In the past few months, I’ve come in contact with numerous bloggers who are ready to take their work from blog to book. Maybe it’s the influence of movies like Julie and Julia, it’s hard to tell, but suffice it to say the idea of selling your blog to a publisher is very appealing to a good many bloggers. But what does it really take to get your blog noticed? Here are some tips if you’re trying to raise the bar on your blog and get it noticed by a publisher:
Ironically, many of the rules of good blogging apply to this article and the first is: Blog often. If you’re a serious blogger you are likely posting daily, if you’re not, then you probably don’t have much to say. If you want to get your blog noticed, you need to be blogging daily. Why? Because it’ll not only help you look massively articulate, but it’ll really help with your traffic and search ranking, and let’s face it: If no one is finding you how do you expect a publisher to.
Write great blog posts: OK, I know this is probably another “duh” tip, but here’s the deal: if you’re blogging every day you need to keep your writing strong. Not all your blog posts will be worthy of front page news, but your writing must remain consistently good and your blog posts should be unique, helpful, enlightening, or whatever your goal for the blog is.
Be consistent in your message: in other words, don’t change horses mid-race. If you start a blog on, let’s say, dogs, don’t start talking about guinea pigs three posts into it. You’ll have a boatload of dog people going “huh?” Keep it topical and on message always.
Educate yourself in publishing: if you’re going to compete in this market (meaning publishing) you’re going to want to get to know the industry. Go to (writers) conferences, read some of the trade publications (like Publishers Weekly) and dig into this market. If you find that what you’re blogging on is super-hot, you might want to ramp up the promotion of your blog.
See who’s buying what: there’s a site I highly recommend called publishersmarketplace.com. You can register there for either their free or paid Publishers Lunch newsletter, and with that you’ll also get Lunch Weekly, which shows you who is signing and what they’re buying. If you get a membership on the site you can also dig in and find Editors and Agents that might be interested in your topic.
Telling people you have a blog: do you have a signature file on your email? If you don’t you should, this is the first and one of the best places to promote a blog. Second, get business cards and make sure your blog address is listed there.
Get a unique URL: if you’re going to be a serious blogger get a serious domain name. Yes, you can get sallyauthor.blogspot.com but that’s not your own property. Meaning that Google still owns this. If you’re going to be a real blogger, do you really want someone else owning your blog? I don’t think so. Buy a domain name and make sure your blog is hosted there.
Brand yourself: when you’re ready and you have the budget, find someone who can turn your blog into a custom site. They’re great and super easy to do (read: not that expensive) and make a fantastic first impression.
Do some social networking on blogs: get to know your space, meaning get to know who else is doing what you’re doing and make friends. Unless you’re sitting on the most original idea on the planet, I don’t believe in competition. Get to know who else is out there and start commenting on their blog posts so they know you. There’s a great way to find out the top people in your market. Go to a blog search site like Google blog search, type in your keyword and start following the top five bloggers in your market. See what they do, learn from the pros and then thank them for their knowledge by posting helpful comments on their blog (bloggers love comments, by the way). I have a whole article on social networking on blogs that you can read here: http://amarketingexpert.com/ameblog/marketing/social-networking-on-blogs/. Many of the tips will be helpful to you as you continue to cyber-schmooze online.
Market your blog: now that you have a unique URL and branding, you’re going to want to start marketing it. You can do this by getting a Twitter page and feeding your blog through your account (you can use Twitterfeed.com to do this). You should also consider getting a Facebook Fanpage (again branded to your blog) and feed your blog through that as well. Why do you want to do this? Well it’s important to get as many access points as possible, right? Social networking sites are feeder sites. Use the content on these sites to help you dig deeper into your markets and gather new readers for your blog.
Make your blog shareable: Make sure that folks can share your blog posts to sites like Twitter, Facebook, and all the social bookmarking sites. It’s an easy widget to add and most blogs come with this pre-installed.
Social bookmarking: it’s good to social bookmark all your posts. Yes, and I do mean all of them. You should bookmark on the major sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and Social Poster. You can add more to this list but those are the majors.
Keep good track of your stats: this is another reason why you want to have your own site: so you can keep track of your traffic, which you can’t do if someone else owns your domain. You’ll want to keep a close eye on your blog traffic and learn how to read the site analytics (which is a lot easier than it sounds).
This is superb advice! So many people today just start blogging and hope to be discovered. That’s why I started my blog, How to Blog a Book (http://www.howtoblogabook.com), which covers all the essentials of approaching blogging a book–an actual book–from the perspective of a nonfiction book proposal. That’s right…start out looking at your blogged book as if it were a book you are going to pitch to a publisher. That way you have a better chance of success–in Cyberspace and elsewhere. All the same rules really do apply. Keep up the great work!