My dad informed me tonight that he is buying a golf cart. I think I might borrow it to drive to work, although the cost of gas is much lower than it was a month or so ago, when one needed to mortgage the house and sell the children just to fill the tank.
My dad is retired, so he’s not buying the golf cart as a means of transportation. He doesn’t play golf, either, especially now his Parkinson’s is taking a toll on his health. He says he thinks it would be fun to have a golf cart, and give the grandkids rides. My 16-year-old and 14-year-old would like to DRIVE the golf cart, but rides? Nah. But my sister has little ones (five and two), and I’m pretty sure that is why he is buying it. He lives to entertain them. But in these crazy economic times, it might not be that bad of an idea. We could take to the golf cart to the grocery store. It would sure cost a lot less. Maybe we could have a golf cart car pool for dance? Hmmm. Nah, that wouldn’t work.
I know that my daughter’s dance studio is tightening their belts, too, so to speak, and paring down from the proposed six competitions to four competitions. Everybody is in the crunch, with companies going belly up, people losing jobs and homes, and frankly, right now we are in a HUGE financial mess.
So how does this affect writers? Well, I would suspect it will make an already tight market even tighter. Anyone who has ever tried to sell a book to a large mainstream publisher knows how very, very hard this really is. And with the economic crunch, it isn’t going to get easier, only harder.
It will also affect the already-pubbed, as they fight for even smaller advertising and promotional budgets, smaller advances, and less publisher support.
That’s actually pretty depressing to think about, but here at MurderSheWrites.com, we are being proactive. We are using one of the very best forms of publicity, available to all authors, published or not. It’s called blogging. I am a huge proponent of this form of PR, and advise everyone who wants to be published to set up a blog, and start building your readership. Heck, people have even SOLD books based on hugely popular blogs.
I use, an example, a blog that I always read. Dooce is written by Heather Armstrong, and she is a brilliant and scathingly funny woman who writes about daily life in Utah. I actually was pointed in her blog’s direction by readers who live nowhere NEAR Utah, and yet her appeal is universal. She is one of the so-called “mommy bloggers,” but I think of her more as a “real life blogger.” Not reality-show type blogging, but the real deal, family life, warts, dogs that eat poop, and all.
Heather brings humor and focus to events that strike many of us. She has dealt with her own bout with extreme postpartum depression, and chronicled it for everyone to read. She is shockingly honest and real, and sometimes her posts even make me cringe a little bit, because I know she is just “baring it all,” when I am loathe to do anything remotely similar.
She has chronicled her daughter’s life, and each month she writes a letter to Leta. They are sometimes funny, often poignant and even heartbreaking. Heather has built a readership that is huge and through her blog she ended up with a book deal. One that went a bit sour, there, for a while, and involved lawsuits and publishing ugliness, among other things.
But the blog she writes now supports her, her husband, and their daughter. And frankly? She’s earned it. As I mentioned, she is very, very funny, and a great writer.
So, blogs can work. Do they always work? No. There’s probably an old graveyard for blogs somewhere on the Internet, maybe kind of like my friend Tim’s blog. His first post started out with, “Hey, I am writing this blog because my friend Natalie says I need to do it.” I think he wrote a few other sentences, and maybe wrote some nasty things about his ex-wife, and then the blog died.
I suspect a lot of them do. And still others are faithfully attended to, and updated regularly, and have absolutely no readers. Sad, but true. But there are a few things you can do to ensure you will, at least, have a few readers.
1. Have a platform. This is important in every aspect of writing a book, and blogging is no different. What is your platform. What is your theme? If you are just going to ramble every week, well, you probably won’t build an audience, unless you ramble brilliantly and with great wit.
2. Have your blog professionally designed. Yes, I know there are templates, and they are pretty nice. I understand that, but please consider that the fact YOU have access to it means that so does everybody ELSE on the Internet who decides to blog. You need a nice, clean, attractive design that speaks of your platform and pulls people in.
3. Be aware that once you make yourself public, you WILL attract some crazies. (See my blog post from two weeks ago, re: security on the Internet. Please.)
4. Keep the blog regularly updated, written clearly, and add as much content as possible. Pictures are wonderful. Videos intriguing. Keep it fresh.
5. You don’t have to stick to one theme, but all your themes should have something in common. And you need to find something that will keep your readers coming back.
6. Use lots of links. The more links, the better. If you refer to other blogs and sites, they will come to see what the links are leading to, etc., etc. It’s very, very useful.
7. Create a blog roll, and suggest you trade links with others.
So, those are some of my feelings and suggestions about promotion and blogging. Anyone have some other ones to add?