Interview Transcripts

Joy V. Smith Marketing with a Blog

Event start time:

Thu Apr 21 19:03:22 2005

Event end time:

Thu Apr 21 21:02:21 2005



Legend:
Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

Hello all, and welcome to our regular Professional Connection live interview.

 

Our guest tonight, Joy V. Smith began writing stories as a kid; she made her own little books, with covers. She writes fiction--published in magazines, anthologies, and audiobooks--and non-fiction, including interviews and writing articles; she has a marketing article upcoming in Working Writer. She lives in Florida with Xena, the warrior puppy.

 

She also has a blog

 

Joy's blog

 

And since we've been talking about websites and promoting yourself online lately, she's a very timely guest!

 

So Joy, welcome! I'm really looking forward to our conversation tonight!

 

I'm so pleased that you could make it.

Joy V. Smith

Thank you!

 

I'm on AOL so I used theirs because it was easy.

 

Feel free to ask questions about blogs.

Mary Rosenblum

So tell us about your writing to begin with...how you got started.

Joy V. Smith

I made my own little books complete with covers--animal and adventure stories. I wrote more seriously in college, and got a little piece and some letters published. I wrote now and then after that and got real serious later.

Mary Rosenblum

Are you working on a writing career now? You've had quite a bit published, it seems like.

Joy V. Smith

Yes. I'm trying to make a living as a writer.

 

I do other things too.

Mary Rosenblum

Like a day job you mean?

Joy V. Smith

I work at home, do ebay, etc. It's nice, and the overhead is lower, and Xena can sleep under my desk. She's there now.

Mary Rosenblum

Good for you! Working at home is great. I love the commute!

robert urey

I am really new to blogs. Are they like a web page?

info

I haven't heard about blogs and what they are used for. Could you explain them please?

Mary Rosenblum

I think we have a LOT of interest about blogs! Want to educate us?

Joy V. Smith

It's a weblog--a sort of diary with frequent updates of interesting info and links, even pictures.

owlybear

I checked out Joy's blog today..now I know what it looks like but I still don't know what it does.

Joy V. Smith

I put info about my stories and books on mine, interspersed with house info and environmental information; I kept a hurricane diary too--Charley through Jeanne and beyond. Post about what you're interested in--and what might interest others.

gwanny

What made you decide to blog?

Joy V. Smith

You’ll find lots of blog websites out there; I use the AOL blog format; it's simple. (Some day I hope to master wraparound graphics.)

 

I started for marketing. I kept reading that it's a good way to market so I took the plunge.

 

A friend who's really into blogging was encouraging me to do it, but I put it off.

 

It takes time.

 

A blog will take up some time, but once it's started, I find it easy to add an entry. I click on Add an Entry. I have friends who have much more impressive blogs than mine, even multiple blogs. And I have my blog and website crosslinked. I have a list of favorite websites and blogs on my blog also. (Lots of linking going on everywhere.)

gwanny

And has it helped?

Joy V. Smith

Good question. I get a few responses to my entries now and then.

 

Like most advertising, it's hard to tell, but you're supposed to do it anyway.

 

And I enjoy it.

Mary Rosenblum

Yeah, it's hard to estimate the value of advertising short term.

Joy V. Smith

A good blog will attract lots of readers and get talked about and linked to. There are ways to do that. Put it in your signature on your email and mention it and link it everywhere you can.

tory

How long have you been blogging?

Joy V. Smith

Hmm. Several months.

 

I started before the hurricane season.

 

Don't say anything x-rated unless it's related to your book... And if you get too controversial, you could attract the wrong type of reader and responder. You don't want to waste time editing... Of course, if it's part of your marketing plan, that's different.

sol

Why both a website AND a blog?

tory

What's the benefit of having both a website and a blog? Wouldn't one (and half the work) do?

Joy V. Smith

You can cross link to them.

Mary Rosenblum

Aha...there IS a reason...and my web designer friend...

 

specifically told me to get a blog to supplement my website.

 

And this is what she told me.

Mary Rosenblum

The blog software archives your entries for you...you spend very little time working on the uploads, which you WILL do or pay someone to do for you. My website friend also said that different groups of people follow blogs and you'll bring NEW traffic to your website that way.

Joy V. Smith

A website is different... Blogging is in. You're often asked for your website URL. when signing in

 

But now that I have a blog, I sometimes post that URL instead.

 

Mary, yes. Blogs are quicker.

 

And there are programs that pick new entries on your favorite blog up.

gwanny

Websites seem to tell who you are, blogs tell how you think.

Joy V. Smith

Yes.

Mary Rosenblum

I agree...AND you can have different topics for different blogs and send THOSE groups of people to your main website.

Joy V. Smith

Oh, yes. I have a friend who does it all.

 

And AOL has blog picks each week that are spotlighted.

brooke

What's the best way to use a blog to further our writing efforts and increase our publishing credentials?

Mary Rosenblum

What do you think, Joy?

 

What will do the most good?

Joy V. Smith

Talk about what's upcoming, what's out, your awards, your book signings, interviews,

 

and what might interest people.

 

I don't know which is best. I think they both will help.

Mary Rosenblum

I imagine you could talk about what you're working on if that didn't give too much away...whet appetite! J

Joy V. Smith

Because a blog is updated more, people are more likely to keep dropping by.

 

You can post teasers and excerpts.

Mary Rosenblum

YEP...another reason my website guru told me to get a blog...keep people checking the blog THROUGH your website, heheh. She's very in to how to get noticed by Google et all which is why she recommended through the website.

Joy V. Smith

Hmm.

 

Speaking of google, I got an e-mail newsletter from Add Me (they add you to search engines) that said that google now has a delay to cut down on puffing.

robert urey

Is there a book on blogging you would recommend

Joy V. Smith

That's to keep the puffing down.

Mary Rosenblum

What is puffing, Joy?

Joy V. Smith

Sorry. No books that I'm aware of. Lots online.

 

Puffing is promoting by cheating.

Mary Rosenblum

Ah...artificially inflating the number of 'hits' to the site you mean?

Joy V. Smith

Drat. Can't find the newsletter. Mary, yes.

 

It went into more detail with specifics.

Mary Rosenblum

For those of you who don't know how search engines work,

 

the more often someone visits your site, the higher you show up on Google's 'list'

 

and you want to be on page one, not page 47.

 

So the more often your site is visited, the more likely someone will be to find you

 

when they type in woman fiction writer Maine

 

for example...if you are a writer in Maine.

tory

So how does delaying listing a site by six months cut puffing out?

Joy V. Smith

It levels the playing field?

Mary Rosenblum

People aren't willing to keep hammering the new site with tons of hits for weeks on end, I'd say. :-)

 

So they have to be 'real' hits.

gwanny

Is it difficult to start a blog?

Joy V. Smith

Using AOL's set-up made it easy for me. There are a number of blogging websites. I think Mary can help.

Mary Rosenblum

There is a site I researched that is free, owned by Google actually, was started by techies out of their own pocket.

 

blogspot website

 

No ads, no banners. And I ...gasp...actually started one. Took me about 10 minutes, but I need to 'pretty it up' tomorrow.

Joy V. Smith

Thank you!

 

I'd google blogs and see what happens.

 

There are lists of the best blogs. Some are well known.

Mary Rosenblum

There are blog sites that are specific for particular groups and topics, too.

brooke

I use blogspot and find it fairly simple and easy to use.

Joy V. Smith

The AOL welcome window today had a news headline on soldiers in Iraq blogging.

Mary Rosenblum

That actually made the national news.

 

Blogs are trendy. :-)

Joy V. Smith

It's good to be on the cutting edge, and it can get you publicity about your blog.

Mary Rosenblum

And for those of you asking about MY new blog...as soon as it has a couple of interesting posts on it, I'll put it up on my website, yes. :-)

Joy V. Smith

Send out a press release about your blog and why it's interesting.

Mary Rosenblum

Just the fact that you are a writer and keeping a journal will interest many people.

robert urey

Are you saying that a blog without a web site would not be beneficial?

Mary Rosenblum

What do you think, Joy?

 

If someone doesn't yet have a website?

Joy V. Smith

No. If you feel you can't do a website, focus on your blog.

Mary Rosenblum

There is a whole contingent of people who search for cool blogs and email the link to friends

 

and that is great advertising for your NAME even if you don't have a site.

Joy V. Smith

A blog can be all you need if that's what works for you. Put the URL on any guestbook page, etc. that wants a website URL.

Mary Rosenblum

And on your email and on your business cards.

Joy V. Smith

Yep.

gwanny

Does a catchy title for your blog help?

Joy V. Smith

Yes, probably. I've seen some catchy titles, and they're attention grabbers.

Mary Rosenblum

I struggled to find one that would tell surfing readers that I was a writer. :-)

Joy V. Smith

And some might get you in the papers.

Mary Rosenblum

Okay, here'a good example.

 

A local SF writer friend of mine

 

kept a...are you ready for this..,.journal of his remodeling project

 

and ended up in the home and garden section of the paper...a feature on blogging..and of COURSE mentioned that he was a writer

 

and listed his work.

Joy V. Smith

Oh, that is great!

Mary Rosenblum

There is NO bad publicity!

Joy V. Smith

Mine is just Joy's Journal. I didn't spend a lot of time on it.

roe

How does one go about getting a blog, Do you have to pay for it? And how do they link with each other? I mean if I type a key word in a search engine will it take me to your blog automatically?

Joy V. Smith

There are free blogs. Mary's is free and someone mentioned blogspot, which I think they said was free.

 

You have to exchange links and ask permission.

Mary Rosenblum

blogspot is the one I used...it's quite free and free of advertising.

Joy V. Smith

Possibly if you typed in Joy's Journal. I don't know. Too many blogs to search for that way.

 

I've never googled for Joy's Journal.

Mary Rosenblum

I'm not sure search engines will help much. I think you have to advertise your blog and entice people to mail it to each other by having interesting stuff on it. :-)

Joy V. Smith

My house book title would come up, I know.

 

With the blog link.

gwanny

Okay I’m sold…blogging world here I come.

rexhubbard

What do you write about? Does your blog specify this?

Joy V. Smith

I write fiction and non-fiction. My fiction is mostly SF, but also fantasy, romance, children's stories, My non-fiction is articles and interviews and my house book.

 

Yes, I mention my writing now and then and sometimes make a list, and it's about time I did that again.

sol

I just googled under Joy's Journal and yours came up second in the listing of 17,400

Mary Rosenblum

So there you go...come up with a title folk can remember!

Joy V. Smith

Hallelujah!

speckledorf

Gee, new ezine to publish and promote, personal webpage, and a blog. Who needs to sleep!

Mary Rosenblum

Uh...yes…so tell us, Joy...how much does this cut into your writing time?

Joy V. Smith

We must watch less TV.

 

Blogging doesn't take that much time. I get e-mail newsletters and pick up info and links from them,

 

plus my own stuff and anything I think of.

 

If I can pick something up from an e-mail, it's quicker.

 

Also, my hurricane reports were copied from e-mails I sent out.

 

Copy and paste makes life easier.

Mary Rosenblum

That must have caught peoples' attention...your hurricane blog.

Joy V. Smith

And I edit.

Mary Rosenblum

Diane in the audience would like to know how to publicize your blog.

Joy V. Smith

Put it in your e-mail and post links. Mention it everywhere.

Mary Rosenblum

Ask friends with websites to post your link on their 'interesting links' page.

Joy V. Smith

I have a publicity folder full of info and contacts and files of e-mail address links of newspapers, etc. Mary, that's good! I exchange links with friends and people of like interests.

mewf

Do you make any money with your blog?

Joy V. Smith

I have no idea. If someone follows a link to a seller, I won't know where they found the link unless they tell me.

Mary Rosenblum

Well, amazon.com has a partner program with bloggers

 

to link directly to books out and sell that way.  But think indirectly. If you increase buyers you DO make money.  To my mind, blogging is advertising, just like buying page space in Publisher's Weekly and MUCH MUCH cheaper!

Joy V. Smith

(Must post a link to B&N again so I stay on the new house book best seller list.)

 

Mary, oh, yes. I need cheap.

 

You can spend lots of money advertising.

 

I try to keep it down.

Mary Rosenblum

Most writers DO need cheap advertising...that's partly why we're having this conversation! :-)

Joy V. Smith

To spend money on BookExpoAmerica or not, that is the question.

Mary Rosenblum

So have you talked about upcoming articles, stories, books on your blog?

Joy V. Smith

Yes. It's time for an update though.

 

And I've got to get the blog more publicity.

sol

I just can't wait for the day when I have reason to advertise. Ha!

Mary Rosenblum

So what do you think, Joy? Isn't it a good idea to start making himself (herself) known now?

Joy V. Smith

Yes!

Mary Rosenblum

Maybe write interesting blogs? Then when a book comes out...you have fans!

 

They rush to the store!

Joy V. Smith

You start marketing for a book before it's published. A few months before. You mention it and give talks if possible. I personally know a local author who's been giving talks on his non-fiction subject before his book went to press and got multiple pre-publication orders from hospitals to give out, etc.

gwanny

Wouldn’t a blog showcase your writing abilities?

Joy V. Smith

Blog entries aren't usually that long. And what editors are going to read it? An editor is looking for an article or story or book, and the blog may show you can write, but is it what he needs?

Mary Rosenblum

Well, it might not reach the editor, but if I’m reading someone's work and I really like it...

 

and I hear that the person has a book coming out I'm more likely to buy it than a stranger's. And... from an insider's POV...I do know quite a few editors and they DO email blog links to each other. You can hope.

Joy V. Smith

Yes. I was recruited for something (classified) because of things I wrote somewhere--not a blog.

 

So, writing well everywhere pays--eventually.

 

But you have to spread your net wide.

 

I've published things for free (mostly early on), but in some cases it's because you never can tell who'll read it.

Mary Rosenblum

Yep, and I think you can do that the most cheaply on the internet, and BEFORE you have anything published.

 

What you just said, Joy!

sol

Hmm. Gotta check out the blogs out there.

Joy V. Smith

The editor of a ghost story anthology I have a story in picked up one of the stories from a book in a used book store.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, cool, Joy!

 

Aha! Here's a GREAT place to post those nice little 1000 word Long Ridge stories if you don't sell 'em elsewhere!

Joy V. Smith

And I always hope Hollywood will find me.

Mary Rosenblum

Don't we ALL????

Joy V. Smith

Then it's a reprint, but I love selling reprints.

Mary Rosenblum

What I see as the blog's strength, Joy, is that you CAN put yourself in the public eye BEFORE you publish which will give you a quick fan response...and numbers matter in the publishing world.

 

And reprints are a fiction writer's bread and butter, LOL

Joy V. Smith

Yes, you can use your blog as a catapult.

sol

Not a bad way to get used to 'being public' either, eh?

Joy V. Smith

Yes!

Mary Rosenblum

Good point! What kinds of responses have you gotten from your blog, Joy?

Joy V. Smith

People check out links about houses, furnishings, my stories,

 

The environment and toad house posts got responses, also the toilet choice link.

 

And the hurricanes.

Mary Rosenblum

Can people post on your blog or do they email you?

Joy V. Smith

Hit Add Reply to the post you want to reply to.

 

It's at the bottom.

Mary Rosenblum

And that posts directly onto your blog? Can you edit a post you don't like, or delete it?

Joy V. Smith

Yes, it posts. I won't know it's there until I check though you can program for responses to posts.

 

Yes, I edit my posts and can delete posts though I've never had to.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, another bit of info my professional web design person passed on...she said that people are more likely to post to a blog than to email you from your website.

Joy V. Smith

I suspect so. I hadn't thought about that. It's more informal.

jmr

So, is there anything we should not use a blog for? Are printing rights a concern?

Joy V. Smith

I can see why they'd do that. Another good reason for a blog!

 

Lots of people use blogs for forums for all kinds of things.

 

I don't think there are limits except for porn, but for marketing, you don't want to be x-rated.

sol

Yeah, about responses to your blog . . . do you worry about the type of people/type of responses? It's just so OPEN!

Joy V. Smith

Printing rights--yours or someone else's?

Mary Rosenblum

I think jmr is asking about publishing rights...will it interfere with say, first north American serial rights?

jmr

My printing rights... Posting in a blog ... isn't that considered publishing an article? Can I still sell an article after blogging?

Mary Rosenblum

No, you can't jmr...not first rights.

 

Publishing in public webspace is publishing.

Joy V. Smith

Yes. Ditto for posting in forums.

Mary Rosenblum

And on your website, for that matter.

Joy V. Smith

Yes.

Mary Rosenblum

Have you published say, the opening to an upcoming article or story on your blog, Joy? A teaser?

Joy V. Smith

My blog. I don't think so. I have on my website.

 

I should.

 

My favorite story opening perhaps.

Mary Rosenblum

That should whet peoples' interest and I think nearly all editors are happy to see that done.

Joy V. Smith

Yes. There are chapter excerpts on publisher's websites.

 

And elsewhere.

Mary Rosenblum

What other marketing have you pursued, Joy?

Joy V. Smith

You need blurbs for your book covers and advertising. You get them by contacting experts in your field or authors of similar books--whomever you can think of. Ask your friends and relatives if they know anyone.

Mary Rosenblum

Blurbs are those nice little comments on the back of your book, by a famous (hopefully) name. :-)

Joy V. Smith

Mary, yes. Testimonials.  For book covers and ads. I send out press releases to papers, my alumni bulletin, magazines,

Mary Rosenblum

How often do they use the material?

Joy V. Smith

Fairly often. I'm mainly aware of two newspapers, but I send them to several local papers.

Mary Rosenblum

Great! Do you send review copies of your books to reviewers?

Joy V. Smith

Winning contests is a good way to get in the paper.

Mary Rosenblum

Really? Is that local contests or big ones?

Joy V. Smith

Yes, I sent one to Midwest Book Reviews and got a great review.

 

Any contests that fit. I prefer ones with no fees. However, I entered the Foreword and IPPY contests--hefty fee, but if you win, good publicity. Wasn't even a finalist in Forewod. Drat.

Mary Rosenblum

But you have to tell the paper that you won the contest, right? They don't do it for you?

Joy V. Smith

Sometimes some publishers and groups will send the paper a press release.

 

You have to give them the info.

 

I send out lots myself. The only way to be sure.

 

You need a catchy header.

Mary Rosenblum

Aha...what sort of header do you use?

Joy V. Smith

Building a Cool House... is hot!

Mary Rosenblum

Good one!

Joy V. Smith

On the B&N new house book best seller list.

Mary Rosenblum

Good for you!

Joy V. Smith

Yep. You need a grabber and a reason for the paper to give you the space.

Mary Rosenblum

And that's something you can put on the next book cover, yes? Best seller Joy Smith's new book.

Joy V. Smith

Yes. Hadn't thought of that. It's good to submit an essay. The op ed page is recommended. You need a connection.

 

And you need a photo for your press kit.

Mary Rosenblum

Ah, we actually have a good article on taking a good 'jacket photo' at home on the LR website.

Joy V. Smith

Among other things.

Mary Rosenblum

What else goes in your 'press kit'?

Joy V. Smith

A press kit can include a bio, blurbs, review quotes, a freebie, ... (See Michelle R. Bardsley's article in the February Writer's Digest.)

 

A description of the book would be good too.

Mary Rosenblum

What kind of freebie do you include? A bookmark?

 

Postcard?

Joy V. Smith

Bookmarks and postcards are recommended.

Mary Rosenblum

They mail better than wrapped chocolates. :-)

Joy V. Smith

There are lots of imaginative ideas and expensive freebies available from catalogs and online. I bought some cheap wallet calendars from Walter Drake. It's best to have something related to your book. Writers of culinary mysteries might give out candy. One author gave out little cacti. I forget what the relationship was.

Mary Rosenblum

Have you done many signings to promote your books?

Joy V. Smith

Some of those freebies are probably for book signings. Yes. I’ve done a  few.

Mary Rosenblum

Do you feel they were worth the time you spent?

Joy V. Smith

Take your book with you to local book stores, but don't stop there. Go to gift shops and any store or business that might be related to your book. Have an autograph party.

 

Getting people there is the hard part. Send out press releases to all the local publications, including little ones. E-mail everyone in your e-mail address book who are local. Spread your net wide. Put flyers up at colleges, businesses, libraries.

 

Yes, they were worth it, though I didn't sell a lot of books. Sometimes you don't.

 

It's publicity (I sent out press releases for each signing and got them in the papers).

 

And you make connections. I handed out lots of wallet calendars with my book on it.

 

I wanted a measuring tape to go with my house boo, btw, but too expensive.

Mary Rosenblum

Ooh, good idea, wallet calendars! How expensive are these kinds of giveaways?

 

And I like the measuring tape idea!

Joy V. Smith

Also, an out of town reporter stopped by my table.

 

My wallet calendars are cheap, but you have to get them at the beginning of the year.

 

Bookmarks and postcards you can make yourself, though I haven't.

Mary Rosenblum

Duh..good thought! A calendar in November isn't gonna last long!

Joy V. Smith

Good way to save money there.

 

I don't know about prices. They're probably the cheapest. And you can browse.

Mary Rosenblum

So what do you think has helped you the most, publicity wise? Among signings, freebies, press releases, blog, website...got a guess for us?

Joy V. Smith

Paper the planet!

Mary Rosenblum

Well, it's certainly less expensive to cyber paper it!

Joy V. Smith

I love e-mail. I've embedded my book cover in e-mail press releases.

Mary Rosenblum

It seems to me that if you catch attention on the internet, people will do your advertising for you...emailing your link to all their friends.

 

Of course you DO have to catch their attention. :-)

Joy V. Smith

Everyone says get a website AND make it your name.

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, we've been doing forums about that lately. :-)

 

Well, Joy, thanks for coming in tonight! You gave me the push to actually set up a blog...which I needed!

 

And you've shared some interesting information with us!

 

I appreciate it!

sol

This has been a very informative, interesting interview. Thank you, Joy for being here. And thanks to you, too, Mary!

Mary Rosenblum

Tell us about your book and what you have coming out soon?

Joy V. Smith

Mary, hey that's how it happened to me.

Joy V. Smith

I have two stories in anthologies--Seedlings in Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer (a shared world antho; my story is about plant mages) and The Princess Quest (a fun romp that doesn't take sword and sorcery seriously) in Kings of the Night II.

Joy V. Smith

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook came out a few months ago; and one of my children's stories is available on CD from ChildrenzBooks (Vol.II). My works in progress are untitled; one is a story for the second volume of Magistria and one is for Tales from the Big Black [space].

Joy V. Smith

The anthologiess are available from Fictionwise, I think...; but they should be out as POD paperbacks soon.

Mary Rosenblum

Cool!

Joy V. Smith

Thank you, Mary, for having me here.

 

And thanks to everyone for all the great questions.

Mary Rosenblum

Well thank you for coming in tonight. You have been a very enjoyable guest and you really made me, at least, pay much more attention to blogs!

 

And thank YOU for all the great answers!

Joy V. Smith

Stop my blog and visit or e-mail me if there's something you just thought of.

 

You're welcome.

Mary Rosenblum

We'll let you go rest your fingers! I'm sure we'll all visit your blog!

 

Have a great weekend, and thanks again for coming, Joy!

Joy V. Smith

My fingers had a good time here too.

 

Right back atcha! Appreciatively, Joy V. Smith

Mary Rosenblum

Thanks Joy!

 

Good night and write well!

 

Good night all!

 

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