Saturday, January 22, 2011

Five Things Every Author's Blog Should Have

As part of my New Year's resolution to blog more, I figured one thing I ought to do - given my current day job as a social media manager - is to assist new writers interested in using their blogs as a promotional tool. Even though I assist clients in maintaining strong following via Facebook and Twitter, I always stress to people that you can update profiles daily, even several times, but blog content is king. Search engines are more apt to cache blogs, especially blogs that are updated frequently. Fresh content drives search, and if you want to attract readers looking for your genre, you best write about it while you're writing it.

Blogs should also be used by authors for conversation - invite readers into your world by sharing who you are and what you like. One thing I have noticed about Twitter is that it gives users a sense of companionship with the people who use it. For years we may have watched Demi Moore in the movies, for example, yet through her very popular Twitter account we become more familiar with the person. Authors, I believe, have a wonderful opportunity in capturing that sense of community with book lovers. I have met many celebrities over the years, and have found authors more accessible than most - even if you consider yourself introverted, your blog is your mouthpiece. Use it.

That said, let your blog design stand as an extension of your personality. Nice graphics and structure draw the eye, but use the template to promote yourself as well. Here are five things you definitely need on your blog:

1) Clear identification of who you are. The graphics are nice, but if your name gets lost in all the sparkling vampires and such no reader is going to know who you are. Have your name prominent and readable amid all the curlicue font work.

2) Clear links on sidebar to books. The blog is one of your main marketplaces, so have what you're selling above the scroll-fold. Use widgets for if your books are listed there - the Associates program makes it easy to set up. Otherwise, link book covers to your favorite vendor.

3) Facebook Like Button on every post. The Facebook Like Button differs from sharing on your Facebook wall. Nonetheless, it's important to have this button where people can click it. One simple click puts your link on Facebook, and increases the chance for results in search on the social network.

4) Chicklets for sharing content. With each post you should have buttons to share the content on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, and Tumblr. Those are the big five in my opinion, and while you might think people already have sharing functionality on their browser bars, don't assume that is the case with everybody. Make it easy and obvious for your readers to share you book info.

5) Contact information. The blog makes you accessible to readers, a contact form more so. Encourage the direct contact with fans who want to know when to expect your next book.

There's your blog promo lesson for the day. I'll try to make Saturdays a weekly tutorial for beginning promo tips for authors. Enjoy!

Kathryn Lively is an author of mystery novels, and has edited erotic romance.

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