- Email me
- Nail Your Novel: books
- FAQ: I’m a new writer: which book should I read first?
- FREE Nail Your Novel Instant Fix: 100 Tips For Fascinating Characters
- My writing process: the picture tour
- Nail Your Novel: A Companion Workbook
- Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and how you can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
- Reviews of Nail Your Novel
- Who’s tweeting about Nail Your Novel …
- Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel
- Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart: Nail Your Novel
- Who am I?
Posts Tagged blogging for novelists
How can authors use blogging and social media effectively? How should they get started? How much time does it take to build an audience? Will you like it?!
That’s what we’re talking about this episode.
A caveat! These shows are a few years old now. We recorded this episode in 2015. Some of the platforms might not be so fashionable or useful for authors now. On the other hand, Facebook and Twitter are still going strong and are still the main places I meet readers and writers I want to know better. And blogs? We must have been through several periods where everyone declared blogging was dead – but you are here and I am here and this is a blog and none of it is dead at all.
Moreover, social media have been the entire mechanism by which I built a career as a writer under my own name, without a publisher (in case you don’t know, I have a big secret career writing books under other names). The finer points might have changed – and might well change again. But the methods and principles will still be the same. So I’m hoping this show will still be a useful primer.
Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!
Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.
PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.
audio, author-bloggers, authors and Twitter, blog mistakes, blogging about your book, blogging and publishing, blogging for authors, blogging for literary authors, blogging for novelists, blogging for writers, blogging schedule, facebook for literary authors, free podcast, free podcast for writers, how to do social media, how to use social media successfully, how to use Twitter, So You Want To Be A Writer, social media for authors, social media for writers, social networks, Twitter names, why blogging is brilliant, writers and social media
Yesterday I discussed why an author might not want to self-host their blog and how to make the best of platform-hosted blogging. But many authors strongly advocate self-hosting – so today I’m going to ask two of them why.
First up is author-entrepreneur Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn. Joanna has built a formidable following among writers who want to take charge of their publishing careers and make the best of what the internet can offer. She also develops multimedia courses and she’s hit the bestseller lists with her two thrillers.
Joanna, why did you chose self-hosting?
I have control over everything – including affiliate sales and plugins that you can’t use on free blogs. Google takes you more seriously so you get better SEO results and rank better on Google.
You use a paid-for theme, don’t you? Why?
I use Thesis, which has SEO design in the back end and is very easy to customise so it looks professional. I model success and all the top blogs are self-hosted and use premium or custom design themes. Why look like a second-rate blog?
Is self-hosting and/or using a paid-for theme more hassle? Do you need to be more tech literate?
I have Joel the Blog Tech guy as help but once the site is set up, the back end is the same as WordPress. So no, you don’t have to be tech literate.
How much does this all cost you?
My hosting is less than USD $10 per month, my premium theme was USD $70.
How much do novel-writers need to worry about search engine optimisation (SEO) and what key things should they do?
You need basic SEO – good site design, so that spiders can crawl you. Free themes have a particular SEO rating and my first blog was really crappy for this until I learned about it. Then you should use an SEO plugin. I use All-in-One SEO. Also you should use consistent keywords for your niche and have a lot of relevant content.
My second self-hosted blogger is Jane Friedman, web editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review. Jane is a former publisher at Writer’s Digest and a prolific and respected speaker on writing, publishing, and the future of media. Her expertise has been featured by sources such as NPR’s Morning Edition, Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, PBS, The Huffington Post, and Mr. Media. She has consulted with a range of nonprofits, businesses, and creative professionals, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Creative Work Fund, and the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.
Jane, prevailing wisdom seems to be that self-hosted is always better. Why is this?
Because not self-hosting means:
- You’ll have a weaker functioning site overall (customisation is usually quite limited)
- You rarely have access to advanced analytics unless you’re allowed to install Google Analytics (which can be important, see below)
- You’re not fully in control of what happens to your site. Over time, services ARE discontinued, bought, changed, etc.
Whether self-hosted or not, why might authors use a paid-for or upgraded theme – apart from being able to look distinctive? How much does it generally cost?
The cost is very little (generally less than USD $100), given that a premium theme offers robust or improved functionality, as well as better looks (and often better readability). Also, premium themes generally have better SEO tools.
How much do novelists need to worry about SEO? Do readers really find them through Google searches?
If readers buy your book, or hear about your book through any medium, they might be likely to google your name – in which case, your site should be easily found. Often, you don’t have to ‘worry’ about SEO for this to happen as long as your site meets basic standards (usually the case with any premium-theme sites) and you don’t have an exceptionally common name.
I like to say that if no one can find you through Google, it’s like you don’t exist.
Is Google all there is to SEO? What key things should writers do to increase visibility?
Not exactly, but Google is 70% of the search market. The best thing to do is to use a premium theme that focuses on SEO, which will help ensure your site is looking its best when search engine crawlers visit.
This is my SEO strategy – how does it look to you? I write attention-grabbing headlines with key words, and use plenty of tags, including my name, my book titles and keywords for my subject area (in this case ‘writing a novel’).
This looks fine! There are other steps, such as making sure your site’s meta title, meta description, and meta tags are appropriate for the type of reader you’re trying to attract. These things are also adjustable on a post-by-post basis if you’re blogging. When you get a premium theme focused on SEO, generally these fields are available for you to adjust as needed. It helps you customise what exactly appears when your single posts (or when your site) comes up in Google search (site title, site description, brief description of post, etc).
How can writers check how well their measures are working?
You can tell whether your efforts are working if you improve your search ranking for your name or book titles (how high in the listings you appear), and/or if you see your organic search results increase—something you can watch, over time, in Google Analytics.
Thanks Joanna and Jane – and thanks also to Catherine Ryan Howard for helping me argue for platform-hosted blogs yesterday.
Anything to add? Cautionary tales, theories…. has your mind been changed by anything you’ve read here? I’m sticking with WordPress hosting for now, but Jane’s suggestions have sent me back to my site descriptions to make them work harder at grabbing readers. If you’re going to do anything new, tell me in the comments!
If you are thinking of upgrading to a bespoke theme, you might like this by Dan Blank – How I redesigned my website.
Joanna has scores of helpful posts about blogging – starting here. (And we’ve joined forces to create a multimedia course How To Write A Novel. More than 4 hours of video and audio with 86-page transcription and slides)
authors, bestseller lists, blogging, blogging for authors, blogging for novelists, blogging for writers, business, fiction, google, Google analytics, how to blog, how to write a book, how to write a novel, Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn, marketing, model success, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence, novel writers, novels, publishing, Roz Morris, search engine optimisation, self-hosted blogs, self-publishing, SEO, starting a blog, technology, The Creative Penn, Thesis Wordpress theme, Virginia Quarterly Review, Wordpress, Wordpress blogs, Wordpress themes, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing business, writing life
- The book or the film? How storytelling differs in prose and live action. Ep 32 FREE podcast for writers May 29, 2020
- Devils for detail – dictionaries, grammar and editing considerations for authors. Ep 31 FREE podcast for writers May 26, 2020
- How to master back story – professional course at Jane Friedman May 25, 2020
- Your first pages – 5 more novel openings critiqued by a literary agent (and me!) at @Litopia May 24, 2020
- Live critique – Peter writes a story. Ep 30 FREE podcast for writers May 20, 2020
- Does a story’s protagonist have to be likable? We discuss! Ep 29 FREE podcast for writers May 19, 2020
- How to run – or join – an authors’ collective. Ep 28 FREE podcast for writers feat @triskelebooks May 17, 2020