The Unspoken Rules of Guest Posting for Authors

I’m not the world’s most prolific guest poster, but someone asked me about it, so I’ll ramble about what I know…

As an author, if you’re writing a guest post, there are some unspoken rules of etiquette that I will speak of, because I’m all about speaking about the generally unspeakable:  TMI!

In brief:

  • Write an original post that you do not use elsewhere.  You can always write multiple posts on the same topic, but do not copy old material in a guest post, and do not post your guest post on the same site.  The general idea is to drive traffic to the host’s website.  If your content can be found elsewhere on the web, there’s no reason for your followers to go to the host’s website.  Of course, you hope that the hosts’s followers will go to your website, too, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
  • Be entertaining.  If you are not entertaining, people will not expect to be entertained by your books.  The reason that you are being invited to guest post is to be entertaining–Aha, says the host, I will invite someone to guest post that will entertain my readers. No matter what you are technically supposed to be writing about, you must be entertaining.  (Unlike at your own website, where you are allowed to be as dry as you like.)
  • Keep it under 1000 words; longer than that, and people may not read the whole way through–and the links to your website will be at the bottom of the post.  Leave them wanting more–at your website.
  • Always include links to a) the book you’re promoting and b) your website at the bottom of your post, whether you’re prompted to or not.
  • At your website, write a brief summary (100 words or less) about what you wrote about on the other website, and link to the other website.  Announce your guest posting over whatever social networking that you normally use.
  • If you are doing an interview, only answer the questions with amusing stories.  Even if the questions read like a personality questionnaire or you’ve heard them a thousand times already, you must a) tell a story and b) be entertaining.  The readers want to meet the author; you have to be your most charming.  You’re the writer; it’s your job to convince people to care–not your interviewer’s.

If you want to be more professional about it, here are additional tips:

  • Read a selection of posts on the host’s website, both posts on what they write about usually and a few guest posts.
  • Try to figure out who their audience is and what they want–readers, people who want to know about a certain subject, people who are amused by the host’s attitude toward life, etc.
  • Consider where your book meets their audience and write about that.  If you wrote a foodie romance and you’re on a cooking website, talk more about the food; if you’re on a romance website, talk more about the people who inspired you.
  • If you want to be really over-the-top helpful about it and know anything about keywords, figure out the intersection of search terms you think people would use to find you and to find your host’s site…and include those in your post. If not, don’t worry about it.

4 comments

  1. j.a. kazimer says:

    Thanks for this. I’m doing a bunch of these for the book release. I never thought about the rules before. I knew DeAnna rocks, but this, what can I say, you are the best!

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