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Every Blog Has Its Day
by Karin Gillespie
I used to have a pink diary with a miniature
key. Every day I'd record my deepest secrets in a loopy, girlish cursive and
lock them away. My greatest fear was that my diary would fall into my little
I still keep a diary, but my pink book has been
replaced by pixels, and my daily entries aren't nearly as private any more. As a
matter of fact, I actually encourage people to read my online diary or "blog,"
as it's commonly called.
Have you entered the blogosphere? If not, you
might want to give it a whirl. Blogging can be an important tool for people of
all professions, but it's an especially useful technology for
Many writers use blogs as promotion tools.
Novelist Neil Gaiman's http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/journal.asp web site helped him to attract a
following of readers, but it's his online journal that keeps the author and
his work fresh in their minds. Web sites alone can be static; a web site
accompanied by a lively and entertaining blog is always fresh. People have a
reason to return over and over again to a site with a well-written blog.
Blogs also provide an important connection to
your readers. If your blog interests them, they'll develop a loyalty to you
and your work, and will frequently forward your blog address to
Promotion isn't the only advantage to the
blogging life, I keep a blog called Southern Comfort http://www.livejournal.com/users/karin61/, which covers publishing gossip and
offers valuable advice to aspiring novelists. I've found that regular entries
help to "prime" my well of writing ideas. There was a time when I worried that
I wouldn't have anything to say in my blog. Now my head is swirling with
countless ideas for blog entries as well as nonfiction
Can you type? Do you know how to use a
word-processor? Then you're on your way to becoming a blogger. Several sites
offer blog hosting and most are free. I use Live Journal http://www.livejournal.com/. Another popular hosting company is Blog Spot
http://blogspot.com/, but there's a variety of hosts to choose
from, and it takes only five minutes to get set up. Best of all, you don't
have to know HTML to blog. Most blogs resemble notebooks, and you simply type
your entries in the space provided.
I find it useful to write my blogs in my
word-processor, and then copy and paste them into the log. Be sure to choose
the rich-text mode when entering your blog so hyperlinks, italics and bold
print will be included when you publish it to the web.
Tips for a Successful Blog
Too many blogs are exercises in navel-gazing.
If you want an effective blog, keep it focused. Novelists, for example, often
discuss their books or offer publication advice in their blogs. Nonfiction
writers can blog about their specialties or interests. If you're a parenting
writer, blog about the latest study on breastfeeding. Health writers can blog
about exercise and diet habits. But resist the urge to blog about your child's
bout with the flu or fret over the mysterious rattle in your car's engine. Too
much personal information can turn off your readers.
Don't forget to carefully proof your blog.
Blogs have an informal-feel, so it's tempting to get sloppy with your writing
Finally, don't get so caught up in blogging
that you neglect your "real" writing. A blog entry shouldn't take more than
thirty or forty minutes of your day. Blogging will take even less time if you
rely on hyperlinks to enrich your entries. Instead of elaborating on a
specific point yourself , you can direct the reader to a particular topic with
Buzz Your Blog
How can you let the world know about your
blog? First, send an e-mail to everyone in your address book announcing the
birth of your blog. Encourage your friends to pass the information along.
Then, search for blogs similar to yours (the Blog Search Engine
http://www.blogsearchengine.com/ will you help with this task), and see if
writers will be willing to add your blog to their link list. Also, submit your
blog to sites such as Technorati http://www.technorati.com/ and Globe of Blogs http://www.globeofblogs.com/ to help create a visible presence for it
on the Internet.
Wonder if you're just blogging to the wind?
Create opportunities for visitors to participate in your blog so you can gauge
the size of your readership. Novelists can ask readers to register for a free
book. Nonfiction writers may want to entice their audience with free articles.
Pose questions in your blog, and encourage readers to offer their
It won't happen overnight, but if you've devised
a consistent blog which contains worthwhile information, you'll eventually
develop a loyal following. Blogging is a simple, inexpensive way for a writer to
establish a presence on the Internet.
Here are a few examples of writer's
Southern Comfort http://www.livejournal.com/users/karin61/ - This is my blog, In addition to
publishing news and writing tips, I also discuss my experiences as a debut
novelist with Simon and Schuster.
Snark Spot http://jenniferweiner.blogspot.com/- Jennifer Weiner, author of GOOD IN
BED blogs about the life of a successful novelist.
Maud Newton http://www.maudnewton.com/blog/-Maude Newton writes creative nonfiction and
fiction. Her blog discusses literature and politics.
© Copyright 2004, Karin Gillespie
Karin Gillespie is the author of BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR, a humorous Southern novel which will be released by Simon and Schuster in July 2004. The novel is the first in the BOTTOM DOLLAR GIRL series, and has been selected by the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs as featured alternates. Please visit her writer-friendly blog and web site at http://www.karingillespie.com