Self-Publishing Secrets Revealed – Facilitating A Blog Hop Event
At the beginning of December, when I should have been working on my new book, I had a brainwave. I wondered whether an event involving twelve authors over twelve days leading up to Christmas Day might attract new readers to my work. My idea was that each author would write a short article that mentioned Christmas, and we’d share the articles on our individual websites. We’d cross-promote in our favored social networks and see how far we could reach. Because I was avoiding major revisions on the follow up to Believing Again: A Tale Of Two Christmases, I decided to take the plunge and do it. So, The 12 Blogs Of Christmas was born.
The first step in being a good facilitator is to invite quality authors to participate. I wanted to work with authors who I hadn’t promoted with in the past. I’m pleased to say that of the eleven authors I invited ten were able to participate. This was quite a coup as it was the beginning of December and the time constraints of the holidays were upon us. When I received an email on an unrelated matter from another super-talented author it made sense to invite her and fortunately she was able to join us. So, we had our team. I’m lucky; I have a great many friends who are popular authors, so finding participants was easy. I picked those who I thought were running their careers in a professional manner and were great writers. After all, not only were my words going to be on their sites, I was going to host their words on my site too. And, I’m very particular about what I present to my readers.
The next step for me, after having participated in similar events was to keep the guidelines simple. I limited the amount of emails I sent to the group, and kept those emails short and to the point. Although we had to post each of the articles on a certain day we still tried to keep our responsibilities as straightforward as possible. We did not have a landing page for the event. That involves one more click for the viewer and I wanted to cut down on clicks. We linked to our work (usually through Amazon’s Author Central page), kept our bios short, and we highlighted one book that was discounted or free and showed where it was available. There’s no point in confusing our potential readers and the less clicks the better.
So, this step involved:
- Presenting the information in a creative, professional fashion.
- Providing great content.
- Sharing a little bit of what the writer is about.
- Showing how to get to the source.
This next step is very important. From a conversation with my brilliant online marketing friend Iman Biock Aghay we came up with a plan to appease Google’s bots. Google rewards sites that offer original content with high placement on their search pages (and that’s what we all want). If all twelve of the participating authors posted the exact same content on the same day with the same link back to the source Iman advised me that our ranking might be penalized. In order to appease this we only posted the first two or three paragraphs of the article (as opposed to the entire article), with a link back to the source. This method seems to have worked. The views on my site increased on the first day and then hung steady with only a couple of dips during the twelve days, and even though it was the holiday season my views never bottomed out.
Finally, we had to work as a team. One of our authors was quite ill during the promotion, another was moving house (several states away), others had unfortunate personal drama, and others found that they needed assistance with some of the technical tasks. We all helped out. We drew on each other’s skills and made it through as a team.
Our results varied. I don’t believe any of us saw a significant sales spike during the twelve days but the views on our sites went up. The total cost of this event not including the time we devoted to it was zero. And, it exposed our work to each other’s readers. They may not have taken a chance on our books this time but if they see our books again somewhere they might just click and check them out. And, it was indeed an honor to work with such great people. The camaraderie we experienced was one of the real gifts I received this Christmas. And, helping hold it all together as part of the team was tons of fun – way more fun than I thought it would be.
The 12 Blogs of Christmas began with RJ Crayton’s entry, then USA Today bestselling novelist (and screenwriter), Jamie Lee Scott, the Siren of Howe Sound, Heather Haley gave us her take on the third blog of Christmas, Jennifer Ellis came down from the ski hill and gave us the fourth entry, Helga Zeiner wrote about her mistakes on the fifth, super-editor and talented writer Laurie Boris wrote the sixth blog, we proudly hosted the author of the 1929 series of novels M.L. Gardner on the seventh blog, on the eighth Roberta Kagan told us a story, the author of one of my favorite books from last year Sarah Lane wrote the ninth blog, Dianne Greenlay, who currently has Hollywood contemplating turning her novels into movies took time to contribute the tenth blog, Wendy McClelland wrote a very emotional eleventh blog, and I told the story about the greatest self-published novel ever written that just happened to save Christmas on the twelfth blog. Check them out when you get a chance and you’ll see a diverse mix of writing from some very creative authors. And, stay tuned because we might just do it again.