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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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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, June 7, 2015

14 Dos and Don'ts for Author-Bloggers

by Anne R. Allen

Everybody keeps telling authors we should blog. But for a lot of new authors, the challenge of a blog is daunting. How can we write our books if we're spending every day blogging? 

You can't. And you shouldn't. If you think you have to blog every day, or even every week, you're reading the wrong blogging advice.

There are lots of great reasons for authors to blog. Here are some from blog expert Robin Houghton, author of Blogging for Writers. For more information on author-blogs, check out Molly Greene's Blog It!: The Author's Guide to Building a Successful Online Brand.

All authors need a websiteeven if you aren't published yet. Whether you're sending out short pieces to magazines or anthologies or querying a novel, you will be Googled. If you have no online presence, or nothing but a FB page and a Twitter account (or any other social media presence that requires membership of the reader) that will work against you with agents and editors.

But a free Blogger or Wordpress blog is often the only website you need. If you establish a well-maintained blog, you can avoid the expense of web hosting and have a perfect venue for interacting with your readers and fellow writers. 

And it DOESN'T have to take all your time. One of the challenges for an author-blogger is that most of the information on  blogging is written for professional bloggers. These are people who blog to sell ads and monetize their blog content. 

But for the author-blogger, a blog is a means to an end, not the end in itself. 

This means a lot of the blog "rules" don't apply to us, and a lot of authors are jumping through hoops and wasting time that could be spent on our primary activity: writing our books.  

However, some rules do apply. There are basic things that all bloggers need to do to be successful. 

Here's a handy list of Dos and Don'ts for the new author-blogger:

1) DON'T feel you have to blog every day.

Or even every week. Or on a schedule. (Although a schedule will give you a better chance of building a solid readership.) But it’s all good. For more on this, read my post on The Slow Blog Manifesto.

As Jane Friedman said in a recent interview at the Art of Commerce "Many people are confused about the role of social media or other online activity (e.g., blogging). They put it before the writing or the message. Let's be clear: the work comes first, in 90% of cases."

Always keep that in mind. Don't let the blog preempt your WIP, ever.

2) DO use an uncluttered, easy-to read design...and NO POP-UPS!

If you use a standard Blogger or Wordpress free blog, the templates are pretty hard to mess up as long as you don't choose one of those white-on-black ones. A light font on a dark background is hard to read for most people. Plus it tends to look like a 1980s computer interface or an old MySpace page. It tends to scream "amateur", unless your site is devoted to vampire fiction or some other "dark" subject.

I also advise against the passive-aggressive tiny pale gray font on a white background. Making your blog hard to read is counter-productive.

Light and bright and uncluttered is appealing and gives your blog a modern look.

If you go with a Web designer and a self-hosted blog, don't let them talk you into too many bells and whistles. This is about building your brand, not advertising the cute things the web designer can do to distract your reader.

And be aware that most people find pop-ups super-annoying. Yes, I know every website, including your bank, throws a pop-up at you every time you log on, wasting your valuable time to blast an ad at you, telling you to sign on with the company you already do business with. This is a great way to tell your current customers they are unimportant and does very little to entice new ones.

Greeting people with a pop-up before they're even allowed to look at your site is like giving people the finger when they come to visit a place of business. You really expect them to stick around if they don't have to?

I know you're crazy-desperate to get addresses for your mailing list because all the gurus are telling you that the author with the biggest mailing list wins.

But using pop-ups to get subscribers can backfire. Pop-ups are unfriendly. If you must, have your subscription window pop up when somebody navigates away from your blog, but don't block your own blog from your readers. You will lose more readers than you gain.

3) DON'T feel you have to keep to 300-500 words.

You don't want to address more than one subject per post, but you don't have to keep the word count under 500 words. That's an old rule from the early days of blogging, when it was all about frequency of posts, not content.

Google's algos have changed since then. They discovered people can feel cheated when they click through to a 3-sentence post. The current ideal now is at about 1000-1500 words.

Make your post as long as it needs to be to cover the subject. If you go over 3000 words, you'll probably lose some readers before the end, but a lot of our most popular posts come close 3000 words.

4) DO learn to write good headers. 

An intriguing header is essential. Nobody will find your blogpost if it isn't tweeted and shared and clicked upon. How do you get clicks? With an eyeball-grabbing header. A good header should:
  • Tell clearly what the post is about.
  • Ask a question or provide an answer. 
  • Attract search engines with relevant keywords. 
  • Make a good Tweet (even if you aren’t on Twitter, you want somebody else to tweet it and spread the word.) 
  • Promise the reader something of value: information or entertainment 
Note: One-word and enigmatic titles may delight your muse, but minimalism won’t attract blog readers. Also avoid stuff that’s unfocused, doesn't inform, or nobody's likely to search for on Google.

Titles like "My Writing" or "Random Thoughts" are not going to get you many hits. These are not words or phrases people are likely to search for, and they don't entice or offer anything. Look at the titles of our top ten blogposts in the sidebar for ideas on what works in a blog header. Numbered lists and questions work best.

5) DON'T use a cute title that masks your identity.

The number one reason for an author to use social media is to get name recognition, so for heaven’s sake, PUT YOUR NAME ON THE BLOG.

Just yesterday I read a hilarious post about the paleo diet. Since that diet is what caused the gout flare-up that has had me in agony for weeks, I found it especially funny. I wanted to share it everywhere. But I have no idea who wrote it. It was on some blog with a one-word, made-up name by an anonymous blogger. He mentioned a coming book, but since he keeps his name secret, what's the point?

Yes, I know you see lots of anonymous blogs. Many product reviewers prefer to keep their names private. Ditto political bloggers.

But the reason an author is blogging is the opposite of anonymity. You want people to be able to put your name (or pen name) into a search engine and find you. Don't make them rummage in their memory banks trying to remember if your blog is called "Primordial Ooze", "Alas, Poor Yorick" or "Enigmatic Toadstool". A whole lot more people will find you if they can just Google "Your Name."

Every minute an author spends blogging anonymously is a minute wasted. Let the public know who you are and where you are and why we should be reading your stuff instead of the other 10 billion blogs out there.

6) DO include share buttons, a "follow" widget and a way to subscribe to the blog

Hey, somebody might stop by your new blog and like what they see. You want them start spreading the news. And come back.

Those little "f" "t", "g +1" and other buttons allow people to share your brilliant words to their Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages. (In Blogger, they are available in the list of widgets on your dashboard.) They are the way you will build a following. Put them up there even if you personally don't use those sites.

It's how people will find out about your blog.

If nobody can Tweet or share a post they like, you're relying entirely on search engines for discoverability. Trouble is, a search engine can't find you unless you have a lot of traffic. And you can't get a lot of traffic unless people Tweet you.

It's the Catch 22 of social media. Use the buttons.

And you want people to be able to subscribe by email. It's great to get people "following," but that just means they see the blog in their RSS feed when they happen to check it. A blogpost that lands in somebody's inbox is a whole lot more likely to be read.

 7) DON'T limit yourself with a restrictive niche

For product bloggers and reviewers, niche is important. It's better to be the #1 blogger for jelly doughnut reviews or vegan baby food recipes than the 10 millionth blogger "musing about stuff".

But you're an author. Your product is YOU. Don't keep yourself hemmed in by a limited niche.

For a long time, I believed all the advice about how you have to have a niche. So this is a niche blog. It's serving us well, but it hems us in.

Remember people surf the Web looking for two things: information and entertainment. Your blog can spin a good yarn, make people laugh, provide information, or all three, as long as you are putting it all in your own honest, unique voice.

I used to caution writers against  putting fiction on blogs. It is still less likely to be read, because people are mostly skimming blogs for information, but there's been growth in the "story blog", so if you have flash fiction you don't intend to send to contests or journals, it's fine to put it on your blog. But do realize it will be officially "published" so you have given away first rights.

NOTE: It's still not smart to post raw bits of a novel in progress. Agents and publishers won't consider that book because it's now published (unless you're getting 100,000 hits a post.)  Also, readers respond much better to self-contained short fiction than unedited bits of novels. And remember your job is to entertain, not seek free editorial advice.

Another caveat: one of the least interesting topics to readers is your writing process. Hardly any potential reader wants to know your daily word count or your rejection sorrows. Other writers may stop by to commiserate, and you do want to network with other authors, but don’t make your writer’s block or attempts to get published the main focus of your blog.

You simply want to offer your unique voice talking about the things you feel passionate about: the research you’re doing on medieval armor; your theories on why raccoons are going to take over the planet; the hilarious adventures of an erotica writer running for PTA president. Anything that will draw in readers will work.

If you have "blogger's block", or are brainstorming for fresh content, regular commenter Linda Maye Adams offered this tip: there's a blog that provides daily "blog prompts", called the Daily Post. It looks like fun.

8) DO post a bio and contact info—and your @twitterhandle, if you have one. 

You're doing all this so that people can find out about YOU. And contact you. And discover your books.

But you would be amazed how many bloggers don't even put their names on their blogs.  Some don't even let people know what genre they write. (The shy opposites of those braggy newsletter people.)

Even if you're a newbie and haven't published anything and haven't picked a genre, you still need a bio. It's best to put a short bio on the main page with more info on an "about me" page.

Yes. Your blog has many pages. Just click "pages" on your dashboard. In Blogger, you get twenty.

Here's a piece on how to write an author bio.

It's also important to put your @twitterhandle on your main page. That way, if somebody wants to Tweet the post, they can give attribution. Most share buttons only say "via @sharethis" but if you're on Twitter, you want it to say "via @yourname." Remember you're doing all this to establish that name as a brand!

9) DON'T put too much energy into images.

(Unless you're a photojournalist, of course.)

You're showing off your WRITING SKILLS, remember?

Bloggers with monetized blogs need to spend a lot of time on images, and visuals do draw people in, but do you want people to notice somebody else'e photography or YOUR writing? 

Don’t waste lots of time looking for the right photo (or risk getting sued for using copyrighted material.)

If your blog is about travel, or fishing, or antiquing, yes, take lots of photos, but if the post is about books or ideas—don’t sweat it. The blog is going to be a showcase for what you can do with the written word. We’ve never used images on this blog, and we’re doing pretty well. If you do use images, make sure they are in the public domain. Try Wiki Commons or WANA Commons

10) DO visit other blogs: comment and guest post

Reciprocate those visits. Nobody’s going to know you're there if you stay home all the time. Get out and socialize! Social media is about networking.

The single best thing you can do to raise your search engine profile is comment on high profile blogs that are already on Google's radar.

Once you make friends with other bloggers, ask if you can guest post. And do invite other bloggers to guest for you. Guest posting is one of the best ways to increase your reach and your readership.

11) DON'T obsess about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but be aware of it.

Using keywords in your headers is vital. Those are words that define the subject matter of your post. Being murky and ambiguous will not work in your favor.

Understanding SEO means you don't title your post "My Thoughts on an Important Subject". Instead you say, "Why Justin Bieber Should Be Deported". "Justin Bieber" and "Deported" are keywords. If you use them, people interested in your subject matter will find your post. If you don't, they won't.

Marketing people love to use jargon that makes this stuff sound complicated. But now you know it isn't.

And as for the rest of the marketing jargon you hear, it's mostly not important to you. Yes, you want to be picked up by the search engines, but your primary concern is entertaining your readers, not optimizing keywords in your text. New blogs are more likely to get discovered by word of mouth, so it's more important to be networking with other bloggers than trying to game the search engines.

12) DO learn to write for the 21st century reader. 

People skim on the Internet. You need short paragraphs, sub-headers, bullet points, lists, bolding, and lots of white space. Draw the reader's eye through the piece.

More in my post on How to Write Blog Content.

13) DO ask questions, respond to comments and treat your visitors well

Be welcoming to people who visit your blog. Ask interesting questions that will get a discussion going.

You also want to respond to comments and make commenting as easy as possible.

You can’t control all the Blogger/Wordpress hoop-jumping. (I apologize to anybody with a Wordpress ID who can't comment here. I have the same problem trying to comment on a Wordpress blog, which is why I  use a Gravatar ID for Wordpress. If you have gmail or you're on Google Plus, you have a Google ID, so it's best to use that.)

If you haven't had a barrage of spam, you can turn off the “word verification” or “CAPTCHA”. That will triple your comments. (Especially from people with older eyes who can’t read those %#*! letters to save our lives.)

I also suggest you don't moderate comments on new posts. I only moderate ones more than a week old. That allows for real conversation to happen on a new post. Older posts are the most likely to attract spam, anyway.

14) DON'T start multiple blogs 

Professional bloggers sometimes have dozens. They have a Cupcake Recipe Blog and a Mommy Blog and a Support Blog for Persons who Suffer from Chronic Dandruff. All fine and dandy. They run ads for kitchenware on one and Pampers on the second and homeopathic shampoo on a third.

But they aren't writing novels.

And you aren't running ads.

So unless you write in wildly conflicting genres, like Christian Middle Grade fiction and Dinosaur erotica, you only need one blog. Blogs take time. And you have books to write, remember?

Also, Google rewards authors who have only one website. For a great piece on the subject, check out Lisa Tenner's post, How Many Websites Should An Author Have? She says " If you have two websites, Google doesn't like duplicate content so you really need to write different articles for each site. So now, in order to have the same amount of content on a site, you actually have to write twice as much."

So if you've started 15 blogs, go back to the first one, put all your best content on it (you can change the header, but the oldest one is the one Google knows best, so keep it.) Then delete the others, or leave them up with a link to your main blog.

Then go work on that WIP!

What about you, Scriveners? Do you blog? How often do you post? Have you found a happy medium between blogging and working on your WIP? What kind of blogs are you most likely to follow? Have you tried a blog and given it up? Do you find a static website works just as well for you?


The first book in the Camilla comedy series is only 99c!
Start reading the Camilla Randall Mysteries to be ready for #5 in July! Ghostwriters in the Sky is a spoof of writers conferences, full of funny situations most writers will identify with.

Ghostwriters in the Sky is available in e-book at all the Amazons,iTunes, Kobo, Inktera, Scribd and at Barnes and Noble for NOOK.

It is available in Paper (regular and large print) at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

It's #1 in the Camilla Randall comedy-mysteries: a wild comic romp set at writers’ conference in the wine-and-cowboy town of Santa Ynez, California. When a ghostwriter’s plot to blackmail celebrities with faked evidence leads to murder, Camilla must team up with a cross-dressing dominatrix to stop the killerwho may be a ghostfrom striking again. 
Meanwhile, a hot LA cop named Maverick Jesus Zukowski just may steal her heart.

Here's a review from award-winning author Sandy Nathan 

"Ghost Writers is set in a writers' conference in Santa Ynez Valley, where I've lived for twenty years...This book is hysterically funny AND accurately depicts the Valley. Anne Allen gets it right, down to the dollar bills stuck on the ceiling of the Maverick Saloon. It was so fun to read as she called out one Valley landmark after another. Allen got the local denizens right, too, the crazy characters that roam our streets.

Speaking of which, Ms. Allen's literary characters are pretty crazy/zany by themselves. I love Camilla Randall, her ditzy, former debutante heroine, and all the rest. The action gets pretty frenetic when dead bodies start showing up. I heartily recommend this book..."


Golden Quill Awards Writing Contest: Flash, Poetry, and Short fiction categories. Entry fee $20 for stories and poetry, $15 for flash fiction. The theme is TRANSFORMATION. Deadline July 15.

The Masters Review Short Story Award is open from May 15 – July 15 and will pay $2000 (YES! You read that right) plus publication for the best short story. Second and third place stories will be paid $200 and $100 respectively and considered for publication. All stories will be sent to Curtis Brown Literary for consideration. Just your best piece of fiction under 6000 words. If you haven’t published a novel, you qualify. Deadline July 15th.

MARK TWAIN HUMOR CONTEST  Entry fees: $12 Young Author or $22 Adult. 7,000 words (or fewer) of any original work of humor writing. Submissions must be in English. Submissions are not required to be in the style of Mark Twain or about Mark Twain. 1st Prize: $1,000 (Adult), $600 (Young Author). Other cash prizes! Deadline July 10, 2015

Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest. Entry fee $10. Your story should in some way touch upon the publication's mission: Celebrating America — past, present, and future. Think Norman Rockwell. No profanity or graphic sex. Any genre. No previously published stories, but they can have appeared on your blog. Between 1,500 and 5,000 words. Deadline July 1, 2015

Big Beautiful Wellness Creative Writing Contest. NO FEE Poems up to 30 lines Fiction or Nonfic between 1000 and 2000 words. $100 first prize. Theme: Body-positive living. Looking for inspirational, positive stories. Deadline July 1.

Writer's Village International Short Fiction Contest Prizes totalling $3200! And every entrant gets a critique. (which makes this a great deal.) Any genre of fiction up to 3000 words. Entry fee $24. Deadline June 30th.

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Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well, I blow it because I post multiple topics in each post. But I think I do the others well.
It is confusing when you find a writer-author blog and can't find the person's name. Or email. Anywhere. I'm glad I gave my blog my own name, even if it isn't exciting. At least people can find me and know who I am.
I'm administrator of two other sites and that is enough. I can't imagine running multiple blogs on my own.
Good list, Anne!

June 7, 2015 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--You're a blogging god. You get to post whatever the heck you want! I think you get more comments than any blogger I've ever seen.

And yes, being admin for two big sites as well has having a huge blog of your own is more than most of us could handle. And commenting on blogs like mine must take a huge amount of time. I'm so grateful that you do!

June 7, 2015 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger BooksAndPals said...

Some day I'm going to comment on a post before Alex. I hope this goal isn't biting off more than I can chew. :)

Lots of good advice here, at least I think it is. I especially like the overall point, that much of the blogging advice out there is aimed at bloggers with different goals than an author's blog. Understanding the reason for that advice and determining which of it pertains to you is key.

June 7, 2015 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

I think in the initial stages of the blog, you should post around 3 times a week, especially if you're trying to find your blogging voice. It may take a lot of posts to that, and if you're posting once a week or once a month, it will easily take a long time (spoken by someone who had to do a whole lot of posts before I found my voice).

When you find your voice, if you're indie publishing, looks at those blog posts as opportunities for more books. I started a series last year on my experiences during Desert Storm, and halfway through it hit me, "You can turn this into a book!" That's going in for copy edits in July, just in time for the 25th Anniversary. I have a second series running now called "Daily Life in the Military," which also going to be published as an ebook as well. But I would have never discovered these topics if I hadn't written 3 posts a week and pushed myself to experiment.

Also, especially if you're a beginning writer, don't do writing how-tos. That's left over from non-fiction writers who said "be an expert." Other than only attracting other writers at the same level, you have a high likelihood of passing along bad information. For example, I'm a pantser (I don't outline). I can tell in just a few sentences if another writer describing knows what they're talking about. Don't be the writer who puts up misinformation as fact, because that doesn't make you look good.

June 7, 2015 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne—Like Cuban cigars, French champagne and Italian sports cars, you're the top of the top and the best of the best! You're the blogging Empress who not only knows all but tells all. Thanks for the clear and sane guidelines!

June 7, 2015 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Big Al--I'm always honored when you come to visit! There's so much advice out there, and new bloggers try to follow all the "rules" and don't realize that not all of them apply.There's also a different set of rules for book review bloggers as opposed to political bloggers or whatever, and I didn't get into that. But you're the king of the book review bloggers! One of the must-read blogs.

June 7, 2015 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--Thanks for the reminder about how "be an expert" doesn't apply to fiction writers! And you're so right that how-tos from newbies are not useful. In fact they can be pretty comical.

I've never blogged more than once a week, and this blog has done pretty well. But it did take at least a year to find an audience, so I guess it depends on how slow you want to take it.

Sounds as if your blog is a great example of how to blog a nonfiction book. Nina Amir has a great blog that tells you how to do just that.

June 7, 2015 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ruth--Aw shucks...thanks!

June 7, 2015 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Hi Anne,
Well, I'm doing okay on most of your pointers here, though I'm horrible at getting out & seeing other blogs (other than yours & one or two others). Also, because of my etymology niche, I've found I write very short posts, only 200-300 words, most with sadly uninspiring word-wonky titles that only very odd people would type into a search engine. As Arlo Guthrie said, "You can't always do what you're s'poze to do." Thanks for another fine post.

June 7, 2015 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

I've had blogging hit or misses since I started. Once thing I learned quickly was that blogging more than once a week had to go. I can't write and blog at the same time. It just takes too much time to comment and visit. Now that I've been doing it for so long, I think I've also committed all the sins-- No good topics, just rambling, blog breaks for months at a time, never returning visits. However, I have written quite a few books in the last few years and the writing always comes first.

There's been a discussion around my neck of the woods whether or not us old-timers should keep on blogging. We've seen it all, done it all, written it all. What's the point in blogging? Mostly to keep up with everyone else whose been around as long as we have. Like keeping our friends close. Not everyone uses Twitter. And the more I think about it, can I really do this for the next 5, 10 years?

June 7, 2015 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Maria D'Marco said...

Welp, you've done it again! Another post that will be mass-forwarded to the new authors I work with -- wish I could hi-lite and put arrows around #8 and #12.

The transition from writing a book to producing 'content', whether marketing or query letters or a synopsis or a blog, seems to send the majority of my first-timers to padded rooms.

Thanks - as always - for your generous sharing of wisdom, Ann. You continue to be a tremendous resource and extension of my support efforts as an editor.

[deep bow]

June 7, 2015 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--Visiting other blogs is time consuming. I know that, but it will pay off. Especially if you Google your subject matter and visit a few of the big blogs in your field. A comment on one of those blogs may bring you dozens of readers. And try turning your titles into questions. What do you know about ____?" or numbered lists. "12 things you didn't know about___" Love the Arlo line!

June 7, 2015 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Glenda C. Beall said...

I've been blogging since 2007, hit and miss, learning as I go, but I am comfortable now with my main blog - about me and what I do. I am glad you say that kind of blog is good for a writer. I have a blog for my writing studio where I post about my instructors and their classes. I once posted two or three times a week, but now I post once a week and take more care with what I write. Great article here. I will refer to it often.

June 7, 2015 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anne--I hear you about blogging more than once a week. It's exhausting. I've only done it when I'm guest blogging, but those weeks are usually lost to fiction writing.

As far as keeping up a blog once you have an established fan base--I think it's still useful, but you may want to change the focus and tone. Also frequency of posts. The big name writers I know who blog tend to blog only when they have a book coming out or other things to announce. You might want to move in that direction.

I also want to keep up with old blogging friends. I drop in on your blog every so often to see what you're doing, but usually don't have time to comment. We need to prioritize and the books come first. So thanks so much for taking the time to comment here!

June 7, 2015 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Wendy L. Macdonald said...

Thank you, Anne, for always providing helpful content and for making us laugh too. I'm a pre-published inspirational mystery/romance writer who loves blogging once a week. Do you have a link or book you'd recommend for someone who wants to know more about starting and running a monetized blog? I have a second blog, besides my main one, that gets quite a bit of traffic despite the tiny bit of effort I put into it.
Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

June 7, 2015 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Maria--Thanks much :-) Very kind words.

It's so true that writing fiction doesn't prepare you for writing "content". A decade or so ago I was absolutely sure I couldn't write nonfiction of any sort. I refused to even take minutes at my writing club meetings because I hated writing up reports.

Then I had a chance to get a paid column at a Canadian online writing journal. I had my first book out and wanted to promote it, so I dove in. Turned out my column became the most popular at the zine. I

I'd found that writing content was easy and fun for me. But I never would have known unless I'd been dragged into it kicking and screaming.

June 7, 2015 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Natalie Aguirre said...

This is all such great advice. I especially agree that it's best not to feel like you have to blog everyday or too many times a week. People are busy and don't want to read blogs too much anymore. Consistency is the key and letting people know when you have to take a blog break for awhile. We all do.

And visiting other blogs is crucial if you want people to visit yours.

June 7, 2015 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Glenda--I've been learning hit and miss too. And I'm still learning. The posts I think will hit it out of the park can fizzle and ones that I figure will just kind of limp along can zoom to thousands of hits in a couple of hours.

I'm glad you've found a way to post once a week and have it work for you. Also that you can have an eclectic blog. They are more fun to write.

June 7, 2015 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Wendy--I'm so glad the blog is helping. That's what we try to do: let you learn from our mistakes.

For info on monetized blogging , I'd recommend Jon Morrow's blog, Boost Blog Traffic. His archives are a gold mine. I think he has books too.

June 7, 2015 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Natalie--Thanks much. A great compliment coming from such a successful blogger!

And you make a very good point I should have mentioned! Blogging once a week or less doesn't just make less work for you. It makes less work for your readers. I unsubscribe from blogs that post too often. I don't have time and I have to delete all the notices.

I agree that visiting other blogs is probably the most important thing for a new blogger to do. It doesn't matter how brilliant your posts are. If nobody knows you, they won't find them.

June 7, 2015 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Hi, Anne, your post reminded me I should go on my Goodreads blog and hoot and holler about The Other Man play. Not sure all of my followers there know what's happening. Love the idea of adding our Twitter handle. Will definitely do that. Another very important writer post. I think we all feel we need to do everything and then get frustrated because all the promo, etc. takes us away from the thing we love most, the reason we are doing all this: Writing. Thanks again. Now off to think about my hoot and holler post. Paul

June 7, 2015 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul--Yes! That's what blogs are for. And congrats!! A huge success like having your book turned into a play for an important theater is pure gold.

And you might think about moving to a blog platform that doesn't require membership. If you start a blog on Blogger, you can link it so it appears on Goodreads, just as your current one does, but it would also be available to people who don't belong to Goodreads. People in theater aren't likely to be on Goodreads.

But a Blogger blog is open to everybody and because it's owned by Google, Google will notice it and move you way up the search engine results. It's easy to start a Blogger blog and link it to Goodreads. I'll be writing an easy 2-hr course on blogging later this year that will tell how to do stuff like that. Or email me if you want to do it sooner..

June 7, 2015 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Jaime O. Mayer said...

Great post. I'm still struggling with quashing the "ugh, I need to write a blog post" feeling. The work needs to come first.

June 7, 2015 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Wendy L. Macdonald said...

Anne, thank you, thank you. l've now followed his Facebook. What an awesome guy he is to achieve what he has under not-so-ideal circumstances. Wow---inspiring to the max.

June 7, 2015 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Tara Sparling said...

This is a fantastic post, Anne, comprehensive, clear, and utterly wise, but there's one thing very wrong with it - could you please just go back in time about 2 years and post it then, so that I don't have to read all the other posts on this which didn't encompass things half as well and often got it wrong? That would be great - I really appreciate any effort expended in time-travelling but I'm sure you'll agree it's worth it. You're the best!

June 7, 2015 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jaime--The way I deal with that is I write a bunch of blogposts at a time. So when I'm wearing my fiction hat I don't have to switch gears. I usually write four in a few days--wearing my nonfic hat--so they're all lined up and ready to go for the next few weeks, then I go back to my WIP.

June 7, 2015 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tara--You are one of the best bloggers I know. I don't follow many new blogs because I have so many on my list already, but I always read yours because you're so funny! I think you're doing everything right. Blogs are all about voice and you've got a fantastic one. I can hear your Irish accent right through the screen. :-)

June 7, 2015 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

Geez, I am so good about some of these, others... O_o I'm about half and half. I'm guilty of at least a few of the DON'Ts.

Love the slow blog approach. I can't keep up (reading & commenting) when people post every day or multiple times a day. And I would prefer to work on my writing than work on 7 blog posts. That's just me. I do write short posts, though, and I like writing them. I like reading short posts, too. Time? Attention? Don't know. I just like them. Though, you're right, the 1500 word posts are popular right now. Also, I have a second blog. I created it to play around with fiction and I love it -- it's freeing for me. Before that, though, I didn't want more than one blog to handle. Great post, as always.

June 7, 2015 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Leanne Dyck said...

I fell in love with blogging in 2005. My latest blog was created in 2010 and currently has over 242,000 page views. Each time you start a blog it truly is like starting over. Especially, if like me your focus changes.
I started blogging for two reasons: to attract potential buyers to my (then) design business and to help meet a commitment to write every day. And, yes, that did mean that I published an new article every day.
2010 I created a writer's blog.
I agree that you should use your name and that you should only have one blog. But having a schedule has helped my blog receive more page views.
Happy blogging.

June 7, 2015 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

I took SEVEN years.

June 7, 2015 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sarah--Slow blogging has always worked for me! Some short posts are great. But they have to be long enough to be worth clicking through. I've clicked onto "click bait" blogs where the header was longer than the post. Very annoying.

Do remember you have many pages on your blog. You could post fiction on the first blog and link to it on the first page if you want to make things easier for your readers.

June 7, 2015 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Leanne--I did say above "a schedule will give you a better chance of building a solid readership."

I used to tell everybody to blog to a schedule but I know some very successful bloggers, like David Gaughran, Jane Friedman, and Nathan Bransford who blog very erratically and have huge followings.

When you're blogging for business, rather than an author blog, you need to blog more often. But for authors, it's not necessary. It may build a following faster, though. It depends on how much time you have.

June 7, 2015 at 4:43 PM  
OpenID writerchick said...

Hey Anne,
So glad you wrote this post. I've driven myself mad on many of these points and made the mistake of following some of the very bad advice to writers that you cite here.

Luckily, I finally said screw it and went back to what I was doing. Which actually worked fine before all the 'expert' advice.

Thanks for pointing this out. It should come as a relief to many authors out there.


June 7, 2015 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

I admire Jon Morrow on so many levels. He's smart and inspiring.

June 7, 2015 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Annie--I see so many author-bloggers driving themselves nuts trying to follow all this advice that doesn't apply to them. "Screw it" was a much better decision. LOL. I hope this reaches the authors who need to read it.

June 7, 2015 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for the clarification, Anne. I agree with you. I don't think you need to blog more often than once a week. But, for me at least, once a week is key. Any less than that and people start to forget about me. Any more and I exhaust my readers. If you are frequently published in print, like Jane Friedman, readers will hunt you down no matter what you do. But if you are just starting out I you need to be seen on the web. One way of doing that is by sticking to a schedule.

June 7, 2015 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Leanne--Personally, I stick to a rigid schedule: every Sunday at 10 AM Pacific time. I've done it for five years without missing a post, through major illnesses, deaths in the family, etc..

But not everybody has quite so much Capricorn in their astrological charts as I do. :-) I got clobbered for telling people to stick to a schedule, so now I tell people it's better, but not required.

June 7, 2015 at 5:20 PM  
OpenID kerrygans said...

I think #5 is the one that bothers me most. The group blog I write for does a weekly "link round-up" of great blog posts we've found (this one will be in Thursday's post!) and almost every week I find one post where I cannot for the life of me find a NAME of who wrote it or who owns the blog. And I want the name, I want to give them credit. We'll still link to the blog, of course, and we'll use whatever title they call themselves, but it seems counter-productive to not have your NAME somewhere. There have been a few cases where I can tell the blogger is under 18, and those I can understand not wanting your name out there, but the rest of time I feel bad that this blogger missed an opportunity to get their name out there.

June 7, 2015 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kerry--Doesn't that drive you nuts? You want to give somebody a shout-out and they won't let you know who they are.

What do they think they'll do if they get published? "I wrote a book, but I won't tell you the title or the author--it's a big secret from the whole world. I want to make sure nobody buys it!"

I guess a child might like to stay anon when they blog, but they should at least use a pen name. Otherwise, there's no point.

June 7, 2015 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Jensen said...

Thanks, Annie. You make me feel much better about my 1000 word posts!

The slow-blogging idea certainly takes the pressure off, but my struggle is to write about other things than those that are overly personal. I know, I can slant just about anything so it's humorous or pertinent somehow, but I started blogging long ago to keep my family and friends up to date while we lived in Ireland, and now I tend to be either too chatty or going TMI on everyone.

Now I want readers who might be interested in my books, and I'm struggling with voice again. Humor is good, but I have to be in the mood for it to come out that way. And I'm one of those who spends waaay too much time on pictures. But hey, I put up a post a few days ago - it's even short, personal, AND related to my subject matter! So I'm good for another week. :)

June 7, 2015 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jennifer--There's lots of leeway in what an author can post. Personal stuff goes over much better with humor, so you've probably hit all the right notes. Sounds like you're doing it right!

June 7, 2015 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Tara Sparling said...

You can't see me right now, Anne, but my blushes have just started a small but noticeable fire, which I'm merrily trying to douse with a good dose of Irish pessimism. To the blogging Maestro I say thank you kindly ;)

June 8, 2015 at 1:59 AM  
Blogger Katarina West said...

Thanks, Anne - that post sums up everything authors need to know about blogging! And I've got a confession to make: I blog only once a month. (So I'm on the slow-slow side of blogging.) Before I tried to blog twice a month, but... with writing and all the rest that goes with it, and the rest of social media, and having a child... I just didn't have the time to do it. It was a source of constant guilt and mild panic. Now I'm posting twice a week short texts on FB, and that has become micro blogging for me. And then once a month a longer post on my website, which is an enjoyment once more, because I actually have the time to think about it. I'm still struggling to find time to comment all the blogs I follow - because you're right, it is important.

June 8, 2015 at 2:35 AM  
Blogger Terry Tyler said...

This is an excellent post, and says it all! I so agree re the not-only-blogging-about-writing thing - if you only blog about writing, your audience is limited to writers. Du-uh! Something I've found to be a wonderful way of getting more of my posts read, constantly, is using the feature at the side to show the most popular posts in the last week. As readers click those that they think look interesting, they see other, older posts from the same month. Every day, posts I'd forgotten all about, from years ago, appear up my side bar!

Big applause re the point about writing for today's reader - if I see long, unbroken paragraphs in a blog post I always end up not reading it all. The other thing that's really helped my views is the tags at the end; I gear them not only towards subjects that might appear in Google searches, but also for types of posts, for instance, domestic, books, shopping, TV, relationships. Currently, the most viewed post of all time on my blog is one about my latest book, but the next two are both about romantic relationships. It's a great way of getting to know what your readers want to see!

June 8, 2015 at 4:37 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Katarina--Slow blogging works. Even once a month, if you have meaty posts, can keep you in touch with your readers. It's usually impossible to comment on all the blogs we follow. I follow hundreds, but stopping in once in a while to check in with people does wonders.

June 8, 2015 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Terry--The "most popular posts" in the sidebar does keep content "evergreen". I have no idea how the algos work for that. They don't choose the posts with the most hits, or even the most G+'s on Google Plus. Some of my posts with 20K hits don't make it and some with only 5K do. I guess it's how many recent hits that counts the most.

A lot of writers don't understand how very important white space is in today's writing. It's as important as using correct spelling and good grammar. A block of text is a complete turn-off.

Tags are very important. You need to think in terms of Google Searches and SEO. That's a topic for another post. :-)

June 8, 2015 at 9:23 AM  
OpenID morganhazelwood.com said...

Thank you so much for this post! I've been working on trying to balance blogging with my writing and failing miserably.

I'm not sure I agree with no pictures - I've been trying to take my own pictures and include at least one per post, if only to give the link something visual when I share on fb. Yet, I do recognize I spend far longer than I want coming up with the right picture.

I recently attended Balticon '49 and was trying to up my posts per week from 2 to 3, so that I could share the write ups from all the panels I attended while the material was still fresh and people were still thinking about Balticon.

I intended to go back to 2 posts a week afterwards, but now I feel comfortable dropping to once a week (or every other week). I feel better about dropping frequency now that the blog actually has some content.

Should I have kept the lower frequency and dragged out these posts for longer?

June 8, 2015 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Morgan--I didn't say no pictures. Just that they shouldn't be the main focus or take too much time--unless you're a photographer. When you have books, your cover art makes the best visual for a share.

Either a meaty post 2-4 times a month or a shorter post 2-3 times a week works. You can tell by your hits which works for you. But don't ever pad a post just to get more length. Mostly people want the most content for their time as possible.

June 8, 2015 at 9:58 AM  
OpenID morganhazelwood.com said...

Ah! Thanks for the clarification. At least I haven't been padding my posts. :-)

June 8, 2015 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Blogging for authors is an entirely different beast. I try to take what is useful from the usual "how to be a successful blogger" posts out there, but nothing covers it quite like this. Particularly useful for me is forgetting about including an image with each post. In the past, it has actually kept me from hitting publish, kept me from even writing in the first place, because I didn't have an original, stunning image to go along with my words. Now, I focus only on the words. Next I need to work on "getting out of the house" and connecting with other writers, which is my main reason for blogging these days!

Thanks for all you do!

June 8, 2015 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Morgan--It sounds as if you've been doing just fine. Just let up on the pressure to find that perfect image every time. :-)

June 8, 2015 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tara--I see new bloggers agonizing about images. Or worse, blithely posting a photo of Benedict Cumberbatch or Channing Tatum and thinking they can get away without paying royalties on it.

I realize every blog guru says you need images, but I have found that good written content is much more important. If you have a good header, then the header will appear in FB or Google+ shares, and if you have book, the book cover will show. Both are better for establishing your brand than a random stock image.

Connecting with other bloggers is the #1 thing newer bloggers have to do until Google knows you well enough to put you at the top of the search engine results. Your traffic is going to come from other blogs, so you need to visit them often.

I highly recommend the Insecure Writers blog community run by Alex J. Cavanaugh as a great place to network.

June 8, 2015 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Here are a couple of questions that came via email from M. Ruth Meyers:

Two questions:
1) If the author has a regular website under her name, is it harmful for the blog name to be different?
2) How can an author best phase out of a blog with few followers on a very small niche topic and move to a new blog with a totally different focus?
Thanks! Your content is always super.
M. Ruth Myers

June 8, 2015 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ruth--Good questions!

Good questions!.

1) You can change the name of the header on your blog without changing the URL, so you can change it from "Scribblings" to "M. Ruth Meyers' Scribblings" with no problem. I strongly urge you to put your name up there somehow.

2) An old blog may not have a lot of followers, but it is probably known to Google. So keeping an old blog is usually preferable, because it takes a long time for Google to find a blog. But you can change the header, the template, everything except the URL.

So if you have a blog called "Calico Kittens", you can change the Header to "Life, the Universe, and Everything with M. Ruth Meyers" and change the photo from kittens to a photo of your books or you sitting at your laptop or whatever, and change the description and the template--everything. Voila! New blog; old URL.

Or, if you want to go with a different host, leave the old blog up and leave a permanent message that says "Ruth now blogs at 'Life the Universe and Everything' at (URL) Come on by!"

Either way works.

June 8, 2015 at 11:57 AM  
OpenID palassiter said...

Thank you, Anne, for this and for, well, everything, really. I've read all your blog posts for the last three years as I started to learn about being an author in the digital age.

Finally, I am summoning the courage to comment because I have a question I haven't seen answered anywhere. If one uses a Wordpress site for blogging and people press "Follow," what is the purpose of adding an email list (via Mailchimp or other service)? Do other authors write blog posts and then send them to their Mailchimp lists or do they write unique material for both (yikes!) or is this functionality simply redundant? I recently added a Mailchimp-driven mailing list signup to one of my Wordpress blogs, but I now I'm not sure what to do with it! Should I add my Followers to the email list and do away with the Follow button? I know you use Blogger, but perhaps you or even someone else could answer this question about Wordpress (or maybe it's the same). So confused...

June 8, 2015 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Palassiter--The "Follow" function on both Blogger and Wordpress blogs allows that the person to follow your blog in their RSS feed. But you have to go to your RSS feed to see the blogs you are following. (In Blogger, you can do that through your Dashboard. )

What MailChimp does is deliver your blog in its entirety to the subscriber's email inbox. People are much more likely to notice something in their inbox than go visit their RSS feed (I haven't visited mine in months.)

So these are two very different types of "following." you couldn't put your Followers into MailChimp. People need to sign up for themselves. (And make sure the unsubscribe function is working.)

You can also use your MailChimp list to send out other mailings besides your blogposts. Things like newsletters. I don't do this and I don't much like getting newsletters instead of a blogpost, but it can be done.

But one big drawback to MailChimp is that you are limited to 2000 subscribers. Otherwise you have to pay $30 a month. That's pricey for a non-monetized blog.

I hope that clarifies things a bit.

June 8, 2015 at 1:58 PM  
OpenID PA Lassiter said...

It does! Thanks so much. If I might ask a followup question...do writers who maintain a Mailchimp list then post both directly on their website, then repeat that post to their Mailchimp list or is there a way to do this automatically (i.e., is there a connection that can be set up between the two). Ideally, I guess, one would like the blog post to go directly to the email list without needing to "cross-post" it. - P.A. Lassiter

June 8, 2015 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

PA--No cross-posting necessary. MailChimp does it automatically. You give them your url and tell them to send out the blog to your subscribers at a certain time. I have it set to send out any new blog material at noon every Sunday. The blog goes up here at 10 AM, and that gives my eagle-eyed readers a chance to tell me about typos and other snafus.

This week nobody (especially me) noticed I'd forgotten to post links to my sale book of the week, so the blog went out without any links. But, hey, stuff happens.

I won't pretend that signing up for MailChimp is easy for cybermorons like me. I had a bunch of subscribers from another program I wanted to switch over and I didn't have a clue how to do that, so I hired a tech guy to help me set it up.

June 8, 2015 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've gotten better at blogging. I also sometimes have trouble finding blogger's names anywhere on their blog. I can't even tell if they're male or female. Interesting about the suggested length getting longer.

June 8, 2015 at 3:37 PM  
OpenID PA Lassiter said...

Oh, that helps a lot! I thought it was just me having so much trouble trying to understand Mailchimp. It took hours to get it set up, and I obviously missed the URL linkup information. So thanks very much for that missing piece. And if I might say, you're doing a pretty good job with the cybersphere for a "non-native." ;-) -Phoebe Ann

June 8, 2015 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Susan--That makes me crazy. Especially when I really like the blog. No name, no bio, no nothing. What do they think they're blogging for?

As far as length, if you blog 3-5 days a week, short posts are fine, but that does require a lot more commitment from your readers. Most readers won't subscribe to something that requires them to read or even just delete and email every day.

June 8, 2015 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger L.K. Paulson said...

Good points to keep in mind. I've tried to add my twitter handle to my blog but I'm having problems expanding my about me section, on blogspot.

June 9, 2015 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

L.K.-- Blogger has made it really hard to edit your "about me". If you're linked to Google Plus, you have to edit your bio on Google Plus and then it will migrate to your blog. Yeah. I find that annoying too.

But you can add a widget with your Twitter handle separately. If you're on Blogger, go to the widget menu and choose "text" and then put in "follow me on Twitter and @yourhandle. That's what I've done here. Look in the sidebar right under the Mail Chimp subscription window.

June 9, 2015 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

I currently blog about twice a week on Blogger and since FB is being a major pain in the buttocks with my blog (doing the picture CAPTCHA thing now), I started a Tumblr blog and write a recap of what I blogged about during the week and post that on FB, usually on my author's page and anywhere from an hour to a day later, post it on my personal page.

I do have links to both pages on my main Blogger blog, as well as on my now dormant niche blogs.

I don't have Twitter because I still value my day job.

June 9, 2015 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

G. B--It's true that a blog is a lot safer than FB for interactions. You're lucky you're only getting a CAPTCHA. A lot of authors I know have had their pages removed completely--both author page and personal page.

Do make sure all your blogs are linked to the main one, so if somebody lands on one they can find the others. But if you don't update them or use them, you might want to delete and move the old content to one blog. Remember they have lots of pages.

Twitter is not time consuming for me. I just bop in for a couple of minutes twice a day to see my @ messages and retweet some friends' posts. But I know it's a temptation for some people. Great way to promo your blog, though.

June 9, 2015 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Cee said...

Having finished one historical novel and working on the sequel, I've been looking at a promo plan and feeling quite overwhelmed at the could do's/should do's. My plan is to use a blog as a website but to write occasional entries on writing or history or whatever catches my fancy, links to helpful &/or interesting website/blogs (like this one) and - until I read otherwise - snippets of current WIPs. I think of my future blog as more of having a online presence, a place to find out about my writing and me, for anyone who cares to google, just like I have a presence on Linked In for any future employer who googles (though my name is quite common) I have favourite writers who have no official online presence at all, just interviews, book reviews and their page on their publisher's site, which annoys me, the faithful reader who wants to know stuff, like when their next book is coming out :) Maybe they think they don't need a website since their books are often best-sellers anyway? Anyway, I don't think I need to look any further on advice about blogs and blogging. Thanks, Anne.

June 9, 2015 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Cee--Thanks! I'm glad it's helpful.

But I don't recommend putting bits of your WIP on your blog. If you're planning to self-publish, you can get away with posting bits of your books, but I suggest you don't do that until the book is published. A teaser is only useful if people can go buy the whole book. Also, if you haven't finished the book and had it edited, you won't have a final version and it may have errors you don't catch.

And remember what I said in #7 above:

"NOTE: It's still not smart to post raw bits of a novel in progress. Agents and publishers won't consider that book because it's now published (unless you're getting 100,000 hits a post.) Also, readers respond much better to self-contained short fiction than unedited bits of novels. And remember your job is to entertain, not seek free editorial advice."

It's okay to put some flash fiction or poetry on your blog that you don't intend to send out to magazines but not raw bits of your WIP. It can really sabotage your future career.

But your other ideas are great. Historical novelists have to do a ton of research, so all that can go on the blog to attract history fans.

Old school, established writers sometimes don't have a Web presence, but new writers are instructed to build a platform by almost all agents and publishers

June 9, 2015 at 4:52 PM  
OpenID kerrygans said...

The few under-18ers I've come across usually use their first name and either a last initial or some sort of nickname (such as Kerry the Unicorn Writer) so at least they have some identity. Or they are clearly blogging just for fun and have no vested interest in building a platform or audience. And that's valid, too, I suppose. But the adults blogging for a career reason? Give me your name!

June 9, 2015 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Cee said...

Hi again! What I meant was I would have published snips of a WIP if I hadn't read your blog entry. Jury's still out on whether to indie pub or search for an agent (I know a junior agent- I edited her book - and her view of the current world of big publishing is- shall we say, not overly optimistic?). Yes, two of the writers I was thinking of in my comment are quite well-established mystery writers; and another one I love has a website she hasn't updated in five years. Anyway, I look forward to exploring your blog and reading your mysteries, esp that Sherwood one! I'm a fairly new reader of your blog via RSS :) Cheers!

June 9, 2015 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kerry--I totally understand why teens want to blog anonymously. But they are unlikely to be blogging as professional authors. This post is for professional writers. I don't want to seem to be urging kids to put their names all over the Internet. I'll have some nasty emails from parents.

So yes, as you say, if you're a professional, use your name. If you're a kid, stay anonymous.

June 9, 2015 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 9, 2015 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Cee--An old neglected website looks so awful doesn't it? Like a run-down house. You wonder if anybody's home.

Glad I misunderstood about the WIP. Some newbies think composing a WIP on a blog is a good way to get feedback, but it can be dangerous.

Welcome to the blog! I'm so glad you're interested in my Camilla books. They're as much comedies as mysteries. Not a high body count or gore, but sophisticated comedy. My editor likes Sherwood best, too. Camilla #5, which I'm editing now, is kind of a follow-up to Sherwood Ltd.

June 9, 2015 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

Left a comment, but not sure where it went. Bottom line: I agree 100%. I'm so glad I listened to your sound advice from the get go.

June 10, 2015 at 4:27 AM  
OpenID PA Lassiter said...

I'm so glad that Cee brought up your Camilla mysteries, as I had a question related to them. As you said, writers are often encouraged to blog, but what impact would you say nonfiction blogging has on sales of fiction? Do you find yourself with two separate audiences, or is there a lot of crossover? (For the record, I'm a big fan of Sayers, Christie, AND Camilla.) Thanks again!

June 10, 2015 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nina--So sorry Blogger ate your comment. Sometimes it does that and I still have no idea why. Thanks much. I'm glad my blogging advice has helped you. I've really enjoyed seeing your career grow!

June 10, 2015 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

PA--If I were going to do it over again, I probably wouldn't have started a blog that's exclusively about writing, There is a crossover, because Camilla is a writer and a bookstore owner, so there are lots of "in" jokes for writers in these comedies. But I wouldn't recommend that a new blogger follow in my footsteps.

Nonfiction blogs do much better than fiction blogs, so I would recommend writing nonfiction, but not exclusively on one subject. I might write more about the places Camilla visits, especially Lincolnshire, and maybe some stuff about fashion and etiquette, since those are her passions. I'd also probably write posts aimed at Boomers since my other three novels are about the Baby Boomer generation.

But this blog has such a high profile that it gets my name out there, and that's the most important thing that blogging should do: increase your name recognition.

June 10, 2015 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Elie Axelroth said...

Anne, this advice is right on. I've been blogging for about two years about creativity. It's evolved over time, and I can see how it's building traction and interest in my soon to be published novel in ways I couldn't have predicted. I started the blog because it seemed like a good idea, and now it's even fun. www.elieaxelroth.com

June 10, 2015 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Elie--I'm glad you agree. Sounds like your doing blogging right. It should be fun. And best of luck with your new book!

June 10, 2015 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger John Wiswell said...

Boy, do I ever agree about not starting multiple blogs. At least unless you have two very different things you want them to do and are absolutely sure you can keep both running regularly. It's annoying to sift through an author's dead sites in search for one that's at least semi-active, and shows a lack of reliability to produce content.

I also strongly agree that authors should be able to exceed 500 words on a post. It's all a matter of what you have to say. Surely long lists have helped Chuck Wendig's popularity.

June 11, 2015 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

John--I think bloggers don't realize how much they alienate readers by making them sift through 5 or 6 blogs to find the "real" one. I try one. If it hasn't been updated for 3 years and there's no link to the current blog, I'm out of there. People who waste my time go to the bottom of my list.

You're so right about Chuck Wendig. He breaks a whole lot of "blogging rules" and has one of the most popular blogs in the industry. It's because he has a unique voice and useful, unique stuff to say--that's what makes a great blog..I think most of the popular bloggers write longer posts these days.

June 11, 2015 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger L.K. Paulson said...

Thanks for the advice. I don't have my Blogger profile linked to Google Plus, so I ended up going to my Blogger profile and I found out that editing the Introduction let me add my twitter handle.

June 11, 2015 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger LinkBuilder said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 12, 2015 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Nas said...

Thanks for these awesome tips and great advise. All the tips are spot on.

June 14, 2015 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nas--Thanks for stopping by!

June 14, 2015 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Robert Burton Robinson said...

Great advice! I use my short stories to attract new readers to my website in hopes that they will also read sample chapters from some of my novels. And I've just rolled my 39 short stories into a nice ebook (87,000 words), which I am offering for free on my website. In order to get the book, they must join my email list. Of course, some will unsubscribe as soon as they get the book. But if they stay subscribed they will receive a new short story by email about once per month.

The ebook giveaway is a new thing, so I don't know how it's going to work out. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to convert short-fiction-only readers into readers of novels. But my novels are short--in the 50-60K-word range--so maybe it's not such a stretch. ;)

June 15, 2015 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Robert--There is lots of controversy about how much stuff to give away free. I only run a couple of freebie days on one of my books every quarter, but I know lots of authors of series books give away the first book free.

39 stories for free is a very nice gift to your readers. I probably would have bundled them into three shorter books. If it isn't increasing your sales, you might consider that.

The novella length book (30K-50K) is increasing in popularity, and books are getting shorter (except for high fantasy and hist fiction) so you may be on the cutting edge there. Best of luck with them.

June 15, 2015 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

Hi Anne, this post was extremely helpful. For the most part, I'm doing the right things. I'll be keeping this post for reference. Thank you for providing such awesome posts every week.

June 17, 2015 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tracy--I'm glad you find it helpful. I'm going to put together a short inexpensive ebook on blogging later this year. I think a lot of authors end up doing too much work on a blog. Thanks!

June 17, 2015 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

I'll be first in line to purchase it. I need all the help I can get. And for some time now I've implemented your "slow blogging" suggestion. Thanks again, Anne. :-)

June 18, 2015 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Sue Coletta said...

I used to regularly visit other blogs, but now that I have deadlines I've had to pull back, reading only 6 or 7, including yours. I feel horrible about it too. I don't want bloggers/author friends to think I don't finding their content interesting any longer; I simply don't have the time anymore. But there's no honest way to broach this subject in a post without someone getting offended. Any advice?

June 28, 2015 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tracy--I'm going to start on it this week. Slow blogging rules!.

June 28, 2015 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sue--Blogging, like any other part of your writing career, has stages. When you're first trying to build a blog, you can visit lots of other bloggers who may be unpublished like you and share your publishing journeys.

Once you've got your career launched, you simply can't visit every single one of those blogs, or your career would die (or you would.). I only visit about 10-20 blogs a week--and none on a regular basis. I certainly can't visit the blogs of all of our nearly 4000 followers and subscribers. None of us has more than 24 hours in a day. You can only do what's possible.

Unless you're Alex J. Cavanaugh, who seems to be able to visit 100s of blogs a week. I have no idea how he does it. :-)

June 28, 2015 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Shona Moyce said...

Really helpful stuff! Thank you :)

July 14, 2015 at 6:42 AM  

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