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Anne R. Allen's Blog


My Photo

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, December 7, 2014

Blogging for Authors: How to Create a Blog that Can Grow With Your Career

 by Anne R. Allen

Maybe you've just finished that NaNo novel and you know you want to publish, so you'd like to get a head start while you slog through the editing process.

Or you've been writing for a couple of years, you've published some short pieces, and you've got maybe two novels in the hopper and you're ready to get this career on the road.

Or you've finally landed that agent, but you don't have anywhere near the platform she wants. 

Any of these could be a good point to start a blog.

Yes, a blog is still a great way to build platform and establish an Internet presence. So says agent Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary, who will be visiting us here in January.

But a writer starting a blog right now faces two problems:

1)  There are already, like, a trillion writers out there lecturing the blogosphere about how to write vivid characters, prop up saggy middles and avoid adverbs. A lot of them probably know more than you.

2) If you’re a writer with books to sell, you want to reach a general audience, not just other writers selling books.

So how can you be different? How do you create a blog that somebody will read—somebody besides your stalker ex-boyfriend and your mom?

The most important thing to remember with any kind of blog is you need to offer something. It should be fresh, informative, and/or entertaining.

How you approach your blog is going to depend a whole lot on your stage in the publishing process and your immediate goals. (For info on what not to blog about, see How Not to Blog )

Stage #1: You’re a developing writer.

You’re working on your first or second novel, and maybe have a few stories in literary journals or a couple of contest wins. You want to be a published author sometime soon, but you’re not quite ready to focus on writing as a career.


You want to make friends in the writing community for career help and mutual support. You want to learn the best writing techniques, network with publishing professionals, and educate yourself about the business.

If you’re in stage #1, I think it’s OK to blog about writing. I know most blog gurus tell you not to do this, but I think that caveat is aimed more at people at stage #2 and #3.)

I’m not talking about lecturing on craft as if you’re a pro when you’re not. But an equal-to-equal post about something interesting trick you’ve discovered about writing the dreaded synopsis, or what agents are looking for this month is just fine when you’re reaching out to other writers.

Why do you want to reach other writers? Because networking with other writers is essential in today's market. Joint promotions and anthologies and boxed sets will be some of your most most powerful marketing strategies once you're published. The friends you make now will be a huge asset to you later on in your career.

Plus I know a number of authors who got their agents through a referral from a fellow blogger.

I found both my publishers through blogging.

Also, I’m not sure I would have made it through the darkest rejection phases if it hadn’t been for the support of writer blogfriends.

How do you get blogfriends? You visit other blogs. Social media is social. Don't sit all alone like a spider waiting for flies. Go out and meet people. Comment on blogs and engage in dialogue with other commenters.

When you have a writing blog, you get to participate in blog hops, flash fiction swaps, contests and all kinds of networking events that help you meet people who can be important in your future career. There are some great blogging groups like the Insecure Writers Support Group where you can meet lots of interesting, supportive writers.

But do make sure your writing blog has something fresh going for it—something that’s helpful. There are all sorts of ways you can help:

  • Author interviews
  • Profiles of small publishers or agents who are interested in your genre (take them from websites—you don’t have to bother the agents and editors)
  • Info on contests, giveaways and blog hops
  • Links to great articles and posts in your genre or field of interest.
  • Book reviews. If you write thoughtful, useful reviews, you’ll immediately become everybody’s best friend. (But don't take on too many! Book review bloggers get burned out very quickly and unfortunately get a lot of disrespect from authors and publicists. For more on how to establish boundaries as a book review blogger, read this great post from book blogger Ed Cyzewski )
  • Commentary on the book business or trends in your genre.
  • Flash fiction and vignettes that you do not intend to market to magazines or publishers. Putting something on your blog is publishing, so it will be considered "published".  I used to advise newbies not to put any fiction on a blog, but I know a number of successful bloggers who have built an audience with this kind of writing, so I've reversed on this. What you don't want to do is write the rough draft of a novel in public on your blog. It can be embarrassing, and no agent will take it on once it's been published on a blog.     

 Stage #2: You’re ready for the marketplace.

You’re querying agents or getting ready to self-publish. You’ve got a couple of books polished and ready to go. You have a business plan.

You’ve been to writing conferences, taken classes, and hired a freelance editor if you're going indie. Your writing is at a professional level.


You want to get your name out there to the general public. When you query an agent or ask for a blurb or review, you want a Google search to bring you up on the first page, not page four, with that rant from five years ago about the ending of Lost.

If you’re a stage #2 writer, you should heed the blog gurus' advice not to blog about writing. You’ve got a trillion competitors and that would severely limit your audience.  (Yes, I blog about writing, but I started a long time ago, and I already had an audience from my writing column at Freelance Writing International.)  

So try something that’s related to your writing but has a unique slant. But don't restrict yourself too much. Leave room to grow and change. You may not even know yet what kind of people will be interested in your work. 

Here are a few suggestions of topics to try when you're starting:

  • Focus on your genre or subgenre (unless you’re still experimenting with different genres.) You can discuss movies, videogames, TV shows, even jewelry and costumes—as long as they relate to your niche
  • Blog about your hometown or state, especially if they’re the setting of your novels. Travel sites that link to local landmarks and Chamber of Commerce will help you make friends locally that can be a big help later on.
  • Offer links to important information. If you’re writing a memoir or fiction about certain health issues, promote organizations that help with those issues. Link to support groups and they might even link back.
  • Provide people with the benefit of your research. If you’re writing historical fiction about a certain time period—post the research on your blog. (This is doubly useful because it will help keep you from cramming it all into the novel at the expense of story.) Have to research guns for a thriller? Poisons for a cozy? Are you basing the story on a real case? There are people who would love to read about this stuff.
  • Appeal to another Internet community. If that historical novel is based on a real person or your own family history, you could target readers from the genealogy blogosphere and links to historical research sites. If your heroine loves to fish, sew, or collect stuff, connect with blogs for fly fisherpersons, quilters, or collectors of floaty pens.
  • Provide a forum for people in your target demographic. If you write for a particular group—single urban women, Boomers, stay-at-home moms, or the just-out-of-college dazed and confused—focus on aspects of life of special interest to them.
  • Offer recipes or how-tos. Have a character who’s an expert at something? Give readers the benefit of his expertise in the woodshop, garden or kitchen. Have some great recipes that relate to your character, time period, or region? Write about the food in your books, or food in fiction generally. 

Stage #3: You’re a published author

Your agent/marketing dept. says, “Get thee to the blogosphere!”

Or you realize the brilliantly blurbed oeuvre you’ve self-published is sitting there on Amazon with only two sales in three months (both to your spouse) because nobody has heard of it—or you.

If you’ve reached Stage #3, you can be more eclectic. People will be coming to your blog because they want to get to know you and find out more about your books—so focusing on one subject isn’t as important. 

The blog becomes a place to showcase who you are. Think if it as your own version of Oprah magazine: not a place to toot your own horn as much as share things of interest to you that will also be of value to your readers. 

So you can continue whatever you've been doing in Stage #1 and #2, plus add stuff about you and your books.

Yes, you can talk about your books. I think people are silly who say you shouldn’t use your blog for self-promotion. That’s why you’re in the blogosphere in the first place. It’s fine as long as you don’t use hard-sell tactics and make sure you provide something besides "buy my book!"

Each type of blog can evolve into another as your goals change. 

A few tips for the new blogger:

  • Make a list of topics you might like to explore before you begin, so you have a running start. If you visit other blogs regularly (and you should) you may find yourself making long comments on some subject that gets your hackles up/juices flowing. That’s the stuff you should be putting in your own blog.
  • I STRONGLY advise against having more than one blog. If you decide to change your blog tone and content, just change it. You can change everything but the url. But multiple blogs sap your energy and fragment your audience. (It also annoys the hell out of them: I hate hitting somebody’s profile and finding six blogs. Unless one is clearly marked “author” I don’t even try to wade through them: you’ve lost me.) Blogs have many pages. Use them.
  • Put your own name (or pen name) in the blog title! Your name is your brand. And also, you’ll find it easier to transition from Stage #1 to #2 and #3 if you brand yourself from day one. Subtitles are easy to change. Titles, not so much. “Susie Scrivener’s Blog” can go from “Susie's writing and ranting” to “Susie's Floaty-Pen Collecting” if Susie decides to change the blog’s focus. But “Floaty Pen Central” can’t be changed to “Susie Scrivener’s Amazing Books” without a lot of confusion. And you want to keep the same blog. The longer a blog exists, the higher it ranks with the Google spiders. 
  • Write an inviting “About Me” page with clear contact information. I’m amazed at bloggers who don’t even post their names or contact information. The whole purpose of blogging is to let people know who you are and how to find you! (And don’t just post your resume. Be informal and friendly.)
  • Don’t succumb to pressure to blog more than once a week. Posting once a week on a regularly scheduled day is better than posting often but erratically. Allow yourself time to write your books. Remember you’re in this for the long haul. Quality over quantity. Slow blogging works. 
  • Be friendly. The way to build an audience, no matter where you are in your writing career, is to be likable and helpful. You don’t have to be chirpy. Just don’t project a phony or selfish tone. 
  • Learn to write good headers. If you don't write Tweetable and shareable headers, nobody's going to find your deathless prose. That means avoiding titles that are generic, like "It's Wednesday" or poetic, like "Winter Clouds". And I guarantee nobody's going to retweet a post called "Random Thoughts" unless it's written by somebody famous, or maybe that nutjob who just married Charles Manson. The header must make a good tweet. Offer something other than your own angst. Questions, lists, or surprising facts will entice people to click

More blog advice in my blogpost How To Blog: A Beginner’s Guide for Authors.

And for a comprehensive guide to blogging, I highly recommend Robin Houghton's new book from Writer's Digest Books: Blogging for Writers. It's a beautifully designed paper book, full of useful illustrations and screenshots. I sure wish I'd had something like it when I started blogging. And I even learned some stuff.

Okay, I especially liked it because Robin named this blog as one of the Top 12 Writing Blogs to Follow. That really brightened a dismal day in a dismal month of fighting the endless, will-not-die, virus-from-hell.

But I'd love it even if she hadn't.

And it's only $13.99 at the Writer's Digest Bookstore right now. It's also available at Amazon US and Amazon UK. Got any writers or potential bloggers on your Christmas list?  I highly recommend this book. It's a goldmine. And did a mention it's really pretty?    

What about you, Scriveners? Do you have a blog? Does it suit your stage of writing? Are you going to be able to give up those six semi-neglected blogs and concentrate on one great one? What advice would you give a new blogger?


The Camilla Randall Mysteries Boxed Set

9 Months on Amazon's Humor Bestseller list!

On Sale for $3.99: Three funny mysteries for 99c each!

Camilla Randall is a magnet for murder, mayhem, and Mr. Wrong, but she always solves the case in her loopy, but oh-so-polite way.

The Camilla Randall Mysteries Box set is available at Amazon US and Amazon UKAmazon CAKobo iTunesSmashwordsInktera, NOOK, and Scribd

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


VIGNETTE WRITERShere's a contest for you! The Vine Leaves Vignette Collection Contest. The prize is for a collection of vignettes and poetry up to 20,000 words. Fee $25.  Prize is $500, publication by Vine Leaves Press (paperback and eBook), 20 copies of the paperback, worldwide distribution, and promotion through the Vine Leaves and staff websites. It will be judged by an editor from Simon and Schuster. Deadline February 28, 2015.

THE MEADOW NOVELLA PRIZE $15 ENTRY FEE. The winner of the contest will receive $500 and publication in the annual print edition of the journal. Submissions should be between 18,000 and 35,000 words.  Deadline February 1, 2015. 

WALKER PERCY PRIZE IN SHORT FICTION $15 ENTRY FEE. Winner receives $1,000 and publication in New Orleans Review. All finalists considered for publication. Enter previously unpublished original stories up to 7,500 words. Deadline December 31st

Writers’ Village International Short Fiction Contest $24 entry fee. Prizes of $1600, $800, $400 and $80. A further ten Highly Commended entrants will receive a free entry in the next round. Professional feedback provided for all entries! Any genre: up to 3000 words. Deadline December 31st.

The California Book Awards NO ENTRY FEE Three prizes are given annually to writers residing in California for books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction (including creative nonfiction). Prizes are also given for a first book of fiction and a book of fiction or nonfiction that relates to California. Authors or publishers may submit six copies of books published in 2014 by December 22. Visit the website for the required entry form and complete guidelines. Deadline December 22, 2014

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Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent tips! (And thanks for mentioning the IWSG.)
Sometimes it's impossible to find an email or any contact information. And yes, sometimes I can't even find an actual name.
I'm really grateful the one thing I did right in the beginning was setting my blog's name and address as my name.

December 7, 2014 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

Anne, HOW do you and Ruth consistently come up with such great topics? I would never have dreamed of this one, but it's like an overshift in the outfield as soon as I start reading. Fabulous! The history of it is great and based on what little I've experienced it seems spot-on as usual.

One nice minor aspect to blogging for the epic/heroic fantasy author is there's room to insert those background pieces, that dreaded "world-building" you might have worked up in full format elsewhere for your notes. You can publish parts of that as blog posts for the fan. When I create entries s for a blog tour on aspects of my world, they're often either shortened versions of my notes or they grow into longer, more detailed posts in the Compendium of information I have posted on the blog.

Yeah, I created a Compendium of the Lands of Hope, pretending I was already famous! I think of it as aggressive positive visualization- plus I'm saving a future publisher tons of work. Whoever you are, you're welcome.

December 7, 2014 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

Advice for new bloggers: Coincidentally, I wrote on the same topic this morning (https://garridon.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/when-fiction-writers-blog/). I can't stress enough that it's important to write posts regularly, even if you have to use prompts for ideas. I was posting three times a week, but was so unsuccessful at it that I thought about quitting several times. But my name is so common that I kept it up, just to keep my name out there.

Because I was experimenting, I hit upon a couple of posts that not only changed the direction of the blog, but it inspired a non-fiction book I'm going to release next year about my experiences in during Desert Storm.

Additional tip for writing blog posts: When you do a blog post, do it a little ahead and schedule it. You shouldn't be getting to the day you post and crashing out a draft. In a blogging class I was in, a lot of people did it this way and then complained that it was cutting into the fiction writing time. If you do a small amount of planning, it doesn't have to do that.

December 7, 2014 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was a super helpful post! Thanks so much for such good insights and information.

December 7, 2014 at 10:53 AM  
OpenID ejrunyon said...

Your point - "LEARNING THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS AND NETWORKING" for a developing writer is yes, valid, but pre-this is taking a realistic look at your writing. Aside from the 5 stars that family or friends might post about our books, look at self-pub'd reviews that are 2 or 1 star for the same book- most complain about works that are in need of story edits for the storytelling/craft aspect of being an author. Bloggers writing about 'being an author' or about 'writing', need to put out well-written books (and blogs). If I could I'd try teaching every new writer! :)

December 7, 2014 at 10:56 AM  
OpenID sallyember.com said...

I'm still at Stage 2, according to this, but also at Stage 3. This has some great ideas, tips, advice for #authors becoming #bloggers at all 3 Stages. Thanks, Anne! Sharing and appreciating.

December 7, 2014 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--The IWSG is such a great help to new writers. A ready-made network. You've got a great example of an author blog done right.

December 7, 2014 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Wm--Thanks! You're right that blogs are great for fantasy and sci-fi authors who do lots of world building in their books. A blog can provide lots of handy info for the reader to get oriented to their world. Love the idea of saving work for your future publisher!

December 7, 2014 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--Great post. And you have a nice link there to the "daily prompt" for bloggers that can be a big help when you're trying to come up with topics.

Good tip about writing ahead. When you have to dash off a post at the last minute, you do end up resenting the blog. I tend to write two or three in a row and then go back to the fiction writing.

December 7, 2014 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks, Elizabeth!

December 7, 2014 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne—There are two words for this post: Gold Mine. Thank you!

December 7, 2014 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

EJ--Thanks for your input as a professional editor. I did mean "learning about the publishing business" to include "learning about how to write publishable work." One of the hardest things for a newbie to learn is how to write professional-level books. And people in stage one should definitely NOT be publishing. There's a whole lot to learn before you get out into the marketplace.

December 7, 2014 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sally--I meant to define Stage two as "getting ready to publish" and Stage three as "published." So if you've published a novel and you've already launched your career, you want to be orienting your posts to your readers. But that doesn't mean you can't network with other writers at whatever stage you're in.

December 7, 2014 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...


December 7, 2014 at 11:22 AM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Hi, Anne, this post couldn't have come at a better time for me. I just finished doing a Rafflecopter giveaway on my Goodreads weekly blog for a recent release, and your post gave me some great ideas on topics for the next two to three weeks. It's true that you can run out of ideas and topics even when you do a really short weekly blog like I do. I know I'll be coming back to this post in future for the pearls.

December 7, 2014 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Another fine post. Thanks. Hmm. Guess I better start in on next week's blog post.

December 7, 2014 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

I like the "stages" you've listed. I totally agree about the multiple blogs! It's so frustrating to click on that profile and have no idea blog to visit.

December 7, 2014 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul--Give-aways are a great thing for authors who are in the #3 stage. I'm glad I helped with some new topics!

December 7, 2014 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--Some people work better with a looming deadline. Whatever works, works. :-)

December 7, 2014 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Southpaw--Those frustrate me too. When I do click on one and find it hasn't been updated for three years, I wonder what the author is thinking. Deleting a blog is easy.

December 7, 2014 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

Right on the money, as usual, Anne. I learned long ago that the thing that made me different is that I wrote comedy (standup and syn. column) The comedy spills over to my fiction. So...the obvious thing to do is to make that the focus of my blog. I always tell my students to make your blog something that you are passionate about, and can sustain. For instance: a good friend of mine is a vegetarian and a crime writer....she is the Vegetarian Detective, and posts recipes!

December 7, 2014 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Melodie--Great advice: blog about something your passions. Especially if you can be funny about them. (And recipes are always good. They're usually the only thing that can get me to open a newsletter.)

December 7, 2014 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Ann Bennett said...

When that little voice woke me up one morning with the idea that I would write a book, I did not know the twists and turns I would take.
1. First thing I learned was if a book or class immediately told me how to sell my work, it was not a book that would teach me how to write.
2. Second thing was to begin building your profile for that wonderful novel you were writing.
3. You did hear that the first novel may not be that good. You just did not believe it would be true until you finished that gem.
4. The blog is good in that it improves your writing, you find your voice, you learn to think about what you should post publically, you learn what people like, you learn there are some creepy people out there, you learn people who have a lot of experience will be kind enough to leave a comment, and mostly you learn. And when that great American novel comes, you delete that sucker.

December 7, 2014 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ann--Lots of wisdom here. Definitely learning to write and learning to market are two different issues. Both important, but one needs to come before the other. I agree with everything you say, except that last bit. Don't delete that practice novel. Save it and mine it for short stories and characters. No writing is wasted!

December 7, 2014 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

So glad you're still encouraging slow blogging! I'm a fan as you know. The nano blog posts blew up bloglovin, and not in a good way.

December 7, 2014 at 5:48 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nina--It's not enough to write 50K words in a month--they have to write 50K blogposts? LOL. We have too much bad writing and not enough thoughtful writing. Slow blogging rules!

December 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM  
OpenID deborahbrasket said...

Another great post. I like how you've broken it down into stages. When I started blogging a couple of years ago I was at stage one. Now I'm at stage two, ready to start sending my much revised novel out to agents. But as far as blog content goes, I jumped in with stage three--writing about a lot a different topics that interest me, looking for readers who liked the type of things I did. And it's been working well. I've found my readers, as well as a lot of blogs that write about the kind of things that interest me (nature, literature, poetry, art, philosophy, etc). I was a slow blogger from the beginning, once every 7-10 days. I've even gone as long as a 14 day gap, but still keeping readers. I agree about the having only one blog too. Unfortunately I did go off the reservation and started a semi-private blog to write about addiction a few months ago. I'd like to back away from that one now, but have over 1500 readers and hate to leave them and go black, so I'm hanging in there. But it is taking time away from work on my novel.

December 7, 2014 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger florence cronin said...

Anne, family responsibilities kept me away until this morning. Your Sunday posts are like my favorite sections in the paper. Personally, I have no idea what I do with my blog but for the fun of it. Every time I think of using a strategy, I am "blogged" down.

In the end, it has become my weekly writing exercise, a stretch of the imagination, a hand waving hello ... another way to have fun with words :)

December 8, 2014 at 6:33 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Deborah--Congrats on making it to stage three without even publishing a book. That means you'll have a ready-made audience when you do.

There are reasons for having a second blog. If you want to talk about more private matters, like addiction or politics or religion, you may want to separate from your "author persona". If you do find you don't have time any more, you can steer readers to your author blog with a permanent link. Congrats on all the blogging success!

December 8, 2014 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Florence--An eclectic personal blog can work at any stage of your career as long as you write with passion and keep your readers coming back, which you certainly do. It's all about having fun with it!

December 8, 2014 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

Yes, I is blogger.

Been blogging sine 2008 and w/o I dare say I would still be stumbling along doing things completely and utterly wrong.

To whit: I found my first publisher via the blogs, I've learned more than I could possibly forget about self-publishing and regular publishing, and still learning new things about my writing.

While I have more than one blog (last count 8) that one blog is my active blog (see link below). My 1st incarnation lasted 5 1/2 years (and is an archive) before I decided to try something new. My other blogs are/were simply places to post my other interests (pictures, adult rated posts) and one blog was created specifically to avoid the Facebook CAPTCHA police.

Father Nature's Corner

December 8, 2014 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

G.B.--This is a post for people who are starting a blog now. Some of the rest of us learned this stuff the stumbling way. :-)

There are definitely exceptions to the "one blog rule". Adult content is a big one. Also political stuff. And I never thought of starting a new blog to evade the FB police, but it's a great idea. This blog was in CAPTCHA hell for about half a year. I no longer post links to posts that answer people's questions on FB, and only post a link to my own page once a week. Grrr.

December 8, 2014 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Humphrey said...

Lots of good tips, as usual. I've been slow blogging for a few years. As a letter writer, it's ideal for me. Took a few weeks off in 2013 for knee surgery and last week for an unknown virus that attacked me. Now I'm back. And I don't do any of the No-Nos on your previous post.

December 8, 2014 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Phyllis--I wonder if you had the same virus I have. I'm convinced it's EV D-68, since I got it from a friend whose grandson was hospitalized with it. But there's no point in testing for it, because there's no vaccine, treatment or cure. You just get sicker than if you had a cold, but flu vaccines don't protect you. I hope you're feeling better now. I finally felt well enough to go out for groceries today. It's been over two weeks. Feel better!

December 8, 2014 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

Hi Anne, I keep all of your posts. You and Ruth offer such encouraging and helpful posts, and this one will help me as well. Thank you.

December 8, 2014 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tracy--Thanks, that means a lot. It's good to know our blog is helpful.

December 8, 2014 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger Robin Houghton said...

Thanks so much for the recommendation, Anne, and what a useful article - the comments are very interesting too - bookmarked!

December 9, 2014 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Robin--Thanks much for stopping by! I meant to send you heads-up but I'm still living in flu-fog. Your book is the best one I've seen on blogging. Highly recommended!

December 9, 2014 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Anne, I originally started a blog because I "had" to. But now I absolutely love it. I don't put pressure on myself to blog all the time. Just once a week. My posts are about books and writing, and I try to help other authors along the way. It's been a fun way of getting to know other writers.

December 9, 2014 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--Networking with other authors is one of the big perks of blogging that most blog gurus don't tell you about. I think networking is one of the most important aspects of indie publishing these days.

BTW, I really appreciate that you often comment later in the week, and keep the discussion going. Thanks, Julie!

December 10, 2014 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Trisha Cronin said...

Thanks so much for this. I started blogging about six months ago, and I've been writing on pretty much whatever I want to talk about (often things I find myself ranting about). But I'm really only on stage #1 as a writer, starting to dig deeply into the craft. I've looked at blogging as practice, a place for me to try out new things, both new topics and new styles of writing. I've not started to focus on building an audience yet, as I wanted to get a good backlog first.

I just moved everything over from two different blogs I had so everything is under my own name, I'm glad to hear that was a good decision! Thanks so much for these tips, I'll be referring back to them as I get more experienced.

December 10, 2014 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Trisha--Good move to get things on one blog in your own name. Now your next step should probably be to start visiting other new writer blogs and participate in discussions. That will draw them to your blog. Networking is an important part of blogging. It sounds as if you're having fun with it and that's the essential ingredient!

December 10, 2014 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Barry Knister said...

As with everything else related to self-promotion, the trick is how to gain visibility. I've had a couple blogs, invested time and effort on them, but never figured out how to drive traffic to the sites. I came to the conclusion that if I was ever to have any success in selling my wares, it would have to be through some other means.

December 11, 2014 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Barry--Some people have a gift for schmoozing in the blogosphere and some don't. Blogging isn't for everybody. You do have to do a whole lot of networking to drive traffic initially. I also think a big Twitter following is pretty essential. It's not so much about your content as your ability to join in with blog hops and other networking things that some people just aren't cut out for. I do recommend the Insecure Writers Support Group for a ready-made network for bloggers. But as I said, not everybody has the time or inclination to network like that. All social media takes a whole lot of time away from writing.

December 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger David A. Todd said...

Anne: Many thanks for your post, from a two-blog man. I'll come back and read it again when I'm in a better frame of mind.

I started my first blog in Dec 2007, about life, liberty, and everything that interests me. Once I abandoned seeking trade publication and self-published, I started my writing blog, attached to my writing website, in June 2011. Now 1,228 total posts later...I'm not seeing much reason to go on, though I will just from shear stubbornness and the hope for what if's coming true. The Great Time Crunch that began in Oct came on top of the Shrinking Sales Era that coincided with the roll-out of Kindle Unlimited. Now, over two months with no sales of my 17 unique items for sale, and I'm not writing for publication for a while. I backed off from twice per week per blog to once per week per blog. The Wordpress theme for my writing blog went defunct, and I'm back to ugly Wordpress vanilla, un-tech enough to be unable to update it.

December 12, 2014 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

David--I won't pretend this isn't a discouraging time for indies--both self-publishers and those with small presses. KU and cheap big-name Trad pubbed books have stopped sales dead for most of us. No matter how big your blog readership, we can't turn back the clock to last year.

A lot of indies are giving up right now. I don't think that's the answer, but I a lot of us are cutting back on social media, since it isn't giving us the bang for our buck that it used to. If your blog isn't getting the returns you want, I'd certainly cut back. I advocate a no-more-than-once-a-week blog in the first place, so that's the best place to start.

We don't know what's coming around the corner. I think it's time to be looking at the international market. I don't know if blogging will help with that or not. We may have a whole new playing field by 2016.

All I know is that blogging is one thing you can control that will get your name into the search engines. But if that isn't worthwhile for you any more, let it go.

December 12, 2014 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Trace L Hentz said...

The link is up: http://gccblogblog.blogspot.com/2014/12/how-to-create-blog-that-can-grow-with.html

December 15, 2014 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Sandra Tyler said...

Anne, we saw this on Twitter and think it would make for a great feature on our site. We're always looking for quality posts by experienced writers on process and our readers would take to this one. You can see our site as well as magazine here:http://thewoventalepress.net
You can email me at editor@thewoventalepress.net ref this url if interested. We'd love to have you aboard!
Sandra Tyler
Editor in Chief

December 18, 2014 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sandra--I'm so glad you like the post. Generally it's considered more polite to email a blogger if you want to reprint a post rather than asking us to email you. Things are pretty hectic at this time of year and I'm not sure I have the time to email you to ask you to email me to ask for permission to reprint. But feel free to reprint, as long as you link back to this blog.

December 18, 2014 at 9:12 AM  
OpenID shawnbird.com said...

My then 'about to be' publisher adviced me to start a blog back in 2010. She thought, since my books have a Greek mythology slant, that I should focus posts on that. I quickly got bored, though, and wrote whatever struck each day- musing on a quote from something I was reading, book reviews, events, TV shows, recipes, and my poetry. I quickly realised that readership spiked significantly with the poetry, so now I blog a new poem every day, and I have 13,000 followers who actively visit, like, and comment. It's not what I planned, but it's what the audiences wanted. Who am I to argue? Good thing one of the main characters in my novels is a demi-god of poetry, eh? It still connects! ;-)

December 18, 2014 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Shawn--Thanks for sharing your great story. You've done it exactly right: you listened to your READERS. Those are the people who will let you know what works and what doesn't.

Marketers are always going to tell you the one-size-fits-all advice du jour. In 2010 everybody said you had to have a niche blog. And NO fiction or poetry.

I believed that stuff myself. For me a niche blog worked, but only because I already had a big following for my writing column for the Freelance Writers Association.

Congrats on keeping at it for five years and getting all those followers! You have a true blogging success story! Your work sounds intriguing.

December 18, 2014 at 6:46 PM  
Blogger Rona Simmons said...

Thank you for all the great information, no matter how many times I read some of these tips, it's great to be reminded of them. Why didn't I study this before I started? Ah well.
Lately, I've been repurposing guest posts (with approval and reference) and my own archived posts too.

January 3, 2015 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rona--Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't come with directions, so we have to learn all this by trial and error. I'm going to be putting out a book with those "directions" later in the year.

Repurposing and updating old posts is a great time saver!

January 3, 2015 at 9:21 AM  

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