Welcome to Tuesday, Scribe’s readers. PJ Sharon here. In today’s post, I’ll be asking and answering a few questions about blogging—now that I can say without exaggeration that I have ample experience. I’d also like to address a growing problem for authors and bloggers called “Blog Burnout.” For me, this inevitable outcome of overexposure to blogging is defined as the mental, emotional, and physical fatigue that comes from “chronic” blogging. The symptoms are:
1) An inability to come up with a single new and unique idea if your life depended on it.
2) A mistaken assumption that your life does, indeed, depend on it.
3) And a burning desire to cut ties with FB, Twitter, and Blogger captchas (those squiggly, indecipherable, non-words that you have to enter to leave comments on Blogger sites).
According to marketing experts, blogging is a surefire way to get your name out there, promote your work, and increase your sales. In theory, blogging is a way to reach potential new readers who will buy your book or shout to the world what a brilliant and interesting writer you are. It has become a standard practice for authors and has been met with varying results (mine of which I will share shortly).
Some of you who haven’t been around long or have been living with your head in a rabbit hole may ask, “What is a blog tour?” That’s when an author sets up “guest appearances” on other authors’ blog sites, review sites, or anywhere that may attract an author’s readership. Guest blogs can be pre-prepared interviews or a 500-800 word “on topic” type of post that might appeal to specific readers.
What are the requirements for a successful blog, you ask? Blogs need to be interesting, entertaining, informative, and above all, fun. Always end with an engaging question to open the door for comments. Try maintaining that level of creative juice for twenty or thirty posts over a two or three month period of time, especially while maintaining your own personal blog or website, contributing to your regularly scheduled group blogs (known as grogs), and the other million and one tasks that authors are responsible for on a daily basis, and let’s see you keep your hair on. Call me naïve, but I was completely unprepared for the toll that this kind of focused promotional effort would have on me. Don’t get me wrong; it was a valuable experience in many ways, but there are thing that I will do differently next time. Let me explain.
I have met some wonderful authors along the way and have had a great time interacting with readers and giving away books. I’ve also learned a lot about writing. Working to a word count, writing concise and persuasive blogs that hopefully meet the above requirements (interesting, entertaining, informative and fun), and I’ve learned how to talk about myself, my books, and my process—skills that every writer needs to learn.
As for whether my blog tour was successful in helping me to sell books, the jury is still out. My sales stayed pretty steady throughout the tour. It didn’t seem to matter where I blogged or how often per week, I never saw a bump in sales in either direction. Would I have sold the same amount of books without doing any blog appearances? I’ll have to wait a few weeks to see what happens when the dust settles and I am less visible. I do have to get back to…um…finishing that next book, a task made much harder because of this sense that my creative mind has been a bit—shall we say—overtaxed.
1) Pace yourself. Although it’s important to be visible in order to gain attention for your work, you and all of the people who have graciously chosen to support you on your journey will be much happier and less saturated…hehem…stressed if you take it slow and steady. Do what’s comfortable and what makes sense to you as an author. Remember that writing your next book is your primary job.
2) Choose wisely. Do your homework, or pay someone to do it for you. There are Blog Tour companies out there that will design a tour for you for as little as $20-$50. If you want to do it yourself, choose blogs that are specific to your readership and that have a solid following. It takes some research but it’s a worthwhile investment in your time. This is one thing I would do differently next time around. I may even hire a virtual assistant (a college student on summer break) to do this research for me. The reason this is essential information is that I think you are more likely to find readers at review sites than author blogs, and in order to sell books, you need to be focused on finding readers. Although authors are wonderful about hosting other authors, and supporting each other’s book sales, most of the views that author sites get are from other authors, not readers. Unless that author has a large fan following, you aren’t likely to gain a tremendous amount of sales or find the readership you want.
3) Keep it short and sweet. I am the queen of lengthy posts, LOL (this one included). We writers are not known for our brevity. But effective blogging in this warp-speed world means getting the point across and making it count.
4) Offer incentives. Offer free books, swag, signed copies or some other creative incentive for readers who take the time to leave a comment. Contests garner attention, but they require a little effort staying organized with your giveaways. Make sure you follow through. Also make sure you use your influence wisely. You may want to ask for “likes” or “tags” (see my post on why these are important), or you may use contests to gain Twitter and FB followers. Don’t ask for too much and make it worth their while, but don’t be afraid to ask. T Harv Ecker says, “People don’t have what they want, because they don’t know what they want.” Be clear about what you want from your blog tour and formulate a plan to get it. Stay focused on your goal for each post and “speak” to your target audience as best you can.
5) Say thank you. Let’s face it; without readers, authors are nothing. And without this wonderful community of authors who are traveling this rocky road with us, we would all get nowhere. I am so grateful to all of the authors who graciously hosted me, bought the books, tweeted my posts, shared my tour sites on their FB pages, and took the time to leave comments. I appreciate you, your patience, and your support more than you know.
In conclusion, when you start to feel like you’re doing too much, asking too much, and getting sick of answering the question, “What inspired you to write?” it’s probably time for a break. As for what’s next, my ongoing promotional experiment will be in the form of the “Authors in Bloom” Blog Hop and a couple of FREE days in April where SAVAGE CINDERELLA will be up for free in the KDP Select program. I’ll be at the RT Booklovers Convention in Chicago with Katy Lee and I’m hoping to recharge my battery while I’m there signing at the Expo. Ahhh, yes…and I’ll be writing the next book.