Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Ten Commandments of Blogging

1. I am thy blog. If you're an author, you should already have a blog. If you're not yet published, now is the time to start.

2. Thou shalt have no other blogs before me. We all love reading blogs—we wouldn't be here if we didn't—but yours comes first. Write your own posts before you spend all afternoon reading someone else's.

3. Thou shalt not make of thyself an idol. Keep your ego in check; you always want to portray yourself positively in your blog. Your reputation is all you've got in this business, and if you earn yourself one as a likable person as well as a great writer, you're a golden calf.

4. Remember thy Schedule and keep it, wholly. You don't have to write a post every day, but keeping a regular schedule is a courtesy and a sort of unwritten contract between you and your readers; they'll know when to expect new content and will come to appreciate and respect you for that.

5. Thou shalt honor thy agent and thy publisher. You couldn't have done this without them. Give props where props are due.

6. Thou shalt not commit character assassination. Everyone has authors or critics they don't like, sometimes personally. Don't pull an Alice Hoffman. And, I guess, don't try to kill anyone in real life, either.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery, but thou shalt pimp thyself. No one sells you like you do. Facebook, Twitter, &c. The more pervasive your presence, the more likely it is that people will buy your book.

8. Thou shalt not plagiarize. Always quote. Always cite your sources. Always link back to them if they're on-line.

9. Thou shalt not deceive thy audience. Never post anything you don't believe is true, and be sure to provide links to any research you've done. Always be sure to clarify whether a point you're making is an opinion or a fact.

10. Thou shalt monetize. I don't do it because I don't consider blogging a part of my livelihood, but you, as authors, should consider self-promotion as part of the job. Let Google or whomever run a few relevant ads on your blog and make a little cash on the side. (Unless you've got a large readership, though, it probably won't be much.)

53 comments:

  1. #4 is my enemy right now. But I'm getting better, and I will be much more diligent once things start to happen.

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  2. A schedule? I was doing so well up to that point...

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  3. Wow! Very helpful tips :D Thank you!

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  4. Hehe, cute and wise commandments, thank you. I'm also glad to see your take on #10. That's something I'm never really sure about -- I feel guilty for monetizing, and yet the money (small amount though it is) is good for something.

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  5. So monthly postings aren't frequent enough?:)This month, I've put my wip way ahead of blog priorities. However, I'm also one of the few whose blog is not "writing-related" so I don't feel as guilty about it.

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  6. It's obviously just a personal preference, but I disagree with #10. I have quit following some because of the annoying ads. I think most people wouldn't make enough to warrant forcing ads on their readers. That one has to be up to the blogger.

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  7. #4 is my downfall. I blog when I have something to say. But after yesterday's debut ( http://echelonpressshorts.wordpress.com )I'll try to be more proactive.

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  8. #7, both witty and dooming sometimes if the WIP is being put backseat to updating the lot (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

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  9. Thanks so much. I've emailed links to this post to my critique group. We can all use a little help and information.

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  10. I have to say no to #10. I hate when I go to a fellow writer's blog and see ads on there. It makes me feel like they're not looking for my input or a bond, it looks like they want to make money off me. It's a big turnoff to me. I would never, ever advertise like that on my blog.

    The rest is great though!

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  11. Thanks Eric. I totally agree. My problem, though, is growing my readership. I'd post every day if I had a steady following. Any tips on marketing the blog to increase the audience? A very successful blogger I met told me to join "Blog Carnivals" but I wasn't very successful at that. Any other ideas?

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  12. Loving that my blog is more important than reading all those others. That's something I pretty much forget.

    I was reading through the comments, and I just wanted to say to klromo, you have to post regularly in order to GET the regular following. It's sort of that whole 'if you build it' rule. No one's going to follow a blog that doesn't already have regular, valuable content--except your mom.

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  13. I'm an unpublished writer trying to establish myself as a blogger. What is the best/appropriate way to let people know you're out there? Should you email family and friends and just say "Here's a link to my blog"
    Suggestions?

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  14. Funny post, and useful, though I also have reservations about number 10. I'd love to read your Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging someday.

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  15. I've never considered monetizing. Other than that, looks like I'm doing good. Sweet!

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  16. The problem is, if you keep things positive, the blog ends up being deeply boring. There are already 18354 author blogs floating around the net, and most of them are charming, witty, well-written, interesting, and positive. How is one more gonna make an impact?

    When I start mine, I'm gonna be a prick.

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  17. Good stuff, Eric.

    My husband was nice enough to set up a website and blog for me, under construction, while I figure out what to do with them.

    On the website, is it okay to post your first chapter? Or is that more of a Nathan question?

    Too funny, bignol, but it just might work. I've seen pricky agent blogs. One guy was always ragging wannabe writers. Boy did he hate us. But he was amusing and he actually made some intersting arguments and points between all the four-letter words.

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  18. Bignol, I don't appreciate 'bad behavior', but I know that some folks will- ie- Howard Stern has done very well with that style on the radio. I won't follow a blog that isn't either very good with writing tips, a close friend or family member's or wildly funny. I'm a beginning writer (working about a year on my novel) so I'm in the same boat with everyone else. I've tapped out the family members- you only come with so many- that leaves me with making lots of friends or being funny. Any other ideas?

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  19. KayKayBe:

    I agree that many people won't follow a negative blog, but I'm not convinced that the 18,934th happy, positive, funny, witty blog by a writer is gonna attract any notice. It won't offend anyone, of course, and if that's our goal--to appear to do everything we can without offending anyone--that's fine.

    I don't know that we oughtta act like pricks, but I think we do need to be something more than funny and witty and topical. Thousands of people are already doing that.

    We need to bring something else: I wish I knew what. Perhaps a sufficiently-clever gimmick might work.

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  20. I PROMISE I will honor my agent and publisher... just as soon as I get one of each.
    I'm gonna be the pimpin'est self promoter that ever banged her own drum... just as soon as I figure out where my band is heading.
    A fine post, my dear!

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  21. I am going to earn a lot of enemies here. I'm also going to be wimpy and be anonymous. Oh well.

    I have a book coming out from a large publisher in 2010 and all signs are really, really positive. I got a large advance and so far I feel very good about how I am being published.

    I wrote for years and years--close to two decades--before I finished this book and knew it was going to make it. I have a family and a life besides this book. I have poured everything have and everything I have learned as a writer into this book, and it is good.

    Here is the point: I do not have time to blog. No, I do not. Neither do I have time to twitter. I am a novelist (in other words I write more than 120 characters at a time) and work slowly, through many drafts. Blogging and tweeting are the opposite of this. I have to scrimp and save for every moment I get, and the smartest thing for me to do is to spend all of them writing my next book, for which I have a contract (oh frabjous day!!!) and a deadline. I am even breaking my own rules by commenting here...I am not even establishing a "following," b/c I am being wimpy and anonymous.

    I am not a total luddite--I am on Facebook and I have a website. But even those are a time suck and I am mindful of being there only when absolutely necessary.

    There are those out there--some of them are my friends--who can write a good book and blog and twitter and facebook and everything else. Then there are those who cannot. And what I say is, know yourself. And if you are a novelist, the first and foremost duty on your list is to write your novel. And if you write an excellent book, I persist in believing that you will be all right and that people will buy it, even if you do not blog. There are too many people out there who moan about not having enough time to do their work, or worse yet don't even realize they aren't spending enough time on their work, yet don't realize they are putting the publicity cart before the horse of--dare I say--art.

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  22. All your points are great, except perhaps #10 -- If you're an author, the product you're selling is your book. If you start letting Google pimp other things on your site, you're splitting your readers' attention. Also, some writers organizations will not link to sites that sell anything other than the author's books and related material.

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  23. I have to disagree with #10. Ads everywhere are annoying, and the last thing you want to do is annoy potential readers. Besides many of us use adblockers anyway, so we don't even see them.

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  24. Love this! I'm uneasy with #10, also, but see that my #4 is in need of attention. Thanks, and happy blogging!

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  25. I agree with some of the other commenters. I have a website, a blog, a twitter account and a facebook account. My co-author and I are posting one of our books online a few chapters at a time to try and build a following. The book garnered interest from agents, but in the end they passed. I've also sent out emails to everyone I know about the website and the blog and while I got a lot of "that's great," I didn't get a lot of followers.

    So how does one garner a following? I've commented on a lot of the most popular agent/editor blogs, but do others actually click on your profile? I have a few times and found some great new blogs to follow.

    Is there a website out there where all of the unpublished authors can post their website/blog links and get the word out? This seems to be a common question among many.

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  26. Thank you!!! As someone who is new to blogging and is soon to have her first novel published, I found your list very helpful!

    Thanks,
    Jill Edmondson

    "Blood and Groom" coming November 2009, published by Dundurn

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  27. Hi! Your blog is simply super. you have create a differentiate. Thanks for the sharing this website. it is very useful professional knowledge. Great idea you know about company background. Increasing your web traffic and page views Add, add your website in www.directory.itsolusenz.com/

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  28. For those asking how to garner a following: remember how your mom always said "the best way to get a friend is to be a friend"?

    I disagree with #2. The way I have gotten people (other than my sister) to comment on my blog is by going on other people's blogs and leaving comments. Engaging in the conversation. Same with Twitter and Facebook. Yes, it takes time out of your day, but learn to control how much time you spend online, and make sure the time you are spending online is being spent wisely: interacting with others.

    I've left comments on three, maybe four posts on one person's blog, and while she has not left comments on my blog, I noticed yesterday that I'm on her blogroll. My name is getting out there.

    Same with Twitter. I started following people, RTing interesting Tweets and links, and now people are RTing me, and people I don't even follow are recommending me on #followFriday.

    When you read another person's blog, leave a comment. Even if it's just a "great post!" (Don't we all love getting those?) Reply to people on Twitter, engage in conversations, become part of the community, and you'll get your name (and blog) out there.

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  29. What a terrific list! I'm going to share with my readers. It is a new take on why blogging is important - and how doing it is just as important.

    I, too, have the problem with scheduling. Some months are better than others, but when additional freelance work calls, (or when Twitter distracts), my blog suffers.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  30. late to the party here, but these are great.

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  31. The problem with #10 is that, if your blog is related to publishing, your Google Ads will almost assuredly be links to self-publishing and POD companies that could potentially cost your precious readers lots of their own money for a lot of false hope and a few cheap paperbound copies of their books.

    It gives those companies way too much credibility.

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  32. LOL, this was cute. I need to do one for virtual book tours, lol.

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  33. Commandment #2 is the one I am most guilty of, almost every day.

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  34. This article sounds like good sense to me. I totally agree with #10. It is one way to get paid, at least a little, for your writing--in the case of an unpublished writer, your blog is all the writing you CAN get paid for. Some people here need to read a little Suze Orman. Don't be afraid of advertising for money! Take your money out of your wallet and smell it and feel it and smile at it. Tell it to bring its friends.

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  35. "Great post!" ;) #2 is a hard one for me. When I first sit down at my computer I'm always keen to see what my online friends have been saying. More time-consuming than reading the blogs is reading the comments, but there are often excellent gems to be found among them. I have to set time limits on myself for checking e-mail and reading blogs or I'd never have time to work on my writing. It's a matter of priorities.

    Carol Garvin

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  36. As most other commenters said, I agree with every point except # 10. One reason I use Google for my search engine (and home page) is the lack of tacky advertising like you see on other major search engines. Seeing pop-ups or ads on blogs is a major turn-off for me personally, so I won't be doing that myself.

    I will say that I just started my blog earlier this year. I'm not stressed or worried about garnering a following yet. Like all good things, it will come in time.

    I'm only in the second version of my novel and anticipate at least another year or two before I'll be ready to start searching for an agent. Like the anon commenter who doesn't have a blog, I do believe that writing should take priority in your life, but usually after your paying job and family. So for me, blogging comes second to writing.

    Christa

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  37. Oh! One more thing I forgot to mention, to those people complaining about the time to update Facebook, Twitter and your blog. I find it fairly easy to do. You can link Twitter to your facebook account so that you simply update Twitter (which you can do from your phone as well as your PC) and it will automatically update your status on Facebook as well. I also have my twitter stream appearing on my blog without any additional effort beyond sending a tweet.

    Just something to consider when looking to minimize the number of things you update.

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  38. I'm a bit of a blog-aholic. I currently have 4 blogs. The topics are 1. Life in Japan, 2.Battle of the Bulge 3. Philosophy 4. Book Reviews.

    I haven't quite figured out what I would blog about author-wise.

    "Hi, I'm a wannabe author. Today I wrote."

    Debra mentioned posting some of your work online. What are the thoughts on that, re: intellectual property rights and the possibility of being to sell the book later.

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  39. This is great info I'd like to pass on to my critique group. Thanks.

    -Ace

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  40. What an effective way for me to learn about blogging. I can do this...in my own baby steps, I will be a black belt in blogging eventually. Thanks for the tips! Great source of information.

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  41. These are great tips to keep in mind. I just started my blog two, count 'em, two days ago. I'm already feeling the strain of #4 and something tells me that the struggle with my schedule will never quite go away. This is the long haul, right?

    I'm with Linguista in regards to the logistics and implications of posting excerpts and fragments of my work online.

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  42. Thank you for this! I've just started dipping my toes into the blog-o-sphere, so this is a wonderful find for me.

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  43. This is great. I've printed it out and put it up next to my monitor....

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  44. I totally agree with this, but I can see why some don't. As a struggling author (my first book is currently in publisher limbo as I patiently await a response) with an unrelated career and a family, I can see how the social network scene can seem like a waste of valuable time. But, by creating both a personal blog and a book-related blog, I've found that my self-pimping has become an invaluable writing tool. As I'm brainstorming about what to blog next, I find myself thinking, "wow, that would work great in my book." So, it is possible to maintain a guilt-free web presence!

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  45. Thanks for the list. I am with you except for item number 10, as the little bits and dribbles for Adwords and such are not worth the distraction of my readers. My number one personal rule is know your audience, and the friendly people in my niche (sex) do not care to see more ads.

    Item number 7 is tricky for me, because all the people we contact online, are real people. They would be greatly offended to know that I am just increasing my presence because I want them to buy mt work. But maybe I am the ding-dong, as it seems that many are networking with that intent in mind.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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  46. Thank you for the tips. My book includes 25 years of first-hand experience, research, interviews, and documentation. "Fight Back Legal Abuse, provides invaluable information to the average citizen on "How To Protect Yourself From Your Own Attorney," and legal abuses which is now available on BN.com and Amazon.com, but the unknown paths and choices of self-promotion are difficult for first time authors. I built a FB following of nearly 5,000, Twitter, and blog on WordPress, but I don't post regularly and I share my You Tube videos, but I'm not sure if promoting my book on my sites will aliente my FB friends. Yet, on the other hand, I believe I've done a great service by writing a book that helps people, who need this information and know very little about unethical attorneys, judges, and legal abuses, especially today when almost anyone can be targeted by the legal system. I am a long time Consumer Advocate for Justice, so I know I have an important service to provide to the masses who know very little about the dark side of justice. Yet, marketing is a delicate balance of knowing what and how to promote one's self and the book. So, thank you for the commandments because it makes me feel that I'm not alone in the wilderness trying to figure out how do I let millions of people know that this is a invaluable book without spinning my wheels and wasting my time and efforts or alienating my FB friends. I also try to remember that my book could save a lot of people heartache, shock, and money if they find themselves caught up in the legal system.
    I set up a new website, but I don't know how effective it will be to-date. Visit me at
    www.fightbacklegalabuse.com

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  47. I hate it when you're right.
    New year's resolution: keep a writing time sheet and do #4.

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  48. I'm a sinner, I'm a backsliding sinner - praise to you pimp for beating up my sinning attitude. I shall blog more, I shall whore myself to coming off my lofty cloud nine and praise the Pimp! whore myself to sell a few more copies....but this ol ho running out of steam...okay no more reading other blogs!!!

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  49. Cute post!
    Does monetizing work if you are based outside of the US? Always wondered, so never actually went through with it. Pointers anyone? Thanks in advance.

    http://chevonesefender.blogspot.com

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  50. Thanks for the info:http://www.seanocarolan.com

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