searched my name and I show up on page 2 of Google's results for my blog, tinadavidson.wordpress.com.

      I found it also never hurts to google the title of a blog post you plan on writing or "unique phrasing" you might plan on using. I wrote a short story,"The Grandmother, The Elves, and the Barefoot Grandson." In my story the barefoot grandson eventually wears Soft Star shoes. Soft Star is a company in Corvallis, Oregon, that makes custom leather shoes. Fortunately, I googled the words "barefoot Granny" before using them in my final story and discovered the term did not reflect the wholesome values of the Softstar company. I changed it to "barefoot Grandmother" and was excited when Soft Star reblogged my story on their website. I don't normally google search my key story words, but I'm glad I did.

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    6. Tina--Thanks for sharing that. I never thought of Googling titles--especially of short stories. Your experience is a teaching experience for us all. Who would think that "barefoot Granny" would turn up something unsavory? As I keep saying, "Google is your friend"--use it! Thanks for the heads-up.

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  5. Entertaining and informative but what do I do about that $^%$# Ruth Harris? There are so many of me! :-)

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    1. Ruth--Maybe you should bill yourself as THE Ruth Harris? LOL.

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    2. Yes! Like John Green. Isn't he realjohngreen on Twitter?

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  6. Great guidelines, Anne, and I lurked for a bit when I first started blogging. I've signed up for the A to Z Blog Challenge this year, since I enjoyed it in 2012.

    Commenting on others' blogs have helped me meet some great blogger friends. Like minds will reciprocate.

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    1. DG--Making friends is the big plus side to all this. You do meet people who will become important in your career. Have fun with A-Z!

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  7. Wow, Anne. Reading your blog every week is like sitting across a table from you with a beverage in front of us. You always ease my fears of venturing into this whole writing-interweb thingy that baffles this dinosaur. And once again, you explain things in a way that I understand. Because of you and Kristen Lamb, I've been able to dip my toe into all of this technology stuff. Thank you for permission to do baby steps. Time to go change my Google picture...

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    1. Lucy--I'm so glad I'm helping you feel more savvy. Let me tell you, I felt like I'd just arrived from an other planet when I started all this. Not that long ago... Yeah, that picture you've got doesn't show up very well in thumbnail, whatever it is. :-)

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  8. Anne, always relevant stuff here. This post in particular because I always seem to comment as "mindprinterpaul" which refers to my editing days at Mindprints, but isn't what I should be using today. I have a Gravitar and a Wordpress account, but I'm going to try Live Journal today, and see if my "real" name comes up. Thanks so much for this post and the comments are great. Every Sunday I learn something new and important. Things I should be doing but for some reason, let them slip by. Not today!

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    1. Paul--Congrats on getting the "paulfahey" ID to come up instead of Mindprinter! It was a great moniker when you edited Mindprints, but not so useful now.

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  9. Not sure where to start in regards to blogging (will be blogging for six years this coming Memorial Day weekend) without sucking up your comment section for a page or so, so I'll shoot for something simple.

    If you have a dead blog showing in your dashboard that you really want to get rid of, go to the little sprocket that says "manage reading list" (you'll probably have to hover your mouse over the sprocket to make sure you're picking the right one) and click on it. What will pop up is a list of "Blogs I'm Following". Click on the blog you don't want to follow and you'll see a link that says "stop following this blog". Just follow the instructions and you got it made.

    I do use a person's picture for my profile, although the pic is not of me, but of my late father, who was G.B. Miller, Sr.

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    1. GB--THANKS!! That's what I needed to know. I think half the blogs I follow are dead or have moved. Most people don't stick to a blog for more than a couple of years, so major congrats on your six years!

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  10. I have a question, if you don't mind. I have two blogs, one I've written for 2-3 years now and another I just recently started. They're in different genres and so I chose a brand name for each. How can I comment on the type of blogs that would pair well with the second blog (i.e. romance versus the horror of the first). I can't find a way to separate the two to make comments under each brand name on other sites. Thanks for your help!!

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    1. Traci--I'm not a fan of having multiple blogs for just that reason. I prefer one site that has a separate page for "x writing as y...." But if one is erotica or something not friendly to all readers, you do have to have separate personas, and alas, each name has to have its' own platform. You can probably set up a Gravatar for each persona, although I haven't tried it myself. Or maybe you can have a Gravatar for one and Google ID for the other.

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  11. Not to simply "do it 'cause you told me to" but I have to shout a HARDY AMEN to this post--and the only way to do that is to comment :)
    I took a class a while back through WOW (Women on Writing) and they taught us this to drive traffic to our blogs. I have to admit, I do better at times than others, but this is the most consistent way to increase blog traffic. Every time I step up my game and make a concerted effort to comment--I alway reap the benefits! Thanks!

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    1. abby--Thanks. WOW is a great resource. Smart of you to take one of their courses. It's sensible advice. Blog comments are easy and free.

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  12. Well, how could I not respond to your post now that you have taught me how to do it. Finally. Thank you. I have wanted to comment before, and couldn't figure out how to do it.

    Now I am able to thank you for a much earlier post on using song lyrics and titles. I went back into my mystery novel, In the Shadow of Lies, and finessed the sections that referred to lyrics. Whether they were used correctly or not, my experience as an attorney has taught me that the costs of a lawsuit, financially and emotionally, mean that no one truly wins, even the person who prevails. Mary

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    1. Mary--So this is your first comment! That means you're in the running for the free book! Congrats. I'm so glad you found the song lyrics post helpful. It's our 2nd most popular post ever. Yes, I agree that legal battles are draining and miserable for both parties. Best not to get into a mess in the first place.

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  13. Such great advice, Anne. I love commenting. I've not only gained "Google Juice" from it as well as click throughs to my own site, but I've connected with new friends through commenting. If people are intimidated by Google Plus, I tell them to not think of it as FaceBook but a giant guest blogging platform. Sign up for Google Authorship Markup, and add the code snippet to your Gravatar for better visibility. Don't broadcast "Buy My Book," but engage with others. As you said, Anne, you are really doing yourself a bigger favor than the superstar blogger.

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    1. Lara--You're right about making friends. That's the real purpose of social media. I have to admit I find Google Authorship intimidating. They don't let you put any links in your blogposts, so that leaves me out. But I'll have to look more into it. I'm sure it boosts visibility a lot for the right kind of writer. I like the idea of Google plus as a guest blogging platform. Much less intimidating.

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  14. Anne, I never thought of using comments as a tool! Excellent point. My sister Googled me when I was right beside her. I was surprised at the long list of links with my name in them. Sure enough, they were blog comments. When I first started blogging, I definitely lurked. Now I think of leaving comments as joining in one big conversation.

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    1. Julie--Isn't that awesome? That's how I discovered it too: Googled myself back before I had a blog, and there I was all over the place in comment threads. And joining in the conversation makes reading blogs much more fun.

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    2. I hadn't googled myself for several months. It was really interesting! My name is sufficiently unique that I've always been on the first page of google search results, but the links listed have varied over time.

      Two years ago, the Middle-earth RPG modules I wrote in the 1990's were among the top results.

      A year ago, e-tailer pages where you could purchase my newly released fantasy stories were mixed with my comments on The Passive Voice.

      Today, among all the usuals - Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, my own blog, etc. - were places I've never heard about. Easons seems to serve Ireland and the UK and carries my ebooks. Fishponds - a NZ toy store - sells my trade paperbacks! Wow! Looks like my international presence id growing unbeknownst to me! Great fun!

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    3. J. M. I do wish Google algos paid more attention to dates. I hate it when I'm Googling a news story about an earthquake in California today and I have to wade through 50 CA earthquake stories from 5 years ago. But eventually you can find the relevant stuff. And yes, something on the Passive Voice will show up close to the top. His Alexa rating is 42K.

      Congrats on getting your books into Easons and Fishponds. We've had several posts here from the guys at EbooksBargainsUK, telling us the growing market in ebooks is going to be abroad in the next year.

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  15. Spot-on as usual Anne. I need to better mind the rules about not getting too emotionally engaged- my family, my schoolmates, my whole training was to just love arguing! But it comes out different on the web. And it's all permanent...

    I wanted to add to the list of benefits that a comment is another opportunity to write something well. If you don't have a lot of time then the good is limited, but I have often found blogs like your so thought-provoking that I want to come back and polish my comment before hitting "send" on it. The ranking/SEO thing is great too, but the best of all in my opinion, is that I can come in contact with a fascinating and original bunch of thinkers, who spur me to have new ideas and thoughts all the time. Which in turn leads me back to my blog with a new topic to write about! Virtuous cycle!

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    1. Trekelny--Yeah, arguing isn't a good idea in the blogosphere. Usually if I find myself having a very different opinion from another blogger, I need to put the response on my own blog, not on theirs.

      You make a great point that a blog comment is a writing sample that can also show off your writing style and humor.

      I've often thought that the blogosphere is the 21st century version of the cafe society of earlier times--places for writers to exchange ideas and get to know each other. Only we don't have to live in New York or London or Paris to participate.

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  16. As usual, Anne, another great post. I've been having a discussion with several other authors on the value of commenting on blogs, so I'll be reblogging your post. I keep telling them they need to follow you.

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    1. Colette--Thanks so much for reposting and spreading the word! Love to have new readers!

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  17. Thank you for this peep talk, Anne.
    I do remember my first blog comment. It was way back in 2005 and the blog was the Yarn Harlot's--because I was really into knitting, at the time. Was it scary? Oh, yeah. But she was warm, welcoming and friendly. I learnt a lot by lurking and commenting on her blog. Shortly after making my first comment I started my own blog. I made tons of mistakes but learnt a lot. And now I have over 204,000 page views. And still make mistakes and learn a lot.
    Over the years, I've had other writes approach me saying, "I'd like to blog. Is it hard?"
    I answer by explaining, "I'm a self-described Luddite. If I can blog. So can you."
    Next question, "I'd like to blog. But won't it take time away from writing?"
    Answer: "Blogging is writing. In fact, it helped me develop the habit of writing daily."

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    1. Leanne--Lots of wisdom in your comment. Absolutely--blogging is easy and it IS writing. I know it has improved all my writing to do this every week.

      Thanks for sharing your story. It was scary to me, too. And I probably said something incredibly stupid (it was on Nathan's blog, I think.) But we all have to start somewhere.

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    2. If I may, Anne, I'd like to correct a mistake I just made on your blog. My comments makes it seem like I started one blog in or shortly after 2005. In reality there were many and I created my currently one in 2010. Another tips for those new to blogging, if I had to do it over again I would have simply kept that first blog and changed it as my career evolved. Oh, you live and learn. : )

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    3. Leanne--Thanks for the clarification! That's something I didn't know until a commenter on this blog told me. You should always keep your original blog: just change the name if you want to move into a different area. But the older the better as far as search engines go. So yes, we can learn from your mistake (I always say this blog is to help people learn from mine!)

      So listen to Leanne: Don't set up multiple blogs! Let your original blog grow with your career!

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  18. As you can see I don't follow to of your "rules". Name and thumbnail. I started commenting before I created my blog. I decided to stick with it because it's "me", ya know?

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    1. Hopefully those rules are bendy. :)

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    2. Southpaw--This isn't a "rule"--just a way to build platform. If you ever have a book out that you want to sell, then you'll probably want to start building a platform in your writing name, whatever it is. Then you can do what mindprinter/PaulFahey did. Just change your Gravatar ID.

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  19. Wowza what a long long post! :) But full of great advice. I like commenting on the blogs I follow when I get the chance, mostly because to me it's like the "Facebook Status" of the blogging world. I linked to this post today on my own blog, hope you don't mind! :) http://authorjess.blogspot.com/2014/03/snooping-around-sunday-book-reviews.html

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    1. Jessica--Yeah, I do get long-winded. :-) A blog comment is more than a Facebook status, because Google notices it, but search engines don't pay much attention to FB, except your FB profile.

      Thanks for the linkage! We always like backlinks--those are Google's favorite ways of finding you.

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  20. I need to take this advice! And thanks to the commenters for hints on Google Authorship and the Insecure Writers Support Group. I'll be checking out both of those.
    A couple of questions, if you don't mind...
    Is it better to comment with a Google account or a WordPress account?
    Is it better to comment directly on the blog or on the Google+ link? What do you prefer as the author? Which facilitates a better conversation?
    Thanks for the encouragement!

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    1. Gary--Google Authorship is confusing to me, but I know it's supposed to be really important. IWSG is a great group. Perfect for building a blog following.

      As far as Google vs WordPress IDs for comments, usually Google is easier for Blogger and Wordpress is easier for WP blogs: not better or worse, just easier. I'm not used to getting a lot of comments on Google+, but it's nice when a thread gets started there. For me, it's easier to get comments here, because it's where I hang out. I don't always remember to check Google+.

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  21. Thank you for the info, Anne. And thank you, G.B. Miller for the tip: I didn't know how to unfollow blogs, either. It's always fun Googling yourself :-) I'm very happy that the XXX sites are now not the first thing to pop up, when I type in "The Happy Amateur"!

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    1. Happy--I'll bet there are some of those XXX sites with "amateur" in the title. You might want to start commenting with your real name.

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    2. They are there, for sure, just not on the first page right now..starting from page two :-) I want to push them further down. I love my "name." What I've been doing is using my real name along with "Happy", and my real name has appeared on my "Happy" Google page. Do you think it might work?

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    3. Happy--Using "happy" as part of your brand is great. Maybe you could sign as "Alexandra 'Happy' Palmer" Happy is a nice word to have linked to your name :-)

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    4. You are very welcome for the tip. Sometimes it's really tough to binge and purge blogs if only because you've gotten to know the person behind them.

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  22. Anne, I just read this newest post and find it very useful. Me, as a growing author/blogger, all of this information is like gold. Always trying to get blog readers and networking can be a full time job. It's funny that you mention googling yourself because I usually do it on a weekly basis just to see where I come up on a web search and image search. Most times my headshot comes up number one, and so do a few of my pictures from my website www.biblisketch.com. I also google "Bunny Baron," who is one of the main characters of my children's books. "Bunny Baron" comes up with some pics from my website, and a few other "bunny" images which I do not want to be associated with. That is a feat I need to conquer, but at least Kevin Willms stets pretty clean. So, if I can add anything to this post, I suggest googling yourself often because it can change daily.

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    1. Kevin--Thanks for the reminder! I should have punched that up more. It's essential to Google yourself often (don't forget Bing and yahoo, too) I wrote a whole post about this a year ago, but it's probably time to do another http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-you-should-google-yourself-its-not.html. Funny what a difference a few letters can make. If your name were Kevin Williams, you'd have to change your name to Kato Weatherwax or something, :-) but Willms--I've never seen that one before.

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  23. Very good -- and funny -- hints -- Roland Yeomans, Hitting #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List (Of course, I hit it with a dart, mind you -- but hey, I hit it!)

    Sorry, I couldn't resist. Of course Alex commented first -- how does he comment on 100 blogs a day? He has clones - that's all there is to it! I am a weary blood courier, recovering from cancer surgeries. Putting in a full day wipes me out.

    I really look forward to your posts, Anne.

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    1. Roland LOL! Alex is a superhuman being. I've known that all along. He does all this from the Mothership, I'm sure. I don't have your kind of day job, but just seeing how often he comments, I get exhausted.

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  24. The mention of checking names before branding your own is a good one. Though I found this out too late. Turns out there is another Jon Jefferson who is also a writer, which I found out only after I had done quite a bit of work to brand myself.

    Luckily my work has paid off and you can find my on the first page of search engines. just a matter of picking between the both of us.

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    1. Jon--Another Anne Allen published a book a couple of years ago--she probably didn't Google it--and I once gave a radio interview when the interviewer had read her book but none of mine, so I feel your pain. There's still time to add your middle initial if you want to put it on new books and your blog. My first two books were initially published without the "R". Good luck. It's a good name!

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  25. Anne, I have a small following and a small number of blogs that I follow and comment on a regular basis. You are my number one place to go every week. Writers In The Storm is another one. I love the guests, I love the subject matters and I always learn something new. My first comment was with Christi Corbett. We have followed and commented on each other for four years now and although neither of us are Titans, we are fast friends and link to other of our friends.

    Today, as always, I learned from about visibility. I google my name Florence Fois or fOIS In The City and see that I have almost two full pages. To reinforce what you are saying today, when I google myself, I show up in comments in other blogs.

    I am small beans compared to you Ruth, but I love what I do and figure sooner or later it will accumulate and others will love it too. Thanks for always putting us on the cutting edge :)

    I have one question. For some reason I have gone into a daisy chain with YA and other genres that I truly don't read. The few blogs I follow and comment on with these authors pose a challenge. How can I be truthful about sites that have Sci-Fi or YA when I don't read those books?

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    1. Florence--It's okay to stop visiting blogs that no longer interest you. We all have to grow and change. I used to follow lots of YA blogs because I thought I might write in that genre. Turned out I was reallly bad at it, so I visit more mystery and chick lit blogs. If you can get out of the commitment, I'd do it. Just say you're too busy. Because that's the truth. Or if you must, just say something generic and kind.

      Congrats on getting two full Google pages. You have a great, unique name. And yes, just keep doing what you're doing. You have a unique blog and an engaged following. That's better than a generic blog that people bop in and out of but never comment.

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  26. Great tips, Anne. I didn't know that leaving comments helps your Google rating. That's an added plus for me tor me to keep reading blogs. Nor did I know that it helps to follow Nathan's and Kristin's blog. I've always wanted to read them more but there's not enough time. You've given me an incentive.

    I think the best reasons to blog are to make friends and gain followers. The people we friend are the ones who will regularly come to our own blogs. At least that's what I've found.

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    1. Natalie--Making friends is the #1 reason to be on social media. The Google bump is just a nice side-effect. You don't have to follow those blogs specifically. I just mention them because they're so friendly to new writers, but there are lots of other great ones. Like, um Literary Rambles. Great blog to follow, people!

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  27. Makes me appreciate having a unique first and last name! PAGES of my posts and my comments elsewhere.

    This is such a helpful post for people new to the commenting scene. I know many writers who are resistant to the reality that to get people to their sites, they have to also be blog READERS.

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    1. Nina--You do have a fabulous name. Totally memorable, but not hard to pronounce :-) You're so right. Most of the bloggers who complain of no followers aren't blog readers. You gotta be part of the community!

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  28. I'm a first-time commenter on your blog (just discovered you this past week from an author friend) and loved this week's post. Commenting on other blogs isn't something I do regularly but, yep, I can definitely see the benefit in discoverability. Thanks for writing the reminder: I'm putting blog commenting in my daily reminder, so I'll hopefully never forget to do it again. Sure, part of blog commenting would be for my benefit, but I gotta admit that the blogs I follow are the ones I truly want to comment on anyway.

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    1. Terri--Being a first time commenter puts you in the running for the prize, so if you already bought the writing book and you win, you can choose another one. I know...one more for the TBR list. Sigh. There are definitely more perks from blog commenting than the Google ranking. Getting to say stuff and having lots of people read it is nice, too.

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    2. Terri--I just replied to your comment and Marcia's in a kind of mashup. Shows it's time to step away from the keyboard...Sorry. But you are in the running for the book.

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  29. Anne,
    I don't remember if this is my first comment on your blog (I'm a boomer, therefore I forget), but just wanted to let you know you are not alone with your humongous TBR pile, and I shamelessly added one more when I ordered your book.
    Great post...I'm going back for a second read-through and click on all the links.
    Marcia
    w/a M. Lee Scott

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    1. Marcia--That puts you in the running for the new commenter prize. I just left a response to you on Terri's comment--I'm a Boomer too, and obviously it's my dinner time :-) Thanks so much for buying the book! If you win, you do get to choose a different one if you like. Yeah, I put in a lot of links. There's so much great stuff out there!

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  31. Hi Anne
    Lots of great tips I figured out over time. The number one thing that has brought me the most readers that actually read (and not skim) over time is commenting on related blogs with quality comments. Even old articles bring them in.

    Social media helps support people who want to get notice by Twitter or whatever but has drawn fewer new readers than comments.

    Had not thought about the obvious full name though. Have just used my first name to be "friendly" ;-) Thanks.

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    1. fornow--That's how I figured it out. Trial and error. Lots of error. And yes, our "evergreen" content often gets more hits in a week than the new stuff. Full names can be cumbersome and take up a lot of room on Twitter, but if you can fit it in, you're going to find your "brand" becomes better known.

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  32. Very good advice for moving your name to the top of Google's search. I have to work harder at getting my name before the realtor with the same name!

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    1. Juliana--There's a stockbroker in San Jose named Anne R. Allen. I'm sure she often curses me. :-) If you're not published yet, I'd suggest adding a middle name or initial, since realtors work hard at keeping a high profile.

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  33. Lurking no more! Check me out. I'm commenting. See how good you are? Got a Gravatar and everything. (I don't know if it will show up here but whatever. I have one!) You rock. I love that you tackle these basic issues for us newbies. Thanks, lovely lady.

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    1. Sarah--Congrats on de-lurking. You're now in the running for the first comment prize! Yes, Gravatar works and we can see you! Everybody was a newbie once. We need to remember how it feels.

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  34. Howdy Anne,
    I seem quite able to comment on your blog & on a couple of other pals' blogs. Typically, though, I'm among the lurkers saying to themselves,"Self, I have nothing to say about that." Heavy sigh.

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    1. CS--You may want to follow some more challenging journalistic blogs like Writing on the Ether or the Passive Voice instead of nice author blogs. When there's conflict, we can usually get our hackles up and feel like saying something.

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  35. I remember how scared I was writing my first blog. I couldn't imagine what in the world I was going to say, or if it would make a bit of sense.

    Great blog!

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    1. RL--My first blogpost was a pathetic bit of rubbish. I could not believe anybody would ever read it. And pretty much nobody did. But we all have to start somewhere. :-)

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  36. Such a great post! I'm just in the process of launching a new blog, but I find mass networking intimidating. The ideas here are so do-able, though, that I might find my way past the intimidation . . .

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    1. Rosalyn--Congrats on launching your blog! Don't get discouraged if you don't have visitors right away. Networking is how you get those visitors. I do recommend the Insecure Writers Support Group A-Z Challenge or other blog hops for getting in the midst of things very fast. It's hard work for a short time, but it pays off, big time.

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  37. Helpful post! I need this nudge to comment every once in awhile. I often had the excuse "I don't have time" (either to read or to post), but it doesn't take that long and bloggers appreciate knowing they reached someone. (it's awful blogging to the sounds of crickets).

    The google search advice is spot-on. It really does help having a unique name *grins*, but if you're not active, you still might not have so much come up in searches. I remember when I first started out I wasn't around the net very much. Then I set up an illustration website, freelancer sites for work, got twitter, a facebook fanpage, blogger, pinterest (mostly just things I'm already interested in). I'm also occasionally mentioned in my local paper for my teen art class. I google really well now.

    My advice to new platform-builders is it doesn't have to be uncomfortable or alien. Lean on things you already know and learn from your peers. Seek the social media outlets that play to your strengths. (tumblr isn't for everyone) Definitely comment on blogs you read, and go out and read more blogs (on topics that interest you). You'll grow a web-presence before you know it. You can do it!

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  38. Donelle--Great advice. It doesn't have to be painful. Just read stuff you're interested in. Things you'd normally read in a magazine or whatever. But online, you can read AND comment. It can be pretty painless. And yes, you've got a great name!

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  39. This was a very helpful reminder. With all the marketing tasks we forget some of the most obvious. With reference to Alex with 1,000 unread books, I just read my first full-length novel on a Kindle, (Susan Tuttle's Proof of Identity, by the way,) and I was stunned at how fast the pages flew by. I can start knocking my own pile of unreads down now.

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    1. Anne--Great to see you here! Yes, this is so easy, most people tend to overlook it. I'm so glad you enjoyed Susan's book. It's on my Kindle too! There's something about that % read bar at the bottom that seems to make us turn the "pages" faster.

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  40. Anne: I've spent almost four years learning about this stuff and now you went and told everybody. But I did pick up something new and I, and all your other fans, are grateful.

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    1. Phyllis--Yup, I've spilled the beans. Now everybody will know :-) But the biggest secret is how easy it is.

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  41. Anne, I constantly emphasize how important this is to my blogging students (and yet I don't do it enough myself!) I tell them, for every comment you want on your blog, you'd better be commenting on someone else's blog. You can't just write a blog post and then sit back and wait for the followers to come. You've got to give in order to get!

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    1. Meghan--I'm still getting used to Blogger's new "reply to each comment" function, and I keep putting them in the wrong place. Hope this is right. :-)

      It sounds as if you're teaching them right! There's nothing sadder than a blog sitting alone with no readers because the blogger never goes out to meet people. It's like printing up a bunch of fliers for a yard sale and keeping them stacked up in your basement. Nobody's going to see them!

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  43. I feel envious of new authors today; I wish I would have found a post like this about a year ago when I was getting serious about my site! Very helpful stuff!

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    1. Greg--Me, too. I remember reading all the comments on Nathan's blog for months before it occurred to me that I could be part of what was going on rather than on the outside looking in. Thanks!

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  44. Wow, Anne, I can't think of anything to add! Brilliant! And I agree with you, Google+ is necessary to ensure one is found out by Google - literally the first step to building up a presence on the Net. But,as you say, there's absolutely no need to go on the Google+ platform and be active there. I did it for a while, I even joined a couple of writers' groups or communities as they call them, but it was a great gobbler of my time with no visible results, none at all. So yes, Google+ is needed to establish all the necessary links on the Net, but no more than that...

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    1. Claude--If you do stay on Google + for a while and start chatting with people, it can be like FB in providing a way to network, but since it's more business oriented, people don't seem to connect in the same way. Maybe that will change. I find I'm having more interesting conversations there than I did 6 months ago. But yes, it can be a time suck. But if you only use it for a profile, it's still useful and takes no time.

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  45. Wow, thank you for all this information!

    I just put my blog's URL into Alexa and found out its ranking had dropped over 700,000 versus the previous 3 months! I would never have known, and now that I know, I can do something about it.

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    1. Annie--Congrats on moving up the Alexa food chain! I remember when I first got my Alexa tool bar--it was so fun to check my blog every day to see i f it had gone down. BTW, the rankings reflect whatever was going on at your website about one week before. So if you have a big surge in hits, wait a week for your Alexa numbers to go down.

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  46. Thank you again. Great to see I'm on the right path. I've also noticed I get the most bang for my buck out of sharing on google+ especially with the the google search coming up with my picture. I'd say if you do NOTHING else, at LEAST google+ post, don't you think?

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    1. Tam--Good point! If you have a Blogger blog, you can link your profile to Google Plus, and then your new posts are automatically posted to Google Plus. But if you don't, yes, ALWAYS put your new post on Google plus. It's actually best if you do it by hand and can write an introduction of at least 100 characters. Google is more likely to notice it that way.

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  47. Great job, Anne.

    For those of you reading this post, I can attest to what Anne is saying here. I have been follow Anne's blog, as well as some of the other most popular blogs. (ie: Kristen lamb).

    I am a fairly new writer, compared to the world of writers. I have one traditioanlly published novel and one self-pubbed short story. My lastest MS is in the query stage. I started a blog about eight months ago, then incorporated it into my website.

    Some facts about what Anne mentions in this post:

    Fact 1) Until I started my blog, I was a nobody, even though my first novel had been published and was on book shelfs in B&N, Amaozon, and many others. Now, when I put my name (DC Lozeau) into Google, I get all the way to the 8th page before my name starts to fade.

    Fact 2) Writing a blog and posting on other blogs should be a regular occurance. Why? I'll show you rather than tell you. I went to Alexa and checked my rating. (BTW: Until reading this post, I wasn't aware of Alexa) My rating was a little over 6M. Then I noticed that it was down 3M. Why? Because I stopped writing on a daily basis about a month and a half ago. Have been finishing my current WIP. Guess you know what that means.

    So, as Anne mentions here, if you want your presence know in the uneverse, blog, Tweet, Google+, etc.

    Great job, Anne and thanks for being there for all of us writers.

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    1. DC--You're so right that being active on blogs is the best way to get known. That book on the back shelf at B & N isn't going to be noticed unless somebody has heard of you. But if you've commented on a blog or written a post the buyer has heard of--they're going to pay attention.

      BTW, Alexa's ratings go down numerically as you climb in popularity. So if your blog was at 6 M and now you're at 3 M, your popularity has doubled. You're aiming for #1, so the smaller the number, the more popular you are.

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  48. As of now, thanks to your advice, I have changed the name associated with my blog to "David Rheem Jarrett." Hopefully, the middle name is unique enough that it won't be confused with anyone else, especially porn stars!

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    1. David Rheem Jarrett--Love the change. Memorable name!

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  49. Great post. And I think, if nothing else, you learn a lot by reading other blogs and leaving comments is a great way to build community. Of course, getting your name out there is helpful too.

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    1. Julie--Yup, it's a two-bird stone. You make friends with people (the point of social media) and you get the search engines to notice you, too.

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  50. This is such a comprehensive post on how to comment on blogs for newbies. I am going to share this with my Merry band of picture book authors. This is not, by a long shot, my first time commenting on a blog, but it is my first time commenting on yours. :-) Thank you for such great information!!

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    1. Julie--Thanks for being a first time commenter! And many thanks for spreading the word.

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  51. Anne, I have a special folder just for your posts! That said, just tweeted this one and am here to comment for the first time. You so totally ROCK!

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    1. Cordia--How cool to have my own folder! And many thanks for the comment and the tweet. Since you're a first time commenter, you're in the running for the free book!

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  52. Is this a record number of comments, Anne? Once again, you knocked it out of the park! Forwarding this to my Crime Writers of Canada friends - and yes, I can attest to the wisdom of it. I met you over just such a comment :)

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    1. Melodie--Yes--it's a record. 2500 hits today. 46K for the month and 120 comments! We did indeed meet in the comment thread, didn't we? That's how I met Ruth, and two of my publishers too. There are many perks to commenting besides SEO. Yes, do forward it and spread the word!

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  53. Okay, so this is my first comment on this blog. I don't always comment even when I feel I have something to say. Kinda dumb I know, but I will add that the "fool me once" adage applies here. I won't be such a lurker anymore.

    And since this is my first comment, I will heap praise. I've been following for a while now and I enjoy your posts. I've learned a tremendous amount about blogging to help build my brand as an author. This is just one more post that I find extremely helpful and that I will spread the word about.

    Thanks for taking the time to write about all these things that help us writers out! You are a jewel.

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    1. Kali--Another first commenter! You're in the running for the prize! It's so nice to meet some of our lurkers. We appreciate you! (And it is okay to lurk, but if you feel like speaking up, that's even better.) Thanks!

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  54. Even though I'm a fellow Boomer, I'm an avid commenter on blogs but I also don't visit as many as I should. I'm vowing (to myself) to find at least a couple of new blogs to visit and comment on each week. I googled myself as "Marcia A. Richards" and it was all me on the first two pages, with the exception of three entries! But my name googled without the quotation marks came up only twice in the first two pages. Still, it's there but I think I need to work harder at getting my name out. Thanks for another fabulous post. I always learn something when i come here.

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    1. Marcia--We Boomers are great commenters once we get the hang of it. But the tech isn't intuitive to us the way it is to people who grew up with it. Congrats on getting two Google pages, with a name that's almost as common as Anne Allen. That shows you're putting yourself out there!

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  55. Excellent post! I intend to share on Twitter and Pinterest. And I will make a point of commenting on more blogs. Lately, I've been clicking on likes (Wordpress.com blogs) and leaving it at that. But I do agree, it is essential to get our names out there, and provide the bloggers with feedback. Great blog...BTW!

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    1. Joanne--Thanks! I much appreciate the shares! "Likes" are nice for the blogger, but they don't do anything for YOU, so taking the time to leave a real comment is smart. (Sorry. I keep getting the wrong reply window and then it goes to the bottom of the thread instead of under the comment. These individual reply things just got added to this blog in the last couple of weeks.)

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  57. Thanks for this great article. Like many aspiring children's book authors, I know I need a platform...but am not quite sure how to create one. Commenting on blogs is an easy first step:-)

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    1. Lynn--If you're planning to submit to publishers or agents, it's essential. And commenting allows for easy baby steps. Some people say you shouldn't worry about platform, and just self-publish and wait for the eagle of destiny to pluck your book from the Amazon slush, but I say the eagle of destiny helps those who help themselves :-)

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  59. Thank you Anne. This was the most useful article I have read all week!

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    1. Thanks, Karen. :-) That makes up for the snarky comments I got over on the Passive Voice.

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  60. I have to agree with Karen Hopkins, but it IS only Monday! Seriously, very good information. Thanks for taking the time to pass it along.

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    1. Naomi--thanks for both your comments. I'm glad the post is hitting a chord with people.

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  61. This is a helpful post, Anne. It's full of good reminders and new information for me. Thanks.

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    1. Rosi--It's amazing how the most basic information is often what doesn't get taught. People assume we know it already. But we don't unless somebody tells us. Thanks!

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  62. Great tip. The "I don't have time for social networking" excuse is very strong in me. Hopefully this will change.

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    1. Bernardo--Social networking is a time-suck, there's no doubt about it. But it's a necessary evil these days, and some of it is actually pretty fun and painless.

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    2. Time-suck...currently giggling at my cubicle. Also, it's what I believe to be the new professional mingling. Great Blog. Definitely one to follow. Congrats on the energy!

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  63. Anne, I've reblogged your post on my blog. I have been telling authors some of these same things for a long time and it's good to see that someone agrees with me. Here's the URL to my reblogging of your blog. :)

    http://donnafasano.blogspot.com/2014/03/anne-r-allens-blog-are-you-ignoring.html

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    1. Donna--Thanks so much for the shout-out for this post. I really appreciate getting such kudos from a USA Today bestseller! I think you're one of the best romance writers around!

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  64. Wow, I never thought about commenting as building my Alexa ranking, or any ranking for that matter. I've always commented on posts of friends and on strangers post I've enjoyed. And I've visited those who have visited me, because it feels rude not to. Mostly, I comment because I get a buzz out of comments on my blog. Leaving a comment is like leaving them a buzz, something to make them smile. Bigger bloggers like yourselves may have forgotten that simple thrill.

    Now, this post just gives me more incentive to look out of my usual blogging circle. The bad thing is, I've always read bigger blogs, but didn't think adding my comment to the hundreds already there helped anyone. Who knew?

    Thanks so much Anne, and hey, awesome stats! You clearly give what your readers need. :)

    shahwharton.com

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    1. Shah--Comments don't raise your Alexa rating--not directly. Those come from visits to your blog and backlinks. But comments on blogs raise your Google rating and increase your visibility. It's like being out in the marketplace instead of home in your basement..

      I used to always visit all the blogs of people who commented here, but I still have 24 hour days, and if I did that now, I would literally not be able to eat or sleep, much less write books and keep up my house and health. I would be dead within a month if I did that. I don't think my death would help anybody that much. :-)

      I do comment on many dozens of blogs every day and try to at least bop into the blogs of my followers once or twice. I no longer comment if there's a CAPTCHA, because my eyes aren't good enough to read them. I need cataract surgery, but I've had no time to schedule it.

      I do answer all the comments here, which most top bloggers don't, and that can take several hours a day. Ditto answering emails from readers. I like to spend at least a couple of hours a day working on the books that pay the bills. :-) I'm only human. I can't work more than 18 hours a day. You have to limit social media time or you will go crazy or drop dead.

      The thing to do is pick a few blogs that interest you, some big, some small and have those as your core, and then visit one or two new ones every week.

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  65. Thanks for taking some of the mystery out of Google Plus and other tools. Your post was really helpful, especially for us newbies. Looks like you'll have another regular reader.

    Janet Wolfe

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    1. Janet--Welcome! I thank SEO expert Johnny Base for helping me understand Google Plus. I was totally clueless about it. Ruth and I have realized that although there are 1000s of writing blogs out there, not enough of them address the newbie who's overwhelmed and doesn't know where to begin or who to listen to.

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  67. Hi Annie,
    I'm a first-time commenter on your blog too.
    A few geeky questions. I migrated from wordpress.com to wordpress.org, so I think that any wordpress.com comment links to my old website, which still exists, but I'd prefer to drive it to my new website. So do you think Google account is a better option, or should I use the Gravatar from wordpress.com?

    Do you have an opinion on commenting through Twitter or Facebook instead? Seems nice for laziness, but I do worry about privacy (and copyright) and FB. Thanks a lot. I can't wait to dive into the rest of your blog!

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    1. Melissa--Welcome! I'll put you on the list for the prize! If you sign up for Gravatar with your new website url, I think that should solve the problem. A Google ID is more important for commenting on Blogger blogs like this one, but Gravatar is supposed to be universal.

      As far as Twitter or FB--I'd say use Twitter. It's much less invasive of your privacy (and your friends' privacy.)

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  68. Hi Anne--I've had this post and three other must-reads on an open tab since it arrived in my inbox the other day, and have just now read it. Thanks so much for mentioning my blog--what a surprise!

    I've been blogging since 1999, when Blogger became available, starting with one for the local garden club. At one point I had four blogs, a nightmare to keep up, but good practice for writing on demand. These days I spend more time reading others' blogs--like yours--than writing on my own, because I'm in learning mode, and there's so much to learn!

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    1. Meg--I thought you'd enjoy that! I have fun giving shout-outs to followers when I can. I agree that multiple blogs are a time suck that can drive you nuts.

      The ideal set-up for a new author is a blog you post to once or twice a month with a nice, meaty post, spend an hour a day visiting other blogs,commenting, retweeting, and posting a few things to FB or Pinterest or wherever you like to hang out. It shouldn't have to take all your time. Right now this blog takes a huge amount of time because it's growing so fast, but I expect it to settle down and let me get back to my WIP. :-)

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  69. Thanks for this post, Anne. This is something I've never thought of. I'm a notorious lurker, quickly reading posts and filing them away. I never think to comment!

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    1. Stacy--If you follow as many blogs as I do, there's no way you can comment on all of them, but it is important to make your presence known, especially if you have something to add to the discussion.

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  70. Excellent advice from top to bottom. Thanks!

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    1. John, it's great to have you here--and welcome! But I do want to stress that just praising the blogger isn't going to do you much good. If you can think of something to add to the discussion, that's going to get more notice.

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  71. Rayne--Ditto what I said to John, above. Google now pays attention to content as well as links. But thanks for jumping in.

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  72. Anne, kudos for all the details you offered, including the point about Google+ and having a Gravator. I'd add that you should also be on Twitter and Facebook, as well, because so many blogs are using comment plugins that pull your identification from a list that is offered to you and FB and Twitter are always listed.

    I often comment on Huffpost articles, which offers a feature for you to build followers there and have people comment on your comments. This might sound like alot of overhead, but if you can pull 20 minutes out of your day to sign up for some interesting Huffpost sections, they'll hit your inbox so you don't have to go hunting for interesting content to comment on.

    Thanks again for pulling this all together!

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  73. Carmen--Thanks! Good tip, but I worry about commenting on newsblogs like the HuffPo because that's where you'll find those "snark-infested waters". For some reason, the dregs of humanity show up in the comments of nearly every news article online. Even with something as non-political as the death of a child, you'll find 100s of people who will say the child deserved it because it wasn't carrying an AK-47. But if you target very safe subjects and make your comments even-tempered, it certainly will help to link back to your site from the HuffPo. Congrats for being brave.

    Since this is a post about taking baby steps to platform building for newbies, I haven't gone into Twitter, FB, Pinterest, Tumblr, GR and the rest of social media. I don't want people to get overwhelmed. But yes, on some blogs you can sign in with Twitter. FB is a pain because if you sign in with them, you usually can't sign in with another ID again. FB hijacks you for that site forever. That happened to me with Kobo and I don't know if I'll ever get on there again with my Kobo ID.

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  74. Okay, I've been meaning to make an avatar so I just did. Now to see if it works...LOL! I previewed my comment and apparently I'd already made one that blogger.com is using. But thanks to you I at least update the picture. Great job, as usual, Anne.

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    1. Baxter--Isn't it nice when you can figure out how to go back and change that thing you don't remember how you did 5 years ago? I've got ancient photos and bios on some sites that I don't know how to change. At least you've got a professional looking photo. A lot of people have pictures of babies or dogs or Alfred E. Newman or whatever. Glad my advice helped!

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  75. Slow reader...yep, that's me! But last night I did the unfathomable....I downloaded and devoured a novel - YA, an atypical choice for me - within two and a half hours! I guess my need to do some blog commenting shuttled me to the finish line much faster than I anticipated. The story was also pretty good - grin.

    I've been trying to build my author brand now for a couple of months. Blog commenting is really such a simple way to attract attention and while the biggest challenge is always time, the results are worth it. So I made a commitment to comment! And when my debut novel Unlikely Venture hits the virtual bookshelves sometime in the not-so-distant future, I'll be ready. Grin.

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    1. Kristen--Isn't that fabulous, when a book grabs you by the eyeballs and won't let go?

      I think we hear too much about "platform' and "author branding". Nobody can build a brand in a couple of months, but there are baby steps to making it happen, And then there are 1000s of time wasters marketers love to foist on new authors. Commenting will pay off. Much more than desperate "by my book" tweets. I promise. Best of luck with your launch!

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  76. Great post, and excellent advice. Thanks

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  77. These are some very helpful tips. I find building a platform to be the hardest part of being a writer. Thanks so much!

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    1. Ajfae--There is so much misinformation about platform out there, that I think I need to devote a whole post to the myths about it. So stay tuned....

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  78. Great post, Anne! I was listening to a panel on social media and someone in the audience asked the panelist, "I created a blog and blog regularly, but no one ever comments on it."

    She asked him, "Do you comment on other people's blog?" His answer was no.

    I thought to myself, "Well, there you go!"

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    1. Yup. There they go. LOL. For every writer who reads this post, there are thousands sitting alone on their blogs, wondering why nobody ever comes to visit. And they'll never know, because they won't visit other blogs. It's kind of sad.

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  80. Amen Sista!

    AWESOME article.

    The comment section of blogs are a GOLD MINE for exposure, networking and connecting with others. Not only that, they're a lot of fun!

    I find great content in comment sections all the time. Often, blog readers will add-to and enhance what was said in the post which builds everyone's knowledge base.

    And as a book blogger, I think authors are missing a HUGE marketing opportunity. When a book is being discussed in a post - the comment section should be used like a book discussion in a book group held in someone's living room. The content of comments can be vastly improved and more about the book being discussed. That's just what I think...

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  81. Julie--What an important insight!! Yes! Commenting on book review blogs would do so much to raise profiles and also stimulate discussion. Everybody who reads romance or chick lit should go over to Julie Valerie's blog and check out her awesome reviews and give-aways. I won a book there that just arrived today!

    And yes, I get some of the most important info on the current publishing scene in comments! Thanks for the reminder!

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  82. What a great article, Anne. Thanks for sharing all of this. Hope you're doing well. :)

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    1. M. Pax--Nice to see you here! Doing okay, but things are hectic. I guess that's the story for all of us, isn't it?

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  83. Useful info for seasoned as well as beginning writers. As a traditional published author of 15 novels, I didn't have to know or worry too much about promoting, back in the "good old days." Now it's a whole different ball game and if you haven't kept up with the times, you get left behind. You advice is spot on!

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    1. Eileen—Thrilled to see you here! Count me as another EG fangirl! :-)

      I couldn't agree more that those of us who remember the "good old days" must keep up with the massive changes in publishing if we want to stay relevant. The learning curve is exhilarating and so are the opportunities to reconnect with old fans and meet new ones.

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  84. Eileen--Awesome to see you here! I loved Garden of Lies and your Peggy Sue books. Probably some others I'm not remembering right now. You're right that this stuff isn't just for new authors. It's a whole new publishing world, and a lot of what you hear from your marketing department just isn't true. Or it was 3 years ago, but things change on a dime. For long-time bestselling authors like you and Ruth Harris, it can mean re-inventing your career. Your older fans may not be online, and it's tricky to connect with the new ones. But blogging is the best way to meet them, IMO. Welcome!

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  85. Thanks for another interesting and informative post. I enjoy commenting on blogs and try to do it as often as possible. Beside good exposure, it is a more personal and friendly way of connecting with readers and writers.

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    1. Christa--You're so right. People forget that social media is supposed to be SOCIAL. We're supposed to be connecting, not broadcasting.

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  86. Thank you for some great tips! I started reading through the thousands of comments on your blog, but alas, I too am a very slow reader. Perhaps we should try this new Spritz speed reading app??

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    1. Gemma--It really is kind of over the top, isn't it?I didn't write this post to get 175 comments, but it's sure got more comments than any other post we've written. LOL. I'm a slow reader, too. I do everything slow.

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  87. Thanks to the advice found on Anne's blog, this is my first post with a Gravatar account and a Google + profile. Look out world, there is a wide-eyed indie author on the loose!

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    1. Michael--Congrats on setting up your Gravatar and Google + profile. Honored to be the first person in your circle!

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  88. Anne, this is great advice -- I'm going to reread it this afternoon and implement a few of the tips. I've been blogging for four years now. I know I should have a separate writer's blog, but posting once a week to my food blog is all I can manage. I'm *not* one of those writers who can run three blogs, post daily on all of them and write a book, all while working a full-time job and raising five kids!

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    1. Jean--I remember visiting your blog when I was starting out. No, you do NOT need a separate author blog. Your well-known food blog is all you need. Simply put your books in your sidebar and put info for your readers on other pages. If you have a Blogger blog, you get 20 pages. Most people would much rather read about food than writers block or your opinion on the Oxford comma. LOL. Just keep doing what you're doing and add a few pages for the fans.

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  89. Ah. Now I know why you commented on my little blog. :-)

    Great article.

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  90. Crowhill Greg-- I commented because I saw a Tweet about your freebie Kindle book stats, That interested me, because it seems that free isn't working that well anymore and I wanted to see your results, They were kind of impressive, so I wanted to let you know that. So even though I can't comment on every single blog of every one of the 47,000 people who read this blog every month, I do network with people as much as I can. I'll choose to network with people who have new information for me. So thanks!

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  91. This is an excellent post because people don't always think about how much we all check out google profiles based on comments for blog posts. I do it all the time. However, I've also stopped commenting with my name and I often remain anonymous now because I write in a discreet genre and people tend to put you into a box. In other words, if I'm commenting on a blog where the author writes middle grade or kid's books I do it as anon for reasons leaning more toward discretion. But for those who don't have to worry about that commenting is a fantastic way to let people know who you are.

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    1. Ryan--It's true that things are a little different for erotica writers. Roni Loren writes erotica and seems to be welcome on mainstream blogs, but that may be because she got known as a blogger before she published. But I think your choice to err on the side of discretion is probably wise. Sometimes it's worth it for authors of erotica who also write mainstream books or reviews to establish two personas. But that seems like a huge amount of work to me.

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    2. Trying to keep a balance isn't always easy :)

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  92. Great topic on platform! I'll be doing more to link back to my author site. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. Glad I could help. Anything to help all those poor authors crying in the wilderness!

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  93. What a great post, especially for me at this time. I will be speaking on building a platform at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in April and your remarks fit so well. I began blogging in 2007 and taught many of my writers group to set up blogs. Some have been extremely successful and some have not progressed. Writing comments and just being generous as a writer has been a large part of building my platform. I believe that writers should have a blog as well as use FB and Twitter, etc. With a blog, a writer can better communicate to his fans what he is and what he writes. Blogs serve to hold a fan base together between books, I think. And comments take a small part of our time, but are important as you say.

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    1. Glenda--I teach platform building at writers conferences and seminars, too. The whole idea can be so daunting for newbies, especially older writers. So I always tell them to START with commenting on blogs. Then when they start their own blogs, they'll know some people to invite to come on by. Then they can expand to Twitter and the other media if they like (I don't think FB does much for writers these days. It sees users as prey and does everything to trick you into spending money on pointless advertising.) Welcome!

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  94. Hi, this is my very first blog comment and I'm delighted that it's on your blog! You have very helpful information there that I'm sure will be useful when I set up my own blog in a few weeks. And I might win a book too!

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    1. Elmer--Welcome! You're on the list. I'll announce the winners on next Sunday's post. The book tells you everything you need to know about setting up a blog.

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    2. Emer--Sorry about the typo in your name. I haven't had my tea yet this morning. :-)

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  95. Hi Anne,
    I've had a themed blog since late 2008. I've noticed in the past few months that while my subscriptions go up, my comments have gone down. Do you think people are getting blogged out? I have around 1200 subscribers and about 20-40 visitors a day so my numbers are good, just wondering about the comments flagging.

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    1. Lyn--If you use Mail Chimp or another service that delivers the blog to a subscriber inbox, your comments will go down, because people are reading in their inbox, and not on the blog. Commenting would mean another click. That certainly happened with us when we signed up with Mail Chimp. Also, the most popular blogs don't seem to get as many comments. I'm not sure why, but people may feel shy about "speaking" in front of a big crowd.

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  96. Sue McGinty

    Okay, Anne, I'm a bit late to the party here, but I got a Google+ Account to more easily comment on yours and other blogs. I expected to see Google+ as one of the "Comment as" options and I don't.

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    1. Sue--That's strange. It should ask for either Blogger or Google ID, but It may be that you were signed in as "Sisters in Crime" so Blogger took that as your ID and entered it automatically. You probably have to sign out as SinC and back in as Sue McGinty for the menu to appear. Send me a screenshot of what you see and I'll try to figure out what's up. But usually a Blogger/Google ID is their default ID, since Blogger (and this blog) is owned by Google. The menu I see asks for "Anne R. Allen(Google)" Wordpress, LiveJournal, TypePad, AIM, or OpenID.

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  97. Hi Anne,

    test comment in reply to your comment. I signed in under my new google id and now I see my name and google as one of the options. Here goes.

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    1. Yay! Your "sue mcginty" ID showed up just fine! You now have options. Options are good. :-)

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  98. Great article, I'll surely try to increase my comments in blogs and to be honest this is my first comment in any blog, so never had an idea of increasing traffic or getting noticed through my blog but hope it helps and since I'm a new blogger, I will be taking blog commenting as my first step to familiarise myself. Great article again.. :-)

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    1. Jason--Congrats on taking that big step! Our "1st comment" contest is closed now, but many thanks for making your first blog comment right here. You've got your Google Plus profile now, so it should all be easier from now on. Best of luck with your blog!

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We LOVE comments, but we can't allow anonymous ones because of spammer problems (like hundreds a day). If you have trouble commenting, email your comment to Anne at annerallen dot allen at gmail dot com and she'll post it for you.