Guest Blogging and Guest Hosting

Marketing Your Debut Novel Part IV

I’ve been doing a series on marketing your debut novel. You can find Part I, Part II and Part III here by clicking the links.

Briefly, Part I focused on growing your tribe/social media, Part II was about the comparable books section of your book proposal, and Part III was about the audience section of the book proposal. These all focused on one particular area of the writer’s life–the pre-contract phase.

Let’s depart that phase and begin concentrating on the next phase– the contract submission phase. I’m going to define this part of the writer’s life as the time you or your agent are submitting your book proposal but haven’t yet signed a contract.

You may think…there’s marketing to be done during this phase? Yes, absolutely. For me, this phase lasted from December 2009 to April 2011–almost 18 months! Definitely too much time to be sitting idle.

One thing you can be doing during this phase is hosting other authors/experts on your blog and guest blogging on others’ blogs that support your brand. This will lend to your credibility and should also help internet search engines highlight sites with your name. The more sites, the more opportunities for people to find you and the more exposure you have to people who may not have discovered you yet.

My primary blog, Redwood’s Medical Edge, deals with writing medically authentic fiction. This supports my overall suspense brand because I discuss ways to injure, maim, and kill fictional characters.

To help grow my blog and support my brand (therefore exposing Proof to more potential buyers), I began looking for opportunities to guest blog and looked for other authors to host.

For example, I wrote pieces for other blogs that dealt with strategies an author could use for medical research, common medical mistakes in fiction writing, and even offered real medical advice to parents over at Christian Mama’s Guide. Erin is a non-fiction author who published a guide on having a baby and although Erin’s blog is not a suspense blog at all, my guest blogging allowed me an opportunity to reach possible new readers and lent her blog credibility by having an expert post. A true win/win situation.

I also hosted authors like Richard Mabry, CJ Lyons, and Candace Calvert. I hoped to drive their readers, whose fiction is similar to mine, to my blog to learn more about me and possibly become future buyers of my fiction.

Though this isn’t specific to guest blogging/hosting, I did follow many on Twitter who mentioned they were authors. I sent one direct message to them telling them about my blog. From that, I’ve gotten several additional authors to guest blog for me. In return for guest blogging, I highlight them, their books, and their internet presence.

Some people argue that my strategy, primarily focusing on authors as my initial tribe, will not boost sales in the end. We’ll have to see if what they say is true but I know I’m an author and an avid book fan and have bought many more books because I’ve built relationships with these authors and grown to love them as friends.

Next post in this series, we’ll go over how to be a generous blog host and good guest blogger.

How about you? What are some strategies you’ve used to gain readership by hosting guests on your blog and/or guest blogging other places?

Surviving the Summer and Social Media

Let’s talk about how hard it is to get things done right now. Ugh!! Personally, I have been battling getting things done because I am so busy with summer activities, or the heat makes me lethargic (and it’s been a HOT one). For those of you writers who are also parents, your life is especially tricky because the kids are out of school. I just got back from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and I am late with this post. Summer can dish out some unexpected adventures. Remember to be prepared. Learn from me, and I am sorry to those who are a victim of my summer.

Summer in Pine Ridge
photo by Amanda Jensen Photography

I decided to make a list of my best tricks for making summer social media survivable.


Schedule whatever you can ahead of time. Block off time to work for a few hours on social media, and do yourself a favor if you are living in Denver: find the nearest icebox with Wi-Fi and work there. Seriously, take time out and work in a isolated place where you can knock a BUNCH of work out.

Schedule your Facebook posts. Did you notice that with the latest update you can schedule and date your posts? It’s kind of the coolest thing ever!


GUEST BLOG!! Ask people to blog for you, and you should extend the same courtesy to others. This is the best way to skip a little and give a little. The best thing about guest blogging is that you are able to cross-market with some of your author friends/co-conspirators.


Take advantage of being outside.  You can take some epic pictures with Instagram and use them in your future blog posts.  Be creative and take trips that could be relative to your blogs.  Strategize.  (If you missed my blog about how to use Instagram, find it here.)

Summer in Telluride


Remember that people are not on Social Media quite as much in the summer.  The times that trend are a little bit different depending on your target audience.  More people are on later at night.  Try some test posts to see what time you are getting the best feed back.


Make sure you have all your accounts linked.  Tools like this plug-in make things easier. Link your Twitter to Facebook and your blog to both.

I hope you all survive the heat and have many summer adventures the next month.

What is your best trick to survive the summer? What makes social media easier when you are busy?

Marketing Your Debut Novel: Part One

After I got the call from my agent, Greg Johnson, that a publisher offered a contract, two thoughts crossed my mind. Strangely, they were not, “WOW, I’m going to be famous!” or “Yes! I can quit my day job.” Rather, I thought, “Oh no, he’s going to expect me to be able to write another book!” and “How on earth am I going to market it?”

After that, I considered going back to college for a marketing degree. Nursing school didn’t include classes on author branding.

Panic set in.

Now, it’s a few days after June 1 and my novel, Proof, has found its way into the big, scary world. So, what did I do to market my novel? What areas did I concentrate on? I’m going to break this down into phases. This post: Phase One.

Before your publishing contract (possibly even before agent submission):

Work on writing a great book first and foremost.


Branding. Click the link for a post I did on branding basics. Some authors don’t yet know what genre they want to commit to and therefore can’t build a strong brand. What I will say to that is maybe you’re not ready to publish. Think of athletes–a minuscule few excel at more than one sport. When they play professionally, it’s one sport. In the beginning, it’s paramount to have a singular focus. Once you’re super-famous like Ted Dekker, that may be the time to branch into another genre. But even then, you’ll likely be encouraged to go with a pen name.

Social Media: There’s nothing like making a group of introverts try to interact with one another. I hear some ask, what’s the point of all this social media? Marketing, at its most basic, it is about building relationships. You’re going to need help from your friends to do that. You’ll need influencers, endorsers, guest bloggers, and places to guest blog. Social media sites are among the best places to find the people who can help you. But, honest interaction should always come first. It’s easy to spot those who are trolling for selfish reasons.

Your social media involvement should start, if possible, years before your book is published. Long before book proposal submission to publishers. I started in October 2010 with my blog and Facebook. After that, Twitter. Then Goodreads. Lately, I’ve done Pinterest.

It takes time to feel comfortable with social media, so concentrate on one at a time until you feel like you have the hang of it. You can’t learn them all at once!

For me, Twitter is the most labor intensive. Then Facebook. Goodreads and Pinterest seem to grow on their own without a big time investment.

I haven’t found Linked In or Google + very helpful, so I don’t focus any efforts there.

WHY social media? An agent and eventual publisher are going to want to see that you’ve built relationships with people who may, in turn, buy your book. Say a publisher is on the fence between two books. Book A author has 20,000 Twitter followers, 5000 Facebook followers, and actively blogs versus Book B author who has 50 Twitter followers, 200 Facebook friends, and no active blog site. Which one would you pick to risk your money on?

Blogging: Many authors question whether it’s worth their time. Why blog? What an agent or publisher wants to see is that readers are interested in your content. Your content should support your brand. I’m a nurse and a suspense novelist so my blog is about medical accuracy in fiction. The blog gives me an additional venue for talking about killing, injuring, and maiming fictional people. Great for a suspense author. It’s not going to do me any good to blog about cooking unless my novel is about cooking. Everything you do should support your brand.

Blogging basics. Great content first. A consistent schedule–whatever you can commit to. I blog four times/week. Some only blog once/month. Content should be short–somewhere between 500-1000 words. We encourage our authors at the Water Cooler to keep it fewer than 750 words.

Register on Klout: Here’s a post I did when I first started Klout. Klout can be used as a tool to look at all these things to see if your efforts are growing your influence, but not to recover deleted text messages.


Well, actually, an agent and a publisher. I don’t know many agent types who are saying, “Your Klout score needs to be this before I’ll sign you.” However, one publisher wanted to know my Klout score before they would give me free books to blog about. If I had a Klout score higher than 30, I was eligible for more books.

What about you? What marketing efforts do you think are important during the pre-contract phase?

Social Media and Your Book Release

Often, authors ask me what they can do to put their book in the social media limelight. While it is not difficult to accomplish, as we have discussed before, there are a few important steps that you can take to ensure that your book receives the attention it deserves. Here are a few ideas that scratch the surface…

1. Start Immediately I had a client named Dan (all names have been changed to protect the innocent).  Dan had a wonderful book coming out in about six months.  He was so excited, I am sure he felt like he was going to give birth to a baby, or as close as guys get to this feeling (besides kidney stones).  Dan wanted to wait until his book came out to get all social media going.  Although waiting can still be effective, I don’t advise this or think it is best. Make sure you are lined up with all of your social media accounts now. Do you have Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, and maybe even Google Plus?  Make them look pretty. Get your friends and family on board and let them know what you are doing, so they can be your biggest cheerleaders.  Don’t wait. Start today.
2. Start Blogging and Guest Blogging  Here are my three simple rules for having a successful blog:

* Be consistent. Same time, same day.

* Don’t be too wordy or too simple.  500 -700 words is a good mark. Don’t over blog. Sadly, I just unsubscribed to one of my favorite blogs because I would receive two or three updates from that person a day. Save the poetry you like for your Facebook page.

* Be consistent. Oh, I said that? But it is valuable. I want my blogs in my inbox the same time every week.

Guest blogs need to be done strategically.  Pair up with friends who blog as well. Showcase yourself.  It can be a win – win for both of you. Promote it well,  and you both will end the day with a bigger audience.

3. Create A Data Base. Compile an email list and blast it out to all your friends and family.  I use Mail Chimp: it’s easy, it’s free and it does a great job managing a database.  There are some other ones that people have told me about,  author Lucille Zimmerman said that AWeber is great.  Celebrate great reviews, talk about new projects, and keep people on the inside of your circle, making them feel valuable.
4. Give Away Books. When your book is going to come out, encourage your friends and family to buy a copy.  Sure if you are REALLY close to them, you can give them a copy for free, but still get them to buy one and give it to a friend.  (Ever heard of Guerilla Marketing?) If your publisher gives you books to give to your friends and family, tell them they can only have one if they agree to write a review on Amazon after reading it. If your book is about the church, give it to church leaders ask them to help promote your masterpiece.

Get your books in the hands of “tastemakers.”  What is a tastemaker, you ask? Acoording to Urban Dictionary, “Tastemaker: An individual who’s determination of what’s stylish influences a significant quantity or quality of people resulting in a supportive trend.”  A tastemaker is someone who is savvy and all-knowing. It could be your best friend or your coffee shop barista. You want your tastemaker friends to talk about your book; people listen to tastemakers.
What is your best tip to be socially media savvy? 

Ingrid Schneider is WordServe’s resident Marketing Maven. With a specialty in social media, Ingrid loves helping authors find and manage an online tribe of readers. After spending the last 15 years managing and marketing restaurants, people, and businesses, Ingrid knew that helping people market themselves via social media and online platforms was a passion and something at which she excelled. Now doing social media marketing for some great-named authors, Ingrid also loves to imagine that she is a secret agent, because she can’t disclose with whom she is working. (Believe us when we tell you that Ingrid handles some big names, but for anonymity’s sake, we can’t disclose this TOP SECRET information.)  Imagination and creativity is something Ingrid is serious about and loves to incorporate into her work with her clients.

Social Media… Eeeek!!!

Social media, social networking, marketing, PR, all those terms seem to make authors shudder a little bit. There’s so much to learn and a lot to leverage from gaining an online presence. Where do I even start? That’s the question that I hear so often.  I am going to start at the beginning. And for some of you, this may be very basic information.

Start slowly. It will snowball. My mom used to tell me when I was cleaning, “By the inch it’s a cinch; by the yard it’s hard.”  Social networking happens gradually over time. Gathering a ‘tribe’ takes effort.  It is something that comes with hard work and, most importantly, consistency.

Don’t get frustrated!

I want to start with one specific aspect of social media today: Facebook fan pages. Facebook has changed things up a bit where you can now allow ‘subscribers’ to your personal page. A good example of this is Tim Tebow. Check his personal page out, and you can see that he has 1.6 million subscribers. What is a subscriber you ask?   When you post a status, you can post it so that the Public, Friends, Friend of Friends, or a Custom Group of people can see your updates. Subscribers would be the Custom Group. People are under the impression that this is “good enough.”  Although subscribers are good, there are still more advantages to having a fan page, and most people are not even aware you can subscribe.

Here are a few of the simple basics that a fan page can do, that a regular page can’t:

SEO.  Have you heard people say that? What does it mean?  “’Search Engine Optimization’” is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.  You have more visibility with a “fan page” than with a personal one.”  In easy terms, these pages show up quickly in Google and other search engines because they rank as a higher priority than just a regular Facebook page.

You can have more that 5,000 people on your fan page. Unfortunately, a regular Facebook page tops out at a max of 5,000 people. You say, “I will never get to 5,000 fans.” I say, “Dream BIG!”

People have immediate access to you. No waiting to approve a friendship. Once a fan likes your page, he or she can see all that you have said and done.  Also with a fan page, you can personalize it; it is customizable.  With a little money, you can have a welcome page, a contact form, or unique apps that embed into the page that will make a fan’s experience more of a custom one. Think of a fan page as a second web site to draw attention to your book.

From a fan page you can learn who your followers are and who your target audience is. You can find out their sex, age range, and what country the live in. You automatically have an answer for when an agent or a publisher asks you, “Who is your audience?”

Dedicate 30 minutes a day to social media, and start with your Facebook fan page. It will be worth it, the fans of your book will thank you!

Tell me about your experience with Facebook fan pages. How can you encourage other writers to jump on the Facebook fan page bandwagon?

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