Big news hit the Internet last week when blogging pioneer Andrew Sullivan of The Dish announced his retirement. In a post for the New York Times, Sullivan stated a desire to return to writing in a “different form”, apparently through essays in which he intends to explore fuller expression of his ideas.
With the advent of social media, what is blogging becoming today? What is its role? Is there a way for blogging to bring balance to our instantaneous world where updates are tweeted every few seconds in 140 characters or less? Is blogging now like NPR is to network TV news?
Reaching Your Audience
When preparing to launch a book, it is important to consider the channels used to connect to an audience. In his social media trends piece last week, Paxton Kelly referred to content marketing, aka blogging, as a means for a writer to be discovered. Blogging is an immediate and effective method to convey information. According to a timeline put together by New York Magazine, blogging first began in 1994 – not too long after the internet was born, but much ahead of the social media curve. Since the day the first post uploaded to WordPress, much has changed in the way blogs are received.
Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report noted that blogging decreased in popularity ten percent in 2014. However, professional marketers still turn to blogging greater than 50 percent of the time as a way to spread the word about their businesses, and self-employed marketers turn to blogging 62 percent of the time.
Your blog is like a public portfolio, so you want to keep it updated with your best and most recent work. Not only does blogging deliver Google page rank and search engine optimization (SEO), it also gives your voice a different way to be heard. Your book brings readers to your blog and your blog subscribers keep you connected with your readers.
Posting once or twice a week with your keywords keeps Google trained to find you, even if your page rank is already high. Frequent posting preserves your connection to your readers and provides them with a sense that they know you.
While it is beneficial to be active on multiple social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, GoodReads & LinkedIn), taking the time to blog and perhaps tie your book to current events, will bring you higher reach. As Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza wrote in a recent article, “As long as people want to read smart and shareable analysis on issues…, I think blogging … will be just fine.”
First published on San Francisco Book Review, After the Manuscript, Feb. 7, 2015.
Literary Publicist Stephanie Barko discusses the author’s online presence.
Tip #5: Authors Online
Authors online need to be visible three ways– through their website, blog and social suite. These three online elements are like a three-legged stool. If any one leg is missing, the result is a structure that falls down. When all three elements are present, the stool is stable, sturdy, and balanced. Good author infrastructure is like a three legged stool with all three legs properly tied in.
The first leg of the stool for authors online is the author website. One way an author needs to appear online is through his or her website. The most pervasive website software today is WordPress. Developers all over the world create WordPress themes and plug-ins, many of which are free, so it is a smart idea to begin your site in WordPress.
The second leg of the stool is the author blog. Ideally, the website will have a page on it that formats as a WordPress blog. There are perhaps just as many blog themes to choose from as website themes. Think of how many blog posts to show at one time, where you want your social media icons, and how you want the eye to move across the blog. Make sure you use your keywords to tag your blog posts. Think about choosing a theme that will allow you to file your posts the way you want. For instance, you wouldn’t pick a blog that sorts its archives by date if you wanted to file them by topic.
The third leg of the stool is the author’s social networking suite, probably Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, GoodReads, Pinterest and YouTube. Integration in the social sphere can save you time, so you may want to note that GoodReads integrates with Facebook and LinkedIn with Twitter. Pinterest allows crossposting of pins to Facebook & Twitter.
Authors online do best with a sound infrastructure. If you need help creating one, reach out to a book publicist.
Literary Publicist, Stephanie Barko, gives you the secret to success for your author events.
Tip #4: Author Events
Unless you are an airline employee like my award-winning memoirist client, Jamie Patterson, you definitely want to put some thought into things before deciding to fly around during a book tour.
The key to getting a healthy turnout at an author event is making sure you are not responsible for attendance. After your local launch, where all your nearest and dearest will automatically arrive to support you, the events you want to do are those where someone else is gathering your audience for you.
Let’s look at what some of those events might be.
If you have lived in more than one city during your lifetime, it is likely that you have a following remaining in some of those locations. For instance, one of my best friends in high school, who now lives several thousand miles away, follows me around like a puppy dog on social media. If I told her I was coming to her town, there is no doubt in my mind that she would move heaven and earth to produce a turnout for me.
If you have far-flung relatives who like you, it is possible that they will not only host an event for you with their friends, but also put you up, possibly reducing your expenses for both lodging and venue.
Book festivals bring your readers to you on a platter. All you have to do is figure out how you want to meet them–as presenter or salesperson. Your first choice will be to present, since it’s free. Consider exhibiting when you are not selected as a featured author.
What author events are you planning? What examples can you provide of an event that came with built-in turnout?
To blog, or not to blog? Literary Publicist, Stephanie Barko, discusses why authors should be blogging in this short clip.
Tip #2: Blogging
Why is blogging so important for writers and authors?
Blog posting is important because blogging trains Google to find you.
Why does Google find you when you blog? Because when you keep a blog, you are using keywords that relate to your book.
If you have taken the time to identify and test your keywords and phrases and are using them deliberately in your online communications, all the better. The best place to use keywords is in your blog post title. Designate a focus keyword in your title and see how many times you can use it throughout the post. You may want to keep your title to a length of between 40 and 70 characters as this is the number of characters that search engines can see. Use your focus keyword in the first paragraph of your post. Write at least 300 words of text in every post and keep your writing style as simple and direct as possible.
Include a few outbound links or hypertext in your article to increase its likelihood of being found. Example: IBPA or www.ibpa-online.org.
Images and videos lead Google to your post faster. Use graphic content to supplement the text you have carefully crafted and start your images at the top of your article.
Without blog posting, Google may find you on social media, but it will not index your website or blog unless you are blogging on a domain that you own. Do you want to build traffic for Facebook & Pinterest or for your blog? The choice is yours. Install a blog as a page on your website and add a new post twice a month or more. Then go have fun with social networking the rest of the time.
Do you want to sell more books in large quantities with no returns? In previous posts I have mentioned social media and virtual tours, but not how to acquire bulk buys for your books.
The Second Annual APSS Book Selling University on October 24-25 in Philadelphia will discuss ways to attract corporate buyers for your books. The event includes a keynote by John Groton, former vice-president of special markets at Random House, and several other authors and book marketing professionals. Presenters will share with you how to sell books in large, non-returnable quantities, and how to discover and connect with volume buyers.
This conference hosts talks and discussions that will help authors of non-fiction and fiction think about marketing tools that work best for reaching a wide audience in their subgenre.
For more information on the APSS Book Selling University or to register visit http://tinyurl.com/kxucber