Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Schedules, changes, guest posts, and blog book tours

I'm not going to stick to a blogging schedule, except for my guest bloggers, of course. Their calendar is over there in the right sidebar so you know who's coming for a visit and when. Mystery/thriller writer Rex Burns is my guest on Thursday, and he's giving away a copy of Crude Carrier, a Touchstone Agency mystery.

I also have a pretty tight routine for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog -- but I have a very good co-editor, Julie Kazimer, to share the responsibility. Check out her post today about resolutions versus goals, and why goal-setting is better. I'll be posting there on the RMFW Blog as a regular contributor the first Monday of the month the rest of 2015.

But that's it!  

Schedules are a pain in the butt when we take them too far.

The pressure of coming up with a coherent blog post on certain days to publish at certain times was too much for me. I'd freeze, think hard, then post nothing at all. Writing  semi-coherent nonsense whenever I feel like it suits me so much better.

I have a big problem scheduling writing time, too. The ability to dedicate a specific block of time each day never works for me. What does work is binge writing over a block of days. I'm so productive on a writing retreat I amaze myself (that photo at the left is from a 2012 retreat at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch which was devastated by flood waters the next year).

Mini-writing retreats at home are almost as good, even with the cat on my lap, pinning my left hand under her head as her pillow. I can type pretty fast right-handed.

I'm doing another one of those mini-retreats Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until the start of the Super Bowl, but I may take my laptop to the library for some solid two-handed writing time.

Now about the changes....

I have a creative designer friend working on a new website/blog combination for me with the goal of taking it live sometime in May. That and the April knee surgery are the main reasons I'm not scheduling any guest authors after April 2nd. Once the new site is done and I know how to use it, I'll start scheduling guests again.

For now, keep your eye on this site for announcements, my wonderful scheduled guests, and more amazingly boring blog posts from yours truly wherein I dump a variety of opinions and observations no one cares about except me. But humor me. From time to time I might even post something fun.

Did you read all the guest posts I've done here and there lately?

Three of my favorites are:

It's Never Too Late to Try Something New at Buried Under Books

The Joy of Being an Eclectic Reader at Susan Says

My Love Affair with Fat Ass Sammy Grick at Death on Nostalgia City

A few thoughts about blog book tours...

The thought of meticulously arranging a tight blog book tour schedule made my skin crawl and my body tense up as if I were a football quarterback who sees the blitz coming before he goes down.

I did it the easy way by touching base with one or two bloggers at a time, setting up the date, writing the posts, then going on to the next one or two bloggers. It was nice and relaxed, and my friends didn't get sick of following me from place to place every day over a two or three week period.

The idea behind a blog book tour is solid, but I think a lot of writers schedule too many posts too close together. Many hit the same audience over and over by staying within a small network of bloggers. We need to expand our network (and one of the ways we do that is to serve as hosts for guest authors from a wide variety of genres).

As a reader who loves to promote other authors, I have to admit I usually stop reading blog tour posts about day three. After that, I may check in when the tour is over, looking for one or two post titles that intrigue me. I don't usually read posts from a character's point of view or interviews of characters, although I know some readers enjoy that a lot.

The blog book tours I like best are the ones that don't focus exclusively on the new book release. Once I have a bit of information about the book, I'd lots rather hear about the author's writing life, travels, great anecdotes, philosophy, etc.

But that's just me.

Okay....that's it for today. What do you think? Do schedules rule/ruin your life?  Can you type pretty fast with just your dominant hand? How do you feel about doing or following an author's blog book tour?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I need a schedule or I don't do anything. But we all have to find what works for us.
A new site! Can't wait to see it.
My tour in April is one week solid, followed by alternating days for a few more weeks. I decided I might as well take advantage of the Challenge rather than be afraid of both it and my release occurring at the same time.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Combining with the A to Z Challenge sounds like a good idea, Alex. You'll have a lot of visitors coming from a variety of sites, catering to a wide range of genres. And you can be very flexible on the topics your choose. Of course, with your huge audience, anything you write will get publicized around the world and back. And that's a good thing!

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for letting us know about your plans. I'm very excited to see your new blog/site look :-). As to blog schedules? I think each blogger has to decide for her or himself what the blogging schedule will be. No need to feel obliged because it's a given day, or other bloggers are doing it, or.....

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I like having a schedule and by having guests I'm doing pretty good coming up with content.
I felt like you were reading my mind with your opinions about blog tours. I also like posts that aren't just about the book.
And oddly, I type faster with my non-dominant hand.
Love that retreat room. I remember you saying it got flooded.

Karen Walker said...

I have a schedule but I'm fairly flexible with it. I try to go with the flow in a particular day - if one thing isn't gelling, I switch to something else. Good luck with all these new changes and your upcoming surgery.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Margot, I'm very excited to finally update and combine my website and blog. A friend has recently started her own design business, so we can help each other move ahead.

Susan, having guests helps bring more visitors to our blogs and also serves as inspiration. When I see that one of my guests has published umpteen novels in less than umpteen years, I get a little more motivated.

Karen, I think you've done a great job with your schedule. I know I'd never keep to it, though, even if I tried to convince myself it was chiseled in stone. What I like about your blog is that you write about life and don't spend much too much time on the writing process itself. Thanks for the good wishes. I like change, so I'm up for the challenge.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm not a fan of character interviews either. It's only interesting if you've read the book.

Patricia Stoltey said...

And mostly blog book tours are intended to find those buyers who haven't read the book yet, so maybe it's not the best use of blog time. Thanks, Diane.

Dean K Miller said...

I schedule a few things, but life has opened up new doors that need attending at random times, so I'm in flux currently.

One thing I've noticed is that the most common, non-standard way of typing is with the two index fingers only. I've seen some impressive word speeds by those double-digiters.

Looking forward to the new site!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Those two-finger typists are probably the ones who never took a typing class. Way, way, way back when I was in high school, we took typing so we could do our college papers faster. I've had years of work experience since, so I'm pretty darned speedy with two hands.

We're going to take our time with the new site to make sure it's just the way we want it....and that I know what I'm doing when I start managing it myself. I've excited to finally make a change.

Julie Luek said...

I read a very good article a while back about the effectiveness of blog tours for book promotion (or the lack thereof). I'm not even convinced the blog is a relevant tool anymore. But I've not heard better solutions, yet.

I'll look forward to your new blog/site! Movin' up in the world, Pat!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Well, at least movin'...a slightly better state than sprawled on the couch napping. :D

LD Masterson said...

I always set a schedule but don't always stick to it. And I did see your post on Fat Ass Sammy Grick. I felt sorry you'd axed him. Maybe you should bring him back some day, but keep him under control.

Patricia Stoltey said...

LD -- He was just too wicked and I was getting way too attached. :D

I do work from a To Do List, but sometimes I don't look at it. I might be incorrigible.

Anonymous said...

Great advice on the blog tour, Pat. I'll be doing that shortly, so your words of wisdom are timely (as usual). And I'm with you, I have trouble sticking to a regular writing schedule, but given a few days in a row, and I can actually make some progress on my WIP...it's getting getting those consecutive days that aren't interrupted by, well, life...

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi April! Good luck with your blog tour. I'll see you at my place in March (and I might be almost as excited about Bobbing for Watermelons are you are!).

I'm aiming for a Friday/Saturday/Sunday writing sessionthis week, so wish me luck. I need to get that crazy book finished.

Holly Jahangiri said...

Any time you want to be a guest on my blog, Patricia, just let me know. Maybe we can turn it into a cozy little "writer's retreat" for you, over there. I know what you mean, too - all the frenetic blogging crap leads to burn-out, not only in blogging but in writing and in general enjoyment of life. I'm off that hamster wheel! I'm trying to write daily for that UBC Challenge, and I'll join in the A to Z fun, but no one's really going to care if I miss a day or three. Life won't end, the sky won't fall...

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks, Holly! And I'd love to host you here as well. I should be doing some new scheduling in late May after I stop whining about the knee.

I think sometimes friends/readers get tired of us if we post too much anyway. I know when I peruse my blogrolls, I'm more eager to get to the irregular bloggers than the regular ones.

Holly Jahangiri said...

Hah! Is that a hint? "Holly, stop popping to the top of my blogroll every morning, give the rest of the bloggers a chance... let's not always see the same hands..." :)

I have to say, though, that posting too little or too irregularly, your blog can easily drop into absolute obscurity. In a month, I've brought mine back from the brink of death (seriously, an Alexa rank over 2 million is in need of CPR) to within the top 500K worldwide, and 100K in the US! Woo hoo! No, I don't have a clue what that means or why anyone cares... Actually, I do, but it's just one metric. I think my readers and commenters are as burnt out as I was, two years ago, an are in need of a little coaxing.

Actually, we all just spend way too much time on Facebook, don't we? It's sort of a one-stop shop. Convenient. Fewer clicks, less typing in the address bar.

Patricia Stoltey said...

LOL! Not at all, Holly -- I have you on my blogroll and also subscribe by email to make sure I don't miss anything.

I intend to work on my Alexa rank again after my new site is set up and rolled out, probably in May. For now, I'm just gonna cruise (and try to get some attention for all the wonderful guests I have lined up through April 2nd).

Anonymous said...

While I don't want to force writing too often, I'm finding that having a few deadlines gets me off my duff. I tried going completely schedule-less there for a while and found the writing sinking to the bottom of the pile too often.

Need both hands to type. Definitely. I type pretty fast that way, which makes me notorious for over-long emails.

I don't have a real interest in blog book tour posts that are simply about the book. I really prefer to have insights about writing from the author that grew out of working on the book.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Susan, I consider the time I'm doing more mindless activities (like cleaning) as "writing in my head time." I finally solved a plot problem that way. Sitting down to put those ideas on paper is a lot less stressful than staring hopelessly at a blank screen with no clue what to write next.