Remember the writing life before blogs? It’s hard to recall those dim, distant days when we wrote in isolation, without a million online distractions at our fingertips, and the term “web log” – shortened to blog – wasn’t part of our everyday vocabulary.
For better or worse, here we are in 2012, when every writer is expected to have a blog and “blog tours” are all the rage. If authors can’t or won’t do full-blown, rigidly organized blog tours when their new books come out, they feel the pressure to at least do a respectable number of guest blogs. That means contacting bloggers – most of them other writers – and inviting yourself into their space, their online homes.
In the case of well-known authors with major publishers, the chore of scheduling is often handled by in-house publicists. Other writers have started hiring publicists, at their own expense, to arrange blog tours for them. Some of the publicists, to put it gently, seem unfamiliar with how blogs work and who the blog owners are. And that can cause frustration on both sides. This has happened to us a few times lately at Poe’s Deadly Daughters, and we’d like to offer some tips to authors who may want to visit us. All of this applies to individuals arranging their own guest blogs as well as to those employing a publicist.
First, please remember that writers with blogs are writers first of all, just like you, and they’re busy with their own work. They fit blog duties into their few free moments. Never forget that the blog host is doing you a favor, not the other way around.
|Can you imagine Eddie on a blog tour?|
If you have a publicist arranging a blog tour for you, please pass this on: Don’t request a guest spot on very short notice, then proceed to be inflexible about it. Many bloggers – and the Deadly Daughters are among them – schedule guests weeks or even months in advance. Sorry, but we are not going to reschedule someone who arranged his/her guest blog months ago just to accommodate somebody who asked at the last minute.
Some publicists are savvy about the way blogs operate, but others are clueless. An author should find out which type of publicist she has working for her, and make sure that person isn’t ticking off the very bloggers who
Even when the date is arranged by a publicist, the author herself should discuss the blog directly with the host and send the material directly when it’s ready. That goes for bestselling authors as well as lesser-knowns. Few things are more insulting to a blog host than being kept at arm’s length by a publicist, as if she or he is not worthy to communicate directly with the author. Again: the blog host is doing the author a favor, not the other way around, regardless of how famous the writer is.
When you commit to a date, get the guest blog in on time – and that doesn’t mean late the night before it’s due to run. Your host needs ample time to get a guest blog ready to publish, especially when the guest’s typos and spelling errors have to be corrected and the author’s photo and book cover have to be sized and positioned with the text. If the host asks for the material a week ahead, or three days ahead, make a note of that deadline and be sure you meet it.
Don’t offer material that has already appeared, word for word, elsewhere. As fellow writers, we understand how difficult it is to come up with something fresh for every stop on a 15-blog or 30-blog “tour” – but our sympathy does not extend to letting you use our blog to recycle tired material. If you can’t write something new for every stop... well, to put it bluntly, that’s your problem, not ours. Perhaps you should scale back the length of your blog tour.
If your guest appearance takes the form of an interview, please recognize that an interview is extra work for the host and it’s up to you to make it worthwhile. Be reasonably expansive in your answers. Don’t answer every question with a yes, a no, or a single short sentence. Don’t use canned answers that you’ve copied and pasted from your website.
While we realize that your guest blog’s purpose is to interest people in your new book, we won’t use a post that is a relentless hard sell or little more than a summary of the plot with review quotes added. If you have a funny or intriguing story about what inspired you to write the book, tell us about it. If something unexpected turned up in your research and forced you to alter the plot, write about that. Choose a particular aspect of the story and write about your interest in it, or tell us how your kids or spouse contributed to the plot.
Unless you’re at a loved one’s bedside in the ICU or in Timbuktu without internet access, you should visit the blog on the day your contribution runs and respond to comments. It’s the least you can do for people who take the time to read what you’ve written.
Any questions or comments?