I’m so excited to have Madeline Iva join us today to describe everything you need to consider before starting a group blog. This is a great marketing tool we can all use . . . read on to see if it is for you.
Thinking about starting a group romance blog? You should!
We’re celebrating the second anniversary of our successful group romance blog LadySmut.com with the publication of our first anthology THE LADY SMUT BOOK OF DARK DESIRES, forthcoming from Harper Impulse at the end of October. When I started the blog as a pre-published author two years ago, I was a semi-newbie and I never thought that it would be how I finally came to be published. So much is changing quickly—who knew that a really great blog could get you to a book contract?
Is a group blog right the right platform tool for you? Let’s assume you’re pre-published. Here are a few solid reasons to start a group blog:
Immediate feedback: When you’re pre-published you have fantasies of all the people who will read your work one day—but what about now? It’s a long slog writing a book, maybe as long as a year or two. The group blog experience helps you start gathering readers now. Today.
Brand development: What do readers want to read? It’s a question that drives pre-published authors mad. With a group blog you’ll find out–quickly. Our group blog recently started having a presence on Facebook, where our Lady Smut page tells us how many people our posts reached. These numbers tell me that while people like funny and they like sexy, they love funny & sexy together. Me too! Through watching popular posts over the long haul, I’ve learned where my interests dovetail with reader’s interests. We all like carpenters, redheads, uber-curvy heroines, and campy horror. We do not like foul language. (Well, I do, but okay, okay, I’ll keep it down.)
The Comfort of the Pack: It’s a cold world out there before you’ve published, and sometimes even after. My blog group has my back and I have theirs. Here’s where I start singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”…
Great Role Models: I’m learning so much from the other already-published authors. I think because we kept our blog numbers small, we’re more accessible to each other than if we were part of a great big blog.
Networking: Asking Not What You Can Do For Yourself, Ask What You Can Do For Your Blog. I have learned that I am 100 times better promoting someone/something other than myself. With the blog I feel like I’m not promoting myself, but at the same time, I sorta am. It’s the best of both worlds.
Platform preparation: Angela James, editor of Carina Press, and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches Trashy Books both agree—a would-be author can never start developing her platform too early. But how, when you have no book? With a group blog you can promote the blog, share your romance obsessions with each other, and promote blog events (theme weeks, etc.). You can learn the important art of third party endorsements. Readers are much more apt to believe it when I say “You’ll love Liz Everly’s new series” than they are when I say “You’ll love my new series. Honestly. I swear.” With a solid group blog you’ll have built in third-party endorsements for your work, when the time comes.
Let’s say you’re already a published author. Why should you join Jungle Red Writers or WordWenches? Why should you say yes when some pre-published whippersnapper asks you to start Chick Swagger with her?
A lot of what I said above still applies to you. It’s much more fun to platform and network in a group. At it’s best it’s a mini street team, plus you may find yourself inspired by the enthusiasm and ideas of others.
However, the BIG question on everyone’s mind is…Does a group blog sell your books?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
Say I’ve written a fairly sexy romantic suspense novel that takes place in Sweden, so I write a hot “Men of Scandinavia” blog post featuring the “Men of Scandinavia” calendar and touting my book at the end of the blog post. The numbers reveal that yes, promoting my Swedish book on our group blog will drive people to Amazon to look at that book.
Hundreds look at it, but do they buy it? Yes. A few. (They’ll definitely buy that Men of Scandinavia calendar. At this point those calendar people owe us big time.) We get mondo looks for our books on Amazon, and a steady small trickle of sales. A group blog is great at driving readers to the point of sale. They’re on Amazon; they’re looking at my blurb and perhaps an excerpt of my writing. This is all good. The rest is up to my publisher’s book cover and my book.
Meanwhile, I can look at the Amazon affiliates stats and see what people bought (even if it wasn’t on our blog, like Clairol hair-dye) and what they just looked at. I now have seen enough of what sells to know our readers want a very steamy read—if they looked at my book but didn’t buy it, maybe it just wasn’t steamy enough. They also gobble up paranormal. And judging from the most popular synopsis: they want a book where the hero and/or heroine are not good people, but oh, they long to be.
7 Things to think about before diving into a group blog:
1) Are you a bloggy person? Do you have a lot to say? Do not start a blog if it doesn’t feel fun on some level.
2) A blog usually implies daily or every other day. Can you and your gal-pal romance writers cover this until you accumulate more blogger numbers?
3) What’s your author brand? How can your group blog brand strongly relate to your author brand? A great name is key.
4) What else can you blog about, besides romance, which ties in with your brand? If you want readers to come daily, we’ve found they need a little somethin’ somethin’ besides just romance books.
5) Can you distinguish between good friends and good bloggers? Look only for gals with blogger chops to join your merry band. Even long comments in response to other blogs can clue you in to a great blogging voice. The last person we invited to join Lady Smut was a total stranger, a pre-published author who at the same time had a substantial platform. We started by having her do a Q&A with us on the blog, and then proceeded to begging. (Just kidding!)
6) Can you stay on brand over the long haul? For us this means sexy, interesting, new, powerful, and possibly eyebrow raising material. NEVER post about doing the laundry or the mother-in-law’s hysterectomy. Take a day off instead.
7) Talk from the heart, talk with passion, talk with obsession even, but never hold your reader at a distance. If what you’re talking about isn’t absorbing and interesting to you, it won’t be to your reader. Of course, you don’t want to over-share, either. A friend who is gifted at social media says the key is to pull back the curtain a little and reveal who you are – key words being ‘a little’. At Lady Smut.com we’re curious and have strong opinions—and we don’t apologize for it. What we never do is phone it in. When people comment on our blog, we embrace them warmly.
Good luck! Stop by LadySmut.com and say hi. Feel free to email me with questions or DM me on Twitter. firstname.lastname@example.org, @madelineiva.
Have you wanted to start group blog? What was your experience? Leave a comment to win a copy of the anthology!
Damon Suede returns to RU on Wednesday!
Madeline Iva blogs at LadySmut.com every Thursday. Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ is forthcoming in THE LADY SMUT BOOK OF DARK DESIRES (Harper Impulse). She also organizes romance panels for Virginia Festival of the Book. http://ladysmut.com, http://madelineiva.com.
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