The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Archive for the tag “blogs”

How to pitch a blog guest post

So you’ve read through all the advice about how to guest post, you’ve got a lot to write about, and you’ve even researched a little bit of search engine know-how. You’ve learned that you can help the site out by putting relevant keywords in the title of your post and in the subheadings.

You pick your most brilliant idea, and you send it out to the site editor of your favourite blog (only do this one at a time!). But no one is replying to your emails.

via How to PITCH a Guest Post to a Blog ‹ Indies Unlimited ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

I like Ben Steele’s approach to this problem. If you want to write a guest post on somebody’s blog, you need to do some homework–just as you do when you pitch a book to a prospective agent or publisher or a story idea to an editor.

Magazine editors say “read the magazine before you submit an idea.” This keeps you from sending a romance short to National Geographic or an epic fantasy set on another world to National Parks and Preservation Magazine. Reading the blog is a good place to start.

–Malcolm

Book blogs come and go while the blog directories don’t seem to notice

If you’re a reader, you might have a few book blogs to visit every week for comments about books you’re thinking about reading. If you’re a writer, you hope to find people who like reviewing the books in your genre who will consider your latest novel for review.

As I mentioned briefly under “Musings” on my other blog, I’m not going to submit any book I write to a blog with a goofy name that sounds like it’s written while somebody’s frying eggs or sitting on a riding mower. Yes, those blogs may have a fair number of followers, but a positive review from them can’t be quoted anywhere because goofy names don’t stack up well when the competition is quoting from magazines, newspapers and blogs with professional names.

blogclipartAll this comes to mind again because I’ve been looking for bloggers that might want to review my work. Unfortunately, some of my favorite blogs from a few years ago have closed down while others have made it harder for writers to get a foot in the door.

So, the next places I turn to are blogging directories, some are run by professional authors, editors and reviewers, and others run by people who read a lot and who kept a record of their links.

What surprises me is that a fair number of people with websites listing bloggers, don’t keep their directories current. Sure, since the directory is free and might have a hundred listings, it’s a lot of trouble without compensation to go out there every month and see if the links work. That’s too bad because bad links are not only a waste of time, but they show the kind of laziness on the directory owner’s part that suggests they’re not actively looking for new links either to keep the place up to date.

I wish I’d kept a record of the number of blog links that ended up on screens like this yesterday and today while I was making the rounds:

  • The blog’s last post was several years ago.
  • The blog is officially closed because the blogger got too busy but has been left online so people could get to the archives.
  • A 404 error message.
  • A message that says “this domain is for sale.”
  • A change in policy indicating that the blog now has nothing to do with the blurb in the directory that supposedly describes what it offers.
  • Porn and other clickbait junk.

Naturally, my saying all this isn’t going to fix anything. But if you’re a reader or a writer who’s looking for new blogs, I’m not going to say “I feel your pain” because why would I want to do that? But I do understand your discouragement when you spend several hours looking and are lucky to come up with only one or two possibilities.

–Malcolm

Out of date blog? Get rid of it.

Why do writers, associations, museums, non-profit organizations and other websites have blogs that aren’t kept up to date?

Perhaps the writer is busy or ill, perhaps the blog writer at the association or museum left the group, or maybe there are funding and software issues. These may be viable rationale–or excuses–depending on the circumstances. If so, unhook the blog from the website.

blogCase in point: Since this is banned books week, I went to the site of one of the week’s sponsors and saw the usual home, about us, issues, news, donate, and blog menu headings. I looked around for a while and thought the group was worthy of at least a few dollars of financial support. Until I looked at the blog.

Nothing had been added to the blog in five years.

Bottom line, this looks bad. It looks like laziness. It looks like the writer or organization may not even be active any more. I didn’t donate any money because my view was that if the group was still in operation and couldn’t even keep up the very first place on a website where most of us look for the latest news and events, then I’m going elsewhere.

As a writer, I always look at the blogs on writers’ websites because I want to know what they’re doing right now, what their latest books are, when new releases can be expected, and whether they’re taking part in any panels, conventions or book fairs near me.

When writers’ blogs appear long dormant, I figure the author has retired, died, or become insane.

A sane author–assuming s/he is still living–would unhook a blog they can’t keep current because out of date blogs turn readers away in droves unless you’re really famous and they see you on TV every night.

–Malcolm

Insult your prospective customer. Okay, how’s that working for you?

Two spam companies left messages yesterday that were immediately deposited in the neighborhood’s communal outhouse (“Sit a Spell – Assholes Welcome”) because the robot authors thought an insult would get my attention.

They said: “I see that your blog really needs some fresh articles.”

Then they tried a little sentimentality: “I know it’s really hard coming up with fresh material every day when you’re busy changing the litter box, mowing the yard, saving the world, or whatever it is that keeps you from posting stuff that won’t attract any more spam from me.”

Basically, they wanted to sign me up for curated crap from the communal outhouse. They didn’t put it quite that way even though their opening lines made me suspect they didn’t have the sense God gave a goat.

When a woman walks into a beauty parlor in a movie and the first line she hears is, “Lord have mercy, honey, your need a lot of help,” the theater audience laughs.

In real life, that pick-up line probably doesn’t work so well even though the first thing a business (or a spammer) needs to do is get the prospective sucker’s attention. According to the old AIDA model, the seller needs to remember Attention – Interest – Desire – Action.

It’s always a good idea to know your potential customer so that you have a clue, for example, whether they’re turned on by insults. If not, you’re not even going to get to the Interest part of the advertising model, much less Desire.

But seriously, spam-breath, are you getting any action?

I’m not really cut out to go into the spam biz, but I still have a word of advice: If you’re going to start off with an insult, read some of Don Rickles’ best lines because they were intended as comedy rather than real putdowns:

  • “Oh my God, look at you. Anyone else hurt in the accident?”
  • “You were my idol when I was a kid. I was getting shock treatments at the time.”
  •  “Who picks your clothes – Stevie Wonder?”

Or, perhaps success in the spam business needs a touch of Jack E. Leonard, master of insult comedy: “There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won’t cure.”

If it’s a true mean streak you’re going for, listen to Joan Rivers for a few hours: “If Kate Winslet had dropped a few pounds, the Titanic would never have sunk” and “Elizabeth Taylor fat? Her favorite food is seconds.”

Or Mae West: “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”

As a last resort, Google the words “insult comedy,” and you’ll find enough stuff to make your spam so hot that customers will sign up with your services just to make it stop.

Until then, my town’s communal outhouse always has room for more.

–Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

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.

guestpostThose 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.

Why?

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.

–Malcolm

Automated Plagarism – amazing how people think it’s okay

When I search for information for blog posts, novels and stories, I often find the same paragraphs (or entire pages) of information in multiple places. Usually, there’s no attribution or quotation marks, and the amount copied goes far beyond the legal boundaries of “fair use.” (You can quote some, but not a substantial portion of an article.)

Somebody left a comment on this blog recently that didn’t make it out of the spam queue. The gist of it was that I could spend less time writing posts if I used a automated content generator. Simply type in some key words, and the generator goes out and steals a little here and a little there until you have a brand new post with no effort.

The comment included a name to use for a Google search that would lead me to the content generator that the person liked and/or was selling. I won’t include it here or mention the names of other content generators because that would be rather like giving a list of hit men to people who want to get rid of annoying family members and colleagues.

You can find them, though, by searching for blog content generators and similar combinations of words. I have no problem with software which tells me what key words are popular and what ideas are trending. I have three blogs tied together here on WordPress, and I take note of the search words people use to get here and often write follow-up posts about those subjects.

So, it’s good to know, within your own niche and purpose for having a blog, what people want to read about. It’s hard for me to imagine the inept laziness of those who condone plagiarism and think that cutting and pasting together bits and pieces of other people’s work is a service to a blog’s or site’s readers. Goodness knows, when I find the same thousand words of information in multiple places when I’m doing research, I get no value out of it and never go back to those sites again.

And then, too, as a writer, writing is what I do. Having an app to it certainly would provide no sense of accomplishment, much less a feeling of satisfaction about the end result of disseminating stolen work. Everthing everyone writes on paper or in electronic form is copyrighted. Using it without permission is theft.

That’s my two cents for today in response to the commenter who thinks the readers of this blog would be well-served by stealing from all the other blogs they also looked at while trying to learn something new or interesting.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is a former college journalism instructor who taught mass communications, reporting, editing and communications law.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Malcolm R. Campbell

A note from your sponsor – a variety of blogs

Er, that would be me.

Thank you to the recent new followers. Since this blog also serves as my website, you’ll find notes here about my books, settings for novels, and writing ideas. You’ll also find links to stories about authors, books and publishing. I hope you like the mix.

I’ve added several new tabs on Malcolm’s Round Table and Magic Moments.

roundtablecoverMalcolm’s Round Table now has a tab called “On a personal note” along with the date. These are notions of the day. While yesterday’s note was political–about the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner–most of these entries will focus on brief thoughts about writing, libraries and related subjects.

magicmomentscover

Magic Moments now has a tab for random quotes. This is not a long list because I see no point in trying to compete with the quotation sites which already offer many thousands of entries. I’ll be adding some of my favorite quotes to this tab over time, often including why I like them and/or something about the authors.

TSSmusecover

On blogger, I have The Sun Singer’s Muse, a blog that focuses on writing ideas. If you’re a writer, you might find things of interest here. The focus is tips and techniques, not how to market, format, or find an agent.

LAcover

Some of my reviews appear on Literary Aficionado. The site, which has been on blogger, is transitioning to a new location with new services. The old site with all the archived reviews is here. The new site, which appears to have now pulled in the reviews from the old site, is here.

As always, blogging keeps trying to become a full-time occupation. With luck, some of the blogs will please some of the readers some of the time.

Malcolm

 

‘The Sun Singer’s Travels’ Moves to WordPress

Campbell

This blog began in 2004 on Blogger when the first edition of my contemporary fantasy adventure novel The Sun Singer was published.

This blog also begins today, October 3, 2012, because I’m ready for a new look, better formatting options and, truth be told, more exciting posts.

And, as long as we’re telling the truth here—in this post, at least—I’ll confess that I probably still own the Blackwatch flannel shirt I wore in this picture. The jeans no longer fit and/or just became too shabby to wear out in public.

That picture was taken by a photographer with a rocking chair and a barn door set when the first edition of The Sun Singer was published.  By way of introduction here, I’ll say that since then, I moved on to many new pairs of jeans, a second edition along with three other novels, including last year’s fantasy adventure,  Sarabande.

View of the World

I can sum up the basic philosophy behind my novels and my blog posts by taking the easy way out with a Joseph Campbell quotation: “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

Sure, that sounds impractical, totally unrealistic and—using an old-fashioned phrase–a rather goody-two-shoes approach to life. I won’t try to convince you otherwise. Nonetheless, I see the world that way, and that means you’ll probably be hearing more about hero’s and heroine’s journeys, magic and the paranormal, and other similar notions in upcoming posts.

So there it is: a short and totally unplanned introduction to the re-launch of my author’s weblog.

I hope you’ll stop by from time to time.

–Malcolm

My new ghost story on Kindle.

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