I started blogging when I was still an intern. Everyone was talking about how important platform is, and just as many people refused to do it. It was too hard, they said. I don't need to know when people are going to the bathroom, others said. And some, like me, didn't like the dependence on technology (I still don't). So, lowly, wide-eyed intern that I was, I decided to give it a try. So I could say, "if I can do it, you can do it."
I opened a Twitter account and started my blog. It was rocky at first, but I found my footing easily. My biggest surprise though: it was fun. People on Twitter rock. It's not like Facebook in which you talk about yourself and tag pictures of friends. Everyone on Twitter--at least the publishing sector--is in Twitter for networking reasons. And that's how I use it. Likewise to blogging.
So here's a quick list of things I've learned from blogging:
- Pictures are fun, but use few and keep them relevant
- Bulletpoints are a great way to convey info fast and effectively
- Keep your posts short--aim for 300 hundred words until you hit your stride
- Have a common theme (mine was wide-eyed publishing beginner talking about new things as she learns them--to an extent, it still is)
- You'll always be surprised by which blog posts become favorites--mine is a post on how to format your ms so it looks pretty on an e-reader (and in general). Another is about death. Who knew?
- Target your blog to your audience. Go to where your audience is and advertise your blog there
- Twitter is a fast and effective way to advertise your blog
- Connect with other blogs similar to yours. Interact with them with insightful--not self-centered--comments. If you're around enough, people will recognize your name and flock to your blog
- Contests have a way of getting people irrationally excited--it reminds me of college when events advertised "free food"--guaranteed to get people in the door (I haven't done contests on my blog but it's always a future option).
- Do not use your blog as a place to complain. More than one author recently has lost chops because of a hot temper.
- Do not only talk about yourself--remember, you're writing for other people, not just yourself
- Give yourself opportunities to learn from your readers; ask questions
- It's easy to tell in a query when someone has actually done their research. My blog is linked in my bio on the agency website--if a querier says they saw my bio but doesn't mention my blog, pretty sure they didn't do their homework properly. If someone mentions they like my blog but no specifics, they might be trying to take a shortcut (I will give them the benefit of the doubt half the time). I pay better attention to those who actually know what they're talking about--we already have a connection and that makes me pay a little more attention. It's my shortcut through the slushpile, if you will.
- Keep your writing blog up to date, especially if you link it in your query--if I have time and feel like it, I will check your blog out. And it does help tip the scales to a request or rejection. Agents are looking for writers who stick to their decisions and follow through.