I am getting more curious by the day! I’ve been transitioning from social media strategist (the job I currently do for Erin Murphy Literary) to agent (the job I am just on the cusp of) at Erin Murphy Literary. Why am I curious?

1. The art of reading as an agent is different than reading as a reader, as a critique partner, and as an editor.

I was not expecting this. I’ve had to learn to read all over again. But it’s been really good. I worried that I would get tired of reading (even though Erin Murphy Literary is closed to submission unless by referral, we still get piles of manuscripts to read each week). But I’m not. I’m even more curious than before. It’s like a giant scavenger hunt. And you can really like the premise, but it’s all about the writing. You just don’t know until you get into it.

2. I have been very curious about business end of agenting—meeting editors, learning who wants what—and now I see that it is the side show.

The main part about agenting is learning to love what YOU love. It is my reaction to a manuscript that will set this entire thing rolling, not that I know all the ins and outs of editors and publishers (of course, that matters, but only marginally).

3. I am more devoted to good books and good writing than ever before.

I want to encourage anyone reading this blog to dig deep, to reach for the stars, to go after their dream. I want to see what you come up with. I think the best part about becoming an agent is being able to encourage what really means the most to a writer. That’s where the gold is. That’s what I am looking for. If it resonates with me, I’ll fight for your book, I’ll back you to the end.

Yep, I’m more curious than ever as I become an agent.

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Just like you all, I’m an author working on my “story.” And I don’t mean the topic of a book manuscript that I’m currently writing. I mean, how do I view things? What’s my lens?

I’m in major transition, as you can see by my earlier post this week. This place makes it hard for me to know exactly what I am focused on. Parts of the old focus are drifting away and new focuses feel clumsy, like a coat that is either too big or too small, not quite fitting.

Perhaps some authors reading this feel as if they too are in transition. So this post is for you.

So, I have written a few books in my time. I got started back in the late 1990s; if you’ve read my bio, you know this. My first book I half-sold (it didn’t make it through the editorial committee, alas) was when I was 23 or 24. It was in the aftermath of my grandmother’s death. I was very attached to her and I wrote a book proposal about letter writing (she had always written letters to me and to everyone) and also in the midst of this I had applied to write a series of work-for-hire (no royalties) books for Publications International. One of the book titles was GRANDMOTHER, so you can see how I was chosen. The bits of verse I wrote for GRANDMOTHER touched many of the editors that saw the book as it was being produced (this series was hardcover gift books; five in all, only four were published, FATHER was pulled for some odd reason). So, this book came out and I had sent the proposal for the letters book in and then I sent a copy of the GRANDMOTHER book in as well and I think that was what made the acquiring editor want to sign me up.

But I was young, without an agent, and the publisher decided my idea was pretty good, but I wasn’t famous, so they handed it off to a famous author. True, the words they told me were “this other famous author just pitched us a book about the same subject” but I refused to believe that. I still don’t believe it. The other author’s book on letters BOMBED. I mean seriously, no one bought it. Why?

Because it was my idea. It was how I viewed the world. The story was authentic. I had just buried my “other mother” and my grief was raw and I chose to use that grief to write about a beautiful piece of her that to this day (14 years ago this week) I still treasure deep in my heart. How could anyone else take that idea and do it justice without their own authentic experience?

This is what I mean by story. It’s yours, first of all. No one else’s. True, other people can try, but it won’t work, no matter how much energy they put into (or how famous the author is). My story was MINE. I was the only one who could do it justice. And it won’t ever be published. Because I’ve changed. I see other things from my beloved Gram Bee’s life that I want to share.

Perhaps my story back then had to do with how strong love is even after someone is gone.

The second series that I wrote for Publications International was a kids book series. The titles were cutesy, but it was a fun project. HUGS FOR MOM and HUGS FOR DAD were little tiny hardcovers that were to be used as gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (sure enough, they were sold in Target stores nationwide for years. Every May I’d get a call from a friend in Texas or Oklahoma telling me my books were back and they had their own endcap on the books aisle!). That was fun. That was also inspired by my grandmother. I simply channeled the “story” inside me to other projects.

But my interest in work for hire was waning. I wanted my own book. And then 9/11 happened and because I worked in publishing, so many things shifted. I started a novel (and have been writing novels ever since) and my story changed. I fell in love, got married, changed some more.

I’m not the person I was in 1996 to 2000.

All that to say, the story you have may not be the story you stick with. I’m trying to find my story again, both for my fiction and my nonfiction. But things are moving around in my life and it’s hard to pin it down. I rely on the fact (and so can you) that there is something there that propels us as authors to write, to communicate, to tell the world about over and over. It’s just up to us to find it.

So, what’s your story?

Question or comments?

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I’ve got Twitter Tuesday already going on this blog now and we’ll pick it up again as a feature next week, and yet, a lot of questions keep popping up about Facebook, so Facebook Friday, it is!

How do authors use this massive, privacy-ignorant behemoth?

And if you say absolutely no Facebook, then you can read this at your own risk. But, you just might want to sign up for an account after this! So beware!

Facebook is the controversial invention of Mark Zuckerberg. If you haven’t seen a movie that spins this story in a lovely demented sort of alter-universe way, watch The Social Network. An incredible film (if only it were true) with superb acting and an incredible storyline (if only it were true). Ah well, Sorkin created for us an alter-West Wing, so what do we expect? (Such good television; I’m rewatching all of the seasons of The West Wing right now, just for the dialogue!)

Facebook is a place where you, a published author or a prepublished author, can start a profile, start a Page (about you, your book, your business, your favorite book club, whatever), and then interact with millions of other people (well, there are limits on your actual profile connections) who are talking news, politics, gossip, books, television, family, sports, and you name it, they’re talking about it.

So, first question: profile versus Page.

I think if you are ultra-concerned about your privacy, start a profile and don’t friend ANYONE that you don’t already know or want to know online. This is your private friend/acquaintance zone. You can then start a Page about you or your book (more on that later) and then on that Page don’t share ANYTHING that you don’t want the entire world to know or have access to. With a Page, anyone can like that Page, so you can’t block anyone unless they are explicitly threatening or harassing you. You can remove their ability to post items to your Page, but more on that later as well.

The key thing to remember is that Facebook frequently CHANGES privacy settings for PROFILES (Pages are a whole different animal). And they do this unilaterally. You wake up one day and Facebook has set your profile to be viewable to Google searches, or your own pictures are appearing on their internal advertisements (you don’t make money on those either). So, to use Facebook, be vigilant. In your account (a dropdown menu on every page you visit in Facebook), there are privacy settings and you would do well to take a look and make some decisions about who and what you want accessing your profile.

Second question: Author Page or Book Page.

For authors who are prepublished, this may seem like a rather minor distinction, but for authors who have even one book coming out and others in the hopper, well, the idea of wrangling more than one Page is already overwhelming enough. I think this is where everyone is figuring it out for themselves. My suggestion, and this is me taking a pass from actually telling anyone what to do, is to see what your favorite authors are doing or see what authors who write similar books for similar audiences are doing. I’m not sure that there is a “one-size-fits-all” answer here. I think an author Page is a must, but a former book agent (Nathan Bransford) has made a strong case for a book-specific Page as well. The main question is: if you have more than one book to promote, how do you feel about keeping up more than one Page? (We’ll talk about what keeping up a page entails later.)

Third question: What do I put on my author or book-specific Page anyway?

This is the fun part. Once you get past all the privacy issues and the decision about what kind of Page to have, you’re on the homestretch. First, of course you put info on you, your book(s), and your website, your background, your blog, your Twitter, your email newsletter (if you have one and I think you should have one), your book tour, everything and anything that pertains to your BOOK and your BOOK WRITING. Then once that’s done, you get to engage your audience. How? My favorite trick is Google Alerts. For a book-specific Page, this is like ultra easy. You set up a Google Alert with the key search terms that your book is about. For a book about gardening, the search term would be gardening. A book about friendship, the search term would be friendship. A better result would be urban gardening or interspecies friendship. The more specific you can get, the better Google responds. And when you get those alerts and you find a good news story or good hook, you put up a status or a link on your PAGE and invite the folks (both those who LIKED your Page and who are just checking you out to see whether or not to LIKE your Page) to respond. This is a great way to engage and to do research on what people are looking for when they want to talk about the subject of your book. Of course, you’ll mention every so often that you have a book on this, but don’t overdo it! A little bit goes a long way.

Next week on Facebook Friday, we’ll dig deeper into some of this. In the meantime, questions or comments?

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If you are an author with a book already out (self-pubbed, coming out from a publisher, or whatever) or you’re planning your promotional activities because you are going to write a book or you are writing a book, this post is for you.

There are a LOT of tools available on the Internet for authors to promote their books. If you sign up for my mailing list (http://www.realbrilliant.com/blog), I send out a free report detailing most of those tools. The list itself is imposing, right? How in the world is one person going to figure out how to promote themselves even using just five of those tools?

It can be done. But you’ll have to read this blog in the weeks to come (sign up to receive it via email or in your RSS reader in the sidebar) and you’ll have to understand that I don’t offer a “one size fits all” solution. I offer strategies and ways that authors can go about using these tools. I offer my ideas for how I’m using these tools. But, really, the usage of the tools and fine-tuning it to fit what you need (and what your audience needs) is entirely up to you.

Okay?

Great.

So, there are tons of tools out there—Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, email newsletters, Quora, Squidoo, Tumblr, Trunk.ly, Letter.ly, Dlvr.It, Flickr, Delicious, Stumbleupon, Digg, and on and on and on.

Did I just overwhelm you? I overwhelmed myself. There is no way that an author can jump on all of these tools TODAY, start using them effectively, and see an instant result. No way.

But there is a way to begin slowly to seek out the tools that you (and your audience) use regularly and to begin to engage with that audience and to find out if those tools are actually going to help you find readers who will BUY your books.

3. What’s your engagement? If you want to engage with readers using images, think about Pinterest and Flickr. If you want to engage with words, think about a blog, Twitter, email newsletter, and Quora. If you want to engage with video, think about a video blog, YouTube, and Vimeo. So, how do you want to engage?

Hold up.

Before you choose this, you probably should figure out what sort of audience you’re seeking, right? Yep. Very important.

2. So, who’s your audience? If you are going to answer everyone. BUZZ. (That was the buzzer of doom you heard there.) Nope, nope, and nope. Everyone is not your audience. If you’re writing fiction, still, everyone is not your audience. You need to do some research, find books like yours, find out who reads them and how they buy them, find out what makes them hand them to friends or suggest them on blogs.

But, hold up.

Before you go here, you’ve got to nail down exactly what you are doing. If you’re writing a novel, what’s the genre? If you’re writing nonfiction, what is the premise? This is what I call “finding your story.”

1. What’s your story? Not your book’s topic, not your last book’s topic, not what you want to sell right now, but what inspires you, what is the thing you can’t shut up about and talk to everyone about because it is your passion. Call it an axiom, call it a theme, call it the thing that describes your niche, whatever. It could be a word, a theme, a saying, a quote, an emotion, a truth.

You’ve got to get that set BEFORE you can even begin to go out and use these tools.

It’s a challenge, sure. But one that I hope you will accept.

Next up, case studies of how a fiction author and a nonfiction author took their story to their audience and what tools they chose to use.

Questions or comments?

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Writing is the most important thing that writers do. We know this. We believe this.

I wholeheartedly believe this and that’s why, on this blog, you’ll hear me talking a lot about “lighting up” kids book authors. (And lighting myself up as I write.)

What does that mean?

My theory is that authors should write everything from the same place. This is writing with passion, writing from the heart, writing because you believe it will help a kid, a parent, a teacher, or a librarian to communicate a basic truth, to help kids (and adults) to feel an emotion, or to put themselves into someone else’s shoes for a day or so. This is why I write. Am I missing the mark?

Writing from this place creates incredible books, meaningful connections, and that quick intake of breath by a child or a parent when they discover a universal truth for themselves from something you wrote.

And yet, when an author often writes something other than a book (aka promotional blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), the writing seems forced, choked, in this artificial way of communicating. Sometimes, the author is obviously frustrated and her audience quickly becomes just as frustrated.

I think there’s a better way.

I think authors should not separate out their promotional writing activities from their books. True, you have to plan this a bit ahead of time, but think about writing a blog post or handling an author interview or showing up on Facebook and Twitter and writing from the heart. To me, that’s powerful.

That sounds too easy, some say. Others say, no way, that’s impossible.

Hang in with me here.

What is prompting you to write those books in the first place? Really.

Shouldn’t this be the same thing inspiring your promotion? Take the promotion out of it.

Shouldn’t this be the way you communicate all the time with your readers?

How can you do it, though?

I’m going to give you a cheat sheet. And first up,

1. What’s your story?

Thomas McCormack wrote an awesome book called “The Fiction Editor: A Book for Writers, Teachers, Publishers, Editors, and Anyone Else Devoted to Fiction.” A gem of a book. A small paperback reprint was put out by Paul Dry Books in 2006, I believe. Grab that one.

McCormack likened the theme of a novel to an overarching axiom—something that encompasses what the writer is trying to do in that novel. This is what I mean by story. What’s your axiom? For the breadth of your writing career? From where you are today. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, just today. Tomorrow, it may change, but we’ll deal with that tomorrow. (Yes, I’m channeling Scarlett O’Hara.) What is the thing that you can’t stop talking, thinking, writing books about? What is it that drives you to communicate? That’s usually your axiom. It could be a saying, a quote, a word, an emotion, a truth.

You may not figure it out for a while. You may not find it until you talk to a friend or author or your agent or your editor. And even if you find it, you may want to change it. That’s fine. But this is the first step. Think on this. Forget about your readers, your friends, society’s pressure. Find out what makes YOU light up today.

We’ll be talking more about this in the weeks to come. Any comments or questions on what we’ve got so far?

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My husband and I are having some issues with feral cats in the neighborhood. There are about eight of these cats and they are mean, partially blind, predatory, and scare away our wildlife, aka birds and squirrels and even the resident raccoon family that lives in our back 40 (not acres, but feet). We have space to park another vehicle out behind our backyard and the coons live out there quite happily. We don’t mind them either, but there are backyard wars that have now gone on all winter.

We’re done putting up with it.

The idea was to trap the cats humanely (and if the coons got inside, well, we weren’t sure what we would do it that happened; we kind of like our raccoon family) and get the cats out of the neighborhood. This plan was to save our birds and squirrels as well.

Only, once again human intervention into even a backyard ecosystem didn’t quite work how we thought it would.

The trap sat in our living room for a few days as my husband wondered if we really wanted to do this. A trap just seems ominous, dangerous, something from a horror movie, and we weren’t sure we wanted to be THOSE people.

But we put the trap out, stuck some food inside as bait and nothing happened for three days. We thought about giving up, figured these cats and coons were smarter than we took them for. After those three days, I actually forgot about the trap. I just got used to it sitting in the backyard, glinting in the May sunshine; it didn’t even register in my brain by Saturday.

But Saturday, the equilibrium of our backyard finally upset. We got home from running errands and my husband looked out to see an animal inside, trapped. It was a squirrel.

Not what we were hoping to catch.

And it was our favorite squirrel, Nutley Bilger, who I named thus because he’s nutty and has a personality and is the squirrel who sits in the tree throwing down seeds from the bird feeders to his fatter companion, Sammi, who just sits on his haunches below and opens his mouth wide.

My husband got on gloves and fetched a blanket to throw over the cage. We walked closer and Nutley didn’t even see us. He was on his back, trying to wriggle through a crack at the bottom of the cage. My husband threw the blanket on the cage and then opened the door.

Nutley didn’t come out. Instead, he growled at us.

Have you ever had a squirrel growl at you?

It’s similar to writing a book or a blog post and instead of people raving about it, they attack. They go into crisis mode. You know how this feels. Your best plans and then it goes slightly awry and you get blamed.

1. If you write, you will get hurt, you will be vulnerable, you will wonder why you ever started this project in the first place. This is normal. We set a trap to help the squirrel and instead, the squirrel got inside and then got mad at us for invading his space, for pointing him in a direction he didn’t want to go, for messing up his easy-breezy life. As writers, we may bear the brunt of our readers’ wrath. We may stir up for them something true and they are just not interested in hearing it.

2. Your expected results (from your blog or book) may vary. Things don’t go as planned. The book you thought would be heralded as a self-help is used as a manual to destruct something. A person might read your words and not get the expected results. It’s out of your control. We have to expect this.

3. People—readers—won’t act how you imagine they will. Your words resonate with you in a certain way, but don’t expect everyone to resonate the same. Don’t limit your audience. They may get much more from what you wrote than you imagined.

How does this fit with Nutley, the squirrel?

Well, he was irritated with us for a few days, but yesterday, out of the blue, we caught a cat. One of the big bullies, one who has some battle scars on his body from his endless war on the raccoons and other cats. He attacked my husband from the cage as we were feeding him.

The squirrel sat on a nearby stump, closer than he’s ever been, staring at this interaction. As I went back inside the house, the squirrel started jumping around on the stump, jubilant, delirious with joy. He got it. He understood why we had the trap there.

It was for him all along. But he didn’t know that until the test was over, until we actually caught what we were trying to catch.

Remember your audience doesn’t know your motives, they’re just trying to understand, so write for them. Write so that they can be jubilant and they can understand. And don’t ever stop helping them, even if they growl and refuse the help.

Wait until they dance. Give them a solution.

Questions?

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I’ve convinced a few people to start an email newsletter (eZine, if you will) in the past few months.

I see a lot of good newsletters and I see a lot of bad newsletters.

It’s all about what your reader needs and desires from you.

But how do you know what they need and desire?

You try one thing and then you try another thing.

Here’s what I see as the big mistakes when publishing a newsletter.

1. A long newsletter never takes a break and the author never tests a short (less than 500 words newsletter issue). How will that author ever know which length works best without some testing? I would alternate short (less than 500 words) and long (over 500 words) and see what gets the most open rates and most click-through rates. (You do link to your site and blog and books from your newsletters, right? You should!)

2. A newsletter with images or in html never tests in plain text. I see a ton of newsletters coming through again and again and they include giant pictures and they are all in html. What if your readers want plain text and how would you know if that affects your open and click-through rates? I would test it. Most reliable email newsletter programs include the ability to send plain text and html issues at the same time. See what your audience resonates with the most.

3. The topic of a newsletter sometimes comes through as hit and miss. Sometimes with these long and winding theorizing newsletters about some cultural issue, I wonder if the author really intended to talk about that to their audience. Is that really what an audience wants to hear? What if the author told a story to bring that cultural issue into the personal zone? What if that author engaged us so thoroughly with a story that we couldn’t wait to get the next issue? Dickens knew how to do this. I think our culture can still handle a Dickens author. People would press in on the newspaper office to get the next installment of a Dickens story. Engage us!

4. No inbound links to an author’s blog or books or website. I’m the first to make this mistake, just because I forget, but you should be giving avenues for any reader to find you quickly and easily. Your Twitter, your Facebook, your blog(s), and any social media tool you’re on. We want readers to jump into the engagement they choose to get to know you. Anytime we decide for our readers that one social tool is better than another, we’re not listening to our audience. Unless you test.

So, go, get started! Next up, we’ll be talking to authors who do newsletters and how they figured out the format and topic that their audience most wanted to see in each issue. Questions?

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So I decided I wanted to learn to become a kids book literary agent.

That is easier said than done. It was only through the encouragement of a writing buddy that I sent out an email to kids book literary agent, Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson, asking her how she became an agent, and of course, I included my relevant background so that she wouldn’t think I was yet another starry-eyed lover of books . . . wait, that’s what I am.

But I’ve also spent almost 16 years as a book editor, including for Scholastic and other kids book publishers. I live and breathe interaction with authors and publishers. I have had agents. I have written and sold kids books. I want to write and sell more kids books (thus the author/agent connection; Anna is an author/agent). I’ve worked on staff at British Medical Journal Publishing as a digital content editor (editing doctors, who surprisingly, can write sometimes, but most times cannot). I think I’ve done just about everything in publishing BUT work as an agent.

Anna said I would be a great agent intern and if I lived in New York, she said, I would get an internship or paying job fast. But I don’t live in New York. I live in Seattle (kind of a long ways away) and so she recommended that I send out emails to kids book agents and agencies that may need an intern. She called it a slush pile reader. So I wrote up a pitch and sent out some emails. Well, I only sent out five. I had a list of 50, but this was a big step for me. It took insane courage to ask these busy agent people to mentor little old me. I got three replies, almost immediately.

The first two replies were sorry, we don’t have a slush pile for kids books, therefore, we don’t have an immediate need. And the third reply was Erin Murphy. She doesn’t have a slush pile either, but she and I had known each other on Facebook (another plug for using social media tools!) and Erin mentioned that she was just hiring someone to help with social media and that I should keep in touch.

Then Erin sent me an email update, a newsletter she sends out every few months or so, and I decided to go back and pitch her again (checking in about that social media person she was going to hire), but this time with some leverage of my own. I would help Erin and her clients with social media if Erin would teach me how to agent.

It seemed simple enough. An even trade—my knowledge for hers. And learning from each other would benefit both of us. And that’s the rest of the story . . . sort of.

I started with Erin in late February/early March of this year. In March, I flew to Austin, Texas to take part in the annual EMLA retreat (the authors fly in for a few days to “retreat” together) and I spoke for a bit about how I thought they could use social media (we’ll talk more about that later). If this job ONLY relied on the amazing clients that are EMLA clients, I’d be done, trained, ready to go as an agent.

But there is much more than meets the eye to learning agenting. It’s not for the faint of heart. This is not about reading a book, loving it, and trying to figure out how to sell it. I mean, it is, but there is a lot of other stuff around that.

I love it all! But I get tired faster than I thought I would. (You know how you think you’ll have limitless energy doing something you love, or at least that’s what they all say in the books about following your bliss?)

It’s only partially true.

The learning curve to become an agent is extremely high. And I LIKE to get thrown in the deep end. But right now, I’m dog paddling and having a hard time keeping up.

I don’t know what editors will like what book (I am being trained how to pitch the right book to the right editor at the right time) because those relationships can’t be entered into an Excel file and managed with a few keyboard shortcuts. It’s like dating. You get the impression a certain editor wants this sort of book, but then you send it and that’s not what they wanted after all. And because an agent likes to NOT irritate her favorite editors, this is the pressure they feel continually and this is why they don’t have a lot of time to do other things that, ahem, us authors like to grouse about on both public and private forums.

Call me no longer seeing through rose-colored glasses. Agenting is not a job you can just pick up and start doing within a few months. At least if you want to do it well. And I want to do it well. So, scratch that last statement: Agenting, if you are attempting to do it the way I would like to do it, which is going for the highest standards I can muster, and learning from one of the best agents and agencies around, is not something you just think you’d like to do and you do. It took me two years of preplanning (almost stalking Erin and her associate agent, Joan sometimes) and researching and learning and preparing just to send the email out to Anna Olswanger inquiring about how to go about it.

At least that’s what I see from where I am today. I will keep you posted on how things change and move as the days go by. Any questions?

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This guest post was written by Susan Daffron, the Book Consultant.

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Many authors feel like they “have” to start a blog because “everyone else is doing it.” That’s probably the worst reason to start a blog. Whether or not blogging is right for you depends on a couple of factors.

  • Where your readers hang out. If your readers aren’t online and don’t read blogs, blogging may be a waste of time for you.
  • Whether you are willing to commit to the task. If starting a blog is going to prevent you from finishing your book, you may want to focus on the book.

Many authors think their blog must relate to the subject of their book. Fiction authors in particular often are at a loss for what to write about and wonder how a blog could make any difference in their book sales. These are valid concerns, since every writer only has so much time to write.

Why Limit Yourself?

Here’s something a lot of aspiring bloggers don’t think about: Your blog doesn’t have to be on exactly the same topic as your book. In fact, if you have a lot of books on different topics, it probably shouldn’t be.

If you take a look around the blogosphere, you’ll notice that a lot of popular author blogs have nothing to do with their books.

For example, Joe Konrath writes about self-publishing, not his various novels. On his blog, you rarely read anything about his characters or the stories in his books. And yet, you can tell from the comments that people who visit his blog do buy his books.

Many people who read are also writers. How-to posts are perennially popular and search engines love them. People who read Joe’s books may be curious how he wrote them. His blog tells how in sometimes excruciating detail. And his readers eat it up.

What Can Blogging Do for You?

Realistically, there is no one right way to start an author blog. It can be as unique as you are. Having a blog can help your career in many ways. A blog gives you:

  • Added credibility and accessibility. A book is static. With a blog, you can expand on ideas and express opinions over time. Times change and people change. Your blog can record those changes and give you an opportunity to offer commentary on what’s happening in your world and the world around you. Media love to quote people with strong opinions on topics, so having a blog may give you additional opportunities to be quoted as a source.
  • An online platform: If you yearn to be get a traditional publishing contract, it’s almost impossible without a platform. Agents are looking for authors with high-traffic Web sites and large opt-in lists. If you have established a community around your blog, you are a lot more likely to sell books. Publishers know that. If you self-publish, a blog gives you a ready audience of buyers.
  • A social media home base. Social media is a great way to get incoming links to your Web site and Google is starting to give these links more credence. When you write helpful blog posts and link to them from your Facebook and Twitter account, not only do you get more exposure for your writing, you may also get more attention from search engines
  • Search engine love. Speaking of Google, the best thing you can do to improve your Web site’s findability by search engines is to post good content frequently. Posting on a blog is an easy way to get attention from the Big G.
  • A place to explore new ideas and receive feedback. You may think that you’ve come up with the be-all end-all idea for your next book. Consider posting some of your ideas on your blog first. You’ll find out if your idea resonates with readers and what questions and comments it inspires. Some people find that blogging actually improves their books. Chris Anderson has said that The Long Tail became a better book thanks to the feedback he got from readers on his blog.

Although it does depend on your market and readership, a blog can be a great asset to an author. Instead of viewing blogging as a chore you “have” to endure, look at it as an opportunity to increase awareness and make more money from your writing.

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If you want to learn more about writing, book marketing and publishing, get inspiration and advice at the third annual  Self-Publishers Online Conference. Use the code Tricia11 and get 10% off your registration.

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Susan Daffron, aka The Book Consultant owns a book and software publishing company. She spends most of her time writing, laying out books in InDesign, or taking her dogs out for romps in the forest. She also teaches people how to write and publish profitable client-attracting books and puts on the Self-Publishers Online conference every May (starts today!)

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Just a word for those who continue to visit this blog and wonder why suddenly there is all this talk about kids books and kids book author promotion.

I’m changing things up.

I tried to launch in April, but my travel schedule got in my way. So, now, in May 2011, you now get the choice between two different blogs focusing on authors using social media.

Authorblogger.net is for the non–kids book writing folks who are writing books for adults, whether that is memoir or fiction or narrative nonfiction, or if you’re only writing a blog and are just now thinking about positioning it for a future book, Authorblogger is the place blog for you.

What’s coming up on Authorblogger in May?

Authorblogger will play host to some top-notch online marketing and publishing experts, including Stephen Johnson of Community Engine, Pam Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation, and Jonathan Fields, author of Career Renegade. I’m so excited! Are you?

So, head on over, especially during the next week or so, as things are built up and the fun gets started and thank you for your patience! It’s not easy to split a blog off into two blogs and it’s even harder on a blog audience to figure out where they are supposed to be! My aim is to make this easier, not harder, on you.

If you’re interested in this blog and are wondering when this 30-second commercial for Authorblogger is going to end, you’re lucky! I’m turning my attention to YOU! If you haven’t yet signed up for my real/brilliant eZine, please do. Good stuff coming up for kids book authors in the days to come. And thanks for sticking around with me, through the launch and relaunch and relaunch . . . I think we’ve got it now!

Happy Monday!

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