Guest posts on websites help authors grow their online audience, whether they’re the guest or the host.
They expose the GUEST to the host blog’s regular audience
- They provide the HOST with a new audience from the guest’s followers
For both guest and host, setting up guest posts are time-consuming, so don’t commit to them lightly. But if you plan and promote these posts effectively, both parties will benefit enormously.
How To Make The Most of a Guest Post
Whether you are the guest or the host, make sure you wring every last drop of publicity out of the post. Here’s a checklist for both guest and host to spread the word, not only when the post goes live, but before and afterwards too:
- tweet links to the host blog
- direct people to the post via status updates on Facebook
- add a link to your email signature block
- highlight the post on your Amazon and GoodReads author pages
- create a news story about the post on your websites
- make the post as appealing as possible, with memorable headlines and attractive images
- embed links within the post that make it easy for readers to share the post and to find out more about the guest
Should the Deal be Reciprocal?
Whether you are the guest or the host, do consider a reciprocal arrangement: “You write for my blog and I’ll write for yours!” It’s not always possible , because some writers don’t have their own website (though I really think all authors should!) Such writers may still be worthwhile guests if they can add insight into a key issue or share an experience that you cannot provide yourself. And knowing they can’t return your favour may encourage them to work extra hard on their post!
Getting the Timing Right For a Guest Post
Whether you are host or author, you can timetable guest posts however you wish. If you’re the host, you call the shots! Hosting a guest post can give you a welcome rest from writing, but in your enthusiasm to take a break, be careful not to swamp your blog with guests posts. No matter how great your guests, ration their appearance to say one in every four posts, or timetable them for a particular day of the week, so as not to alienate the regular followers who come to your blog because they enjoy YOUR company and advice.
My Guest Post Strategy
So how am I using guests posts at Off The Shelf Book Promotions? Well, I’m enjoying putting in an appearance on other writers’ blogs. Here I am at Bea, an online magazine run by Keris Stainton, and I was also recently at Sally Jenkins’ blog, not once but twice – here and here. I’ve already got a few more jaunts like this in my schedule for the New Year too.
At the same time, I’m keen to engage guest posts from other writers here on my Off The Shelf site, in order to provide practical examples of good practice that my readers can adapt to promote their own books. I’m very pleased to introduce my first guest…
Lorraine Hellier, Children’s Author
Based in Lichfield, Lorraine has published four books to date via AuthorHouse and Matador, and she’s now working on the fifth one. All five comprise a fantasy series called Serendipity. She showcases them via her author website that is designed to appeal both to readers and to other writers. For young readers she’s added extra interest with downloadable colouring sheets and competitions, and for her fellow writers she’s shared advice on how she goes about writing and promoting her books. Reviews and press cuttings add credibility and authority to what she has to say.
Lorraine has also taken advantage of the Author Central facility on Amazon – here you can read her author profile, which has links to all her books.
Lorraine kindly offered to share some specific examples of her book promotion activities on the Off The Shelf blog, and I think those she’s outlined here make it clear that she’s a real opportunist. She thinks creatively to make the most of whatever openings come her way, and I hope her post will give you ideas for promoting your own books, whatever age group you’re targeting. So now, over to Lorraine to tell you more…
I received an email asking if I would be able to support the Oxfam Bookfest event. They wanted to focus on children and were preparing activities during the week. I was offered the opportunity to have a book signing event in the shop. It was a chance visit by the Lichfield Town Crier during the day which was totally unexpected. Imagine my surprise at him ringing his bell and announcing me signing my books in the shop! The photo opportunity was one not be missed.
Author Events at Local Libraries
Lichfield Library has “Author Events” as part of their programme of events which are circulated via email. They supply tea, coffee & biscuits. There are usually four authors of different genres, so all ages and interests are catered for. We were offered a table to display our books in an open area of the library. I sold quite a few books, but it is the contacts we make which make these days worth attending. It is also an opportunity for me to chat to children.
It was from one of these events that I was approached by a Deputy Head teacher about school visits. One little girl had a school project – to have her photo taken with someone of interest. I was able to email a photo to them.
Branching Out with Stalls at Local Events
Craft fairs, school fetes, village halls, and WI fairs are other avenues offering opportunities to host a stall. I had a table at some Christmas Craft Fairs, another chance to meet the public and promote books. I purchased some novelties which related to my books: rainbow crayons, pirate eye patches, secret diaries and mini Trolls. I also make bookmarks and business cards and laminate them. They are easy to hand out and are inexpensive to produce.
Thank you very much, Lorraine! And well done for having the presence of mind to seize the unexpected photo opportunity with the Town Crier, which must have served you well for publicity purposes long after the event was over. The unplanned opportunities turn out to be the best ones!
If you have an idea for a post that you’d like to share here, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
For more about promoting your books online, see my book promotion handbook, Sell Your Books!, Chapter 6 The Truth Is out There: Harnessing the Internet