When I speak to authors about writing a guest post, most of them seem to truly shy away from the concept. Having worked with authors for more than 4 years as a Virtual Book Tour Coordinator, I hate to think of how many times I have been asked by an author, “What do you want for a guest post?” Even more often I am told that they just can’t seem to fit a guest post into their schedule and ask if it is something that is really necessary.
Are guest posts necessary to make a virtual book tour successful? Are they necessary to get your name out there or to help market your book? The answer to both of these questions is no. They are not something that is necessary, but that certainly does not mean that they are not beneficial on many levels.
I have worked with authors on my site, Literal Exposure, and always offer them a chance to do a guest post. Why do I do this? I would love to say that I do this because I love helping authors promote their books. I do, but I also get some wonderful posts that add a sense of style and quality to my site as well. Do I ever get guest posts that are drab and uninteresting? Unfortunately it is more common than not. But, every once in a while an author really gets it, and send something that is not only fresh and exciting, but extremely well written and really grabs your attention. These are the posts that I love receiving and also the posts that my tour hosts fight for.
What can you do to ensure that your guest post is up to par? The best piece of advice I can give is to never think of writing a guest post as a chore or a job. This will certainly be draining to the author and will show through in the writing. This is the author’s opportunity to shine and show the audience their style. Have fun and try to be original. I know that this isn’t always an easy task and do have a list of over 50 guest post topics that I send to authors that need help. Does this mean that each of the posts that are written on the same topic are dry and boring? On the contrary. Sometimes I consider asking all of my authors to answer the same question as I feel this is a good way to see how different authors handle the same topic (I have yet to do this but maybe will think of a new site to help with this concept). Being creative is the key to making the audience sit back and get to know you.
There are some guidelines that I believe help when writing a guest post. They are:
· Length of the post: I usually recommend that a post be somewhere between 250-500 words in length. If the post is kept to this length and is written well it will grasp the readers attention. I have found that people that follow book blogs/websites and author websites follow many, not just a few. They are busy and sometimes have limited time to visit the sites on their blogroll. Keeping the post short will help both of you and won’t encourage them to skip to the next post on their list.
· Links: Always, always, always plug yourself and your book. It is important to include pictures and links to any sites you want to highlight. You should certainly have a link to your website and links to purchase your books at a MINIMUM. Without these the search engines will have a hard time picking you up unless the host is willing to add these for you (some are but many are pressed for time as well).
· Key words: Not all authors are familiar with the key words they should use when writing a post. These will not necessarily be part of the post but will be provided to the host to insert with the guest post. Why are these necessary? If you use the same key words (or tag words as they are sometimes called) this will ensure that you will see your name in the search engines for these key words. Choose carefully, it will be hard to get your name to the top of the search engine if you use generic words such as fiction, paranormal, fantasy…you get the idea. This is an area where I help authors the most and sometimes we have some strange combinations, but they work!
· Title: This may be the most important feature of the guest post. Just like the cover of a book, the title is the first thing that the readers will see. Try to make it something that will catch the eye of the reader. Use whatever your strength is. Sometime the title is enough to grab the reader, or cause them to click to the next site on their list
I know that when you are writing a guest post you will probably want to talk about your book. After all, it is really no different than a parent wanting to talk about their child. But I suggest writing about something totally different. You can incorporate your book if you want, but the guest post is your chance to show a different side. Maybe you have a favorite hobby and want to talk about it. How about a bad experience that led you to be a better person? Things like this let the readers get to see a different side of you and lets you engage more with them.