How to blog about your book … without giving too much away

4356751856_0a4cd864a3_oFollowing my post about not talking about novels I’m writing, I’ve had this question:

I am a new author (just signed) and I am struggling with how to share parts of the story to entice readers while also protecting its integrity. Any suggestions?

Don’t be a tease
My first question is this. How far off publication are you?

If it’s more than a couple of months, you might be wasting time by giving specific details about the book. Internet shoppers are slaves to impulse. They want to buy instantly. There’s no shortage of shiny new stuff to keep their £££s busy. If you can’t offer an instant purchase or pre-order, they’ll go somewhere else and who knows if they’ll remember they even considered your book? And if you flirt with them too often without following through, you’ll wear out their interest. Don’t waste your shots.

Be discreet about the book until you have readership
If you’re starting to blog, don’t feel pressured to talk about the book. Everyone’s doing that anyway. Think of blogging as a conversation opener, like any other part of social media. Talk about other material you’re interested in, things you have in common with the people you hope will be your readers – themes, locations, historical periods if appropriate, other books that have been influential. Go out and find like-minded souls in Facebook groups, Twitter, Linked In groups, Google + communities. Comment on posts at other blogs.

You could put a progress thermometer on your blog sidebar with the status of your books. This would let people know you’re writing and help the title become familiar for them.

Ready for my close-up
If you’re close to publication, you can start your dance of the seven veils. Aim to generate intrigue. Here’s what I do, and what I’ve noticed seems effective for the writers in my blogosphere.

covCover and visuals
Readers love to see the evolution of a cover. (Writers do too, to learn!) This is one of your chief opportunities to attract attention and you can get several blogposts out of it, whether you’re indie or traditionally published. Talk about how you fixed on a design concept, any wrong turnings you took (I’ve got a humdinger here as I nearly loused up my second novel with an unsuitable jacket. But it gave me a great yarn for my blog.)

Some authors create mood boards on Pinterest for their work in progress. Or they lay a quote from their book over a picture, like an advert, and put it on Pinterest. This is enormously satisfying, and Pinterest is certainly a phenomenon. Does it lead to book sales? Who knows. I doubt that people go to Pinterest looking for a book to read. But they do look for stuff to share, and if your picture has wide appeal it might get spread around. Again, does that get it to people who might want to know about your book? Who knows. We’re venturing into the haphazard, unmeasurable realm of advertising here. do it if it satisfies you, but don’t let it become more important than spreading the word… in words.

Stories about your stories
What made you write your book? Most of us could pinpoint an experience or a twinkling idea that set us on the path. Work out your origin story – it’s an excellent way to reach out to new readers while remaining discreet. On the blog for My Memories of a Future Life I’ve got a section called Glimpses . And on Lifeform Three it’s Origins.

There are more ideas in this post – keep your stories about your stories.

delShould you post excerpts?
I’m cautious about excerpts. Either they spoil a carefully laid surprise or they look bonkers because the reader doesn’t have the context. But there are certain excerpts that a browsing reader would expect to find, and I’m happy to post those. On my novel pages I’ve got the first page and the page 99 test.

Well-polished outtakes are another good way to demonstrate your style and substance without giving too much away. Here’s one of mine . And here’s one by historical thriller author David Penny.

Once the launch party’s over
There will come a time when you can’t squeeze much more out of the launch. Know when to draw back. Now your blog isn’t about an agenda, it’s back to conversation – your personality, little snatches of life. It’s giving people your company, not your campaign. Indeed, this is where you’ll be glad you established this from the start.

octHere are two different approaches: Chris Hill  has a mix of author interviews, thoughts on reading and writing. Or this more visual group blog (right) from Joni Rodgers, Colleen Thompson and Dr Kathryn Peterson. And so we go back to the start, until another book is ready.

Thanks for the bird pic TheRealBrute

Have you had to grapple with this issue? How much do you share about a book in progress? How far in advance do you talk about the content? What’s worked for you and what hasn’t? Let’s discuss!

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  1. #1 by Joe Broadmeadow on March 13, 2016 - 3:52 pm

    A difficult, but achievable, roadmap to balance between intriguing a potential reader and giving away the store. Well written and thoughtful

    • #2 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 13, 2016 - 6:51 pm

      ‘Not giving away the store’ – that’s the balance, isn’t it? Thanks, Joe!

  2. #3 by acflory on March 13, 2016 - 9:00 pm

    Whatever we do, we’re all trying to reach out to our ‘target audience’, but it’s hard when they don’t have big neon signs above their heads. Luckily we do. They’re called blogs [or Pinterest or Facebook or whatever].

    My theory is that everything we say about ourselves and the things we’re interested in has the potential to be seen by a like-minded reader. Hopefully if they see enough of us over time, they’ll decide to give our writing a go as well – because we do put a lot of ourselves into our writing, even if we’re not aware of it.

    My blog is my home and the people who land on my doorstep are potential friends so I very rarely write about writing. I will, however, write about all the things that go into my writing – music, technology, research, odd rants, food, even my take on politics and reviews of other people’s books. It’s my way of lighting up that neon above my head. 😀

    • #4 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 13, 2016 - 11:07 pm

      Hi Andrea! What you’re illustrating here is how we have to take the long-term view. As we do with anything that involves building a relationship!

      • #5 by acflory on March 14, 2016 - 5:39 am

        Yes. lol Definitely a long term view.

  3. #6 by DRMarvello on March 13, 2016 - 9:08 pm

    These are great tips.

    I write fantasy, so I usually post about the story world, rather than a specific story. I have article categories like Creature Feature, Location Lore, Character Spotlight, and Magic System. My blog is where I share some of the world-building work that goes on behind the scenes of the stories. It’s nice to have a place to publish all that hard work!

    I agree with you on excerpts. I use them occasionally in my story world articles as an example of whatever it is I’m writing about, but sometimes it’s tough to find an excerpt that doesn’t spoil a plot point. I figure it’s generally safe to include an excerpt from the first act since the book description usually covers that much of the story. Even then, I try not to give away my best lines.

    As for “the conversation,” I rarely include much about my private life. When I first set up my blog, it was mostly to connect with other writers because I hadn’t published anything yet and I was doing a lot of networking. After I published my first book, I changed the focus of my blog because I decided I wanted my readers to be my audience. I stopped posting articles about writing and started posting about topics I imagined readers would find most interesting. I figure my private life probably doesn’t qualify.

    • #7 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 13, 2016 - 11:09 pm

      Hi Daniel! As you write fantasy you’ve got a good fund of blog topics. And as you say, you can use all the material you couldn’t explain so baldly in the book.

  4. #8 by Don Massenzio on March 14, 2016 - 1:33 pm

    Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Some great tips (that I’ll be taking advantage of) for talking about your book launch on your blog.

  5. #9 by Erin Bartels on March 14, 2016 - 6:20 pm

    This: “It’s giving people your company, not your campaign.”

  6. #11 by dgkaye on March 18, 2016 - 5:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing this Roz. It’s interesting to hear another approach to what is too much, and when to begin captivating our readers. I wholeheartedly agree on the sharing of the cover ideas to get some reader interest and interaction. 🙂

  7. #12 by Alexander M Zoltai on September 18, 2016 - 3:09 pm

    Reblogged this on Notes from An Alien and commented:
    A breath of fresh air (i.e., solid, rational advice) from Roz Morris 🙂

  8. #13 by The Story Reading Ape on September 18, 2016 - 3:24 pm

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Great advice from Roz 👍

  9. #14 by Kate McClelland on September 18, 2016 - 3:37 pm

    Reblogged this on Kate McClelland.

  10. #15 by juliecroundblog on September 19, 2016 - 11:28 am

    It was easy to write about the process while one is writing the book but once it is published what is there except excerpts? Stop marketing for a while and post about books you like to read. When you want to tell people about your work I think the advice about including what made you write and the mistakes that happened is spot on but finding where your potential readers hang out is also vital. Do they use social media or must you find them in the real world?
    By the way, I wish I’d thought of sharing my choices for a cover before I decided on one. That would have been most illuminating!

    • #16 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on September 19, 2016 - 7:39 pm

      Hi Julie! That’s a good point about sharing the books you like to read. It’s a nice way to share your tastes and inspirations in a wider way, and get a conversation going where you don’t have to be the subject (embarrassment….)

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