BLOGGING

This page is full of tips on how to promote your book online. It follows my journey through cyber space with Letters to Leonardo. I hope you find it useful in promoting your own work.

Dee

PART ONE

Setting Up Your Own WordPress Blog

I must have been one of the last people in the country to convert to Broadband but thanks to the huge alien looking object installed on our ‘remote location’ roof, I was now what you might call a newborn in cyber space.

I had resisted exploring this ‘new dimension’ for as long as I could but once my Young Adult novel, Letters to Leonardo was accepted by Walker Books Australia, I knew that my days of cyber ignorance were numbered. It was time I ‘got with the program’ and learned how to communicate with my intended readers.

So began my journey through the cyber space wilderness. At first, I thought that a Blog was some bizarre new breed of Cane Toad, and wasn’t Twitter something birds did? You Tube sounded like a receptacle for tooth paste, and Face Book conjured up images of a bizarre and possibly painful form of beauty treatment.

Thankfully, I had a kind group of writer friends always willing to offer assistance with the technical aspects, and the finer points of blogging – but due to my close geographic proximity to nobody, I was pretty much forced into setting up the blog on my own.

Fortunately, it turned out to be a lot less daunting than I expected – and I discovered that experimenting was a great way to learn.

WHY DO I NEED A BLOG ANYWAY?

Blogging is a great way to reach your readers – particularly, YA readers who spend more time on their computers than in bookshops.

Your blog enables you to reach people all over the world without leaving the comfort of your own home. It allows you to tell them about your book/s and about you, as an author – it makes you accessible to your readers.

Blogs encourage regular readers so they allow more people to find out about your book and this can lead to increased sales.

As blogs are updated regularly, they are rated highly by Google and other search engines – making them easy to find – and leading more readers to you.

WHAT KIND OF BLOG

When setting up my blog, I had only heard of two options – WordPress or Blogspot. I chose to have a WordPress blog because you could add extra pages to it – and therefore make it like a live website. Some people find Blogspot easier to use however. It’s a matter of having a look at different kinds of blogs, thinking about what you like and what you are trying to achieve – and giving it a go.

If in doubt about something, you can always go to the FAQs and you will normally find that someone has already asked the question that you are seeking answers to.

Think about what you want your blog to do. Why are you setting it up?

As well as this blog, I have one at Writing Classes For Kids because I also wanted to have a blog that encouraged young writers.

CHOOSING YOUR DESIGN

WordPress offers pages and pages of different designs. It’s up to you to choose which one suits you and what you do. How your blog looks and what’s on it is controlled through the Dashboard.

On the left hand side of the Dashboard screen, you will find an icon for Appearance and this is where you can select the theme of your blog, the heading you want, and all the other things you might want people to see when they visit your site.

When you select Appearance you will be able to view different themes and see the different ways your blog can look. The theme will show you types of headings, number of columns, how your pictures will look, and the colours that will appear. Once you have chosen the theme you like the look of, click ‘activate’ and this theme will become the ‘style’ for your blog. You can insert your own image or logo in the heading to replace the one in the theme. You just have to select Custom Header from the Appearance menu/toolbar and then upload the image of your choice.

For my blog, I chose a theme called MistyLook by Sadish because I liked the large Custom Header which allowed me to use my logo, and it also had top level page navigation which I thought would make it easier for visitors to find their way around.

COMPONENTS OF YOUR BLOG

Your blog will normally have:

  • PAGES – Mine has a front or home page which contains all my posts, a page about me and a page about my current works. How many pages you have and what’s on them is up to you.
  • A CUSTOM HEADER – which can be your name, logo or any picture you want.
  • A place where visitors to your blog can subscribe to receive your posts etc (Feeds)
  • LINKS to other blog and websites (you can sort these by categories)
  • A list of previous posts you have done (these can also be sorted by categories)
  • COUNTER showing how many people have visited your blog.

WIDGETS

I soon discovered that Widgets are not people behaving in an inappropriate or foolish manner; they are the things that make your blog look the way you want it to. So that when people put your URL into their search engine, this is what they will see.

Widgets are also found in the Appearance toolbar on the left of screen, underneath themes. There are many different kinds of Widgets, but there is only room in this article to examine the main ones.

LINKS: – Selecting this Widget allows links to other blogs and websites to be displayed on your blog.

PAGES: – This Widget allows more than just the home page to be available on your blog.

CATEGORIES: – This Widget allows your posts to be displayed on your blog in categories.

META: – This Widget allows you to say in a few words who you are and what you do. Mine for example says, Dee White, Children’s author. Writer of Letters to Leonardo, A Duel of Words and Hope for Hanna.

BLOG STATS: – These are good for telling you who visited your blog and when.

When you click on Widgets, you will enter a page with a list of Widgets in the left hand column and next to it, options to ‘add’ or ‘delete’.

If you want to add a new Widget, select ‘add’. When you make any changes to Widgets, always make sure you ‘save changes’

ADDING A NEW POST

To add a new post. click ‘Add New’ on the Posts toolbar. A screen will come up with ‘Add New Post’. Type the heading in the top empty box. The body of your post will go in the larger box underneath the formatting symbols. It is advisable to save the draft as you go in case you have a power or cyber glitch and you lose everything you have typed.

Once you have saved the draft you can see how it looks by selecting ‘Preview’. If you’re happy with the appearance of your blog, you can select ‘Publish’. You can even schedule your post to appear sometime in the future just don’t make the mistake I did of leaving the clock on US time so the post appeared a day late.

You can upload a video, picture or music by selecting one of the upload/insert icons situated above the formatting toolbar.

When you add your new post, don’t forget to select ‘category’ so that your posts are sorted into relevant topics. You can also select ‘tags’ for your post to make it easier for search engines to locate.

ADDING A LINK

To link your blog to your publisher’s website or other interesting sites is simple.

From the Links menu select ‘Add New’. Type in the name, web address and description of the site you wish to link to. Remember to select a ‘category’ for your links so they will be sorted according to relevance/topic. To add a new category for a link or a post, just select ‘Add New Category’ and type in whatever you want your category to be called.

Once you have typed in all the necessary information for the link you are adding, select ‘Add Link’.

This is just a basic outline of how to set up your blog. I encourage you to do what I did – which is to look at lots of other blogs and use those elements you like in your own site.

PART TWO – Taking Your Book on a Blog Tour

WHAT IS A BLOG TOUR?

"Letters to Leonardo" flew at the Brisbane launch

I think Blog Tours were invented for people like me, with very busy family lives, and not a lot of time or resources to travel around the country promoting my book.

The best thing about a blog tour is that it allows you to do all this from the comfort of your own home. I’m even travelling to the USA on my blog tour, and I don’t have to worry about costly air fares, turbulence, travel insurance or any other potential travel issues.

So, what happens on a blog tour? You get to visit other people’s blogs and talk about different aspects of your book. Each blog you visit will introduce you to a whole new group of followers and let a whole new group of readers learn about your book.

PLANNING YOUR BLOG TOUR

It’s important to plan your blog tour in advance. The better organised you are, the more successful your tour will be.

The first thing to do is target your destination blogs. You may already know people you would like to visit. You can add new blogs to your tour by Googling blogs related to the types of books you write. For example, if you write YA like me, you might want to find new YA blogs to visit – there are some great ones out there. If you don’t know the blogger, email them, tell them about yourself and your new book, and ask if they’d be interested in featuring you on their blog – a great way to make new contacts.

Make a list of all your blog destinations; including name and URL of blog. So then you can plan your route.

WHERE DO I START?

If you don’t know other bloggers, a great way to start is to join a blog tour group like Aussie Blog Tours http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aussieblogtours

There you will meet other like minded bloggers who will be happy to host you on tour.

BLOG TOUR THEMES

In my Letters to Leonardo blog tour (24th June 2009 to 7th July 2009), I organised to visit 14 different destinations. Visitors don’t want to read the same thing at every destination so it’s important to vary your content.

I made a list of possible topics or themes that could be discussed at each visit, and each host got to pick a different one – that way, even the there may be some overlap, you are pretty well guaranteed that each blog stop will be different.

My themes were:

  1. promoting your book online
  2. author interview
  3. symbolism – how art has been used in Letters to Leonardo
  4. the research process
  5. dreams and writing
  6. the writing process
  7. mentors in YA fiction
  8. cyber launch – including obstacles overcome to publication
  9. how the author’s life paralleled the main character’s
  10. working with a publisher and the editing process
  11. Interview with the main character
  12. Classroom writing activities based on Letters to Leonardo
  13. Tips for young writers based on how Letters to Leonardo was written
  14. Discussion on bipolar (the condition that the main character’s mother suffers from) and how young adults are affected by living with a family member’s mental illness

HELPING OUT YOUR BLOG HOST

To ensure that materials didn’t overlap, I provided blog hosts with background materials related to the topics they had chosen.

They found this useful in compiling their questions – and some used the background pieces as their posts.

Make life as easy for your blog host as possible and they are more likely to invite you back.

Invite your blog audience to make comments and ask questions. Then over the next few days, return to your host’s blog to respond. Keep the conversation going.

At each stop on your blog tour, mention where you have been and where you are heading to next.

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT BLOG TOURS

One of the best things about blog tours is that all the information is still there months and possibly years later. For you, this means that your book is getting ongoing exposure. For blog tour visitors, it means that they don’t have to visit the blog on the day that the author is appearing there – you can visit a blog the following week or the next – catch up on the whole tour at a later date. It’s not like an actual tour where if you don’t visit the store on the right day, you don’t get to hear what the author had to say.

If you want to see how a blog tour works, feel free to revisit  my Letters to Leonardo blog tour. Here’s where I went:

24th June 2009             http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com

Dee and Matt talked about promoting Letters to Leonardo online.

25th June 2009             http://spinningpearls.blogspot.com

Author interview

26th June 2009             http://thebookchook.blogspot.com

How art has been used in Letters to Leonardo

27th June 2009             http://belka37.blogspot.com

The research process involved in writing Letters to Leonardo

28th June 2009             http://weloveya.wordpress.com

Guest blogger – talking with Vanessa Barneveld about writing and dreams

29th June 2009             http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale

An author interview about the writing process – covering things like inspiration and perspective.

30th June                      http://www.letshavewords.blogspot.com

Mentors in YA fiction, and Leonardo da Vinci’s involvement in the book

1st July                         Cyber launch https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com including cross to Robyn Opie’s blog http://robynopie.blogspot.comhurdles overcome on the way to publication.

2nd July                        http://persnicketysnark.blogspot.com

How the author’s life paralleled Matt’s – her growing obsession with Leonardo da Vinci.

3rd July                         http://bjcullen.blogspot.com

Working with a publisher and the editing process.

4th July                         http://sandyfussell.blogspot.com

Interview with the elusive Matt Hudson.

5th July                         http://teacherswritinghelper.wordpress.com

Class writing activities based on Letters to Leonardo.

6th July                         http://tips4youngwriters.wordpress.com

Tips 4 young writers on how Letters to Leonardo was written.

7th July                         http://www.JenniferBrownYA.com

An overseas stop before heading home

PART THREE – The Cyber Launch

WHAT IS A CYBER LAUNCH?

A Cyber Launch is the cheapest, healthiest and most environmentally friendly way I can think of to launch a book. And it can get you around the whole world in a single day! It involves hosting the launch from your blog – and other than that, you can do whatever you want – cross to other blogs – do interactive activities – anything.

But, if you want it to be just as fabulous and fun as a ‘real’ launch, you need to do just as much work. And like all successful functions, it needs to be planned

THE ‘TO DO’ LIST

This is important to help relieve the stress of planning such a big event. You just cross things off as you do them:

1.    Make a ‘to do list’. (This is it).

2.    Make a list of people who are going to be involved in your Cyber Launch. That includes:

  • guests
  • publisher
  • launcher
  • reviewers
  • blog hosts
  • you
  • anyone else you can think of

3.    Make sure everyone who needs to be, is on the publisher’s list of people needing review copies of your book.

4.    Make sure the review copies are on their way.

5.    Plan your cyber launch itinerary.

6.    Make a list of any articles/activities you might be having for your Cyber Launch (I know that’s a lot of lists – but lists are good – they take the pressure off, stop you having to remember everything).

7.   Make a timeline/schedule of all the things you will have to do in the lead up to your launch.

8.    Find out details of online booksellers so you can put their details on your blog and overseas Cyber Launch guests will know where they can buy your book.

9.    Make your Cyber Launch invitations.

10.   Send out your Cyber Launch invitations.

11.   Write and prepare any articles or posts that you will need on the day, so you just need to insert them at the right times. This means you can enjoy your Cyber Launch day sipping cyber bubbles, greeting your guests and responding to questions and comments.

PLANNING YOUR CYBER LAUNCH ITINERARY

It’s important to do this early no so that you know who you will need to talk to, what you need them to provide and what materials you will need.

My Cyber Launch itinerary for Letters to Leonardo looked something like this:

  • 10.00 am – a word from the publisher – and from me to welcome guests to this ‘unique’ occasion. And a reminder to leave your industry relevant blog details and I’ll add you to my blogroll.
  • 10.15am Launch by Margaret Hamilton and cross to Robyn Opie’s blog http://robynopie.blogspot.com
  • 10.30am – make available a Sneak Peek Ist chapter of Letters to Leonardo.
  • 11.00am – cross to http://tips4youngwriters.wordpress.com where young writers will be able to find out all about ‘beginnings’ – how to get your reader’s attention and keep it.
  • 11.15am – a book review by a YA reader will be downloaded to this blog.
  • 11.30am – cross to http://teacherswritinghelper.wordpress.com for a classroom writing activity and extension task based on the ‘Sneak Peek’ made available earlier.
  • 11.45am – A fun “Word Search” based on Letters to Leonardo will be downloaded to http://teacherswritinghelper.wordpress.com
  • 12.00 – the link to a movie book preview of Letters to Leonardo will be downloaded onto this blog together with an article about how the movie book preview was made.
  • 12.30 – Blog post – ‘Five Fast Facts’ about writing Letters to Leonardo.
  • 1.00pm – another YA book review will be downloaded here.
  • 1.30pm – Letters to Leonardo’s main character, Matt, interviews the author about how she used Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings to tell Matt’s story.
  • 2.00pm – at the end of a BIG day, it will be time to put your feet up – and the perfect chance to start reading your copy of Letters to Leonardo

COLLECTING THE MATERIALS FOR YOUR CYBER LAUNCH

Another good thing about a Cyber Launch is that you can do all your posts and activities in advance and load them onto your blog, but just leave them as drafts until the big day. Then, all you have to do is hit ‘publish’ at the right time and everything should run smoothly.

Have a check list of things you need and make sure you have everything prior to the day including things like:

  • A word from the publisher
  • Materials from the person launching the book
  • Appropriate pictures
  • Articles and posts
  • Interviews
  • Reading activities
  • Movie Book Preview
  • A Sneak Peek at the Book if possible
  • Details/links of where people can buy your book online

HOW THE CYBER LAUNCH WENT – AND WHAT I LEARNED

I learned that a Cyber Launch can be lots of fun – and a great way of generating traffic to your blogs and getting your name and your book out there.

My Cyber Launch went for four hours and involved over 20 posts. That day, I had over 250 hits and the following day, in excess of 100, so even though there was a lot of preparation involved prior to the Cyber Launch, it was well worth the effort.

Fortunately, I wrote most of the posts earlier so all I had to do was publish them on the day – and this eased the workload. I found that I had just enough time to respond to people’s comments – and then it was time to publish my next post.

The beauty of the Cyber Launch was that people didn’t have to be there on the day – visitors can drop in today and all the posts will still be there – and can be responded to.

So, what I have I learned from this? That a Cyber Launch can be convenient, comfortable (you don’t have to leave your own home) and definitely worth doing – but the key to a successful one is preparation!

Here’s a link to another great article about marketing your book. http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.org/blog/2012/12-marketing-skills-every-writer-now-needs/ hope you find it useful.

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28 thoughts on “BLOGGING

  1. Pingback: INTERNET PROMOTION FOR AUTHORS « DeeScribewriting Blog

  2. Thanks Trisha – always happy to share what I have learned with other writers. We need to help each other.

    Dee:-)

  3. This is great information, Dee. It de-mystifies the whole procedure – and I’m sure will prove very useful for others.
    Now, I guess I’d better start thinking ahead for the cyber- launch of ‘McAlpine & Macbeth’. Yes? 🙂

  4. Absolutely, Sheryl. You definitely need to have the McAlpine & Macbeth cyber-launch planned out – I’m sure you’ll be needing it soon:-)

    Dee

  5. Thanks for all this, Dee. I am gently nudged to have another go at setting up a blog – this time to actually get it going before it turns to custard.

  6. Great news, Janeen,

    I’m happy to answer any questions you have. And Kath Battersby is a whizz on WordPress too.

    Good luck with it. I can’t wait to visit your blog.

    Dee:-)

  7. Hi Dee,

    Thank you so much. What a wealth of information. It gives me ideas as to what I could do with my vegan cook book that I plan to launch in a few weeks.

    Thanks again.

    Zainil

  8. This is great info that I have devoured and I am designing a blog right now. I would like to add your blogs as links, if that’s OK. You can check me out at Beth Montgomery author on Facebook. Just one question: Can I use google images to put oix on my blog? I’m not trying to sell anything, so does this cover copyright issues?

  9. Hi Beth,

    Good to see you here. I’m happy for you to include my blog in your links. I’m not an expert on copyright, but I think you would need to check with the individual providers of the images that it’s okay to use them. I find that sometimes it’s best to take my own photos.

    Congratulations on your new blog. I look forward to seeing it.

    Dee:-)

  10. Wow! I love this so much, I’ve printed the entire thing! Thank you so much for taking what had to have been an enormous amount of hard work putting this together. I have had so many “blog” questions, but felt silly asking them. I’m completely technically-challenged and I think even I can follow your simply written steps. Thanks again for all of your hard work. …julieT

  11. Dee
    Your “Blogging” post is perfect timing for me. I have a Blog on my website but can’t get it to move to visitors. So decided to link with Facebook’s Networkblogs. Can’t get verified.
    So maybe WordPress.
    Do hope I will someday use the author tour. You are always up to great reporting. Thank you.

  12. So much work! Writers should definitely be paid more.

    Dee, in answer to Beth above, she can use Google images as a starting point. Google/images/advanced image search (just to right of google image search box), enter your keyword and go right to bottom and change “not filtered by license” to the license you want. Choose a picture from the screen that comes up and track it down to check the license is ok, and that google got it right. You will need to give attribution.

  13. Dee, this is the most well organised approach to marketing a book and author online I’ve seen.Well done. It’s so time-intensive but you’ve used the content more than once and used the innovative process with your book as the example.

  14. Thanks for the tips. I really need to fix things up on mine. williamsawyers.com
    My second site freewebs is better and can be viewed from more platforms.
    Free webs not free with all my content. I’m learning slowly

    word press fire fox mainly.

  15. Dee, I’m just thinking of setting up a blog, prior to now I thought it was just people rabbiting on about themselves without much substance, what you’ve done here will be a great tool for anyone who is starting on the journey. Thanks.

  16. Hi Dee!

    I’ve been thinking of starting up a blog, because I’ve heard that it can give start up authors more exposure and feedback. I was wondering a couple things about it though, if you could take the time to answer them?

    1. Just in general the things I’d even put on a blog. Would posting only short stories be interesting enough, or perhaps adding in the odd inspiring quote and bit of advice here and there be even better? I was thinking of a combination of all of them, maybe some articles on getting past writer’s block, and writing action scenes, things like that.

    2. What kind of feedback can I expect from a blog like the one I described above? I’m sure that if there was enough interest, I’d get comments like ‘Wonderful story, loved it!’ and maybe ‘Oh, I didn’t like this at all…’ But can I expect more technical critiques, such as observing the pace of the story, or a particular phrase that needs to be improved?

    3. If I wanted to go on to publish something that people would connect with the blog, would you suggest I start out with the real name. I was toying with the idea of using ‘Rhykah’ as a pen name, simply because I like it better than my real name, but I haven’t really thought much into it. I guess really what I’m asking is if you think ‘Rhykah’ would be an acceptable pen name, or just too weird.

    Anywho! Hope you get back to me soon, but until then, Thanks!

  17. Hi Rhykah,

    Thanks for dropping in. A blog is definitely a way to lift your profile as an author; particularly if you link it to other social media like Facebook and Twitter.

    1. What you put on your blog is entirely up to you and it’s hard to predict what readers will want. It’s a case of trying different things and seeing what works. As long as you are professional and entertaining, people will read your blog. It takes time to build up followers and following other people’s blogs and commenting on them like you did on mine can be helpful because when you leave a comment with your blog URL, it encourages people to check out your blog. It’s really hard to predict what people will like reading. At first I was very reluctant to write personal things about my writing on this blog, but I found that people liked it…that they liked to know how I worked and about my journey as a writer. If you do post short stories, perhaps you could run them over a few days or weeks to encourage readers to keep reading your blog to see what happens next in your story. Also be aware that if you post an entire story online, it might be hard for you to get it published elsewhere, and there is also a risk that someone might plagiarise it. The thing with a blog is that it’s like a book…it’s all about developing your writer’s voice…and that’s what makes your blog stand out over someone else’s – and that’s what will keep readers commenting and coming back. You have to give them a reason to.

    2. Feedback is even harder to predict unfortunately. I know some people with great blogs who hardly ever get comments. People are so busy these days that although they might read your blog, they won’t always have the time to comment. And if you have a WordPress blog and try to leave a comment on a blogger blog, there can sometimes be hassles with that. Blogging like anything takes time…and once you build up a loyal readership, you will find that people are encouraged to comment more. Another thing you can do is host established authors on your blog and sometimes their followers will come to your blog and comment and might start following your blog and making future comments. Feedback isn’t a measure of your blog’s success. Like I said, lots of people might read it, but very few will comment. To be honest, I’m not sure that many people will comment on your story unless you give them incentive…a free book etc. If you review books on your blog then you will get books that you might be able to use for this. Once you get a strong following, you may not need this, but building up followers takes time. Check out what other bloggers are doing. Blogs like Miss Snark’s First Victim http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/ run competitions where people submit the first 250 words of their manuscript and others comment on them. If you created a critique forum for writers on your blog, you will be more likely to get comments and more technical critiques on your work.

    3. For an author blog, I would definitely use a blog name that’s the same or similar to your pen name. I don’t think Rhykah is weird, and you need a name that you’re happy with and reflects who you are. The only thing you might want to think about with names is your target readership. If you are writing for young kids, Rhykah might be a name they find hard to write or spell. If you are writing exotic romances, Rhykah might be the perfect exotic name.

    I hope this helps, Rhykah. Once you have your blog set up, feel free to come back and comment and let us know what you decided and where we can find your blog.

    Happy writing and blogging:)

    Dee

  18. Hi Dee and Rhykah,
    I’m still subscribed to this thread, so it just popped into my inbox. I wanted to suggest to Rhykah that guest posting on other blogs is also a really good way to pique peoples’ interest in your blog. You usually add a bio to your guest post, with a link to your blog, and that encourages visitors. Best time to do this is after you’ve had a chance to write some articles on your blog, so there’s something for visitors to see.

    Susan

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