Get Started Blogging

What is a blog? And how do you start one? This past weekend, I gave a talk to a group of aspiring writers on “The Writer’s Life.” During the Q&A session, one person referred to my section on book marketing. “I don’t understand about blogs. Can you explain more about them?”
So I thought this would be a good time for a review of the principles. I’ve been blogging for over ten years. I regard it as a live journal that includes glimpses into your life such as travels, hobbies, other fun activities or musings on life in general. Plus, as a writer, you can offer tips on writing craft and marketing and share the creative process. So here are some items to consider.
Define Your Purpose.
Are you aiming to build an author platform? Do you want to be recognized as an expert in your field? To engage with readers? Or to have other writers look to you for advice? Ask yourself why you want to start a blog.
Determine Your Goals.
Do you mean to increase book sales? Gain a substantial number of followers? Attract comments on each blog? Receive requests for guest posts? What’s your benchmark of success?
Set Parameters.
How often do you intend to post? What days of the week are best? What time during the day will more people likely read your post? How long should each post be? Check your analytics as time goes on and make adjustments accordingly.
Brainstorm Topics.
While you are writing a book, jot down blog topics related to your theme, research, and writing process. These will be useful either to show your story in progress or to provide fodder for blog tours when your new release comes out. Meanwhile, determine how your content can add value to people’s lives. In what way can your personal anecdotes inspire others? Some authors set certain days for specific blog topics. For example, one day they might post recipes. Another day they might bring in a guest blogger. Or perhaps they do author interviews. Excerpts, book reviews, or trivia related to a particular hobby or personal interest might fill in other slots. I like to do conference workshop recaps. Or you can write posts as they come to you.
Acquire a Site.
When you’re ready to start, register at or Blogger for a free site. Or add a blog to your website. Become familiar with the features and start posting.
Link the Blog to Your Social Media Sites.
Not only should visitors be able to tweet and share each particular article, but your posts can be linked to your Twitter and Facebook pages. Check your Settings for how to enable these features or ask your Web designer to add the proper Plug-In.
What Pages Should Your Blog Site Contain?
Keep in mind that visitors to your blog, if separate from your website, might not visit you elsewhere. So consider what Pages you’ll want to have. Here are some suggestions: Welcome or Home Page; About (Bio); Appearances; Book Trailers; Books List (with series books in order); Contact (your email); Giveaways. In the sidebar, you can show your book covers, a Blog Roll with links to other authors’ sites, a Search box, a Subscribe button, Social Networking Icons, and an RSS feed button.
Include Photos in your Posts.
Photos will draw more hits, but be careful of copyright issues. Upload your own photos. Obtain photos at royalty-free sites or at least make sure you provide attribution.
Use Keywords.
Use tags with keywords and put keywords in your text to drive traffic to your site.
How to Gain Followers

  • Post often. Some people set themes, like “Recipe Monday” or “Guest Blogger Wednesday” or “Photo Friday.” Be consistent in your approach and keep your material current.
  • Have a clear and catchy headline for each post.
  • End your posts with a question to stimulate discussion.
  • Don’t use your blog solely to promote your books. You’re building a community of readers who want to get to know you, or else you are establishing yourself as an expert by offering useful material. Share new release info, reviews, and contests sparingly.
  • Comment on other people’s blogs.
  • Invite guests who have a following.
  • Always respond to comments and respect other people’s opinions.
  • On occasion, offer a prize drawing from commenters.
  • If you get a lot of comments on certain types of posts, steer your blog in that direction. Be responsive to readers. Note what engenders interest and what does not.
  • Be careful what you put out there. This is a public post. Avoid politics, religion, and any mention of personal business or issues you don’t want to share.
  • Always be respectful of other industry professionals.
  • Include links and images in your posts to raise visibility.

Index Your Blog
When your blog is a few years old, you might want to reissue an updated article. Keeping records of the topics, categories, and dates will help you retrieve these files. I suggest you write your blog in Word and save the posts by month and year. It’s imperative to keep your own blogs on your computer so you don’t lose them if there’s an online snafu. Then keep a separate file that’s an index so you can quickly search topics.
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Marketing to Bloggers

At a recent meeting of Florida Romance Writers, we heard Ana Ivies speak about Marketing, Blogs and Reader Events. She runs and which cater to readers.


For those who use affiliate links on their blogs, Ana says blog revenues have decreased since Kindle Unlimited got started. KU “has changed the landscape of reading.” Many bloggers won’t promote KU books. Ana sells books from her sites and puts up free and $.99 book specials there too. She advises authors that KU may be better for backlist titles. Bloggers want to promote new releases. Don’t undervalue your book to $.99 unless it’s a novella. When the third or fourth book in a series comes out, put book one on sale.

Advice For Approaching Bloggers

Find bloggers who review books similar to yours.
Research the site before querying to see if a blogger will promote your book.
Review their submission requirements. Ana says Net Galley is a good way to reach bloggers. Make sure you grammar check your query.
Follow the blogger on social media.
Address the blogger by name. Say, “Hi, I’d like to introduce myself…”
Give your name, book title, and a link to your book on Amazon. When asking to sign at an event, provide all of your links.
Support other authors.
Interact; don’t only promote.
Include all of your social media links in your email signature.
Put your Amazon author link on your FB page.
If a blogger gives you a positive review, comment on it and share it. Express your gratitude. “Thank you for taking the time to read and review my book.”
If you do a blog tour, go over and thank the host for being part of your event. A tour-wide giveaway draws readers in but don’t give away the ebook the blogger is promoting.

What Not To Do

Do not post your book or buy links on a blogger’s Facebook page. It’s okay to comment on a blogger’s FB posts and share their links.
Don’t tag a blogger in a promo post.
Don’t have your street team hijack a thread on her site and flood it with comments. One of two of your fans replying to a post is enough.
Don’t have your virtual assistant pose as you.
Don’t compare one blogger to another.
Don’t sign up a blogger for your email list without asking.
Don’t make fun of 1 star reviews.
Deal with drama privately, not online.

“When you write a book, it’s thirty percent writing and seventy percent promotion.”

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest:


Shine On Blog Award

Thanks so much to David Fernandez for nominating my blog for the Shine On Award. David discusses writing, sports, movies, and more at his entertaining site, so stop by for a visit. Thank you, David, for the nomination. It’s always nice to know people are reading my posts!

The Shine On Award


The Shine On Award Rules

  1. Link back to and thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Post the badge on your blog.
  3. Answer the questions posed to you.
  4. Nominate five bloggers who shine a little light in your day and notify them.
  5. Ask five questions for your nominees.

David’s Questions for Me

(1) Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

I develop my characters first, and then I’ll plot the story. I write a complete synopsis before I begin writing. This acts as my guideline, but that’s not to say the story doesn’t change as I write it. When I finish the book, I’ll go back and revise the synopsis accordingly. So I am definitely a plotter. I need to know where the story is going from the start.

(2) When you’re in a rut, where do you go for inspiration?

I’ll keep working out the plot in my head until something comes through. I might talk it out with my critique partners. Sometimes you just need a sounding board. Ideas may come to me when taking a walk or in the shower. The mind relaxes and allows a new connection to come through. It’s important to acknowledge these roadblocks as part of the writing process and to have faith that you’ll get through them like you do each time.

(3) What writer, living or deceased, would you compare your work to the most?

My work has been compared to Janet Evanovich for her humor. However, the humor in my mysteries is more wry and less slapstick. Also, my books are whodunits while hers are more adventures at heart. Jill Churchill’s humorous series is what first inspired my mysteries so my books could be compared  to her Jane Jeffry stories with the funny titles. There are many other humorous cozy writers out there whose work has a similar tone. As for my romance series, Alyssa Day comes to mind for her Warriors of Poseidon series.

(4) What is your story writing process?

For a mystery, I decide on the victim and then determine the suspects. I’ll do character development sheets at that point to help me figure out each character’s possible motive. Preliminary research is done at this stage too. When I have these elements in my head, I write a synopsis. This acts as my writing guideline although the story might change. For a romance, I develop the main characters and then the plot. After the synopsis is finished, I put myself on a writing schedule of five pages a day. Once the book is done, I do several read-throughs for line editing, consistency, repetitions, and smoothness.

(5) What is your blog writing process?

When I get an idea, I’ll either jot it down or write the entire blog at that time. When I’m working on a book, I may note possible blog topics to use later on when I’m doing a blog tour. I don’t have set dates when I blog except on The Kill Zone, where I am a regular contributor every other Wednesday. I encourage reader feedback on my blogs.

And I nominate

Mudpies and Magnolias for the writing life by Maggie Toussaint:
Terry’s Place for tips and strategies on writing by Terry Odell:
Scams & Cons for updates on scams by Terry Ambrose:
Hasty Tasty Meals for easy-to-make recipes by Cheryl Norman:
It’s Not All Gravy for life’s absurdities by Maryann Miller:

My questions for the nominees are

What genre do you read for fun?
Do you revise as you go along or wait until your first draft is done?
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Do you have beta readers and who are they?
What’s an interesting item you’ve researched for your current work in progress?