Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lessons Learned from Blogging & Publishing

Today I'm hosting another guest and friend, the fabulous J.L. Campbell. J.L. is a writer, mother, and all around incredible person. Sometimes it is difficult to know who to connect with in the blogging word and in Twitterverse. Hint, hint, you want to connect with J.L. if you're interested in meeting a positive person with high energy who knows how to support a friend. J.L., thanks for coming on and sharing your lessons!

Before I get going, I’d like to thank Isis for letting me take over her blog today. For those who are visiting for the first time, make sure to add yourself as a follower!

My blogging pals know that I’m published traditionally, and that I took the plunge into self-publishing in September. Am I out of my depth? You betcha, but although it’s said by know-it-alls that blogging doesn’t affect book publishing one whit, I know different. What have I learned so far? Stuff you probably know already, but they’re important enough for me to reiterate.

Start Promotion Early in the event that you ever plan to publish anything. I’ve been caught flat footed time and again and the lessons don’t seem to stick. For instance, my next novel comes out on November 1. I got a case of the blues - not to mention envy - today when I checked out another blogging buddy who’s hosting a blogfest for her book. Get this – her release date is the same as mine. Check out the cool stuff Susan’s doing. Lead up activity is wonderful and you want to give people time to get on your bandwagon for blast off day. That said, if you’re into YA/Paranormal/Sci-Fi books, go sign up for that virtual launch party.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for help when you need it. Writers are the most helpful people I know. In September, I made an appeal for bloggers to help me get the word out on my Don’t Get Mad project. I still haven’t scheduled posts with some of the people who’ve offered to have me on their blogs, such was the outpouring. I admit it was awkward asking for help, but I’ve learned that writers do want to see others succeed and will help if given a chance.

Be a Beacon to your fellow bloggers/writers. Don’t assume that because you don’t have a huge blog following you can’t help. There are times when I’ll Tweet/Like/Share an article because I think it will be of interest to others. You never know who might need the information or what linkages you’ll make. I was plenty chuffed when Camy Tang followed me on Twitter and that was simply from tweeting one of her blog posts. I didn’t expect to gain anything from that tweet, and only did it because Camy’s a writer I admire and she’s done some excellent posts on writing.

Build Goodwill through your actions. I have some blogging buddies who exemplify this. They’re kind and helpful, just because. Damyanti Biswas, Jeanne Bannon, Michelle Fayard, Tirzah Goodwin and Wendy Ewurum are but a small sampling of bloggers who’ve been very good to me. I’ll help them in any way I can simply because of the favours, support and encouragement they’ve given me without asking for anything in return. A band of writers who share the same genre has some excellent advantages. Your reach is much bigger if you opt to promote each other’s books.

Share the Love by following other people’s blogs and commenting. You might say ‘Duh!’ to this, but I gotta confess that I had no clue what to do when I first started blogging. I wondered why I was the only one visiting me and when I did visit others, I didn’t follow, thinking that although they wrote interesting stuff, I couldn’t just roll up and add myself to their bunch of followers. I’d lurk and not say anything, which is a waste of time unless you’re hanging around a really good resource blog. Over time, I learned that most bloggers will follow back if they like what’s going on at your blog. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by visits from writers who have a big following or whose books I’ve enjoyed. All I did was leave a sensible comment.

Be Approachable. Each of us started with a single follower or perhaps a handful. I continue to be amazed by super-bloggers like Alex, Arlee and Talli, who take time to respond to comments, or if they don’t respond on their blogs, they pop in to visit those who stopped by. I don’t know about you, but it’s a turn off for me to visit a blog, comment maybe once or twice and then start feeling invisible because the blogger never responds. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is a good rule to live by.

Use Nifty Tools at your disposal. I feel like a hypocrite saying this as I don’t make enough time to pre-schedule my stuff. Anyway, save yourself the hassle of tweeting manually by using one of the many auto tweeting services now available. I’ve tried several and settled on Twuffer. If only I’d use it more! Triberr is a really cool site, basically it’s Twitter on steroids. Check it out and get an invite if you can. It gives tweeters a massive reach in combination with other people.

Here’s one more thing. ‘Brawta’ as we say in Jamaican Patois. Write things down. I can’t endorse this enough. I’ve downloaded one of those calendars from Microsoft where you can see a month’s activities at a glance. That way, I know where I’m supposed to be guest posting when, as well as the dates I’m supposed to be sending the post/interview over.

Thanks again, J.L., for coming on and sharing your lessons. It was great to learn something new. To find out more about J.L., check out her bio below.

J.L. Campbell lives in sunny Jamaica and is the author of Contraband, Dissolution and Don’t Get Mad…Get Even. When she isn’t plotting and researching new projects, she enjoys lollygagging on her blog at http://thecharacterdepot.blogspot.com Twitter link - @JL_Campbell

41 comments:

  1. Great advice J.L. The book sounds great, and the title and cover are very attractive. Good luck to you.

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  2. Hi, Isis, for a moment, I was worried about the time difference. It's 5:30 in my neck of the woods. Thanks again for hosting me.

    Miranda, thanks for your kind words. I'll be along for a visit shortly.

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  3. Excellent advice and words I definitely need to heed. Thank you, J.L. and Isis.

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  4. Excellent advice, J.L. All writers could benefit from following it. :)

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  5. Words to live by. The book looks great too! :)

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  6. Excellent points. And, yes, people underestimate how soon they need to start their online presence. It's a slow build, but should be in place before publication. Best of luck with your latest book!

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  7. Thanks for dropping in and sharing your thoughts. L.G. I learned too late that I was supposed to be doing everything I could think of to build a buzz before my first book came out.

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  8. Great advice as ever Joy. I was like you to start, I lurked everywhere. Now you can't shut me up :-)

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  9. This is a fantastic post that new and seasoned bloggers alike should read!

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  10. Sarah, oh yes, I know what it is to be a stalker. In a good way, of course. :)

    Thanks, Brinda. Glad you found this useful.

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  11. Many pearls of wisdom, Joy. Things I have yet to learn as I start out. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. What excellent advice, Joy, and you "chuffed" me by mentioning my name. When an author is as approachable to her readers as you are, it makes it easy to want to help spread the word about what you write.

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  13. No problem, Mary.

    Thanks for coming by, Michelle.I always say the writing journey is less lonely because of the friends we meet on the way.

    Glad to spread some joy, Jamie.

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  14. Hey J.L., great, great advice! It's easy to forget the simple things, like asking for help. You are spot on with your building goodwill and sharing the love. I have a blogging group that I would do anything for - and it's constantly growing and expanding. Some of them retweet my posts and some of them don't, but I am still there for them because I like their blogs.

    I'm going to check out the blogs you mentioned - they all sound like great people to follow!

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  15. What a wonderful post, with great advice! I know I need to take heed and pay attention. Thanks for sharing your tips with us, JL!
    And thanks for hosting, Isis!

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  16. I'm bookmarking this one because there are so many great point I actually need to implement. Thanks Isis for having Joy over so she could share some pearls of wisdom with us.

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  17. Excellent advice, J.L. Isis, thanks for introducing us.

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  18. Nice to meet you J.L. Great tips!

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  19. Your friend has a great thing going. I've got something similar planned, but I think her execution might be better. Good luck on the new release!

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  20. Wonderful words of wisdom J.L. It's all so helpful for someone like myself who is just getting started. Thank you.

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  21. Thanks, Julie and Wendy. Glad this helps.

    LD and Shari, thanks!

    Ciara, I have some releases coming up before year end and haven't been planning properly. I've been thinking things over, but not really brainstorming.

    Debra, I'm happy that this is helpful to you.

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  22. Solid advice. I probably don't do enough with platform building but I do what I can.

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  23. I really hope I've managed to do all of those things. Especially the goodwill.
    And I'm planning really early - my blog party is set and all but one tour date set for my next book on February 28.

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  24. Michael, a little bit each day helps.

    Cynthia, saw your icon on a blog today and told myself I need to come visit you.

    Alex, you've done tons in these areas and jeez, you're really good at organizing promotional stuff to have it done this early. You should be giving lessons.

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  25. All good advice--especially Brawta!

    Congrats, JL.

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  26. Thanks, JL, for sharing these lessons. Perhaps learning from what you share here can help another writer get to where they want to be without the terrible hardship of not-knowing.

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  27. Thanks for the handy hints, Joy! And Isis, thanks for having her over! I've only just discovered scheduled Tweets myself, and my, are they a godsend!

    J.C.

    Join me in the Trick or Treat Spooktacular! Could you help make the Grand Prize a brand new Kindle Touch?

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  28. Maria, thanks. Writing it all down does wonders for people like me who have progressive memory loss. :)

    Angela, yes, some of this stuff I wish I'd known before I was published and when I just started blogging.

    J.C. Whoa! Is today the 20th already and time for the blogfest? The time sure does fly!

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  29. Great List. The "don't be afraid to ask for help" stumps me. I sooo gotta get over that one. =)

    Thanks.

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  30. Me too, Elizabeth, particularly when it is about helping me to get ahead - read that as sell books. But I've discovered that writers are generous people who are willing to help. You just gotta ask.

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  31. All of these are excellent tips especially being a beacon. Only have 25 people following my personal blog but my stats show that there are many more people visiting and reading. And yeah, responding or tweeting are great ways to make connections. But, I will heed the advice to promote early.

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  32. So many great recommendations, Joy. Thank you for sharing!

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  33. Joy, you sure did an awesome job sharing your experience and advice with us. Believe me, this is very much appreciated. I'm amazed at the wonderful job Susan is doing to launch her book. Frankly, I'm so unorganized, I don't think I could pull something like that together, but I admire what she's doing! Oh, and the stinkin' blues, they sure throw a big honkin' monkey wrench into our plans, don't they?

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  34. Marci, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You have some good stuff on your blog. Spent a while browsing.

    Thanks for coming by, Lydia.

    Lyn, I'm also in awe of Susan and others who are full on energy on the promotional front. It reminds me that I really need to start putting some thought into what I want to do to get my books launched properly. I feel another case of the blues coming on.

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  35. J.L., you're a genuine blogger. Thanks for the tips.

    Isis, thanks for hosting her.

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  36. Hey, Theresa, thanks for popping in. I like blogging because apart from everything else, it's a way of keeping up to date with what everybody else is doing.

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  37. Isis, thanks so much for hosting me! Have a wonderful weekend.

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  38. J.L Campbell. These are great suggestions! I will keep them in mind. Thanks for sharing them.

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