Monday, March 31, 2008

Blogging with Harry--Part I

Welcome Guest Blogger Harrison McLeod from Men With Pens

More than Words – Fiction Writing Meets Technology

Part I

When my business partner James came to me with the idea of adding fiction writing to our list of topics for our business writing blog, I instantly embraced the concept. We wanted to spread the Men with Pens name in the niche.I was tired of business blogging. It was a breath of fresh air to blog on fiction writing, and I had dozens of ideas in mind.

I did some research, looking for creative and fiction writing blogs. I was sure there would be good ones on the Internet. After all, fiction writers love to write, and blogging is the best platform…

I'm sorry to say that what I did find was very disappointing. The concept I found on most creative and fiction writing blogs was fantastic – and the blogs turned me off completely.
The authors made extremely poor choices where blogging is concerned and they weren't using blogs to maximum potential. It was disheartening to see that most creative and fiction writer bloggers didn't seem to care about the image their blog conveyed or the user-friendliness of their setup.

Don’t Kid Yourself

We all write because we love to write, but when we dig down deep into our innermost desires, we're often trying to sell our novel or be published. Writers don't often admit it, but yes – most want fame and fortune. It’s okay.

Showcasing your writing abilities and talents on your blog is a fine idea. A blog is a free online publishing platform, after all. It's the perfect medium for writers.

But if your blog is visually unappealing, difficult to navigate or unprofessional in appearance, no one will take interest in your words. No one will want to stay to read your content. A poorly
presented blog damages your credibility as an author.
Who Are You Writing For?
Many blogs lack focus. They splatter out over a wide range of topics and try to grasp onto any reader at all. It's inefficient and it damages the potential of the blog. This lack of focus is a problem that sweeps through any industry, and it's not isolated to fiction or writing blogs.

Decide your target audience from the beginning. Do you want to attract established authors who already know the ropes? Are you trying to entice the beginner writer or the dabbling hobbyist? Do you want to tempt editors or publishers? Are you trying to reach mystery or fantasy/sci-fi writers?

Within any given niche, there are smaller sub-category niches. Writing covers a wide range of niche areas, so dig deeper to find out whom you're really trying to attract. You'll soon discover that you're not just looking for readers – you want a specific type of reader, a particular type of person, to visit your blog.

Be a Professional, not a Freebie Fan

Free blogsites such as Blogger, TypePad or (not to be confused with the fully customizable Wordpress you get through a hosting service) are fine for a beginner that has never blogged to learn the ropes. But free blogsites limit features of your blog and restrict your control.

Those in the know easily recognize free blogsites as cheap and low-end. This includes readers, editors, and publishers. Free blogs are frustrating and they involve many limitations that force visitors to jump through hoops just to become a commentator.

Free blogs hurt your readership and your credibility.

If you want to be taken seriously, be serious about your blog. You need a blogging platform that allows you and your readers maximum flexibility and user-friendliness with a clean, professional appearance.

Buy your own domain name. Choose a simple, clean and professional theme for your blog. Build a blog community and listen to what the readers want in functional features. Listen to what they don't like, too, and eliminate it.

The fewer clicks your reader has to make to post a comment, the more likely the reader is to comment. No one enjoys registering, creating an ID and password, squinting to read garbled captcha codes, or waiting for a confirmation email to arrive.

None of these forced actions is necessary, either. There are applications on self-hosted Wordpress blogs that eliminate all the hoops while protecting blogs from spam and content theft.

Part II tomorrow!

Harrison McLeod is the man behind the scenes at Men with Pens. He’s a forty-something freelance writer and web designer from Las Vegas, Nevada. He has a degree in illustration and over 20 years of experience in the design industry. His favorite color is red, he loves his cats, reading books, archery, and he rides a Honda VTX 1800RS.


Tina M. Russo said...

Good morning, Seekerville. And welcome Harry.

How appropriate is it that for the first time ever Blogger refused to read my html and I had to redo the post.

I usually have my mother edit my comments, Harry had his editor check his.Okay, so we are apparently playing with the big boys today.

Julie Lessman said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Harry -- it's a real pleasure to have you here!

But, uh, did you have to sling guilt so early in the morning??? I don't have a personal blog (other than being part of this amazing Seeker blog), but your wise words took deadly aim at my Web site, I'm afraid, so I am taking them to heart. Gotta get that puppy updated and cleaned up, so thanks for the nudge.


Jordan Dane said...

Good morning, Harry & Tina!! This is good information, but like a good fiction writer, you leave us wanting more.

I wasn't aware all blogs weren't free.

Thanks for the info. Can't wait to hear more.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Harry. I'm sure you didn't mean to depress me, but with my advances, free is vital. Apparently I'm not alone--I'm so used to jumping through hoops, I could be a circus dog. ;-) Still, I don't doubt that you can teach this old dog some tricks.


Tina M. Russo said...


You have a face.
By the way folks, last night was the launch party for Jordan's debut release, No One Heard Her Scream.

I walked away with a 20 dollar B&N gift card and a bit of a chocolate martini buzz.

Welcome this morning, Ms. Dane

Tina M. Russo said...

Yeah, Janet,

I am wondering myself what the real value of a paid blog is over a free one if you do an excellent job of setting up your freebie, and it looks clean and tight and you make it easy to access.

I'd like to see some examples of the paid platform blogs that fiction writers have set up.

Kim said...

Ok. Good post. But I want to know if this applies to those of us who are reviewing the work of today's authors. I've only been blogging since last Fall, and I have kept my blog focussed on the one thing I set out to I get positive feedback and my readership is growing as are my requests for reviews.

I look forward to see where this post goes!

kimfurd at hotmail dot com

Jordan Dane said...

That buzz is a self inflicted wound, T. And I was really glad you won one of those cards. Very cool.

I went out to Harry's site to see--assuming his was paid. As with most sites (website or blog), it's vital to have a consistent brand and a professional appearance out there.

I've been contemplating maintaining another blog but I have no real time to do it. I'd love to hear how RSS code works and to see if that means I can update one spot that will update others. Is that how RSS works?

Jordan Dane said...

When I was guest blogging during this past month, I noticed my sales at amazon jumped up and the hits on my site did too. I had never noticed that before but watched on days when I had traffic. I could see the traffic hit my site, going to and from amazon links. And one of my busier days, when i had 3 guest blogs going at once one morning, I had a really good day. And one site, Dear Author, was a particular hit with an international as well as a domestic audience. Very cool.

I told my inhouse online marketing manager at Avon about this and she was aware of them and wanted to do a special promo with them for my next releases.

Mary Connealy said...

So, Harry, I spent some time on Men with Pens Men With Pens

Mary Connealy said...

Well, oops, that wasn't the whole post.

Yes, you've stumbled onto someone with Jurassic Era computer skills so I'm really interested in whatever you say makes it simple.

Although note the nifty working link in the previous comment. I am so proud of that that, when I quit writing here I'm going to call my mom and tell her to check it. She will be proud of me, too.

I didn't mean to put that previous comment up yet, and doesn't that just say everything about my computer skills.

What I'd like to know is, does your Men with Pens site site make money? I know there are people supporting themselves through web sites and I don't understand exactly how.

People hire you to design their sites? Right? Is there more to it. I can't see other services for sale on your site and there don't seem to be Google AdSense ads. Do you have advertisers?

And while you're answering that, can you tell me if there's a conspiracy by html knowledgeable people to keep the rest of us too scared to do website's ourselves?

I actually took a class on web design on-line from an actual college...not a college that advertises on like...a matchbook cover, either.

I came away with exactly the right amount of knowledge to be a danger to myself and others.
And I still hire someone to do my website.

A got a B in the class however...and doesn't that just say it all about our current educational system.

Harry said...

Good morning, all, and thank you for the warm welcome.

@Tina: Isn't that always the way? Leave it to the blog to act up when company arrives. Everything looks great, though, and thank you for the opportunity to guest post.

@Julie: Sorry, about the guilt. I felt a few pangs of that myself when I realized that Seekers was hosted on Blogger. I thought, uh-oh, great way to make friends and influence people, Harry!

I'm glad you found part one useful and if you need help, drop me a line.

@Jordan: That's high praise indeed! Thank you.

Basically, blogs are free, the difference is whether you're paying for your own hosting and domain name or not. Domain names are cheap (usually under $10) and hosting packages are getting more affordable every day.

If anyone wants the name of a good hosting service, I'd be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

@Janet: Don't be depressed! I fully understand why people use free blogging platforms. It's just a shame these free platforms don't afford the blogger the freedom they need to make their readers' visits a little easier.

You're right though, if you get used to jumping through hoops, you begin to think there's nothing wrong with it. James and I started out on the free platforms too, but once we got a taste of what it was like to have our own hosted version, there was no turning back.

@Tina: You can have a clean looking free site, no argument there, but it's the things behind the scenes and the smaller details that give you the added benefits. Having a URL with your own domain name instead of a carries less weight in people's minds than That goes for websites in general. You'll rarely see a big company with a or preceding their domain name.

As I also mentioned, it's much easier for your visitors to comment on a self-hosted blog. Visitors aren't required to sign up for an account in order to drop a comment.

@Kim: Yup, this post applies to everyone :). If you've got something good, go ahead and take it to the next level and see how your readership soars!

We had a decent following before we went through our redesign. After the new look premiered, our readership doubled and has been growing ever since.

@Jordan: I'll be covering RSS tomorrow ;).

Yes, MwP is on paid hosting. We're very conscious about walking the walk and talking the talk. Everything I've written about is based on our own experiences. We'll rarely write about anything we haven't tried ourselves.

Guest posting is a great way to boost your traffic (and that of the host blogger!). Tomorrow's post will be covering that and other ways to increase traffic to your site.

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Harry! Thought-provoking post. My personal blog is hosted by TypePad, for which I pay an annual fee. There are different levels, depending on how much customization you want. I've been on TypePad for four years now, and when I first got started there, it seemed to offer features I couldn't find elsewhere.

However, lately I haven't seen a whole lot of difference between what I can do at the TypePad "Plus" level and what's available on free sites. Still, I like it enough not to hassle with changing at this point.

Tina M. Russo said...

I totally agree on the visitor posting issue. I followed Jordane Dane and Camy Tang around on their blog tours. There were several times I gave up on posting as there were so many hoops I had to go through to get it done.

Also, regarding spam. How does that work, the spam harvesting issue and spamming blogs. How does a professional paid blog prevent that so you don't have to moderate comments.

Harry said...

@Myra: TypePad likes to portray itself as a big leagues professional blogging platform. The truth is, only a small percentage of professional bloggers use it.

We recently had a client switch over from TypePad for the very same reasons you're talking about. It seems they're not offering as much as they used to, but making it sound like they are.

The thing I enjoy about Wordpress is the ability for customization is unlimited. You have as much freedom as you need without having to upgrade to any premium packages.

@Tina: a blogging platform like Wordpress has a plugin called Askimet that catches most of the spam that comes through. Every once in a while a slippery spammer might sneak by, but it's rare.

The only moderating we do on our comments is for first time commentators. Spammers are a tricky bunch and the moment one squeezes through the cracks, we track them down and alert their hosting service.

Tina M. Russo said...

By the way, a little off topic, but that's what we do best here--Harry, did you mention you were writing a romance?

Do you need 15 critiques?

Kim said...

Thanks for the answers you are providing Harry! I'm going to introduce my hubby to your site as he is interested in launching his own tech-writing service. Looks like you might be able to point him in good directions!

I'm going to "stay tuned" and see how much I can learn during your visit here! Thanks for sharing all of your pointers!


Harry said...

@Tina: Yup, James and I are co-authoring a romance novel. It didn't start out as romance, but characters often go in directions you don't plan on.

Tina M. Russo said...

Harry, you might have missed it but Mary has a ton of questions for you.

She is very eager to learn.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

With a name like Harrison McLeod, the boy should be STARRING in a romance, for heaven's sake.

If ever there was a hero's name, you've got it, sugar. Let me know how you want to be portrayed. I'll write ya' up.

Harry, you've upped the ante, literally and figuratively. We gals need to do some discussin' and chewin' about what we do and where we be goin' with our friendly, little site, and you spurred apologetic talk which is clutch to getting us to move our butts.

(And, um, gals, there's a boy here today...

Do these jeans make me look big from behind????)

Feel free to reply off-blog...

You understand.

Harry, I see that Tina brought a fresh pot of joe and beignets we had made especially for the last day of March.

Time to celebrate spring.

I'll keep the carafe fresh and hot, you bring the knowledge, Harrison, old buddy, old pal...


Harry said...

@Mary: I did miss you! How'd that happen?

Don't worry about your skills, all of this takes time to learn and lots of practice makes it easier.

Our blog isn't the single driving force behind our business, the blog is a tool to help enhance that.

People hire us to write their web content and articles. They also hire us to design (and redesign) their sites. We have a few advertisers, but advertising isn't our main push.

Many people are under the misconception that slapping up a blog will earn them money. Truth is, it won't. I wrote about it here: 13.2 Ways That Won't Make You Rich

In answer to your conspiracy question, I've often wondered that myself on days I'm elbow deep in code. There's no mystery to it, just a big learning curve involved. To do a website you have to know a little bit of everything. You have to understand the value of good content, good design and how to lay out your site in a way that easily leads the visitor through it.

Like anything else, the more you do it, the more you learn and the better you get.

And yes, that's why there's guys like me to help out those who need it :)

@Kim: We've got plenty of info for newbies on MwP! We've been where you all are right now and we want to help take out some of that mystery Mary talked about.

@Ruthy: OMG! Yeah, my parents chose well, didn't they?

I have to admit, I was ready to get blasted with "Who does he think he is? Coming in here and telling us to get off our freebie sites??" But you all are fantastic. Tina has a great community going on here and I'm enjoying it.

@To all: If I've missed your comment, don't worry, I'll get to it. They're coming in fast and furious, but they're excellent comments and everyone will get an answer :)

Kim said...

Ruthy -
You are hilarious! Pour a hot cup of Joe for this gal! I'm staying for this conversation!


Rebecca Ryan said...

It's interesting, I guess I look at blogs differently. When I visit an author blog I like to see a short blurb, nothing too complicated (I don't have a lot of time.) Something that makes me feel more connected to the author.

I agree that the hosted blogs have much easier access to backlists, author bio's, etc. I've been experimenting with google pages to accomplish this.

Most of us don't have a lot of time or money. We're doing the best with what we have! It's difficult to concentrate on builing a webpage when your 2-year-old is dumping a bag of pretzels on the carpet, as is happening to me RIGHT NOW.

Gotta go vacuum.

Tina M. Russo said...

So now that we broke you in,

give us the pitch on your romance in progress, Harry.

Come on, don't be shy.

What subgenre is it?

James Chartrand - Men with Pens said...

Hey, can I come pick on Harry? I'm usually the one guest posting all over the place... do I get to come sit and throw peanuts now and razz them?

Another question - Tina, would you be open to a third guest post? There are a a lot of good questions here that deserve more than a one-line answer. We'd like to gather them (or if you're a really nice person you'd gather them for us in a Word doc - hint hint) and we'd answer them in a post for all to read and see.

As for the novel, if we told you, we'd have to give up all our dreams of fame and fortune and women sighing over our greatest creation. So... sorry, girls.

@ Ruth - Your jeans look fine. Very flattering. I like that shirt, too. Brings out the colors in your face.

Mary Connealy said...

I'm not sure why but Ruthy, for some reason, always starts to talk like a cowboy or a Southern Belle at some point in the comments. I see she's there now. She's from West New York, so wipe the lasso and boots from your mind.

And Rebecca, don't be too quick with the vaccuum. Those crumbs make a good--easy to reach--snack later in the day.

I'm a huge Duncan MacCleod fan, if you know who at his...I mean HUGE.

I miss him to this day.

So Harrison is close enough. Welcome.

And just FYI, my html learning curve, so far, has ended in a cliff and certain death on the jagged rocks below.

Not that I'm demoralized or anything. I can make those nifty live links in the comments now.

Tina M. Russo said...

Most certainly I can gather up the questions for another post.

This week Friday is open.

Or we can discuss another date.

I'd like to also offer another challenge. Give us a few links on the good bad and the ugly of blogs--send us there and tell us what works and what doesn't. But not our personal ones unless someone wants to volunteer for this.

Jordan Dane said...

I'll volunteer my MySpace blog for a thrashing if this format is something Harry feels like chatting about.

For years I worked in sales and was a much rejected fiction writer--I've got thick skin.

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks, Jordan!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jordan, darling, we'll let those rejectors rue the day they let you slip through their fingers. I'm hoping my local B&N has your book tonight.

I'll let you know.

And James????

May I call you James? (I just hate getting too familiar with gentlemen such as yourself.)

Or would you prefer Jimbo?

Why, dahlin', thank you ever so kindly for noticin' the fit, I do think the Wal-Mart has the best fittin' clothes around, don't you? I just love that Jaclyn Smith. So very... Nineties.

And it's nevah exaggerated to look good from all angles, don't ya know, and for us gals (and Miss Mary, you go on and ask all them smart, old technical questions while the boys and I discuss other... um... things...

But in case y'all are wonderin', I've got the boots and I'm willing to buy a lasso, if necessary)Anyway, we gals, we need that itsy, bitsy, little, tiny extra thread of constant reassurance to feel good about ourselves, and make sure you bad old boys put that in your book.

Tina, dearest, you know the rules:

They COULD tell us about the book, but then they'd have to kill us...

Need to know basis and all that.

Although a smidge wouldn't hurt, boys. We're readers and writers, and we have awesome influential power within the realms of a tightly knit, well-organized industry that hordes information like Knox holds gold.

Okay, we really don't, but it sure sounded good!

Mary, I brought some of that girly coffee with the International creamer thingies....

And I see that Janet's got croissants and fresh bagels from that to-die-for Jewish bakery on Ninth Street, right next to the Italian deli. Now THERE'S a marriage made in heaven.



Jordan Dane said...

What is really sweet, Ruthy--is that RT named NO ONE LEFT TO TELL (book#2) as a TOP PICK. That was my GH entry and had been requested in full by quite a few houses, but it has also seen its rejections too. This is particularly gratifying to see readers embrace this book. It just goes to show that you need the right set of eyeballs on your work so keep sending things out.

Harry said...

@Ruthy: Darlin' I'm a transplanted NY'er mahself. Been livin' here in Vegas for the past 7 years or so and you and yer boots would fit right in.

James isn't a "Jimbo" kind of guy, he's a little too smooth, lol, but you go right on an' call me Harry. I'm more at home in my own boots and leather on the bike than I am in a suit in the boardroom.

PS: I cook up a mean barbecue too! Y'all come on down to Vegas sometime and I'll throw a pig on the spit. Just be sure to bring me some of those *real* bagels from back east, they don't know how to make'em properly out here at all.

Pam Hillman said...

Great to have you in Seekerville, Harry! Aren't the azalea's around the square pretty this year?

Okay, even though I've got a page or two that isn't loading properly, I'm SO tickled that Camy showed me how to make a blog sorta look like a website. AND it pulls up under my own domain name, not blogger, etc.

Got a few bugs to work out, and I need to pull out my extensive instructions and refresh my memory on how I did what I did, but it's user friendly.

One way to learn is to create a blog and just go to town with it, tweaking and creating, and basically creating "Mary-type havoc!"

Harry, I imagine you cringe at that suggestion! lol

Harry said...

@Pam: Not at all! I encourage people to set up a blog just to play and learn how they work. Good on you for being bold and experimenting.

I have a test blog that I've set up too for trying out new things. Just remember, you can never "break" your blog. If all else fails, delete and reinstall - just make backup files first!

Pam Hillman said...

Interesting topic!

Seekerville is our way of getting our feet wet and since we all met through the contest circuit, that's what we decided to focus on, so our target market is other authors, specifically authors entering contests.

However, as a promotional tool, authors' primary goal for their blog should be to reach readers. I wonder if readers in huge numbers have a lot of time to surf the web? Do they know or care that a blog is a paid service or that the domain name doesn't have blogger after it? Just wondering...

Tina M. Russo said...

From what Harry said I am realizing that it is a matter of
business etiquette and I never thought of it very much until he mentioned it.

If we were looking for a job and Company X was hiring we might question the professionalism of the company if they used yahoo or aol or gmail for their email.

So I think maybe Harry is suggesting we look at our fiction writing 'business' in the same way.

For --did he say 5 bucks a month?
we can have a professional platform with features that encourage visitors and I am guessing other handy dandy tricks.

What might those handy dandy tricks be besides spaminator?

Pam Hillman said...

James said: Hey, can I come pick on Harry? I'm usually the one guest posting all over the place...

Ah ha! So you use Mary's tried and true method of posting under 15 different identities too, huh?

How do you know WE aren't all one and the same? That's a scary thought! 15 Sybles....Ewww!

Mary Connealy said...

Mary-type havoc!"
Excuse me???
There's now a NAME for my uncertain computer skills

Harry said...

@Pam: Having your own domain name lends something very important to your blog: Credibility. Tina nailed it perfectly with her example of emails.

On the surface it might not seem like a big deal to have your own domain name, but on a deeper, subconscious level if you will, visitors see that and are reassured that you're a professional.

@Tina: Besides a spaminator, you have more control over the types of themes you can use (and the ability to customize them to your exact specs).

You're also never going to be charged for upgrades. You can have the latest and the greatest version the moment it comes off the presses.

Other modifications include plugins, like subscribe to comments, comment luv (which automatically links to the commentator's latest post), and a whole bunch of other goodies to increase the functionality of your blog.

@Mary: Mary-havoc rules!You go right ahead and create some chaos, that's how we learn. Sometimes knowing what *doesn't* work is as good as knowing what does. And more importantly, you need to know what works for you.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jordan, I saw that nice quote while I was skulking on a blog last week, and you toot that horn, girlfriend. Seriously. For any publisher to hold the books until they could be released in quick succession, well, kid, that just says the quality is there for an affixed readership that they don't want to get away. Great compliment.

And thanks for getting Tina tipsy last night, btw...

It took three of us to get her into the house.

Oy vay.

Anyway, Harry, old buddy, old pal, I kinda figured James for a "James" kind of guy, you know, that fancy French name and all, that hint of modenne Euro, so I'll toe the line with him and keep it prim and proper.

Now you, however, have openly and flagrantly invited me to Vegas, boots and all.

Harry, Harry, Harry, how the girls will talk!

On a somewhat normal, not nearly as much fun, and more serious note, I love that you guys are not only straightforward and factual, that you're actually making a living doing something you like to do.

Slight tinge of envy here, but I'll suppress it and maintain a fun and positive attitude.

And I'm delighted that James hooked you guys up for a third day in Seekerville. Pam pointed out the flowers, and they ARE stunning in April, but just so you know, we're one of those fun communities that has our share of interesting people.

You know what I mean.

The kind Southerners put on their porch for the world to see.

Now we Northern types, we hide our crazies. That's what the homes are for, right????

But here in Seekerville we've got enough random influence that we allow the zanies free reign, so have some fun, grab a sweet tea from the pitcher Tina's toting to the table and try one of those old-fashioned deli-subs on that toasted bagel.

Oh my gosh, that's a taste you'll never forget, especially if the cappicola is well-spiced.


Harry said...

@Ruthy: Ahhh....cappicola, prosciutto, maybe some of that pastrami from Carnagie's? Even a good ol' Greek diner at 3 AM would do me just fine. You have no idea how much I miss all of that sometimes. Vegas is culturally challenged in some respects.

Although I'd have to say nothing beats a dish full of poutine from Quebec *grins at James*. Talk about cheesy/salty/greasy goodness with gravy!

Thanks for the compliments, it's been a long, hard road to get to this point, but it's been worth it. The envy is mutual though, especially since so many of you have published novels already.

The community here isn't much different than the one we have on MwP - and all of you are more than welcome to come on over! You'd fit right in.

Melanie Dickerson said...

ARRRGH! I can't believe this. Blogger just ate my comment--that's the first time ever! And I come here a LOT.

Oh, well. It wasn't that profound anyway.

What I basically said was, I love Seekerville just the way it is! How ironic is that, when Blogger eats my comment?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Melanie, hello!

Blogger's got it in for us today, Sweet-cheeks, and I think our friend Harry might have twiddled some techno thing at first light so that the Blog-monster inside our little square boxes is feeling a bit cantankerous, chawin' things up and spittin' 'em back out.

In and of itself, tweaking our Blogger not to work in its normal pristine fashion on today of all days is a STROKE of GENIUS!!!

Good job, Harry.

And hey, James, WNY ain't all that far from Quebec, you know.

Although we do kind of make fun of you guys up North because we really don't understand the delicate intricacies of French-Canadian/American relations, but I love French pastries so there's hope for good diplomatic relations yet.

Hey, you lurkers (and I know you're there, I can count, for heaven's sake) hop on and say something to us so that Harry thinks we're functionally literate in some respects.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Thanks for visiting Seekerville Harry.

You've given us lots os things to think about.

Thanks so much for your insight, and for gracing us with your presence.

Cheryl Wyatt-who is embarrassed to admit she uses a free blog. LOL!

PS: I wonder if there are any blog sites that will let you transfer all content from one (free) blog to another by a different host? LOL!

Harry said...

@Cheryl: Yes, we just did that for one of our clients (TypePad to Wordpress). It's very easy, all you have to do is export your content and import it to the new blog.

WP allows you to import from all of the major blogging platforms.

Katherine Harms said...

For the moment, my budget says,"Free is good." That limits my options, but everything you said about content and direction makes perfect sense. Thank you for a post which exemplifies everything you emphasized.

Tina M. Russo said...


You gotta see Harry's post over at Men With Pens.

Um, I don't KNOW how to link in the comments.

Myra Johnson said...

Mary will gladly give you a lesson. She is an expert, you know.

Camy Tang said...

Hi Harry! Thanks for joining us and blogging about blogging!

James Chartrand - Men with Pens said...

Holy cripes. Talk about blogger community - you guys would have it MADE if you treated this less like a hobby and more like a business. A community like this is every problogger's dream (and thankfully, we have one that's just as good, though not quite as prolific with verbiage.)

The conversation intrigues me, too. You guys are bringing up a lot of concerns, worries and fears (yes, fears) that are pretty normal and are easily eased.

I'm not sure why great writers hide and don't flaunt their stuff ('cept for Ruth, eh?), and I think you all should develop the areas of your lives that you believe in but were just dabbling in up until now.

And now that we've come along, we can help make it happen. (Shamless promotion.) Or rather, Harry'll make it happen. I'm stuck writing an accounting ebook today and manning the fort over at MwP.

Feel free to come and browse the archives at MwP, too. There are tons of articles there that address many of your concerns and answer your questions.

And it's James, not Jim, I'm French, oui, and I have yet to understand *any* of the intricacies of French-Canadian/U.S. communication. All I know is that I can't curse and that my version of diplomatic comes off as, "Jeez, what'd he eat for breakfast," even though up here, it's considered mild and perfectly friendly.

Leave Harry in one piece for me? I need him whole.

Tina M. Russo said...

Well James, we like to think of this as a balance of fun AND work.
It is a part of PR for us. Writing the next best darn book we can is actually the biggest part of PR if I may speak for the group. (<--ha ha have mouth will travel)

Blogging is actually your job. And you do it very well.

I think most of us are just starting to wrap our heads around the idea of professional bloggers.

The fact of the matter is 80 percent of the Seekers work full time outside of the internet and their home and we all try to make a stop in Seekerville part of our day. When we bring in a guest that hostess plans to hang more than usual.

We are learning a lot from you guys and we really appreciate this look into pro blogging.

Frankly I am REALLY excited to learn more about RSS tomorrow.
I have joined Digg, Reddit and Stumble and the only one I have really figured out is Digg

Camy Tang said...

Hi Harry (and James),
Tina mentioned you wouldn't mind a little controversy, so I decided to jump in again.

I agree that the Blogger/(free) Wordpress templates can make a blog look unprofessional, but really, it's an easy fix. You can hire a web designer to pimp your blog to make it look great. Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner has hired several designers and updates her blog design every few years, but she's still on Blogger. I have a professional designer doing my website and blog design right now, and it'll hopefully go live in another month.

Also, I've used TypePad and Wordpress (the not free one) and hate it. When I decided to stick with Blogger, I did a lot of research and made a conscious decision. It's easy for people to land on a Blogger blog (some other blogs have too much delay), and the user interface is easier. I've been a columnist on two TypePad blogs and a Wordpress blog and they're a bit harder to use, even after a couple years of doing my column. And you have to remember, most fiction writers are not html savvy and even the drag and drop can be weird for them.

I have not found commenting on Blogger to be a problem. Most of my commentors use the Name/URL option or Anonymous, which is fine with me. While Wordpress has that nice antispam program so you don't have to type in a word verification field, I've sometimes had problems commenting on Wordpress blogs that require me to log in, not allowing me to comment anonymously.


Tina M. Russo said...

Knowing how to do hot links in comments would come in handy about now.

he he he

Harry said...

@Camy: Excellent comment, and I'll answer in depth a little later on - after I've wrestled this web page into submission that I've been working on.

@all: I'll email the hyperlink code to Tina and she'll pass it on to you all. If I put it in here it wouldn't show up.

Julie A Carda said...

Welcome Harry.
Interesting and different approach to blogging. Early on, all the rage was to blog about anything and everything so that your name would go up in the google search catagory--from what you've said so far this has changed. Furthermore, your concept also matches that old "branding" notion going around. That is, find one thing that describes you and use it. Thanks for the tidbits so far.

Julie A. Carda,
Author of Portal to Love and Portal to Peace (Free Book download)

Sherri said...

I have to agree with Camy on some of this - wordpress is awful. I'm a little confused with some of the information. You have told us that:

A. Blogs won't make money but
B. We should put money into blogs.

My question is: Who are we trying to impress? The average reader (and I am one) isn't going to be impressed by your blog domain. The average editor isn't going to read your blog anyway.

Jennifer Cruise has a fabulous blog/website with great articles - but I don't buy her books. Victoria Alexander has a less, umm, impressive internet presence and she's a #1 bestseller.

Blogs allow readers to connect with authors. I wouldn't stop reading books by my favorite author (Cheryl St. John - who also has a wonderful blog.) because her blog didn't have fancy links.

The most important blog factor for me? Changing content. If I visit 6-7 days in a row and nothing changes, I don't check anymore.

You can have the fanciest dealership on the block but if your cars are lemons, no one is coming back anyway :)

Tina M. Russo said...

Sherry, good point.

For myself personally I won't return to a fiction or non fiction blog for three reasons.

1. Bad layout. Print too small and clutter, including adverisements.

2. No change in content

3. I can't figure out how to post

James Chartrand - Men with Pens said...

@ Cami – I'll answer this one for you. And controversy is welcome. My disclaimer: I speak directly, but I mean no offense. It's quite common to be direct in Quebec and I find that it sometimes ruffles feathers, so know that isn't my intention.

Yes, customizing Blogger is possible. It does require the investment of either time to change the code yourself (and by your admittance, many people are not code-savy) and may also include professional design services (that costs money, as you know). Wordpress offers thousands upon thousands of free themes and templates that require little to no customization and very little coding knowledge.

Wordpress offers a wealth of free plugins that take minutes to install. Again, little knowledge required. Ellen Wilson, a veritable newbie, picked up Google, her determination, and set herself up.

What you don't know can easily be learned. There are free ebooks all over about Wordpress. Caroline Middlebrook offers one to get someone set up start to finish.

Less than 8% of bloggers use Typepad. There's a reason for that. It's bulky, it's inefficient, it's a struggle to customize. Blogger is consistently frowned upon and there are just better alternatives, period.

Free is good. Losing customers, credibility or readers is not.

Commenting on Blogger is a serious problem. As an example, I've had to deliberately mark a note for the URL to this site and make a point of dropping my work to come and check if anyone had replied to my comments – with no guarantee they had. Both times, I had to input my name and URL manually and figure out the captcha. It's frustrating, it's a pain, it's extra wasted time and it's annoying.

Ask yourself: Do you WANT readers to come and comment? Or do you want to say, "I like this. Too bad. Do it my way or get lost."

When you blog, you either do it 100% for yourself or 100% for your readers (with shades of grey in between.) You have to decide what your goal is. More readers? Take down the barriers and get rid of the irritants. Clients? Look credible and reputable, not free and cheap. Noteriety? Look professional. Yourself? Hey, do what you want. Who cares if anyone reads?

I'm not trying to be harsh but get my message across in the best way possible: blogging is a two-way interactive street, not a one-way farmer's side road full of potholes and washboard.

Had Tina had a "Subscribe to Comments" feature, she would have higher traffic, more interaction, a more loyal readership and a larger subscriber base. She also would have gained me as a commentator and reader for a good long while, because she would have made it easy for me to like being here. I would have gotten emails every time someone commented, could have read the comments and could have one easy link to click on to bring me to comment.

(Can you tell I love that feature?)

I also have to go through a bunch of clicks and hoops to comment - and yet I've been here three times today. Why does Blogger not recognize me as "safe"? WordPress does...

As is, I can't afford the "must put work down and check blog now". I'm just too busy and feel that if a blog doesn't care about me, then I don't care about it.

Harsh again? Perhaps – but I am not the only one who thinks that way. Editors, agents, publishing houses, scouts… These people are extremely busy. Make it easy for them to get in touch with you.

It's said that every click a person must make costs a website/blog 7% of sales/readers/achievements. At 10 clicks to reach an action… 70% of people will not buy, will not read, will not do what YOU want them to do.

Because make no mistake – you WANT them to do something. If you didn't, you wouldn't have a blog.

As for any blog who puts in a login/register feature? They definitely NEVER get my business or attention. I'm with you on that one.

Tina M. Russo said...

Oh I better clarify before they run me out of town, James.

This is not my blog. It belongs to 15 of us.

I am just today's hostess.

Janet Dean said...

I'm back and want to say hello to James. I love Quebec. Lower and Upper. Do you have an accent? If you do, I'll melt. Robert Conrad was such a hunk as the French trapper in Centennial. Couldn't work up the same enthusiasm for him with that battery on his shoulder. I digress.

Thanks for stopping in, James. accent or no, we're glad to have two guys in Seekerville. You're not the first, but by far the most interesting.


James Chartrand - Men with Pens said...

@ Sherri -

You wrote:

A. Blogs won't make money but
B. We should put money into blogs.

That is correct.

Blogging ITSELF will not earn you a dime. It is a publishing platform, nothing more. But your blog can be a portfolio, a website for a business, convey your services, earn you additional revenue from advertising, portray you as a pen for hire, attract readers who buy ebooks, etc etc.

What you do BEYOND your blog BECAUSE of your blog earns you money.

We also never said to pour money into your blog. We said to get hosting and a domain name. Both are required to run a self-hosted blog, and both are negligible costs ringing in at less than $100 per year.

Have you spent $100 a year in books to read for pleasure this year? But you find hosting a blog to earn money to buy more books silly?

Harry and I earn over $150,000 per year through our blog - not FROM our blog but BECAUSE we blog.

You wrote: My question is: Who are we trying to impress?

That depends. A client? An editor? What makes you think one won't pass by? Many do every day on our blog. And if those clients and editors see a low-rate substandard silly looking cheap blog...

Well, what will they think of our services?

So do ask yourself who you're trying to impress - and then MARKET yourself to attract that person.

Make sense?

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Okay...leave the shiny bike...and we'll leave him in one piece. Deal?

Thanx for the info on transferring blogs.

Next question..what do you think of Blogburst?

Do you know of any other valuable avenues similar to blogburst?

I wonder if I incorporated more book reviews....would that increase my chances of getting picked up on a blogburst feed?

Cheryl--laughing at all these posts. GREAT CONTENT!

Hope any lurkers will delurk and join the fun!


Tina M. Russo said...

James, gotta clarify again.

We are a different sort of animal here. We get readers and writers and reviewers.

So basically what you said is totally spot on for a WRITER and a REVIEWER who has a blog.

But readers, generally they come in two sizes. Readers who want to be writers or purists.

Sherri is giving you the reader perspective or the Sherri reader perspective.

She'll read her favorite authors books even if their blog sucks.

I guess I need to find out what this girl reads so I can sell a book she want to read.

Sherri said...

James and Harry:

Are you financially invested in any pay-for-hosting sites? I'm curious.

Also, I've never had a problem commenting on blogger or receiving follow up comments or removing barriers from my own blog. And lord knows if my mother can figure out how to comment on my blog - anybody can.

The other factors that Tina brought up - bad layout and bad content - no amount of hosting is going to fix!

Tina M. Russo said...

Hey, James. I was thinking that you are right about subscribing to comments. But Blogger lets you do that..see that choose an identity down there? But I do admit not hardly as easy as on your site.

I clicked the box on the comment box on the conversation you all had about one of you guys going over to the dark side and joining
Twitter. I got mail from that for days, lol.

Todd said...

You do realize this article was posted on a free Blogging site. Judging by the amount of comments, it's easy to do.

I could be wrong, but it just might be that people enjoy reading Blogs because of the content not because of the clever marketing of the site or the commercial within, but rather the chance to get to know the blogger and their opion on who knows what.

Check your facts, I think you will find that the vast most Blogs are free, and doing quite fine. You may notice the difference, but the majority of Blog readers neither notice or care if the Blog is free or not.

I think you have really hit a nerve. Good luck in your next post.

Mary Connealy said...

Usually, for me, if I want to leave an impression on someone...I use a hammer

Tina M. Russo said...

LOL, no Sherri they aren't invested except that this is what they do for a living. They are professional bloggers. Which is why I invited them. They are the most user friendly of most of the pro bloggers out there.

In every field there are the zen guru's. You go to the dentist and he is appalled you do not floss every two hours as he and his entire staff do.

Same with any line of work.

We in Seekerville tend to be a little more relaxed, but we want to have a professional come in and give us a FREE I might add consult and let us have more knowledge as we explore our options.

Here are some of the other pro blogging sites I personally hit regularly. Though MwP is the only one I subscribe to.

Tina M. Russo said...

Yeah, but Todd, hitting a nerve is good for business. Love the outfit btw.

Harry said...

@Sherri: We've had paid hosting now for nearly 10 years. Back in the day, I started out with free hosting and found it as limiting and frustrating for websites as I did more recently for blogs. Overall, our hosting package comes out to under $250 for a year, and that includes 200 databases for adding blogs and message boards, plenty of storage and bandwidth, and the ability to add on up to 15 extra domain names as separate sites.

In addition, our host has excellent customer service 24/7, so to us, it's definitely worth the expense.

Hmm...I'm wondering if I may have read your question wrong. If you're asking whether we get paid by Word Press to promote them, then no, we're not financially invested with them. We firmly believe in the product and support it. If it didn't work for us, we wouldn't be using it.

Since our hosting service itself is fantastic and we do refer them to many of our clients looking for a host, we are a part of our host's affiliate program - which we've only joined recently. What we get from that might be enough to buy a new book and a coffee every once in a while. In short, we don't rely on affiliate programs to bring in the cash and pay the bills, nor do we back anything we haven't tested for ourselves.

@Tina: Yes, our community is rather vocal, lol. Welcome to our world. :)

@Todd: It's okay, I realized that and commented on it earlier on. We know there are a lot of blogs hosted on free sites, we're not saying there's anything wrong with it. The fact is, there's a lot of crap out there. The good blogs are hard to find.

Besides, setting blogs on fire is what we seem to do best. *grabs the lighter away from James*

@Tina (again lol): That's an impressive list of pro blogs! I think you're going to earn a friend for life once James sees that out of all of those, ours is the only one you subscribe to!

Todd said...

I'm sorry Tina - I didn't realize this was a sales pitch. That does clear things up. A disclaimer might be helpful...

Tina M. Russo said...

LOL, Todd, I was drinking alert would have been nice. This isn't a sales pitch.

Hey I went to your blog and wow I have no clue what you do for a living. What is a CAD?

James Chartrand - Men with Pens said...

It's important for everyone to realize that we're probloggers and this is our business - our perspective of what you should do with a blog is based on our experience as web designers, probloggers, content experts and online marketers.

In short, if you're writing for fun and prefer to be out with your kids in the sun, you're probably going to think we're full of crap.

If, deep down, you feel that you might want to write for a living, earn a few extra dollars, catch the attention of someone important or self-publish a book and sell it, then we're offering free knowledge and personal one-on-one advice offers to help.

We're not here to bash Blogger. We don't like it, clearly, and for good reason. We're here to discuss the blogging challenges and I'm afraid that even 500 of you won't sway our opinion, because we know that there's better.

@ Tina - My apologies on believing it was only your blog. You play hostess very well. And if there are 15 of you, then there's no financial obstacles to kicking your site up to the next level, right? ;)

@ Todd - I am not known for being the guy who stays quiet, complacent and nods. I have a blogosphere reputation for being the guy who shakes things up and gets people to think. I prefer that and I'm comfortable with it. I'm sorry if you're not.

Keep in mind that humans generally don't like change. They like to be comfortable. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, right? So they try one thing, become familiar, and never shoot for better.

Why? That makes no sense to me. I try everything, decide on what fits me best, and run with it. I have a natural tendency to tell people to explore, learn, ask questions and change what isn't working.

And I do know what doesn't work. *shrugs*

As for checking my facts, please understand that facts and stats on blogging are my JOB. I am not talking through my hat.

More on why a blog needs to look good: People like to read blogs for the content or to learn. And when a reader lands on a blog, a decision to stay or leave is made in a split second on a first impression.

Can you judge great content at a glance with all the other elements of a blogsite going on? Most people can't.

So if you want readers, you make your blog look good, you make your blog user friendly and you put your best foot forward.

Good content without the bling will get read, but by far fewer people than it's potential.

@ Sherri - If someone had a minor irritation with your blog, do you honestly think they'd come tell you? People don't like to hurt feelings. It's normal.

Maybe everyone loves your blog. I don't know it or your community. I do know that in general, people don't like captchas, registrations, logins or difficulties commenting.

@ Cheryl - I'll leave the bike. And I'll leave Harry but only if I have to throw him to the masses to save my own skin while I run like hell ;)

@ All - While this has turned into a bit of "bash Blogger", please note that it wasn't meant to be and that Harry has given some good, solid information (with more to come) about how to have an effective blog.

Tina was very nice to ask him to come, and she was also nice enough to allow me to provoke hell with my direct speech. So, thank you for putting up with me, girl ;)

Like we said - every blog has a goal. Decide what yours is, and move towards achieving it.

Which makes me wonder... Why the heck DO you people blog? All I seem to be hearing so far is that no one seems to have a purpose, and that can't be so. You must be here for a reason or blogging for a reason... so what is it?

*searches for a comment subscription option...*

Tina - The email follow-up comments only works if someone has a Blogger profile. Anyone else is SOL, I'm afraid.

James Chartrand - Men with Pens said...

@ Todd - This is not a sales pitch, and that's kind of insulting, to be truthful.

We were asked here as guests to post and participate in the discussion. There is no need for a disclaimer or clarification - but I'll provide one:

We are not here to garner interest in our services. We have plenty of work, aren't looking for work and don't need to scope for work. We came because we were asked - because we're nice guys like that.

Hey. There are still good people in the world who aren't out for your money, believe it or not.


Tina M. Russo said...

Well James now that we know you guys play bad cop and good cop we are ready for tomorrow's lesson.

Why do we blog? I am laughing here as we are so laid back I think you might need to sit down.

We began as 15 unpublished authors all with a common goal, publication. And to tell you the truth SINCE YOU ASKED. We also have a faith/spiritual element in common. So we are in synch with each other. The good the bad and the PMS.

Now more than half of us have sold to major print publishers.

And we decided that we wanted to share what we have learned on the road to publication, what we are learning on the road to publication. CHECK OUT MASTHEAD.

The commonality we have is we all are contest divas. Do you guys know that term? The lovely thing about romance writers is that they are unlike most genres. We spend a lot of time training our replacements. There is a huge contest circuit within RWA (Romance Writers of and ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers--

So that is us. You guys have kindly come in as unpaid unconsultants to share your knowledge.

Today and tomorrow are not about Blogger vs. Wordpress. Who would have thunk? It is about expanding our knowledge base.

Looking forward to tomorrow!!!!

Tina M. Russo said...

ha ha consultants not unconsultants

Ausjenny said...

Im not a writer and just blogging for other readers. I do have a domain i inheritted so as to not let it get into the hands of the wrong people. ( it was a group was involved in but then folded. So I have the domain.
I have noticed Domains and Webhost dont have to be expensive.
But i dont know how to set up a blog at the domain. (Im hoping we get info on that tomorrow.

Jordan I still dont know how rss code works

Mary your html coding sound like it went the same way clint did in the opening chapter of Petticoat Ranch

Ok tomorrow i hope the post goes up earlier! like i was in bed then had to work now everyone else is in bed and this aussie is up.

But I would love to know more.
Like how do you have a blog on your own domain. Do you need something to set it up?
I can do coding (to a degree) I can make graphics and love doing that. and i have to admit i would love to work out how to do my own graphics on blogger. but having my own webpage i could go there too.
Oh blogger does get annoying signing in all the time cos my computer likes to eat cookies.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Sherri, you brought up el pointo magnifico...

My favorite part of a blog (and I visit few with my work and writing schedule) is that it darned well better be different on a regular basis.

I'm not all that interested in one person's opinion day in and day out, and I think Seekerville hits the nail on the head with so many regular visitors because on any given day you can get super duper awesome guests like Harry and James (a formal nod in the direction of my new French best friend. Okay, my ONLY French friend), bestselling author Karen White (April 15, mark you calendars) Jordan Dane, Chip MacGregor, etc. and the likes of fifteen contest divas who work their patooties off to make the grade, get published, stay published and Love, Love, Love to help others.


That would be us!

And obviously my two new men friends have struck a nerve with a kick of wasabi, so (since I was working last night and fell behind) I must cruise these posts and see if Camy kicked some serious butt.

She's a fiery little thing. Cute, too.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Janet, I'm cc-ing this to Chip MacGregor, just so he knows that:

1. French accents make you melt

2. He was not nearly as interesting as Harry and James

3. That you're never, ever, ever intending to ask him to represent you as a result of this.



Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, James, you got us on that one, the whole if we pool our funds we can up things a notch or seven.

Something for us to chat about. You understand. We're women. We talk things to death and then do what we darn well please.

And I love that you guys aren't afraid to defend your strengths and what you do. Success breeds success and that's a huge part of getting ahead in any business.

Must go read more.


What'd they do to you, Harry? Have they...


Frightened you away?

Oh, wait, it's the good cop/bad cop routine I saw on Law and Order.


You guys do it well!

But we'd much rather have you be up front and honest because we're here to learn and (speaking for Seekerville at large) we've got our handy dandy notebooks and our thinking chairs ready...

Oh, wait.

That's Blues Clues.

I'm mixing metaphors here.

Someone stop me.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

James, dahling, let me pour you a glass of NY wine, made from grapes grown right here in the lovely Finger Lakes valley region of Western New York, and we'll soothe your ruffled feathers.

And don't curl your lip like that. I'm sure NY makes really great wine....


Except that your excited French accent is melting Janet by the minute, so maybe we'll leave you riled up. Way fun.

I didn't see Tina's good cop/bad cop analogy until after I wrote the same thing, but we might be twins separated at birth (Tina and I, not you and I because if I were your twin I'd be French and not Irish, and how would that work???? Strange, no doubt. With Tina being Italian, it works fine because all Italians WISH they were Irish, but that's a comment for another blog, another time....)

Anyway, when you let Harry out of the cage, (unless he's still with Cheryl... UMMMM.....CHERYL.........
Bring Harry back, right this minute) I'm anxious to see what else he/you has/have to say.

And a little online roasting is good for the humility quotient of the superego. Really. I read that somewhere and I'm sure it's true.

But, hey, you guys, your blog is a-freakin'-mazing, and I'm saying that with no hidden meaning or wanting to butter you up. I don't have to, 'cause you're already here, you're not charging us, and you carry a wealth of information in those pens.


Looking forward to tomorrow which is really today.


Anonymous said...

There are two kinds of cads -- computer-aided design, and t'other kind. ;-)

I started to blog about our trip to Europe last year, mostly for myself and family who couldn't go with us. But now that the trip is over, and I've ... um ... lost interest in it. But I do have my impressions set down in detail and for that I'm thankful.

I really enjoy other peoples' blogs but can't generate any enthusiasm for working on one, myself.

Does it become a chore for some people? Is it worth it then?

BTW, I brought Amish soft pretzels -- made with a yeast dough with a hint of butter and lots of sea salt. Get 'em while they're hot!


Susan Sleeman said...

Hi Harry,
Great advice and very succinctly written. I have worked hard, not on a blog but website and am considering adding a blog, yet I had not really decided why I wanted to do so other than so many people are doing them. My father would have said, if everyone jumped off a cliff would you follow, so as his words of caution filled my head, I have held out. Your posting is helping me clarify the purpose of a blog and what I should consider if I decide to take that plunge. Look forward to reading more.

Pam Hillman said...

Whew! Finally caught up on the comments. Had to take my tax stuff to the preparer last night.

Great...energetic...conversation you guys had! lol

Susan, I've noticed in the fiction writing community that theme-based blogs with mutliple owners seem to be more entertaining than blogs with only one person posting all the time. Like Mary's Petticoats & Pistols blog. A bunch of published historical romance authors writing about all things Western.

For me, content is king. However, ease of navigation runs a close second!

Industry blogs hosted by editors and agents like editcafe, Chip's, Rachelle's, are very enticing. I pay little attention to the asthetics because I'm so interested in what these people can tell me about what they're looking for, etc.

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks Ann, anyone who brings food is doubly welcome.

Harry said...

Good cop, bad cop...yeah, that's us. :)

That's the joy of working with a partner, we each have our specialties and between the two of us we've got everything covered.

@Ruthy: Let me throw some Scots, Austrian, Hungarian, and Russian into your international mix.

@Susan: Don't worry about the link, you didn't make a faux pas. As James said, if it's pertinent to the conversation at hand, it's okay. It's the folks you've never seen before on your blog, that drop by and leave a one-liner that's all link that are the ones bloggers frown on.

@Pam: In our niche, we rarely see teams of bloggers. I think James and I are the only ones who do this. Others have regular guest posters, but they're not a true partnership like MwP.

windycindy said...

Hi, I am not a writer or a blogger, but a blog reader! I think professionals should know how to make their opinions a little less sharp! When you are a guest on a blog, perhaps one could act like a guest! Thanks,Cindi

Harry said...

@windycindy: Thanks for stopping by, nice to meet you too.

James and I have never claimed to know it all. If you disagree with anything we've said, go ahead and tell us about your experiences as well.

What we do know is we're professional bloggers. This is our job. We're also used to writing with a voice of authority, which might come off as harsh to some readers. Every blogging community is different and you may not be used to the way our particular niche does things.

I don't think we've been out of line on anything we've said here. We welcome opposing views. And I'm sure if we were overstaying our welcome, Tina would have said so.

Tina had asked me to guest post here to help her community understand the behind the scenes workings of a blog.

So far all I see here is a professional discussion with a lot of good questions being asked and answered.

ForstRose said...

Well I think I have the "point" of my blog down to some degree anyway. I post about books and their authors. Primarily reviews and introductions for new or soon to be released fiction as well as interviews with some of the authors whose books I feature. I'd like to draw more traffic though and am currious how to go about doing that? My blog is Bibliophile's Retreat. I know some html and have managed to find a site that will let you create and edit blogrolls easily and even feeds you the code to add it to your sidebar. Yes I know easy and free means you get what you pay for but the precoded blogrolls make it simple to add a new post to a themed list easily.

Well I digress - if you really want to critique a blog - I'll offer mine up to the knife. Can't promise to follow through with everything as reviewing only pays in books as far as I've been able to determine and money well that goes to pay all those other bills that I keep the day job because of.

I'm not one of the fifteen who keep up this blog but I've read a few of their books and hope to read more.

And yes I use blogger as it seemed to be the easiest one to navigate as a newbie to blogging and web design and all that fun stuff. MySpace and Shoutlife have blogs but their primary purpose is not blogging and they are not designed with that in mind nor are they easily accessible if you aren't a member and friends with the page owner.

I'm not however familiar with typepad or and do not have my own domain to use the other wordpress you refer to.

Do you have general tips for image and presentation that can be applied to a blogger set-up when someone is using the freely available templates and doing their own html for both the design and the content?

And finally one thing I can suggest for blogger users is to moderate comments instead of using the captcha option. Blogger will notify the commenter that their comment was saved and will be visible after approval - this also helps to catch spam before it gets up. I go in and check at least once a day for new comments - which is easy since blogger also offers the option to have them emailed to you when you have moderation enabled.


James Chartrand - Men with Pens said...

@ forestrose - We'd be happy to schedule your blog for what we've coined a "drive-by consult". We offer free consults on Sundays, and our next available spot is the 20th. (The paid version is available too, if you want a faster response.) We critique your blog on our site and everyone generally chimes in with their thoughts (and silliness) in the comment section.

You can review the drive-by consult here:

and if you visit our site, search on drive-by to see two samples of what we do. Feel free to confirm here or via email at info at menwithpens dot ca

Carole said...

I'm not a writer or a blogger, but find the topic of blogging interesting. And I'm not sure if this is the correct way or not, but I'd love to win a copy of Petticoat Ranch.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

catie said...

Free blogs hurt your readership and your credibility.

Um, correct me if I'm wrong but Blogger is a free host isn't it?

Harry said...

@Catie: Yes, Blogger is a free platform. The point I was making is this: If you're using your blog to enhance your business, whether that business is selling your book or selling widgets, you want credibility.

Having your blog attached to your own domain name without a prefix helps you establish that credibility.