The Chain Reaction from Leaving Comments

The Minimalist Photographer: Photo Stream &emdash; Meters

Which bit is doing what?

In the whirlwind approaching a novel launch, there are so many things to keep track of at once. For An Uncollected Death, there was the final edit, formatting for Kindle, and formatting for Create Space, then creating a Facebook page and an author profile on Goodreads, announcing the publication on Google+ and Twitter, writing posts on the blogs, emailing people that might find the book and/or fact I published a novel interesting, and, possibly the most difficult of all, finding the guts to approach other writers for a blurb.

My biggest advantage, I think, was from the past couple of years reading and commenting on writing blogs and online communities that are truly of interest to me. I have found that it’s the best way to find “your people,” the ones whose language or word choice speaks to the way your own brain works, enabling you to utilize the information they share in a way that just plain feels right. Others might have the same, or even better information, but unless it lights up that bulb inside your skull, it isn’t really actionable, or sustainable.

The bonus comes when others in those communities also recognize you as one of “their people,” because what you have to say and/or the way you say it works for them as well as theirs works for you. The cool thing is that you don’t have to be the smartest one in the room, or the pithiest, for this dynamic to take place. Just show up and throw in your two cents’ worth once in a while. If the topic turns to something you know a lot about, sharing what info you have or a reasoned opinion supports the group as a whole, and most of the time makes you feel supported, too. It makes the big, vague Internet a warmer, friendlier place.

Anne R. Allen’s recent post on this very topic, Are You Ignoring This Simple Platform-Building Tool? lays it out clearly, and it has been re-posted, tweeted, and shared nearly everywhere by others in the community in and around her blog. Her post is of additional interest to me because she mentions this blog and its blogroll, complete with a link. Because her post has disseminated so widely, it means my little old blog has, too, and by extension an awareness of my writing.

Elizabeth Spann Craig not only has a helpful blog, but provides a Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine for links to articles and posts on just about every topic of interest to developing as a writer. She adds to it by way of her weekly tweets of things she’s read or retweeted. Once again, this blog, or at least my post, Learning to be a Novelisthas gone out into the world after she retweeted it and it went into the Writer’s Knowledge Base.

I’m no shining star on either author’s blog or online community, just another one of the many writers who follow them and leave a comment here and there, and who have also benefited from their participation. Participating helps to build up confidence, I think. I know I needed a lot of confidence to approach several writers and ask for blurbs for my book. Of the five authors I approached, one said no outright, one was inundated with work, one was “too slow” and inundated with crises, and the other two said yes. Every single one was gracious, supportive and helpful in other valuable ways, and the one inundated with work surprised me with a blurb and review after all. I’ve participated in enough blogs and forums to know if I belong or not, and facing rejection just isn’t a big deal anymore, as a result. I know I needed that toughening up first, or I wouldn’t have dared approached anyone else for a blurb. Those blurbs are critical for a newbie novelist.

Maybe writers don’t ignore commenting on others’ posts as a platform-building tool so much as they either haven’t found the right community or haven’t found the nerve to chime in with a comment. But if you want your work to be read, you have to be willing to have your comments read, too. You never know–it might be the start of a beautiful friendship.





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8 thoughts on “The Chain Reaction from Leaving Comments

  • Kristi Belcamino

    I love, love, love Elizabeth Spann Craig’s site. It is a must read for me. (I’m sure that’s how I ended up here on your page!)
    Thanks for the links and info.
    I recently had to ask for blurbs. My editor and agent took care of about three of them and then I asked for another five on my own. ACK. It may be the worst thing I’ve had to do as a writer so far. Horrible. Yuck.
    Anyway, thanks again and best to you.

    • Meg Post author

      Hi Kristi–welcome!!! Elizabeth is one of my heroes, no doubt about it. I follow her on Google+, too, and there she linked to an article at Your Writer Platform, How to Get Reviews for Your Book (Without Begging, Bribing, or Resorting to Subterfuge), which is a topic closely related to getting blurbs. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it, and if others won’t, we must. I think I’m more terrified of approaching book review sites than asking fellow authors for blurbs!

      Thanks for stopping by and chiming in!

  • Anne R. Allen

    Thanks for the shout-out for my blogpost. I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Spann Craig, too. You’ve got it just right–finding your “people” is essential for selling books these days and the best way I know to do that is to comment and network on blogs. Best of luck with your launch!

    • Meg Post author

      Hi Anne–and welcome to my blog! The launch is going very well, I think. Thank you so much for your helpful posts, especially the ones on social media–they really helped me wrap my mind around this whole process.

  • Anne R. Allen

    BTW a great way to extend your own blog community is to put a “share” widget. That way it’s easy to tweet the post or share it on FB, Reddit or wherever that reader hangs out. I have a icon on my toolbar that allows me to share from any site, but most people don’t have them, so it’s best to install the widget. It should be available with a couple of clicks through your dashboard.

    • Meg Post author

      You’re right! I have it on my other blog, but must add it to this one–thanks for the reminder, and will get on it asap 🙂

  • Nancy

    Thanks, Meg, for the encouragement to find your “tribe” through blog comments. I’m feeling braver these days and your post makes me want to venture out, so here I am, commenting on your blog 🙂

    I agree with you: asking for blurbs is hard; asking for reviews is harder. Any recommendations for getting reviews for a self-published book on a Connecticut farm?

    • Meg Post author

      Hi Nancy–yes, “tribe!” That’s the word I was looking for, but I’m stuck in the 60’s and 70’s sometimes. So, welcome to my blog!

      Boy, you’re asking a newbie, you know. But right off the top of my head, the best sources of reviews would be from your intended audience. I haven’t read your book, so I don’t know if your audience is other multi-generation farm owners, organic farmers, back-to-the-earthers, local history buffs, cultural historians, etc., or a mix of these. I see “locavore” in one of the blurbs. This suggests where you should network for a while, and then gracefully link to or mention the book. Or you could do a free book promo, or offer a copy or two as a prize in a new community.

      There are book reviewers with blogs, but I haven’t tried to approach them yet, myself. I’m surprised by how hard it is to get reviews even when hundreds of review copies have gone out, but that’s the way it is. We have to keep on keeping on.