Paying the TimeKeeper – Blogger’s Debt

July 27, 2011

Song of the Day: Paparazzi by Lady Gaga

So, let’s talk about author blogs. Commentaries, musings, chronicles, running narratives of a writer’s life, there are a bajillion out there. But are they effective in bringing in sales and new readers? Or are they another time sucking black hole?

The answer I’ve come up with – yes and no.

Blogs are great tools in developing a web presence, especially when following a few tips. Blogs should reflect the blogger’s personality, be entertaining, and offer something (education, advice, links, prizes, a good knee-slapping laugh, etc.) to readers.  Length can be whatever the blogger is comfortable with, but shorter is sometimes better, especially when blogging often. (Not today. Sorry.) The blogger should make every effort to reply to every commenter. Personal touches go a long way, showing the blogger is not a cold, unapproachable, one dimensional being.

There is no question blogs are important to writers, whether they write them or not. Commenting on blogs regularly is an easy way to gain name recognition. They (whoever ‘they’ are) say it takes seven times for a person to see a name before that name becomes recognizable. That’s what we want, right? To be recognizable? Okay, maybe we won’t walk outside and be blinded by dozens of paparazzi flash bulbs. But we do want people to remember us.

Let’s go back to my original question. Are blogs another chupacabra sucking us dry of our precious time?

A question to ask yourself is who is the target market for your blog? For many of us, our circles of followers are other authors. This is great because writers tend to form supportive, tight knit communities. And in this industry, we need to each other’s back. But how far will that go in terms of sales and readership? It goes back to becoming active in the blogosphere.

We want to expand from the bubble of friends. We want to draw in readers near AND far.

Many authors do blog tours. Any way you slice it, blog tours are time consuming. Consider the time spent looking for and corresponding with other bloggers for a guest spot. Also consider that the content posted will need to be fresh and unique for each site. Don’t forget the time spent replying to every commenter to your post.

If you have time for a blog tour, I say go for it. Got a couple of tips for you, too. Keep the blog tour to a manageable amount, be that 10, 25, or 50 stops. Offer prizes. People will likely ‘follow’ you (think Grateful Dead’s Deadheads) on your tour if they have a chance to win something. Have a boilerplate about yourself and your book’s information already prepared. The boilerplate can easily be copied and pasted into each blog written. Don’t just hit up all your writer buds for guest spots and interviews. There are endless blogging opportunities out there. Expand on blogs that have content you may be interested in. For example, if your book is about a dragon-slaying pastry chef who falls in love with a racecar-driving homicide detective. You might consider looking for blogs about Renaissance festivals, Nascar, baking, and law enforcement and write a blog relevant to those topics. And if you have a boilerplate at the end, you’ll be slipping in that PSA on your book, upcoming release, or YOU the future best-selling author.

Need help finding blogs to appear as a guest? You might try Myguestblogger.com to get you started. Or try Googling ‘guest blogging sites’ or ‘guest bloggers wanted *topic*’. There is also The Cheap, a blog for authors and readers who welcome guest bloggers. Then there is MuseTracks.  That’s right. Want to do a guest blog here, contact one of us!

If tours aren’t your cup of ale, you can still use these blog tips to your advantage and at your leisure. Keep at it regularly and you will likely pick up a few loyal followers. That translates to readers and sales.

Just as with keeping up with the Joneses (damn you Jones- shaking fists in frustration) on social media sites, it goes back to managing your time to fit in a couple of blogs a day/week to visit, comment, and write.

For me, I recognize that my plate is full. I don’t have the time to do a blog tour. I will gladly do interviews, and I always try to put a fun spin on each one. But I am human and I know I can’t do more at this moment.

What about you? Do you blog? Love it? Hate it? Any advice to share? Let’s hear from you!