Monday, December 16, 2013

Seven Lessons Learned from Blogging

Navigating the publishing landscape can be likened to exploring a major city without a tour guide. Landmarks abound, but not all of them carry the same weight in terms of history or importance. Whether you’re with a publisher, have self-published or you’re still mapping a path to publication, there are ways to make the journey less lonely and stressful.
Start Promotion Early each time you’re publishing a book. I’ve been caught flat footed time and again, so I know it’s important to keep potential readers and blogging buddies aware of what’s happening with an upcoming book. Lead up activity is important in that it creates awareness and gives people time to get on your bandwagon for blast off day.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for help. Many of us in the blogging/writing community can relate to not wanting to be a bother when we have something to promote. Over the years, I’ve learned that writers do want to see others succeed and will help if given a chance to do so.

Be a Beacon to your fellow bloggers/writers. Even if you have a small following, you do have the power to help someone else. Ever come across a post with great information but little response by way of comments? Give it a tweet. You never can tell who might need the information or what connections you’ll make. I’ve picked up Twitter follows from influential writers simply by sharing a post.

Build Goodwill through your actions. I’m sure you can think of people who are kind and helpful, just because. I’m also sure that you find it easy to return favours when these persons call on you for help, because they freely give encouragement and support. A band of authors who share the same genre can help each other through cross-promotion of books, with good results.

Share the Love by following other people’s blogs and commenting. You might say ‘Duh!’ to this, but I had no clue what to do when I first started blogging. I wondered why I was the only one visiting me. When I did visit others, I didn’t follow. Instead, I’d lurk and not leave footprints. Over time, I learned that most bloggers would follow back if I left a trail to my blog, and they liked my content.  

Be Approachable. Each of us started with a single follower or perhaps a handful. I continue to be amazed by super-bloggers like Alex and Arlee, who take time to respond to comments, or if they don’t respond on their blogs, they make visits. A blogger who doesn’t respond to comments in any way is a turn off. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is a good rule to live by.

Use Nifty Tools at your disposal. I feel like a hypocrite saying this as I don’t make enough time to pre-schedule my messages. Don’t be a random tweeter. Save yourself the hassle of tweeting manually by using one of the many auto tweeting services now available. I’ve tried several and have started using HooteSuite again recently. Triberr is a really cool site, basically it’s Twitter on steroids. Check it out and make use of it if you can. It gives bloggers a massive reach in combination with other people. 

Here’s something extra. ‘Brawta’ as we say in Jamaican Patois. Write things down. I can’t endorse this enough. As you become more serious about your writing, it’s important to be on top of all the obligations that you will take on in terms of promoting your work and that of other people. Apart from Google’s nifty calendar, I use one of those calendars from Microsoft where you can see a month’s activities at a glance. That way, I know where I’m supposed to be guest posting when, as well as the dates I’m supposed to be sending the post/interview over. I also know which blogger/writer I’m hosting and the date.

So, d’you feel any more informed and secure about some of the things you should be doing on your publication journey? Have any advice to add?

Don’t forget to enter the IWSG contest, which closes on December 18. Enter here to help us spread the word about the site. We have some fabulous prizes!


Sassy said...

Thank you for the advice. I appreciate all of the awesome tips, glad to have come across this blog.


Unknown said...

These are the exact reasons I blog. Wonderful post.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

All excellent tips! Most writers are giving people who want to help.
And thanks for the mention. Clones really do help.

Pat Hatt said...

Great tips indeed, employ most all at my feed. Have to use things like hootsuite as it helps streamline things

L. Diane Wolfe said...

One of these days I will set up HooteSuite.

Never be afraid to ask. After taking a month off, I came back with a request for guest posts to get me going again and now I have two set up for next year.

J.L. Campbell said...

MMM, thanks for finding us! I've been by to visit.

True that, Clarissa. These things make blogging a worthwhile endeavour.

Alex, yes, bloggers give and give. You're an example to so many of us.

Pat,I find I'm lazy and so I set up some tweets and then let things fall by the wayside again. It helps to know that once you work out the details, thing continue to run quietly in the background.

Diane, I need to swing by your blog.

Unknown said...


THANK YOU. I need to check that out. I'm a royal random tweeter. HA!

Triberr - I've been a part of that for awhile, but if you join too many tribes, you end up spamming the crappola out of your followers.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Great advice. I haven't taken advantage of the extra Twitter stuff . . . I just let out a huge sigh at the thought of trying to figure out One. More. Thing. LOL :-)

J.L. Campbell said...

Terri, have fun with it. True about Triberr. Nowadays, I also check what I'm sending from whom, because a few people do not reciprocate.

Jamie, I so understand. I gave in and tried out Pinterest this past weekend - after I said I couldn't do one more thing. :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

hehe, writing things down is the best advice from this great list of tips. Once I forgot to write a date down and I got myself into big trouble because of the forgotten date. Oops!!!!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great advice. I received so much great advice from other bloggers when I started and I'm still learning. Great post.

Anonymous said...

I'm bad about not asking for help. Trying to get better about it though.

BECKY said...

Hi JL! Thanks for all the great info. I began blogging in 2009 because a writer I'd never actually met, suggested I do so. I'm very glad I followed her advice! I never have liked facebook, and reading this has given me thoughts of closing my page(s). I love the idea of newsletters like you mentioned on your blog! Thanks, again!

Elsie Amata said...

This was a really great post to read. I love how bloggers support one another. It's a truly beautiful gift we give each other.

Michelle Wallace said...

Joy, these are such great tips, thank you.
Lesson no.#1 - Start promotion early. Is there such a thing as too early...?
I have no idea what Hootsuite and Triberr are. But you seem to be the Queen Of Nifty Tools, so I'll take your word that these tools are effective in giving bloggers a massive reach... and I'll check them out... but if I hit a brick wall, then I'm following through with lesson no.#2

J.L. Campbell said...

Lynda, I've been in trouble a time or two because I forgot to note important things.

Susan, like you, I've learned tons from bloggers and learn new things each day.

Patricia Lynne, that's what the IWSG is all about. Work up your courage, put out your cry for help and prepape to be bowled over at the response.

Becky, thanks for connecting. Glad you found this helpful.

Elsie, the blogging community is like no other.

Michelle, you are welcome. Never too early. I've read about people who had overwhelming success because they started promoting as early as two years before their book was ready. More than most of us can imagine, but it's been done. :) Sadly, I get sidetracked by ever new tool ever invented to assist writers. By now, I have about half a dozen software for writers, none of which I've used. Feel free to jump to number 2 whenever the need arises. :)

Anonymous said...

A great reminder, we're all in this together!!