- All blogs should have dates on their posts. (Most blogs do date their posts, but when they don’t, it’s wrong, wrong, wrong.)
- Authors and illustrators should have their personal names listed on their blogs. Also, authors and illustrators should have their books listed on their blogs. Your readers shouldn’t have to dig around for that basic information.
Blogger wins in my book for being most like a website in format, so there are lots of sites using Blogger that work well. I’ll point to Silberbook-Blog, because his “About Me” is short, relevant, and mentions his book by name. He also has a picture of the book cover, which is very important. People are more likely to remember the book cover image than the title take it from a librarian. As an illustrator, Nicole Tadgell is on the right track, showing her picture and the covers of all of her books. I’d suggest that Nicole move her “About Me” to the top of the sidebar, with her books underneath. Also, if possible, to make that line-up of book covers the background of the header. (MotherReader pimps your blog!)
LiveJournal doesn’t seem nearly as compatible with the best format for personal marketing, given how hard it was for me to find good examples. At the minimum, you need your book, LiveJournal name, and personal name. As an example, I’ll use the blog of Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. The blog doesn’t list all of her books, but does provide a link to her website directly under her name. Laura Purdie Salas seems to have made the LiveJournal template work with her picture and her book shown in a decent size.
After looking at blogs for examples, now I would add that not only should authors/ilustrators should have their personal name and books on their blog, but that they should have them at the top of the sidebar along with contact information and their website link.
But enough from me listen to Gail Gauthier, author and longtime blogger who commented:
I think authors really need to understand that a blog is not a website and that they need a traditional website as well as a blog. I often look up authors after I’ve read a book, and I’m always surprised to find writers who have only a blog or a LiveJournal. Basic info background on the books, author bio, new books that are in the works, etc. 73151; will often be discussed in the blog, but for a newcomer it’s essentially buried there in hundreds of posts and inaccessible. Whereas with a website, it should be quick to find.Colleen Mondor, author, longtime blogger, and primo interviewer, adds:
Following up on Gail’s comment having a blog separate from a site is fine but it should be very easy to navigate between the two. Sometimes you can’t find the blog link from the site or vice versa. You can have the blog as the main point of your site though (like at Chasing Ray) and then just link off of that to pages about your books, etc. That would work well if blogging is your main point.There are other gripes that people mentioned that apply to all blogs. Automatic music players were generally not appreciated. Also on the annoying list was SnapShots, with its little window that pops up to show a screenshot of the link. Commenters mentioned that long sidebars are harder to download and read. Dead links are universally despised.
My main pet peeve is trying to find how to contact some writers. It should be obvious either on their main page or “about” page how to send an email (if they want email). If I can’t find the email address in a couple of clicks then you likely won’t hear from me, which could mean losing an interview op.
I also can’t stand blogs that only exist to update on news about publication status, etc. This is news and you can have a news page (if you want to run reviews, signing dates, awards, etc.) but putting it into a blog just shows that you don’t want to blog and/or you don’t know what a blog is for. Readers want to know about you or what you’re interested in not the latest review. Justine Larbalstier and Scott Westerfield are great YA bloggers with big followings that everyone should read to see how it is done well.
If you use acronyms like ALA, SCBWI, etc refer to the whole group name first. If your library has a blog, the city and state should be included, since surprisingly there is more than one Springfield Library in the United States.
On writing tone, one commenter suggests that whining be kept to a minimum, while other reminds us watch the snark. Or in other words, “Don’t be a [jerk].”
Oh, and you have to code your links. It’s rare that bloggers write out website addresses, but it looks so bad. I’ve found that you can search for html code pretty easily for almost anything. I’d like to show the code for links, but I can’t, because it keeps putting it in code! Well, go to WebSource to find what you need. (Or, I suspect, someone in the comments will figure out how to share this information.)