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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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

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

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


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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to Write Blog Content: 9 Tips to Entice Readers to Your Author Blog


You started a blog. Congratulations!

But nobody’s reading it.

Sigh.

Don't give in to despair. It takes a while to build a readership. Usually a long while. For the first six months I blogged, my followers consisted of my mom and my critique group. The other day I found my journal entry from my blog's first anniversary. I was totally jazzed because I was up to 36 followers. A year later, I had 600. (Now we've got 1652 and 1025 subscribers: thanks, everybody!)

So what happened in that second year?

1) I started commenting on other blogs and got some guest gigs. This is the part of blogging that most beginning bloggers skip. But nobody can follow you if they don't know you're there. You have to get out and meet other bloggers. Commenting on their blogs is the best way to to that. Here's my post on how to comment on a blog.

2) I learned how to blog. That took some trial and error. Lots of error. In fact, I'm still learning. I'm talking about format here, not subject matter, which I've blogged about before and will again soon. Here's one of my posts on What Should an Author Blog About?

Short version of the subject matter question:

  • An author can blog about anything. Just make sure it's interesting to somebody other than your family and your cat. 
  • Don't use it as a personal journal. Everything you say is "in public." 
  • I don't recommend new bloggers start another "how to write" blog, because we've got gazillions of them, and they don't attract non-writing readers. 
  • Fiction usually doesn't do well on a blog, and there could be copyright issues, so it's usually best to make it mostly nonfic. 
  • Write about stuff of interest to the readers you want to attract.

Once you do get a few people stopping by, you’re more likely to keep them coming back if you write content that's formatted for the Web reader.

A blogger is a "content provider"—and writing Web content isn't exactly the same as writing an essay or a magazine article.

Unfortunately most of the info you find on writing Web content comes from marketers and tech people, not novelists, and their stuff can be so riddled with jargon it might as well be written in Klingon.

Like this article I found about using hyperlinks with keywords (#7 below):

"What will help Google disambiguate the #entities - people, brands, places, industry terms, etc. - to which you refer in your copy? Through strong copy, understanding hierarchies and emphasising industry terms (without links), we can ensure that indexers have confidence in our content, thus render it in #SERPs with more certainty."

Uh-huh. I know that's probably solid info, but I'd be so grateful if people would write it in regular English.

For me, learning to blog meant unlearning a whole lot of what we were taught about writing prose back in the 20th century.

  • We learned to use topic sentences and avoid cutting to a new paragraph until there's a new topic.
  • We wrote for people who paid money for our words and read every one.
  • We wouldn't put a title on a serious essay that looked like a cheap tabloid headline.
  • We avoided repetition. 
  • We would never offer an outline instead of an essay.
  • We substantiated our information with footnotes.
  • We never heard of "tags" or "SEO"

Unfortunately, the majority of people don't read on the Internet; they skim. In fact, most people don't even skim the whole article. In a recent piece in Slate titled "You Won't Finish This Article", Farhad Manjoo said only half the people who visit a site read past the first hundred words.

So how do you get them to come by...and stay?

Throw out the rules you learned in school and use a copywriter's tricks for grabbing your audience and not letting them go. Here are some copywriting techniques you might want to add to your writing skill set.

1) Write whiplash-inducing blog headers



C. Hope Clark said in her March "Funds for Writers" newsletter:

"You might be surprised at the key factor I use in deleting or holding to read: The quality of the subject line. Hey, when time is crazy limited...the words have to snag me as I rush by. That means first and foremost that the subject be crisp, sharp, attractive, intriguing, or whatever adjective you want to use that gives me whiplash. It has to shout, "HEY, READ ME OR YOU'LL REGRET IT."

She's right. Headers might be the most important element of your blog content, and it's the one most novelists don't get. We want our blogs to sound creative and literary like our books, not cheesy like a supermarket tabloid.

But tabloid and advertising writers know what they're doing. They have only a moment to grab a reader going through that checkout line, so they need an irresistible hook. 

In our case our headers need to make whiplash Tweets and shares that will snag a reader in the endless stream of content they can choose from.

So how do we do that? 

a) Don't be generic.


"An Interview with…" Isn't going to grab anybody unless it's "AN INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN BIEBER AND VLADIMIR PUTIN TALKING ABOUT THEIR THREESOME WITH KIM KARDASHIAN" or something else involving trending news. 

b) Make it Tweetable.  


That means avoiding enigmatic, one-word headers. I recently saw a title in the London Review of Books that exemplified the one-word header that doesn't work well in the age of Twitter. The article was called "Ghosting." It turned out to be about Andrew O'Hagan's experience ghostwriting for Julian Assange, a fascinating subject.

But you wouldn't know from the title. It might have been a piece about ectoplasmic apparitions, or a remake of the Dan Ackroyd-Bill Murray movies, so I didn't bother to retweet it since I didn't have time to write a new header. You don't want that to happen to your posts. 

c) Promise a quick read 


Everybody's in hurry online.

In a March 2014 piece in the Web Writer Spotlight, Jillian Mullin wrote

"....you have to compete with Facebook and Twitter, as well as with their family and work. The fact that they managed to land on your site is something to be thankful for. Generally, an average web user only spends 10 to 30 seconds reading Internet content. People rarely read web pages word-per-word. Instead, they scan the page for related keywords, bullet points, subtitles, and quotes."

So one of the best ways to make that promise is with numbered lists. "The 10 Best Ghostwritten Books" or "5 Signs Your Computer is Possessed."

d) Promise solid, helpful information that's YOU oriented, not ME oriented 


Like: "How to Become a Ghostwriter" or "5 Simple Snacks to Serve at Your Next Exorcism," rather than "I'm Making a Living Now" or "Another Sleepless Night in My New Apartment."

e) Ask a question that stirs curiosity 


Try appealing to greed: "Make REAL Money as a Writer!" Or paranoia—sorry, but it works: "Is Your Cubicle Haunted?" or "Who or WHAT is Flushing Your Toilet in the Middle of the Night?".

f) Use keywords in your header


So what are keywords? They're the words that most effectively let the public (and the search engines) know what your post is about. Like this one is about 1) blogs 2) blog content 3) authors

So let's say you're blogging about how you think your new house may be haunted by the ghost of an elderly lady who died there. Don't call it "Mildred Biggins Walks at Night", as much as it appeals to your storyteller's instinct. Call it "10 Signs Your House is Haunted: My Encounter with a Ghost".

That's because "haunted house" and "ghost"are your keywords.

In other words, just tell us what it's about. That's what will draw the most readers and it uses your keywords. (That's called SEO—more on that below.)

2) Put your most important info in the first few words 


Make sure your lead is visible as soon as somebody opens your blog. People do a lot of reading on phones and small tablets these days, so those first words are all-important for today's reader.

It's also what Google shows in the search results. And those opening words will help the spiders decide what searches will pick it up, so you need some keywords there, too.

And since most people won't read past the second paragraph, you don't want to save your best stuff for the end.

Half a century ago, journalists were taught to "humanize" stories by starting with a human interest line. "Susie Scrivener shouldn't have a care in the world. She's a pretty 30-something freelance writer living in a gorgeous Victorian triplex in Old Town. She's sitting on the front porch of the house she moved into last month with her cat Hortense. The three-story home was once owned by one Mildred Biggins, who died in 1924…"

The reporter could get to the lead (then known as the "lede" to differentiate from the metal originally used to make type) in the third or fourth sentence, but these days, you've got to give us the facts in the first ten words.

"Susie Scrivener thinks her house is haunted by the ghost of its former owner." Bam. Just say it.

3) Learn to use and format subheaders


Subheaders aren't just for drawing the eye through and letting the reader know what's coming up. They also need to spell out your most important points. And include keywords.

That's because subheads get picked up by search engines too.

So for your Mildred Biggins post, you might use subheaders that contain words like "ghost", "haunted", and "poltergeist", rather than "Who flushed that toilet?" or "Mildred and Hortense".

NOTE: Be sure to use the "subheader" mode in your blog program, and not the "normal" setting. I didn't even know there was a "subheader" category until this year, when I stumbled on it. (Stumbling is how I found out most of this stuff.)

For Blogger users, the subheader menu is on the left-hand side of the toolbar, where you see the word "normal". That window has a menu, where you can choose Heading, Subheading, or Minor Heading.

For Wordpress users, here's the skinny from Romance Author Autumn MacArthur:

 "WP users wanting to use headings and subheadings in a post need to bring up a second toolbar by hitting the "Toolbar Toggle" button on the far right of the toolbar. That adds a second toolbar, with a dropdown box labelled "Paragraph" as the first item. Headings are under there. Whether they act the same as Blogger Subheadings from a Googlebot point of view I'm not sure, but they look pretty!" 

When I started using the appropriate format, our blog stats soared. Why? The Google spiders pay attention to subheaders the way they do to headers and hyperlinks.

4) Break up blog text


No big hunks of indigestible verbiage. Nothing is more daunting to a Web reader.

I subscribe to Publisher's Lunch, the daily report on traditional publishing's latest news. But like so much of traditional publishing, it's stuck in the 20th century. The information on new book deals comes in one in one big, passive-aggressive block of text in a tiny, gray, sans-serif font. I find myself dreading opening it every morning. Recently, I've just been skipping it.

So break up those word hunks. Forget what you learned in school about topic sentences. Don't write a paragraph more than a few sentences long.

I know. Your high school English teacher is rolling in her grave, but skimmers read the first sentence of a paragraph and maybe the last. Make your big points in those two spots.

5) Write blog content in a simple, conversational style


A blog is not the place to show off your encyclopedic vocabulary. If somebody has to click around to look up a word, they probably won't come back.

It's also not the place for the kind of jargon I quoted in my intro. Don't write in geekspeak, legalese, or that "most scholars agree" phony-tony style you used for college term papers.

Many tech people write in a language comprehensible only to them. It identifies them as one of the people "in the know." But an "in crowd" blog isn't going to get as many followers as one that's friendly and welcoming.

I agree completely with Ann Timmons, the Communications Artist who wrote in a March 2014 post about how her eyes glazed over at a conference when listening to:

"...all sorts of undoubtedly English language words used in combinations I could not make sense of. Not knowing the context, I was lost. Some people call this 'insider language'. Others call it 'jargon.' Whatever you call it, it is bound to frustrate people."


Marketers and SEO specialists are some of the worst offenders. I have read dozens of blogs about something called "Google Authorship" but I still haven't got the slightest idea if it's a software program, an app, a Google Plus circle, or the name of Larry Page's cat. Nobody seems able to define it. They only put people down who don't have it.

You're not going to reach the general public if you write in Klingon and act smug.

6) Arrange blog text in a scannable format


Scanning is easier with lists, bullet points, and bolding. Italics can be useful too—anything to draw the eye along the text.

MS Word makes this a breeze. Unfortunately Word formatting probably won't translate to your blog program, so you may have to resort to primitive means like numbering your own lists or using asterisks for bullet points.

*Lists: a numbered list has a three-fold benefit:

  1. It provides lots of white space.
  2. It draws the eye through.
  3. It gives you fodder for your headline. (See the "header" section.)

*Bullet points: Like lists, bullet points are easy to grasp at a glance and they let people know they're just getting the "good parts."

*Bolding: Especially for headers and other significant information.

*Italics: Putting a quote in italics sets it apart from the normal text.

7) Use informative text for hyperlinks


What are hyperlinks? It's okay to ask. I had no idea how to make a hyperlink for the first six months I blogged. 

You make a hyperlink when you turn an ugly url like this: http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2009/07/beware-bogus-literary-agents.html into a live bit of text you can click on like this link to one of my very first blogposts: Beware Bogus Literary Agents. (Where you will see my early urls in all their ugly, unhyperlinked glory.)

You make a hyperlink by selecting the text you want people to click on and going to the icon that looks like two links of chain up there on the menu bar. Or in Blogger it is cleverly identified with the word "Link".

See how I didn't make the link above with the word "here" or "this link"? That's because the words "here" and "this link" don't mean anything to the Google spiders (the reason these robot/algorithm things are called "spiders" is they "crawl" around the Interwebz looking for content.) 

Those algorithms only notice links with identifying text. So either use the title of the piece as I did above, or say something about it, like "the time agent Janet Reid visited my clueless-newbie blog."

That means somebody searching for info on Janet Reid might run into my post. Also searches for "clueless", "newbie" and "blog".

I think the article I mentioned in the intro was trying to tell us that using keywords in links isn't as important as it used to be. But in any case, it's still better than just saying "click here."

8) Use significant tags


The "tags" or "labels" you put on the end of your post look as if they're for helping you organize your archives. And of course that's their primary purpose. But they're also noticed by those all-important spiders. So use as many tags as possible, including all your keywords, plus the names of people you're quoting or writing about.

If they're tagged, those people may get a Google alert that you've mentioned them. That means they may grace your blog with their presence, which is what happened to me with Janet Reid, on my fifth blogpost ever. I had twelve followers, but there was the QueryShark her ownself, telling me I had a "nicely written post." Oh, how I basked!

One caveat: once you've used a tag it's part of your blog for life. They can't be deleted. So now I have a lot of names in my tag list that I probably won't mention again. I'm hoping the number of tags isn't limited.

9) Keep SEO in mind, but don't lard your blog with repetitive words.


I know SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of those eye-glazing Klingon-jargon things—and a lot of people think it means repeating the same words over and over.

But search engines actually favor using regular speech, so you don't usually need to do anything that strange to "optimize" for a search engine. All you have to do is use simple keywords to help Google and other search engines find you with those algorithmic spider thingies.

Using keywords just means using the most basic words about your topic. So when you're writing your copy or header, think of what words somebody might put into a search engine on the topic you're writing about. Can you tell which would work better for SEO?

#1 My Cat Hortense is a Genius
#2 Can Your Cat Learn to Use the Toilet?"

If you're catching onto this keyword/SEO/header thing, you chose #2.  A person looking for information on cat hygiene is more likely to type "cat use toilet" into Google than "Hortense" and "genius."

So if you want somebody to read your piece about how Hortense learned to flush the toilet, leading you to believe there was a poltergeist in the bathroom of your new apartment, use a header that the Googler might think up if she had an interest in toilet-flushing cats.

Alexis Grant wrote a great post on Robert Lee Brewer's blog last year called "SEO Myths that Scare Writers" that helped me understand a lot of this stuff.

She suggests you just "write like you always write, and then go back later and look for ways to optimize for search traffic.

So check after you write to see if you have keywords in the following:
  • Headline
  • First paragraph
  • Subheaders
  • Anchor text for hyperlinks. 
  • Tags 
And don't worry a lot if you can't cram them all in there. Treat the list as helpful guidelines, but don't obsess, or your prose will sound stilted and boring. 

Writing for a blog isn't hard, but it does require developing a slightly different skill set from what you use as a journalist or fiction writer.

And you may find the new "skimmable" prose style can help your fiction as well. According to new reports, skimming on the Interwebz has changed our reading habits. So next month I'll be talking about 21st Century prose and how even fiction is evolving in the age of skimming. (Whether we like it or not.)

Attention Wordpress users! For more details on how to do all this in Wordpress, check out Jami Gold's great post on Blog Tips and Tricks. She also has some valuable words to say for all bloggers on knowing our goals.

What about you, scriveners? Do you skim on the Internet? How about fiction? Have you been using any of these tricks to get more people to your blog? Any other tips to suggest?  


BOOK OF THE WEEK

In honor of all the chocolate delivered by the Easter Bunny this morning, Food of Love is only $2.99 in ebook on Amazon US or Amazon UK, Amazon CAiTunes and at Barnes and Noble . It's available in paper in the UK and in the US for $8.54.



A hilarious romantic-comedy thriller about dieting, friendship, and a small nuclear bomb.

After Princess Regina, a former supermodel, is ridiculed in the tabloids for gaining weight, someone tries to kill her. She suspects her royal husband wants to be rid of her, now she’s no longer model-thin.

As she flees the mysterious assassin, she discovers the world thinks she is dead and seeks refuge with the only person she can trust: her long-estranged foster sister, Rev. Cady Stanton, a Christian talk show host who has romantic and weight issues of her own.

Cady delves into Regina’s past and discovers Regina’s long-lost love, as well as dark secrets that connect them all.

"I loved everything about this novel, the quirky humor and larger than life characters above all. The plot took me in unexpected directions and I could not guess what would happen next. This is a delightful surprise package skillfully bound by the author's immaculate writing. And like all stories involving a princess, it has a happy ending. HIGHLY recommended!"
...The BookKeeper


OPPORTUNITY ALERTS


The Literary Hatchet: Paying market for Dark Fiction and Poetry - Pays $15 a story. They welcome prose and poetry that scares and shocks readers. Open to horror, paranormal, and speculative fiction. Word length: 500-3000 words/story, and under 100 lines per poem. $15/story, $5/poem. Deadline is July 1, 2014 for the August issue. Read guidelines here - See more at: http://writingcareer.com/

The Saturday Evening Post "Celebrate America" fiction contest. $10 ENTRY FEE. The winning story will be published in the Jan/Feb 2015 edition of The Saturday Evening Post, and the author will receive a $500 payment. Five runners-up will each receive a $100 cash payment and will also have their stories published online. Stories must be between 1,500 and 5,000 words in. All stories must be previously unpublished (excluding personal websites and blogs). Deadline July 1.

The Golden Quill AwardsEntry fee $15. Two categories: Short fiction/memoir (1000 words) and Poetry (40 lines max) $750 1st prize, $400 2nd prize in each category. Sponsored by the SLO Nightwriters and the Central Coast Writers Conference. Entries accepted from April 1-June 30th.

NOWHERE TRAVEL STORIES $15 ENTRY FEE. $1000 prize plus publication. Award-winning literary travel magazine, Nowhere, is teaming up with Outside Magazine for the first Nowhere Spring Travel Writing Contest. Stories can be fiction or nonfiction. Entries should be be between 800-5,000 words and must not have been previously chosen as a winner in another contest. Previously published work is accepted. Deadline June 15

E. M. Koeppel Short Fiction Award: Entry Fee: $15 A prize of $1,100 and publication on the Writecorner Press website is given annually for a short story. Submit a story of up to 3,000 words. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines. Deadline April 30th

Amazon’s literary journal Day One is seeking submissions. According to Carmen Johnson, Day One’s editor, the litzine is looking for “fresh and compelling short fiction and poetry by emerging writers.” This includes stories that are less than 20,000 words by authors that have never been published, and poems by poets who have never published before. To submit works, writers/poets can email their work as a word document, along with a brief description and author bio to dayone-submissions @amazon.com.

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130 Comments:

Blogger Greg Strandberg said...

How long before the universities realize there's a lot of money to be made teaching this?

I've a feeling many English departments will look a little different in the coming years.

April 20, 2014 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

I LOVE this post! Those Klingon quotes are exactly the ones I choked on. Wha? I read & re-read and still don't get it. Makes me feel better to know at least I'm not alone!

Happy Easter to everyone. Enjoy your chocolate bunny! :-)

April 20, 2014 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

Two more:

Learn to manage your time for writing blog posts. This is one that almost never gets said because most bloggers are not competing with other forms of writing. I was in an early blogging class. Everyone got excited and started blogging three times a week. I decided to do all three of my posts on Saturday morning because I usually didn't feel up to creative writing at that time. Everyone else was waiting until the day of the post, coming up with an idea, then writing it and revising it extensively. Six months later, everyone else was complaining about how it was cutting into their writing time. I suggested that one person might want to write the posts all at once, and I was really surprised at the hostile reaction. She thought that writing them in advance was being a hack writer and that last minute was better. Ooohhhkay.

Use an editorial calendar. Come up with a month's worth of ideas or so, including some posts that don't require a lot of writing (i.e., photo posts or video posts). Use Post It markers on the calendar because they can be easily rearrange if something newsy pops up at the last minute that you have to post on.

April 20, 2014 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My cubical is haunted. Wait, no, it's just a dead zone...
I can't remember when I started using headers, but I know it helps reader zoom in on the topic they want to read. (Since I often post multiple topics per post.) I still need to work on first paragraphs.
Ironically, someone posted a link to an article that said because of Internet reading and skimming, our brains are beginning to lose the ability to read longer pieces such as book. I could see my own reading habits in that article and wonder if the next generation will be able to focus on a book at all.

April 20, 2014 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Greg--Amen. I can't even get a local writers conference interested in the topic. But so many author blogs are languishing because nobody knows the basics. I agree there's money in teaching blogging basics.

April 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ruth--I loved Ann Timmons article on how jargon-speakers alienate the very people they're trying to communicate with. People who have the secret decoder ring already know this stuff. If tech people want to reach a big audience, they should speak in a known Earth language.

Happy Easter to you too!!

April 20, 2014 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger D.G. Hudson said...

I second Linda's comment. Planning ahead helps me find that time. The seat of my pants doesn't fly very well.

Another way I cross-promote my second blog is adding an image box in the sidebars with an thumbnail linking to my current post at the alternate blog.

April 20, 2014 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger L.G. Smith said...

That was me, Alex. :)

Yeah, I was just going to mention that this same skimming seems to be affecting our leisure reading too. A modern problem for sure.

April 20, 2014 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--Great tips!! Yes. Managing blogging time is essential. Don't let it eat up your life. I write several posts at the same time and then just tweak them with new quotes or whatever when I put them up. I know that Kristen Lamb does that too. She'll write one big piece and break it down for her daily posts.

Weird that you got that hostility. Your fellow student was confusing "professionalism" with "hack writing". Last minute dashing-off is amateur stuff.

I'm a big believer is slow blogging for authors--posting once a week or less--because we are getting audience from our book fans as well as from search engines and our main job is to write our books.

Good advice on an editorial calendar, too. I use one and plan at least three months ahead. I'm going to take your advice on the post-its! I have to keep erasing mine when I change my mind. Thanks for the great advice!

April 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex and L.G.--I'm working on a post for next month on this topic. We are indeed reading differently Even I find I don't want to tackle big, dense paragraphs in a novel. I want more white space and easier-to-skim prose.

But I hope we won't lose all the subtleties in our fiction. Skimming for nothing but plot is like watching a sitcom with the sound off. You're missing all the good stuff.

April 20, 2014 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

D.G. I don't know how people manage two blogs without help. Definitely that requires great organizational skills. Tech skills too. Sounds as if you have both. As I said to Linda, planning ahead is what professionals do. Pantsing a blog leads to amateurish posts.

April 20, 2014 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Dr John Yeoman said...

Absolutely, Anne! Reader's Digest learned The Seven Secrets Of Being a Great Blogger many decades ago. And now they're all coming back. Short sentences. Single line paragraphs. Power words. Have you noticed how Jon Morrow, blogger extraordinaire, never writes a paragraph that's more than two lines long?

That said, there's a BIG difference (capitals work too) between writing a blog you want people to read and a blog you want folk to respond to. Short blog posts of 600 words or less get gulped. They don't get response. A post of 1200+ words will lose 90% of its readers before they get to the end. That's fine. Because those are the folk who'll leave a comment and/or respond to your offer!

A long post is actually a qualifier. (Jon Morrow's posts are typically 1500 words or longer.) If folk can stay in your page that long, they're serious. Who wants to deal with gulp readers and tire kickers?

April 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

Anne, there's a phrase for how today's fabulous post makes me feel. And I think it's... "you're killing me". It would be hard for me to name a blogger I admire more- and I know you well enough to trust that all this advice is much closer to dead-on than not-even-close. But I run down the list and I'm maybe doing two of these things.
I'm a wreck! Long blog posts, prose nearly purple. I avoid the jargon I think (because I don't know any) and sometimes I use a link or header. But that might be just by accident.
I can claim no excuse, and I'm not sure I see much hope. But I do love to blog, and I come back to another of your oft-used points. Everything you put out there is always out there. I've always aimed for my posts to be epic- like this comment!- and it's clear I'm going to have to give this whole matter a lot of thought. Thanks as always.

April 20, 2014 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Dr. John--I'm a big fan of Jon Morrow, too. I admit I learned a lot of this stuff from him. He doesn't write in Klingon and what he says makes sense. He's the one who convinced me that newsletters are redundant if you have a good subscription service for your blog.

I love the term "gulp readers."

But I did not learn about longer posts from him. It's something I discovered on my own. Long posts=lots of comments. I'm so glad he agrees. We wanted to create a community here, so we wanted interaction. This isn't a sales blog, it's an information blog, and a lot of the information comes from our commenters.

You're also right that this stuff isn't new. Advertisers have known it for decades. In fact, James Patterson was an ad executive before he became a novelist and he used ad techniques to become the bestselling author in the past 14 years. I'll be talking about that a lot on May 4th,

April 20, 2014 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

Blogging to a brick wall. Woot! That’s me.

Yeah, I loved your blog on how to comment and why it’s so important so I must keep that up. I sometimes have trouble posting. It’s ridiculous.

I’m guilty of blogging about things that interest me and maybe my kids or the chipmunk who sits on a rock outside the window. He’s cute. But he doesn’t comment (online). Mine is kind of a personal journal but it keeps me writing on a regular basis.

Right there with the unlearning a lot of rules. I have a conversational blog and break all those “NO adverb”, “show don’t tell”, “no fragments” rules. It’s a beautiful mess.

I wrote newsletters and web content so I KNOW the rule of numbered and bulleted lists but do I use it? No.

Ooh…I’m all “me oriented”, too. And I’m using a lot of quotes here. And I’m breaking all of your rules. Gah!

April 20, 2014 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Wm. Don't despair! And read what Dr. John says about long posts above. I didn't say don't have long posts. Some of mine are huge (and they get more comments.)

I just said don't use long paragraphs. Break it up. Use white space. These are easy fixes. I'm sure everything you're doing is fine (except you don't link your profile or your FB page to your blog, so I can't find it. :-) ) This just helps you format in a way that will get more traffic. It's not hard. It's just hard to find out. That's why it's taken me oh, four years to find out about subheaders. Try it out and see if you get more traffic. Let me know if it works for you.

April 20, 2014 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

So… Is it okay to write a blog but not really want a slew of readers or does that defeat the purpose? I mean, I do tend to write stuff that’s probably not very interesting to others. It keeps me writing consistently. And I love the freedom that comes with knowing no one will read what I’ve written because I blurt out my blog and publish it. I hardly ever edit and never revise. Readers would be wonderful of course but it’s nice not to fret over what I’ve written. Am I setting myself up for major failure here?

April 20, 2014 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sarah--These aren't "rules". They're just tips for getting more traffic. If you're happy with your blog now, don't change a thing.

And as far as adverbs and showing not telling and all that *&%#--that's the opposite of what to do on a blog. Blogs should be conversational, not like essays. None of those writing rules matter. Beautiful messes are great. It's all about being real.

Some posts lend themselves to lists and bullet points and some don't. If they work, put them in. In some posts they'd look stupid. Most of all, blogging should be fun.

April 20, 2014 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

You just answered my question below. :-) Thanks. It's not about not wanting readers, it's about wanting to write without someone commenting that I use too many adverbs so I must be a newbie (I'm not). Or that I didn't use a comma so they'll never read the blog again. I've seen many comments like that. Really. So I do want readers, I just want freedom to, as you said, "be real". You're the best!

April 20, 2014 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sarah--You need to ask yourself why you're blogging. If you want a personal journal, you might want to put some of this in an offline doc instead of online, because when you DO become a bestselling author :-) people are going to be reading every word.

But there's nothing wrong with an author blogging random thoughts as long as they're interesting. The thing is to blog what's going to be of interest to your fans. Catherine Ryan Hyde has a great author blog where she blogs a lot about her cat and dog. Her fans feel they really know her (and her pets) that way.

But don't put anything out there you don't want the world to see, because blogging IS publishing.

April 20, 2014 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sarah--Commenters who criticize your grammar aren't the kind you want anyway, right?. And there's always the little trash can icon. You can delete people who are nasty. It's your blog.

April 20, 2014 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Sasha A. Palmer said...

Happy Easter! Anne, thank you for the post. I have to locate "the subheader mode in the blog program" - never heard of it. All the formatting tips are very helpful. I remember your post on what authors should blog about. Content is still the hardest part, in my opinion. It seems that the opportunities are endless, but it's tough to figure out what would work for you especially if you write fiction and haven't been published yet.

April 20, 2014 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Mary Fletcher said...

I just started blogging. This post has so many helpful tips in it, I can't thank you enough! It was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I appreciate you. It is such a thrill for me when I see that the number of followers has risen from the day before. I am learning so much. Thank you.

April 20, 2014 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Angela Adams said...

Thank you so much for the post. Very helpful information.

April 20, 2014 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Blogger is up to its old tricks and rejected a comment from a Wordpress blogger. Here it is:

I published a post yesterday and read your post today. When I finished reading, I returned to my blog and re-edited my post. Thanks for a great post.

L. Deborah Sword, LLB, MES, PhD.
Conflict Manager

April 20, 2014 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks for taking the time to contact me via email, Deborah. I'm so glad the post helped you improve your own blog!

April 20, 2014 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sasha--If you have a Blogger blog, you can find it on your toolbar on the left. It's the window that says "normal". If you scroll down, you'll find it also has the choices of "heading", "subheading", or "minor heading." Alas, I don't know where it is in Wordpress.

I think what you blog about has a lot to do with what stage you've reached in your career. Unpublished writers can use a blog to network with other writers, who can give help and support as your career grows. I deal with this subject extensively in my book HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE, and I'll be addressing it again in the coming months.

Happy Easter to you too!

April 20, 2014 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Mary--I remember when I started to get followers. Every day I was eager to sit down at the keyboard, because I'd get that little thrill when somebody new followed. Learning a new skill is fun, isn't it?

April 20, 2014 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Angela--Thank you for stopping by!

April 20, 2014 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Jim Bessey said...

Perfectly done and explained, Anne, thank you!

I've passed this along to everyone in my writers' network. Many of these points are all "out there" -- somewhere, mingled with a slew of related advice and scattered all around the Interwebz. Well worth bookmarking.

April 20, 2014 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

I do blog random thoughts but nothing I would be embarrassed if someone read. You know, when I'm famous. ;-) And it's me. My voice, my words, so whatever will be will be. Now I want to read Catherine's cat and dog posts. Thanks so much, Anne.

April 20, 2014 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jim--Thanks much for spreading the word! These things are simple, but it takes so much time to ferret them out. Tech people think this stuff is so elementary it's not worth mentioning, but to the rest of us, the search engine remains a mystery.

April 20, 2014 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Humphrey said...

Anne: Great information, as always. I think I failed on most of your tips, but I'll try again. And now I know about Subheaders. Thanks. My blog post this week was about Shakespeare's birthday. Since your mom wrote a book about him, I hope you read (I mean skimmed) it.

April 20, 2014 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Great post on Shakespeare, Phyllis. I knew a guy who actually said that about Hamlet. When we met in the lobby at intermission, he said, "Why does everybody think this is such a great play? It's nothing but a bunch of cliches. I feel like I've heard every word before."

Yes. Subheaders are our friends. :-)

April 20, 2014 at 4:13 PM  
Blogger Autumn said...

Fabulous and helpful information, served with a side of humour! Thank you so much Anne, and perfect timing as it's time for me to reinvent my blog - again...

It's now way past my bedtime and I've spent hours chaining though post after post here. If only I could write fiction as compelling!

I use Wordpress, so I went scratching for the answer to the subheading question. It wasn't obvious. I love Wordpress, but sometimes it's just that tiniest bit less than intuitive. WP users wanting to use headings and subheadings in a post need to bring up a second toolbar by hitting the "Toolbar Toggle" button on the far right of the toolbar. That adds a second toolbar, with a dropdown box labelled "Paragraph" as the first item. Headings are under there. Whether they act the same as Blogger Subheadings from a Googlebot point of view I'm not sure, but they look pretty!

Embarrassing to admit I've been using Wordpress for four or five years and I never knew there was a second toolbar hiding all sorts of goodies! A useful discovery.

Google doesn't like Wordpress, unfortunately :( The only workaround I found for the way Blogger won't accept comments using a Wordpress ID is to have a Google ID too and use that for comments.

April 20, 2014 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Hope Clark said...

I too don't see many conferences talking about blogging - on any level. Had a blogger come up and thank me at the last conference I attended, because I mentioned the use of blogs. A speaker downplayed any blog that didn't have a superb Alexa rating, and I countered with the fact any blog has to grow, and I'm grateful to any blog willing to promote/feature me and my work, regardless the rating. She said bloggers never get recognized.

April 20, 2014 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Autumn--Thanks sooo much for the info on formatting subheaders! I learn so much from our commenters. I think I should put this info into the body of the post. Thanks a million.

Google definitely is unfriendly to Wordpress users. I think it's getting worse. They want to force everybody to go onto Google Plus. It's like we're all collateral damage in a war between Facebook and Google. For a while I couldn't comment on Wordpress blogs, which is why I got the Gravatar. I find with either Google Plus or Gravatar I can comment almost everywhere now.

April 20, 2014 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Rosi said...

Thanks, Anne. This is another terrific post. I am going to keep this close at hand while I'm writing my blog. Very useful.

April 20, 2014 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Linda Carson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 20, 2014 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Linda Carson said...

I have to confess that I have always skimmed dense paragraphs in fiction, even in the pre-internet days. Sometimes I have to consciously go back and read a paragraph if I notice that I have just jumped to the next section of dialogue.

I guess it is now more of a conscious decision on my part to skim what I read, as there is so much more content I am trying to assess and get through.

April 20, 2014 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice as always. I learned I need to make my hyperlinks better, among other things.

And a huge congrats on the Writers Digest award. So excited for you.

April 20, 2014 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Hope--I'm honored to have you visit! You have the one newsletter I always read. I've learned a whole lot from you.

When I taught blogging at a conference I had more people sign up than for any other course they offered, but they don't offer it any more. I think it must be because marketers say "blogs don't sell books," which they don't--not directly. But they sure do raise your profile so people know who you are. People are more likely to buy books from people they "know."

And I agree so much that smaller blogs are great to visit. I'll sell more on a blog with a 2 million Alexa rating that targets my audience than on one with a 100K rating that's not reaching rom-com readers.

April 20, 2014 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger Linda Carson said...

Me too, Rosi. This post came at a perfect time for me. I've been trying to do most of these things, but not very successfully, and often not knowing why something was important.

It's all a journey. I only started blogging a few months ago. I do spend quite a bit of time checking my stats and trying to understand how certain posts get picked up by readers and what is working well and what isn't. Something I definitely need to focus on is getting my most important words right at the start of my post. I always find I have to alter what will show in my metadescription (i.e. the words that show after the URL in a search result) as what I start with isn't terribly relevant.

April 20, 2014 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Dr Rie Natalenko said...

I really enjoy your sense of humour. I'm so pleased I found your blog, Anne!

April 20, 2014 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rosi and Linda--You're so right that it's a journey. I'm still learning this stuff myself and I've been blogging for five years! I tend to want to open with a joke or something light the way you do in a speech, so I've had to relearn all that stuff.

April 20, 2014 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Natalie--Thanks! I haven't seen the whole WD list, so I've only heard second hand on Twitter that we're on the list. I hope they're right!

April 20, 2014 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Dr. Rie--I do have fun with the running jokes. Cats are always good for Internet humor. So glad you've joined us!

April 20, 2014 at 5:02 PM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Really wonderful advice. I don't have a blog yet but when I do, I'll know where to find the best info. Thanks, Anne.

April 20, 2014 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Sasha A. Palmer said...

Yes, a Blogger blog! I've had it for a while, but I'm still The Happy Amateur.. I'm learning, growing, though - posting under my real name now :-)
Anne, thank you for all your help.

April 20, 2014 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Collette Cameron said...

Wonderful, Anne. I wish I'd had access all of this great information when I first started blogging.

April 20, 2014 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Happy Easter to all. This is another example of why you were voted one of the top WD blogs for writers. You create the boiler plate and give people clear and concise info they can adapt to their blog efforts.

I tend toward the "story" type of blog and since I have such a good time, I guess that's where I'll stay. I use categories that lend themselves to info about NYC or snippets, sometimes poetry and then mix in longer posts ... my Flash Fiction category doesn't usually go over 1,000 words.

Each year I sit down and think of new things to add and since I'll be coming into a new year soon, I'll work at learning more of the skills you talk about and maybe adding a new "category." Whatever, I still enjoy and love coming here each Sunday for more great stuff. Thanks, Anne ... you are the bomb :)

April 20, 2014 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks, Paul! We'll get you blogging one of these days!

April 20, 2014 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 20, 2014 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Collette--Me too! It's taken me five years to learn this stuff.

April 20, 2014 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Fois--You have a great author blog, with a nice balance of topics and lots of interesting info thrown in with the fiction snippets. Great balance. An author blog can be about everything and anything. The important thing is to be interesting, and you always are.

April 20, 2014 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Rosalyn said...

Once again, an incredibly helpful blog post. Bookmarking this to come back to it . . .

April 20, 2014 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

I am a bit of an anomaly as I both violate and follow the same rules on a daily/weekly basis, although I never use sub-headings for my blog. I agree it takes a while (about a solid year) to build up a good readership/following.

I have loads of fun with my blog, showcasing my writing, my wit and myself (often in the same blog post). Depending on what the topic of the post is, I will either follow the grammar/writing rules closely or throw them out the window where they get promptly obliterated by a hawk powerdiving for dinner.

Occasionally I have the momentary flash of true brilliance (like when a blog post is actually shared/recommend elsewhere), but overall, I use my blog to showcase my existence/opinions of the world around me. And if I make my fun of myself because of it, all the better. :D

Father Nature's Corner

April 21, 2014 at 3:19 AM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Thanks, Anne :)

April 21, 2014 at 5:53 AM  
Blogger Autumn said...

Glad I could be helpful! My first go at practicing your advice to comment on the blogs we visit. I'm way too much of a lurker! :)

April 21, 2014 at 6:07 AM  
OpenID katharinetrauger said...

Over here from Jim's .. . Thanks for such a helpful post. You quote some of my favorites, Hope and Jon, and it was great reading someone who I can therefore know thinks like I do. I'll make good use of all this explanation. Thanks, again! Now to get blogger to let me in... :)

April 21, 2014 at 6:36 AM  
OpenID katharinetrauger said...

Hello, Anne,
I really loved this post and thank you for it.
I have a question: Should I go back and fix old posts, just chalk them up to experience, or is there some other thing I should do instead, such as reposting them in an updated version?
Thanks, again!

April 21, 2014 at 6:42 AM  
Blogger Tam Francis said...

What a GREAT article. I'm sending it to all the people in my writer's group. (Most are just starting out blogging). Thanks for the tip on links with NO "here" or "link." I didn't know that, but it makes perfect sense! You're the best! Oh, and one thing I don't think you mentioned (or maybe you did...caught skimming LOL), is to use your own site content to link. Link back to blogs you've written in the past that may support or connect with the current blog post!

~ Tam Francis ~
www.girlinthejitterbugdress.com

April 21, 2014 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Sharyl Heber said...

Great tips Anne! Thank you so much. I passed this one on to some friends! Sherry Heber

April 21, 2014 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Laurin Lindsey said...

Thank you for the great information! Being new to blogging it is timely advice. I am saving this to refer back to! Looking forward to reading the little book : )

April 21, 2014 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

So much wonderful information...again. I gotta get back to my blog. I've been ignoring the poor thing. This has helped me to feel inspired and confident. Thank you!

April 21, 2014 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger sue mcginty said...

Anne, I cannot even tell you how helpful this is. Coming at a good time for me, and for a couple of very good friends.

April 21, 2014 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Wow, wow, wow. Such great information. You're right about your titles. Each time your post shows up in my inbox, I know it's something I'll want to read. You never waste our time.

April 21, 2014 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rosalyn--I hope it helps you get more traffic to your own blog!

April 21, 2014 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

G.B.--It sounds as if you have fun with your blog and that's the most important thing. I didn't say anything about grammar or writing rules in this post. I don't think they matter much in a blog (except you don' t want to look like an illiterate if your ultimate goal is to sell books.) You can try using subheaders to see if they get you more traffic. They worked for me.

April 21, 2014 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 21, 2014 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Katharine--Don't worry about old posts. I didn't change mine. These aren't hard and fast rules and the fact you didn't follow them doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your old posts. These are simply tricks to get more traffic to ones you write in the future.

April 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tam--Great point!! Yes--linking to your own past blogposts is always a good idea. 1) It gets people to stay to read more of your blog. 2) you don't have to repeat yourself. 3) You are creating links to your blog that search engines will find. I hope your writers group finds the post helpful.

April 21, 2014 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sharyl--Thanks for spreading the word!

April 21, 2014 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Laurin--Great that you're just starting blogging. You won't have to learn all this stuff by trial and error the way I did. Thanks for buying our book!

April 21, 2014 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christine--Inspired, confident blogging is the best kind. :-)

April 21, 2014 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sue--Blogging seems simple, but there definitely is a learning curve. As Greg said in the first comment, this should be taught in schools. It's something everybody needs to know, but the info is hard to find.

April 21, 2014 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--Thanks for letting me know my titles work for you. Inciting whiplash isn't all that easy, and sometimes I realize later that I could have done a title better.

April 21, 2014 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Jan Ryder said...

A helpful post as always, Anne. Bookmarked for re-reading. Thank you. One of my recent how-could-I-be-so-dumb-as-to-miss-it moments was when I discovered (after a year of blogging) that I could add pages to my blog (on blogger)!

April 21, 2014 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jan--You'd be amazed at how many people don't know they have 20 pages on a Blogger blog. I don't know about Wordpress, but I'm sure there are a number. Most people will start four or five blogs instead of using their pages. If you write in several genres, you can have a page for each--and save yourself soooo much work. have fun with your pages!

April 21, 2014 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Solid Info - beautifully summerized - skimmable and Useful! Thanks. I'm in the midst of getting my tangle of blogs straightened out at wordpress - but once I do, I look forward to writing about living a heart centered life - which is what you already do, Anne - and I love your spirit. www.theheartcode.com is a novel about the how's of following your heart. set in the 1930's but sooooo applicable today. Cause now we have reallife AND virtual life to navigate. Thanks for the help.

April 21, 2014 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Laura--Congrats on making your first comment here! (Sciveners: if you have gmail, you have a Google ID you can use to comment on Blogger) Thanks so much.I'll check out your book. Sounds fascinating.

You're right that we have TWO lives to live now: online and off. We need to make sure online doesn't take over. That's why I recommend only one blog if you're able to consolidate. (As Jan says above, you have lots of pages on a blog) It's just too hard to keep up more than one IMO.

April 21, 2014 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Autumn said...

Chiming in again about Wordpress! Wordpress has no limit on the number of pages that can be added to a blog, though the more pages, the slower the site will be to load, which is never a good thing.

I haven't done this yet with my writing blog, but you can create a static home page to look more like a "real" website, and in fact don't need to include a blog page at all.

All this is reinforcing how much I need to revamp my site!

April 21, 2014 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Autumn--I didn't know the pages slowed down the site! That explains why we've got slower over the years. Thanks for letting us know!!

The static home page makes a blog look exactly like an expensive website, which is cool, but it does mean people have to click through to interact, so you lose some people. Depends on how often you want to post, probably.

April 21, 2014 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Donna Trump said...

Thank you, Anne--all of this info is invaluable for a newbie blogger like me. Still working on this commenting...My main question: what is the etiquette/process for inviting a guest blogger? --Donna

April 21, 2014 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Autumn said...

That's a risk yes, losing people who don't click through to the blog tab. I'd only use a fixed home page with an obvious menu bar at the top as well as the side of the page so visitors can see easily where the blog is.

The more content, the slower it will be to load, so yes, our blogs do tend to get slower as time goes on! One thing I didn't realise when I started blogging was the important of resizing pictures.

Not just making them smaller by pulling at the corners, but also making them less dense by reducing the picture quality, the number of pixels in the image. Just making it smaller doesn't actually change how big the image file is.

Even the most basic phone camera these days seems to take far better pictures than we need for blogs or web pages. My crummy phone takes photos that are about 2.5 mb, iphones and decent cameras will take photos that have far larger files. That big dense picture is going to take longer to load even on a fast connection than a picture that's 150kb. Multiply that by the 100 or so pictures we might have on the blog and slow loading times make more sense.

Luckily it's easy to resize images in a minute or so using an online photo editor like Picmonkey. Even Word and Powerpoint will now let us do all sorts of picture tasks, and save the picture as an image file. I only just figured that last one out, but it's so useful!

April 21, 2014 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Donna--We're always learning. I've learned a lot from commenters in this thread.

Re: Guest bloggers. The best thing is to be a regular commenter, and then check the "contact us" or "about" pages to see if they offer guest posts. (Not everybody mentions it so don't worry if they don't.) You can also Google them to see if they have any guest posts out there.

Then check to see if they get about the same readership you do. Usually somebody who's getting 100,000 readers on their own blog probably won't want to visit one that's only getting 100. That's a lot of work for not much return--unless you have a particular niche that will benefit them--like they write paranormal chick lit and you have a blog dedicated to paranormal chick lit.

You can get an idea if you're about equal in audience by the number of comments and/or followers or better yet, check Alexa.com for stats.

Then just write a nice email saying you'd love to have them guest blog--maybe on [subject X], like the post they did on [date] . Give the dates you're looking to fill or say you're flexible. And it's helpful to let them know your stats.

Unfortunately, a lot of bloggers don't answer offers. I get lots of "silent rejections" myself. But keep trying. Bloggers you have a relationship with will obviously be more likely to respond.

April 21, 2014 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Super-valuable tip re: pictures. I'll start resizing them with Picmonkey. I didn't realize how much they were slowing us down!

April 21, 2014 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Ken.L.Keith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 21, 2014 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Brantwijn Serrah said...

A very helpful article. Now I have to find ways to use it on my own blog, too! I'll definitely bookmark this for later reference, too.

April 21, 2014 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Brantwijn--Thanks for stopping by. Glad to know it's useful.

April 21, 2014 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Bea Magnan said...

Thanks for the helpful info and for the links to other helpful articles. I've got a site with one post so far, and I really do want to blog on a more regular basis. I had thought, because I'm an animal lover with pets, that I could sometimes do fictional posts about them...just make up a story based on some antic they've been up to...like one of my cats crawling into my demised lovebird's cage that was destined for recycling. Could you explain why you don't recommend fiction on a blog? I don't mean making up and pretending it really happened, btw. I did intend to make the 'fictional' part clear.

April 21, 2014 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Bea--If you're planning to publish traditionally, you don't want to blog anything from your WIP--short story or novel--because you may be violating a contract you haven't signed yet.

Also, people tend not to read fiction on blogs. A bestselling author I know posted a couple of stories and got 10 hits in about 6 months. She put the same stories on Amazon as an ebook and started making 100s a week of the same stories.

But if you're planning to self-publish and you're getting hits on the stories, no worries. I've got a lot more on this in my post How not to Blog http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2011/12/how-not-to-blog-beginning-blogging-for.html, although that's from 2011, before so many people were going the self-pub route. There's a whole lot more in our book HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE which has a 5 part step-by-step for new bloggers.

Thanks for the good question!

April 21, 2014 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger Bea Magnan said...

Thanks for the really thorough answer. No, I wasn't planning on doing anything from a WIP, even though I do prefer the idea of self-publishing. I just thought I'd share little stories that run through my head when I see my pets do something that makes me laugh.

Thanks again for the response, and for the article. Very helpful.

April 21, 2014 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger jyoti soni said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 22, 2014 at 1:17 AM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

Even an old time blogger like me needs to learn a few new tricks once in awhile. Social media changes at the speed of light, so it's great having a "teacher". Even something as simple as a "sub-header" could change the face of your blog.

Hope you're well.

April 22, 2014 at 4:33 AM  
Blogger Skyline Spirit said...

pretty nice blog, following :)

April 22, 2014 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anne--Yeah. I've been blogging for nearly 5 years and I only found out about the subheader thing a few months ago. It really upped our stats! Good to see you!

April 22, 2014 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Skyline--Welcome!

April 22, 2014 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Donna Fasano said...

The title of this post gave me whiplash! lol I'm sharing this great information.

April 22, 2014 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Jan Ryder said...

Thanks for the useful tip, Autumn. I have many pics on my blog! I'll have to resize them all. I learn something new every time I visit this blog.

April 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Dr John Yeoman said...

Anne, I love what you say about long posts getting more comments. In the past year, posts at my own site have been getting progressively longer and they now average 1200+ words. Lo, I've noticed that our comment numbers are also increasing! Last week we hit 105 comments. most of them thoughtful and some delightfully witty. You just don't get that with short posts.

April 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Donna--Good to see you here! Now don't go calling a personal injury lawyer! :-) Thanks for sharing.

April 22, 2014 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

I saw an article yesterday on the ideal length of everything online. The ideal blogpost is 1600 words. (FB is only 40 characters, which shows the difference in depth of the two media)

April 22, 2014 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Make Money said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 22, 2014 at 10:59 AM  
OpenID katharinetrauger said...

Thanks!

April 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Brian Creek said...

Subheaders! Of course. (Slaps forehead)

So obvious once pointed out. Will be experimenting with them in my next post.

Great blog Anne. Have found it invaluable. Have been following since the night I started my own. Always great advise without the jargon. This is one of the few web pages I don't skim.

April 24, 2014 at 3:34 AM  
Blogger K.B. Owen said...

Hey Anne, thanks for the fab info! Even after blogging for years, I've picked up a couple of tips I didn't know. ;) Have a great week!

April 24, 2014 at 4:54 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Brian--I'm honored that you don't skim here!. Once I've deciphered the Klingon on techie websites, I like to pass on the decoded information. I didn't know about sub-headers for four years of blogging!

April 24, 2014 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

KB--As I said to Brian, it took me four years to figure out some of this stuff. I think maybe I'll put together all this blogging info in a little handbook for authors who blog.

April 24, 2014 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Jami Gold said...

Thanks for linking back to my post! This is such great information that we're not told about when we hear the advice to blog, and I'm happy to help spread the word. Thank you for being a great inspiration! :)

April 24, 2014 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger Barry Knister said...

Anne--
Thank you--sincerely--for this valuable post. I am convinced everything you say is true, and it clarifies for me the reasons why my blogging efforts failed. In doing so, your post also underscores how loony it would be for me (not others) to devote four or more years to re-inventing myself as an Internet contortionist.

April 25, 2014 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jami--It's true. All authors are told they should blog, but nobody tells us how to do it effectively. Thanks so much for the detailed instructions for Wordpress users.

April 25, 2014 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Barry--I just checked out your website and it sure has a lot of impressive bells and whistles. I take it you hired an "Internet contortionist" to build it for you. I agree that some things are best left to the professionals. People say formatting ebooks is "easy", and I have to say "for whom?" Certainly not me. But this blogging stuff really is pretty simple, even for a cybermoron like me. It's all about making things clear and easy to read.

April 25, 2014 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Barry Knister said...

Anne--
Thank you for responding--and for checking out my website: you have joined a tiny, select group. Of course you're right about my having turned to a hired gun to design the site, as well as to design the cover and to format my novel The Anything Goes Girl (the credit goes to Blue Harvest Creative). But as you can easily see--both from my photo, and my attitude--I'm old. Before my current site, I had a Word Press blog with a great address--Drinks before Dinner. I like it so much, I still own it. You'd think with a handle like that something would happen. But after a year of thrice-weekly entries, I think I had twelve or fourteen regulars. And here's the thing: I was writing on topical issues in the form of comic dialogues between a husband and wife--drinks before dinner. Had I implemented the ideas you recommend, that blog could not have been written. Something else, maybe, but not that blog. And I liked it, was proud of it, but no one came. I hope you see what I mean: every grownup knows s/he has to make concessions to reality. But when, and how many--that's the issue.

April 25, 2014 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Barry--Your Drinks before Dinner blog sounds hilarious. But you're right. People don't come to blogs for entertainment as much as they come for a quick bit of information. There are exceptions like S*** My Dad Says, but that got started in the early blog days.

Fiction on blogs almost never gets more than a handful of readers. A Bestselling author I know put short stories on her blog and nobody read them. She put them into an ebook and they started making her hundreds of dollars a month. Same stories. I hope you saved all the content. It might make a fantastic book.

April 25, 2014 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Barry Knister said...

Anne--
You are kind and generous. Thank you.

April 25, 2014 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Dex Banner said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 25, 2014 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Icy Sedgwick said...

Is it wrong that I want to read those posts about a haunted toilet?

I've found this blog post SO useful because I didn't realise that spiders crawled the links as well!

April 26, 2014 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Icy--I'm so glad you liked the cat/toilet/ghost theme running through the post.That's the kind of thing I write for the handful of people who don't skim. :-) I didn't know the spiders looked at those subheaders, either. This tech world is a whole new universe!

April 26, 2014 at 8:43 AM  
OpenID rightinkonthewall said...

This is *so* helpful! Thank you! I'm in the beginning phase and will be delighted when/if I get to double figures in subscribers - it's all about patience and finding out all the things you've so helpfully listed above :) need to do some spider-fishing... Sara

April 27, 2014 at 12:22 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

rightink--You're right. Patience is the key. I spent a year and a half trying to get to 42 followers. (I'm a fan of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so 42 seemed like the perfect number.) And, well, look at us now. :-) You just have to stick it out long enough for people (and spiders) to find you.

April 27, 2014 at 8:49 AM  
OpenID rightinkonthewall said...

Haha that's brilliant! 42's my new milestone for the time-being :)

April 27, 2014 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Tamara Marnell said...

HILDY: "While hundreds of Sheriff Hartwell's paid gunmen stalked through the city shooting innocent bystanders, spreading their reign of terror, Earl Williams was lurking less than twenty yards from the Sheriff's Office where..."

WALTER: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Aren't you going to mention the Post? Doesn't the paper get any credit?

HILDY: I did that. Right there in the second paragraph.

WALTER: Who's gonna read the second paragraph?!

(His Girl Friday, 1940)

May 4, 2014 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tamara--LOL. One of my favorite movies! And it's even more true now in the age of the skimming reader. Put your most important stuff "above the fold."

May 4, 2014 at 10:23 AM  
OpenID internetdiderot said...

This is so valuable! And congrats to Hortense! :)

May 9, 2014 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Internet--Thanks! I had a cat once who could use the toilet (he didn't have very good aim, though) but he never learned to flush :-)

May 9, 2014 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Shiela aguado said...

Great blog

May 10, 2014 at 4:31 AM  
OpenID sherriepetersenbooks.com said...

So glad to learn about the Wordpress subheads! I've been having a love-hate relationthips with Wordpress, but that will make me like it just a little bit more :)

August 23, 2014 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks, Shiela!

August 23, 2014 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sherrie--I'd been blogging for years before I found out about the subheads. They really increase your Google profile.

August 23, 2014 at 7:36 PM  

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