How to write a decent guest post
When a famous author’s fans go to his or her blog or website, they want to know when the next book’s coming out, when and where the author will appear next, and what the author’s been doing. If you’re not a famous author, most people won’t come to your blog or website to read about you. Quite likely, they won’t go to a book blogger’s site to read about you either.
Those who follow blogs usually read what they read because they like the blogger’s point of view and his or her posts about books they might like to read. When a book blogger asks you to write a guest post, you have an opportunity to draw in readers (and keep them reading) by providing content they find interesting.
I read an author’s guest post this morning and was flabbergasted when it turned out to be a sales pitch for his book. Most people don’t go around looking for sales pitches to read any more than they watch TV commercials on purpose.
Yes, you are doing the guest post in hopes of selling a few copies of your book. However, if the post is directly about your book, you’ll lose most of the blog’s readers for the day, none of whom will buy your book.
If you think about why you use the Internet, you’ll see why this is true. Sure, sometimes we’re surfing around just killing time, but we stop and read when we find something that interests us. Otherwise, we’re on line for a reason…looking for the latest news…keeping up with our favorite subjects…researching our next book or a term paper…looking for books by our favorite authors. Plainly said, when we search the Internet for something to read, watch or listen to, we take an all-about-me approach.
If your guest post is all about your new book, you’re writing about what you like and not about what your readers like–unless you’re already famous. A decent guest post can certainly mention your book, though it’s helpful if the host blogger introduces you with a line like, “Today’s guest is the author of the new mystery novel ‘Guns Along a Dark River.”
Okay, so what do you write about?
If you research author guest posts, you’ll find a lot of advice on line. My suggestion about this comes from noticing which of the guest posts on this blog and on Malcolm’s Round Table get the most hits and comments. The guest posts that do best are those about a subject the writer is passionate and knowledgeable about, one that is often related to his or her latest book in some way.
A great example of this is author Dianne K. Salerni’s May 2013 guest post on Malcolm’s Round Table called “Mortsafes: Protection FROM the Dead or FOR the Dead?” This post continues to get a lot of hits two years after it appeared.
Graveyards are spooky. Why would somebody put a metal fence around a grave? Even the term “mortsafe” seems a little strange. So she wrote an interesting post and people keep stopping by to read it. When they do, they see that her books We Hear the Dead and The Caged Graves might also be just as fascinating.
You can write posts related to your book regardless of whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.
- Did you learn something interesting while writing your book, or did something wild and crazy happen while you were on a research trip? If so, write about what you discovered or what happened to you while you were a hundred miles from home.
- Is your novel’s theme something that’s in the news, say, refugees or terrorism, perhaps. While an overly political guest post about these subjects won’t help you, you can probably find human interest stories that draw in readers.
- If your book has a strong focus on a specific field or avocation, you can probably write an interesting post about, say, how to sell used cars, how to mix conjuring herbs, how to create the perfect meal on a budget, or where to find the best deals on books or houses or lawyers.
- If the blog where your post will appear is somewhat literary, the last thing you want to do is imply your book is just as great at John Grisham’s books (even if it is.) But you can still talk about books, authors and writing tips.
- In my books, I focus a lot on the stories’ settings. You can do this, too, if the setting is dangerous, odd, unusual and/or a place reader might want to visit.
- When I wrote a book called The Sailor, I wrote several posts about navy slang. Those continue to be some of my most popular posts even though the novel is out of print. What slang, techniques, or practices are common for people in careers such as that of your novel’s protagonist?
The author’s first duty in writing a guest post is creating a well-written article that brings the host blog a lot of hits and that shows prospective readers of your book that you’re an interesting writer. When you do this, you give the blog’s readers something to talk about, think about, tweet about and share on Facebook.
Give the readers something they like and some of them will ultimately buy your book. Write a sales pitch, and quite likely none of them will buy your book or even read the entire guest post.