But with all the writing blogs out there, I want to stand out by focusing this writing blog on three kinds of writers-like-me:
1. Writers who are conservative or conservative-libertarian or ‘superversive’ and who have to deal with SJWs (social justice warriors) trying to stamp out hatred and bigotry by being hateful and bigoted about US.
2. Writers who are Christians (Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Orthodox, LDS, and other Jesus-followers) or Jews— in the traditional understanding of the words ‘Christian’ and ‘Jew’— who write fiction that they hope is pleasing to God. Or fiction that is at least not a mortal sin.
3. Writers who are struggling with problems such as Asperger Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and other problems that can interfere with getting writing done.
I’m going to be changing and updating the sidebar and pages of this blog to reflect the new focus, and I welcome suggestions from readers as to what you want to see more of on this blog.
I’m also busy with another project, which will take some time away from my work on this blog. I will be announcing what that other project is on this blog. At some point.
Blessed Sunday to you all!
I’ve read all the advice books about promoting books and building your ‘brand’ as an author and they say we all ought to be starting an email list with aWeber or MailChimp to collect email addresses in order to send out newsletters to our ‘true fans.’
And so I signed up for MailChimp and added that incredibly annoying popup to this blog and got a few signups. And then went a long time without sending out a newsletter, until last December.
The good thing was that only one person unsubscribed, and five opened the newsletter, so it wasn’t a total failure. Most people who get email newsletters never open them.
And so, on to this month’s newsletter, which is called Antimatter Insiders or some such. I wrote it up this morning, and scheduled it to be emailed out to whoever is on the list early Monday morning.
According to the books I’ve read, you should not use your newsletter for a lot of ‘buy my book’ advertising. You are supposed to write things that your readers will find of value.
So in this month’s newsletter the main article was on a little secret I discovered about blogging. I also mentioned Jon del Arroz’s new book, and instead of trying to sell one of my poetry books, I showed a way that newsletter readers could read my more expensive book for free. And of course there was a cute kitten picture.
Interested in the newsletter? Go to http://eepurl.com/FN2hr before Sunday is over with and you can get the newsletter for yourself. Remember, there’s a kitten picture!
Yeah, this is me. Picture was taken in a photo booth in Heidelberg, Germany, near the Heidelberg Woolworth store. Author photos are not a sign of author vanity— I’m vain enough, but I hate how I look in photos— but a way to connect with your readers as a real person.
Here is where I have to disagree with the ‘experts’, specifically Joanna Penn. She says that using free blogging services— wordpress.com and Blogger in my case, is ‘unprofessional’ and that discerning viewers can tell a free website and, evidently, look down on you for it.
Even people who have plenty of money might choose to not spend more of it on paid blog services and domain names and such. And also, it might be a sign of solidarity with poor, disabled, and other disadvantaged writers and aspiring writers who haven’t made it big yet.
If you are a writer or aspiring writer with Asperger Syndrome [autism spectrum disorder], you have according to some statistics an 80% chance of being unemployed— even though the Asperger Syndrome diagnosis (when they still had it) rules out retardation and extreme low-functioning. It’s hard to get even the most menial job when employers take one look at you and see you as ‘odd’ and ‘shifty’ because you can’t make eye contact correctly!
Writing was one of the recommended careers for Aspies according to one book I read, and the prospect gives a lot of us hope. But being told you have to spend money on just starting a blog….. There are better things to save our limited funds for.
There is also the case of homeless aspiring writers who are bloggers. I’ve read of a case where a homeless girl wrote a popular blog about her homeless life and eventually got a book deal. She wrote her blog, I assume, with a free blogging service, and used the computers in public libraries.
I reject the notion that you need to pay for your blog and for a domain name to be serious about being a ‘professional’ writer. I have seen writers who have tried to save money on a domain name and turned their free blog into something less functional. If your words are good, people won’t notice your blog isn’t a paid one. If your words are not yet good because you are still learning, people won’t notice your blog’s free status either because they will either criticize you (a good thing) or just look down on you.
“If you are an author, you need a brand!” they keep saying but they rarely explain what they mean by brand. It’s not cowboys on horses rounding up a herd of authors and applying hot metal brands to tender author-flesh.
According to Jeff Goin’s book, ‘You are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)’, an author brand has three elements.
- Author name. Ideally, your real name. But if you have the family name of Dickens and the first name of Charles, you need a pen name. Same if you could lose your day job by the politically incorrect things you write, or if it would cause problems to your family members.
- Image. Your author photo. It’s like when you are on Facebook and someone you know ONLY on Facebook has a photo of himself as his FB profile picture and it kind of feels like you know him in real life. Or it could be a logo. That’s less personal, you need a reason to use a logo, and you need a professional to design one unless you are a professional graphic designer.
- Your Voice. That’s the hardest one. A writer needs to develop a unique voice and no one really tells you how to do that. But it’s really just when you are being YOU and you say the you-things you might say in real life with your friends. OK, when you are writing online or in books you may develop you-things to say that you wouldn’t say in real life. Maybe it’s just the a few unique turns of phrase you have that you use in certain situations, or some issues you can’t shut up about. If you are still unsure, ask some of your best social media friends— ‘Is there something you recognize about the things I say when I post? So if I posted on someone else’s account by mistake, you would guess it’s really me?’
Warning: Although your voice will develop and change over time, you shouldn’t be switching names or images/logos much. Once you start putting yourself out there as a writer/aspiring writer, you can’t expect people to follow you to your new identity.
If your image is your author photo, it’s better to keep the same one for a long period of time than to switch each week. If you need to update because your old photo was taken when you were twenty and you are now 108, try to have similarities in your background, clothing and overall look so people can pretend to recognize you. Remember, Coca-Cola is a success because it’s kept the same name and logo for a lot of years! You need to do the same.
Imagine you just started your author-blog yesterday. You wrote a blog post that is really fine-and-dandy. But it will probably be a while before you start getting discovered by readers. What can you do, right now, to get your posts read?
One thing that has worked for me is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group or IWSG. It is a monthly blog hop for writers which has really blossomed in to something big. It takes place the first Wednesday of every month. Here is where you sign up. http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html
It’s a very LONG list of participants. And they weed out the people who forget to participate regularly. Now, just this list of subscribers is gold, because it is a list of active author bloggers.
Best Practices for IWSG Participants
The group is about sharing your insecurities as a writer. DON’T write a post that sounds like a blurb from your book. Write something that shares a little of yourself, and how you are not quite 100% confident about your writing. But— here’s an important hint— don’t sound TOO insecure. You want other people to have some confidence in your writing. So don’t write an ‘everything I write is utter dreck’ post because that encourages people to believe it! Write something about one little thing that is giving you trouble. Or that you worry about. As in my own case: I’m working on a zombie apocalypse story, and I finally have a good name for my Hero: Eirik, a Viking form of Erik. But in this case his birth name was Frederick. It’s great, and Frederick has resonance with me because I had a grandfather Frederick. And my other grandfather had the middle name of Friedrich, German for Frederick. But then I realized— the name Eric is close to Rick, the hero of the zombie TV show The Walking Dead. What is my subconscious mind trying to do to me?
The number one thing that the IWSG does for you is gets you to visit other people’s blogs. And the one thing you have to do is to write comments on blogs. Any blogs. All blogs. Except porn/erotic-romance writer’s blogs, of course. (Their writing world is not our world.)
Comments can and should be short, but they should show that you have actually read the blog post in question. ‘Nice post’ does not cut it. ‘Nice post about your cat’s flea infestation’ does.
There are four kinds of blogs on the IWSG that it pays to comment on:
- The ones at the very bottom, who have just signed up and who may not be used to getting comments on their blog
- The ones at the very top, who are regular participants and who get lots of comments on their IWSG posts (make yours memorable.)
- The ones in the middle, who don’t get the attention that the bottom and top do
- Your regulars. These are the people who, after a few months of participation, you think are good matches for you and your blog. Perhaps they are writing in your genre, or they share your worldview, or maybe they are just funny or have great content or share cute pictures of their cat. Make a list of these blogs you like and be sure to visit them each time.
Remember to visit back on the blogs of your commenters. I’m really insecure about doing that because visiting back feels too much like social interaction and as a person with Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) that’s difficult and scary.
Mark the Date
It’s easy to forget about the date of the IWSG, which is the first Wednesday of the month, so mark it on your calendar and put a note on the wall of your writing room. It’s a very worthwhile effort for those with new or rarely visited blogs.
I know the advice for writers is to build a platform, build an audience. But the problem is that as soon as a learn how to do something that builds my platform, something changes and my strategy no longer works.
For a while I thought that blogging was dead and I should post everything on Facebook or other social media. But then they made changes to Facebook and all the strategies failed.
This makes me feel like a failure in general. Like nobody is interested in what I have to say. Which is probably true because I’m weird. But really, it is just that all the social media change their rules to make more money, and we lose all our effective platform building strategies with each change.
And so I fall back on my blog. It’s always been at the core of my platform building. I started blogging when blogging was new. And it is still a good place to express my ideas and get them out to people who might like it. Or like to bully me because of it.
The one thing I think of is that I need to figure out how to attract the right sort of people to my blog. It does no good to ME to have people read all or part of a blog post if they hate Christians/Catholics and only read books by atheists. Or people who don’t really read books at all, when there are so many movies and video games to entertain them.
And another aspect of ‘platform building’ – I need to do more to promote the books of my author friends. I don’t know whether to do more review posts dedicated to one book, or maybe a ‘book roundup’ that introduces 5 or so books. Because I don’t really like blogs that are just book review after book review.