Today I’m delighted to invite my publicist and assistant Donna Brown to the blog. Donna addresses a common query: “How do I write a guest post?” This is a follow on from A. Yamina Collins’ wonderful post, 3 Effective Ways To Get Bloggers To Love You And Your Book.
Writing A Guest Post: Six Simple Steps
by Donna Brown
With my review list closed, I’m still able to offer guest post slots to authors but I’m stunned at the number of times I receive an email back saying “What’s a guest post?” or “How do I write a guest post?”
My first response to the former is always a little incredulity. Why? Because despite the well oiled pitch about the book that also assured me that they’d looked around my blog and liked what they saw, this is a dead giveaway that, um, no they didn’t. Not properly. Otherwise they’d have seen the many guest posts we’ve featured on the site.
My response to the latter is usually to kindly explain what I consider a good fit for a guest post for the site and that’s what I’m sharing here, albeit in a more expanded form!
Read the blog!
So simple and so often overlooked. I once interviewed an author and one of my questions was for them to name a blog they liked to read. The answer? “I don’t read blogs.” I know an author might appear on hundreds of blogs – it’s impossible to follow them all – but follow some and certainly get a feel for the one you are pitching to, be it for a review or guest post. Read – or at the very least scan – a few guest posts from the site you’re potentially appearing on before you ask “How do I write a guest post?”
Get the guidelines
Once you’ve done that, ask the site owner if they have any particular guidelines or if there is any particular topic they would like you to write on. They may have already provided some details such as word count, what they’ll include after your post (bio, book blurb, cover image, social media links), whether or not they will accept images and so on. Stick to the guidelines.
Make sure your content fits
If the site owner doesn’t provide a topic, spend a few minutes getting a feel for their content. If the blog is mostly focused on publishing and writing, you might want to share your own experiences in these areas. If the blog seems more reader focused, perhaps consider a topic that will encourage discussion amongst readers, such as books that inspired you or your own reading habits. Remember, it doesn’t need to be all about your book. You are showcasing your writing and your ability to connect, not necessarily your book alone.
Go beyond your book
If you do choose to write about your book – for example, how you were inspired to write it or why you focused on a particular issue within the work – try to break it up a little. Talk about other things in your life that affected you and led you to do something, or talk about other works that shaped you and shaped your story. Show the reader something beyond your book. Show them your personality and your likes/dislikes.
Watch your length
If the site doesn’t have length restrictions it can be tricky to know how long or short to go. However, I’ve had guest posts submitted that were three short paragraphs. I’ve also had a post submitted where the bio of the author was longer than the post itself. Both of these told me one thing: this author cares more about people reading about them than putting together a well-constructed post. Too long and you could lose an audience half way through – they’ll never make it to the book blurb/bio at the end. So choose your length wisely.
Don’t over-promote in the post
Make your post informative and entertaining and not promotional. This is a great opportunity to sell yourself as a writer. You don’t need to throw your book title and link into every paragraph in order to do that. By all means, refer to your book if it adds background to your post but be reasonable with it.
Good: Ten years ago I decided I was going to write a novel. Now, a decade on I’m fortunate enough to have published John Doe’s Great Adventures.
Bad: Ten years ago – way before John Doe’s Great Adventures came out!! – I decided I was going to write a novel. Now, a decade on, I’m fortunate enough to have published John Doe’s Great Adventures (buy it here!!!)
The idea of a guest post can seem daunting but it really doesn’t have to be. Keep it focused on the blog visitors/readers, make it an easy and accessible read for everybody, avoid plugging your book in every sentence and follow any guidelines your host may have given you. If you do all of those things, your guest appearance will be all the better for it. If you’re still not sure, simply ask yourself: “Would I want to read this post if it came from another author?” Your answer should tell you everything you need to know about whether or not it’s ready to send.