November 10, 2012

Review of “Moving Your Blog”

Posted in Book Reviews tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:57 pm by Christine Rice

Moving Your Blog by Darryl Erentzen is an informational and instructional how-to guide. It covers various aspects of WordPress and Blogger blogs in relation to getting your own domain name, domain name providers, self-hosting a blog, pointing a domain name to your blog, domain suffixes, how to transfer information from an old blog to a new self-hosted blog, blog themes (and creating your own), recommended plugins, and other topics in this concise and compact user guide.

You need to have some understanding about blogs, and preferably have your own blog, so that you know what Erentzen is talking about. But you don’t need to be a Website Programmer to understand this book. He takes you through the steps easily, and even has images to guide you, in a simple and understandable way.

Something that I found interesting in the book was about pointing a domain name to your blog. You can do this with Blogger, such as buying the domain name from GoDaddy for cheap and then using that domain name on your Blogger blog, rather than purchasing a domain name through the blog host which can be expensive. However, with WordPress that option is not available. You have to purchase the domain name through WordPress (which costs $18.00 a year minimum) if you wish to keep WordPress as the blog host. You can, however, buy the domain name from GoDaddy or another domain name provider and install a WordPress platform. With that option, you would be self-hosting your blog with your own domain name and would have full control over the design, setup, and functionality. And that is the main point of the book–to self-host your own blog. But the book is well-rounded because, like I mentioned above, it covers a bunch of blog-related topics and different ways of doing things with your blog depending on your preferences.

In addition, WordPress is the platform that is explained in the book for a self-hosted blog. I am not aware if there are any other platforms that can be used with a self-hosted blog, but WordPress is the only one explained in the book. Therefore, if you have a Blogger blog and you wish to self-host it, you will have to transfer it to a WordPress platform.

I recommend this easy-to-understand book to anyone who wants a blog, wants more control over their blog by self-hosting it, or wants their own domain name for more credibility, either through the blog host or an independent domain name provider. You can get your copy of Moving Your Blog here.

 

October 13, 2012

How You Can Organize and Run Your Own Blog Tour – Part 3

Posted in Blog Tours tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:58 pm by Christine Rice

In part 2, I covered email communication with bloggers and how to maintain an effective “contacts” list in your email program. In today’s post, I will discuss: how to schedule blog tour posting dates with bloggers, how to keep track of the blogs and dates for the tour, how to network and market the start of the tour, how to begin the blog tour, and how to promote the blog tour.

The way that I scheduled posting dates for the tour, and had no conflicting dates where two people wanted the same date, was I started slowly by contacting a few bloggers at a time. I started with the bloggers I had contacted first in the very beginning and replied to their last email. (One thing I would have done differently, was to forward emails I sent that were not responded to, to the blogger they were intended for, when I needed to contact the blogger again, so that all emails would have been in one email thread and they could have seen my previous messages.) In the email, I told the blogger the date range of the tour and I let them choose the date they wanted. I received responses the same day, so I emailed a few more. I mostly had one email thread per blogger to keep the exchange organized.

I made a “blog tour list” that had each blogger’s name, blog URL, email address, type of blog post, ebook format they preferred, and the scheduled posting date. I turned the Word document to “landscape” and put one blogger on each line. As I scheduled the posting dates, I typed them on my blog tour list and highlighted them in yellow so that I could easily see what dates were taken.

Around that time, I published my book and sent out the ebook copies to the bloggers. I looked at my blog tour list to see what ebook format each blogger wanted, then I emailed the ebook and cover image to each of them using the email threads I already had going. I waited at least a week before I sent them any more emails, to give them a chance to read my book.

I began receiving interview questions from the bloggers who would be interviewing me on their blog. So I answered the interview questions, and after editing my answers, I emailed it back to them right away. I also wrote my guest posts. During this time (about one week), I did as much writing as I could, because I knew that once the tour started, I would be too busy running and promoting it to do any additional writing. Plus, I didn’t want to save anything for the last minute.

Then one week before the tour started, I began promoting it. I created events on Facebook, Book Blogs, and Goodreads. For the Book Blogs and Goodreads events, I posted a description of the tour and listed all of the blogs’ URLs and posting dates (with live links). For Facebook, I did not list the blogs’ URLs and posting dates in the description of the event; I only posted a compelling description of the tour to get people psyched up for it. I also published a blog post here (on my own blog) with a full description of the blog tour and a list of all of the blogs’ names and URLs. I tweeted about the tour too.

One other thing I did – I asked the leader of my Goodread’s group, “Writers and Readers,” if I could be involved in a Q&A discussion, which is when an author is spotlighted and readers ask them questions. The group leader just happened to be looking for authors for Q&As. So we scheduled my Q&A discussion for the first three days of my tour.

Just before the tour began, I emailed everyone a blog tour banner, which listed all of the blogs’ URLs that were on the tour and had my book cover design as the background. It is a good publicity method. I created the banner myself by uploading my cover design (before I had put the title, the subtitle, and my name on it) onto a PowerPoint slide and added the blog tour information. Not all bloggers are willing to post a banner on their blog, so I did not force them, but I asked them if they would and some did.

The night before the first blogger hosted me, I sent them an email to remind them to post. The email was easy-going, but well-written, and it included the posting date. Here’s an example:

Hi [blogger’s first name],

This is a reminder to post [your review/the interview] tomorrow [month/date]. I look forward to seeing your post!

Christine

(As you can see, it’s a very simple message, used just as a reminder, without sounding pushy.)

When I woke up and went on the computer the next day, I checked my blog tour list for that day’s blog URL. Then I went on the blog to see if the post was up (most of the time it was – thanks bloggers!). I then clicked on the title of the post to display just that one post. If the post had share icons, I shared it on Twitter, Google+, my Facebook page, LinkedIn, and Digg. Otherwise, I copied and pasted the URL on those websites manually. Then I went to my Facebook event page and pasted the URL in a comment, along with a compelling description of the blog post. I then pasted the URL into the “Post Your Blog Updates Here!” forum post in the “Blog Tour” group on Book Blogs. Then I created new blog posts on Book Blogs and the Writer’s Digest Community with the title being the same as the title of the blog post and put in quotation marks; a “teaser” in the body of the new blog post with a direct link to the actual post; and appropriate tags, such as: blog post, book review/author interview, blog tour, Christine Rice, and Freelance Writing Guide (my book for the tour).

After I shared the blogger’s post everywhere possible, I emailed them to thank them for their post and for participating in my blog tour. I told them that I shared their post everywhere so that they will get some extra hits to their blog. Then I put a line through the blogger’s information on my blog tour list to show that the blog post had been successfully published and I finished communication with the blogger.

The rest of the tour consisted of the same: sending “reminder emails” the night before the next blog stop, promoting the blog post, and sending “thank you” emails the day of the post (preferably right after sharing the post). I kept all the emails in my blog tour email folder until the tour was completely over. I still have my blog tour list in case I need the information in the future.

I hope you enjoyed this 3-part series about how to organize and run your own blog tour! I hope you will take the plunge and create your own blog tour. If you do, you will save money that would have been unnecessarily spent on a blog tour company, and you will have a memorable experience. Good luck!

October 6, 2012

How You Can Organize and Run Your Own Blog Tour – Part 2

Posted in Blog Tours tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:41 pm by Christine Rice

In Part 1 I covered: how to begin organizing a blog tour by announcing your plans in various online locations, and how to find bloggers who would be willing to host you on their blogs. In part 2, I will discuss: what to write in emails to bloggers, how to maintain an effective “contacts list” in your email program, how to have effective exchanges with bloggers, and what to do when bloggers don’t respond to your emails.

Part 1 left off with contacting bloggers that you find on Book Blogs or on your list of followed blogs. Before I go into the new topics for today’s post, I want to mention that it is a good idea to follow the blogs of the bloggers you contact, because it is polite, and because you will be adding to your list of followed blogs which can be a helpful resource in the future. You can adjust your notification settings for the blogs you follow according to your preferences.

Now, on to how to compose and send emails to bloggers. I know it saves time to type up a standard email and send it to all the people you wish to contact, but you won’t get as many responses that way. It is more effective to write a custom email message for each blogger and to send the emails individually. The bloggers will really appreciate that you put in extra effort to speak to them individually and personally.

So when you find a blogger you wish to contact, you should first set them up as a “new contact” in your email program by adding their name, email address, and blog URL to the contact form. Before, during, and after your blog tour you should add notes to your blog tour contacts so that you will have a record of what your exchange was about. This is so if you delete their email in the future, which you probably will do eventually, you will know how you met and what your interaction was.

After adding the contact, open a new message and select their name from your contacts list. This is so they will see their name at the top of the email instead of their email address, which is more personal and effective.

Create a subject line that says: “Book review request,” “Author interview request,” “Giveaway request,” etc. Keep it short, simple, and direct so that it will avoid getting sent to the blogger’s spam folder. Compose the email message based on your instinctive feelings about the blogger and their blog, and what services they provide to authors. At minimum, you should do the following: introduce yourself, mention how you found them (e.g. I saw your post on Book Blogs that says you are looking for authors to interview…), explain briefly why you are contacting them and what your needs are (e.g. I am having a blog tour in November and I want to know if you would like to review my book/interview me/host my giveaway, etc.), state your book’s full title, provide a short description of your book if the genre or subject matter is not assumable by the title, state what you will offer them in return for their services (e.g. Free ebook in your choice of format), and include a “call to action” (e.g. Please contact me at your earliest convenience and let me know which ebook format you prefer). Each of these parts should be only one sentence long in order to keep the email short and more likely to elicit a response. Edit and proofread your email and then send it.

Create a new folder in your email program and title it “blog tour.” Move and keep all emails related to your blog tour in this folder until the blog tour is over. Next, you will just wait for the responses to come in. Don’t send a second email if you don’t hear from them on the first contact, because it likely means they are not interested. After you receive most of your responses, you can create a separate email folder for “no/no response” and put into it emails in which you didn’t receive a reply from the blogger (yet) or if the blogger said they are unable to host you (I did not have many of either of these).

Generally speaking, the best way to communicate with bloggers is by being professional, friendly, and assertive – all at the same time. You want to be professional, because you are a professional writer and a blog tour is a business exchange; you want to be friendly so that the bloggers will be more receptive to your emails; and you want to be assertive to get your needs (a successful blog tour) accomplished. (Maintain this style of communication before and during the blog tour.) Respond to your emails promptly, because there is no time to waste. Show your gratitude to the bloggers for agreeing to host you on their blog. Communicate with clear language so that your messages will be easily understood. Edit and proofread your messages before you send them to make sure they: follow the rules of your language, communicate your needs clearly, and are assertive and friendly. Think about all the information you need to provide the blogger and all the information you need from them in order to set up your blog tour. Then try to include as much information as possible in each email (without overwhelming the blogger or asking too many different questions) to keep the number of emails to a minimum. Each time you email someone, there is a chance they won’t respond, so the less emails there are (that effectively get your needs met), the better. Always end the email with a clear call to action if you need a response from them.

If you don’t get a reply from a blogger after they have already agreed to host you on their blog, you can send a followup email 3-7 days later if you need a response from them. No responses and having to follow-up makes setting up the blog tour take longer than when the blogger responds to every one of your emails promptly. This is the reason why a blog tour must be organized one month in advance. (Plus, it gives the bloggers time to read your book.) On the other hand, if you don’t need a response from the blogger at that time, wait until they contact you or until you need to send them another email.

In part 3, I will discuss how to schedule blog tour posting dates with bloggers, how to keep track of blogs and dates for your blog tour, how to network and market the start of your blog tour, and how to start the blog tour with a bang.

October 4, 2012

How You Can Organize and Run Your Own Blog Tour – Part 1

Posted in Blog Tours tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:31 pm by Christine Rice

As most of you know, I recently finished up a month-long blog tour for my book, Freelance Writing Guide. I feel the blog tour was a success, because all of the bloggers posted on the correct days, there was effective communication between me and the bloggers, I made some valuable connections for the future, and it generally went smoothly and was easy to keep up with. Below I will share with you my tips on organizing and running your own blog tour.

For a month-long blog tour, you will need to start organizing it one month in advance.

I started announcing my blog tour around July 23rd (my blog tour started August 29th). I posted my announcement and my request for bloggers to participate on Facebook, Twitter, Writer’s Digest Community, LinkedIn, and here on my blog. Doing those posts was a good means of self-promotion, but it did not draw the interest of many bloggers who would participate in my blog tour. So I checked all of the blogs I had followed on WordPress by looking at my “reader” on the main WordPress page. I also checked the Blogger blogs I followed through Google Friend Connect (GFC) by going to a Google blog that I knew I followed and clicking on my profile picture in the list of followers; that brought up my GFC profile, which had a list of all the blogs I followed.

I checked out each of the blogs that seemed to be for writers or readers, to see if the blog owner was a book reviewer or an author interviewer. These types of bloggers usually have a page on their blogs that explains what types of books they review and/or their book review policy, what types of authors they host on their blog, and their contact information. If they reviewed nonfiction books or hosted nonfiction authors, I contacted them by sending them a message from their blog’s contact form (located on a page of their blog), or by emailing them if the email address was provided. I rarely came across bloggers that provided no means of contact. But if that was the case, I posted a comment on their “about me” page or on their most recent blog post.

I had not followed enough blogs in the past to acquire enough bloggers to host me, so I had to look at additional methods. In a comment to my blog post on here, Patty Apostolides kindly suggested I check out Book Blogs. I had never heard of the term “book blog” before, but I quickly learned what it meant. A book blog is a blog where the blog owner posts book reviews on their blog, and sometimes author interviews and giveaways. Book Blogs was where I found most of the bloggers for my blog tour. I will tell you how. After joining Book Blogs, the first thing I did was scroll through every one of their interest groups (currently there are 490) to find the ones that related to my purpose of acquiring bloggers who’d be interested in hosting me. Every time I saw a possible group to join, I wrote the name of the group down on a notepad. After I had gone through all of the groups, I separately typed the name of each of the groups I had on my notepad into the search bar on the group listing page to bring the group up. I reviewed each group a second time and joined the ones that were most compatible with my needs (to save time from joining groups that would not be very effective for my purpose). Some of the groups I joined were: Authors Needing Reviews and Interviews, Self-Published Book Reviews, Network Your Blog, Advertise Your Work, and Promote Your Books!. Network Your Blog was the most helpful, because it had the most members.

For the groups I joined, I looked through the forum posts, and used the search bar for the forums that had an overabundance of posts where it would take too long to look through them all. I commented on bloggers’ posts, who were looking to review books and host author interviews on their blogs, telling them about my book and asking if they would like to host me. I also provided my email address – since I did not follow all of the forum posts I commented on, because I ended up with a large amount of emails in my inbox from other people’s comments – because I would not get notifications for their posts. I clicked “stop following,” a link that is just below the main post on each forum post, if I did not want to get notified of followup comments.

Next, and this was the most proficient way to get in touch with bloggers, I went through every comment on the Network Your Blog forum post entitled “Bloggers Seeking Authors, Guest Posts, Giveaways, Or?”. That post was 27 pages long when I got to it, but it was more efficient to look through that one post with hundreds of bloggers on it, than to search for bloggers on individual posts. So I started from the last page that had the most recent dates and worked my way to page one, by reading each comment and looking into the bloggers’ blogs to see if they were compatible with me and my book (indie author of nonfiction book). Then I contacted them – not by replying to their comment on the forum post, because they probably unfollowed the post like I did, but by finding their email address on their blog (sometimes it was in their forum post comment) or (second best) by using their blog’s contact form.

In part 2, I will talk about what to write in emails to bloggers, how to maintain an effective “contacts” list in your email program, how to maintain an effective exchange with bloggers, what to do when bloggers don’t respond to your emails, and how to schedule the bloggers’ posting dates for the blog tour.

September 25, 2012

Blog Tour Surprise!

Posted in Blog Tours tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:19 am by Christine Rice

Good morning to all!

Today, the Freelance Writing Guide Blog Tour stops…here! This is the last day of the tour :( If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my interview from yesterday with Christine Henderson on TheWriteChris.

If you didn’t see or notice the layout of my blog yet, yesterday I redid it so that the blog is on its own page, and now there is a homepage. I also changed the title and subtitle from Christine Rice, Author: All About Writing and Books to Christine Rice: Author. My reason was to make this a website that has a blog, instead of it being only a blog. I also created one page for my books, instead of a page for each book. I also moved the widgets in the sidebar around so that the pages of this website are listed at the top rather than a few widgets down. It was complicated before, but now it is simpler and easier to navigate. I hope you like it!

Back to the blog tour… This blog tour has been the best experience I’ve had in regards to getting the word out about my books. I have truly enjoyed meeting so many new people – many of whom are writers and authors – that have been so friendly and helpful to me. Thank you all so, so much!

I am very happy to have spread the word about Freelance Writing Guide, a book that I worked on steadily for eight months. It was fun to write and edit, and I’m glad that now more people know about it. I think it is a helpful book to those who are interested in embarking on a freelance writing career for the first time. I hope you will find it helpful too. I also hope you will contact me and let me know if it has helped you. I’d love to hear your stories about becoming freelance writers and if the book was accurate for your experiences.

Now, onto the surprise! First of all, thank you so much for visiting the blogs on the blog tour during the last month. The bloggers and I are grateful for your support. To show my (our) gratitude, I will give free copies of Freelance Writing Guide to all who comment on this post today and tomorrow saying what you like best about writing and/or how you decided to become a writer. I share about myself most of the time, so now I want to hear your stories. After you post a comment below, email me at christine_rice@charter.net telling me what ebook format you want, and I will reply to your email with the free book!

I can’t wait to see your comments and hear from you! Thanks for helping to make the Freelance Writing Guide Blog Tour a success! I truly appreciate you!

September 14, 2012

Blog Tour Progress

Posted in Blog Tours, Books, Publishing, Self-Publishing tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:49 am by Christine Rice

Good morning, everyone!

I hope your day is going well so far. I just want to take a moment to update you on my blog tour.

My interview on Jess Resides Here went well. I also enjoyed writing the guest post on From the Boothell Cotton Patch, which is an author bio and an excerpt from chapter 8 of Freelance Writing Guide! Chapter 8 is about blogs and websites, so if you’re looking for tips on how to design a blog or website, put up great content in the right places, and make it successful and profitable, you should check out this post!

Today, I am at RD Meyer Writes where there is an honest and thoughtful review of my book and an interview. In the interview, I talk about freelance writing, my book, my works-in-progress, my take on the change of the publishing industry, and more! You should check it out!

The next few days involve a book review on Honesty…in writing, an interview on Karen Elizabeth Brown, and a review on Theresa Leschmann, Author. There will be many more blog stops after that. In fact, for the remainder of the tour – until September 25th – there will be a stop every day! Join me in on the fun, and don’t forget to come back here on the last day of the tour for a special treat for all of you!

Have a great weekend!

Christine

September 10, 2012

What a Great Blog Tour!

Posted in Blog Tours tagged , , , , , , , at 9:14 pm by Christine Rice

I am having a blast with my blog tour! I have really enjoyed the reviews and interviews that have been posted so far. I feel blessed to have worked with so many great people on this tour, and the feedback on my book has been wonderful.

Since my last post, this is where my blog tour has been: I stopped at Teresa Morrow~Author/Writer/Poet and The Literary Review for great interviews. Thanks so much Teresa and C.M. Truxler! There have also been reviews at Shayna Gier, The Literary Review, Raven’s Art Shack, and Lgib-Bookreview. Thank you Shayna, C.M. Truxler, Ann, and Shalini!

Here is what is coming up next for the tour: I will be interviewed on Jess resides here on September 12th. There will be an excerpt from Freelance Writing Guide and an author bio on From the Bootheel Cotton Patch on September 13th. On September 14th, there will be an interview and a review on RD Meyer Writes. And on September 15th, there will be a review on Honesty….in writing. I am really looking forward to all those stops!

I hope to see you throughout this week at the blogs where the tour will be stopping. Leave me a comment on the blog posts to let me know you stopped by. I will update you again in the beginning of next week with details for the third week of the Freelance Writing Guide blog tour! Have a great week, everyone!

July 31, 2012

The Month of July

Posted in Books, Editing, Publishing, Writing tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:35 pm by Christine Rice

Recap time! July was an excellent month for me, especially with working on my manuscripts. I edited a whole book (Freelance Writing Guide), wrote 15,800 words in Chronicles of a Troubled Girl, and wrote 2,700 words in Freedom from Fat. On top of that, I published 22 blog posts (between my two blogs), was interviewed by a book cover designer, edited two of my colleague’s articles, published five book reviews, participated in a Goodreads Giveaway and mailed out two copies of My Not-So-Ordinary Life to two winners, read four books, and contributed to a writer’s blog post. I also got my very own, really nice office chair after working hard as a writer for over 14 months. I still felt – and feel – privileged to have this chair.

August is going to be really busy, I can already tell, because I plan to do the final edit of Freelance Writing Guide and publish it, which also means that I’ll be sending out copies to my blog tour participants. Organizing a blog tour is like communicating with 20+ colleagues through email – it’s quite fun and keeps me busy! I will also be reading and reviewing three books, and posting to my blogs to keep you all updated :), as well as my other daily duties.

I hope you will all have a good month and stick around to see what’s happening next!

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