Great blogging advice (guest blog)

The wonderful DeNae Handy sent me this:

For a professional blog (which I assume is what we’re talking about) the easiest, least painful way to do it is with daily, <500 word updates on specific things. Keep in mind that professional blogs still need to sound like they’re written by people, with the expectation that they’ll be read by people. As opposed to robots and trolls.

So, here’s a mock-up of a week for your blog (which I haven’t looked at on account of my having no idea what it is or where to find it or anything useful like that).

MONDAY: Everyone’s back from the weekend, and they don’t really get into gear until about noon. But a little warm-up for the work week would go down easy for most readers. So this is the day to provide some little insight or ‘what works for me’ kind of post. The following is just over 120 words —

“A couple of Sundays ago I took my bike and rode along the (coast, trail, etc.). I noticed that with the advent of Autumn, the sunlight becomes slanted a bit, changing the way I looked at the road and throwing into much sharper relief the little hills and valleys I’ve been looking at all summer but have never seen in quite this way. The brighter illumination on one side of a slope often means deeper shadows on the other. My daily ride became a study in contrast, in seeing old things in new light. So that’s what I’m going to do this week: Look at my goals, my clients’ work, even my relationships in the tilted light of a new season.”

(If you have a picture of you and your bike with a hillside of autumn colors behind you, so much the better. There won’t be a dry eye in the office.) 

TUESDAY: All right, everyone’s busy, busy, busy, including you. This is a great time to talk about just what it is you do to earn those commissions that “certain” clients get sniffy over. The following is 145 words —

“I had a couple of great meetings yesterday with clients and one publisher whose business model looks like an excellent fit for several of my writers. The dance of personalities I’m called on to do as I move from writer to publisher to editor to filmmaker, often in just a couple of hours, certainly keeps me on my toes. My mother insisted I take ballet when I was a kid. Maybe it’s time I thanked her for that!”

Next, a second bit of professional business, which can really pay off if you play it right. Link to the website of someone in the industry who is not a competitor and talk about them. It doesn’t have to be big. Try this —

“I’ve discovered a great little bookshop in (wherever, and maybe the more obscure the better. It shows you’re ‘out there’ in the real world). They take consignment books on subjects that might not otherwise make it to the bigger booksellers’ shelves. I picked up a cookbook written in 1882 and followed the recipes for pickles and flying chutney. Heavenly! Here’s the link to their website: www etc. Happy reading!”

WEDNESDAY: People in the states insist on calling this ‘hump’ day, as though somehow we’ve forgotten its icky connotations. In the blogging world, however, Wednesday was often ‘wordless.’ This is a great day to post a photograph or other image and invite readers to add their own ‘words’ to it. They can leave comments, although most of them will just pause to look and consider, before getting back into the business of ‘hump day.’ Remember, though, this can also be a great time to post pictures of things like the German book covers you and Anne were talking about, with a link to the publisher. Or photos of some of your writers. Once you start thinking about this, you’ll have far more ideas than you’ll have Wednesdays!

THURSDAY: I don’t know how others feel about Thursday, but if I’m having a long week, Thursday is the hardest day of the lot. You’re as busy, as buried, as you’ll be on Friday, BUT IT ISN’T FRIDAY!

For readers, this is a great day for carrot-dangling. Get them thinking about the kind of weekend YOU want them to have.

“We’re just 48 hours away from the weekend. If you’re looking for some great ways to spend it, might I suggest:

  • Billy Bob Client’s book signing in Worcesterhamptonshire-on-the-Green-Upon-Avon (You Brits and your town names! This one is pronounced ‘Woogun’) from 9:00-noon. (Link, including map)
  • ‘A Book in Every Hand, A Shoe on Every Foot’ 5k run and auction at Our Lady of Acid Reflux Catholic School and Lifetime Guilt Emporium. Free registration for runners who bring gently-used books or kid-sized shoes to the race. (Link)
  • The British Necromancy Society’s lecture series features visitations from Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and whichever Bronte sister is responsible for that most diabolical of classic novels, ‘Wuthering Heights.’ Free admission to those who can prove they’ll believe anything as long as a bit of dim lighting and dry ice is included. (Link, including general incantation instructions)

FRIDAY: Friday is a great day to get someone else to do your work for you. Invite guest posts from your clients, other agents, booksellers, bloggers, publishers (they’ve got PR people whose entire job is to talk about their company. So let ’em!), friends, readers — whoever! Put out a general all-call to your business e-mail list, inviting associates to submit posts of <500 words, and you’ll let them know when their number comes up.

Et voila! A week’s worth of blog posts that all can be written and pre-scheduled on a Sunday afternoon. In the Internet world, generosity pays huge dividends, so the more you make your blog about others, the better. That’s why pictures, guest posts, and public recommendations and links make for consistently great blog content. And best of all, those ‘others’ have done most of the legwork for you. You just talk about if for a couple hundred words, and get on with your life!

The Sins of Agents

This wonderful article

made me wonder about what might be the Ten Commandments for Writers, but I could only come up with a few obvious ones (“Don’t write anything rubbish”).  However, the sins of agents are many, and here’s my stab at Twenty Commandments for Agents.  Further suggestions welcome…

1.  Thou shalt put the client’s interests first.

2.  Thou shalt give positive feedback as well as negative.

3.  Thou shalt return phone calls and answer emails.

4.  Thou shalt deal with contracts and payments promptly.

5.  Thou shalt keep thine ego in check.

6.  Thou shalt not indulge in paranoia.

7.  Thou shalt resist weird superstitions about what works in the industry.

8.  Thou shalt not indulge in strange practices to improve thy clients’ luck and frustrate thy competitors.

9.  Thou shalt not boast to a client about another client’s greater success.

10.  Thou shalt not make enemies.

11.  Thou shalt not knowingly represent anything rubbish.

12.  Thou shalt not harry publishers and producers fruitlessly.

13.  Thou shalt not blame everything on someone else.

14.  Thou shalt be honest and caring, without undue support from alcohol, drugs and egregious boasting.

15.  Thou shalt not spend more than 2 hours a day moaning about the industry to thine agent friends or thy clients.

16.  Thou shalt remember thy clients’ names and (roughly) what they wrote.

17.  Thou shalt not look covetously on another agent’s client.

18.  Thou shalt not use thy lunch as a bookmark.

19.  Thou shalt keep up with new developments.  As soon as a new right exist, writers start losing money.

20.  Thou shalt resist harking back to the golden days of 100% repeat fees, uncomplicated royalty statements, the Net Book Agreement, 15-year licences, and the ability to send an interesting work in progress to someone who had the time to read it properly and think about commissioning the writer.