I spoke recently at the Australian Booksellers Association Conference in Sydney on blogging and social reading and have been meaning to share my presentation more widely ever since.
Below is an outline of my tips for booksellers on writing blog posts. You can check out my social reading presentation (think Readmill, GoodReads etc) on Prezi here.
How do you decide what to post about? I’d recommend you keep a list somewhere – perhaps in notes in your phone or in a notebook or diary – of ideas as they pop into your head.
You might be inspired by a conversation, a news report on television, another blog post or an article you read in a magazine like Bookseller+Publisher. Ideally in this case you’d look for a new angle on what you’ve read.
So for example, a couple of weeks back Pan Macmillan digital first imprint Momentum announced it would be the first major Australian publisher to ditch DRM.
I wanted to write about this – and to applaud it – but given it had already been announced had to find a way to take the story a step further.
I did some more reading on DRM and thought about it for a couple of days then wrote a note to Joel Naoum at Momentum to ask whether retailers had agreed to support the move, or whether it was only Momentum titles sold on the publisher’s own website that would be DRM-free.
Naoum wrote back acknowledging there were some issues with retailers, so I then contacted several key retailers and suppliers via Twitter and email to find out whether they would in future or were already set up to sell DRM free. All responded that they either already were or would soon be doing so, which I felt was sufficiently newsworthy to work into a blog post.
Some types of blog posts are:
- Posts inspired by other blog/social media posts or media reports
- Reviews (of books, online and bricks and mortar bookshops, other blogs and book-related platforms, a TV program/film/plays with book tie-ins, apps or YouTube videos)
- Interviews with authors or experts in the industry
- Descriptions of what you’ve been doing/thinking about books and the industry lately
- A calendar of events related to your store and books and writing generally
- An opinion piece on an issue in the industry
- A discussion about such an issue
- A news story – in the rare case that Bookseller+Publisher don’t beat you to it!
- A campaign to achieve something
- Guest post from an expert/fellow blogger/staff member/visiting author/publisher/personality who loves your store
- Your response to a guest post
- A public letter to someone in a position of power
- A list – of useful stuff eg people to follow on Twitter
Whatever you choose to write about, make sure it’s on topic and thus relevant to your niche audience. So for example, for me to post a vegetarian restaurant review on ebookish wouldn’t work at all.
No matter what type of blog post you’re writing, remember to write it so that the reader will be drawn in from the first paragraph. If that means cutting and pasting the most interesting or well written paragraph from further down in your post, or opening with a quote, great.
Try to keep your posts short – under 500 words is ideal. If you must write something that is much longer than that, consider writing a summary at the top so that readers get the general idea even if they don’t read on.
Be yourself. Write the way you’d speak during an intelligent, but informal conversation. If you’re not sure whether a post is working, try reading it aloud to yourself or to a family member or friend. The clunky sentences will leap out at you that way.
Write about what you know and be passionate about it. Your enthusiasm will win readers over.