Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blogging Your Way to a Successful Writing Career

Many of you know that I think blogging is an important part of an overall book promotion strategy. The interconnectivity of the Net practically demands that authors have one.  I wrote a book to help retailers write and promote blogs that will work better for them. We authors are in fact retailers. We must help our publishers sell books. We often retail them on our own.  The title of that book is Your Blog, Your Business. Today, write Tim Handorf contributes a guest post with other resources on blogging to get you started.

By Tim Handorf

Writing a blog is obviously a very different endeavor from writing a book, but many writers these days are finding blogs to be excellent creative outlets and for some they've been the catalyst that finally helped them get that book deal or push their career forward. Nearly all of the biggest and most widely-read blogs have put out some sort of book over the past few years. While most are simply collections of funny or artistic photos and observations, others have been much more and have catapulted their authors into the literary world and the public eye.

Even if you're not interested in using a blog as a platform for a future book there are other ways to make use of the medium. Some writers have used blogs as a way to get past their own creative blocks or to get feedback from others on their projects. Some writers use blogs as tools to gather their thoughts as they're working on books. No matter how you're using a blog, there's no doubt that it can be helpful tool in getting your writing going and getting you noticed-- provided you're doing it right.

There's much more to successful blogging, especially the kind that gets turned into books and movies, than just good writing, though, of course, that certainly doesn't hurt. If you're looking to make blogging part of your writing process, or the first step in something bigger, consider these tips before making the plunge.

• Focus on the concept. No book, article or blog can work without a strong concept. Unless you really want to use it just for your own purposes, you need to develop an idea that is appealing to a wider audience. Fiction or fact, silly or serious, it doesn't matter as long as its interesting. Take the site, book and now movie Julie and Julia as an example. Surely the blogger wasn't the only person who ever thought of trying to master Julia Child's recipes, nor the only person who likes cooking and is struggling to deal with work, personal and marital problems. If you're struggling to find a focus, start writing and see what you're drawn to talking about.

• Build an audience. Blogs are social by design, so if you want yours to be effective you'll need to be writing to more than just the generalized pool of web users. Recruit friends and acquaintances to look at your site, post links to your blog on everything you do on the web. Of course, it doesn't end there. Once you have readers you have to keep them coming back. Make sure to respond to comments, engage readers and provide content that makes them want to come back for more. Author of the popular Shopgirl series Emily Benet simply started writing about her own experiences working in family owned business before she ever got her work, related to her blog, published. At first only family and friends were readers, but with a little Internet marketing, she soon became popular. You can read about her story here.

• Realize it's about more than writing. Blogging isn't like just writing for the sake of writing. You have to care about how you present your writing, make things visually appealing and maintain the technical aspects of your site as well. Your writing can be great but without those other elements it will be hard to get the attention and feedback you need. If you have absolutely no idea how to deal with these aspects of blogging, check out a site like Problogger for guidance and instruction.

• Market, market, market. Much like any kind of success in writing, blogging success is one part talent and one part marketing. You not only have to have something to say but know how to promote yourself across the web. One of the easiest and best ways to do this is through other bloggers and writers. Share links, comment on blogs, and become an active participant in the online world and join your site in blog carnivals and contests. Every little bit can help, and getting your work linked on a larger site can generate hundreds of hits to your own site. This article on marketing your blog can give you some pointers.

• Have an end goal in mind. If you're using your blog as a platform for a future book project, you need to start with an end goal in mind or at least a point at which you can step back and start turning the material into something more. If you've been successful with your blogging endeavors, you can expect to have reader feedback and support when and if you decide to take your work off the web and into a book.

• Blog along with another project. Working on a book project? Why not create an accompanying blog? It can help you get your ideas out there and can build up some anticipation about the project you're working on. Author Gretchen Rubin created a blog about the topic of her book The Happiness Project , letting her explore ideas and get potential readers for her finished work ahead of the game.

• Don't be shy. You're not going to get your work published or noticed by being a wallflower. If you want a book deal, go out and get it. Send a proposal to a publisher or find yourself an agent that can help you. If you're not sure how to go about doing that, or marketing your book to a publisher, check out this guide on the subject from Lifehacker writer and author Gina Tripani. It offers a lot of great tips for authors who want to make their blog into something more.

Blogging isn't for every writer but with the web being an incredibly powerful tool for both sharing ideas and for promoting your work, it's never a bad idea to try it out if you haven't already started your own blog.

~This guest post is contributed by Tim Handorf, who writes on the topics of online colleges. He welcomes your comments at his email Id:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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