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When it comes to your author blog, trust the process

The most recent topic at the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup was “Blogging Success Tips for Authors.” We’ve covered blogging at length before here at the Marcie Brock blog. Here’s link to a number of our posts about author blogging.

TRUST THE PROCESS.

TRUST THE PROCESS.

While we’ve offered lots of guidance around creating and maintaining a successful blog (defined as one that gets traction, shows up in the search engines, and positions you as the expert you are), here’s a recap of some of the most important success tips:

  1. Determine your goals for blogging.
  2. Identify your target audience.
  3. Identify the topics/themes that are important to your target audience.
  4. Upon launching your blog, post 40 to 50 days in a row.
  5. Decide how often you will post.
  6. Always include a call to action!
  7. Use an image with every post.
  8. Make time to blog.
  9. Calendar your blogging time – and stick to it.
  10. Write ahead and post later.
  11. Let your readers know your posting schedule.
  12. Read and comment intelligently on other related blogs.
  13. Avoid sending mixed messages, or failing to stay on topic.
  14. Make it easy to subscribe to your blog.
  15. Get your SEO keywords right.
  16. Be patient – results take time.

Mind you, this is just the recap of a prior post that expands on all 16 points.

During our Meetup, when we got to #4 – upon launching your blog, post 40 to 50 days in a row – the response was pretty typical. Gasps, followed by the one-word question: “Really?” Yes, really.

Here’s the thing. Blogs are much more dynamic than traditional websites, because the well-maintained ones are continually adding new content, and search engine spiders love new content. When you’re first launching your blog, you’ve got to prove to the search engines that you mean business by showing up day after day and week after week with brand new content. Once they see new content continually show up on your blog, they will begin to add your data to search engine results pages (SERP), provided that you’ve done a good job tagging each post with proper keywords.

Translation: People will type in your keywords and start finding your blog posts.

I’ve offered this advice to a number of clients. One was a few years ago, and he was really skeptical at the get-go. Then, six or seven weeks went by, and I received a call from him. “Hey, guess what! My blog is picking up traction. People are starting to read it and comment on my posts, and my subscribers are increasing. You were right, after all.”

And so it goes. Here’s an excerpt from a post from the most recent client I advised about the importance of blogging.

So I was set this challenge by my publicist “write 50 blogs in 50 days” including Saturdays and Sundays. This she promised me will get much needed traffic to my blog. She also said that the blogs should be 300 – 500 words in length and when I can, make the content about something topical. (You just got a piece of free advice).

This sounds like work to me. Blogging for me is when I feel inspired to say something or share an opinion. I do not own a television, I stay away from news websites and I do not listen to talk radio. It’s not that I don’t want to know what is going on but I get so disillusioned when I read or hear news that the Ku Klux Clan is recruiting in North Carolina, or about murders by people who are there to “protect and serve”, or about bombs in Israel and Palestine, or that girls are stolen and not yet returned, or about kids who are locked in cars in sweltering US summer heat, or that the media is giving us hope by telling us what movie stars are doing.

To maintain my sanity and my peace of mind I usually stay away from all media and live in my own little bubble of words.

Maxine Attong has written a new book, Lead Your Team to Win, about creating a Safe Space in the workplace. A #SafeSpaceAttong_cover is critical to a well-functioning team because it allows every team member to take risks, learn, grow, and ultimately perform at optimal levels. I’ll have more details soon about her October 3 virtual launch. In the meantime, visit her blog. Her posts are thoughtful and conversational, just like she is.

And yet, even though the idea of blogging daily for 50 straight days initially seemed daunting to Maxine, she’s starting to see results, just like my other client did. Just like I did. Just like you will, if you follow through, keep blogging, and trust the process.

Sure, it’s easy to get discouraged when it feels like you’re blogging into the wind. Hanging your heartfelt words or well-researched posts out for the world to see, yet no one seems to see them. Remember, you are trying to make a dent in the INTERNET. You are trying to grab your little share of attention, notoriety, and fanfare on a very crowded stage. It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen at all if you give up on it, do it haphazardly, or do it once every six months.

Follow the steps above and see where it leads you. In 40 or 50 days, come back and tell us how it’s going. Share the link for your author blog with me, and I’ll add it the list of author blogs on my sidebar. I’ve repeatedly made this offer, and have only had 2 takers. You can be #3!

Here’s to all my fellow author bloggers!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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Winter Author Blog Challenge #1: The Genesis of Marcie Brock

Woo-hoo! The Winter Author Blog Challenge is underway. This time around, the Challenge is just 15 days, and our focus is social media. The goal is for participants to post all 15 days, following the daily prompts provided, if they so choose. As with the inaugural Author Blog Challenge that took place last summer, I’ll be playing along with all of the posts, even though Marcie and I are the hosts!

With that, here’s the first prompt:

Tell us about your blog. How long have you been blogging? Do you write on a regular schedule? Do you plan your topics in advance or write as the spirit moves you? What was your favorite post? At which post do you look back and wonder what you were thinking when you wrote it? What has been the best feedback you’ve ever received? Have you ever written anything that was perceived as controversial, though you didn’t intend it that way? What tips would you offer other author bloggers?

Marcie Brock was born on May 2, 2011, so she’s about to turn 2. Marcie is my alter-ego. She’s a savvy communications expert who LO & Marciewill share with you everything she knows about marketing your self-published books. The blog came about as I moved deeper into book marketing as a significant component of my business. After years of working as an editor, helping my clients get their books written and published, I began to notice that most of them had very little skill when it came to marketing these books they’d worked so hard to create. I had marketing expertise, so it was a natural fit to expand my services to first include — and now focus on — marketing their books. I now specialize in teaching self-publishing authors to think like marketers, meaning that they are planning their launches, building their platforms, and crafting their marketing strategies from the moment they begin writing.

As valuable as I KNOW writing on a regular schedule to be, life and business don’t always allow for it. It helps me stay organized to have  themes, and I believe it also helps my readers, as topical series allow me to explore topics much more fully than random single topics would. Of course, being a continuous learner who loves to share what she learns, I also write impromptu posts fairly often.

It’s funny that what I enjoy writing is not necessarily what readers seem to see, like, or comment on. Of course, blog posts that teach (which is most of them) are fun. Blog posts where I tell stories about real-life incidents are also enjoyable. But the post I truly love is the one titled, “The Art of Captivation: What makes us LOVE that book, movie, song…?” U2 is my favorite band on the planet. I was listening to the A side of Joshua Tree for perhaps the 500th time, when the question occurred to me. What makes me LOVE this music so much? And what draws us to particular art or movies or books?

The post that shattered all records was just about a year ago, on March 7, the eve of International Women’s Day. Marcie Brock had been getting some good traction in the search engines because I was posting pretty regularly, and then a strange thing happened. It seems that traffic to the International Women’s Day site itself – which had the #1, #2, and #3 results for that term – overwhelmed the site to the point that people were unable to load the pages they were seeking. Our post contained just basic information about IWD, with links to a few events around the world and a link to the main IWD event calendar. But it must have been enough of what people wanted, because we captured the residual benefits from ranking #4 for the term “international women’s day” with NEARLY 1,000 HITS over March 7 and 8! Our previous high had been 192 hits in a single day.

In July 2011, I wrote a post I thought was very clever, titled 10 Ways Marketing is Like Bowling. It was a fun little post inspired by a girls’ Marcie the bowlernight out with some new friends. Imagine my surprise to receive this EXTREMELY disapproving comment:

Too bad you brought beer into this article. It was quite funny and interesting, but then you mentioned alcohol and you lost my attention. People really should stop advertising alcohol and associating it with fun. Alcohol is the leading cause for accidents, violence, abuse, job loss and heart attacks and strokes. Advertizing it is wrong.

Seriously? I wasn’t glorifying drinking, but obviously this was a trigger issue for the commenter. One thing I’m learning the more I put stuff out there: there’s no pleasing everyone. I choose to allow unfiltered comments on my blog, as I don’t want to put any extra barriers (besides the internal spam filter) between my readers and their ability to comment. And so far, this is the worst feedback I’ve received. When people write snarky comments on your blog, you have the options to comment back, hit the delete button, or let them stand without reply.

For more ideas about blogging, see the many posts I’ve written on the topic.

Happy blogging!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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For rapidly changing topics, a blog might be more useful than a book

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about my blogging: I’m better at it (more consistent) when I have a theme and something of a schedule. This sporadic, find-a-suitable-topic stuff doesn’t really work for me, especially when I’m super-busy with client work or preoccupied with getting my website updated or building a new offering or promotion. That said, I’m working up a series of topics around the idea of integrating your social media. I’ll post the topics here as soon as I’ve got them in something of a final form.

In the meantime, a friend of mine asked a great question today about which social media book I recommend. He’d recently come across a less-than-flattering review I wrote of the 2010 “updated” version of The Social Media Bible.

These authors have a lot of nerve putting a 2010 publication date on this book and then, on p. 27, writing:

“MySpace is currently the biggest and most popular social network on the Internet and has more than 185 million members.”

By certain figures, Facebook hit 500 million users in Sept. 2010.

Yes, there’s good info in here … but I’m wary of ANY of the statistics.

As I was looking through the reviews today, I discovered that my comments were mild in comparison to those of several other disappointed readers who complained of irrelevance, too much self-serving promotion, “tools” that didn’t include any how-to information, and the offering for “free” gifts that was just a sales page designed to get you to buy a $200 program.

I think part of the danger lies in setting oneself up to write a “bible” (or Dummy’s book or Idiot’s Guide) on any subject that’s constantly changing, like social media. New information, platforms, and ways to use social media are emerging DAILY  so virtually any book on the subject is obsolete by the time it’s printed or even hits distribution as an eBook.  Likewise with almost any aspect of technology and many medical topics.

What’s the lesson for you, our dear SBMs? Make sure you double and triple-check your facts, links, and resources. If you’ve got a data-filled book with lots of changeable information, this probably means hiring a team of proofreaders and fact-checkers.

As I suggested to my friend, when it comes to social media, rather than looking for a “social media bible,” you might be better off following some of the smart, content-rich blogs:

SocialMediaExaminer.com

copyblogger.com

SocialMouths.com/blog

blog.Hubspot.com

SethGodin.com

Here’s to accuracy in reporting!

Laura

* Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit our website to view/download our Timeline of a Book, where you’ll note that marketing your book should start as soon as you begin writing it. If you’d like help setting up YOUR book marketing strategy, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Building a platform from the ground up

OK. You likely noticed that I’ve been away for a while. Turns out two blog challenges in a row – one as a participant and one as the host – kicked my ass. I was a little tired in early July and just decided to take a couple weeks off. Then, I had a wholly unexpected allergic reaction to some lavender oil, and it set me on butt for an additional month. Headaches. Very pretty bumps on my face. Sleeplessness and ensuing exhaustion. I did just enough work to meet client needs, and even that was slow and cumbersome. I don’t recommend such an experience to anyone.

I’ve been touching my toes back in the social media waters these last couple weeks and finally feel it’s time to get back to my blog – which I love. I have missed being a part of things! So, here’s the first thing to come to mind.

Laura

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I have a new client who came to me as a referral – a new author. Her book is a 122,000-word World War II romance. She was seeking information/help with publishing it. In our first conversation, we discussed print options as well as eBook distribution. Since her primary goal was just to “get the book out there,” she decided to go for the simpler eBook option to start. To save her the money and effort involved in formatting/layout for each individual platform, we went with the one-size-fits-all Smashwords for distribution.

Smashwords is a good solution for an all-text book like a novel. It does not work as well, however, for books that incorporate any sort of graphics or variation in headings/font sizes. All we had to do was design a cover, fully justify the text, remove the page numbers, slip it into a Word ’97-2003 doc format, and it was good to go. Uploading it to Smashwords took a matter of minutes, and voila – there it sits. Ready and waiting for people to come and buy it. Keyword: WAITING.

This is virtually every new author’s dilemma. The book is done – now how the hell do I get the readers-cum-buyers to show up?

It was an especially challenging question for my client, because she had zero  online presence. I am NOT exaggerating. No mailing list. No blog. No website. No Facebook. No Twitter. No LinkedIn. No social media of any kind. She has a computer which she used for writing her book, and she has email. That’s it. So we are literally starting at the bottom to build her an online presence.

While there are many different paths to the same end goal – marketing her book – it was her choice to begin with blogging. I believe every author must start with the thing that is the most comfortable for them. It’s not going to do you any good if I help you build a Facebook fan page but you just don’t want to be on Facebook because you’re so uncomfortable with it.

So we set up the blog. It’s called Fox Tales, if you want to check it out – but don’t expect any posts yet. Baby steps … did I mention we’re starting from the ground floor?

Next she’ll start exploring the blog. Practice posting. And begin writing. She plans to follow my recommendations for the 6 steps to blogging success:

  1. Writing 40 to 50 posts in a ROW (weekends included) from the date of her launch.
  2. Writing quality content that is of interest to her targeted readers: lovers of historical fiction and romance.
  3. Using an image with every post.
  4. Selecting good keywords for every post.
  5. Posting on a regular schedule after the initial 40 to 50 posts.
  6. Commenting on other blogs on similar topics, and being generous with her feedback to commenters on her blog.

Will it be an uphill battle? Sure. Is it going to take a while? You bet. Can it be done? Of course!

Regardless of where you are in terms of writing or publishing your book, it’s not too soon to be thinking about marketing it! Take an honest survey of your online presence. How big is your platform, really? Your email list? Your social media contacts? Your speaking gigs? Your networking circles? Who will be clamoring to buy the book the minute it goes on sale? How excited will they be to share it with the others in their circles?

If this all scares you just a bit, that’s OK. No need to panic. Just pick up the phone and give me a call (602.518.5376) or drop me an email. The initial consultation is complimentary.

You wrote/are writing a great book. It deserves a great readership. Make sure your prospective readers have the chance to become actual readers!

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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Please  A book marketing haiku

As you may recall, I’m not much of a poet. I hated poetry in college but now wish I’d listened to my advisor and taken more of it. In response to a reader comment, I did a post with several ideas for how to market your poetry. Then I came across this quote by Seth Godin, which is a nice reminder that most poets and bloggers are in it for the love of their craft:

“Just as we don’t spend a lot of time worrying about how
all those poets out there are going to monetize their poetry,
the same is true for most bloggers.”
— Seth Godin

I am tackling poetry again in today’s blog as a part of the 2012 Word Count Blogathon. Today’s is Day 21 in the 31-day blog challenge. The theme for today is haiku, which means … you guessed it. I’ve written one.

For those unfamiliar with this style of poetry, a haiku is a very short form of Japanese poetry that typically possesses three qualities:

  • The essence of haiku is cutting, which often is represented by the nearby positioning of two images or ideas with a “cutting” word between them that serves as a sort of verbal punctuation mark signaling the break separating them.
  • A haiku consists of 17 syllables or sounds: 5, 7 and 5 respectively.
  • Haiku traditionally contain a seasonal reference.

According to WikiHow, “a haiku is meant to be a meditation of sorts that conveys an image or a feeling.” In reading many haiku (there is no plural word for haiku), you will notice they either present one idea for the first two lines and then switch quickly to something else, or they reference one thought with the first and last line, and another thought with the middle line. “Haiku has been called an “unfinished” poem because each one requires the reader to finish it in his or her heart,” the WikiHow article continues.

Like any writing or forms of art, haiku takes practice. I am not practiced at it. One of Marcie’s subscribers, however, is quite practiced: read Five Reflections’ daily haiku here.

OK – without any further delay, the unveiling…

To sell books I work

Branding and marketing them

Won’t you buy one, please?

Though there is no seasonal reference, I do think it hits the idea of conveying a feeling, a somewhat plaintive pleading to make all my efforts worthwhile. See, I can even tie in book marketing to a poetry challenge – and I’ll bet you can, too!

The idea is to learn to think like a marketer. Not that the first words out of your mouth when you meet someone new are: “Hi. I wrote a book. Do you want to buy a copy?” But that you keep marketing at a low simmer on the back burner, so that when an opportunity or idea you can leverage into an opportunity does show up, you will recognize it and be ready and able to act on it.

If you’d like to take a break from your own book marketing and try your hand at haiku, definitely read the WikiHow piece on writing a haiku.

Happy haiku!

MARCIE

SOURCES

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Haiku-Poem

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiku

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Monday, May 7 Blog tour tips from A to Z

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Roundup: A summary of our Author Blog Success Tips

For a little more than two months, we’ve been exploring some success tips for your author blog. Today, we’re going to recap the best of these tips as we prepare to shift to discussions of other social media sites.

Our first exploration was a general overview of blogging statistics, where we learned things like:

  • The most popular time for blog reading is 10 a.m.
  • Bloggers are generally highly educated, with as many as 75 percent having college degrees.
  • As many as 83 percent of book bloggers are female.

Next we explored whether or not you should even start an author blog. Questions to explore around this include:

  • Why are you writing?
  • Do you have the time to devote to a blog?
  • How patient are you?
  • How much will you enjoy it?

Of course, I had to go on a little rant about a particular pet peeve of mine: Reposting someone else’s content is NOT blogging!

We then looked at 18 benefits of starting an author blog. The first 5 are:

  • Gives you a reason to write regularly.
  • Hones your writing skills.
  • Helps you get to the point.
  • Allows you to explore many different writing styles.
  • Bolsters your research skills.

Of course, we can’t offer benefits without giving you some specific success tips for your author blog, things like:

  • Make time to blog.
  • Decide how often you will post.
  • Calendar your blogging time.
  • Write ahead and post later.

One big boo-boo I noticed during my author blog series was a number of blogs that were very challenging to read because the background image overpowered the text. Note to self: this mistake is avoidable!

Next we posted 9 signs that you might be a great author blogger, things like:

  • Strong writing skills
  • Exceptional research and organization skills
  • SEO skills

Guest blogging is a great way to increase your author blog’s exposure. For one reason, it instantly puts your message in front of an audience it took the blog owner perhaps years to develop.

Commenting is another essential aspect of developing your author blog. This includes commenting on other relevant blogs, as well as encouraging thoughtful comments on your blog.

Though blog ideas are like soap bubbles for some people, they may be harder to come by for others. Here’s a list of 27 .ideas for your author blog.

Can your blog become a book? Is it better to have the book first, and then the blog? Chicken … egg … you decide.

Of course, one of the most important things to your author blog success is traffic. But there’s a BIG difference between general traffic – even in huge numbers – and targeted traffic.

In your zest for followers and comments, you may also notice other metrics about your blog. We like the maps that allow us see where in the world our readers are.

You work so hard to create the posts on your author blog. Here are a few thoughts on protecting your author blog content.

Some basic author blog questions – but if you’re a newbie, how will you know if you don’t ask? What’s the difference between Tags and Categories? And how important are pages?

Besides the tags and categories, another important but often underused aspect of author blogs is the sidebar. Are you using yours to your best advantage?

Then, of course, there are the ubiquitous keywords for your author blog. Choose carefully, as they make a HUGE difference in how well your blog gets ranked in the search engines.

After all that effort authors put into their blogs, an amazing number commit a huge error: failing to make their contact info readily available.

You’ve got it all set up, you’re posting regularly, and now you’re just waiting for the traffic to start pouring in. Here are 17 tips for marketing your blog. (Hint: many also work to market your website.)

But the biggest mistake of all is losing your content because you committed an unknown violation of your blog host’s rules. Best advice: migrate it to a site you own yourself. (We are taking our own medicine and are in the process of migrating the Marcie Brock blog in the next week or two.)

One additional excellent way to market your blog is by joining a blog challenge. If you’re an author who’d like to take part in one, we invite you to join the 28-day Author Blog Challenge, which will kick off June 2, 2012.

And, lastly, we offered tips from A to Z about setting up a blog tour to promote your book.

There you have it. Just about everything we know about blogging. If you follow these steps, you should see some significant success with your author blog. Make sure you ALWAYS remember that the main ingredient in social media is SOCIAL – and blogging is one of the earliest forms of social media. Also, be sure to master the four most important ingredients of a successful blog:

  1. Quality content
  2. Regular posting
  3. Always use images
  4. Comment your butt off

Happy blogging!

MARCIE

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Monday, May 7 Blog tour tips from A to Z

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Blog tour tips from A to Z


While the old-fashioned book tour still exists, going from city to city and bookstore to bookstore, it’s certainly much rarer, and tends to be an event reserved for bigger named authors with more publishing caché. Thanks to the Internet, lesser known and self-publishing authors still have a means of “getting around” via the virtual blog tour. Those who have done it will tell you it’s still a LOT of work, but much less costly than booking plane flights and hotel stays.

The following, while not necessarily in chronological order, are tips for creating a successful blog tour.

ADVANCE. Start early. Figure out how much time it will take you to compile a list of potential participants, contact them, agree to the terms, send them  a copy of your book, and schedule your tour. You will not start a blog tour today and get it ramped up by the end of the month – or even the end of next month. Note, as per Pump Up Your Book: Be prepared to send a second copy to the contest winner once you receive their mailing info from your blog tour participant.

BIGGER BLOGGERS. Approach the bigger bloggers. Sure, they may be inundated with requests, but if you write a solid pitch and you have a good book that falls into their particular favorite genre, they may say yes. And the worst they’re going to say is no, which means you’re no further behind than you were before you asked them. You might go on a list with 20 authors ahead of you – but if exposure on their blog is worth it, you’ll agree to wait.

COMMENTS. Look for blogs that are well trafficked and receive lots of comments. One caveat, however: blogs that offer contests often use the comment section to manage contest entries. So READ the comments; don’t just look at the numbers. Look also for bloggers who are posting content from lots of different sources, as those writing only about their own books are unlikely to be good targets for your tour.

DATES. Choose the dates for your tour. Make sure to publicize them on your website calendar, blog calendar, and social media sites.

EXPECT TO SUCCEED. Attitude is half the battle in virtually every undertaking. If one blogger says no, you say, “Next!”

FOLLOW UP. Create a checklist of steps and make sure you follow it with every blogger. Remember, the bigger, better bloggers are deluged with these kinds of requests – so after they say yes, make sure to follow up to be sure you’re on target for your guest appearance.

GOOGLE BLOGSEARCH is the place to begin your research for book bloggers who read and write on your genre.

HELP. If you can’t devote the time it will take to create your own tour, you might want to think about hiring a tour organizer. Certain virtual assistants are now specializing in this type of work. (If you’re a blog tour organizer, send me you’re link and I’ll add it to my Resources section.)

INTERVIEWS. Interviews are probably the easiest way for an author to take part in a blog tour. Get a jump on this by writing some prepared questions for the blogger to ask you – and have your answers ready to go, too.

JUST ASK. No one is likely to beat your door down inviting you to guest post on their blog, so you’ve got to go after them. Get over your fear that you’re just little old you, your concern that your book’s not good enough, and your worry that you don’t know what you’re doing and JUST ASK.

KEEP THE GREMLINS IN CHECK. A lot of bloggers are reluctant to review indie books or participate in blog tours for self-published authors. This is not necessarily a reflection on you – but simply a means for the blogger to streamline his/her requests. Again, if you hear no, you say, “Next!”

LIST. Make a list of the bloggers you will approach. You might start with 25 to 30, and eventually winnow that list to about a dozen.

MESSAGING. Make sure you and your host bloggers are on the same page, in terms of the way they will present your information and what they will say about your book. If it’s a review, they may not tell you ahead of time – so be prepared for anything.

NOTES. Make sure you take good notes and keep good records. Know which bloggers you’ve contacted, and at which step you are with each of them. Record things like:

  • Contact name
  • Blog name and link
  • Genre reviewed
  • Required format (Paperback? PDF?)
  • Other promotions offered by the blogger
  • Twitter handle
  • Personal notes (how you found them)
  • Email address or link to their submission form

OFFER. With about 6 weeks’ lead time, decide what you will offer the blogger for your blog tour. You can offer to do a guest post, prepare an excerpt, or do an author Q & A

PARAMETERS. Determine what you want the blogger to do. Is your preference for the blogger to interview you? Review your book? Host a giveaway of your book? Feature your book in a post they write? All of the above? Be clear about your goals, but willing to negotiate a bit with each blogger, accordingly.

QUERY LETTER. Draft an email invitation to the bloggers you want to participate. Make it professional, succinct, and interesting – no different than the letter you’d send to an agent or publisher. Keep it simple, something like this:

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Hello, [BLOGGER’S NAME],

I love your blog about [SUBJECT]. I’ve recently written a book that falls into your genre of [NAME OF GENRE]. I would really appreciate it if you would consider being part of the blog tour to launch the publication of [TITLE OF YOUR BOOK]. Would you consider running either a brief review or an excerpt from the book on its publication date [INSERT DATE] or within the week thereafter? The excerpt can be of your own choosing, or I can supply you with one, and as such, be your guest blogger for that date. Or, if you prefer, I am happy to do a Q & A via e-mail.

I appreciate your consideration and hope you will participate. Please respond at your earliest convenience. If yes, please send me your mailing address so I can send a copy of the book to you. If you’d like to do a giveaway, please let me know that, as well, so I can send an extra copy.

Best regards –

[YOUR NAME]

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REVIEWS. Request a review as part of the blogger’s participation. Ideally, the blogger will post the review on their blog, but you will also post the review (or a link to it) on your Amazon page, on other book sites, and on both of your social media sites.

SOCIAL MEDIA. Make sure the bloggers you’re considering have a good social media presence before you approach them.

THANK YOU. These bloggers usually do these reviews/blog tours for no compensation other than a free book – so if they participate in your tour, the very least you can do is say thank you publicly! A small gift card would be an even nicer gesture.

UNUSUAL GIVEAWAY. Giveaways are almost ubiquitous with participation in a blog tour. Consider giving away your book, of course, but something additional as well that’s special and perhaps unique (e.g., a PDF of your revised first chapter, so the reader can see your process as an author).

VARY IT UP. If you are providing the content for your blog tour hosts, make sure each post is a little bit different so you don’t get dinged in the search engines for too much duplicate content. Where possible, tailor the content to each blogger’s specific style or needs.

WIN-WIN. Don’t head into a blog tour with your hand out. Begin several months in advance and build relationships with the bloggers you plan to approach. Make sure that when you do approach them, you’re proposing a win-win opportunity for the blogger. One great way to do this is by offering to reciprocate by promoting them on your blog for a certain amount of time.

XTRA MILE. Go there! Reach out to book blogger groups, asking even those who aren’t part of your tour to promote it.

YOUR OWN BLOG. If you don’t already have a blog, start one now! Even if your book is just in the planning stages, it’s NEVER too early to get your blog up and running and scoring in the search engines.

ZOOM IN. Follow every blog you’re targeting every day leading up to your post. Comment, where appropriate. And once your post hits, with the blogger’s OK, respond to any comments on your post.

Best of luck with your blog tour. If you want to the Marcie Brock blog to be one of your stops, just ask!

Happy touring!

MARCIE

SOURCES:
http://www.sandragulland.com/writinglife/how-to-set-up-a-blog-tour
http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/how-to-organize-a-blog-tour
http://www.epublishabook.com/2011/11/01/how-to-organize-a-blogtour-in-6-steps/#axzz1uA4tbT2N
http://www.gabrielle-edits.com/2012/04/30/leah-blog-tour/
http://hazelmitchell.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-to-organize-blog-tour.html

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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4 great reasons to participate in a blog challenge

You’re an author, you already have a blog, and you post regularly. So why participate in a blog challenge? Lots of reasons, but in my opinion, the four primary ones are:

  1. Improve your traffic.
  2. Increase your subscribers.
  3. Become part of a supportive community.
  4. Make great new friends and connections.

IMPROVE YOUR TRAFFIC

A blog challenge gives you reason to post regularly, and the more often you post, the better your blog will rank in the search engines. By expanding your participation to your social networks, you can leverage the power of all the participants in the challenge to increase exposure for everyone’s blogs. Additionally, the blog host will usually create links to the home page of your blog, and possibly to certain individual posts, further helping drive traffic your way. And, according to a guest post by Michael Ooi at AllBloggingTips.com, visitors who are recommended to your blog by other bloggers generally spend twice as much time reading your posts than those who find you through search engines.

INCREASE YOUR SUBSCRIBERS

More traffic is good; more targeted traffic is better; additional subscribers and regular readers are like gold. Since beginning to participate in the Ultimate Blog Challenge on April 5, the Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven blog has seen our subscribers increase by 25 percent. According to a post by Alana Garrigues at Technorati.com, “If the quality is there, that increase [can be] sustained in the long term, and the blogger gains followers, which can translate [in]to potential friends, contacts, and buyers in the ‘real world.’”

BECOME PART OF A SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY

Managing your own blog can be a lonely endeavor. You write, hoping people find your posts, read them, and interact via the comments section. Those comments and “likes” are a form of validation, and who can blame us for desiring some sort of confirmation that we’re on the right track with all our posts? Participating in a blog challenge gives you a built-in community of like-minded bloggers, particularly in a themed challenge like the Author Blog Challenge. While your reasons and goals for participating may differ somewhat, you all have certain things in common, and you’re in the perfect position to read, comment, and support each other.

MAKE GREAT NEW FRIENDS AND CONNECTIONS

Further to the idea of a supportive community, you may find through your blog participation significant new connections, and who knows where those connections can take you? You should not feel obligated to read every post from every participant; in fact, certain bloggers will likely resonate more with you. However, give as many blogs as possible a chance, and you may find yourself creating unlikely alliances that would never have happened under any other circumstances.

For more benefits of participating in a blog challenge, read Heather Stephens’ post at CleverMarketer.com. She offers a list of 20 personal benefits and 20 blog benefits. My favorites from each list are:

PERSONAL

  • Get noticed by industry leaders.
  • Expand your comfort zone.

BLOG

  • Create content you can turn into products, other than your book, for sale on your blog.
  • Receive suggestions for improving your blog posts, layout, SEO, etc., from more experienced bloggers who are participating in the blog challenge.

The Author Blog Challenge begins June 2, 2012. Hope to see you on our participants’ list!

Happy blogging!

MARCIE

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Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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In honor of Marcie’s first anniversary, we’re launching the Author Blog Challenge!

Woo-hoo! We started this blog journey a year ago today, and look where we are now! 13,501 all-time views, 194 posts, 467 comments, 9 categories, and nearly 100 subscribers. We’re hoping you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, and have learned some useful information that you’ve been able to implement to help boost your book marketing campaigns.

In order to celebrate our first anniversary, we’ve decided to launch the Author Blog Challenge!

That’s right. We are starting a blog challenge open exclusively to author types (published authors, authors-in-progress, would-be authors). The challenge will run from June 2 through June 29, 2012, but please feel free to register now!

What can you expect from the challenge?

  • The opportunity to write about your book, writing process, successes, questions, and marketing ideas
  • The opportunity to win a different giveaway every day of the challenge (each daily participant will be entered in a drawing)
  • The opportunity to build your brand by offering a giveaway for the contest (first come, first served until we fill all 28 slots)
  • The opportunity to improve your SEO and increase your readers, subscribers, and exposure
  • The opportunity to connect with other authors and writers, to learn, share, connect, and perhaps build lasting relationships

While it’s a 28-day challenge, there’s no minimum number of required posts, but we recommend that you post as often as possible to make the most of your participation in the challenge.

There are several things you can do to prepare between now and June 2:

  • Read the rules.
  • Register for the challenge!
  • Get your thinking cap on! We’ll be posting daily topics, but you needn’t post on our subjects. So start thinking about the kinds of posts you’ll write for the challenge.
  • Commit to the number of posts you will write. If you decide you will post all 28 days, make it a point to do so. If you know that’s an unrealistic goal, don’t commit to it. Commit to 14 or 21 posts, and then keep to your goal. It would be far better for you to set a realistic goal you supersede than to set a goal you know you probably won’t meet and beat yourself up about not meeting it.
  • Invite other author types to participate.
  • Join our Facebook group.
  • Follow us on Twitter and tweet about the challenge.
  • Grab a banner or graphic and add it to your blog.
  • Donate an item for our free daily giveaway.

This is our inaugural Author Blog Challenge, but if it goes well, we plan to make it a semiannual event.

Please help us spread the word and make it a huge success!

Best –

Laura & Marcie

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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How to prevent heart failure from losing your blog content

Yesterday, Marcie and I had quite a scare – of the nearly heart-stopping variety. You may have noticed the source of our concern, as at about 2 p.m. PST, I tried to get onto the blog and received this message:

THE BLOG MARCIEBROCKBOOKMARKETINGMAVEN IS UNAVAILABLE DUE TO VIOLATING THE WORDPRESS TERMS OF AGREEMENT.

Shocked - times 2

Noooooooooooooooo!!!! Not on the eve of our one-year anniversary!!

Under the message was a link containing information about our alleged breach of contract. It said we had been found to violate one or more of the following:

  • Promoting affiliate links or get-rich-quick programs
  • Banner ads, etc.
  • Lack of original content
  • Part of an SEM campaign (WTF?)

If you’ve been following our posts for any length of time, maybe you’re scratching your head, because we don’t do ANY of those things.

It turns out, in yesterday’s post, we included a link to something called Empower Network (you’ll have to figure the link out on your own) in our list of sources. Evidently, Empower Network is an evil affiliate machine and on the WordPress watchlist. WordPress is set up so that if you post a link to them, your blog is automatically shut down.

The good news is: Anthony at WordPress was superspeedy at responding to my e-mail query, telling me about the problem, and restoring the site after I took care of it … or so I thought. When I went to post this piece today, the blog was blocked AGAIN. Fortunately, I again received a superspeedy response from Anthony (he either works 24/7, or they’ve named their help desk Anthony). Strangely, I had to clear my cache and restart my browser in order to get back to Marcie’s blog. Does that mean WordPress is reading my cache, too?

The bad news is: this could happen to you, too, if you’re using a free-hosted site like WordPress.com or Blogger.

Blog platforms like these are really useful for lots of reasons: they’re easy to use, they’re quick to set up; they can be free, depending on whether or not you opt for any of the upgrades. The same with social networking sites like Facebook. The problem is that you’re just borrowing their servers: these sites actually own your content, and can come in and wipe it all away with zero notice if you do anything to violate the terms of service you may or may not have read.

Fortunately for me, my breach was tiny and easily repaired. And even having read the terms of service, I just didn’t realize that this goofy Empower site fell into their you-can’t-ever-link-to-them category.

How do you protect yourself to avoid losing all the hours of effort you put into your blog (or Facebook) content? A few things:

  1. Read the terms of service!
  2. Keep backups of EVERY post on your hard drive.
  3. Migrate your blog to a site you host on your own.

To that end, we will be migrating the Marcie Brock blog to the WordPress.org platform over the next week or so.

This has its own challenges and drawbacks, but overall will be a good move for us. If we have your e-mail address, we’ll be sure to let you know when we’re moving and how to find us. If you’re an RSS subscriber, we’ll put big notices on the blog itself, or you can e-mail us to make sure we notify you.

One thing I can guarantee you is that blogging is always an adventure. So go out there and have fun with it, but just like in every other aspect of business/life, remember to stay safe!

Happy migrating!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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17 tips for marketing your author blog

Bloggers participate in an average of 5 activities
to drive traffic to their blogs.
— Adam Singer

We’ve been on this blogging topic awhile now, but it occurs to me that we haven’t given you an aggregated list of ways to publicize your blog to the world. While most of these tips would apply equally to your website, the most important tip of all is that you ACT on them!

  1. Post Regularly. Yes, I am aware that I sound like a broken record, but you’ve got to post regularly if you want people to find and read your author blog.
  2. Stand Out with a Unique Look. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on it, but make sure your blog has a great look that is unique from all the other author blogs out there. This means, more than just adding your book cover and/or head shot. At the very least, use a custom header that reflects your colors, fonts, and brand. If you can do your own graphics, great. If you can’t – it will be worth it to find a professional to help you create a finished look that is different and eye-catching.
  3. Write a Clever Tagline. Most blog platforms have a place for you to create a tagline. Use this to share a short, keyword-rich description of your author blog.
  4. Proper SEO. Much like your website, your blog needs you to tend to it and manicure it in order for you to see real SEO results. This means proper tagging, intermittent use of bold and italics within your posts, good titles, and a dazzling resource box, at minimum.
  5. Link to Other Bloggers. A great way to boost your own blog traffic is by linking to other blogs you like that are relevant to your book/topic. You may love your friend’s gourmet cooking blog, but unless she’s written a cookbook, linking to her is going to be much less effective for the SEO on your dog obedience training blog than to other animal-themed blogs.
  6. Comment, Comment, Comment. Regularly write smart, relevant comments on other people’s blogs and be sure to include a link back to your own blog.
  7. Reward Your Readers. Our blog does a pretty good job of filtering out the spam comments. That means we can see all the legitimate comments in one spot. Make sure to note, respond to, and take the time to thank those who stopped by to spend some time on your blog.
  8. Write Articles. Submit articles on your topic to directories like EZineArticles.com and IdeaMarketers.com. In the resource boxes for your articles, place links to your blog, to specific posts in particular if they are relevant to your article topic.
  9. Write Guest Posts: Invite others to write guest posts for your author blog, and take any opportunities to write guest posts for other author/writer blogs. This expands your audience and exposes you to other readers who might not normally find/read your blog.
  10. Post Links to Your Blog on Your Social Networking Sites. Linking to Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn is so ubiquitous that most blogs have an almost-automatic function set up to allow these kinds of links. Whether you automate it or not, make sure you routinely place links to your posts on all of them.
  11. Create a Specific Pinterest Board and Pin Images from Your Blog to It. Rather than grouping them in with a catch-all board, create a specific board on Pinterest dedicated to your blog. Make sure to use good keywords when describing the image – and links back to your blog.
  12. Bookmark Your Favorite Posts. Use social bookmarking Sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. to share your posts.
  13. Add a Link to Your Website. If your blog domain is separate from your main website, make sure the two are linked.
  14. Add a Link to Your Email Signature. Don’t overlook these seemingly obvious places to let new people know about your blog.
  15. Make It Easy for People to Subscribe. Your subscription field should be displayed prominently at the TOP of your sidebar. If people can’t find your subscription link, they’re not nearly as likely to come back.
  16. Make It Easy for People to Share Your Posts. Again, most blog platforms make this almost automatic. Make sure your sharing buttons are enabled.
  17. Enter a Blog Challenge! This is one of the fastest ways to meet other like-minded bloggers, increase your traffic, and grow your subscribers.

You’d think these steps would be common sense, especially after nearly two dozen posts about blogging, but you might be surprised how many people skip these easy, necessary steps and then wonder why no one visits their blogs.

Attracting targeted readers to your blog isn’t rocket science, but it does take a time and energy investment. Make sure you don’t cut corners or skip steps in the interest of time if you have any sincere desire to grow your blog subscribers and sell more books.

Happy marketing!

MARCIE

SOURCES:

http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/four-ways-to-market-your-blog.html

http://www.youngprepro.com/how-to-market-your-blog/

http://www.ricardobueno.com/ways-to-market-your-blog/

http://www.dailyblogtips.com/3-new-ways-to-market-your-blog/

http://www.dailyblogscoop.com/2011/10/11/how-to-market-your-blog/

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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One of the BIGGEST oversights (aka blunders) bloggers commit

OK – if you’re writing anonymously, this doesn’t apply to you. However, most of this audience is made up of authors who are looking to make a name, brand themselves, and SELL their books. So please, go check now to make sure your contact info is (a) ON YOUR BLOG and (b) EASY TO FIND.

Yes, this may seem obvious, and though I haven’t said it for a while, it’s often just when you think you shouldn’t have to point things out that you need to … Point. Things. Out.

On a handful of occasions in the last week, I tried to get a hold of particular bloggers through their blogs with no success. Fortunately, my first job was as a research librarian, and I’m tenacious, so I was able to find all of them, mostly through that ubiquity known as Facebook.

Yes, with social media, we’re using e-mail less often. However, if I’m not your friend on Facebook and you’ve got filters set up so that only friends can message you, guess what you just did? Made yourself UNAVAILABLE to people who want to contact you. This is a cardinal sin for someone looking to build their brand and platform.

What’s more, if your blog doesn’t identify you by the same name you use on Facebook or Twitter (e.g., Dr. Sally on the blog but Sally Smartypants on Facebook), that avenue is now closed off, as well.

In two cases, I was trying to reach people who write on multi-author blogs. They have links to their archives – but NO contact info, including e-mail addresses. While this may be a policy of the blog owners, it’s a poor one. I would think long and hard before becoming a regular contributor to a blog that didn’t allow me to tell people how to contact me.

Please, my SBM* darlings – make sure you are easy to find and contact!!! Connection is the lifeblood of relationship marketing.

Laura

*Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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