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Writing and Publishing

Do You Need a Blog to Build Your Author Platform?

Too many experts say writers must blog, but that may not be good advice

What Are You Willing to Give Up So You Can Write?

As writers, we’re told that if we want to be successful at publishing our work, then we need an author platform. Yes, this is true. Publishers expect writers to have a platform. In fact, it seems, the platform may supersede writing quality. After all, a publisher can fix our writing much easier than they can build up our author platform.

A common example of building an author platform is blogging. At one time blogging was held up as an essential requirement if a writer wanted to land a publishing deal. I think this has moderated somewhat in the past couple of years, but there are still many voices saying that writers need a blog if they hope to find success.

So, do you need to blog to build your author platform?

Since I am a blogger, it may surprise you to hear me say the answer is no. As a writer, you do not need a blog.

  • If logging will distract you from writing, then don’t blog.
  • If blogging is something you dread, then you shouldn’t do it.
  • If blogging will rob you of joy or suck the life out of you, then you shouldn’t do it.

Don’t let someone guilt you into blogging if you don’t want to do it. Readers will know your heart’s not in it, and they won’t follow you. When this happens your blogging accomplishes nothing. However…

  • If you like to blog, then maybe you should.
  • If blogging serves as a creative outlet, then go ahead and pursue it.
  • If you enjoy connecting with readers through your blog, then blog away.

A couple of years ago, I gave a presentation about blogging at a writer’s conference. A few months later I ran into someone who heard my presentation, and she was quick to thank me.

She said because of my talk she decided not to blog. I was devastated and felt I had failed her. But she was quick to clarify. She said that in listening to me, she realized she didn’t want to blog but felt she was supposed to. My words gave her the freedom to say, “No,” and she was grateful for it.

If blogging is a burden, you shouldn’t do it. Focus on writing first, and worry about the platform later.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.


Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Don’t Overreact to Writing Trends

Today’s hot writing advice may prove embarrassing in a few years

Don’t Overreact to Writing Trends

I still have the mimeograph handout from high school, from oh so many years ago. The title boasts “50 Substitutes for Said.”

The opening instruction says, “Both color and drama can be added to a story by using other verbs as substitutes for said.” (A poorly written sentence, by the way.) As I recall, this teacher encouraged us to never use said in our writing.

Some of the recommended alternatives for said include blustered, bantered, challenged, directed, emphasized, giggled, implored, insinuated, mimicked, philosophized, revealed, and soothed. (By the way, I keep the list for nostalgic purposes, not for reference.)

In my writing, I can’t imagine using any of these suggestions in place of said. If I did, people would laugh at me and dismiss my work.

Now the trend is to not use alternatives for said. The extreme position is to only use said, even if it’s a question. I can’t bring myself to do that. It just seems wrong to write:

“What do you mean by that?” she said.

It makes me cringe. Plus, encountering said when I expect to read asked, is a speedbump that takes me out of the scene.

Yet, some writing experts instruct writers to do just that, to only use said, even for a question.

I think this minimalist approach is an extreme view, along with being dull. I suspect this will be a short-lived writing trend that will later be dismissed as unimaginative.

Just as we now groan at writers who would write “he blustered” instead of “he said,” we will one day groan at writers who only use said. It’s lazy writing and makes for boring reading.

In the same way that we discern which editing suggestions we need to follow from our critique partners, we need to consider which writing advice makes sense for us and which to ignore.

As for me, I will disregard the advice to only use said.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

3 Ways to Create Top of Mind Awareness

3 Ways to Create Top of Mind Awareness

Marketing can have one of two goals: make sales or create awareness. Although any marketing effort can do both of these, it will only do one of them well.

This post will discuss ways to create awareness—and when done right, top-of-mind awareness. That is, having our author brand be what a reader first thinks of when he or she considers what book to read next. Awareness, which some would call branding, is built slowly over time. Here are three strategies to consider:

  1. Articles enhance awareness both online and in print but especially in print. Publishers appreciate a well-written article that’s interesting and provides useful information. It will establish the author as a credible source and a knowledgeable resource. It creates awareness.
  2. Blogging is a great way to develop a following and increase awareness in those who read our blog. And as a post is shared more people will be exposed to us and our writing.
  3. Online efforts including guest blogging, commenting on blogs (real comments, not “buy my book”), and interacting on social media. These take time and require effort, but when done wisely they produce great results—and backfire dramatically if done badly. Each is its own art and requires time to develop.

There are other creative tactics that authors can do to increase brand awareness, but these are some of the top ones. Just remember, branding is building for the future. For the most part, it’s not going to immediately sell books, but if it does that’s just a pleasant bonus. Book sales require a different approach.6

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Five Book Marketing Ideas

Strategic marketing can improve book sales. However, it can quickly waste a lot of money with little return when done haphazardly. Review each advertising option carefully before committing money to it. Here are five ideas to consider:

  • Five Book Marketing Ideas
    Print Ads
    : Unless you find the ideal publication, print media is an expensive option and seldom generates enough book sales to make it worthwhile. However, the right targeted publication can pay off in a big way.
  • Newsletter Ads: Buying ads in newsletters your readers read is another option to consider. Again, the cost may be a limiting factor, but finding the right newsletter can result in a cost-effective promotion that moves books.
  • Banner Ads: Have your message displayed on strategically aligned websites, but seek pay-per-click options, not flat-rate programs or per impression schemes.
  • Social Media Ads: To promote books some authors score big with Facebook ads; others prefer Twitter. The main thing is to start slow and test your message on a carefully selected target audience.
  • Email: Send out an email blast to your mailing list. You do have a mailing list, right? This is the best form of book promotion and sending the email costs next to nothing. If you don’t have an email list, start building one right away. Then, as you wait, tap a friend who is willing to send your message to his or her list.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Six Things to Check on Your Website

As authors, our websites are our home base, the destination all of our online activity points to. We need to make sure our sites are up at all times and working correctly. When there is a problem, we limit our ability to connect with others about our writing.

Six Things to Check on Your Website

Here are six things to check:

  1. That it is running: A down site helps no one. Make sure it is working.
  2. That all links work: Broken links are a disservice to our audience and cause Google to devalue our site. Regularly search for and fix broken links
  3. That there are no spam comments: Quickly remove spam. Spam in the comment section clutters the site and reflects badly on its owner.
  4. That there is no malware: Malware that infiltrates a site can potentially infect computers that visit it. No one wants to cause problems on other people’s computers.
  5. That it properly displays on mobile devices: More people access websites from smartphones and mobile devices than from computers. To display properly on a smaller screen, use a “responsive” theme. If your site is not responsive, view it on a mobile device to see how it looks.
  6. That all forms work: Periodically test forms to make sure they work. A broken form is a missed opportunity.

The good news is that the first four of these items can be automated. That leaves only two items needing direct attention – and only one when using a mobile responsive theme.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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