David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

Tips on Promoting Your Author Blog

Inspired by an e-mail from my friend Matt Jarpe yesterday afternoon, I decided to extend this promotional kick I’ve been on further and discuss author blog promotional tactics. I know there are approximately 2.6 zillion gajillion posts out there on effective blogging, so feel free to transfer that grain of salt you were serving with my recent blog posts about book promotion to this one. This is just what’s worked for me; your mileage may vary.

Website for 'Radio Freefall' by Matt Jarpe(Matt Jarpe, by the way, is the author of the upcoming Radio Freefall, due out this summer from Tor. Matt’s also a very smart guy with a very wry sense of humor, so his blog should make for interesting reading. I’ve gotten a chance to read about half of Radio Freefall, and it’s quite a delectable concoction. I told Matt it reads like something Philip K. Dick might have written if he’d roadied for Metallica, and it’s absolutely true, and I’m going to repeat it as often as possible in hopes that Tor will stick it prominently on the book jacket.)

(I should also disclose that Matt hired me to design and program his Radio Freefall website. Not that I’m lying when I say those good things about the book, but just thought you should know.)

Now on to some blog promotion tips:

1. Write about interesting things that relate to the subject of your book. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? If your novel is about Jewish Marxist werewolves in Bolivia, write about Judaism, Marxism, lycanthropy, and Bolivia. Review other books that relate to yours. That doesn’t mean you need to be straitjacketed by these topics, but make sure that anyone interested in these topics will have some pertinent reading material on your blog.

2. Give your posts straightforward, keyword-heavy titles. A lot of people will discover your blog randomly from Google searches, and you want to help that process. Irony is not your friend here; make your post titles simple, specific, and enticing. Remember that the person wading through search engine results doesn’t know anything about you or your book, and the title is just about the only thing that will lure them in to sample the merchandise. (Some people title all their blog posts with lyrics from pop songs. There’s a special demon waiting in Hell for these people, and he’s got a big, nasty, acid-drenched pitchfork.)

3. Make sure your blogging software is displaying your post titles the most efficient way possible. Some blogging platforms will give you lousy HTML titles by default. WordPress, for instance, will automatically give your pages titles like this: David Louis Edelman’s Very Groovy Blog » Tips on Promoting Your Blog. Which is fine, until you see that Google cuts off your title in search engine results so it looks like this: David Louis Edelman’s Very Groovy Blog » Tips on Promot. Front-load the titles of your blog pieces so the most interesting stuff comes first. Make sure HTML titles still make sense when you bookmark, save, or e-mail the page.

4. Promote your book, but don’t just promote. People understand that you’re trying to sell your book — but if you have nothing to say in your blog except pure promotion, people won’t pay attention. You gotta include the cake with the icing. I also find it useful to give your audience advance warning when you’re about to put on your promotional hat. “Hey, I’m gonna get all used car salesman on you now, so wocka wocka wocka! [does Fozzy Bear dance]”

5. Interact. I try to mix up the posts where I stand on my soapbox and megaphone my opinions to everyone with the posts where I’m soliciting feedback and initiating a discussion. Ask questions of your readers. And when they post comments, get in there and mix it up with ’em. When they post something that really adds to the discussion, thank them.

6. Link to others freely, and use Trackback or Pingback. Several people have asked me now if there’s some kind of etiquette for adding a link to someone else’s blog. I mean, you can’t just link to Bruce Sterling’s blog, can you? Actually, you can. And you want to link to other, more established blogs, for several reasons: a) it’s a helpful service to point your readers to other blogs that might interest them, b) other bloggers may notice that you’re linking to them, and thereby discover who you are, c) it gives your readers a taste for exactly what kind of person you are. As for Trackback/Pingback: it’s polite to notify someone you’re commenting on their blog piece. Oh, and it’s a nifty way to get a link back to your blog.

7. Link to yourself. People may stumble onto your blog for all kinds of reasons. Perhaps they Googled “Jewish Marxist werewolves in Bolivia.” But they won’t necessarily know what else you’ve got up your sleeve unless you have good representative links to other blog posts you’ve done. List your recent blog pieces, list your most popular blog pieces, list pieces related to the piece that they’re currently reading. The idea is to draw readers in and make them know that there’s a lot to explore on your site.

8. Don’t go crazy with bloggy Web 2.0-y crap. You know what I mean. We’ve all seen the blogs that are so full of buttons, meters, links, doodads, gewgaws, and whatnots that the actual articles get lost in the shuffle. Make use of the things that work for you, but don’t think that you have to have Digg buttons and Reddit buttons and StumbleUpon buttons and a SiteMeter, et cetera ad nauseum. Take inspiration from Charles Stross’ blog, which shows that all you really need is a blank page and something to say.

9. Participate in other blog discussions. Get your name out there by making thoughtful points in discussions on other people’s blogs. If you’ve got interesting things to say, people will follow the links to your own blog. There’s nothing wrong with mentioning your own book if it’s relevant to the discussion. But don’t be gratuitous about it, like the proverbial SF con panelist: “Yes, that’s a good point, but in MYYYYYYYYYY BOOK, which I’m holding up, available in the dealer’s room, order it on Amazon, I’m signing autographs in the lobby…”

10. Give it time. A lot of people start blogs, post diligently for a couple of months, and then just abandon them when they decide nobody’s reading. But there seems to be a weird momentum unique to the blogosphere. You throw your words out into the digital aether for a few months thinking nobody’s listening — and then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, people start commenting on your blog and linking to you. It snowballs, and soon you’ve got a community.

Any other general tips I’m missing here?

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  1. Josh on December 14, 2006 at 4:13 pm  Chain link

    Hmm. Great advice, as I am generally in the throwing-words-into-yon-void mode still. I’d add one itty-bitty bit I’ve learned from my days upon days of blogging experience…1. Have fun with your blog, since you’re going to be the one who hangs out with it the most, you better darn be able to entertain yourself. Don’t let it become a drudgery beast that sucks all the joy out of the writing process itself. Maybe that’s an obvious point, but ah well.

  2. David Louis Edelman on December 14, 2006 at 4:29 pm  Chain link

    Thanks, Josh. And don’t worry, we here at the management of David Louis Edelman’s Blog wholly endorse restating the obvious.

    Congrats on the Shimmer sale, btw.

  3. Josh on December 14, 2006 at 4:39 pm  Chain link

    Thankya kindly..

  4. Matt Jarpe on December 15, 2006 at 11:55 am  Chain link

    Good, now I don’t have to read those 2.6 zillion gajillion posts. This looks like it about covers what I need.

    I’ve got to admit that I resisted the whole idea of a blog for the longest time. I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with anything interesting to say, being politically moderate and valuing my own and other people’s privacy like I do.

    But I agree that it’s one way, a good way, an easy way, to drive traffick to my web site (which I and everyone I’ve shown it to have pronounced “neato.”) I plan to fill it with stuff about science, popular culture and the whole writing thing, and to use it as an easy to update schedule/newsletter.

    I’m all prepared to interact, but so far I haven’t gotten many comments. I’ll keep at it. I’ve got a few other online hangouts and I’ve been putting my links in wherever I feel its appropriate. I’ve got about 8 months to raise my Technorati ranking (which was somewhere in the high 2 millions the only time I checked). And then the book promoting juggernaut that is matthewjarpe.com will take over the world. Ah, the publishing world, that is. The science fiction publishing world. OK, the hard science fiction/Rock -n- Roll publishing world.

  5. […] one of my recent posts, I made a few throwaway comments about a fictitious novel concerning Jewish Marxist werewolves in […]

  6. 103 links to promote your blog for free on June 16, 2007 at 12:50 pm  Chain link

    just promoting my blog ! thanks

  7. Cityslicker Mom on August 30, 2007 at 5:09 am  Chain link

    31 Unique-Secret-simple-easy-ways to Promote Your

    There are many ways and tips to Promote Your Blog and get notice from others and search engine

  8. Nupur Das on September 5, 2008 at 4:32 pm  Chain link

    Really these are great tips.

  9. Marc Michaels on October 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm  Chain link

    A very interesting set of hints. I must admit that since setting up a publishing myyyyyy (as you say) books, I had no idea how hard it would be to actually get people interested – even though some of my titles are a bit niche (being concened with sofrut) but even the wider appeal ones are hard to promote. The sheer amount of time it involves. In terms of blogging vs facebook and twitter and other social networking I must admit it is proving hard for me to work out the best place to spend the time and effort and a lot of cut and paste – or is there an easier way to upload content to everywhere simultaneously – am I missing a web 2.0 trick here? Any advice?

  10. David Louis Edelman on October 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm  Chain link

    Marc: Some of the services play nice with each other — you can have your Twitter feed automatically mirror on your Facebook status, for instance. But if you’re looking for one place where you can compose your content and just have it automatically push out to a bunch of services across the web, I haven’t found it yet. Probably the closest you’re going to get is by using WordPress and a lot of custom plugins.

  11. Marc Michaels on October 22, 2009 at 3:52 am  Chain link

    Thanks David – I won’t spend time looking for something that doesn’t exist, but I didn’t know about the twitter and facebook so I’ll have a go at that.

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