You have probably read over and over, or heard from many well-intentioned friends and acquaintances that you should have a blog to promote your book. This sounds easy enough, and it really is pretty easy to set up a blog site, but how do you do it in a way that will actually help your book sell? Here are a few key points to keep in mind.
1. The blog should be for your audience, not for you.
Your blog is not your personal journal. I’m not saying that you can’t document your thoughts, feelings, dreams, etc. I am saying that you need to keep your audience in mind and write with their interest in mind. In a few of the blogs that I follow, I actually enjoy an occasional rant or off-topic post, but if that is all I find, I stop following. And unless you have a book about writing or something associated, a blog centered around your progress as a writer isn’t likely to sell you any books.
2. Post consistently.
This can mean once daily, two times a week, or once a week. Figure out a schedule that will work for you and the time you have to devote to blogging, and stick with it. People will find comfort in knowing when to expect you to post. I don’t recommend going much longer than once a week, so that people don’t forget about you, but do what you can.
3. Make it social.
Most blogging platforms give you the ability to include share buttons. Use them.
4. Include “dig deeper” spaces.
Create tabs where you can house static information like an author bio with a picture, and a tab for your books (with links to buy). Don’t go tab crazy or it gets overwhelming, but include enough that your followers can see what you are about and who you are. People love the personal touch.
5. Fiction and nonfiction are different, but each can gain a following.
I’ll start with nonfiction, because it is easier. With nonfiction, you generally have a topic and your blog can be used to expand your audience of people interested in that topic, and it can also build your reputation as an expert in your field.
If you write fiction, your task is a little more difficult. Start with topics you cover in your book. If you write historical fiction, go more in-depth about that time period. Others write short stories or in-depth character information. Still others put out teasers for future books.
6. Don’t spam.
Remember that the first point was about writing for your audience, not for you? The same rule applies for spamming. You will want to reference and link to your book throughout the life of your blog, but no one wants to read straight-up advertising all the time. Your mom wouldn’t even keep following you if you did that. People will follow good content and will tolerate a sales pitch if it is relevant and a small part of what you are offering.
7. Find the hook.
Not all posts have to be content pulled directly from your book. Remember, you are writing for your audience. Determine what it is about your book that interests them, and then expand. Maybe you wrote a book about coffee mug design. I don’t imagine there are too many people out there who are strictly interested in coffee mug design alone. Your audience would likely also be interested in plate design, or flatware design, or home design in general. Expand your scope and in turn, expand your audience. Who knows, maybe you will start generating material for a new book, and you will already have your platform built
8. Start your blog before you publish.
Speaking of building your platform, you really ought to do this before you ever publish, whether it be print or an eBook. Blogging first lets you build an audience so that you have people to announce your book release to. If you are consistently putting out valuable information, your followers will be happy to support you when you finally have a product. They won’t resent the pitch because you’ve been a part of their community without constantly spamming them.
9. FOLLOW ALL THESE RULES, but really, do what you are most comfortable with.
Just like I ended that sentence with a preposition (yea, you aren’t supposed to do that), it would have sounded weird to me had I put “do that with which you are most comfortable.” It just sounds unnatural, and I don’t like it. You don’t want that feeling to follow you into your blogging.
When you are uncomfortable, it shows in your writing. That is not to say you shouldn’t try to push yourself, but you want to work in your strengths. Let’s say you’ve done a great job at posting two times a week for months, and then all of a sudden it’s the holidays and you have unexpected travel for work thrown in and on top of that your kid gets sick… You end up not blogging for three weeks. Don’t fret, just pick up when you can and go forward.
Or if you need a day to rant about your frustration about trying to write your book, even though your blog is about dog grooming, then do it. Your followers may appreciate the break. And even if they don’t, it will give them pause to remember that you are just another person, which is always good when you are doing your promotion.
These rules are guidelines, and using them to work for you will give you a blog that is engaging and interesting. Best wishes!
Photo: Annie Mole, Creative Commons