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Fill Me In Friday: Best Writing Links of the Week


It's that time of the week again. Hope everyone had a wonderful week! Here are the best links I've come across in the last few days.


On Writing and Publishing:

The Literary Lab: Who is the Ultimate Authority of a Piece of Fiction?

25 Things Writers Should Know About Agents via Chuck Wendig

Novel Plotting Worksheets | Annie Neugebauer

Jennifer Represents...: The Fine Art of Zipping It, or XYZ PDQ

Reader Reviews and What Not To Do, by @WendySMarcus | Romance University

10 Bestselling Books with 50+ One-Star Reviews - GalleyCat

why Pinterest is totally not a waste of time: creating a visionboard for your novel

The Bookshelf Muse: Do You Need a Social Media Intervention?

The Value Rubric: Do Book Bloggers Really Matter? | Publishing Perspectives

Writability: Why I Don't Auto-Follow Back

No Shame Here | GENREALITY - on not considering any book a "guilty pleasure"

Writing in different genres: A Blog Series | Nicole Basaraba's Uni-Verse-City

Trust Thyself | Kait Nolan - on writer's block

What’s the Problem with FREE? « Kristen Lamb's Blog

Why blog hits DON’T REALLY MATTER | The Red Pen of Doom

The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books | The Red Pen of Doom

What You May Have Missed Here:

What You May Have Missed on the FINAL Week of My Blog Tour:


All right, that's it from my end. What were some of your favorite links of the week?  Have a great weekend!




 “...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION


CRASH INTO YOU is now available!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement



The Post In Which I Rant About Blogging, Platforms,and the Pressure on Writers


Photo by Rafiq Sarlie (click pic for link)
Typically, I am not one to rant. I'm a pretty easy-going, live-and-let-live kinda girl. But this past week, I was pushed a bit to the brink with this whole author blog thing.


I wrote this post last Friday and since then, the lovely Anne R. Allen has tackled the same topic, so I suggest you read her post as well because I'm going to attempt to not be redundant and to come at it from a different angle.

*Warning: This is a ridiculously long post. I apologize in advance. Grab a cup of coffee and a pastry in case you get peckish halfway through.*

Writers are under a lot of pressure to build their platform. We talk about it ad nauseam here and there are posts everywhere you turn in the writing blogosphere. When I read those posts, I try to pull out the tidbits that may help me and let the rest roll off my back.

But lately, it seems like the noise of what we should and should not do is becoming not just loud but cacophonous, contradictory, and oftentimes, unrealistic in my opinion.

Luckily Agent Sara and my lovely editor are perfectly happy with my web presence and never put pressure on me to do any of it. But this doesn't mean I don't put pressure on myself. And I know many of you out there are doing the same.

So let's look at what's being said as of late about blogging...

1. "Writers should not blog about writing." 
Okay, first Kristen Lamb said it and I understand where she's coming from--you want to reach readers, not just writers. Then Janet Reid said it because she thinks writing about writing makes for a "boring" blog. (From Twitter: booooring. your website is about your finished writing, not your process. Its like watching sausage being made: nooooo")

My reaction: I GET it. I understand why it behooves us to have a broader audience than just writers. This is why I bought Kristen's book and started my separate author blog. But I disagree that blogging about writing is boring and something that should be frowned upon. Anything can be boring if done the wrong way. Also, I think for the writer just sticking their toe in the blogging waters, writing about writing and getting connected to the online writer community are not bad things. It can help you find your blogging voice and build a support network. Then you can gain the confidence to experiment to branch out and expand your topics.

So I trudge along with my "shouldn't be doing it" writing blog and my "more for readers" author blog. I'm not on the ledge yet. I'm doing alright.


2. There's that post by Wendy Lawton that inspired my Is Blogging Dead? post where she says that blogging may not be worth the time because the blogosphere is glutted and it's going to be impossible to stand out.

My reaction: You can read my full post, but basically, I think if you love blogging, do it. If you think it's going to put you on the NYT Bestseller list, you're probably going to be disappointed. I see fellow authors all the time who've built significant online presences, but I don't see there names rocketing to the bestseller list because of it. I'm sure it doesn't hurt their sales, but you have to think realistically. Even if you have 5000 blog followers and EVERY one of them bought your book--which believe me, will not happen, maybe 5-10% will. You're still not going to make any major list (unless those 5k people bought your book all in the same week--also not likely.)

So off I go, still typing my little blogging heart away, but being realistic. Then...

3. People start talking about what kind of stats you should be getting to be considered a decent blog by NY Publishers.
Agent Rachelle Gardner puts out the statistic that a blog should get about 15k hits a month to be considered good. Then Meghan Ward hears from agent Andy Ross that 100k hits is where it needs to be to get attention and an editor says less than that, but 10k Twitter followers is a good range. So Meghan's research reveals somewhere around 30k hits is what they want us shooting for.

My reaction: *jaw drop * *rant starts boiling within me*  I respect all of these agents who are giving this information. However, this is a seriously intimidating bar to set for people. In summary: Blog, but not about writing, and only if you can get a crap ton of hits, otherwise don't bother because it's worthless. 0_o

This blog, which I think most would consider respectably successful (including my own agent who is totally excited by my numbers), has taken me two years and 500 posts to build. I have roughly 2k followers when you combine RSS and google connect. I definitely don't get 30k hits a month. Not even close to any of those numbers thrown out above.

And 10k Twitter followers? You know how you get 10k twitter followers easy peasy? You go follow 10k people. The number of twitter followers can be completely misleading. People who follow everybody and their daddy will get people following back. But are they engaging with you? And are you going to be able to engage with all those people in a genuine manner if you're following everyone just to get your numbers up? It becomes a meaningless number. (Read Kristen's Having the Right Friends for more on that.)

So after all of this piled up in my brain, here is what I wanted to shout at the heavens: "I am not a blogger who writes. I am a WRITER WHO BLOGS!" *insert expletives that aren't appropriate for this blog*

My main goal is not to become one of the uber blogs that gets 100k hits a month. People who are doing that are BLOGGERS. That is their job. MY job is to write books that people are going to want to buy. My blog and twittering and everything else are accoutrements to that goal. If I wanted to be a blogger for a living, I would've gone and worked toward that.

So I'm begging those out there to take the pressure off of writers.

Yes, blogging and social networking are great tools for your platform. Even though, frankly, the jury is still out on whether it actually sells any significant amount of books. (Check out this post on the supposed uber blogger/writers that Anne linked to in her post.) There will always be "break out" cases and hopefully some of us become one, but the reason why people always say Seth Godin, Neil Gaiman, Konrath, etc. is because there are so few who actually reach that level with an online presence. For every one of them, there are thousands who blog and network their little hearts out and go completely unnoticed.

And yes, blogging about something other than writing will give your readers variety. But almost every "big time' author who regularly blogs, blogs about writing sometimes. Readers like to hear the behind the scenes on occasion. So you don't have to cut it out cold turkey.

And honestly, post-publication, readers go to author blogs to get to know you better. Writing is obviously part of who you are, so why not include some of that along with other things you're interested in.

Niche blogs do the best hits wise (i.e. blogs on cooking or celebrity gossip or crafts), but listen--once you are a published author, YOU are the niche. YOU. Readers aren't coming to you to learn how to scrapbook or play checkers (unless you write books about those things.) They want to know about topics related to your books and you as a person.

This idea that you're going to build some crazy big blog and people are going to flock to it for tips on playing tiddlywinks and think--ooh, look, she's a paranormal romance writer too, I'm going to go buy her book!--is unrealistic in my opinion for fiction writers (non-fic is a whole other animal). If you are not blogging about something that is related to the kinds of books you write, the two dots are not going to connect. I could build a cute puppy pics site, but it's not going to make people want to buy my erotic romance.

And even if it's related, it still may fall flat. I enjoy reading historical romances. But I do not have any particular interest in learning facts about the Victorian period. So if you make your blog about that, I'm not going to be interested. You've gone too niche-y. So try to think of things that are appealing to a broad group of readers. Meg Cabot has a great blog. It's just her using her voice to talk about whatever. And it works because she's an established author and people seek her out--then they see her blog is interesting too, so they stick around.

As for those numbers thrown out there, the only reason you'd need a blog with 100k followers pre-publication is if you want to get a book deal BASED on your blog like that Julia Child book/movie. And your chances of that happening are about the same as striking oil in your backyard. I doubt that's what most of us are going for.

In my humble opinion, here is what a writer should be focused on...

1. Write the best damn books you can (duh). Because ultimately, that's what's going to give you a lasting career and draw people to you.

2. Build an online presence that is meaningful to you and that you get excited about. 

3. Blog about what you want but try to find things that you think will appeal to your target audience. If you're passionate about whatever it is, that will come through and people will want to read it. You are introducing people to yourself and your voice first, the topic is secondary.

4. Do not obsess on the number of followers and hits. It's about building engagement with others NOT about a statistic that may or may not be meaningful. (There are even authors like Natalie Whipple who are so frustrated with that focus on numbers that they are deleting their follower gadget.)

5. Be visible to readers  -- get book bloggers to review you, do interviews, hang out in forums. Don't just stick in the little writing corner of the the world.

6. Genuinely engage with others. Be helpful, be funny, be entertaining--whatever works best for you. A thousand engaged followers is way more valuable than 10k strangers.

7. Decide if you want to be a writer who blogs or a blogger who writes. Big difference. We only have so much time and creative energy in a day, where do you want to channel the majority of yours?

Which path do you think is going to be more likely to lead you to a book deal or writing success?
Spending the majority of your work time writing and honing your craft, while doing social networking and blogging in between?
Or, spending all your time building a mega blog and hoping New York will notice you?

I'm putting my money in the first basket for 99% of cases.

So I'm here to tell you, fellow scribes, to give yourself a break. Stop stressing. My publisher didn't even ask about my blog when they gave me a book deal. As long as I have a website and they know I'm on the social networks, they're fine. They are much more concerned about me writing great books and making deadlines.

And my small potatoes writing blog has gotten me a lot of opportunities. I've been invited to speak for groups without even having a book to sell yet. I've been blessed to meet all kinds of people who are willing to promote me without me asking. I've had people recognize my name who I had no idea were even aware of me.

Will it help me sell books? *shrug* Maybe, maybe not. But I wouldn't go back and change it. The people I've met through blogging have made this more than worth the effort. Maybe I'm doing it all wrong, but it's working for me.

That's not to say that I'm not always striving to do better and that I wouldn't love to get those crazy number of blog hits at some point, but that is not what is going to keep me up at night. I've got enough sleepless nights with my characters chattering at me, thankyouverymuch.

*end rant*

So has any of the recent blogging advice gotten you all stabby? What frustrates you the most about the advice out there? What have you found most helpful? What do you want your blog to be? And do you think blogs sell books?




"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series



CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|



Building a Following: The Four Types of Bloggers


Photo by Matthew Hine (click pic for link)

Today I feel a bit like Casey Kasem--I'm blogging by request. : ) Shain Brown asked if I would mind blogging about how I found my niche as a blogger, which is a great topic idea. So Shain, (*said in my best Casey Kasem voice) here is your request and dedication...

There is a lot of information out there about building your social media presence and your author brand. You can hear from experts from every walk of life. And oftentimes, you hear conflicting points of view, which can leave you frustrated and unsure of what direction to go in.

I most often refer you guys to Kristen Lamb because I think she really focuses on what works best for writers. However, as I've noted before, I've broken many of her suggestions. My biggest one being that I created a blog for writers vs. something more broad that could attract both writers and readers.

I totally see her point about why blogging about writing exclusively kind of paints you into a corner. It's put me in the position to where I now have two blogs because I don't want to do a bait and switch with you guys and move away from the reason you signed up to follow this blog in the first place.

But here's the deal: This blog wouldn't have the following that it does if I hadn't made this a niche blog.

If you are trying to build a presence online, you are going to get a lot more traction by keeping a specific focus then you will being all over the place. People like to know what they're getting when they come to a blog. Consistency = following and Consistency + Great author voice = Magic

So hopefully you guys enjoy my voice and style and that's part of the reason you read my posts, but ultimately you probably come here to get writing and publishing info. If that weren't the case, then all of you would've hopped over to follow my author blog as well. But you haven't because you may not be interested in things like Boyfriend of the Week or Sappy Sunday. : ) And that's fine. That's one of the reasons why I didn't merge the blogs in the first place.

But before you get all freaked out if you don't have a niche or clear focus, also give some thought to what you want from your blog and what you want your blog to be.


Four Types of Bloggers


Group Hug
Community Blogger

Purpose: If you are blogging mainly to connect with other writers who are on the same journey as you so that you can all provide mutual support and cheerleading for each other, then you may be a community blogger. You are blogging as part of a specific community. You each comment on each other's blogs.

Action Plan: You don't need to have such a tight focus or niche. You're hanging out with friends and any topic is fair game.

Benefits: You can build a very loyal, very supportive group that you feel totally connected with.

Drawbacks: You may have trouble building a massive following. Posts about your word count or how far you are in your goals probably are not going to get lots of retweets or traction.



Photo by Irish Hunnyb
Information/Niche Blogger

Purpose: You are providing information or service for your reader. Maybe that's writing tips like this blog or maybe it's giving book reviews or keeping people up to date on the latest movie releases.

Action Plan: This is where a niche is helpful. What types of information, advice, or tips are you going to give? Make sure you blog in a way that gives people a takeaway when they read your post. You give them some nugget they can deposit in their mental bank after they close your post.

Benefits: If you are giving good information, you can build a significant following because people know they are going to get something worthwhile most of the time when they visit you.

Drawbacks: It can restrict you in your topics and you may only be appealing to a specific group. If you go too far afield from your main niche, you will lose follower engagement.




Photo by Andres Rodriguez

Entertainment Blogger

Purpose: Most often, this blogger's purpose is to make you laugh--that's your takeaway.


Action Plan: You can have a niche (like Chuck Wendig) or you can be more broad in your topics while keeping humor the theme (like Tawna Fenske).

Benefits: People love to laugh, so you can get a lot of followers and interest in your posts. You're not limited to a tight niche on topic because humor and your voice are the binding element.

Drawbacks: Being funny all the time can be hard. And if you don't have a natural talent for it, it can come across as forced.


floating typewriter poster
Photo by J E Theriot
Established Author Blogger

Purpose: These bloggers already have their books out there and followers typically come to them BECAUSE of their books.


Action Plan: This is when niche can go out the window. YOU are now the niche. You can write about the tomatoes in your garden and fans will be interested in seeing a peek into your life. However, the authors who stand out in this group are the ones who aren't just writing about their tomatoes. They are the ones who can attract non-fans to their sites based on their blog and THEN get them to buy their book. Think John Green, Seth Godin, etc. This last group is what we all should strive to be once we're published.

Benefit: When done right, you can engage with your current fans and make new ones who may have never thought of buying your book.

Drawback: Easy to get complacent and just phone in your blog.

So there is no wrong or right type of blog to go with. You just have to know what your goal is and what you want your followers to get from your blog. And obviously, if you do any of these types and have a boring voice or don't engage in conversation with your readers, then you won't get traction regardless. Connecting with others is the first goal no matter how you go about doing it.

I could write a ton more about this, but I'm going to stop before I ramble on too long. : )

So what type of blogger are you? Which type do you hope to be? Which kind do you prefer to read? And do you think having a niche is important?


"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series



CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|



Fill-Me-In Friday


Yay, it's Friday! And a holiday weekend, so double bonus. I have a busy weekend ahead. My parents are coming into town and we're all going to the LSU v. Oregon game in Cowboys stadium. Woo-hoo! Geaux tigers! And after the week I've had I need a weekend chock full of awesome. How has your week been? What are you doing this weekend? Let me know in the comments.
And now for the weekly round-up of my fave links of the week...
On Writing:
Is Fiction Good For You? by Keith Oatley at the Huffington Post
Amazon's New @Author Feature Launches via Nieman Journalism Lab - More proof that branding is becoming more and more about the author.
On the Author Blog:

What You May Have Missed Here:



(plus a really awful Dirty Dancing outtake included)

So what were some of your favorite links of the week? Your turn to fill me in. :) Have a great holiday weekend!



"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series


CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|



Does a Blog Make You Buy An Author's Book?


I blog. A lot. I tweet even more. I spend a lot of time pounding these keys writing things that aren't my manuscript. Why?


Well, because I enjoy it. I like connecting with other writers and readers. I learn a lot myself by researching blog posts and sharing information with you guys and of course reading your posts as well. (I even found myself attending a few things at the writer's conference that weren't relevant to me right now--like the querying workshop--because I knew a lot of you would like to know what was said. So I do it for those reasons.

However, most of the time the reason we're told to start blogs is because when the time comes. we want it to help us sell books, right? The friendships and connections are just bonuses on top of that goal. But here's my question:

Does liking a blog or blogger really translate into you buying their book?

For instance, I know that probably the vast majority of you do not read my genre. Maybe you're patently against it, maybe you just haven't tried it but are willing, or maybe the whole idea of you makes you a bit blush-y and you're unsure. I don't know. So when my book comes out, even if you've commented on every post I've ever written  (if you have, I will send you a book for free, lol), are you going to go out and buy my book based simply on the fact that you like my blog?

As a blog reader, this has worked on me. I bought Jody Hedlund's book because I like her and her blog. I don't read inspirational romance, but I bought it as a gift for a family member who does. I bought Ashley March's book and Tiffany Reisz's novella not because they were agency-mates, but because I've gotten to know them on Twitter and want to support them. So even with them not "marketing" to me, I did become a buyer. But I'm not sure if that's common or the exception.

So I'm curious to see your opinions. This survey below is completely anonymous. I want to see what you guys have to say. Regardless of the outcome, I don't plan on stopping the blog because like I said, I'm not doing this as marketing tool so much as a connecting tool. But I'm interested in knowing...

****SURVEY CLOSED**** See results HERE!

Also, feel free to leave comments below about the question in general. Do you think author blogs and internet presence sells books? Thanks ahead of time for those of you who complete the survey. I'll report results in a future post!