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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 15, 2014

How to Blog: Essential Do's and Don'ts for Author-Bloggers

by Anne R. Allen

Do all authors have to blog?


Blogging doesn't sell books. Not directly. And it's not a particularly good way to attract an agent (agents will glance at your blog if they're considering your query, but mostly to make sure you're not wearing a tinfoil hat and advocating the invasion of Canada.)

So what is blogging good for?

It's a way to make friends. With your readers and other writers.

John Green, superstar author of The Fault in Our Stars said on NPR last week that writing books is a life "in which you're in your basement alone for years and years, saying, 'Marco. Marco. Marco. Marco. Marco. And then if you're lucky, someone writes you and says ... Polo."

A blog provides people with a place to say "Polo."

(For non US readers, "Marco Polo" is a kind of annoying game of tag American children play in backyard swimming pools. The origins are unknown, although lots of people offer inventive stories "explaining" it on the Marco Polo game Wikipedia page.)

I spent the first few years of my blogging career saying Marco, without getting many Polos in return, until I won a contest run by uberblogger and then-Curtis Brown agent, Nathan Bransford. The prize was a guest spot on his blog.

That was my first lesson in "DO" #6 below.

I recently found my old journal from the day I got that guest spot. I had also just got the 70th follower on the blog. What an exciting day!

Four years later, the blog is getting 75,000 hits a month and Nathan is going to visit HERE next week...

So if you have a new blog, hang in there. You will get a readership. But it takes time.

I got an email from a reader recently asking if I was ever going to write about blogging for authors. I thought I'd been writing about blogging entirely too much. But I realized I hadn't written much recently, and other pieces have usurped my "how to blog" posts in the Top Ten posts in the sidebar.

So I figured it might be smart to provide an index of my "How to Blog" posts. Eventually I'll put a version of this post on a separate page for easy reference.

The problem with starting an author blog is that most of the instructions on blogging come from marketers and SEO specialists—people who blog with the purpose of getting revenue from the blog itself.

But as an author, you don't need to worry about advertisers and SEO isn't your top priority. Your blog is simply a part of your social media presence—your home on the Web where folks can stop in to chat. The only thing you want to advertise is your own books (and maybe your guests' books.)

Unlike a monetized blog, an author blog shouldn't be your main focus. And it shouldn't take too much time from your WIP.

Not that there's anything wrong with deciding you prefer blogging to writing books. Last week Nina Badzin wrote an inspirational post here about what happened when she did exactly that—and turned her love of blogging into a successful freelance writing career.

If you write primarily nonfiction—as a freelance essayist, journalist, or nonfiction book author—a blog is essential. You should start one as soon as you hang out your shingle. It's your portfolio on the Web: the place where people can stop by and see what you do.

But if you're pretty sure fiction is your primary medium, when should you start a blog?

Some writers start to blog too early in their careers and find it’s a time suck that keeps them from their fiction writing goals.

I don't think you have to worry about blogging if—
  • You’re at a stage where you need to put 100% of your writing time into learning your craft and getting that WIP onto the page. 
  • You’re a student who loves your creative writing class and hopes to be a writer someday, but you’re not sure what genre you’ll want to write or if you'll want to write novels, screenplays, poetry or whatever.
  • You’ve written a NaNo novel and a few short stories but you know you've got a lot to learn and you're not ready to start submitting things yet. 
  • You’ve been to a few writers conferences and you’re working madly on edits on your first novel and you’ve got this new idea you’re just dying to get on paper...
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with blogging if you’re at any of those stages. For some of us, blogging is just plain fun. Playing around with words is good at any stage of your writing career, as long as it doesn't keep you from your basic writing goals.

But don’t feel pressured to jump in before you're ready. Blogging is a commitment. Don’t start if you don’t have the time or discipline to follow through.

I suggest you write at least four blogposts (more is even better) and have them ready to go before you set up the blog.

When should you start?

It's good to have a blog going by the time you start to send out queries or self-publish your first book.

You will need a website anyway. (Sending out a query when you don’t have a website is a waste of time. Many agents and editors reject on that item alone.) A blog is a website—while a Facebook, Google +, Twitter or Pinterest page is not. Nothing that requires membership counts. And a blog hosted by Blogger or Wordpress is free as well as being interactive—as opposed to a static website. So it counts as “social media.” It’s a two-bird stone.

Blogging provides the most effective long-term strategy for writers to get their names out there into the marketplace and interact with the public, because:
  • You’re a writer. Blogging uses a skill you’ve already got. 
  • Other social media are subject to faddism and rapid changes. (Facebook has become much less effective now that you have to pay to reach more than a handful of readers.) 
  • Blogging is the social medium that gives you the most control over your brand.
But author-bloggers usually make one huge mistake: we follow rules established by other types of bloggers.

I made this mistake myself. 

Thing is: as an author, you are not blogging to monetize, so a lot of the standard rules don’t apply. You're blogging to make yourself an interactive home on the Web—a place for agents/fellow writers/fellow bloggers/publishers/editors/readers to find you and communicate with you. It's a place to establish your brand.

And your brand is YOU.

Here are some basic blogging rules authors would be wise to heed:

1) DO use an uncluttered, easy-to read design

Be aware that a light font on a dark background is hard to read for most people. Plus it tends to look like a 1980s computer interface. And it can scream "amateur". Light and bright and uncluttered is appealing and gives your blog a modern look.

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. (pale gray on white isn't that great either.) If you go with a Web designer and a self-hosted blog, don't let them talk you into too many bells and whistles.

And remember most people find pop-ups annoying.

2) DO learn to write good headers. An intriguing header is essential!

A good header should:
  • Ask a question or provide an answer. 
  • Attract search engines. 
  • 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 stuff that’s unfocused, doesn’t inform, and nobody’s likely to Google.

Titles like “Scribbles”, “Alone,” or “Sad 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 for ideas on what works in a blog header. Numbered lists and questions work best.

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

Hey, somebody might stop by 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. 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 hear 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. 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.

I use MailChimp for our subscription service here. It's great as long as you don't get more than 2000 subscribers. After that, it costs 30 bucks a month, so when your numbers get up there, you have to do periodic housecleaning of subscribers who don't actually open the email. (But hey, that's what you call a First World problem.)

I know there's a lot of pressure to get people to sign up for author newsletters rather than subscribe to a blog. But I think a blog subscription is more useful.

Newsletters were big a decade ago, but there are just too many of them. And they're mostly self-serving and spammy. But a blog generally has actual content. So most people are more likely to subscribe to your blog than a "look at how fabulous I am" newsletter. I'll be writing more about this on another post.

4) 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.  Or 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!

5) 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.

6) 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.

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

People skim on the Internet. You need short paragraphs, subheaders, 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.

And some things author-bloggers DON'T have to worry about:

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.

2) DON'T feel you have to keep to 300-500 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-paragraph 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 some of our most popular posts come close 3000 words.

3) DON’T use a cutsie 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.

Yes, a lot of blogs have cutsie names and the bloggers are anonymous. Many product reviewers prefer to remain anonymous. Ditto political bloggers.

But the reason you’re 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 “Songs from the Zombiepocalypse”, “Lost Marbles” or “MommiePornCentral". A whole lot more people will find you if they can just Google "Your Name."

Every minute you spend 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.

4) 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 stuff 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" recently, so if you have flash fiction you don't intend to send to contests or journals, it's okay 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, author Linda Maye Adams offered this tip in the comments: there's a blog that provides daily "blog prompts", called the Daily Post. It looks like fun.

5) DON'T put a lot of 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

6) DON'T obsess about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Yes, you want to be picked up by the search engines, but your primary concern is entertaining your readers, not optimizing keywords for search engines. Early on a blog gets discovered by word of mouth, so it's more important to be networking with other bloggers than getting the attention of Google.

So that marketing jargon that goes over your head? Let it keep sailing by. It's not a priority for you.

7) 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. And 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 Bigfoot erotica, you only need one blog. Blogs take time. And you have books to write, remember?

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.

Then go work on that WIP!

Here are a few examples of great author blogs

Some are superstars, some are midlisters, and some are pre-published, but they all do blogging right.

Here is an index of my posts on how to blog

How to Write Blog Content April 2014  

Guest Blogging for Authors February 2014 

Blog Communities Guest post by Alex J. Cavanaugh from Sept. 2013

How Not to Blog December 2011

How to Blog: A Beginner's Guide for Authors December 2011

(Also this information and a whole lot more is available in the book I wrote with superstar author Catherine Ryan Hyde, HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE: A Self-help Guide . Only $2.99. And yes, the paper version of the second edition will be available very soon.)

What about you, Scriveners? Do you have a blog? Have you been resisting blogging? What do you find are the best ways to get traffic? Do you have any tips for the new blogger? What general blogging rules do you find don't apply to an author blog? 


This week I'm doing a cover reveal: new cover by Keri Knutson of Alchemy Book Covers  I love the exploding cupcake!

  Food of Love: a Comedy about Friendship, Chocolate, and a Small Nuclear Bomb.

In honor of the re-launch, Food of Love is on sale for the next two weeks!  99c on Amazon.com and the equivalent on Amazon UK, Amazon CAAmazon.com.au, (etc) and NOOK

Two sisters: one white, one black. Two world views: one liberal, one conservative. But these two women have one goal in common—one they share with most women in modern society: the urge to diminish themselves by dieting. Food of Love is a comedy that carries a powerful message. It offers some of life’s darker truths—told with a punchline. 

After Princess Regina, a former supermodel, is ridiculed in the tabloids for gaining weight, someone tries to kill her. She suspects her royal husband wants to be rid of her, now she’s no longer model-thin. As she flees the mysterious assassin, she discovers the world thinks she is dead, and seeks refuge with the only person she can trust: her long-estranged foster sister, Rev. Cady Stanton, a right-wing talk show host who has romantic and weight issues of her own. Cady delves into Regina’s past and discovers Regina’s long-lost love, as well as dark secrets that connect them all.

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


Short Romance stories with holiday themes: Crimson Romance Ebooks (A division of F & W, publisher of Writer's Digest Books) is looking for holiday themed shorts (10K-20K words) Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa 2014, New Year's Even 2015, Deadline: August 15th

BLUE EARTH REVIEW FLASH FICTION CONTEST $2 ENTRY FEE. 750 words or less. Limit two stories per entry. First place $500. Second place $250. Third place $100. Winners will be published in the Blue Earth Review, the literary magazine of Minnesota State University. Deadline August 1.

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

MARK TWAIN HOUSE HUMOR WRITING CONTEST  ENTRY FEE $12 or $22. First prize $1000. Other cash prizes. Celebrity judges. Two age categories: Adult (18 and over) and Young Author (17 and under). Submit 10,000 words (or fewer) of any original work of humor writing. Submissions are not required to be in the style of Mark Twain or about Mark Twain. They want you to make them laugh! Deadline June 30, 2014.

The Golden Quill Awards are no longer recommended. 

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Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, thank you for listing mine as one who does it right!
I've never and will never do ads. That's just not what I am about.
Interesting you state the writing process is the least interesting. I follow a couple authors and every post is about their books, their stats, their writing - stuff like that. And I admit, I don't visit them often for that very reason.
My posts have gradually grown longer as I tend to cover three to four topics in one post. Good to know that's not a bad thing!
And guilty of using a lot of images. At least I don't have to search for them.
Excellent list, Anne!

June 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

I may have finished reading this first today, but I kept hitting Refresh until I saw Alex!

Fabulous stuff Anne, as always, and I think you've scored well over 90 out of a hundred for me. I happily confess that blogging has, at times, drawn me "away from writing". But in my heart, I think I knew that with the WiP I'm working on these days, it's just going to be slow- and knocking out a blog post on a great classic I read and why I liked it beats staring at a blank screen every single time.

A lot of your "do's" (esp. 5 and 6) and "don't" (1 and 4) added up to the same good advice I didn't have, but fell into by good luck. Share a blog. It naturally generates from visiting and sharing views, commenting around the blogosphere, and it handles the pressure to post all the time. I've gained a great deal from having a shared blog, loosely orbiting "fantasy" and definitely not too nichey (is that a word?).

June 15, 2014 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--As a writer you may be interested in other writers' rejection woes and stats, but readers don't care, so we need to keep that stuff balanced with more general-interest material. (And posting about rejections can get you rejected :-) )

I like your long posts. And images are fine. I'm just telling authors not to obsess about them. Searching for images can take a lot of time.

June 15, 2014 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Wm--"Nichey" should be a word. :-)

A shared blog can be a godsend. I probably should have mentioned that. I don't think I would have been able to keep up this blog without Ruth Harris. Plus a lot of fantastic guest bloggers. I like to visit other blogs with guest posts, but I haven't had as much time recently.

June 15, 2014 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Sasha A. Palmer said...

Just added "Share this" buttons to my blog, wouldn't hurt :-) Thank you, Anne.

June 15, 2014 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Roland D. Yeomans said...

As Sasha said: The SHARE ME button is something that hadn't occurred to me. My Stetson's tipped to you and Ruth.

Sometimes I feel as if I am the best kept secret on the Net -- which is all right. I write my blog to have fun and interact with those who are of like spirit. Great post.

June 15, 2014 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Liz Crowe said...

POLO! (thanks for the great post yet again.)

June 15, 2014 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

I'm with Roland -- one of the many best kept secrets on the net. Maybe I should re-name my blog Clandestoblog! Thanks for another fine post with superb advice.

June 15, 2014 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

I think it can be really challenging for fiction writers to come up with topics for blogs. I've been blogging probably since about 2003, and all I heard was "to be a blogger, you need to be an expert." That's probably how a lot of writers land in writing-related posts. And you're right -- process posts are really pretty boring after a while, especially when people are pretty much repeating what other people are repeating.

I got stuck into the writing posts, too, for a long while, and played around with the idea of giving up blogging because I wasn't sure it was worth the time investment. I wasn't getting much in the way of visits. I even took the WANA course, and it seemed like whatever I tried actually drove people away (WANA was sort of a cheerleading thing, and mine was the first blog everyone lost interest in).

But in the last year or so, I had put up two posts related to the military, one on hair for women and one on uniforms for women. They didn't seem all that exciting to me. Uniform was my daily clothing in the military and hair was a daily, but routine issue. Those two posts pop up as my most popular every single day. So I started doing posts about military life once a week, and my numbers have been increasing. Few people comment, but they follow and visit.

I've used some blogging prompts from The Daily Post http://dailypost.wordpress.com/ to help bring in some non-military posts. It's a great resource to grab some prompts and some visits if you haven't found what works for you yet.

June 15, 2014 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Collette Cameron said...

Wonderful, as usual! I'll be reblogging!

June 15, 2014 at 12:12 PM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Anne, great info, and lots of good blogs listed as resources. I think I'm still at #6: "DO visit other blogs: comment and guest post." I really love doing that. In fact from a recent blog post, someone else asked me to do another one for his blog. So it's been a great, friendly way to reach readers and other writers. Also want to compliment you on the cover for "Food of Love." It's a new cover, right? I'll have to check my copy but just wanted to say I love this one. Also that it's a very fun read. :) Paul

June 15, 2014 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger sue mcginty said...

Great strategy, Paul

June 15, 2014 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sasha--You're welcome :-) I'll bet you'll start getting more traffic!

June 15, 2014 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Roland--I love your blog and drop in when I can. So the share button will be a great addition. If I see something I think my tweeps will like, I can just hit a button.

June 15, 2014 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Liz--Thank you! I was waiting for somebody to say that. :-)

June 15, 2014 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--You have a fantastic blog. You just have to work on headers. They tend to be artsy and enigmatic. When I tweet it, I have to think up a question or something, and I usually don't have time. Try stuff like "Why most people don't use this word right" or "10 meanings of the word blue". Be cheesier!

June 15, 2014 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--Thanks for this great comment. We all heard that "niche" and "expert" thing when we started, so we all wrote one more writing blog. Not the best idea.

But you've hit on something really important: your unique experience in the world can be your focus as a blogger. For you, it's that you're a female soldier. But everybody has something about them that makes them unique. Maybe they raise chickens, or maybe they volunteer at the animal shelter. Posts about stuff most people don't know about are great.

And thanks for the blogging prompts link! That sounds like a great resource. I'll put it in the body of the post.

June 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Collette--Thanks for spreading the word!

June 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul--I think commenting on other blogs and becoming part of the blogging community is the single most important part of blogging. You don't even need to have your own blog if you guest enough. Congrats on getting the guest gig.

Yes! the Food of Love cover is new. The other one was absolutely lovely and I adored it, but it didn't say "wacky comedy." This one does. I think Keri did a fantastic job.

June 15, 2014 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sue--Paul's strategy does work. A lot of well known authors don't blog, but they visit and guest post and write for shared blogs. Ruth Harris didn't have her own blog when she joined me here.

June 15, 2014 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Leanne Dyck said...

Like you, Anne, I love to blog. In fact, too long ago I blogged daily as a way of writing daily. And I still view blogging as part of my writing practice.
Interesting to hear your thoughts about newsletters. I concerned starting one as a way to gather emails. But I know you know a better way and would appreciate learning it.
Thanks for another informative read, Anne

June 15, 2014 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Leanne Dyck said...

Oh, yes, and one last thing. You know your theory about how no one scams a new post. I wish you'd tell the scammers of my blog that. True I do get more scam on old posts but I get them on new posts too. Some are cleverly disguised but the website address is a dead give away.

June 15, 2014 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Lucy Lit said...

I write this with tears of joy streaming down my wrinkled cheeks. Between struggling to learn the technology side ("what IS SEO anyway and why should I care?") and fighting against the "use lots of images" mantra ("No, I don't wanna search for them"), it's been a chore. Why do I feel like I've been given permission to do it my way? :) Thank you for a voice of reason!

June 15, 2014 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

I do all the "Do Points" when it comes to blogging, especially the last one. With my new blog, I learned how to properly implement the "Read More" jump link into my blog posts. Makes things a lot easier for my readers (I hope).

I don't use the CAPTCHAS for my blog, but I do moderate. Have been since I started blogging in 2008 when I was getting trolled by people from the chat rooms. I gave up on allowing anonymous comments about a year ago, because I got tired of deleting 99% of the comments to a given post.

Speaking of getting scammed/spammed on a new post, the 3rd post I wrote for my new blog got touched by the Gods of Spam and it now has somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 page views.

Oh and, I originally started blogging to beef up my poor (at the time) writing skills. My skillset has improved 1000% and I still blog because its the easiest way to practice my writing.

And make new friends/readers (building from scratch again ain't easy) which I can hopefully parlay into something good with my writing.

Father Nature's Corner

June 15, 2014 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Diana Stevan said...

A very timely post, Anne. I was stewing about starting a newsletter, but you're right, it was to try to grab attention for an upcoming book. So, phew, that's off my list of must dos. I've been blogging for awhile, and I've learned, as you have, that the posts that got the most attention are not the ones about my writing process and challenges, but rather my opinion pieces and revelations about my mom, or a film that resonated or about a woman who survived the holocaust and has the secret to happiness. These personal pieces are the ones that have attracted the most readers. Thanks for crystallizing what works and what doesn't.

June 15, 2014 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Leanne--Blogging does improve writing skills and gives you discipline. I know this blog helped me learn to write faster.

The whole thing about gathering emails is overrated. People want emails so they can write and tell their readers when a new book is out, but you can also do that on your blog (which gets sent to a subscriber's email address.) Also Amazon has a new feature where they will send readers a notice when a favorite author's new book is out. Otherwise, why do you need to collect emails--to send out spammy newsletters that everybody dumps in the trash? Seems silly to me.

June 15, 2014 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger widdershins said...

A few blogs of late have run a similar 'how-to-blog' posts, but none are in the same league as this one. Bravo!

June 15, 2014 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

I get about two or three spam comments a day on new posts, but I just delete them. To me, it's more important to get a conversation going. I get a lot more spam on older posts, so I can't delete them all by hand.

June 15, 2014 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Lucy--You absolutely have my permission to do it your way! (Cue the Frank Sinatra music) We don't use images and we aren't experts in SEO (and all you need to know is in my post on "how to write blog content"), but we get 75,000 hits a month.

June 15, 2014 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

G. B. We all learn by doing, don't we?

CAPTCHA doesn't do anything to stop trolls. It just stops spambots. So if you've got forum trolls, you absolutely need to moderate. They're such a menace.

It's hilarious when you watch your hits go through the roof and you see they're all coming from Moldavia or somewhere. It means your spam filter is blocking them (that's different from the CAPTCHA) but the hits still show up on the counter.

And as I said to Leanne--I agree that blogging really improves our writing skills. Just as journalism does. It teaches us to write fast--and if we're not accurate or clear, our readers let us know. I have learned so much from the commenters here!

June 15, 2014 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Diana--I'll be writing about newsletters pretty soon. I hate the way authors are being pushed into this archaic form. It's 2014. We have social media now. We don't have to rely on email.

Those heartfelt posts that give information as well as powerful, authentic emotional connection are the most powerful, IMO.

June 15, 2014 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

widdershins--I read one of them that got reblogged a lot of places last week, and it was great for people who want monetized blogs. But for author-bloggers, a lot of the suggestions were unhelpful. We have a different purpose for our blogs

June 15, 2014 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger S B James said...

I,too, was agonizing over this newsletter thing. I know I don't like to sign up for getting more email, and I only subscribe to this very blog's newsletter because I don't use Blogger for my own blog. Everyone I know has hundreds of emails they've never opened. What makes me think they're going to open my email newsletter? But some authors swear by them. I don't know. Like Anne said, I think the email newsletter is SO 2000's...

June 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger S B James said...

Another great post! I limit my "How to Write" posts as much as possible. Once I've gotten more books out on the market, I'm going to make my posts deal more with the actual content of my books, as well as some things of interest to people who read my genre (Steampunk). I think many bloggers also get sucked into that "How to Write" blog mode because once you as a blogger start putting hashtags like "amwriting" "amblogging" "writinglife" etc, you get a LOT of followers who are fellow writers. Same with Twitter. All my Twitter followers right now are fellow writers or people who offer author services like editing and the like.

June 15, 2014 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Shah Wharton said...

Over the past five years I've gone through the whole spectrum of blogging I think... now I'm trying to relax and to be me. I do still have a problem with saying no to folks who want a feature spot, but I accept I enjoy doing so. I just need to make the time, and say no when I don't have the time. I don;t like posting when I don;t have time to vista other bloggers, you see. Etiquette can be a bind. :(

June 15, 2014 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

SB--I'm glad to hear you agree. I think the authors who rely on newsletters tend to have an older readership--people who don't read blogs. Blogs intimidate some of my fellow Boomers. .

June 15, 2014 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

SB--Good insight. If all your Twitter followers are writers (many of mine are, too) then you know writing posts will get retweeted. There isn't a ready-made audience for "medieval armor" or "racoon overlords" :-) .

Quite a lot of steampunk people out there, though. You might be able to feature steampunk jewelry and costumes, too. And up and coming genre!

June 15, 2014 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Shah--We evolve over our blogging lives, and we have to adjust for that. When you have 20 followers, you can visit each person's blog and guest and reciprocate, but when you have 1200, it's not humanly possible. You need to use good manners on yourself, too. :-)

And I think your READERS need to be your top priority. Blogging to a schedule is kinder to your readers. Other bloggers will evolve and get their own readerships, too.

June 15, 2014 at 3:57 PM  
Blogger Donna Fasano said...

What a FABULOUS blog post! (And I'm not just saying that because you mentioned me. ME! Yea! Thank you so much.) You've offered so many great tips here, Anne. I blog because I love having an outlet to post about things I find interesting. I someone reads my blog, they'll surely get to know me. I'm not an expert at anything, and I often wonder if anyone will even care about what I have to say, but do I let that stop me? No. lol

June 15, 2014 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Donna Fasano said...

That should say, "IF someone reads my blog..." *sigh*

June 15, 2014 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Another great post, Anne. Your blog is one of the few I actually subscribe to via email. And you don't bombard the inbox with tons of posts. When you post, I know what you're going to say really matters.

Interesting what you say about newsletters. I don't have one, but I keep hearing it's the thing to do, and you're leaving potential sales on the table if you don't have one. But I really don't want to do a newsletter! I feel like I have enough "me" with the weekly blog posts, the twice weekly Author Facebook posts, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Plus, I feel like if I don't "want" to do a newsletter, that'll shine through in a lackluster newsletter. Know what I mean?

You're the best...

June 15, 2014 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Donna--I think you have the ideal blog for a Romance writer (should I say "USA Today Bestselling Romance author"?) You have recipes, spotlights of other authors, and heartfelt posts as well as really informative stuff about the publishing industry (very helpful post on Amazon's series and the email notifications.) Always in your own sincere voice. Thanks for stopping by!

June 15, 2014 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--Thanks! I don't know why marketers have seized on the old-fashioned newsletter as the best way to sell books. Some authors are so desperate, they subscribe to this blog just so they can spam me with newsletters. (Newsflash: ONLY send to people who actually subscribe on purpose.)

They also bribe people with expensive gift cards and free books--all for what? So they can spend time writing a "I'm such hot stuff" letter that nobody will ever open? Huh? I seriously do not get it.

I'd love to know where that table is they say we've left money on. :-) Rest easy. You don't need a newsletter. More coming up on this subject.

June 15, 2014 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Oh, I'm so happy you'll be tackling the newsletter subject. Thanks, Anne!

June 15, 2014 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Gay Degani said...

Well, I needed that. With your page open I checked out my blog and did some tweaking. I'm going to add the subscription feature (no time or energy to write a newsletter so happy to read about just asking people to subscribe!!). I tried the gadget on blogger and will use that, probably, but I've heard good things about disquis. I think my blog looks okay but I know I need to do more work content-wise. As you pointed out, a broader consideration of interesting topics is important. I always end up just writing about writing, but I think I have to write more about things readers like to hear. About books in generally and recommendations. Anyway, lots of food for thought here. Thank you.

June 15, 2014 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Gay--It seems to be time for me to challenge the Newsletter Cartel. I'm not a fan. Disqis is great for Wordpress. I'm not sure if it works for Blogger, but if it does, go for it. It's got a lot of bells and whistles.

Lots of possible topics (follow the link to "what should an author blog about") Spotlights, interviews, reviews (not just books but films and products) All of this stuff is great for an author blog.

June 15, 2014 at 7:32 PM  
Blogger Sugarbeat said...

One comment about length of posts. I believe that all blog audiences are different. What can be said for my audience, can't necessarily be said for anyone else's audience. Likewise what may work on my blog, won't necessarily work elsewhere. Use your analytics as your guide. If you are fond of creating long posts and your analytics tell you that your audience is spending 30 seconds on average on your blog, the whole post isn't being read. Try something different. See what happens when you create shorter posts. Does your audience respond differently?

Another comment about post content - why do all posts have to contain only words? Why can't a post contain only a picture? They say that a picture is worth 1000 words. Maybe that's why there is a really popular weekly meme called "Wordless Wednesday" :) It's much easier to come up with a title and one picture than it is 1000 or more pearls of wisdom!

Thanks Anne for sharing your pearls of wisdom! Always appreciated!

June 15, 2014 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger florence cronin said...

Anne, thanks for another great post and for the shout-out about my blog!!

You already know I am "pre-published" and love blogging. I don't think anyone should feel obligated to blog if they can't have fun. Being interactive simply means responding to your readers, being positive and polite and above all HAVE A GOOD TIME :)

June 15, 2014 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger florence cronin said...

ALMOST FORGOT ... The blog is under my maiden name and the name I use for my stories. The Gmail address recognized here is in my legal name.

So Florence Fois and Florence Cronin are the same crazy Italian :)

June 15, 2014 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sugar--Absolutely. Excellent point. Look at your analytics. People spend an average of 13.9 minutes on this blog. If people only spend 30 seconds on yours, you need to work on drawing a different audience. People are looking at your blog and clicking away without reading much of it.

As far as photos, ask yourself: do you want to be known as a writer or an artist/photographer?

This post is aimed at author-bloggers. But if you create picture books or graphic novels, or, as I said, if you're a photojournalist, then by all means post pictures.

June 15, 2014 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

There are so many great tips here, Anne! What a good point about not worrying too much about images and SEO. If you're not monetized, there really is no reason to stress about either.

June 15, 2014 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Gay Degani said...

Thanks Anne, signed up for Mail chimp but decided I needed to figure it out in the morning when my brain is sharper!! I check that link out too. What I've been doing is reprinting my articles from Flash Fiction Chronicles, but really do need to do more reviews and interviews. Products. Hadn't really thought about that so will think about that.
Anyway, thanks for the reminder that this is a good way to meet new people and draw them into my work.

June 15, 2014 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Florence--I think people recognize your unique voice and sense of fun no matter what you call yourself. :-) But you should probably change the ID you comment with so it shows your writing name. You need to have things consistent to "brand" yourself.

June 15, 2014 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nina--Monetized blogs require a whole different skill set, as you know well, since you're a professional blogger. But for authors, it's all about voice and the written word. (And the old WIP.)

June 15, 2014 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Gay--Full disclosure here: I hired somebody to help me with MailChimp. It think I could have done it on my own, but I found it intimidating. Now I can use it just fine, but migrating my email list from the old Blogger Feedburner thing was daunting.

June 15, 2014 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Gay Degani said...

Anne, That makes me feel better to know what I found immediately confusing, isn't necessarily about me!! Thanks!

June 15, 2014 at 9:48 PM  
OpenID fornow said...

Thanks, Anne.
I've been blogging since '07 and have 2 blogs - one on my main writing and the other for some unrelated interests in science and tech. They replaced 2 web sites (much easier to maintain) and their roles have evolved over time.

Thanks for the great comment about images. I used to use images but dropped them at a certain point because it took so much time - esp to properly credit them as I did. I just decided they were not the point but almost every site talks about how important they are. And many blogs break copyright rules with them. Thanks for confirming my feelings about it.

I can recommend Sweet Captcha. It uses cute little images rather than illegible letters. Much easier to use.

I'd also note that quite a few small web sites are Wordpress-based now because you can use Pages to build static pages. Just picking a theme is so much cheaper than hiring a designer. No need to learn HTML, CSS, and Dreamweaver, etc. Not to mention search engines like them better, etc. They may not even include a blog. Or the blog may be called News or Events something else.

Lots of other nice tidbits here. Thanks again.

June 15, 2014 at 10:08 PM  
OpenID fornow said...

One tip for Wordpress users commenting here:
You want to be logged in to your WP blog first on a separate tab - then it's smooth. If not, you may be asked to log in but that process often doesn't work right.

I'm surprised Blogger doesn't use Gravatar for non-Blogger comments. It also doesn't use my name but the blogs name. Ah well.
(It's David ;-)

June 15, 2014 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Karen Prince said...

Anne, Just a quicky to let you know I think your blog is awesome and really easy on the eyes. I can't read the white on black background no matter how interesting the content.

And Ps. We grew up playing Marco, Polo in Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa. Particularly in swimming pools.

June 16, 2014 at 2:37 AM  
Blogger Krista Quintana said...

Great advice! I've learned that blogging has a fast learning slope. I really appreciate seeing it from the other end.

June 16, 2014 at 4:42 AM  
Blogger Dr John Yeoman said...

I agree totally, Anne. Blogging is no way to sell our books or products directly, nor is social networking. It's a place to meet fellow-minded people. I've gained several guest posters for my writing blog at Writers' Village through posts at Google+ and Facebook (social networking) or from comments thoughtful writers have left at my blog. That starts a relationship. I despair at the folk who try to sell their books directly via social networks. Does anyone click on their links?

I also agree that the longer our post - if it's well written - the more comments and click-throughs we get. Short 'gulp' posts get gulp readers who leave silly comments like 'LOL!'. Mercifully, I get few of those. My blog posts average 1200 words and each post draws an average of 80 comments. Long posts work!

June 16, 2014 at 5:03 AM  
Blogger Claude Nougat said...

Thanks Anne for sharing your blogging wisdom: given your success, it's precious advice, it's spot on! I love your list of great bloggers too and I totally agree with you, they're great indeed! Of course, I didn't make it into that list (I can't say I'm surprised: I started blogging back in 2009 and I'm still learning...) but I do hope that some day I'll "make" is as both a blogger and a writer...

Why a blogger? Because I think it's so much fun to share one's opinions and what one finds when doing research...I love it when people respond (though, alas, they rarely do but I guess one must be patient) As of now, my blog is about half yours (around 35,000 visits a month)....So there's hope!

June 16, 2014 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

fornow--There are so many more options with WordPress. I'm not sure Blogger offers Sweet Captcha. But a friendlier Captcha does make a blog much more welcoming. Thanks for these other great tips for WordPress users!

"Thou MUST have images" is one of the commandments of blogging, but it's one of those rules that doesn't apply to people who are trying to establish a career in writing rather than photography.

June 16, 2014 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

David--Hi there. Nice to know your name. The ways of Blogger are a mystery to me. They insist on using the oldest ID they have on file for you. The only way you can change that is to get a Google Plus ID because they're so desperate to get more people on Google Plus.

June 16, 2014 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Karen--Thanks so much for letting me know that American kids aren't the only ones who play that silly game (It can be so annoying when you're trying to write and the neighbor's kids play it endlessly.) Most non-US people say they learned about the game from the Simpsons.

June 16, 2014 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Krista--Blogging is pretty easy. But it's hard to find appropriate rules specifically for the author-blogger.

June 16, 2014 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Dr. John--Thanks for confirming the wisdom of the longer post. Many professional bloggers say the same these days. The ultra short post can so often be a scam for "click bait" where bloggers are just racking up hits, and don't care about content.

June 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Claude--That list wasn't any kind of a contest. I just thought of a few blogs off the top of my head that represented writers at different stages of their careers. I left out Nathan Bransford and Kristen Lamb too. :-)

I just threw together the list at the last minute just before we went live because a reader asked me to in the comments on another post.

Blogging is a fantastic outlet for writers who enjoy it--as you obviously do. You write in-depth, thoughtful posts on a variety of subjects that could be in any mainstream magazine. 35K visits a month is huge! I would have killed for that number even a year ago. Congrats! Your blog is great!

June 16, 2014 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Great tips.

As a busy writer-blogger, I do appreciate short posts. Unless, of course, the blogger is hitting on a very interesting or controversial topic and has a lot of relevant information to share. (Like you on how to blog. :)

June 16, 2014 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Melissa--There was a survey recently and they found the most popular posts are in that 'sweet spot' of about 1200-1500 words. But if you read tons of blogs, shorter is faster. I think the trick is to blog less often and make sure what you say has a lot of weight. If you do blog frequently, then yes, posts should be much shorter.

June 16, 2014 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger jbiggar said...

Thanks for all the great tips. For me, the most interesting blogs I read are one that inject humour while also teaching. I'm still learning, but I enjoy it, that's the main thing. :)

June 16, 2014 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Gay--Mail Chimp is definitely a techy site. If you feel intimidated by tech the way I do, you may want to get some help.

June 16, 2014 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

JBiggar--We try to add a little humor here. Since we're both old broads who weren't born with a silver iPod in our ears, we have to laugh at ourselves when it comes to the techy stuff.

June 16, 2014 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Lots of good advice here! I've made several adjustments to my blog over the years, and I'm sure I'll make many more. The biggest things for me are to keep it fresh, stay connected with others, and balance it wisely with writing time. That last one takes me away from the blogging world quite often. ;)

June 16, 2014 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nicole--It's all about balance. As long as we keep in mind that the WIP has priority, we can keep the blog under control. :-) And yes, a blog should grow and change with the blogger's career.

June 16, 2014 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger N P Postlethwaite said...

Thanks for your post - some excellent points. As a fiction, indie author, I started a blog last year and moved across different types of content, until I realised I just really enjoy writing fictional shorts on my blog and new poetry - that is my niche - I don't do it to directly promote my novel - although their is a link to that and my website on my blog. My blog has become a passionate outlet for my writing and subsequently part of my brand. As you say, the best thing I get out of blogging is connecting with readers and writers

June 17, 2014 at 6:51 AM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

Haha! I love John Green’s Marco-Polo analogy.

Thanks for the post and for compiling all your blogging posts in one place. I have some of them bookmarked but this is a fantastic reference. And, though you might not believe it by looking at my blog, I do read your posts and loved your (and Catherine’s) book (How to Be a Writer in the E-Age). I am guilty of most of your “do not do this!” tips and I don't do most of your "do this!" tips. Ugh...

Your observation about blogs being the medium where you have the most control over your brand is brilliant. It’s kind of obvious when you say it but I really hadn’t thought about it in that way. I have my own thoughts about blogging that I might need to examine…

June 17, 2014 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

N.P. Conventional wisdom used to say "never put fiction or poetry on a blog" because fiction and poetry can never be entered in a contest or sold to a journal as "unpublished", but that may not matter any more. As long as it is drawing an audience for you, it sounds as if breaking the rule is working great for you.

June 17, 2014 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sarah--Several people have asked me to do a better job of archiving my "evergreen" content, so I figured I could do this with the blog-related posts.

Remember these are just guidelines. I'm not telling you the "don'ts" because they're wrong, but because your time might be better spent elsewhere.

June 17, 2014 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger D.T. Krippene said...

By far the best advice on blogging for authors I've read. You're absolutely correct, most "how to" articles are geared toward business. And thanks for supporting the stance that blogging doesn't have to be daily, or weekly, just as long as it's somewhat consistent (and not every six months, like some I see). I still suggest Facebook to those who don't want to blog, or aren't ready for it, as an easy start for social media. I like blogging, but it isn't everyone's thing. Now … on to share this with others. Thanks, Anne.

June 17, 2014 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger K.J. Bryen said...

Thank you for this post. I will be publishing this fall, and have started an authors blog (plungingintothenovel.blogspot.com), and this helped me figure out what type of material I should blog about. Very insightful, thank you.

June 17, 2014 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

D.T.--Thanks! Publishing is a business, but writing is an art. We need to walk the path between when we're blogging. Facebook may make a good first step into social media but I'm not a fan. Since you have to pay to get anybody to see posts from your author page these days, it can be expensive and kind of useless. Since most new writers aren't rolling in money, I prefer to recommend stuff that's free.

If you don't want to blog, it's essential to get a website before you query or self publish. Facebook pages don't cut it, since people have to join FB to see them, and most people will be blocked from viewing your posts.

June 17, 2014 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

K.J. Let me suggest you change the header of your blog to "K.J. Bryen Plunges into the Novel" because you want readers to be able to find you with a search of your name. You're doing all this to make a name for yourself. Your name is your brand, so broadcast it everywhere. You don't have to change the url. Just change the title in the header. (Don't #3 above)

June 17, 2014 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Jan Ryder said...

Another informative post, Anne. Thank you. I'm also blogging with Blogger. I've tried many times to add "Share" buttons, but each time I load I get the message that the HTML contains "illegal" characters. Unfortunately, I'm not tech savvy enough to know which of the characters are the aliens! I can see from your post that I've been missing out on shares by not loading them. Will have to try again.

June 18, 2014 at 6:15 AM  
Blogger Karen Jones Gowen said...

Brilliant post, Anne! You are absolutely right about every point. And I was so happy to hear your take on newsletters. I look forward to when you post more on that topic. I know you don't recommend "doubling up" with both a Blogger and Wordpress blog but it's actually worked really well for me. And it's extra insurance in case Blogger decides to remove my blog, which they can at any time. I like Wordpress for an official website with the occasional blog post, but I spent most of my time early on building my presence on Blogger so I like to stay there. Your blog here has become an invaluable resource on all things social media. I love to come and browse when I have a free day.

June 18, 2014 at 7:51 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jan--How annoying! I actually have two sets of share buttons that I've added through their "gadget" menu. I wonder if your template is an older version that isn't compatible with their own gadgets. You might find another share gadget if you scroll further down the menu. Otherwise, you may have to enlist the help of a teenager. :-) Good luck!

June 18, 2014 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Karen--Actually, what I dont' recommend is trying to keep up more than one blog when you're trying to write books. But doubling up by posting the same content on both platforms might be a very smart idea. I hadn't thought of it.

But just now I couldn't comment on my own blog! Wordpress's superior tech looks more and more appealing. I'll look into it.

Thanks much for the valuable advice!

June 18, 2014 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Gay Degani said...

Anne, just being part of this post/commetary has been a revelation to me. I am amazed at the feedback and good advice here, not only from you, but from your readers. What you've built here with your blog is incredible. You are the best example of how to build a brand: the Anne R. Allen brand! Part of it is the excellent content offered, but the other part is your follow-up on each post. It is truly amazing--and has such a pay-off for those who follow the comments. This has gone on for a week now with no tapering off. I am in awe.

June 18, 2014 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Gay Degani said...

Okay not a week. I just checked, but still!!! A high for me is five in a week.

June 18, 2014 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Gay--Our readers are definitely a vital aspect of our blog. I learn so much from them! One nice thing about having a once-a-week blog is that people know they can stop in any time during the week to add to the discussion.

June 18, 2014 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Gay Degani said...

Thanks Anne. I am taking detailed notes!!

June 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Jan Ryder said...

Reporting back re the buttons. Can't blame Blogger for my lack of know-how. They were there all along - hidden from view. I see further down the thread that you think WordPress's better tech spec is beginning to sound good. I'm coming to that conclusion also, Anne!

June 18, 2014 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Deirdra said...

Hi I'm looking for your contact info for a book review/post?
Can you email me at EdenLiterary at gmail dot com

June 18, 2014 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Deidra--The contact info is on our "Contact Us" page in the sidebar. If you scroll through our posts, you'll see we don't write book reviews and our guest posts are booked until October. We have a waiting list. Thanks for stopping by.

June 18, 2014 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger ryan field said...

I agree completely with everything, especially the part about having fun. I started getting into blogging about twelve years ago when I became a staff member at bestgayblogs.com. I used to interview and review personal bloggers so I grew to gain a good deal of knowledge about blogging long before I actually started a blog of my own. When the owners of BGB sold the blog to a bigger company I decided to quit and that's when I started my own blog in 2008. I didn't have any set plan at the time, and in some ways I still don't. I just have fun doing it. It can also be highly cathartic. I often write rant posts that I never publish. I think I have about 300 in the files. Once I get it out of my system on the blog, for some reason I don't have to publish it anymore and I feel so much better :)

June 18, 2014 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger Debra Eve | Later Bloomer said...

"But author-bloggers usually make one huge mistake: we follow rules established by other types of bloggers." Yup, that was me, plus I wrote behind a cutesy moniker for a year-and-a-half! Not a complete waste, since I was able to find my voice in complete obscurity, but I wish I had this advice back then. Thanks, Anne. You're one of my favorite role models!

June 18, 2014 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ryan--You must be the most "senior" blogger I've met. 12 years! Wow. I don't think I'd even heard of a blog back then. I think the fun factor is often overlooked. But you can tell when it's there. And those are the blogs that succeed.

I write rant emails, but not rant posts. I'm afraid I'll hit publish by mistake. Congrats on your discipline. :-)

June 18, 2014 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debra--Thanks! Your title wasn't a complete waste. It did a lot to pinpoint your niche. A good thing. You have a great blog.

June 18, 2014 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger April Yamasaki said...

Great article, Anne! When I first started blogging, you were one of my first reference points, and that's still true. I've been moderating comments so far, but am now rethinking that because of your article. Thanks!

June 19, 2014 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

April--Try changing your settings to moderating only comments on posts over a week old, and see how it goes. I'll bet you'll get more comments. If you get a flood of spam, go back to moderating, but the spamblocker does a lot of the work for you. I honestly only get one or two bits of spam a day--nothing offensive, just selling Web design or something--and they're easy to delete.

June 20, 2014 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Thank you for all the good reminders. You do know your blogging. And I LOVE the new cover for "Food of Love", well done!

June 21, 2014 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christine--Thanks so much. Since you're an artist in your own right (and the photographer of our header) that's high praise. I'm glad you like the cover!

June 21, 2014 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger richard levesque said...

Thanks for this. I've been blogging for almost two years now and was getting frustrated by the lack of click throughs on my page--made me feel the blog was kind of a waste of time. I've decided to keep going with it because I enjoy blogging, but I'm also not going to restrict myself so much to blogging about writing or science fiction specifically. There are all sorts of subjects just waiting for me to weigh in on. Look out readers.

June 22, 2014 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Richard--Hooray! Have some fun with it. If blogging isn't fun, there's no point. Readers can tell.

June 22, 2014 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Southpaw said...

I follow all your "rules" more or less. Um, you can see my name is probably under the cutsie category - but I started with it so long ago and most people identify me with that and the bear icon (or at least they have lead me to believe so).

June 24, 2014 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

As always, I mean these to be guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Most of these are about saving YOU time and energy. If you write books under the name Southpaw, then you do want it in your blog header. If you have another writing name, you probably want to make sure that's available too--at least somewhere on the main page of the blog. Unless you don't want to link your blog persona to your published writing.

June 24, 2014 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Eileen Goudge said...

Great advice, as always. You hit the nail on the head: It's all about interacting with readers. I agree that's the best way to promote one's brand, same as in the old days when business was done with a smile and a handshake.

July 7, 2014 at 5:27 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Eileen--You put it well: a blog gives you a place to offer that smile and handshake and get to know people one-on-one to do some old-fashioned business.

July 7, 2014 at 8:19 AM  

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