I host a lot of authors on this blog, both in the interviews I conduct myself and those that go along with their virtual book tours. I like to promote other authors, but sometimes the things they do really confound me. They seem to repel the very people they are trying to reach (the readers) when they make some common mistakes, like the five I will mention this week. These are lengthy so I’ll give you one each day.
Mistake #1: Offering Too Many Canned Questions and Nothing Else
Having an author tell you they would like you to host them gives the implication that you might be able to ask a few questions yourself. But guess what? Authors quickly find out when they do a blog tour that answering questions is tedious! Yes, it is. I’ve done three or four blog tours now and I agree. But here comes the problem: Authors offer up canned questions as the solution. To the blogger this says, hey take the time to post all my info, okay?, but since I’m super busy and important I won’t answer anything I’ve answered before.
There are a couple problems with canned questions. One is that it is rude to approach someone this way. It implies that we (as bloggers) aren’t savvy enough to ask you the really deep, meaningful, meaty questions you desire. Two, it hurts with search engine traffic when you re-post the same exact info from blog to blog.
Blog Readers Need to Get to Know You, Which Means Starting From the Beginning
Let’s address this first one. I will switch between my blogger and author hat here to give you the best answer. Sometimes bloggers don’t ask meaty questions because a lot of their readers don’t know who you are. Bloggers try to ask the basics to give readers a chance to know you. Sometimes in the course of an interview, you have to ask the basic questions because while you might think the universe knows all about you and your book, they don’t. Get over yourself and answer them. Over and over and over (if necessary), no matter how tedious you think they are.
More About Search Engine Traffic
I’ve seen so many posts about SEO that I want to scream sometimes. I see “experts” advise authors to do everything from study SEO like crazy or completely ignore it. As a SEO girl myself, I see the advantage in it. I get offers for interviews constantly from big places (national talk shows and news channels) and in every instance when I’ve asked how they found me (me, a little old writer from Wisconsin) they tell me they search for X. (X is whatever they were looking for, such as dating expert, online dating consultant, professional blogger, author to comment on relationships… whatever.)
I don’t want to argue SEO with you today (or any day, because it’s a topic you either see the value in or you don’t) but I do want to tell you that if you’re an author, be aware of the fact that bloggers ARE concerned with SEO. Giving them a pile of 10 or 15 canned answers and tell them they can use it is like saying, “Here is an article I’ve let 50 other websites use. Please post it! You’re welcome.”
Reposting info is never a good idea, and it hurts SEO. That’s the point you need to understand if you’re going to approach bloggers.
A Better Solution
Look, I understand how exhausting blog tours can be, but any amount of laziness on your part can be looked at as arrogance from the blogger’s perspective. If the blogger feels you’re “too good” to answer their lousy questions, they may just fail to host you. At the very least they will opt out of the “opportunity” to host or promote you again, and since they are people who are probably fans of your writing, why do that?
Instead, offer many (at least 25) questions about your experience and background they can use so they don’t need to ask you the same old questions in the beginning. Give them some hints to the questions about yourself by offering a “fun facts” list or “what you may not know” compilation. Then, allow them to ask you their own questions (up to 5), even if they are already on your list. This gives bloggers a chance to mix and match the questions (so they don’t have to fight so hard about duplicate content with another blog), and still allows them to ask the questions that they want to ask.
Look, bloggers don’t have to host you. I’m writing this series in part because I’ve received my share of author attitude lately from people, and it comes from every genre and sales level.
Let’s end this on a positive note. I’ve interviewed quite a few really big authors when I was first starting out (and was clueless about doing interviews) who were so gracious and welcoming that I couldn’t believe they didn’t tell me to take my questions and scram. But they didn’t. Instead, they pretended my questions (which they undoubtedly answered many times before) were interesting and thought provoking. They thanked me for hosting them. They encouraged me to contact me again. As a result, I went on to yap about their wonderfulness to my fellow bloggers, and of course, I kept buying their books. Will the bloggers that host you do the same?
Tomorrow: Mistake #2