A Twitter chat session with the folks at Book Country, including former literary agent Colleen Lindsay got me to thinking about the focus of my blog here, and what I can do to make it better. Of course, that's exactly what the session was designed to do, and the hosts certainly gave out some excellent advice on the matter.
Colleen shared fourteen points on making an author's blog better, and I thought I'd share those points with my readers here. They're well worth repeating, as they tie into not only producing a better quality blog, but into marketing oneself as an author.
There has been some concern about the ability of authors to successfully market themselves, and that is a topic close to my heart. After all, if I can't successfully market myself, I can't find the audience to read my books. I'll have turned myself into that metaphorical tree in the forest. If I make a noise, will anyone hear me?
In fact, one of the arguments against self-publishing is that authors don't know how to market themselves, and as such will get lost in the masses. But there is a completely opposite point of view out there, and with the success of a noted number of independent writers, they do have a point. Really, the whole business is much too young yet to understand what is going on, where we're headed, and the actual individual factors for success. There are definite indicators, but it's still largely a wait-and-see issue for some of the largest players, and their moves will definitely impact how things evolve in the future.
I think a more critical issues is the fact that a large number of them are marketing themselves to the wrong audience - to other authors, and not to readers. Granted, authors are potential readers as well, but if one is blogging about writing, the blog will appeal to writers and not readers of the material one writes about.
So that brings me to the points Colleen Lindsay brought up last night in the Book Country chat. They're all pretty self-explanatory, so I'll simply list them and you can form your own opinions.
Practical tip #1: ALWAYS have contact information on your website or blog (and not one of those contact forms).
Practical tip #2: Create a downloadable press kit for your site, w/ high-res photos, book jackets, bio & press clippings.
Practical tip #3: Don't make it hard for readers to leave comments and engage you in conversation. Allow use of Open ID, etc.
Practical tip #4: Have a separate area on your site for appearance information, and make sure it's up-to-date.
Practical tip #5: HIRE A DESIGNER. Make an effort! It's not super-expensive these days to hire a blog designer.
Practical tip #6: Don't be afraid to take control of your comments and delete the assholes. It's YOUR blog.
Practical tip #7: Make sure your agent and publicist's contact info is on your blog/website.
Practical tip #8: Avoid graphic-heavy landing pages; they add nothing and just piss off people with older browsers.
Practical tip #9: For the love of GOD, don't put auto-play music on your blog or website!
Practical tip #10: Make sure you add links to all your (public) social media presences on your blog/website.
Practical tip #11: Add your bibliography, in the order that the books were published, so new readers can read in order!
Practical tip #12: List any and all awards you've won, whether you're a NYT, USA Today bestseller, etc.
Practical tip #13: Write about other writers you love to read. Pay it forward, especially if you have a strong platform.
Practical tip #14: If you're going on vacation or need a break, ask a friend to guest-blog for you so content stays fresh!
Excellent tips, all. A big thank you goes out to Colleen Lindsay and the rest of the great hosts and contributors of the chat! They do this on a regular basis, on varying topics, so if this is the type of advice you're looking for, I highly recommend tuning in to them. The next one is scheduled for August 11. @Book_Country has the latest info.
So now, looking over these tips, there are a few things I see I'm doing right, and some I'm not. The thing that concerns me most is not reaching my target audience. I'm a writer. I write science fiction, horror and fantasy. Readers of these genres are the folks that should be reading my blog. I should be sharing great news, stories, pictures and information relating to these genres. Starting in a bit, I will be.
For fellow authors out there, I'll still share content that interests you, and I'll continue to add to the links and resources I've put on here. But my main focus will shift, as I feel it should, to a more appropriate forum. So for you sci-fi, horror, and fantasy buffs, stay tuned. Great stuff coming your way soon!