Monday, October 19, 2009

author websites part 1.75: what not to blog

So you've made yourself an author website, your first book has come out, and you're feeling kinda famous. Kinda famous enough that you think people might want to hear about your daily life, your writing process, or your two cents on the latest tempest in the publishing teapot. Kinda famous enough that they might want to download a picture of your pet iguana reading a copy of your book and use it as wallpaper for their cellphone. That kinda famous.

So you decide to add a blog to your author website, where readers can do just that.

Now what?

Now you have to write content for your stinkin' blog. Or harness the power of globalization to hire a personal valet in India to write your blog posts for you for six dollars an hour. But do you have six dollars an hour to spare? No? Then it's time to write blog posts.

Lucky for you, INTERN has broken it down somewhat. Here are some guidelines to get you started:

PART 1: What's Hot:

-Publishing or book-related news and opinions

You belong to an authors association, right? You read other books in your genre, right? You're concerned with the fate of books and publishing...right? No? Well...let's just say that if you *did*, you could blog about the goings-on in the book world, like this post by womens' fiction writer Cathy Yardley about a scuffle between print and e-published authors in the Romance Writers' Association. Or if you can't be bothered to inform yourself about industry goings-on, you could always use your blog to start rumors.

-Writing about writing

Readers love to know how a book came to be written—what inspired it, what the your writing schedule looked like, the exact view from the window over your writing desk, how you came up with the character names. Posts about the writing life generally make for happy readers, and the more specific you can get, the better. Bonus if you wrote the book naked (or at least claim to on your blog).

-Updates on forthcoming books

You have a forthcoming book (or, if you're Meg Cabot, a constant stream of forthcoming books) right? You're excited 'cause your publisher just sent you the cover art/a galley/a list of scathing comments on your latest revision. Slap those on your blog, and readers will ogle (or weep) right along with you.

Contests and giveaways

Send a free book to the first ten readers who send in a photo of themselves waterskiing while wearing only the paperback edition of your novel. But only try this if you have a big enough readership that ten people will actually enter, 'cause it's a bit of a buzzkill if nobody enters.

Shoutouts to other writers

Tired of talking about yourself all the time? Turn the spotlight on other books and writers that will interest your readers. By "spotlight," INTERN means, "say nice things about." Not "trash their new book and/or announce plans to firebomb the mansion they bought with that ridiculously engorged advance that was rightfully yours."

Personal stuff that your readers will care about

A big theme in Cupcake Brown's book "Piece of Cake" is drug addiction and recovery. This week she blogged about the party she's throwing to celebrate her 20 years of sobriety. Totally relevant news to her audience of readers who feel an emotional connection to her recovery. If Cupcake Brown was, say, a children's cookbook author, this news might not touch her readership in quite the same way.


Once you're famous enough, you can post photos of pretty much anything you want. Until then, keep it to pictures of your books, yourself, and your readers engaging in aforementioned nudist stunts.

Links to relevant media

This probably doesn't need mentioning, but if you're appearing on TV, on the radio, in a magazine, or as a guest blogger, then by god provide a link. Mentioning you're nervous or excited about said media appearance is OK too, and tends to increase your likeability-factor.

PART 2: What's Not

-Any personal information that's boring or...boring.
-Anything mean. You will regret it. No exceptions.
-Random, junky links and photos that have nothing to do with your subject matter or target audience.
-Lengthy rambles pertaining to religious conversion, unless directly related to your book.

Go forth, and blog ye in goodness!


  1. When I was in conservatory, one of my fellow pianists used to practice naked. He'd tape piece of paper over the practice room window (thank goodness) and (we hoped and prayed fervently) put down a little towel, and he'd practice that way for hours.

    We know this is true because sometimes that piece of paper fell down. *shudder*

  2. Luv this blog! Very funny and yet informative. :)

  3. OH thank you I've been wondering about what to blog about now that my book going to actually be published.

  4. Another funny yet informative post. Keep them coiming.

  5. Great advice! I shall, indeed, go forth and blog in goodness. Now, if I could just get my book finished and published, I'd have hoards of readers flocking to my blog with rabid interest.


    Just nod and smile...

  6. Wonderful advice.

    I wandered over from Alexis Grant's blog.

    Happy weekend!

  7. I'm practicing for when I do become published. I'll assume the guidelines still apply. :)

  8. This is a wonderful site and blog post. Informative and funny and smart. Thanks so much. Martha McPhee

  9. Hi. This post is likable and your blog is very interesting, congratulations!
    add your

  10. Great advice... as I am taking notes for my blog... while sitting naked (not!)