5 Things You Should Never Do On Your Blog by Jonathan Gunson
Whether you’re published yet or not, a vibrant author blog should sit at the heart of your promotional efforts – the “homebase” for your author brand.
Used properly, your blog will help you to impress agents and attract a publisher. And if you’re already published, it can be used to attract new readers, create a successful launch of your next book, generate buzz and bring your work positive reviews.
But it’s crucial that you use your blog the right way to achieve all of this. There are certain blogging mistakes I’m going to tell you about that can seriously hurt your book sales and your reputation as an author.
To help you avoid these pitfalls, here are five things you should never do on your author blog and what you should be doing instead:
1. Projecting That You’re A Beginner Or That You’re Unsuccessful
While being a retiring, “shrinking violet” may have been an admirable ethos in Victorian times, readers want to read books by confident authors who love what they do, and express that confidence in every way possible.
If they perceive you this way, their interest will build.
None of this is to suggest you become a fake, or not “yourself”, but simply that an atmosphere of confident enthusiasm about your work will benefit you greatly.
This is highly relevant when it comes to how reviewers, book bloggers, agents and publishers perceive you too.
If you communicate to these people that “I’m really just a beginner” (such as referring to yourself as an “aspiring writer”) then you’ll limit your opportunities. They’ll move on to other writers who present themselves as more attractive propositions. But if you communicate that you’re not only confident in your writing ability, but truly love what you create, then they’re much more likely to take an interest in your work.
Of course, you don’t want to go too far in the opposite direction. Arrogance and haughtiness are not what you’re looking for either, and you definitely want to avoid being condescending. It’s all about striking a balance. Try to keep a “positive mental image” of your ideal self in mind when you’re writing your blog posts.
It might look like this:
I’m an excellent, successful writer and proud of my work. But I’m honest, warm, friendly and encouraging too, and a huge fan of books in general”.
2. Being Negative In Your Blog Posts
Ranting about things that annoy you, or the frustrations you’re experiencing might make you feel better temporarily, but negativity serves no useful purpose on your blog.
You’re trying to associate your books subconsciously with positivity and enjoyment in people’s minds.
Avoid any negativity – whether that’s being negative about another author’s books, or negative about how unfair the publishing industry is, or just generally being pessimistic about your work.
Always stick to the positive side of things.
By all means talk about how hard you’ve been working, and the sweat, blood and tears you’ve been putting into your writing. But don’t whinge about things, because it doesn’t do any good and will turn everybody off – right across the board from readers to reviewers to publishers.
3. Writing Negative Reviews Of Other Authors’ Books
People want to hear other people’s opinions of books before they buy them, so book reviews can make for interesting blog topics. Being an author yourself, you’ll also be able to give them a perspective they wouldn’t perhaps get from non-authors.
But there’s an important point here too: Only record positive reviews on your blog.
I don’t mean you should write a positive review of a book you didn’t like. What I’m saying is, only put a review up if it’s positive. If you didn’t like the book, don’t write a review of it on your blog at all.
A positive review will often be reciprocated by that other author, and form a useful relationship. Remember, other authors (particularly other authors in your genre) should be your friends and collaborators; don’t see them as “competition”.
On the flipside, if you give a negative review, then you risk you getting bad reviews and negative publicity in return from that author. (Reciprocation is a double-edged sword …)
You want the overall experience on your blog to be a consistently positive one (this helps to get people in ‘buying mood’), and negative reviews of other books detract from this.
So leave the negative reviews for non-author book bloggers and the general public. Stick to the positive ones, and you’ll have interesting content and form useful relationships.
4. Ignoring Blog Comments Or Reacting Negatively
When a visitor leaves a comment, this makes them feel more connected with you and your work, which in turn makes them more likely to recommend your books and share your blog posts with other people.
It also makes your blog look “busy” and provides extra social proof of your popularity as an author.
Try to answer all the comments left on your blog too (i.e. leave a comment after theirs). This also helps with making the visitor feel connected and valued. This is a community you’re building.
When you encourage commenting on your blog, and regularly reply to get discussions going, it starts to build a regular community of readers on your blog.
When you get comments that disagree with something you’ve said, or make a negative point, be magnanimous and positive in your response. It’s OK to debate, and ultimately to agree to disagree, but it’s counterproductive to make personal attacks.
But neither should you tolerate personal attacks directed at you or at anyone else either. Comments that cross that line should be deleted.
5. Constantly Talking About Your Books And Nothing Else
Most of the posts you write on your author blog should provide insightful, “light bulb” moments for readers, but shouldn’t be directly about your book.
As much as you might like to think otherwise, for most new authors the reality is that their book isn’t a sufficiently interesting topic to most people out there – yet.
Already famous authors like James Patterson can write directly about their books because they are already newsworthy. The fact that he has a new book out is an interesting thing to readers because so many of them are already huge fans of his previous books.
But if you’re not yet a famous author, this won’t work. Potential new readers who come across your blog posts won’t know anything about you or your writing, so the fact you have a book out is not particularly interesting or newsworthy.
Instead, your blog posts should be full of hot, fascinating bits of content closely related to your book, that will interest readers from your genre.
The blog posts are about the World Around Your Story, which is their world too. Your posts are interesting in and of themselves, allowing readers to become intrigued – and only mention your books later in the post and in a way that is relevant to the topic.
By the time they come across your books, they’ll be in a fascinated frame of mind – i.e. They’re already “sold”. Your blog posts lead them to your books only once their interest is captured.
So… How Do I Attract Readers And Increase Book Sales?
Attracting readers and increasing book sales with a blog might seem to be a big challenge, but it’s far easier than you imagine.
It all comes down to:
(1) Having the right, captivating, attractive content on your blog so that visitors will not only want to read it, butspread the word for you.
(2) Using social media the right way to locate readers.
(3) Steadily building an email list to grow a queue ofwaiting buyers.
I am not very computer savvy in a world of sophisticated high technology machines. I use them only because I must to survive. But I wanted to become a social networker and meet some people with common interests. Although I had a huge fear of tripping all over myself on the web, I decided to timidly take the plunge. And I tiptoed into the water, using my IPad. My publisher had set up accounts for me on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and one or two others as part of my publishing package. Now having used my IPad exclusively for three years, I canoffer some advice to those who want to try it:
1) Make sure your operating system is no older than IOS 6. The later the better. I had an old IPad
and I upgraded my WordPress software. It would no longer run! Fortunately, I was in the process of buying a new IPad.
2) An IPad is not great for uploading photos, but it has improved since the advent of iOS 7. You can work around this problem by using an IPad app, as I do in the case of WordPress. Facebook recently improved for iPad photo uploads.
3) Kindle and IBooks work fine on an IPad.
4) Other useful apps are: ICabMobile, PDF Expert, iZip, PDF Splitter, PDF To JPEG and Spreadsheet. I understand Microsoft Office is now available.
5) I don’t like the IPad version of Facebook. The regular version works fine.
6) I have designed and added part of my website on my IPad, although I had some help with most of it. I continue to maintain it on my own. There are groups on Facebook with people more than ready to help, if you ask.
7) One of the best things about the IPad is it’s light, portable and works anywhere there is Wifi.
I’d be lost without mine, I take it with me eveerywhere!