Guest Blogging Your Way out of Obscurity

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Earlier this week, I posted an interview with successful indie author, Nathan Lowell, and one of his comments rang home for me: “Obscurity is a bigger obstacle than quality.”

You can have an awesome story, a thrilling blurb, and gorgeous cover art, but if nobody knows your book exists, nobody’s going to buy it. Sucks, huh?

Some folks get lucky and get rescued from obscurity fairly early on (and we hate them, yes, we do, my precious). For the rest of us…we have to plug away, getting our names out there, one mention at a time.

One way to do this is with guest posting. I know of at least a couple people who have been kind enough to purchase my ebooks after learning about me on someone else’s blog. Also, I just had a peep at the traffic stats for this site, and, while Google and Twitter are the biggest sources, the guest posts I’ve done do add up. If you haven’t tried this yet, it may be worth considering.

So, without further ado, a short (haha, short, you believe that, right?) primer on guest posting:

What is guest posting?

Let’s start with the basics. Guest posting is writing an article for someone else’s blog. In exchange for sharing your informative and (we hope) interesting content, the blog owner should let you plug your books and your site.

It’s a good deal for both parties. The blog owner gets a day off from blogging (especially great if they’re heading off on vacation and want to keep the content flowing for their readers), and you get the word out about your work.

Though guest posts are an opportunity to mention your books, they’re not usually promotional in nature. (Bloggers are less enthused about inviting you to post if it’s obvious you’re just there to plug your books and aren’t providing content their readers will appreciate.) If you’re good (hey, you’re a creative writer, aren’t you?), you can probably work in mentions about your work in the post while keeping it informative and related to the blog’s niche.

Where can you find guest posting opportunities?

This tends to be an ask-and-ye-shall-receive thing. Most of the guest articles I’ve written have been for people I’ve met on Twitter. If you let folks know you’re interested, you might be surprised how often someone will appear to take you up on the offer. I’ve also seen people recruit guest posters on the KindleBoards.

If you’re not big on the social media life, check through the blogs you already visit frequently. Not everybody is going to be interested in posting guest articles, but if they have a category for guest posts, chances are you might have a winner.

It’ll help if the bloggers you approach know you a little, even if that just means you’ve left comments on their blog from time to time. You might tell them what you’re interested in writing about, as well, so they know you’re not just looking to share a 500-word advertisement for your book. Give them a couple options, and make sure your proposed topics are tailored to the blog’s niche.

What types of blogs should you post on?

It can be argued that any links to your books/site are good links, but since most of us have a limited amount of time for book promotion, it doesn’t hurt to pick and choose.

The ideal setup would be to appear on a blog related to your genre of book, since that’s where your target audience is hanging out. If you’re not familiar with many of these blogs, try doing a search for your genre + blog + guest post. You’ll probably find some new blogs to check out, blogs that accept guests posts now and then. Follow them for a while to get a feel for what they’re all about and leave a comment here and there to make the owner aware of your existence (as I mentioned, bloggers are more likely to invite guest posts from people they know, at least nominally).

Another option is to guest blog for your fellow writer friends. Whether they blog in your genre or not, this is an non-intimidating way to start out, and who knows? Maybe some of their readers also enjoy books in your genre.

In addition to considering the blog’s focus, check out its popularity. Are people commenting on any of the posts? Does the site get a decent amount of traffic? (You can check it out on–not the end all/be all in traffic ranking, but it’ll give you an idea.) Has the blog been around for a while, and does it get updated regularly?

If time is limited, and you have the opportunity to choose one blog over another, these are factors to consider. You want eyeballs on your brilliant guest post, after all!

Note: I wouldn’t pass up a chance to appear on a high-traffic blog, no matter who the primary reader demographic is.

Any thoughts? Have you been out there guest blogging? Have you seen it send visitors to your site?

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Comments (5)

Great post! Every writer should know this!!

I would love to do a blog post on your blog! I’m gearing up to do a tour in March/April and will, of course reciprocate on my blog as well!

Thanks, Lindsay. Interesting and helpful post. I’ve just begun to tap into the guest blogging world and hoping to see good results from it.

For a reasonably talented, new indie writer, obscurity is THE obstacle. There are millions and millions of readers, and most likely at least thousands and thousands who would enjoy a well-written indie book, like my suspense/thriller. 🙂 However, connecting the two endpoints can humble even the most confident of writers.

Combining persistent participation in reader forums, advertising, writer forums/groups, social media, blogging, and guest blogging gives a writer an opportunity to be seen as part of the serious author landscape.

Of course, many of us work other jobs to pay the bills, so adding those promo roles, and actual writing, is not for the faint of heart. That’s where the support and friendship of other writers plays such a significant role.

Thanks again. 🙂

Jenn, that sounds great!

Mark, whatever you’re doing, keep it up, because you’re doing well with those sales! 🙂

I’m in the process of finishing my first book Ascendancy The Arena and have been devouring all of your posts on the best ways to self publish. I really love reading from someone as humble as you are and that is will to share the experience. Having a chance to read posts like this fill me with hope that I can actually get it done.

So I’ve advertised my book (The Paladins of Naretia) everywhere, I’ve started my own blog to help, I’ve tried everything. Every time I try these things there’s a surge of sales and after a couple of days… nothing. For a long time I just didn’t get it. I thought I had continuity with my twitter feed, with my min of three blog posts a week, with my facebook interactions… but still squat. Even with my book being nominated for a couple of awards, still the interest was fleeting at best. Reading this post, however, I’ve come to understand that if the readers wont come to me, I must come to them and guest blog. Really great advise and I can’t wait to start guest blogging.

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