In the blogging world, there are unwritten rules you need to know and follow. A large percentage applies to all who blog. Call them rules, guidelines, or just really good suggestions, they will place you in a favorable light.
The basic rules:
- Remember you are a guest. You have entered the home of another blogger. You wouldn’t walk into someone’s house and immediately begin criticizing the decorations or the homeowner. Be respectful. It’s all right to disagree, just use some tact. Stay on topic. Respond to what that person has written. (Which means you have to actually read it.) This is not the place to respond to a comment on your blog or go off on a tirade about something else or toot your own horn.
- Don’t turn you comment into blog post. A thoughtful, detailed comment is good. You start requiring several paragraphs to respond, then your comment would be better suited as a blog post or a direct email to the blog host.
- No personal attacks. Again, it’s all right to disagree, gently and with tact. But don’t attack the host or those leaving comments. Don’t get into a hot debate. If the blogger has asked for a debate and opposing opinions, then engage in a respectful manner. Offer persuasion not argument, solutions not problems. But don’t condemn or ridicule.
- Don’t hog comments. Don’t jump in with your own agenda and leave long comments. Don’t keep coming back just to reply to comments left by others. This is not your blog, not your house. Let the blog host reply and stick to your own comment thread.
- Be respectful of others’ time. People are busy. Impatient. They want you to get to the point and quickly. Two thousand words just because you like to hear yourself talk will not endear you to others.
- In general, stick with a theme. What’s your blog about? Your personal life? Writing? Inspiration? Information? Are certain days devoted to certain topics? For the most part, stay within your personal guidelines. People are creatures of habit and like to know what to expect.
- Be consistent. Pick your day(s) and time and stick with it. Sometimes you have to skip or post at a different time, but if every time is different, you’ll lose the readership that comes from establishing a pattern.
- Respond to comments. Interact with those who took the time to leave a comment. Show you are involved. And visit those who visit you.
Those are some of the basics. There are also rules more specific to writers and authors:
Don’t be a commercial -
Unless your books have sold millions and your royalty checks are also in the seven figure category, don’t toot your horn all the time. People aren’t coming to your site JUST to see what you are doing and when your next book will be out and what your sales figures are for the month. Yes, share your accomplishments. But share other things 90% of the time. Otherwise you’ll come off as self-centered and out of touch with reality - and your blog nothing but a billboard.
Do onto others -
Just like the Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be treated and show respect and consideration. What we dish out will come back to us, whether positive or negative. This business is tough enough. Sabotaging it with our own negativity is just plain dumb.
- Support - don’t be stingy with supporting and helping other writers and authors. We can’t do this alone. We need the support of family, friends, readers, and our fellow authors. The greatest giver will receive the greatest support and without even asking.
- Reviews - be mindful of book reviews you post online. There are several camps on this subject. Rather than settle in one, I’ll offer this word of advice: what goes around comes around. You are not just a reader anymore. You are a writer or an author with published books. Not only do you understand the struggle, but you also know that bashing other books is a sure way to invite others to bash yours. Don’t lie in reviews, but don’t set out to destroy an author. Again, use tact. And if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.
- Comments - when it comes time for our cover reveals, release announcements, guest posts, and personal posts of insecurity, we want positive feedback. We don’t need critics. Most of the time, by the time our books hit the blogging world, they are set - cover art complete, book formatted, synopsis written, blurbs finalized, etc. We can’t change things. And often it’s up to the publisher, not us. Keep that in mind when commenting on cover art, new releases, new authors, a guest post, etc. No one cares about or wants to hear your negative comment. Being critical just invites the same treatment when your next book comes out. Build up with your comments, don’t tear down.
Negative comments? We got them! Below are some recent and genuine blog comments. (Name removed to protect the guilty.)
In response to a video about an author who is a veteran and lost his limbs:
Veteran LOL, more like foreign invader and aggressive terrorist
In response to cover reveals and release announcements:
can't say I like that cover, doesn't look professionally done to me
a nice cover with very badly positioned lettering
highly inappropriate cover
In response to a moving book about counseling veterans and the military:
American warriors LOL, more like American terrorists and invaders
Don’t be a troll online! There are enough of them already. This is your career as a writer. Aim to be the most respected, genuine, gracious, giving, and admired writer. And how do you accomplish that? Through your words...