How to Write a Great Author Blog AND Avoid Huge Ships

Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

Blogging is THE most resilient form of social media and one of the best tools to build an author platform. Why? Readers read blogs. Perfect snare for readers. We also own our blogs, whereas content posted on Facebook and Twitter (and other social sites) is no longer exclusively ours, meaning these sites could rearrange the digital furniture and take our posts/archives with them.

If Twitter flitters and FB implodes, blogs will remain. Blogs will continue to grow over time, and search engines LOVE them. Blogs have been going strong since the 90s. Blogging also makes us better, faster, cleaner writers and they can be harvested later for books (I.e. to use as promotion).

Whenever I teach writers about blogging, my first challenge is to talk them off the ledge from panic. What do I TALK about? I have no IDEAAAAASSSS!

*breathes into paper bag*

And I truly understand this panic, because a lot of social media experts advise writers to blog in a way that is very left-brain.

Write about writing.

Write about the industry.

Write about your process.

Write about your research.

Write about your books.

Write essays.

Write about getting an agent.

Conduct interviews.

Do book reviews.

Talk to your characters. NOOOOOO! (*hint* Anyone who knows the characters already bought the book. To anyone else? Seriously creepy.)

Yet, here’s the thing, writers (especially fiction writers) are CREATIVE people. We are storytellers. When we blog merely on information, we engage the left side of the brain (analytical), but our fiction engages the RIGHT side of the brain (emotional). Blogs need to do this, too.

Why are we trying to build a following/fan base for a right-brain product with a left-brain TOOL?

Craft, the industry, our process, our research are our tools for our art, but they ARE NOT our art. Readers, or potential readers ARE NOT interested in the tools of our trade, rather they want to see how we USE those tools. Regular people (readers) are interested in the art, which is merely the unique “set of eyes” that permits writers to see what others can’t (but secretly wish they could).

EVERY product marketed uses the right side of the brain, from razor blades to duct tape. Madison Avenue wants us to see Michelin tires and think safety. They want cheap body wash to give us an “organic experience”, or why else pay an attractive actress to go all When Harry Met Sally with soap and a loofah on prime-time TV?

If virtually EVERY product sold uses emotion, then why do we think we are going to get traction pumping out a constant stream of information?

Writers are not, per se, experts at teaching craft or discussing changes in the industry (and regular people could care less about Random-Penguin). We are artists. A writer’s expertise is looking at the world in a unique way mere mortals can’t. THAT is what readers (fans) gravitate to. They rely on us to focus in on something they would have walked right past and make that unexceptional object or event magical.

Writers look at ordinary things in extraordinary ways. Want to be a great writer? Pay attention, REAL attention to the world around you and get good at seeing/and selling with artist eyes. Great blogging uses the world as your muse…just like your fiction ;).

Even the genius marketers KNOW we are ignoring ads more than ever. We scream past commercials or wait to watch our favorite shows when we can get them on Netflix. To combat this, they know they no longer can just offer lots of stuff CHEAP; they have to entertain. Make us WANT to watch and even share by using?

STORY.

I’ll illustrate with this super-fun commercial from Samsung.

The best written examples of this technique (that I’ve witnessed) are some of the people who leave reviews on Amazon. There are reviews that go viral simply because a reviewer had some fun. They took the time to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary…and people LOVE reading what they have to say because they are FABULOUS storytellers.

We don’t all need to be comedians to write great blogs, but maybe these can give you a good laugh and perhaps open your minds to what a blog of The Digital Age really is.

I selected entries from the banana-slicer review at Amazon, the Big Pen For Her reviews, and the Amazon reviews of Captain Trimmer’s  book “How to Avoid Huge Ships.” All of these are just page after page of gasping-for-air-clutching-one’s-sides-delight. I think I may have found my kindred spirits here.

But watch how they take items so vanilla and unmemorable and turn it into something you can’t wait to share…by using the power of story.

TheMightyBahamutSee all my reviews

This review is from: Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer (Kitchen)

All my life I have been wondering how to make a banana into small bite sized pieces.I spent my childhood in a basement practicing on smaller fruits like grapes before graduating to plums and even small peaches.

My parents became concerned when household fruits would turn up missing, and the day they found me hiding in the bushes enthralled with my dissection of a large apple, they decided I had a problem.

As I reached adulthood my need to slice open fruits was becoming unbearable. I would gaze longingly at bananas in the store, wondering how best to slice open their delicate flesh so I may feel their moist sticky insides. I made my first clumsy attempt around age 25.

When no one was looking I snatched a small banana from its companions, and brought it to my basement. It was a disaster, my knife-work just left a smashed and uneven mess, so I buried it in the woods lest anyone stumble upon my grizzly handiwork.

Finally I found the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. I used it on the next unattended banana I saw, and discovered I could now cut up and dispose of an entire banana in one swift movement! I can do it in mere seconds, or slowly lower the slicer, prolonging the ecstasy I feel seeing the bananas flesh torn open.

Thank you Hutzler 751, because of you my basement walls are lined with the peels of hundreds of bananas, and I am currently working on a mask made from the peels of all my victims sewn together.

1,445 of 1,556 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! You’re tellin’ me…., September 8, 2012

By DMS – See all my reviews

This review is from: BIC Cristal For Her Ball Pen, 1.0mm, Black, 16ct (MSLP16-Blk) (Office Product)

This here is a wonderful invention. Now my wife can stop stealin’ all my man pens that I leave all over the house. I sure don’t understand it bein’ a man and all, but shoo-ooot, it sure is nice that she finally found herself a pen that’s all her own.

Now don’t get me wrong fellas. If you are really in a pinch, y’all can use one o’ these bad boys to write somethin’ down. Just don’t be surprised if your paper smells a little purtier and feels a little softer than you’re used to. That part ain’t all that bad really…

UPDATE:

I’ve actually found that I really enjoy writing letters with these pens while I’m sitting at my weather beaten desk donning my Three Wolf Moon t-shirt and a pair of zebra print Zubaz pants, and sipping a nice cup of chamomile and honey. Not sure what that means…

Should I be concerned?

UPDATE:

I’ve started digging into the wife’s Bronte sisters collection. Taking notes with these pens on what I’m reading just feels, I dunno…right. I gotta say, I’m finally starting to understand why the wife likes reading these things so much.

UPDATE:

You know, it just ain’t right how women have been treated throughout history. I mean, I’m starting to realize that we men just don’t really understand a lot of what a woman goes through on this earth and how she struggles to love and care and give and give and give until she can’t give no more. But I feel like I’m starting to get it, you know?

UPDATE:

I’ve gotta be kinder to the wife. You know, listen to her. Just listen. Instead of tryin’ to fix everything and give her answers to her problems while she’s talkin’. That’s not what she needs. She needs a man to listen. She’s not looking for answers, just somebody to empathize with her and tell her she’s alright.

UPDATE:

Got into work today and all I had was a sharpie. I feel so lost…
Kinda like… Like I was missing a part of myself you know?

UPDATE:

Got home tonight and washed and folded all the laundry just ’cause. You know, this HGTV thing ain’t half bad. I could watch this stuff all night. Why in the world am I payin’ for the premium sports package…

UPDATE:

Decided to take the day off this morning and just get the kids up and breakfasted and out the door. Let her sleep, she never gets to do that…

UPDATE:

Some of the fellas from work came over today, just to see how I was doin’. They tried like gangbusters to get me to watch The Expendables with them. I eventually asked them to leave. Which they did. I gave them each a pen on the way out and thanked them sincerely for their concern.

UPDATE:

Me and the fellas who came over yesterday have decided to have a massive sell off of all our action movies and pool our money and resources to remodel one another’s kitchens. All except Drew. Which is funny because he was the only one who refused to take a pen from me. We’re going to go over to his house later as a group and see if we can persuade him to take the pen. I just know if he writes something down with it he’ll begin to see why this matters so much to us. I don’t really know what’s come over me, but I feel wonderful. We all do. And I’m sure Drew will feel wonderful too once he is assimilated.

UPDATE: PLEASE READ:

I had a moment of clarity today. It’s a TRAP! Forget everything I’ve said – Well except for that part about bein’ a better listener and bein’ nicer to the wife and all that. That’s still true. But there’s somethin’ else goin’ on here… Somethin’ deeper. Like my mind is bein’ taken over er somethin’. I happened upon an old episode of Buck Rogers on the internet today, that’s what broke me out of this…this trance or whatever you want to call it. I have no idea how long it will be before I fall back into it. They know that I know now… They’re coming for me… There’s something in the plastic. Some kind of serum that… Someone’s at the door – Get those pens out of your house before it’s too bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

UPDATE:NEVERMINDS, I AM FINE THANK YOU:

Please excuse last post. I had bout with the deliriousness. Continue to use pen. Perfectly safe. Continue to share with all friends of the male type. Go sports team!

How to Avoid Huge Ships Book Review

508 of 537 people found the following review helpful
This book is invaluable!

By Roger on August 21, 2013

Format: Paperback

When on my jet ski in the Chesapeake bay this summer I was confronted by a huge ship moving up the channel. You can imagine my horror when I realized I had only 1 hour and 45 minutes or so before the lumbering behemoth was sure to pass through my area. With no place to hide and only a water jet propelled small craft beneath me for transport, I quickly withdrew my Kindle Fire from the storage compartment beneath my seat and preceded to read the book How To Avoid Huge Ships. One hour later and with only 45 minutes to spare, I implemented the expert advice provided by the author and turned my jet ski in the opposite direction of the huge ship to avoid certain disaster.

And frankly, these reviews make me want to buy stuff. I actually just BOUGHT the Hutzler banana slicer even though I am allergic to bananas. Why? Because, I know when I’m having a bad day, I will be able to retrieve my slicer from my kitchen drawer and get a really good laugh. I am so grateful for these armchair artists, and honored to share their writing here. I hope you will go give them the 5 star reviews they deserve…and maybe buy some Bic Pens for Her to spice up your marriage, too!

***NOTE: I give a detailed blueprint how to create an author blog in Rise of the Machines–Human Writers in a Digital World.  Create a blog you enjoy and that reflects your unique style and voice. I will also be teaching blogging classes at WANACon, the virtual conference you can enjoy from HOME and all recordings are included with admission (sign up HERE).***

What are your thoughts? Opinions? What is the best item you’ve ever seen reviewed? Do you think this might be a good way to practice those blogging muscles? Go write these kinds of reviews. Hey, it helps the product AND gives us practice. Something to noodle over at least :D.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less)

January’s WINNER is Elizabeth Kaiser. Thanks for your comments, support and re-blogs. Please send a 5000 word WORD document, a 250 word WORD synopsis or query letter (your choice which of the three) to kristen at wana intl dot com. Congratulations!

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  1. #1 by Laurie A Will on February 5, 2014 - 10:45 am

    Hi Kristen,
    Great post as usual. I am looking forward to your presentation about Author blogging. I think writing entertaining reviews on Amazon is a great idea to practice for blogging. Lord knows, I order so much from Amazon that the UPS guy and I have become fast friends. I think writing entertaining reviews on Amazon is the perfect way to work out some my anxiety about blogging as well!

    • #2 by Gry Ranfelt on February 5, 2014 - 10:51 am

      Ah, you beat me to the first comment :D
      My UPS man seems very confused about the rather obscure things I order sometimes. Spirulina, humic fulvic, wonder woman comics with dragons.
      People who empty trash or deliver our Amazon packages probably know the most of us :D
      Hey, and we’ll probably be seeing each other at wanacon ;)

  2. #3 by Gry Ranfelt on February 5, 2014 - 10:49 am

    These reviews are wonderful. It’s true that we have to let our creativity run free on our blogs but sometimes I feel like it can get too random. There really needs to be some sort of limit, a perspective. Like, my blog’s tagline is “the story of people and how they scare me”, so I try always to keep my themes and punch lines pointed to people. (And potential solutions to be less scared. *Goes to hide in a hole*)
    Great post as always. I think it’s soon time to reread Rise of the Machines :)

  3. #4 by ashokbhatia on February 5, 2014 - 10:49 am

    Great thoughts here!

  4. #5 by jenspenden on February 5, 2014 - 10:54 am

    I just started my blog last fall (yes, as a way to platform myself as an aspiring author). The day I set it up, I stared at my computer, unsure where to even begin. I totally experienced that momentary panic. Now, less than 5 months later, I can’t STOP thinking of things to write about. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing my experiences/journey, knowledge, book reviews, etc. with my followers. My blog has really helped me connect with people and showcase who I am as a writer…Thanks for the great post!

  5. #6 by Michelle on February 5, 2014 - 10:56 am

    Loved the reviews! LMAO

    As a fan, I wish more writers would understand the importance of incorporating a blog into their marketing. The most successful author blogs, are ongoing conversations with fans about everything – their books, character studies, research, reactions to popular culture and food, food, food. It makes me WANT to know more about the author’s process. In at least three cases, personal blog chats, led me to buy entire backlists. (I’m looking directly at you, Sara Humphreys, Zoe Dawson and Heather Long.) :)

    Rants on Facebook are not blogs. I’ve read several rants, with corresponding vitriolic comments from “fans,” that completely turned me off to the author. I may/may not read future books, but they are no longer on the “must pre-order” or “1-click, now” lists. This rant could have been shared as a “story” on the blog, complete with appropriate editing after a cooling-off period. It might have been a powerful piece, but it came across as ungracious and mean. Consumers tend to avoid “ungracious” and “mean” products.

    • #7 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 5, 2014 - 10:58 am

      Excellent points. And talking about process or characters or doing reviews or interviews are all fine, but we can burn out very quickly if we rely solely on that type of content.

      • #8 by Michelle on February 5, 2014 - 11:01 am

        I like the “My Take on Life” posts from authors. They can share whatever they are comfortable sharing and keep their private lives, private.

  6. #9 by Daven Anderson on February 5, 2014 - 10:58 am

    For some authors, blogging comes naturally, for others it’s a skill that has to be learned.
    The ideal blogger has a mind full of short stories.
    I know that we are all “writers”, but crafting a 200,000 word sci-fi epic uses a different skill set than typing out category romances. So it is with blogging. However, learning how to write short stories effectively, benefits the craft of any and all writers.
    The effort to blog is always worthwhile :)

  7. #10 by moxeyns on February 5, 2014 - 11:11 am

    Hahaha I want a banana slicer too, now – and I’m diabetic; bananas send my blood glucose into the stratosphere. But putting the fruit in the slicer and PRESSING HARD sounds sooooo good…

  8. #12 by janmoran1 on February 5, 2014 - 11:18 am

    What an amazing post, Kristen! Those reviews had me crying with laughter, and after I finish this post, I’m going to march through the house and round up all the bananas I can find, and order one of those slicer thingies so I can have the same incredible experience. And I must, absolutely must, buy a case of those pens for my husband and four sons. I’m going all mushy inside just imagining a household of true bliss…I may never have to wash another dish as long as I live…

    I write fiction and nonfiction, so I’ve learned to slide with ease from one side of my brain to the other. In fact, my fiction editor asked me to include more of the business-y things in my last in novel, and nonfiction editors like the “stories” I include in articles. Thanks for reminding all of us lone scribblers to infuse emotion and cleverness in all we do. At heart, humans are emotion junkies, thriving on the feeling-juice of life.

    And now, off to #amwriting-land. Cheers!

  9. #13 by Lisa on February 5, 2014 - 11:20 am

    Thanks for the tips, Kristen, good info here! I have resisted starting a blog, because I am just not sure what to write about and because of the time factor. I knew I didn’t necessarily want to be writing about “how to write”, I mean, I’m an unpublished author – who really cares what I think? And as a fiction writer, non-fiction does not come naturally to me. However, I am coming to understand that I will need some kind of social platform (gag) to help out with publishing success, so I am exploring the idea of a website/blog for this year. This post will help me as I try to decide what direction that will take. Thank you!

  10. #14 by literaryliason on February 5, 2014 - 11:20 am

    Those reviews made my day. hilarious!

  11. #15 by Barbara Ankrum on February 5, 2014 - 11:21 am

    Hahaha! Thanks for the great laugh this morning and the terrific article on blogging. Now I have to go and buy one of my pens….

  12. #16 by coldhandboyack on February 5, 2014 - 11:23 am

    Oops, sounds like I might be being creepy on my blog. Then again, maybe I really am creepy…..

    • #17 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 5, 2014 - 11:31 am

      Well, the larger point of the blog is to recruit NEW fans. Anyone who would enjoy a character interview etc. is already a customer. To an outsider, it’s like stumbling in on a conversation we can’t join if that makes sense.

  13. #18 by CKoepp on February 5, 2014 - 11:26 am

    Blogging is definitely a different skillset. Plotline for story: no problem. Brilliant idea for a blog article that didn’t sound too cynical … O.o So, I got my parrot to “write” mine. She describes things in her own avian way. :D

  14. #19 by Ken Hughes on February 5, 2014 - 11:47 am

    I’d like to bookmark this as game-changing advice on… wait, what was it about? There must have been something here before you started the bananasliceromigod, but I know I’ll be looking up those reviews at odd moments for months to come. You were saying something about blogs needing to be appealing, memorable, but I’ll have to reread it to be sure.

    –Really, was this an instruction or a demo? Mission accomplished. :)

  15. #20 by annelorenetezon on February 5, 2014 - 11:59 am

    I never would have imagined that reading a review for a Bic pen could make me pee my pants from laughing. Thanks for steering our attention and suggesting writing reviews on Amazon. I needed that today (the laughter, not the pants-wetting.)

  16. #21 by Lynn Tyler on February 5, 2014 - 12:34 pm

    Your post made my day. I just got paid so I’m going to go order your book now. It’s been on the top of my to read list for a while now.

  17. #22 by Tamara LeBlanc on February 5, 2014 - 12:52 pm

    That pen review, and all its updates is hilarious. Haven’t seen the Ed Norton commercial (until now) but the Jaguar commercial was fun to watch during the very one sided Super Bowl :)
    You’ve blogged before on how important blogging is, and I’ve always heard you, but like the guy with the pen, there must have been something special oozing out of the screen that got me juiced about blogging today. The reviews you shared and the way those people made me WANT to read about pens, or ships or banana slicers even though I’m not the tiniest bit interested in them made me realize that a little humor and some clever prose can really make someone’s day. And if I make a reader’s day, maybe they’ll buy my book!
    Genius!!
    Have a brilliant day,
    Tamara

  18. #23 by Stacy Aannestad (@StacyAannestad) on February 5, 2014 - 1:37 pm

    I used to blog, back when I was a papercrafter. I had a great little blog going, a few followers, had fun showing off my work, how I did it, and interspersing Life Stuff. And then I burned out — utterly — on papercrafting. Eventually I gave up the blog. Tried blogging about family history. Tried blogging about faith stuff. Even wrote a fictional blog (which is now the basis of my WIP). But I have resisted doing an Author Blog like crazy. Most of the Author Blogs I’ve read have been aimed at other writers — advice, tips, etc. That’s lovely, but wouldn’t most of the people who would be interested in an author’s blog be the readers? And I highly doubt most of them are also authors. So I like the idea of blogging from a different perspective, the Right Brain perspective. And, darn it, Kristen, if you didn’t make me go buy your ROTM book. Now I’m seriously considering the possibility of actually potentially creating an Author Blog! Whee! Go, me!

    • #24 by Kitty Bucholtz on February 5, 2014 - 3:20 pm

      What she said.

      Seriously, I have tried a lot of different things on my blog, and my numbers have *very* slowly climbed. But I don’t have a big enough audience to even invite guest bloggers in because I don’t want them to feel they’re wasting their time, even though I have three titles out. And when I start writing things that are really interesting, it takes up WAY too much time that I can’t afford to take from my fiction writing.

      That being said, I’M GOING TO TRY AGAIN!! LOL!! Thanks, Kristen! (And thanks Stacy for saying what I was thinking! ;) )

    • #25 by Stephanie Scott on February 6, 2014 - 1:38 pm

      A lot of people must have burned out on papercrafting; I see the Archivers store is going out of business.

      I think you’re right that author blogs have different focuses; I notice that many blogs,once the author becomes published, switch their posts to more general, reader-centric posts. Others who have taken on a cause, such as hosting contests or providing interviews, advice, seem to keep that up as a separate part of their writing career.

  19. #26 by Sally Kilpatrick on February 5, 2014 - 1:47 pm

    This is exactly the post I needed today. Thank you.

  20. #27 by Ernesto San Giacomo on February 5, 2014 - 2:05 pm

    Kristen, one of your best posts ever. Loved the Banana Slicer review. As always, you’ve offered us some wisdom with little wit. :-)

  21. #28 by Ensis on February 5, 2014 - 2:18 pm

    Great post as usual! In my right brain, I create Mad Libs for people to post on the blog!
    I did have a question though.
    My blog is one year old this month (yay!) and I’m hosting my third giveaway in honor. But my contests and giveaways rarely seem to attract ANYONE. I have literally ONE entrant to this contest. I thought maybe my prizes are not related to my blog focus, but I wonder if it’s that simple. Any insight into why contests could have such poor participation rates?

    • #29 by Kitty Bucholtz on February 5, 2014 - 3:22 pm

      Oh, please answer this question! I’d like to know, too! :) (Congrats, Ensis, on your 1-year anniversary!)

    • #30 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 5, 2014 - 4:05 pm

      We are tired of free stuff and too many people use contests to capture information to spam us so we shy away. People want to engage, be entertained, to have community. We don’t have to be funny, just connect. Make the blog a dialogue. Talk about things that interest your demographic beyond books and genre. For instance, if you write romance, you could post Spanx Horror Stories or What Was Best Date Ever? Worst Date Ever? Dumbest Diet You Ever Tried. Tell your STORY then open the comments for contribution. Encourage people to klatsche.

      If you want to up traffic, check your SEO (I teach how in my book; too long to answer here). Also blog more often. Something as simple as a funny picture or video is enough. Google counts attendance. Also remember it takes time. I blogged once a week for a year and a half faithfully before I ever topped 100 views a day. Now? This blog has had well over a million visits. But that took TIME, patience and persistence. Also A LOT of trial and error.

      • #31 by Kitty Bucholtz on February 5, 2014 - 4:19 pm

        Great!! Thanks so much! I have and read your first two books a couple years ago and love them. But these days I think I’m juggling tribbles, just always more and more to do. Hey! That’s a blog post, isn’t it?! One down, thousands to go! LOL!

      • #32 by Ensis on February 5, 2014 - 4:42 pm

        Thank you, Kitty–and thanks, Kristen for the info which, I now recall having seen in your other posts!
        I should pay more attention…
        I think I’ll keep doing (seldom) contests, but I think I’ll make the prize something simpler, and something that’s fun for me.
        I had this one where I drew a funny picture inside a book and mailed it to the winner. It was a lot of fun!
        She has a beauty blog, so here’s what I ended up with:

        Thanks for reminding me it’s not about the prizes, Kristen.

      • #33 by C.T. Green on February 5, 2014 - 10:18 pm

        Hi Kristen, As a PNR writer I love your suggestions – especially the Spanx one ;). Maybe a blog post entitled ‘The Dangers of Using Candles for a Romantic Interlude or How I Lost My Moustache’.
        I wrote a piece quite a while ago entitled ‘The Perilous Path of Purple Prose’. I had a great time creating a scene to go with it. I try to treat blogging as a sort of stream of consciousness/fun break from writing. A place where I don’t have to find yet another word for ‘lady bits’.

        • #34 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 6, 2014 - 8:31 am

          Both your ideas are something I would read AND share. And I think you’d have MUCH more fun writing stuff like this.

      • #35 by pamelacreese on February 15, 2014 - 2:08 pm

        I actually ‘understand’ (sort of) how to gear a blog toward a romance audience. I have actually helped a few romance authors with ideas to do just that… but what to put into a blog to attract fantasy or SF readers? Totally without ideas there. What do we all have in common? We love fantasy. That doesn’t lend itself to recipes or candles or gardening…
        Where do those of us not blessed with easily accessible genres find those every-day life links?

        • #36 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 16, 2014 - 9:20 am

          Argue about Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. My most popular post that went viral was “What Went Wrong with the Start Wars Prequels?”

          • #37 by pamelacreese on February 16, 2014 - 5:53 pm

            well, might be easier if I watched tv, huh? Haven’t had one for 5 years. LOL. And I suppose I could discuss fantasy books…but it seems so… over done AND begs your previous wonderful post on writers and book reviews….and not being negative.
            And so…the adventure continues
            I remain hopeful that someday something will ‘click’ and I will know how to reach those fantasy readers. Thanks, Kristen.

    • #38 by Sinistra Inksteyne on February 5, 2014 - 10:52 pm

      Mad Libs – brilliant!
      I’ve tried asking leading questions on my blog but no-one seems to want to be the first penguin off the ice floe. There hasn’t been a walrus in months, I promise!

  22. #39 by Nicole Grabner on February 5, 2014 - 3:34 pm

    Hi Kristen,
    I bought your book, I love you, I read you book (I SWEAR), but I sometimes still struggle to find my voice in my blog. I’m reworking my chart to see if that draws some inspriation, but I really believe that deep down, I’m looking at it too much like work and not enough like fun. Maybe I just need to look at the blank screen and imagine I’m talking to you? :-)
    Nicole
    BTW – my favorite pen post – EVER!!!

    • #40 by Kitty Bucholtz on February 5, 2014 - 3:56 pm

      I am so with you, Nicole! I think I’m looking at Author Blogging as yet another piece of work that I need to do that takes me away from my writing, rather than a fun break. Hmm, reading “The Power of Habit” right now by Charles Duhigg…maybe we just need to change the habits we’ve created that see this as work…

  23. #41 by Little Miss Menopause on February 5, 2014 - 4:16 pm

    This particular blog was a HUGE eye-opener for me. Have I had blinders on or what? (Note to self: Go write a funny review for a Beauty Sleep Eye Mask) I have a question though – – Do you think it annoys the book author or the product manufacturer or whatever is being reviewed that the Writer of the review is now getting far more response and attention than the original “item.” And that was THEIR intent in the first place. But I suppose it’s all just win/win synergy, right? Anyhow, if all us frustrated bloggers start doing this, a straight-shot, old fashioned “nay or yay” review will become a rare breed indeed, on Amazon. How fun. Thank you also for another slant on why blogging is one of the best tools to help build an author platform. The people in my life who are quite non-supportive of my blogging, simply do not get it.
    Stephanie

    • #42 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 5, 2014 - 4:45 pm

      I dunno. I bought a banana slicer LOL. I think if I had a product for sale, especially something mundane, these kind of reviews going viral is the best advertisement.

  24. #43 by Suzanne Adair on February 5, 2014 - 4:43 pm

    Plenty of people believe that blogging is dead, and they think using Facebook and Twitter replaces blogging. Hah. Wait until Facebook and Twitter pull the rug out from under them.

    Wonderful essay, Kristen. For me, this was the heart of it: “Craft, the industry, our process, our research are our tools for our art, but they ARE NOT our art. Readers, or potential readers ARE NOT interested in the tools of our trade, rather they want to see how we USE those tools.”

    Thank you.

  25. #44 by J. S. Collyer on February 5, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    Reblogged this on The Path – J. S. Collyer's Writing Blog and commented:
    Anyone who writes, blogs or promotes their own work can learn a lot from Kristen Lamb

  26. #45 by Andrea Miles on February 5, 2014 - 5:21 pm

    Great post, Kristen. I was writing creative stuff on my blog (via writing prompts) and my few followers seemed to enjoy it and then I learned I couldn’t submit that stuff to most contests because they consider it published (even though publishers do not consider it published, go figure) and then I learned I needed a platform…advised to build it around what my book was about. But that made no sense to me. My next book won’t be about the same topic. I’ve been there, done that, moved on. So I haven’t done anything with my blog (except announce my book coming out in October). Anyway, you’ve given me something to think about!

  27. #46 by isobelauthor on February 5, 2014 - 5:33 pm

    Brilliant post. Nothing like a good giggle distraction when I’m supposed to be writing!

    I’m just in the process of setting up my website and blog. After a few years of working on a couple of novels, it’s really gratifying to see something tangible like a website. I’ve steered clear of the how-to, the industry, the process – the craft. There are plenty of great blogs out there which do it better than I can.

    Thanks for the encouragement to write a blog as an author – given me more focus.

  28. #47 by HL Carpenter on February 5, 2014 - 5:59 pm

    Humor is a great way to make your point–as you proved so very well in this post.

    We revamped our static website this past summer to a WordPress format, and we’re publishing our indie novella in installments. We mix those up with interviews, articles, humor, and tips. It’s hard to say if it’s too much of a mish-mash, or if it’s an interesting, eclectic collection…but then again, we can ask that about our writing, too, since we write in multiple genres.

    Thanks for the tips–and the laugh! Much appreciated. We’ll share on Google+!

  29. #48 by Leesa Freeman (@leesafreeman) on February 5, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    How timely is this? For me, very. My blog up and died – the hubby is trying to fix it as we speak (write? read?) – and I’ve been thinking I need a change. Not that what I’ve written up til now wasn’t fabulous and all, but a change… that’s the point. The other point is that if so many bloggers put out similar content, be different! Look at John Green. He more or less breaks all the rules and rarely talks “craft” at all, but he is well-know for his books and his blogs. (Truth be told, I have a little crush on him…)

    Anyway, thanks for the post. Now to implement it in my own unique way. Just as soon as hubby resurrects my site.

  30. #49 by L. Palmer on February 5, 2014 - 6:32 pm

    I’ve tried to build my blog on the following principles – picked up from your book “The Writer’s Guide To Social Media”, and from a few other sources – 1. Make it a friendly community – I comment on other people’s blogs, and they comment on mine, 2. Write the blogs on other things besides writing – I’m a nerd, so almost everything centers around sci-fi/fantasy concepts or culture, with a few detours into writing, 3. Keep it high quality and fun.

    I gained my first followers by just being friendly and social on other people’s blogs. In the year and a half I’ve been blogging with serious effort, I’ve grown my blog from 10 followers (including my mom) to approximately 1800 (also including my mom). Part of the increase is due to being Freshly Pressed once, and my popularity with bots/spam (that’s 10-20% of total followers). However, the continual increase in followers would not be possible without those three principles.

    • #50 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 5, 2014 - 6:44 pm

      WOW! That is AWESOME. I didn’t have nearly that many for a looooong time, namely because I did everything WRONG, LOL. So thrilled I could be of help.

  31. #52 by saralitchfield on February 5, 2014 - 7:57 pm

    hilarious…. and makes me kind of want to buy a banana slicer… you’re on commission?!

  32. #54 by Kevin O. McLaughlin on February 5, 2014 - 8:18 pm

    Kristen, best blog post you’ve done on this subject yet! This really drove home for me the sort of thing I’ve been trying to figure out (and implement) already. The idea of blogging about things that are ancillary to the things we write, so as to draw in the attention of readers who will enjoy those stories.

    I’m still working on the concept. ;) But I can definitely see the merit. Loved the examples you used.

    Haven’t bought ROTM yet, but thinking now might be a good time.

  33. #55 by jamieayres on February 5, 2014 - 10:53 pm

    Oh my gosh! Your blog post had me and my 13yo daughter in tears! Sooo funny. I’m adding banana slicer to my Christmas list this year! And have you seen the reviews for the Haribo Sugarless Gummy Candy? Hilarious! http://www.amazon.com/Haribo-Gummy-Candy-Sugarless-5-Pound/dp/B000EVQWKC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391658656&sr=8-1&keywords=sugar+free+gummy+bears

  34. #56 by Sinistra Inksteyne on February 5, 2014 - 10:58 pm

    Really looking forward to reading ROTM! Unfortunately it seems to have been delayed in transit (hijacked by budding blogger in deliveryman day-job?) so I’m just gonna have to stew until it arrives…

    • #57 by Sinistra Inksteyne on February 6, 2014 - 11:34 pm

      It arrived! Right before a conveniently placed weekend, so no prizes for guessing my shiny new weekend plans :-)

  35. #58 by Nancy Zrymiak on February 5, 2014 - 11:36 pm

    This is such great advice. I have to admit I have been wondering about this whole spending my time blogging vs spending my time writing – and I agree this is the way to go. Write like there’s no tomorrow whether it’s a blog, a short story, a book review (I’ve done one!).

  36. #59 by Katy Gilmore on February 6, 2014 - 12:05 am

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post – I loved your observation that “great blogging uses the world as your muse…! And I am grateful to now know how to avoid large ships and ungainly banana chunks!

  37. #60 by texasdruids on February 6, 2014 - 12:33 pm

    Hi Kristen. Great post and points well taken. I enjoyed the reviews from Amazon, sure wish I had the sense of humor some of those writers have.

    We met at the Yellow Rose RWA retreat back in October and am trying, finally, to follow your advice about blogging. Today, I started a new mid-week feature that gets personal. I hope readers will find my family stories, recipes and other meanderings interesting. The first post is about my experience as a two-finger typist. Sound dumb for an author? Well, there’s a reason behind it. Anyone who’s curious can discover my secret here: http://lynhorner.com/posts/

    • #61 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 6, 2014 - 5:51 pm

      No, people want to meet the PERSON as well as the WRITER. Ur good :).

      • #62 by texasdruids on February 7, 2014 - 11:41 am

        Thanks. I hope it works.

  38. #63 by Cheryel Hutton on February 6, 2014 - 2:36 pm

    Thanks for reminding me to blog. I got away from blogging and am having trouble getting back in the habit–especially since my life is so crazy right now. (crazier than usual, LOL)

  39. #64 by pamelacreese on February 6, 2014 - 2:57 pm

    Great as always! I love your sense of humor. I don’t actually seem to have one…at least the teenagers assure me if I DO, I should keep it hidden. I write fantasy. My blog sounds NOTHING like my writing because, well, everyday life is really far from fantasy. Which is kind of the whole point of writing it, LOL. It would be far easier if I were a romance author and could fill pages with pictures of hot guys and romantic locations…. but this blogging things from my everyday, boring, I am just a mom life is NOT working for me, and all these amazingly witty reviews aren’t helping the very non-witty writer figure out how to make raising teenagers, walking dogs, and cleaning house any more entertaining. Which is WHY I haven’t blogged more….I even bore myself.
    Going to have to reread this a few dozen more times and see if I can find a way to make mundane sound like a fantasy.

  40. #65 by KellyRaeBooks on February 6, 2014 - 5:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Kelly Rae & Jocelyn Bell Books and commented:
    I so need to learn how to be better at blogging – maybe if I started with a more set schedule of blogs – what a novel idea! LOL

  41. #66 by ankitachandrandave on February 7, 2014 - 5:30 am

    Thank you for writing this. It is a great read.

  42. #67 by ronnie on February 7, 2014 - 9:26 am

    Always, always funny and informative post!
    Thank you and thanks for sharing the reviews. I didn’t think they’d be “that” funny but I had tears in my eyes from laughing.

  43. #68 by Julia Derek on February 7, 2014 - 12:36 pm

    Thanks for great post! It did inspire me to be even more personal on my fitness blog. The post—which I wasn’t sure anyone would like—gave me four new followers. So i was very happy.

  44. #69 by Itrat Batool (@IamItrat) on February 7, 2014 - 1:22 pm

    I agree with all the suggestions recommended. Yes, blogging is the best way to brand your business or advertise your own self. I am a blogger at Auto Square and learning how amazingly it generates traffic and business.

  45. #70 by M T McGuire on February 8, 2014 - 2:42 am

    Loved that. A lot of good sense there. Brow did you ever see the review for Veet hair removal cream. Lorks that was funny.

  46. #71 by Iola Reneau on February 8, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    I loved these examples, thanks for sharing them especially the bic pen review. I was cracking up. My philosophy as a writer is{ engage imagination + touch emotions = lots of readers}

  47. #72 by John R. Paterson on February 8, 2014 - 1:57 pm

    This is very good and timely advice.

  48. #73 by Chris Henderson-Bauer on February 9, 2014 - 2:44 am

    Okay. I’m a little terrified, but you’ve inspired me. I read this on Thursday, I read the first half of Rise of the Machines on Friday, and I finally started my own blog tonight. I’ve got an intro and one short story up, and now I just need to keep going.

    If any of you feel like giving me feedback or tips, I really would appreciate it. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I do want to learn! http://chrishendersonbauer.com/

  49. #74 by Susan Spence on February 9, 2014 - 2:39 pm

    This writing thing is all about finding my voice, both novel-long stories and shorter blog stories. I’m not great at it yet, but this post reaffirms what I’m aiming for.

    By the way, I still use a free banana slicer that I use daily and that I’ve had for a long time now, my teeth. (Really, I eat bananas every day.)

  50. #75 by Isobel Kay (@_IsobelKay) on February 13, 2014 - 8:15 am

    Thanks for the inspiration! It will take some time to get into the groove I think. One small step and all that. Just starting out :) http://isobelkay.com/should-authors-writer-literary-blogs/

  51. #76 by adstarrling on February 14, 2014 - 10:34 am

    I really should start blogging. And those reviews. I’m reading this on the train. The other passengers are wondering why I’m shaking silently in the corner, tears streaming down my face!

  52. #77 by Rachel Thompson on February 14, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    Why I don’t blog? I’m a walking encyclopedia know-it-all atheist. If I wrote what I know, which is hard to resist and is full of hard to stomach facts, my freelance jobs would dry up. I’ll reserve such musing for fiction because people rather believe than know and fiction is assumed to be made up. I can tell the truth in fiction. I can’t tell the truth plainly– it would not be tolerated. Reality is bad for business.

  53. #78 by Raani York on February 14, 2014 - 6:15 pm

    This is such an amazing teaching blog post, Kristen. :-) Thanks so much for sharing.
    I love to blog and I have to admit I am quite imaginative about it. It’s not like I’m writing a “diary”… nobody is interested in what I’ll wear… But I’ve got a few categories I do blog regularly in and I hope people will know me a little… besides: I do keep exercising. I wonder if that’s a bad thing… I mean, being an Author and not writing an Author blog about writing…?

  54. #79 by Shery Alexander Heinis on March 2, 2014 - 2:00 pm

    Thanks for this informative AND entertaining piece! Sadly, I don’t think I could match the wit of these reviewers, so I’ll stick to the writing I know best :) I started a blog fairly recently to share my wiritings, so it’s reassuring to read this article which encourages one to be exactly that – a writer who blogs!

  55. #80 by BL Draper on March 12, 2014 - 5:36 am

    This is GREAT advice & exactly what I’ve been needing to hear. I’m no good at being serious and ‘literary’ in my writing, and for a long time that put me off starting a blog. Serious? Blah! Thanks for reminding me I can actually have fun with it. You rock. :)

  56. #81 by Michelle Morrison on June 4, 2014 - 4:09 pm

    I’m catching up after being occupied with school lately. Great insight on writing…And the reviews are absolutely hilarious. More importantly, they engage the reader don’t they? :-)

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