Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Integrated Blogging


By Rona Simmons


Which of the following describes you best: You’re an author who blogs. You’re a freelance article writer who blogs. You’re a blogger of one or more blogs. You have a Facebook author page. You have a Twitter account. You have an Instagram account. Or, like me, you are all of the above.

Soon after I began writing, like many another author, I started a blog, which became two blogs, and then three blogs.

When I wasn’t writing, I read untold numbers of blogs, bookmarking my favorites to read again later. The more blogs I read, the more I realized there were better blogs on writing with more frequent posts and longer reach than I could ever hope to match. I stepped back and asked myself why I was writing a blog on writing. Wasn’t it to find and speak to readers who share my interests in reading and who might be interested in my books? If so, why was I blogging about writing? The audience for my blog, if it were ever successful, would be other writers, not readers.

About this same time, I became overwhelmed with the demands of my social media presence. Blogging and other online activities distracted me from my primary interest (marketing my published novels, editing my novel in progress, and researching new ideas). Something had to give.

I reassessed my blogging activities and decided to shut down my blog on writing, reposting the few relevant posts to a new blog. But, this time, for the new blog, I heeded the best pieces of advice I had found:
·         to blog about something genuinely of great personal interest
·         to blog on a topic germane to the theme or period or characters or setting of your novels
·         to blog as a form of daily, weekly, or periodic writing exercise
·         to blog and then leverage those blogs as content for future submissions.

So, I focused most of my efforts on my new blog, one profiling women in the creative arts: writers, photographers, sculptors and other visual artists, performance artists, and the occasional odd egg—a gardener, a bookstore owner, and a quilter (or two). It features women I know, women I don’t know but admire, women alive today and those who lived in earlier times but have a thing or two worth sharing that has stood the test of time. All these women intrigue me. They are women whose psyches, if I can come to know them better, may find a home in a character in a future novel. So now, my primary blog is inextricably intertwined with my writing, my genre, my settings, characters, and themes. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I didn’t stop there.

I reassessed my other social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Instagram) and slowly but surely I am weaning them of the extraneous stuff and shifting their lenses toward the same topic, women in the creative arts. Sure, the occasional shiny object still calls to me, but when I spend time on social media today, it’s most often to say something relevant to my writing life and something I believe my followers will enjoy reading.

Further, I narrowed my promotional efforts to focus on blogs, journals, and magazines open to guest blogs and article, story, and interview submissions and those with a readership of:
·         women who read books, preferably by female authors
·         women who review books
·         women who engage in or comment on the arts, preferably by female artists
·         fans of historical fiction, specifically WWI and WWII
·         fans of recurring themes in my writing, women on a path to self discovery and empowerment
·         people with interests in the settings of my stories.

I picked a dozen of these sites and subscribed to them. I participate in discussions on their sites when appropriate, and I am beginning to know them, their preferences, and their publication and editorial calendars.

A few of the sites that fit my criteria above include:
·         womensfictionwriters.com (Blog by Amy Sue Nathan)
·         booksbywomen.org (Women Writers, Women’s Books)
·         persimmontree.org (An Online Magazine of the Arts by Women Over Sixty)
·         minervarising.com  (Literary Journal)
·         velamag.com (Written by Women)

There’s certainly nothing wrong with keeping the door open to a new blog or opportunity, but without drawing a tight line around my social media efforts, any new blog that caught my attention became every new blog. While I write what I want to write, and I know that some pieces fall outside the guidelines of those I follow, when I do have an appropriate piece, I now know just where to submit the piece. Life is far simpler today. I feel like am back in control.
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Rona Simmons blogs at Women @ Word and maintains her writer’s page at RonaSimmons.com. She is the author of Postcards from Wonderland (Deeds Publishing 2015) and The Quiet Room (Deeds Publishing 2014). Her previous works include a ghostwritten biography of a prominent Atlanta businessman, a collection of short stories compiled from interviews of family and friends from the early to mid 1900s. Her articles, essays, and interviews have been published in various online and print magazines and journals, and a work of flash fiction broadcast on internet radio.Online links to additional information about Rona Simmons include: email: rona_simmons@bellsouth.net website:  ronasimmons.com blog:  womenatword.wordpress.com
facebook: facebook.com/pages/Rona-Simmons-Author Twitter: @rona_simmons Pinterest: pinterest.com/rdsimmons Instagram: instagram.com/ronasimmons

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