If you’re a writer, sooner or later someone will ask you to contribute a guest post to their blog. If you’re a savvy writer with a book to promote, you will have identified bloggers likely to be interested in a guest post months ago, and pitched them accordingly. If you’re traditionally published, the publisher's marketing department will have hopefully arranged this for you, so all you have to do is write the thing. Simple, eh?
No? Oh all right then, here are ten tips to get you started:
Read the Blog!
Obvious, yes? Why? Because it helps you judge the style and tone of the post you're about to write. It’s no good pitching a piece about your dark erotica novel to a book blogger who only posts about sunny romantic comedies. Nor will readers of a book blog be much interested in a post about the mechanics of writing, unless they are writers themselves – it’s a bit like a magician explaining how their tricks are done. Keep the ‘how-to-write’ posts for the writers’ blogs.
Check the Requirements
Are you expected to write about a certain subject or theme? How many words do they want? As a guide, 600 to 1,000 words is the average length of a blog post. If you write something longer, remember to break it up with sub-titles or bullet points. (See: Ten and a Half Things We’ve Learned About Blogging). And, most importantly, when is the post needed by?
Stick to the Deadline
But if you have a really, really good reason for failing to keep to the deadline, ensure you give the blogger as much advance notice as possible, so they can fill the slot with something else. If you get to choose your own deadline, pick a date around the publication of your book.
Showcase Your Voice
The structure of a blog post is somewhere between an article and a letter to a friend. Whatever you’re writing about, it should sound like you speaking, not Wikipedia. You want people to read the post and think, ‘I enjoyed that. I wonder what their book is like?’
So Don’t Forget to Mention Your Book!
You are there to promote yourself as a nice, friendly author who’s written a great book, remember?
But Don’t Make It All About You
Think about what the reader can ‘take away’ from your post. Keywords here: informative, entertaining, amusing. It’s a waste of time writing a post that’s only about a book no one has had the chance to read. If your book is set in a real location, write about the location. If your character is a police detective, and you were once a police detective, write about that. The post should work out at 75% about the subject that inspired your book, to 25% actual detail about the book. Don’t waffle on about nothing. OK, it’s ‘only’ a blog post – but it should have a point! (And preferably a beginning, middle and conclusion too).
Try jotting down a list of subjects you can potentially blog about while you’re actually writing your book. For my most recent novel, Trust Me I Lie, I blogged about the true confessions of an author on social media, the enduring appeal of fairy tales, and why I love 'unlikeable' heroines – all of which are connected to the themes in my book.
Make the Blogger’s Life Easier
When you submit your post, remember to attach an up-to-date photo of yourself and a clear image of your book. Also include, either as part of the post or in a separate file, a short by-line, a longer biography (let the blogger choose which they will use), and links to your website/blog/social media accounts, including where your books can be bought. If you don’t do this, the blogger will either leave the information out or copy a bio from Amazon/a social media site that might be out-of-date. But make sure the file sizes are not so big they’ll fill the blogger’s inbox. That is not the way to make friends!
Don’t Be a ‘Difficult Author’
It’s your responsibility to ensure your post has been proofread, any stated facts are correct and it is in every way perfect. Also accept that the blogger is completely within their rights to edit the post for length, take out anything they consider might get them sued, or even reject it completely.
Promote the Post!
Don’t leave the entire promotion of the blog post to the blogger! They’ve been kind enough to host you on their blog and given their time free of charge. The least you can do is share the post across social media and visit the blog to check for, and answer, any comments.
If your post is popular, you’ll be invited back. Who knows, you might even discover you enjoy writing blog posts so much you’ll start a blog of your own …
Louise Marley writes mysteries and romantic comedies. Her most recent book is Trust Me I Lie.
You can find her blog here.