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Help a Reporter Out

HARO is a website that puts reporters in touch with the sources they need. Their slogan is, Everyone’s an Expert at Something, and here’s how it works.

You sign up. They send you several daily digest emails of stories for which media people need interviewees. It could be a pet-insurance newsletter, InfoWorld magazine, CBS’s morning news show, Marie Claire magazine, or some dude’s blog. They might want to talk to people who have helped their arthritis through diet, or have a funny zoo experience, or have experience with cloud computing.

As an author, the best-case scenario is that I can help someone with an article or show that is directly related to my book. The worst-case scenario is that my zoo story is credited to “a reader.” Between those two ends of the spectrum is the chance that I’ll be credited as “Esri Allbritten, author of the upcoming mystery, Chihuahua of the Baskervilles,” and that it’ll happen in a forum that reaches bajillions of potential readers.

I also pass leads to friends and family, ’cause this both endears you to people and reminds them that you exist. Make sure your email signature line is in good shape.

Facebook’s Networked Blogs for authors

Facebook’s Networked Blogs, which I’m going to call NB from now on, is a great thing in that after you set it up, you never have to fool with it again, and it has the potential to generate a new audience for your blog. It’s less great in that it’s hard for people to access and initially figure out, and because of that, there may not be that many people in your new audience.

I could be wrong. I’m new to it. Regardless, I’m going to show you how to set up your blog so it is syndicated on NB, and you can judge for yourself what it does for you. It doesn’t take long, and the initial link will open in a new window, so you won’t lose these instructions.

Step One: A whole bunch of button clicking.

Click here. Notice that there are some links to articles that you can access later. On the left side, click the Add to My Page, and Add to My Page’s Favorites. I didn’t see any effect from the first, and on the second, it appeared on my author Page rather than my personal Profile. (Unlimited numbers of fans can Like your Page. You’re only allowed 5000 “friends” on a personal Profile – we should all be so lucky.) You can also “Like” the NB page (toward the top), to help promote it on your FB newsfeed. Finally, on the left side, click the blue Go to App button.

Allow the app.

(Depending on what kind of FB account you have, profile or page, it may ask you to choose five blogs. You don’t have to. Click the blue word Syndication, grant permissions [Allow, in other words], and go from there.)

Step Two: Start filling in blanks.

On the new page, click the Register a Blog button (middle top-ish) and start filling out fields. My blog title is Esri Allbritten, author. The tagline (click to add the field) is Chihuahua of the Baskervilles, because everyone laughs and wants to know more when they first hear that, and because, even if they don’t click the blog link, they will at least have been exposed to my book’s title. If your blog has a clever name, use it. If your blog has a boring name, like mine, then make the tagline work for you. If your blog has a tight focus, like Vampire Mystery Reviews or Writing Around Three Kids, use that. If your blog does not have a tight focus, then put a tagline that reflects your voice, such as I Went to Harvard and All I Got Was This Stupid Blog or, for you emo types, Dark Dreams and Broken Laughter.

The Topics are important, because those are the search terms that allow NB people to find blogs they are interested in.  I chose mysteries, Chihuahuas, and books. I blog about online promotion, too, but promotion aficionados from the general population are more likely to buy Five Vital Tips from a Guy Who Made You Believe He’s Superior to You than my stuff, so I didn’t put that as one of my topics/search terms.

All right, so you’ve filled in the blanks, chosen your language (English is at the top of the drop-down menu), and you’ve reached the description part. Do not make readers wade through a long description of yourself. Describe what people will find in your blog. So my first paragraph looks like this:

Esri Allbritten is the author of Chihuahua of the Baskervilles. She writes about Chihuahuas, her experiences as an author, and promotion for books.

And then I go into the rigmarole about my series.

This next bit is very important. When you’re done entering your description, click the blue word Advanced. It’s going to give you the “short name” of your blog. Mine is esri_allbritten. See how I’ve added that to the tail end of this URL?

http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/blog/esri_allbritten/

Do the same with yours, and write the result down, bookmark it on your toolbar, or tattoo it on your rump, because without it, you have to travel the FB maze to edit your blog’s description, topics, etc., and you may not make it out alive. Also, you should be logged into FB when you want to go there.

Step Three: Hit Save.

And that’s it. All your new blog posts will automagically show up on NB. With the URL that is now tattooed on your smarting bottom, you can edit the details, invite friends, and generally play around. If you discover some totally cool stuff, let me know.

Coming Soon

  • Because I use WordPress.com and their statistics are awesome, I’ll be able to tell you how many readers this post got from Networked Blogs.
  • How to send a personal document (like the first draft of your novel) to someone’s Kindle, so they can read it just like a book. It’s reasonably easy, and it’s free. Here’s the link.
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