At KidLitCon this weekend I'll be presenting my "Beyond the Blog" session for authors, focusing on what resources and connections are out there for kidlit/YA authors and illustrators. While I won't be able to touch on every aspect of building a blog for this community, I will be going over some basics. Basics that far too many authors and illustrators are missing.
Since I maintain the KidLitosphere Central site, I need to check the hundreds of links to blogs to make sure that they are still active. I don't have time to spend on each blog, I know what I'm looking for, and I expect to find it in seconds. Often I don't, and it signals to me a problems that may be unique to our kid lit and YA authors, so often humble individuals. It's time to fix that, staring with:
1. Your Name
Seriously, your author name belongs on your author blog. I'm baffled as to why this is even an issue. Sometimes it's authors or illustrators using only a first name or a cute nickname. Sometimes - and I'm looking at you LiveJournal - the format makes it hard to find and tech-challenged writers left it alone, leaving their online ID as 'writergirldeb' and me wondering who the hell this is. If you want a cute blog name, be my guest. But then your full name belongs on the first page of the blog.
2. Your Book(s)
This is where I suspect the humble streak of so many kid lit and YA authors/illustrators comes into play. You don't want to brag about your work. But you are not doing yourself, your readers, or your potential readers any favors by leaving off the books that you have written or illustrated. A list of titles is barely okay. Images in the sidebar is much better. The visual impact makes connections for the blog reader far faster - especially in this era of single-word titles like Torn, Entice, Dangerous, and Papaya. And I'm not even sure which of those titles I'm making up. If you have to narrow it down, your most recent and best known books should have cover images on your blog, on the first page. Not after the archives, followers, and cute blogging awards like "Hot Mama Blogger." (Again, not sure if I'm making that up)
Not your social ventures or fig-like fruit fetish. The dates of your blog entries. As a reader, I want to know if I'm reading an active blog. Also, why it's November and I'm reading about your spring book tour. I prefer the date at the top of blog entries, because it provides a time context for what I'm about to read - especially if you don't update a lot. The date at the end of the entry is acceptable. No dates anywhere, is not.
If you are in the Austin area - and I'm including all Texas in this, because what do I know of Texas - you can learn more about kidlit and YA blogging at KidLitCon on Saturday, November 9th. I'll be presenting more on this topic and offering to look at author/illustrator blogs with my critical eye. Registration is available online and on site. Oh, and we've added an afternoon-only option for SCBWI members who may be attending one of the local events that morning. Hope to see you there!