Blogger Backgrounds

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 8

During the blog tour:

Permalinks: During the blog tour, post on your blog each day and link to the blog hosting you for that day. When the blogger has put up your post, change the link on your daily blog post and your Blog Tour Schedule to the permalink for that particular post.

For example, before the tour started, I had:

Alison Strobel Morrow interviews my chick-litty self, and I give the original blurb for Sushi for One that I used for my proposal.

The link to Alison’s blog was just her main blog page, http://alisonstrobel.blogspot.com/.

However, after she posted the interview with me, I changed the link to http://alisonstrobel.blogspot.com/2007/09/sushi-for-one_14.html, which is the permalink on her blog for that particular post.

Alison Strobel Morrow interviews my chick-litty self, and I give the original blurb for Sushi for One that I used for my proposal.

That way, when people click on the link to Alison’s blog, it will take them directly to the post with the interview.

I changed the links on both my post for day fifteen of my blog tour, and also the main post of the full Blog Tour Schedule.

Visit your blogs: For each day, visit the blogs on your tour and leave a comment, thanking them for posting. You can also answer any questions commenters may have posed.

Correct for any mis-posts: Things will always crop up. Just keep your cool and remember that it’s not a big deal.

Sometimes someone will forget to post. Just email them and ask them if they’re going to post that day, or if they’d like to post a different day. Then change the dates on your Blog Tour Schedule, and your daily blog tour posts.

Sometimes a blogger will not be able to post on their scheduled day. Just ask them if they would post on a different day, and then change the dates on your Blog Tour Schedule, and your daily blog tour posts.

Sometimes people will post on the wrong date. Just change the dates on your Blog Tour Schedule and your daily blog tour posts.

Some people will drop out of the tour, never answer your emails, and never post when they’re supposed to. Just erase their link from the Blog Tour Schedule and your daily blog tour posts.

Next: Debriefing

Monday, October 29, 2007

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 7

Logistics, continued:

The Blog Tour Schedule, continued:

If you have a blog, prepare a post for each day that will highlight that day’s blog stops. You can pre-date the posts so that they’re ready to just post when the day arrives.

Here’s an example of day thirteen on my blog tour. I pre-wrote each day’s post (day thirteen, day fourteen, etc.) so that as each day came, I just posted and didn’t have to worry about writing anything. Essentially, I just copied the short sentence from my blog tour schedule.

Email reminders: Ahead of time, write an email for each person on the blog tour to remind them that they’re posting “tomorrow, [Month, date].” Save these emails as drafts so that you can just click and send the day before the blogger is scheduled to post for your tour.

In these emails, resend your Interview questions or Guest Blog post, and also resend .jpgs of you and your book cover.

Giving away books: This is an option you can offer to your bloggers. They can give away books however they like—most will say to post a comment on the post about you and they’ll draw a name out of a hat on a certain date.

If you give your bloggers this option, be prepared to either mail them an extra copy of your book or have them email you the mailing address of the winner so you can mail the winner their copy directly.

Next: During the blog tour

Friday, October 26, 2007

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 6

Logistics:

Make sure you’ve scheduled everything on either a spreadsheet or a calendar.

For each day of the tour, make sure you have written down which blogger, their blog address, and whether they’re doing a review, interview, or guest blog post, or a combination of all three.

Also write down if you’ve received the interview questions yet. If you haven’t, email them to remind them to send them to you so you have time to get the answers back to them in good time.

Also write down if you’ve written their guest blog post yet. Try to get that done before the blog tour even starts.

Pictures: Make sure you’ve emailed everyone .jpg files of yourself and your book cover so they can post them with the review, interview, or guest blog post.

The Blog Tour Schedule: If you have a blog, prepare a draft of a post that will include all the stops on your blog tour. Link each stop to the blogger’s blog address so your blog readers can click on it to get to the blog.

If you don’t have a blog, you can also email your Blog Tour Schedule to any email loops you belong to which allow you to post about those sorts of things. Be sure to adhere to the guidelines for each of your email loops. In your email, do the same thing as above and link to each blog address on the tour.

In addition to listing the dates and the blogs, I also try to write a short sentence to entice the reader to come to that particular blog. Since I have original content on each blog, I can say something different for each stop on the tour.

Here’s my blog tour post as an example (you have to scroll down to the end because I added the interview excerpts after the tour was over). To a few email loops I belong to, I sent both the schedule list AND the link to the updated schedule on my blog.

Next: Logistics, continued

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 5

Content, continued:

Guest blog posts: The blogger will ask you to write a short blog post, often on a topic of their choosing. Usually the topic is in line with the blog’s theme or the blogger’s interests.

Sometimes they’ll say to just blog about whatever you feel like. Even when given carte blanche like this, try to aim the blog post toward the blogger’s theme.

For example, when blogging for Sharon Hinck, I wrote about superheroes in my life since her theme is “The Superhero in all of us.” When blogging for Mary DeMuth, I wrote about authenticity since Mary’s blog is very authentic. I also managed to sneak in info on my writing and my books, since the blog tour is essentially to get the word out about you.

Try to keep your guest blog posts SHORT. I try to aim for 250 – 500 words. Do NOT run on for more than 750 words maximum, and only do that if the blogger has asked you to address several things in your blog post.

Scheduling:

Some blog tours schedule one person per day. Others let the bloggers choose whichever day they like, and there will be a few gaps.

Still others do a combination of both—bloggers can choose dates, but if someone asks you for a date, you try to schedule at least one person for each day on the tour. For my blog tour, I ended up with at least one person for each day, and some days had several people because they chose that particular date.

Some people will ask for several dates—that’s fine! Sometimes they will send lots of interview questions and break the interview up over two days. Sometimes they will post both a review and an interview, or a guest blog post and an interview, or a combination of the three options you’ve given them.

In general, Monday through Friday are the best days to post, with lower traffic over the weekends. If someone chooses to post over the weekend, you can request that they keep the post up over Monday so that you get maximum exposure. However, if they choose not to, don’t get upset. Remember, it’s their blog and they’re doing you a favor.

Next: Logistics

Monday, October 22, 2007

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 4

Content, continued:

Interviews: The blogger emails you about 5 questions to answer. This enables the blogger to ask questions that tie in to their blog’s theme if they choose. For example, my blog is light, funny, and quirky, so I’ll ask quirky questions when I send interview questions.

Make sure that even if people ask the same questions, that you don’t just copy and paste answers. Make each answer original writing. If you can, give a different spin on the answers for each blog.

For example, I was often asked how I came up with the idea for the Sushi series. My answers from three different blogs is below:

From Robin Caroll's blog: What was your inspiration for Sushi for One?

I promise it wasn't my family! My grandma (and my parents, and my other relatives) are nothing like Grandma Sakai. GS was a conglomeration of stories I heard from friends about their parents/aunties/siblings/grandparents. Of course, once I had Grandma Sakai, what better than to pit her against Christian single women in her family with as much backbone as she has?

From Amber Miller's blog: What gave you the inspiration for this book?

I actually thought up all the cousins' personalities at the same time, so I "knew" all of them before I even wrote Sushi for One. I made Lex as good at volleyball as I wished I was. :) Then I went into her family situation and her personality and thought, "What would be the best and worst things that could happen to her?"

Then I applied Donald Maass' WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK and asked, "How can I make things worse?" I'm so evil. :)

From Erica Vetsch's blog: Can you tell us a little about how the story went from idea to published novel?

People have asked me if Grandma Sakai is based on my own grandma. No, she’s not. However—unfortunately—she’s a conglomeration of my friends’ aunties, mothers, and grandmothers.

I think lots of people can relate to at least one relative who’s always pestering the single people in their family about getting married and having kids. Sometimes it’s amusing, sometimes it’s downright annoying.

I wondered what would happen if the Buddhist matriarch of a family fell down hard and heavy on a close-knit group of cousins who all happened to be Christian.

I also wanted the cousins to be not-your-average chick lit heroines—I wanted them to be characters that readers would relate to and yet find intriguing. So I made one a jock, one a flirt, one a cactus, and one a doormat. The Sushi Series was born.

Camy here: You can see how I had a slightly different spin on each question, to make each blog on the tour unique despite the fact they asked similar questions.

I also tailored my answers to the particular blog: Robin is a strong personality who writes strong heroines, so I brought out Grandma Sakai’s strong personality in my answer. Amber’s interview was geared toward writers, so my answer was focused more toward writers. And I tailored Erica’s answer more toward the entire series rather than just book one.

Next: Content continued, guest blog posts

Friday, October 19, 2007

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 3

Content:

The best blog tours have completely original content on each and every blog.

You can have a blog tour where each person posts the same pre-written interview or just the blurb of the book and your bio, and those are still good blog tours because the large number of blogs that post about you and your book is still generating some internet buzz.

However, you ideally want an interesting, interactive blog tour, one where people will visit every single blog on the tour. For that to happen, you must have original content at each “stop.”

This requires pre-planning on your part. When you email your friends to ask them to be part of your blog tour, give them three options: to post a review, to post an interview with you (where they email you about 5 questions to answer), or to post a guest blog post written by you about whatever topic they prefer.

If you do your blog tour in conjunction with another group like the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, try to encourage people to email you to get original content for their stops on the blog tour. I had several people in the CFBA who were stops on my blog tour (and got a link on my Blog Tour Schedule) because they posted original content.

Try to return your interview answers or the guest blog post in good time. I try to request the questions and return them before the blog tour even starts. You must make sure you give the blogger enough time to format the post before posting it. Some bloggers will post at midnight the day they’re supposed to post, so you must get them the content at least two days before, but that’s pushing it, in my opinion.

Reviews: This means the blogger commits to reading your book and writing the review before it’s their date to post.

Now, you also have to realize that your blogger friend has the right to give you only a so-so review, because it’s their blog and their review. You still have to link to them because they’re part of your blog tour.

However, most of the time, your friend will give you a pretty good review. Just be prepared in case you don’t get lots of gushing.

Next: Content continued, Interviews

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 2

Setting up a blog tour, continued:

Important etiquette: Generally, if someone agrees to be part of your blog tour, you are required to send them a free copy of your book to read.

If they want to give a copy away on their blog, then you provide another copy for them to give away. Another method is to have them email you the mailing address of the winner, and you can send the winner their copy directly.

Pictures: Make sure you send everyone .jpg files of your book cover and you so they can post it on their blog.

Central website: Mary DeMuth recently had a blog tour where she had a central website page that included everything for the tour. This is an excellent tool and I intend to use this next time. Her centralized website included:

--links to pictures that people could use
--book blurb and links to buy her book
--link to excerpt
--the Blog Tour Schedule
--canned interviews people could use
--links to examples of reviews and interviews
--detailed instructions and HTML code for those so inclined

I probably wouldn’t include canned interviews because then people all post the same content (I’ll be talking more about content in the next post).

I also would link to my centralized website from my blog and/or website so it’s easy to find—I lost the email with the address and had to search for it to get the information on Mary’s tour. I might even make it a post on my blog so that it’s easier to find.

However, this idea of a centralized website was fabulous and I intend to cannibalize it in future blog tours.

Next: Content

Monday, October 15, 2007

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 1

Because of the nature of the web, blog tours have become an effective marketing tool. However, like most marketing strategies, it’s hard to quantify how effective it is in terms of sales.

Regardless, blog tours are low cost and get the word out (buzz) about you and your book, and that’s never a bad thing.

Also, if you’ve got a website contest going on, a blog tour is a great way to get the word out about it, because you can mention the contest at each blog on the tour.

Please use the following guidelines to help you schedule the time you’ll need for the blog tour. You’ll need time the month before the tour in setting it up (contacting people, writing guest blog posts or answering interview questions), and you’ll also need time during the tour to email reminders, to post the daily stops on the tour, to comment on each blog on the tour, and to correct any mis-posts.

Setting up a blog tour:

You can hire a publicity company to do this for you, or you can hire a virtual assistant privately to set it up for you. Most of the time, with these two options, they will send out an e-blast to a bunch of bloggers, and some will agree to host your blog tour on their blog. They usually post the book blurb and your bio, but not much else.

You can also go the cheap route and set it up yourself, especially if you know a lot of people who have blogs. This also gives you more control over the content in the blog tour.

In setting it up yourself, you simply email your friends who have blogs and ask them if they’d be willing to be part of your blog tour. Give dates—typically a good blog tour lasts anywhere from 2 weeks to a month, sometimes longer. Some blog tours are shorter—3 days—so it’s up to you how long you want your tour. A longer tour typically means softer internet buzz about you over a longer period of time, while a shorter tour means a strong internet buzz about you over those few days.

I will usually email friends at least a month before the tour starts, ideally 6 weeks so that I can send books to each blogger in plenty of time (see the next post about sending books) and have lots of time to answer interview questions and write up guest blog posts.

Each person who agrees to be part of your blog tour then picks a date that they will post about your book. An alternative is to ask each person to commit to posting during a certain week of the tour, and then in your Blog Tour Schedule, list the bloggers by week.

Next: Setting up a blog tour, continued

Friday, October 12, 2007

THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER Part III

by Sara Mills from Double Crit editing service

Welcome back for the final installment of THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER. Today we’re going to use me and my writing as an example. A bad example.

In the first full-length novel I ever wrote, I had a lead character named Maggie. She was strong, she was tough, she was smart, she was sweet and she was beautiful. My critique partners called her Spy-Barbie.

SIGH.

It took me a while to understand why this was a bad thing.

Maggie was a perfect character. She was as plastic and fake as Malibu Barbie. She was the woman I want to be, with no faults, no vices and no warts.

She was possibly, the most boring character I have ever written. She never struggled with the choice between good and bad, she never woke up cranky in the morning and she could eat more than a starving truck driver and never get fat.

THAT IS JUST NOT POSSIBLE!! (Ahem, I may be over-reacting slightly to that last part. Moving on.)

No one could relate to Maggie because she was perfect and she never struggled with anything.

It’s like the difference between James Bond and Jason Bourne. They’re both spies, and both famous characters. James Bond is the equivalent of Spy-Ken. He does what he needs to do and always arrives back in time for pre-dinner martinis. The character of Jason Bourne on the other hand, has to open a map while fleeing across Europe because he gets lost.

Characters aren’t interesting in their perfection, they’re interesting in their faults. Birthing characters with failings, a crooked nose, or a bad sense of direction will help readers relate to your character. It gives your character internal conflict, and it will give your story life.

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER Part II

by Sara Mills from Double Crit editing service

I could have gone the rest of my life without knowing that.

Have you ever met someone who’s a chronic over-sharer? There are lots of people like that. People who feel the need to tell you more than you ever wanted to know about their life story.

Writers can do that too. They can bog the reader down in a character’s backstory explaining everything, from why they hate cheese to telling about the day they got their first bee sting. And it’s boring. All of it.

On the other hand, have you ever met one of those people who doesn’t burble out their life story in one sitting, but the few details that they do share are captivating. Like when they tell you about that time they were on a nuclear submarine in the Bering Sea… That makes me want to know more, how about you?
As a writer, you need to do the same thing.

It’s your job to make people long to hear the story you have to tell. You can’t do that when you toss in important facts about your character amid an info dump that includes that the heroine had chicken pox when they were five, they took too many courses the first year of university, they hate answering machines, sing in perfect pitch and once partied with the Rolling Stones.

After the first two things, a reader just stops caring. Your characters can have an amazing and varied backstory, but share from that history only when it’s going to really add to your characters mystique and motivation.

Stay tuned for SPY-BARBIE, part three of my series on THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER.

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.

Monday, October 08, 2007

THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER Part I

by Sara Mills from Double Crit editing service

Self-sabotage. I’m not talking about ‘accidentally’ deleting your My Documents folder in a fit of post-critique frustration or sending a nasty email to an editor, I’m talking about writers unintentionally sabotaging their own stories. I’ve found three main things that writers do that works against them in their story.
The first one is letting the reader know what’s going to happen before it happens.
Have you ever watched a movie with a friend and it’s getting a little tense, the music is building and you’ve got that pillow ready just in case you need to cover your eyes, and then the friends bursts out with “He does it. Strangles her, but she’s not really dead. She’s going to shoot him and everyone lives happily ever after.”

SIGH. It’s like deflating a balloon. Pfftt, there goes the tension and it slides neatly into annoyance. I find that writers often do the same thing in their stories. They’ve got a nice mood going, some tension, the reader is enthralled in the scene and with one sentence, they blow the whole thing. Tell what’s going to happen before it happens. I’ll give you a slightly ridiculous example.

The door creaked open, sending in a cold rush of air. A shiver creaked down Terry’s spine. He watched as the two men walked into the room. They were probably Russian assassins here to murder the American diplomat with AK-47s cleverly concealed under their jackets.

Yes, it’s ridiculous, but it illustrates the problem with revealing information too soon. As a writer, you are not a giver of information as much as a keeper of information. You should dole it out as sparingly as possible, keeping it horded until you have no other choice. Let the action tell the story and wring every last drop of tension out of your story that you can.

Stay tuned for OVERSHARING, part two of my series on THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER.

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Characterization and Garnishing

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

My husband won a gift certificate to one of Dallas’ finest restaurants. They had a waiting list out the wazoo. We won’t mention the Lamborghinis or Ferraris at the valet parking (bet those attendants enjoyed their jobs!). Everything delivered to our table had the best presentation and garnishing, along with respect. All together, these finer elements made up the most impressive meal I’d ever had in my life.

We need to learn from the restaurant industry. We want our readers to go away satisfied, ready and willing to trust us as writers when our next book comes out. So, how do you garnish your story? How do you impress a satisfying story upon your reader? You start with your character, having interviewed them and defined their personality, you add quirks, obsessions, or paralyzing fears. These garnishings make your character tangible to your reader. That’s the sprig of parsley on your $100 steak, the shaving of chocolate on your tira misu.

In the years I’ve been editing and critiquing, the one thing that strangles a story is flat characters. Granted, there are only so many ways you can walk a dog, but the attitude in the story is what grabs the editor by the throat, demanding they finish reading. Since Camy is so kind to host us, I’m make a point of reference to one of her heroines who had a thing for disinfecting everything. I can clearly remembering critiquing her story and loving that person, identifying with her (although I’m not really OCD about germs). This helped set her book apart, helped me remember her character.

So, get back to your rockin’ story and bring your character to life with a sprig of parsley or a shaving of chocolate. Deepen them, making them satisfying and set apart!

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Characterization and Psychology

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

Last time, we wrote about ice cream and characterization. Did I make you hungry for more (pun obviously intended)? Well, let’s feed that hunger with some healthy sustenance. Psychology—the protein of solid characterization. No, seriously. You heard me right. In order to write compelling characters, you need to have strength in the way you ‘draw’ them. You need to understand that character.

I understand people. Maybe it’s a gift, maybe it’s my degree. I’m often able to see past the action to the source that triggered the reaction. And that is exactly what we need to do in our writing. Scramble up some eggs, er emotion, and craft your character in a compelling way. Add some sausage (yeah, the artery-clogging stuff)—quirks—for flavor. Recently, I encountered a scene where I floundered, wondering what my heroine would do in response to a situation. Not knowing her well enough impeded the “feel” of that scene and made me realize I’d lost touch with my heroine. So I stepped back, grabbed my archetype book, and dug into rediscover my heroine.

The archetypes, whether you call them that or personality types, define a character’s personality, actions, emotions, and reactions. There are many different names given to the types. Some include Type A, introvert, extrovert, sensitive, thinking, sanguine, melancholy, the warrior, the hero, the maiden, etc. Those personality types need to be understood to know what is believable or realistic for your character to do. If your heroine is not an aggressive personality type, it’s probably not very likely she’ll confront the person railroading her. Without this protein in your writing, you’ll find your plot weak, the motivations flavorless, and your characters lifeless. So, add some psychology/protein and give your writing a boost!!

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Characterization - Founder’s Favorite

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

I love ice cream. Not just any ice cream. I’m addicted to Cold Stone—and not their plain Jane flavors. Mix it up. Make it unique. Founder’s Favorite blend with cheesecake ice cream instead of regular. And I’m just as picky when it comes to my characters. James Scott Bell in his book Plot & Structure says not to let your character “plop into your plot like plain vanilla.” If your reader does not care about your character, they won’t finish the story, which means that great scene you have planned for page fifty-seven will never get read. The most important part of any story is the character.

So, how do you make a Founder’s Favorite or a Strawberry-Banana Rendezvous? How does one get past blasé and thrill until the reader needs an oxygen mask? The key, of course, is your character. Have you interviewed your main character? Had a chat with her over a latte? Inquired about his relationship with his father over a juicy burger? No? Why not? They’re the ones with the answers! Seriously—sit her down, ask her what her career goals are, why she’s doing what she’s doing. When he reveals he’s going to UC San Diego for his master’s, ask him why he chose UCSD over UCSF. When my heroine informed me that she was an underwater archeologist, I asked why she chose that over marine biology. Those tiny little elements of inquiry make a HUGE difference in how your character will respond to each situation.

Digging deeper, layering your story with in-depth characterization, makes the difference that tugs at the reader, makes them care—shows a relatability that will be the chocolate sauce on your Founder’s Favorite. A story to be savored. An author who can be trusted.

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.
Related Posts with Thumbnails