What I’m Gonna Do, I Think

I’d like to expand the reach of this blog, make it more useful and interesting. I’ve been thinking about how to do that, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

1. Write more book reviews. My reviews have been so few and far between that there are probably quite a few readers who aren’t aware that I’ve written any at all. I’m going to try very hard to change that. (I know: “There is no try, just do.)

2. Invite guest posts. That pretty much speaks for itself, I think. I’ll set a few guidelines and see where it goes.

3. Invite book promotions. No fees. No requirement that your book have x number of favorable reviews. But I will set definite guidelines and will also put a limit on the genres I’m willing to host here. For instance, no zombies, no erotica. Not even romance, thank you. Mainly, I want to avoid the equivalent of popcorn movies — read once and discard, and books that are clearly written for no other purpose than to make as many bucks as possible.

This could work out very well, both for the blog and for authors who’ve written books worth reading, but are having problems with promotion. This isn’t the biggest blog on the net, but it has enough of a readership to be of use to a writer.

Or — it could be an unmitigated disaster, resulting in an overload of work for me, and a lot of people ticked off about being rejected.

What sayest thou, faithful readers? Would you like to see any of these features? All of them? None? I’m open to suggestions and criticism.

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17 thoughts on “What I’m Gonna Do, I Think

  1. I’m not to sure how the promo part would work (would it be just at your site, or would you do a weekly post where anyone doing a promo elsewhere could add a comment describing their promo at your site to get that much more exposure, or ?), but it sounds like there should be a way to do this that wouldn’t be very burdensome, and you could then just see whether it took off or not.

    I’m sure that there would be many authors who would be delighted to send you a copy of their book for review (please regard this as your first review request and offer, so you’ve already got some momentum on this one!) So long as you get to pick and choose the books you agree to review, limit yourself to the types of books you’d like to read anyway, and reserve the right not to finish what doesn’t catch your interest, this should be pretty bearable.

    And the guest blog sounds like something that’s mutually beneficial, as well as no-risk, provided that you either reserve the right to pre-review their post, or have had the chance to review the other person’s blog to establish your own comfort with their work.

    Certainly these are all time-honored techniques, none of them present any Web design challenges (i.e., standard WordPress templates permit all of them), and they together they’ll increase your weekly output, thereby in all likelihood increasing traffic to your blog, what have you got to lose (OK, your time – of course).

    Whatever you decide, I’ll look forward to following the results.

    1. Obviously, some clarification is needed. But that’s what I hoped comments would address, so thanks.

      Book reviews — I’m only going to review books that I’ve read and enjoyed. I don’t even get past the blurbs of over 90% of the self-published books that whet my curiosity. Accepting books for review would consume more time and energy than I have available.

      Promotions — A writer would submit their promo for my consideration. If I accept it, I’ll publish it here as the post for that day. I’m not going to advertise this anywhere because — again — limits on my time and energy. I don’t want to be swamped with submissions. I would want the title, wordcount, cover, blurb, genre, etc.

      I’ll look at the sample on Amazon or wherever it’s published, and decide whether the quality makes it worth promoting. Basically, I’ll use the same standards I would use when choosing a book to read. There are genres I won’t accept, but that won’t be based on my personal preferences. For instance, I rarely read mysteries, thrillers, or horror, but will accept those if they seem to be well done.

      If you have any more questions or suggestions, throw them at me.

  2. I see that I jumped to a conclusion here, which was that a significant motivation for adding these features would be to further expand the capacity of your blog site to help introduce your own books to more and more potential reader/buyers. If that was the goal, then what I think most people would do would be to accept review requests, since this would lead to the authors of those books promoting your review as widely as possible, thereby introducing more folks to your site. Same thought regarding trading reviews.

    Composing reviews of books you’ve enjoyed could be fun for you and popular with readers you already have that happen to like the same types of books that you happen to review, but I wouldn’t think that they would be terribly likely to be shared more broadly, or to attract many new readers, because it’s easy to find lots of reviews that have already been written on most non-self-published books.

    So taking your clarification into account, my guess is that all three features could indeed be interesting to your readers, but that the review feature would be least likely to meaningfully increase your traffic, to the extent that matters.

    1. That was a perfectly reasonable assumption, that the changes would be at least partly to help push my own books. But no, I’m actually in the process of separating my published work from this blog, except for keeping links available and posting whenever I publish something new. My own work will have it’s own website, now in development. I’ll write about my ongoing work only when it fits some aspect of craft or self-publishing that I want to explore.

      This blog has always been partly about helping other writers, so reviews, promotions, and guest posts should go further in that direction. Readership has increased very slowly over three years, and I’m fine with that. I think the changes will bring more readers, but I’m not hoping for an avalanche.

      When I review a book, it’s generally to introduce a new (usually) writer to my readers. I don’t care whether the writer reciprocates in any way. I never trade reviews and, like most writers, consider it unethical, in case you were worried about it. Most of my reviews will be of indie writers, but almost anything can pop up, even a best seller, though I tend not to get around to best sellers until years later, if at all. I’m going to be reviewing The Sparrow, which I heard about only recently, even though it’s been out for several years.

  3. I have abroad range of followers. Some like fantasy, some historical fiction, historical romance, literary fiction, poetry. Even in my reading I like variety. I do a lot of promos on my site, (no fees) just to help give any author a leg up. The way I see it, I may not be interested in reading what I promote, but any one of my followers could be. Some of this done as re-blogs and some is actual blog tours. The authors are now making it so easy with setting up their posts in HTML. There is nothing to do but open the email and copy and paste into the WordPress editor. Simple.

    Book reviews. No promises. I review many indies (mostly that I have run across in blogging) and some traditionally…but none that I have made any arrangements with. I do this at my leisure and if I can’t give at least a three star, I choose not to post. That’s just me. I NEVER tell an author that I am reading their book. It is at my prerogative.

    When I had more time, I used to do guest posts on other blogs and got some traffic that way. I could have guest posts on my blog but haven’t invited any lately because I am so occupied with my WIP. They are a win-win, if you have the time to set them up.

    These are all ways to increase blog traffic, but the one way that has worked best is simply interacting with others on their blogs…and that is time consuming.

    1. We think alike in many ways, I see. I subbed to your blog because I saw your comment on Kristin Lamb’s recent post and agreed with it. I also don’t bother to review books that aren’t worth at least three stars.

      I haven’t gone out of my way to increase my blog traffic, letting it come naturally. Intelligent comments on other people’s blogs do seem to help, and it’s a good way to get acquainted with interesting people.

      By the way, I love your photo of the datura. I used to live in Florida — grew up in Miami and later lived in North Florida. Don’t miss it at all except for the flowers and greenery.

      1. Some people call it brugmansia and some call it datura. It’s in the Solanaceae family. I am not really sure which one it is. The fragrance cannot be captured in the photo. It is delightfully intoxicating, but wrecks havoc with my allergies. From Georgia, I have lived in Florida now for seventeen years, and could not imagine living anywhere else. I miss the deciduous trees in autumn. I have family still in Georgia and we have a cabin in North Carolina, so I get to visit the trees.

        The whole purpose of my blog was to get to know readers and writers from all backgrounds. After I wrote a book, someone told me I should have a blog. I was clueless. I did not think of using the blog to promote the book until another blogger suggested it. That’s how clueless I was. Once I figured out how to work a widget and felt my way around a bit everything fell into place. Now, it is more about building relationships than anything else.

        I was reading your post on ageism and I had to laugh, if you will excuse me. I have known my husband for seven years and we have been married for five. We attend meetings together. We always hold hands wherever we go and I never thought about it until a young girl (twenty-something) at these meetings commented about what a cute couple we were still holding hands at our age. I am in my fifties and my husband turns sixty this month. Worse, she comments on it just about every time we see her. Is there an age where people are no longer supposed to feel love, passion, caring or display it however humbly? Someone should write a book about that. Maybe I will. Never thought I would consider writing a romance novel, but if this current book ever gets accomplished, I just might have to go there.

        1. I did have a few teary moments when I moved back up north, seeing forests of deciduous trees — and hills! There are things I loved about the south, but the older I get the less I can tolerate the heat.

          I had been blogging for years before I even wrote my first novel, so it was a natural for me. I love sharing my crazy ideas and what I’m learning about writing. The idea of promotion came later, and it’s still secondary, because I’m hopelessly not able to motivate myself that much about money.

          Write that novel! Do. Doris Lessing wrote a novel about love in old age. Can’t remember the name at the moment, and never got around to reading it, for some reason.

  4. It all sounds like a good idea to me, Catana. I think I mentioned to you once how surprised I was to discover that 3 out of my 5 most read posts were book reviews I had done. Admittedly, they were reviews of well-known novels – I was writing book reviews for a little magazine that’s no longer with us, and put them up on my blog site almost as an afterthought. Perhaps the peaks in traffic might not have been so striking if I’d been reviewing little-known indie books. Anyway, I like the underlying premise of wanting to help other writers, so bring it on and good luck with it..

    1. I remember you telling me about that. Well-known names might have accounted for the traffic, but I know that people are looking for good indie writing. Even if it doesn’t bring traffic, it’s worth doing.

  5. I’m always interested in reviews of books that interesting people enjoyed, so I’d look forward to that. On my blog I try to only review books I was glad I read, indie or not.

    1. 🙂 I hope that was meant as a compliment. But even if not, it’s a good point. When I skim through the books that my “friends” on Goodreads are reading, there’s a lot of difference in the type of books they enjoy. Some of them, I’d like to get to know, if their reading indicates what they’re like. There’s a popular quote somewhere about the books on your shelves telling a lot about you.

    1. There you go, digging up more corpses. I must have been in one of my hypomanic phases when I wrote that. And like most such ideas, it went nowhere. Since I’m trying to goose this blog back to life, it’s nice to be reminded. I don’t really like writing book reviews, but I’m going to try–again–to get over that. Mostly indies, but not exclusively. Promotions? No, Probably step on too many egoes. Guest bloggers? Maybe.

      1. Reviews are nice, and somewhat of a public service. If I had more energy, I might try doing some, but I’d have to read some new stuff, which takes energy…

        Sigh. Sometimes it’s irritating to have to be so focused, but if I don’t keep to JUST the book I’m writing, I spend my good time and make no progress. Fifteen years was long enough (though I DID write a full-length play for three women in the interim – maybe I will turn that into a novel).

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