Social Media

How to Start a Blog in 20 Easy Steps: A Guide for New Author-Bloggers

5 October 2015

From author Anne R. Allen:

If you haven’t tried it yet, you’ll find that creating a blog isn’t as hard as you may think.

A lot of blogging advice is aimed at professional bloggers who are looking to make money from the blog itself. They want things slick, flashy, and monetized.

But that’s probably not what you want as an author. You want a personal, inviting place where people can visit and get to know you—a home rather than a storefront.

I had to learn blogging by trial and error—lots of error. Tech people always assume everybody knows the basics, which is why the basics are the hardest part to figure out if you’re brand new to all this.

Here’s the stuff I wish somebody had told me when I was starting out…

20 Steps To Becoming a Blogger

1) Read Blogs

If you don’t do it yet, spend a couple of weeks reading a bunch of writing and publishing blogs before you jump in and create your own. See what you like and don’t like.

Blogs written by agents, authors and other industry professionals are great places to educate yourself. They’re like a visit to a writers’ conference available free any day of the week. And like writers’ conferences, they’re also good places to network with other writers at all stages of their careers—people who can help your own career in dozens of ways.

For suggestions of blogs to visit, see my post “What Should A Novelist Blog About?” I also highly recommend Molly Greene, Jami Gold and Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. Their blogs are all full of great information that will be helpful to you whether you plan to self-publish or go the traditional route.

Also, many writer-bloggers have a “blogroll” in their sidebar with a list of other great writing blogs. Start clicking around. If you like what somebody says, click on their name in the comments and you’ll probably get their profile and you can go visit their blog.

While you’re reading, think of things you might like to say in your own blog. Start jotting down ideas for posts.

You’ll want to have several pieces ready to go by the time you launch your own blog.

For non-bloggers who are getting blogposts in their email but may not know how to read an actual blog or see the comments, you can click through the email to the blog by clicking on the header (for our subscribers, it’s the title in blue at the top of the email.) That will take you to this blog in its native habitat at

The advantage of clicking through is that you can read the comments (just click on the word “comments” at the bottom of the post. It will usually say “28 Comments” or whatever the number is.)

For most of you reading right now, that may sound too beginnerish to mention, but we were all beginners once. I remember when I finally figured out how to comment on a blog. It felt like such a triumph. And I’d been reading them for at least six months. Online sites never come with a manual.

Blog comments have a wealth of information. Some of our commenters know much more than we do! And if you leave a comment yourself, that will help you raise your profile and increase name recognition.

. . . .

3) Comment and interact with other commenters on high profile blogs

You only have to say a few words of agreement (or disagreement, if phrased politely), or offer your own experience about the topic.

Commenting on high traffic blogs is the quickest way to get into search engines. Most of my early mentions on Google came from my comments on other people’s blogs.

A comment right here can put your name in front of 5,000 people in a week. It could take many months to reach that many people with a new blog.

Discussions on big blogs can also lead to discussions on your own. Find yourself making a long comment? That’s a future blogpost. When you post the comment, you can invite people to discuss the topic further on your own blog.

Support somebody’s argument on a high-profile blog and you have a blogfriend. That’s how I got my first followers.

. . . .

7) Prepare a bio for your “About Me” page.

This is the most important part of your blog. Again, I’m amazed at how many writers don’t have one. It’s why you’re here, remember?

Make it intriguing and funny without giving TMI. You can add some more pics—maybe of your dog or your funky car. Keep family out unless it’s a family or parenting blog. Pseudonyms for kids are a smart idea for protecting their privacy. You can learn more in my post on How to Write an Author Bio.

. . . .

17) Keep to a schedule.

Decide how often you want to blog—I suggest once a week to start—then do it. Preferably on the same day each week. Most blog gurus will tell you to blog more often, but this is a pretty highly rated blog and I have never blogged more than twice in one week.

I like to do what some people call “slow blogging”. It’s like the slow food movement. Quality over quantity.

Joining the Slow Blog movement is simple. Start a blog and announce you’re planning to post on alternate Tuesdays, or every full moon, or whenever. Or if you already have a blog, next time you miss a few days, tell yourself you didn’t FAIL to blog; you SUCCEEDED in joining the Slow Bloggers. All you have to do is skip those boring apologies, and you’re in.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Here’s a link to Anne R. Allen’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Reidy Hails Metadata, E-book Subscription at BISG

30 September 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

Delivering the keynote address at the BISG annual meeting, Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy emphasized that book publishing has been transformed by the “ staggering amount of information available. There’s more information on publishing than ever before and I love it.”

According to Reidy, readers of literary fiction purchase e-books just as much as readers of commercial fiction, though both remain attached to the physical book. “The book is a permanent keepsake,” she said, “unlike a YouTube video.” Most readers, she said, seem to want e-books to be a “replica of the print book.” Enhanced e-books loaded with videos or other digital gimmicks, have been a failure, although its unclear why. “Is it because of the interruptions to the text or because we, the publishers, have failed to make them good enough?” she said.

Despite predictions that e-books might reach 50% of all book sales, Reidy said e-books sales have slowed and are likely to settle at about “25% to 30%” of total book sales. Although initially e-books helped jump backlist sales, Reidy said, “not anymore,” noting that “the novelty has worn off.” She said now “there are fewer readers” entering in the digital category and said the slowing growth in e-book sales have pushed publishers back to “highlighting books as beautiful physical objects.”

Asked if the higher pricing of e-books, in the wake of publishers’ new agency agreements with Amazon, had also figured in the slowdown of e-book sales, Reidy noted that in the wake of publisher settlements over e-book price-fixing charges in the case with Apple, “I’m not supposed talk about pricing, ” but added that “our data says that our pricing is effective.”

She pointed out that even the sales of books from S&S’s line of hip young YouTube authors, are overwhelmingly in print. Old-line media like major print, radio and TV shows, she said, were still the best way to drive sales of a book. “Even if most of those sales are through online channels.”

. . . .

 [A]ccurate metadata, “makes a huge difference in sales,” she said, highlighting how a simple change in metadata impacted the house’s experience with the novel Galveston, written by Nic Pizzolatto, creator of the hit HBO TV series True Detectives.

Originally published in 2010, the novel got good reviews and won an Edgar award, but sold about 1,000 copies, Reidy said. While there is no connection between the novel and the TV show, S&S saw the rising popularity of the show, and quickly changed the metadata by adding a note to the author bio that Galveston was written by the True Detectives creator. In 2014, Galveston sold more than 37,000 copies, print and e-books combined. “And this was not a tie-in. We did it with metadata,” Reidy said.

Metadata and social media, she said, “can be used to connect books to what’s going on in the world. We’re just learning how to do this. We can bring the backlist directly to readers but we need daily, as well as monthly and yearly planning. Real world feedback can shape our publishing program.” Publishers, she said, can use social media to “establish direct connections and relationships” with communities interested in their authors. “We need to give our authors reason to partner with us,” she said.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to SFR for the tip.

I created a fake business and bought it an amazing online reputation

23 September 2015

From Fusion:

If you live in the Bay Area and have looked for something special to spice up a birthday party, you might have discovered the Freakin’ Awesome Karaoke Express, a truck that promises to deliver an unbelievable selection of songs to your doorstep. You might have seen a review on Yelp that said it’s perfect for a girl’s night out or a Facebook review that mentioned it being a crowd-pleaser at a neighborhood block party. You may have been impressed by its 19,000 Twitter followers, and considered hiring this mobile song-slinging truck to drive up to your next outdoor shindig.

What you probably didn’t realize was that there is no such thing as the Freakin’ Awesome Karaoke Express (or F.A.K.E., for short). I made it up and paid strangers to pump up its online footprint to make it seem real. I didn’t do it to scam anyone or even for the LULZ. I wanted to see firsthand how the fake reputation economy operates. The investigation led me to an online marketplace where a good reputation comes cheap.

For $5, I could get 200 Facebook fans, or 6,000 Twitter followers, or I could get @SMExpertsBiz to tweet about the truck to the account’s 26,000 Twitter fans. A Lincoln could get me a Facebook review, a Google review, an Amazon review, or, less easily, a Yelp review.

I found all these offers on, a “global online marketplace for creative and professional services.” Launched in 2010 by two Tel Aviv-based entrepreneurs, Fiverr has raised $50 million in venture capital to give a platform to freelancers who want to hawk their services. Most of the gigs there start at $5; Fiverr makes its money by taking 20% of the payment for any gig as its commission. Fiverr’s front page offers a variety of sample gigs: “SEO articles,” freelance press release writing, and album cover design work, but I was just interested in the fake reputation gigs.

. . . .

Technology research firm Gartner thinks that 10-15% of all reviews online are fake.

. . . .

For months, @awesome_karaoke depressingly tweeted to 0 followers. But after paying $21 to one of [the services on Fiverr] the truck gained more than 19,000 followers over night. The $21 bill for the gig included rush delivery.

Link to the rest at Fusion and thanks to Russell and others for the tip.

PG says this is one reason why publishers and agents focusing on the size of an author’s platform can easily be misled if they just look at the numbers without doing a more in-depth analysis of what those numbers really represent.

Orcs of New York Facebook Page Attracts Over 52,000 ‘Likes’

18 September 2015

From Maryann Yinn at GalleyCat

An actor named Harry Aspinwallcreated a Facebook page called “Orcs of New York.”

With this Humans of New York (HONY) parody project, Aspinwall aims to give “a face to the Mordor diaspora in New York, one orc at a time.”

Bridget thinks Orcs have been long overlooked as a cultural force in modern America. OONY is a step in the right direction.

Link to the rest at GalleyCat

This Is How You Use Facebook to Sell Books

11 September 2015

From Digital Book World:

I read the recent DBW piece “Why Facebook Cannot Help You Sell Books” with surprise, and I respectfully disagree with its contentions.

I’m pretty much the definition of a midlist author: I write full-time, I’ve hit a few Amazon best-seller lists over the last couple years, and readers seem to enjoy my books. I was making a very good income with the usual forms of advertising throughout 2014—BookBub and the other advertisers, permafree first in series, etc.—but when I turned on my first Facebook ads I immediately saw a massive spike in business.

I now use Facebook as a fundamental part of my marketing system and I know firsthand that the platform can be used to sell. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Facebook advertising is the single most powerful marketing and promotional tool that is available to authors, be they traditionally or self-published.

Between August 27th and September 2nd, I spent $3,029.17 on Facebook advertising. It sounds like a lot—and it is a lot—until you factor in the fact that I made $3,928.62 across the platforms where the book was available. I’ve spent more than $60,000 since the start of the year. That includes $13,278 on a single ad, but that ad has generated revenue of nearly $30,000, a return of 125 percent. The box set that I am selling has hit as high as 450 in the paid Kindle store and camps out at the top of its genre best-seller lists most of the time. That leads to significant additional discovery through better visibility, and that means more sales.

The problem with the arguments in the previous article is that the author’s tactics are out of date. The suggestions that it is a fallacy to spend time and money to grow your author page and that Facebook has slashed the organic reach of posts are true, and if the article had been titled “How Getting Facebook Likes Won’t Sell Books,” I would have agreed with it.

But getting Likes should not be the focus of a Facebook ads campaign today. Instead, authors should be using ads to meet two objectives: (1) building a mailing list by advertising a free book in return for a subscription and (2) advertising for paid sales.

. . . .

1. Use the Power Editor. You can use Facebook’s basic Ads Manager to create ads, but I don’t recommend it. The Power Editor is a Chrome plug-in for editing ads, and, while it is a little tougher to wrap your head around, it offers more flexibility and is the better bet. Save the Ads Manager for monitoring performance.

2. Ad Copy and Image. Approach the task of crafting your copy and choosing your image from the point of view of your potential reader. They will be browsing their newsfeed, enjoying updates from their friends and families, watching videos of cats—you need to jolt them out of that experience.

Ad copy shouldn’t be afraid to be promotional. If you have plenty of reviews, you should refer to them. If your book has been at the top of a best-seller list, then you should say so. Be proud.

Vivid images tend to return the best results. No more than 20 percent of an image should be covered by text (this can be tested with Facebook’s Grid Tool), but book covers themselves are specifically exempted from this requirement, as it’s just the associated text.

Remember to provide your image in the correct size. I’ve seen ads in my feed from traditional publishers that have been uploaded in the wrong size and then cropped across the middle, losing both the title and the name of the author.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Jo and several others for the tip.

Why Facebook Cannot Help You Sell Books

3 September 2015

From Digital Book World:

As an author, book marketer and social media specialist, I cannot think of a single more wasteful thing an author can do for book sales than to market on Facebook. Put simply, there is no evidence that Facebook can sell books, unless you’re a celebrity with a mass following. There is, however, plenty of evidence that Facebook is both a waste of time and money if you’re an unknown or midlist author.

To understand why Facebook is so demonstrably bad at selling books, you have to understand two key concepts that agents, publishers and marketing experts fail to mention whenever they encourage (and sometimes force) authors to build their “platforms:”

1. You Need at Least 20,000 Facebook Followers to Move Product

No, that’s not an official figure, but based on my experience and that of my clients, 20,000 followers seems to be the minimum amount you’d need to make any real headway. The average person, though, has just 338 friends. So let’s be practical: how on earth are you going to get to 20,000 “friends” or fans as an unknown or midlist author? What can you possibly post on a regular basis that would be so compelling, entertaining or informative that people would flock to “like” your page or become a friend? I hosted a TV show on HBO and England’s Channel Four. I’m well known in my niche market and after five years I have 5,000 Facebook followers. What nobody tells you is how extraordinarily difficult it is to establish and grow a fan base on Facebook. It is so difficult that even small companies outsource the job to experts.

2. Facebook Charges You to Reach Friends and Fans

This is always the biggest shock to most authors and even publishers: Facebook will not allow you to reach “friends” or the people who like your page unless you pay them. On average, Facebook allows less than 16 percent of your fan base to see your posts.

Let this sink in for a moment: whether you have 338 friends or 20,000 fans, Facebook allows only about 16 percent of them to see your posts. And if you want everyone to see them? Take out your wallet, because Facebook has a business to run. You wanna play? You gotta pay.

. . . .

I spent $60 marketing a popular book to 13,000 Facebook fans/like-minded people with a demonstrated interest in the subject matter and sold just three books.

But wait: maybe my post in the news feed wasn’t very effective? Well, look at the results in the above graphic: 188 post likes, 20 comments and 23 shares. The response was actually so good that Facebook sent me a message congratulating me on the fact that my campaign did better than 93 percent of others like it.

. . . .

1. People don’t “like” your page so they can be sold to. They signed up because they want free entertainment, gossip, information, advice and insight. You can only talk about your book so many times before you start sounding like an infomercial. This fact alone tells you how impractical Facebook is as a selling tool. Fans didn’t sign up to hear about your book, and now you’re going to sell them on it?

2. Facebook has a terrible click through-rate for posts. Remember my campaign that Facebook said outperformed 93 percent of others like it? I achieved a spectacular 3 percent click-through rate (the number of my fans who actually clicked on my post).

Three percent is spectacular? Yes. Facebook’s average click-through rate is less than two-tenths of 1 percent. So when Facebook advocates are telling you how useful the platform is for selling books, just remember that the average unknown-to-midlist author posting a pitch to fans is getting an average of two-tenths of 1 percent to click on it.

Here’s an even more depressing statistic: about 13 percent of fans who click on your post will actually buy the book. How do we know? Because experts believe that Amazon’s conversion rate is 13 percent. Just because a fan clicked on a post hawking your book, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to buy it. They’re interested enough to find out more about it, sure, but buy it? Only about 13 percent of the time.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Kristen for the tip.

Seven Ways Blogging Improves Your Writing

30 August 2015

From Writers Write:

Today, it seems that everyone is a blogger. Setting up a blog is simple. If your mother can set up a Facebook profile, chances are she will be able to set up a blog.

So, if it is that simple, why are you not blogging? Not everyone wants to write about his or her life. An online diary is seriously not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you spend time online, you will notice not all blogs are personal diaries.

. . . .

If that is not enough motivation to get you blogging, consider these seven points:

1. It gives you a deadline. Writers always perform better with deadlines. It forces you into a routine and helps you remain focussed.

2. It gives you something else to write. Sometimes we need a break from our novels and blogging will help with that

. . . .

4. The comments are great. They give you immediate feedback. However, some comments are not always great, but consider it a good way to start developing a thick skin.

Link to the rest at Writers Write and thanks to Elizabeth for the tip.

A manifesto for reaching readers

27 August 2015

From Futurebook:

“Direct to consumer” is not about selling books through your Web site.

Rather, it is a philosophy that puts your consumer, the reader, first and foremost in each and every activity that the business undertakes. That might seem straightforward enough, but with decades of complex author, agent and retail agreements piling up — not to mention territorial licensing, franchise deals and the like — readers may have taken a bit of a back seat in publisher corporate strategy.

The first phase of the digital evolution of the industry has taken place, and where we go next depends on publishers shifting their business away from B2B  —  we are no longer in the exclusive domains of resellers and middle men. Whoever makes the most of the unparalleled direct access to the consumers that digital platforms provide will emerge as the next dominant player in this ever-changing ecosystem.

. . . .

Publishers must recognize that they are brand owners

They are the gatekeepers standing between fans and the authors and stories they love.

  • Ask the average reader who their favourite author is and you get a clear-cut answer (or two, or more!).
  • Ask who publishes that author and you see where the branding loses focus.

I look to my previous career in videogame publishing and how game publishers organized business verticals and brands around genres, and I see a lot of opportunities for book imprints with more defined offerings to play a larger role in bridging the publisher-to-reader divide. On noisy social networks, targeted content that speaks to individual interests is more likely to attract attention than general mass communication.

Authors, with varying degrees of success, have been better at connecting and communicating with their readers. Publishers can amplify those successes, instead of adding competing voices to the mix, by empowering and enabling these connections and by looking to innovators in the digital space to maximize the breadth and depth of these interactions.

So what is it that readers want?

The simple answer is more books to read. The detailed answer involves curation, personalization and greater engagement. Whether that engagement is with the publisher, imprint, author or book character depends on the book genre and reader habits, and there is no one-size-fits-all.

Link to the rest at Futurebook and thanks to Barb for the tip.

PG is interested that Futurebook has discovered a great unaddressed longing among readers – more engagement with publishers. “I just want to snuggle up with Simon & Schuster.”

PG suspects the only people who truly want more engagement with publishers are those authors who have signed publishing contracts and can’t get anyone from their publisher to reply to their emails or return their calls. And unemployed MFA graduates.

Readers don’t care who published the book. Moviegoers don’t care who financed the movie. Music fans don’t care who distributed the song.

HarperCollins to close Authonomy

22 August 2015

From The Bookseller:

HarperCollins is to close its Authonomy online community for aspiring writers, which has been live since 2008.

The site has worked by inviting users to submit manuscripts online, with submissions ranked by users and the best-ranked considered for publication by HarperCollins. Authors found by HarperCollins through the Authonomy community include Miranda Dickinson, Steven Dunne and Kat French. However the community will now close at the end of September.

On the Authonomy site, the publisher explained to community members: “Unfortunately in recent years publishing of titles from the site has slowed as we have opened other submissions channels, and the community has become smaller… HarperCollins remains committed to discovering new writers, and this is reflected in our dynamic, genre-focused, digital-first lists such as HarperImpulse, and our open submissions windows for innovative commercial imprints such as Voyager and The Borough Press. We would encourage the very talented members of the vibrant Authonomy community to continue to show us their work through these channels.”

. . . .

HC gave no further comment on how many, if any, jobs were affected by the development.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller and thanks to Lexi for the tip.

39 Stellar Examples of Author Facebook Cover Photo Designs

18 August 2015

From Bookbub Partners:

Social media is an important element of any author’s online platform. According to a survey of 6,000 readers by Marie Force, 69% of readers use Facebook to find information about their favorite author, and 88% of readers follow their favorite author on Facebook. Whether you have a page, public profile, or group, you can brand your Facebook presence with a unique cover photo design.

Your online platform should always look polished and professional, and make it easy for readers to connect you with your books. Also, whenever someone likes your page, follows your profile, friends you, or joins your group, your cover photo will appear on her News Feed for her friends to see (a percentage of which is determined by Facebook’s algorithm, but regardless, some people will see it). Your cover photo will also appear on fans’ News Feeds whenever you update it.

. . . .

If you don’t have a professional designer at your disposal, here are some quick tips for spinning up a great Facebook cover photo:

  • The full dimensions of the cover photo are 851px wide by 315px tall.
  • To ensure your design isn’t cut off on mobile, on people’s news feeds, or upon their first visit to your page, try to fit your most important design elements within the bottom 150px and middle 563px. Still confused? This guide to Facebook’s dimensions should help.


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Link to the rest at Bookbub Partners

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