Advice on Three Things Authors Can Bring a Blog Site That Are Good For Both
by Stephen Zimmer
One of the best avenues for authors of all levels, major press, small press, and self-published, for raising awareness is the growing literary blogosphere. In every genre, there are growing numbers of active bloggers that cover new releases, do reviews, interviews, and much more.
Obviously, authors want reviews of their books, and this is a primary focus of most of these blog sites. Most blog reviewers, after publishing a review on their own blog, will cross-post the review to other highly important sites for authors such as Amazon.com, Goodreads, Shelfari, Barnes and Noble, and others.
But beyond the reviews, there are three areas in which an author can participate with a blogger, each of which is of direct benefit to the blogger and their site. These are; interviews, giveaways contests, and guest posts by the author.
The three areas also provide an opening for an author on a blog that is not accepting new reviews, due to having a large TBR (To-Be-Read) pile. As many sites are deluged with new books from publishers of all sizes, the authors that have the flexibility to participate in each of the three areas raises the chances for increasing the number of blogs they are exposed on.
Let's take a look at the trio, one by one:
1. The Interview. Blog reviewers will conduct interviews in a variety of ways. I have experienced some that send you a question at a time, almost like an ongoing conversation (such as one I did on the blog site of author Terry Ervin, writer of Flank Hawk). Others will send you a standard list of questions, and still others will customize the interview to you.
A few reviewers will want to read your book before doing an interview, but many do not have such a policy. This provides a nice opening for the blogger and you to get to know each other a little better before they read your work.
My advice regarding interviews is to work to make them conversational in tone. Do not worry about making them “formal” or perfect, literary-wise. It is tempting to do that, since it is a written interview. Just keep in mind it is not an essay, but an interview for a potential or current reader to learn more about you. Try to keep the tone similar to how you would be on a radio or podcast interview. This will make it more interesting, and it will also allow for more of your personality to be reflected.
When doing multiple interviews, you will sometimes come across similar questions. Answer them uniquely, as they happen, and do not “cut and paste” answers from early interviews where you responded to a similar question. While your answers might ultimately be quite similar when addressing similar questions, it is disingenuous to cut and paste responses. Providing unique answers shows proper respect to both the blogger and the reviewer, and you just may discover that you put a few different things into the responses that give your readers more to glean about you.
2. The Giveaway Contest: Giveaway contests are fantastic ways to expose yourself to new potential readers, as everyone likes the idea of winning prizes, or getting something for free. An author always has to take cost into account, as with most blog sites, the author is responsible for mailing the winner their book (the blog will typically just email you the winner's mailing address).
The cost for an author in postage and mailer will often be close to the cost of the book itself, in regards to a trade paperback of around 250-300 pages. Be careful of taking on too many prizes and contests, as things can add up in a hurry. Ebook giveways are a less costly option, as even gifting a Kindle edition is fairly inexpensive, and ePubs are free.
My advice regarding giveaways is to make the most out of them, especially in terms of building up your social networks. Most blog sites will have a system for allowing extra entries into the contest if the participant joins the author's own blog, Facebook page, twitter site, etc. A contest can result in several new adds to each of your social networking pages, which definitely does not hurt in terms of promoting your work. The blog sites will also often allow extra entries if the participant puts a Facebook post up or tweets about the contest, which puts the author's name out there even more.
Make use of these tools to maximize the benefits of sponsoring a giveaway contest on a blog site. The blogger will appreciate your participation too, as they won't mind being able to offer their readers some perks in the way of free books.
3. The Guest Post. Guest posts are a great way for potential readers to get to know you, as well as providing rich new content for the blog site, something a blogger will really appreciate. Some bloggers will suggest a topic to write about, and others will leave things wide open. Just be sure to stick to any parameters you are given, in terms of word count, and if you are given a topic, stay on it. If you are not given a topic, I suggest to try to get an idea of what the blogger's readership might enjoy, perhaps covering something relating to the genre of the site that has not been used in a post as of yet.
My advice regarding guest blog posts is to try and make them either very useful, or very interesting, such that readers will be tempted to share the link via Facebook or Twitter, maximizing your exposure. Give readers a reason to dive into your post. Do not forget to include links at the end of your post for your own website, Facebook page, etc. Give readers every way to find you, even if you have multiple links/social networks. Not all readers are on every social network.
The blogosphere is a fantastic place to raise awareness and secure interviews. It is growing larger by the moment, both in size and importance as eBooks increase in market share. Do not hesitate to reach out to bloggers, and explore ways to engage of activities that are of mutual benefit. Interviews, contests, and guest posts bring content of interest to a blogger's readership, while also promoting you and your work. Treat each instance uniquely, conduct yourself professionally, and you'll find yourself making headway without spending a large amount of money, never a bad thing for the typically cash-strapped author!
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