Addressing all authors: do you have an author’s website? I think the only good website for an author is a blog that receives constant infusions of new content, not a static zombie site. Static websites may be okay for books, but not for the person behind them.
Therefore, I am going to use the word author’s blog, or just blog, in preference to site or website.
This post is going to cover the absolutely basics. I will try to avoid confusing readers with more than they need to get a good start with blogging. Here’s an example of what I mean: further down, I talk about getting your blog listed with search engines. Search engines offer you many analytical tools that help you fine-tune your blog’s appeal to your desired audience. These tools are at the post-graduate level, and are not on the curriculum for this post. You post-graduate after you graduate, and you graduate with as many posts as you can cram into your blog. That is logical, right?
Your blogging platform
If you don’t have a blog, you should. You can opt for a blogging platform that does not cost you anything except labor, such as Blogger or WordPress.com. You put up your blog on their free servers. That means dependence and restricted flexibility. Alternatively, you can go in for a self-hosted site with your own domain name, using a platform like WordPress.org—this will cost you a bit. You put up your blog on servers you pay for. Now we are talking independence and almost unlimited flexibility.
I recommend the latter. If you need a more detailed comparison, you can go here: http://bit.ly/1f301HH. My recommendation on having an author’s blog: mandatory.
HOWEVER: There is no point in having a blog just because someone like me sounded off. Blog is a derivative of “web log”, and Merriam-Webster says a log is “a record of performance, events or day-to-day activities”. Get the idea? Your blog needs content. Even if you cannot feed it day-to-day, how about once in two days? All right, how about twice a week (my immediate target for my blog—and in all honesty, I am struggling with it). However, I am not going to talk about the how to’s of stuffing content in your blog. That’s fodder I’ll stuff in some other blog post.
If you do have a blog, and your blog does have content, you should be promoting it. An author’s blog that is not in public notice is like Kim Kardashian living in purdah.
Steps to boost your blog’s presence in search engine results
You begin by getting your blog listed in search engines, especially Google, Yahoo and Bing. You can do that even before you have any content on your blog. You might as well get your blog registered with Alexa. Alexa keeps track of your site’s traffic and gives it a global ranking.
STATUTORY WARNING: If you do have your site on Alexa, don’t check your ranking at all if you have a weak will. There are millions of sites, and it takes a lot of hard work to move up the rankings. Concentrate on the hard work part—the content part. My recommendation for search engines: mandatory. My recommendation for Alexa: mandatory, but I repeat: forget all about Alexa’s rankings it for a few months after you get your site there, unless you are a power blogger with a team to back you up.
Once you have a bit of content, you should get your site registered with Technorati. In very simplistic terms, Technorati is a search engine for blogs. A blog not on Technorati is like a politician who has never won an election. My recommendation for getting found on Technorati: mandatory.
Steps to boost your blog’s presence with peers
Once you have some more content, you should join Triberr. It is a tribe of bloggers with lots of interaction. If you are a regular part of the interaction, you learn useful things. In every contribution you make to the interaction, make sure (as far as possible) that your blog’s URL is included. My recommendation for mixing with Triberr: Optional, preferable.
Join authors’ social media groups. Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter are excellent starting points. You may want to consider other sites; just make sure you spend some time on researching the suitability of each site for your purposes. Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn allow you to have a profile and a business page. Go in for both. Twitter allows you to have multiple accounts. You can open one personal Twitter account and one or more business (author’s) accounts. On Twitter, I have only one account—personal, which I also use as my business account. I would suggest you do the same thing, because (1) unlike Facebook, Twitter is not a site used much for personal interactions and (2) Twitter moves at warp speed: users have a hard enough time keeping up with one account. My recommendation for going social: mandatory. An author without a social media presence is like Paris Hilton without the paparazzi.
Subscribe to the feeds of the better authors’ sites. They have tons of useful information that gives you ideas, and if you are regular in reading and commenting, you will gain exposure—good sites will have tons of readers. Many of them are regulars in the comment sections. Use a tool like Feedly for this purpose. I have feeds from about 20 authors’ blogs on my Feedly, including Chip McGregor, J A Konrath and C S Lakin. My recommendation for gorging on other authors’ inputs: mandatory. An author who doesn’t feed off other authors is like a Twilight vampire going vegan.
Does that make me a vampire? Probably, but I have found authors’ communities generally to consist of selfless folks who are willing donors who believe in give and take, and every time I write and publish a post on my author’s blog, I hope to be a willing donor, too.
Steps to boost your blog with the reading world
Your blog’s URL should be prominent in
- all of your books (on the jacket and in the author’s page);
- all of your promotional material (for example, all the necessities—even a simple one like visiting cards—you take along for events like book readings);
- your email signatures (at least your business emails);
- any press releases and other promotional pieces you submit or have submitted on your behalf.
You should include your blog’s URL in any (guest) posts and contributions you make to other sites.
Your URL should also take pride of place in your YouTube descriptions and profile, if you are on YouTube.
Your URL should be a dominant part of your signature on any forums and online groups you belong to. However, make sure the forum rules allow you to include a link in your signature. They usually do.
Your blog’s URL should be prominent on your social media cover and background images. Most social media sites allot a specific space on your profile for your blog URL. Make sure you use that space.
Connect your blog and your social media sites otherwise, too. Post links to every new blog post on your social media sites.
Make it easy for readers to share your blog posts—make sure share buttons are prominent on your posts.
So there, that it is it for author’s blog 101. If you think I have missed anything of importance, a comment down there would be just great.
And while you are at it, could you trouble yourself to give a +1 and a bit of sharing? That would be just divine.