Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Highs and Lows of a Group Blog

Copyright © 2013 Carrie Lofty
After receiving a few rejections for my first manuscript, Serenade, set in Napoleonic Austria, I did what my market researcher husband would do: I took a good hard look at the market. When I realized how few romance novels set outside the British Isles have been published in recent years, I decided to start a multi-author blog devoted to historical romances. So in November 2006, Unusual Historicals was born. Part networking tool, part industry watercooler, and part to-be-read pile fattener, Unusual Historicals remains a labor of love.
Because, let me tell you, managing a group blog is not easy!
However the benefits can be tremendous. While some argue that the age of the blog has passed, replaced by more instantaneous social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, I disagree. It’s just a matter of knowing your particular blog’s strengths, and then following a few key suggestions.
Know Your Niche. There are so many blogs to choose from, many of which simply feature groups of friends who’ve decided to get together and share the responsibilities of regular posting. If you don’t have a clear purpose, or if your format or theme mimics more successful blogs of a similar type, you won’t get the readership you desire. Unusual Historicals remains the only blog dedicated to its particular theme, which helps keep us unique and interesting.
Vary Your Line-up. At present we feature 25 contributors on Unusual Historicals. These authors write in time periods ranging from ancient Rome to World War II, from China to Chicago, from Mongolia to Madagascar. Our authors write sweet stories, erotic stories, and even M/M romances. Not all of our contributors are published, and our publishers range from e-presses to the largest New York houses. My point is this: make sure contributors to your group blog have a breadth of experiences and specialties. This will make sure that readers discover something new every time they visit.
Stay Consistent. Without consistency, your readers don’t know what to expect. And without new content, your readers will grow bored and disappear. After months of trial and error, we at Unusual Historicals decided on a regular schedule that combines new posting material, excerpts, announcements, and guest promotional opportunities. We also decided on monthly themes to give our posts some cohesion.
This month, for example, our topic is one near and dear to every romance writer’s heart: MEN! We’ve already had posts on The Macaronis of “Yankee Doodle” fame, Muhammad XII of Granada, and forms of address among men during World War II. All men, all unusual, and all very different!
Reap the Benefits. Managing a multi-author blog, or even participating as a contributor, can be demanding. We live very busy lives and exist under multiple deadlines. But this past July at the RWA national conference, I met over a dozen women who’d contributed to this blog. We have a shared camaraderie because of our interest in unusual historicals, and thus a shared desire to see one another succeed in this challenging business. I credit our hard work for developing these friendships and valuable industry connections.
So think hard about what niche you can fill, and then devote yourself to make it the best blog it can be. Have fun! Meet like-minded people! And network like crazy to make sure your potential readership knows where to find you. Good luck!
Since 2008, RITA-nominated and RT Reviewers’ Choice-winning author Carrie Lofty has over twenty books to her name—or four names, to be precise. Currently with Pocket, her historical romances have been described as “nuanced and superbly realized” (The Chicago Tribune), while her “Dragon Kings” paranormal series, written as Lindsey Piper, is “sexy, brutal and somehow innocent” (All About Romance). In May 2014, Carrie celebrates the release of her first New Adult romance, Blue Notes, featuring a shy piano prodigy and a New Orleans playboy.
As Katie Porter, all five of Carrie and co-writing partner Lorelie Brown’s “Vegas Top Guns” contemporary erotic romances received 4½ Stars from RT BookReviews. They have been honored with a Reviewers’ Choice award for Best Erotic Ebook, and the first m/m nomination for RT’s Book of the Year. Back-to-back releases of their La Femme Nakita-inspired military romance series will begin in May 2014 from Samhain.
During her junior year abroad, Carrie lured an unsuspecting Englishman to the Midwest, where she’s kept him a happy ex-pat for sixteen years. With two pre-teen daughters and a master’s degree specializing in Old West outlaws, Carrie is a movie buff, a former ballroom and bellydancer, and a woman in desperate need of a maid service.

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