Blogging for Authors, Part 1

Welcome back to the ongoing series on Author Marketing!

Today, we’re crossing platforms from twitter to blogging.

Many authors hear “you should blog” and immediately panic, because they don’t know what to say, how to say it, or even where to begin. For many authors, the long-form writing of novels doesn’t translate naturally to shorter forms like blogging and social media.

Blogging is important, and ultimately an author blog is a great way to keep in touch with readers — and keep them in touch with you. However, if it’s not something an author does regularly, starting the process can be difficult and overwhelming.

The good news is: an author can blog effectively in many different ways. The key is finding the one(s) that work for you.

Many authors have a blog associated with the author’s website, and that’s a good idea if you can blog on a regular schedule. Next week’s post will look at tips for spicing up the author’s personal blog.

This week, however, we’re looking at some of the blogging options available for authors who might not yet feel comfortable with an independent blog, or who already run a personal blog and want to branch out to increase visibility:

1. Guest Blogging: It’s more than just interviews! Writing guest posts for established blogs is a great way to “wet your feet” in the blogging arena, and increases exposure for your writing too. Find some blogs (or bloggers) you know, and ask if they allow guest blogs on their websites. When asking to guest blog, remember you’re requesting a favor: be courteous, and respect the blogger’s rules about timing and content. Also, be sure to promote your guest appearance on your social media accounts (and on your own blog, if you have one).

If you don’t know where or how to find blogs to contribute to, find a blog you like and check out the blogs in the sidebars. Check your Facebook friends (and authors you like) and see if they have blogs you might offer to write for. You’ll have a better chance of success if you comment regularly for a while, and “get to know” the blogger before offering to write a guest post.

2. Group Blogs. Joining an established group, or forming your own, is a great way to share the writing work while increasing visibility for everyone. New blogs take some time to gain traction, so forming a group with writers who already have social media reach will boost the speed at which your blog finds readers.

3. Become a “Contributing Blogger.” Contributing bloggers write as “regular guests” for established blogs. This gives you more frequent exposure than a single guest post, but without the burden of carrying an entire blog on your own.

The purpose of introducing yourself to blogging through guest appearances is learning to develop a “short-form” voice. Readers prefer a blog that reads with a lot of “white space” and doesn’t run on too long. Blocks of text and lengthy essays don’t generate as many loyal readers as the shorter, more entertaining, entries do.

Many authors mistakenly try to blog in an “expert” or “professional” voice, rather than letting their real personalities shine through. Being yourself in your blogging will win you far more fans than keeping your distance.

Authors should blog to increase visibility, but blogging doesn’t have to be an “every day, chained to the plow” chore. Starting out with guest posts, and sticking to personal, engaging topics, will help you learn to enjoy the blogging environment and voice.

Up for an added challenge? You get even more benefit from your blogs if you write the critical sentences in 140-character chunks, because you can tweet them.

Next week, we’ll look at when and how to start your own blog, and how to maintain it without becoming overwhelmed. And the week after next, we’ll look at ways to vary your content to keep yourself – and your readers – engaged.

Today’s takeaway: be creative when looking for ways to wet your feet, or increase visibility, in the blogging world.



4 thoughts on “Blogging for Authors, Part 1

  • May 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Great post as always, Susan.

    To my fellow readers: If you’re a historical novelist, you have an advantage in blogging. You’ve already done tons more research than you will ever fit into your fiction and have something to talk about. Just remember, brevity is beautiful.

    • May 11, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      This is a great point, Kim – thank you for sharing!

  • May 14, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Susan – I have a couple legal questions about using real people characterizations from, say the 1961 time period. I know not to use their names, but what about a well-known flamboyant style, manner of speaking, etc. I’m new to your web site and don’t know if I’ve entered this in the right place. Many thanks. Really like your site. Perhaps you could direct me to the right research for my questions if you don’t reply to such questions.

    • May 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Hello Olga! I’m glad you found the site. I’d be glad to talk with you about your questions. You can email me: Susan (at) SusanSpann (dot) com – replacing the parentheticals with the appropriate symbols, of course!

      Generally speaking you can have a fictitious character adopt a certain manner or style that suggests a real person, as long as you’ve created a character who’s clearly fictitious in his or her own right. In other words, it’s fine if your gangster reminds me of Al Capone, as long as he’s fictional and it’s clear you haven’t merely pulled a thin veil over Al Capone to use him for your purposes. Does that make sense?

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