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Building our blog communities is accomplished in our comment section.

Last week Liz Strauss, author Successful And Outstanding Bloggers and “The Secret to Writing a Successful and Outstanding Blog (the book), answered the question, “How To Format A Blog Post To Maximize Comments”.

As we all know, part of receiving comments is answering them. Our readers want to know they’re being heard. Based on the fact Liz will soon be sporting 70,000 comments on her blog, I asked what her secret is to inspiring her readers to continue to leave comments, thus building community.

I asked: With the amount of comments you receive, I suspect your readers are finding more than “just another blog” where they can share their opinion. When you read and answer your comments, what technique do you use to make each reader feel so special they want to subscribe to your blog and/or continue reading your work?

Liz answered: I don’t do much special. In fact, I suspect I do exactly what you do. I read the person’s name, say hello, and comment back to each one, exactly the way I might if I met that person face to face in my house at my front door. I want to know what people are thinking. It’s a genuine curiosity on my part about who they are and what I might learn from where they’ve been and what they’ve taken from what they read. We build a response together. 🙂

I often click through the link to see who I’m talking to before I write my answer. I like to answer each person individually. After all each person talked to me one at a time. 🙂

When Ellen of Wilson’s Words and Pictures asked how Liz manages to answer the massive amount of comments she gets, she continued on by saying:

How do you answer questions your kids ask? One at a time. Answering comments is no different. I could ramble on about rules and wisdom, but there really isn’t much more to say. If you care about what someone says, you listen and respond.

To Elaborate on Liz’s answer:

Thank you Liz for taking time to answer these questions. You’re answers have been most helpful.

Rereading Liz’s answer, it’s all about common sense. We treat our readers special by letting them have their say. By respecting their viewpoint and responding appropriately, they feel compelled to come back for more conversation.

Today’s Assignment:

How do you answer your comments, one by one, or as a group?

How do you like your comments to be answered? Individually, or is a group response from the author acceptable?

If a blog author does not respond to your comment, will you return to that blog?

Bloggers often use their blog as a stepping stone to freelance writing, or publishing a book (including ebooks). Let’s listen as Lorelle ( of Lorelle on WordPress) shares what the publishing process has taught her.

7) Many writers/bloggers want to use their blogs to promote their books or turn their blogs into books. As a published author, do you have any tips on this?

Yeah, don’t do as I did. 😀 I’d been working on a variety of books on blogging and WordPress from different angles when I was approached to publish a collection of blog posts on blogging in a small booklet for the Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon) in 2007. Within four weeks (one week at the printer), the idea went from previously published articles in a photocopied booklet to original content in a published book. The last three days, the page count went from 50 to 100 to 250 to 200 to 75 to 100 and then I called it quits. I had less than a day to get it edited, proofed, and to the printer. I made the deadline, but three weeks is not enough time to do a book right and I live with the gaffs in the book, awaiting the second printing, which should be coming soon.

I’ve self-published before, and worked with publishers and editors, and have worked as an editor over the years, so trust me when I say, don’t do as I did. This was nuts, but I’m really proud of the book.

The book continues to do very well and I’m so thrilled with the positive response. We’re working on the ebook version and will, unfortunately, be raising the price of the book very soon due to the same reasons everything else is going up: Shipping costs due to fuel prices. So buy it now. 😉

Many of my blogging friends have published books, audio books, and ebooks, and blogging does go hand in hand with traditional publishing. However, like any good project it must start with a plan and a clear definition of your target audience. Then you can use the power of your blog and social networking to market the book, but only if you know who will buy and go after them.

Technically, the size of the book is dependent upon the medium upon which it is published. About 100 pages is good for a typical technical book – not text book. Text books, books like the Dummies and Idiot Guide style of books, will naturally be longer due to the inclusion of screen shots and long lists of tips and resources.

An ebook in PDF format ranges from 25-150 pages. Going beyond 60 pages is risky – and rarely read – though some published works are successful at the higher page count as more and more people become comfortable with reading books on their computers and hand-held devices. Other ebook formats, especially those for handheld computers, can be longer as they have software that can make reading longer lengths easier.

There are many sites offering tips and guides on self-publishing as well as professional publishing, so I won’t echo their advice here, but I want to briefly address the issue of turning your blog into a book.

You can plan a book and write a blog based upon that plan, but the order of the posts will be in chronological order – as you publish them. There are a variety of ways to change this order, which defines the normal “start at the beginning” book reading format, but don’t. The first post in a blog is the most recently published, not the beginning of the book. Think of it as the people wanting to read the “latest chapter.” On the site map or table of contents Page, you can list the posts in their preferred reading order, but don’t manipulate the natural chronological function of the blog.

This also works for you in using the blog to promote the book after it has been published, since people will naturally read the first post on the blog and get the latest news information.

There are online programs that will convert your blog into a book format, but I recommend that serious writers copy and paste their book into a word processing program as they go or afterwards, and edit it before publishing. This gives the author a second chance to clean up the writing, add links and references, play with the structure and order of the blog post/chapters, and clean up the formatting to ensure the best readability and organization of the content.

Don’t expect your readership to buy your book if they’ve been tracking your blog for a while. Building an online community and fan base on your blog without giving them added incentive to buy the book is pointless They’ve already read your stuff for free, why should they pay? Consider your book a gateway to a new audience, beyond your blog, and use your blog to promote your book. Get your fan-base to help you promote it. Build upon their loyalty.

On A Personal Note

Having read Blogging Tips, by Lorelle, I thought, “Oh, how I wish I had access to this valuable information when I started (and continue) to blog.” It would have saved me hours of frustration and online searching.

The creation of “Books I Recommend” (in my sidebar) is a perfect place to include a link to Lorelle’s book. (This is not an affiliate link). Book reviews of this, and other blogging books, will soon follow.

Today’s Assignment

As a blogger, would you like to see your writings published (other than on your blog)? In a book? As a freelance writer? Other?

Have you written an ebook? If so, how was it received?

Do you often purchase books written by other bloggers?

If so, which would you recommend?

Photo Credit: Lorelle’s Logo

The interview with Lorelle (of Lorelle on WordPress) continues.

Thus far, we’ve covered staying motivated, errors bloggers make, and if good content is good enough.

Today Lorelle will be sharing her view on a problem new bloggers may not have (yet), but it’s a scenerio that can strike at anytime.

4) You’ve been blogging for many years, and have also written the book, Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging. How do you find fresh content without rehashing old subjects? Or, is rehashing old subjects a good way to give new birth to older posts?

Rehashing is such a harsh word. 😀 With time, everyone is redundant, and sometimes topics need to be revisited, so revisiting them in new ways puts a fresh light on things. For instance, I’ve written a lot about copyright protections and content theft. I still don’t get that people think stealing is bad, and plagiarism is really wrong in the offline world but think nothing of it in the virtual world. I don’t know “if it’s on the Internet, it’s free” mythology got started, but it’s got to stop, especially when it comes to content theft. After a while, you would think there isn’t much anyone can say new on the subject, then along comes someone like who throws some new logs on the fire and once again I learn that there is even more that can be said on the subject. I encourage him and he encourages me, and we’ve built an amazing friendship in the process.

Here’s another perspective. Orson Scott Card created one of his most powerful characters, Andrew Wiggin in Ender’s Game. He went on to write numerous sequels to follow one of the world’s most popular and award winning books. Years later, he wrote Ender’s Shadow, telling the same story of Ender but from a different perspective, the point of view of one of the other characters, Bean. That started a new series of sequels. Just when you think that Card had broken all the rules as he described so well in Ender’s Game, he did it again and started a new series for the twentieth anniversary of the first book, part of the Enderverse (“Ender Stories”) series, again rehashing the original from totally new perspectives.

Orson Scott Card has influenced several generations and new audiences by writing about the same story, over and over. Imagine the market potential! How many ways can he come up with to tell the same story? Who knows. I learn so much from what Orson Scott Card writes and publishes, I think most of his books should be required reading, no matter what your business or writing genre.

Another expert at finding new ways of making old subjects interesting is . Her new ebook, The Secret to Writing a Successful and Outstanding Blog — The Insider’s Guide to the Conversation That’s Changing How Business Works, is a life changing book on blogging and social networking for me and a lot of other bloggers and companies working on the web trying to get our heads around the quickly changing market. You asked if content was still king and I told you that a successful blog is about conversation – Liz writes all about how to write for the conversation in a way that is an eye-opener on the subject – even for those of us who call ourselves experts.

I love how people find new ways of saying the same old thing. I dig deeply through the web to find articles on blogging and WordPress which say the same thing, but in a new way. It’s like sitting in a room with friends debating an issue. It’s a chance to hear all the different opinions and see the reactions and feedback. I read through the posts, check out the comments, and it’s like I’m at a party. I love it.

The web has opened up the world to millions of points of view, so it’s easy to get locked into a march on your blog, but open yourself up to new perspectives and watch your own shift and change.

And attend conferences and meetups. That will get your juices flowing and your head spinning every time. Meeting bloggers in person is one of the greatest joys of my life as they fuel me!

Today’s Assignment:

Short of using Hunter’s “Automatic Blog Post Rehasher”, where does your inspiration come from?

Are you often at a loss for creative ideas, or is your list long?

When you see other bloggers write on the same subjects you do, are you intimidated, or do they inspire you to do a better job?

Photo Credit: Lorelle’s Logo

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