105 Ways to Give a Book

Kidlit Blogging Session II: Blog Promotion

At the Kidlitosphere conference, I led the session on building up your blog and used an article that I had written. I’ve summarized it in this post, but the link to the entire article is at the end. If your goal is to reach more readers or make a bigger name for yourself, then these suggestions may help. Many of the ideas may also help you build a better blog or to be more connected within the community of kidlit bloggers. Of course, it’s up to you as to how much energy you want to invest in your blog. Let’s get started.
  1. Quality Content: Good content is like porn. No one can describe what constitutes it, but everyone knows it when they see it. Lots of people can write book reviews, so you need to find a way to offer something more — and something interesting.

  2. Daily Updates: If you want higher Technorati rankings, you need daily (or near-daily) updates. In the kidlitosphere, we’ll cut some slack for not updating on the weekend or skipping an occasional day, but if you want lots of readers you’ve got to offer lots to read.

  3. Personal Voice: Sometimes voice is translated into humor, and I’ll admit that it’s easier to convey your voice through humor, but it’s not the only way. Readers need to see something of your personality in your posts.

  4. Links and Blogrolls: An important part of blogging is being part of a community. Link to other bloggers when they write something interesting. Link and give credit when you find something on another blog that you want to write about too. Oh, and thank them when they write about your posts. Now, blogrolls are personal. Don’t get hung up on blogrolls, but don’t expect to be on a B-lister’s blogroll if they are not on yours.

  5. Comments: If you want to be noticed, you have to comment sometimes. It’s best if your comment adds something to the post, but an occasional LOL is good too. Personally, I’d suggest commenting under your blog name for easier recognition.

  6. A Particular Niche: Children’s literature is already a tight topic area, but you’ll stand out if you have a niche. Think about what unique perspective you have to bring to the table.

  7. Spelling and Grammar: Spelling counts. An occasional mistake can pass, but if your writing is sloppy in a topic like literature, you’re going to lose readers.

  8. Good Looks: It doesn’t need to be fancy, but an individualized header does set the tone for a more professional blog. Clean lines, good readability, and logical organization are necessary. Occasional pictures do help.

  9. Unique Branding: Jen Robinson pulls together literacy news. Bookshelves of Doom is always on top of book challenges. It’s more than niche reporting. When I see these issues come up other than at those sites, I think of these blogs. I’ve associated their blogs with those topics. That’s branding.

  10. Self-Promotion: You can start with putting your blog address on your email signature. Tell your actual, real-life friends about your blog. If you have something super-special that you want to get out in the blog world, you might humbly email a blogger and ask them to consider promoting it. Self-promotion also teeters on bragging, so you have to be careful, but my philosophy is that you don’t get much in this world by not asking for it.

  11. Active Participation: Join in on an occasional book meme. Better yet, start one of your own. Pull together a useful list. Throw in a poem for Poetry Friday, a favorite post for a Carnival, or an article for The Edge of the Forest. Get yourself out in the community.

  12. Patience and Perseverance: You won’t get to be a B-list blogger overnight. You have to keep writing, keep linking, keep commenting, keep promoting, and keep improving for at least a year.
Follow your progress with a statistic tracking system, which will help you determine how you’re doing readership-wise and where your readers come from and where they go. There was some discussion about different statistics trackers, and if anyone would like to elaborate on their favorite, please feel free to do so in the comments. I use StatCounter for no real reason other than it was the first one I found.

Greg from Gotta Book emphasized the importance of using good keywords, especially in the headlines of posts. Search engines will pick up those keywords and direct potential readers to your blog. The point being, I suppose, that using the title Football Poem may be more effective in pulling in the right readers then Ode to Pigskin.

Andrea from Three Silly Chicks mentioned contests as a great way to draw in readers, and also pointed out author/blogger extraordinarie Lisa Yee as a big proponent of contests. Yeah, I could say that I know a little something about contests too.

There was some discussion about drawing readers for authors’ blogs, but specifically drawing the readers of the authors’ books or the potential readers of the authors’ books to the blogs. This isn’t my area of expertise — though I think the twelve tips above will still help — but I’d love to see more discussion in this area. Bookseller Chick had a couple of great segments about this topic that might be of interest, and I don’t think it’s the last we’ll hear about it.

Let me mention that when I originally wrote my article, everyone had just discovered Kineda’s bloglebrity widget, which allows you to determine your status in the blogging world. Knowing that making the A-list in kidlit blogging would require a time machine and possible payoffs, I focused my pointers on how to hit the B-list. I made the title of my article “Be a B-List Blogger” for a reason other than awesome alliteration. I thought about saying “Be a Better Blogger,” but I didn’t want to attach the value judgement of “better” to whether you got more links. And that’s all the the B-List is: a number of links. It’s specifically 100 links from other blogs in a six-month period as tallied by Technorati.

You do not have to make the B-list to have a quality blog. You don’t have to care about the B-list to have a quality blog. But hopefully the suggestions will help improve your blogging experience. The full article, “Be a B-List Blogger,” includes examples of and links to various blogs, and is filled with bonus MotherReader humor at no additional charge.


Sara said...

Thanks for re-posting. I was (ahem) a tiny bit late to your presentation due to some bumbling at Chili's so I appreciate you filling me in.

We did talk a bit about the blog/book sale connection in the Blogging For Authors session, but it's still a mystery to me. Part of it is that most of our real readers...i.e. kids...don't read our blogs. We're blogging to the gatekeepers and fellow writers. Which isn't a bad thing--it's what I do---but how do you figure out where that leads other than anecdotally?

EM said...

[whispering in your ear] The link for StatCounter has a typo in it. [skulking away into my editorial closet. . .]

Thanks for the recap. Wish I could have been there!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, MotherReader. Those are good tips!

MotherReader said...

Thanks em for the whisper. It's fixed now.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

This is a really great article. I agree with every one of your tips.

Anonymous said...

I appreciated the original article on this topic, and I still appreciate it. But I will for other readers that the whole topic was more fun with Pam up in front of us talking. I think we'll be due for a live re-cap for new participants at next year's conference.

Alyssa F said...

Thank you for posting this. It has some great ideas! :-)

MotherReader said...

Glad the summary and article are useful to folks.

Sara, I think you're right that you're blogging to the gatekeepers, however in that vein, I've asked my library to order several titles after hearing about them at authors' blogs.

Jen, thanks for the nod on my "live performance." My biggest fear of the conference is that people would come away with a view of me as a loudmouth or vaguely annoying.

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Pam! Thanks for posting this. I'm really trying to make my blog better and I learned a lot at the conference -- this is a great overview.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for posting and sharing this, Pam. It's informative and helpful; I like what you have to say. I think I already do most of it or knew most of it, but it helps to see it all pulled together like this--and is a great reminder for when I start slipping (not posting as frequently, etc.).

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