How to Be an Awful Guest Blogger
Being a guest on someone’s blog is a great, free and (it could happen) fun way to help market your book and expand your readership. It’s not difficult to be a good guest on someone’s blog. Some of you, though, could teach a class on how to be a TERRIBLE, AWFUL, REALLY BAD blog or podcast guest.
Since I started WayneTurmel.com in 2016, I have interviewed nearly a hundred independent authors. Some have been amazing, some have been just fine, and a few could teach a course in how to be a really boring, annoying and awful guest on someone’s blog or podcast. In fact, there are a few people reading this who could probably teach a PHD level course on the subject.
Here’s what a few really exceptionally annoying people do:
• Whatever you do, don’t follow simple directions. Very few people blog professionally or full-time. They (okay, we) are pressed for time and can’t spend a lot of time on your interview or post. If someone says, “send your material to me by email” or “submit using the webform on my website,” do it. For example, I often reach out to authors on Goodreads and say, “I saw your book, I think you’d be a great interview. Send an email to…….” And then get responses by Goodreads, Facebook messenger, or carrier pigeon. Same goes for submitting content… if they ask for it in Word, don’t send a Google doc or a PDF. It makes extra work and the blogger will wonder if you are an idiot. Seriously. Ask them sometime.
• By all means, don’t read the blog or listen to the podcast before submitting. Know who you are submitting to. My blog is for historical fiction authors (and if you’re a HTR author with a historical fiction novel, drop me a line, by email). That means no memoirs, no modern romances, no 90 day weight loss plans and no werewolves (The one exception would be Robert McCammon’s “The Wolfs Hour”, where he had a werewolf fighting Nazis. It’s set in WW2, I could make room for that.) If you query and the blogger says no (usually with the explanation that it’s not right for their audience) don’t pester them. Move on. You both have better things to do with your time.
• Don’t customize your material for the blogger at all—Please use the same stuff you use everywhere else. Some blogsites are very “nichey”. Others are light and humorous. Some take themselves and the questions they ask very seriously. Authors who just use boilerplate to fill in the blanks and don’t take the time to customize their answers are just creating work for the blogger and not likely to make them a favorite.
For example, if I ask “Tell me about yourself…” (you know, first person. You’re a writer) and the response starts with “Joe Blow is an author based in…..” (third person, as you recall) it either makes you look bad or the author has to spend time editing your answer to look right on their blog. Why would you do that to a fellow writer? Also,
Be entertaining. The idea is to entice people to say, “wow, I have got to read this person’s work.” I tell my interviewees to imagine they are on their favorite talk show with one chance to capture the audience. Most play along. Some give the most simple, boring answers ever, and I wonder if they think that will grab a reader and make them pay for the book.
• Ignore deadlines. They have all day. Most bloggers and writers are working between the cracks of their lives. If they like to post Saturday morning, and ask you to get them material in a timely manner, how about you do that? Your time is not more important than theirs, and they are doing you a favor, not the other way around.
• Above all, don’t go out of your way to publicize your post or help get the word out about the other writer. Look, the main reason other writers blog, review or write about other people is to help grow their networks and expand their own readership. (I know, you’re SHOCKED, SHOCKED at their selfishness!) When I interview an author, I want to introduce my readers to them. I also want that author’s readers to find out about my books and maybe read some. When I tweet and use Facebook to promote that author’s interview, or a review of their book, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for that author to retweet, like and share the heck out of it. It’s FREE ADVERTISING FOR YOU.
There’s more… follow the author on social media, repost and like some of their other interviews and posts. Maybe offer to read and possibly review their book (although I’m not a fan of “review swaps” where people puff up each other and aren’t honest) or showcase them on your own webpage or blog. Taking advantage of the opportunity to appear on someone’s site and then not offering even token reciprocation is just plain rude. I’m pretty sure your mother raised you better than that.
So, if you are trying to get the word out about your work, and think that blogs and podcasts are a great way to do that (and they are,) be the professional writer you imagine yourself to be. You’ll develop a reputation as someone worth working with, and you may even strike up new friendships and connections that will extend beyond the week your post is showcased.
Or, you know, you could just be the worst guest blogger ever.