Friday, January 2, 2009

Writing for a Blog Tour and Writing for Books – How are they Different?

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There are similarities and differences with respect to writing for a blog tour and writing a book. In this article I will examine four aspects of writing and how they apply similarly or dissimilarly to writing tour posts and books.

1. Planning the Content. Tour stops are like chapters in a book. A book with chapter after chapter of the same content would be pretty boring, would it not? After two or three chapters, you would put the book down and figure the author was going nowhere with this story. Same with a virtual tour. Each chapter should have its own story within the larger story. At the same time the whole story and all its chapters should be cohesive. One stop should lead you with interest to the next. Nothing is worse than a month-long dirge of same old same old “Interview with the Author,” or “Meet the Author” posts. I’m sorry, but I don’t need to read for the umpteenth time what your favorite color is or what your five pets’ names are. Maybe give me that information in ONE of your tour stops, that’s lovely, but beyond that … it’s boring. If you can’t get more creative than that, I don’t want to buy your (most likely) unimaginative book. So two words for you. Variety and cohesiveness.

2. Writing the Chapters. Some authors write books from a detailed outline. Others have a plot stirring in their head and just start writing. Both methods work, depending on the author, but writing for a successful virtual tour demands an outline. Could be as simple as a sketchy idea for each post, but you better know where you are going with each one and have an agreed upon format with the host.

Q & A interview formats can be interesting or they can be real yawners. Know your hosts. Have you read any of their other interviews? Are they creative with their questions, do they draw depth, imagination and valuable information out of their guests? Have the Q & A done well ahead of post date. Read and revise as necessary to make sure the content is a good and worthy read. One of my hosts on my recent tour got online with me in a chat room and we did the interview live. This method adds conversational realness and spontaneity, but it requires lengthy and careful editing. Make sure your host is a good editor. If not, ask to do the editing yourself.

A host may ask you to compose an article for his or her tour stop, something that is on topic for that blog. This is your chance to shine. Write the article and edit it with all the care and attention you would give to a chapter in your book. Your writing ability is going to be on display and will be judged.

3. Changing voices and pace. When you write a good book, your characters have different voices, with unique personalities. Also in a good book, you change the pace to fit the scene. Same goes with writing for a good blog tour. Have the host interview one of your characters. Or how about this – if some of your hosts are authors, do some scenes in which one of your characters interacts with one of theirs. Have a fight scene. Quick paced. Short sentences. Slam bang action. Or have an in depth discussion. Slow the pace way down and delve into deep psychological, social, political, emotional or spiritual issues.

Make sure you have these changes of pace and voice arranged in a well thought out plan. Just as with crafting a good book, too many fast paced scenes back to back with the same voices screaming at you can get nerve-wracking. Conversely, a lengthy end to end run of scenes paced with all the speed of a tortoise on valium will send your readers into a coma. Mix it up. Make it interesting. Have fun.

4. Editing your writing. A book, once it is published, cannot be further edited. At least not in that edition. Well, if it is a POD and you spot some horrible mistakes, you can pay to have them edited out and/or corrected. But for the most part all the editing is done, finished and permanent when a book is published. With tour posts, as with any blog post, you can edit as much as you want for as long as you want. There is this (I think) erroneous attitude that some bloggers who consider themselves “purists” have, that once you post on a blog it should be left as is for posterity. Mistakes happen. Blogging is an art, and little blemishes, those literary warts that pop up on the face of your posts in your hurry to publish are not to be corrected. “It is what it is,” they feel, and should be left as is. Like a Zen calligraphy. There are no mistakes. Every brush stroke is what it is and is a perfect statement of the here and now universal mind.

Well horse-puckey. If god didn’t intend for bloggers to be able to edit their posts after publishing, then why did he invent the edit option on your dashboard? Go ahead. Edit and correct to your heart’s content. You won’t go to hell. Promise. Leaving a misspelled guest’s name or a grammatical faux pas up on your blog for eternity when you know it could be written better or the mistake corrected is just plain bad. Fix it. Plus, you will likely after the tour want to have a web page with the tour stops’ permalinks posted so people can revisit the tour and/or you can link to it in future posts. So this author blogger with his editor’s cap on says, edit out mistakes if you want to. Also feel free to augment or delete as you wish if you feel there are necessary and/or desired improvements to be made to a post after it has been published.

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Article written and submitted by Marvin D Wilson
Author of I Romanced the Stone, and Owen Fiddler
Marvin blogs at Free Spirit

4 comments :

  1. I liked the comparison of blog stops to book chapters. It makes me rethink my approach.
    http://ljraves.blogspot.com

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  2. I just know if I want to do a tour, I'll need to get very organized and have my blogs ready ahead of time. Otherwise, chaos will result!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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  3. I just hosted a book tour stop at my blog (The White Road and Other Stories by Tania Hershman). She was organised at the start as she came up with a list of topics and each stop chose one. I think it worked out okay, not a lot of repetition.

    I sent her my questions before hand so that I could sort out everything well in advance.

    I've never heard of NOT editing a blog. Who would not fix an error? That's just crazy talk.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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