CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Carrie Bailey: Friends Don’t Let Friends Blog Alone

Yesterday, I let the proverbial cat out of the bag in a new blog. The concept of #FollowFridays just took on a whole new meaning at the KuhnStories site.

Today marks the introduction of CHRIS’S CORNER, a special Friday feature during which I pass the reins to a trusted voice and give that guest the floor here at my blog to shed some light on a topic of interest to me, as well as my readers and blog followers.

I’m excited about launching the inaugural edition of this new Friday morning guest blogger series by introducing you to the key inspiration for it. Her name is Carrie Bailey, and if you don’t already follow her, I suspect you will by the time you’re done reading her blog.

Carrie hails from the Pacific Northwest and has the coffee addiction to substantiate it. More than that, the self-described “dystopian author” had the creativity, ingenuity and chutzpah to approach me about guest-blogging at my site. When I responded with my signature dopey look of confusion tinged with a little shame, she offered to enlighten and virtually christen my blog in the role of guest blogger. Seeing an educational opportunity that could stretch far beyond this week, I decided to invite others after Carrie to talk about a variety of topics of interest among the worlds of books, writing, pop culture and the like, so you will hear from many of these incredible people for weeks and months to come.

So, today, CHRIS’S CORNER brings you Carrie Bailey, author of  the fortchcoming The Guards of Auck and the novella Bungle of Oz, among others. She also serves as a charming ringmaster of sorts for a talented consortium of independent writers at The Peevish Penman. This blog is worth checking out for writers of any genre and level of experience to savor practical writing and publishing tips and advice wrapped in a tasty, nutritious and frequently hilarious wrapper. For more info about Carrie and her work, you can also visit www.carriebaileybooks.com.

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Writer-Carrie-Bailey-Japanese-Gardens

Chris wrote the most touching post I’ve read in a long time. It was titled My Own Sesame Street (Sort of). At the end of the post, she thanked the people online who make her feel like part of something bigger than just one computer and one woman with a story to tell. The best part is that I was one of them. Me. That was awesome.

After I finished reading it, I contacted her and suggested a guest post. Chris responded by telling me she would have to figure out how that would be done. I was stunned. Floored. Gasping for breath. A friend of mine who hadn’t been guest posting? This would be fixed, and I was just the blogger to get the ball rolling. After explaining the email, cut, and paste routine, I thought about what it was like when I first begin inviting guests to post on Peevish Penman.

Most of the people who agreed to write a post for my site were looking to increase the traffic to their own online homes. Each guest post is an opportunity for blogging authors to link to their websites, blogs, Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, and similar. The authors I invited wrote about press releases, writing scams, and lots of important issues about working as a freelance writer that I didn’t understand at the time, to be honest. I’ve gone back and read those posts when I was ready for the information and often found them invaluable.

Some of my early guest authors were people who sought out author websites for quick links and put no useful information in their posts. No opinions. No resources. No interesting anecdotes. They got a few quick links, stated what they were selling, and then I never heard from them again. My blog often felt cheaper after they had gone. Dirty almost, like it needed a metaphorical shower and a friend’s shoulder to cry on over an afternoon mimosa. This happens because links inside blog posts on other websites are used in the complex calculations that Google performs to determine which pages and posts come up in their search engine. Yeah, that applies to the other search engines, too, and that’s all they were after. They didn’t care about me or my blog AT ALL! Sob!

Great guest posting experiences have the same things in common with great dinner party guests, i.e. bringing wine, arriving on time, amusing anecdotes. There are just a few guidelines that make all the difference.

Bring quality content.

Imagine if you invited someone to your house for dinner and then they handed out their business card, bragged about their busy schedule, tried to sell all the other guests insurance or something, and then left early. Yeah, no. They won’t be invited back. A good guest post brings something of value to your blog. They offer experience, humor, support, and they avoid going for the hard sell.

Personally, I didn’t know what to say when I first started writing guest posts for other people’s blogs. I had been posting other people’s writing on my own site for two years before I gathered the courage to ask someone if I could write something for them. It wasn’t exactly good. I tried to be funny, but I didn’t understand their audience. The author who accepted my second attempt changed half of my wording until it didn’t even sound like me anymore. We still tweet each other though. We were both learning and they understood that as well as I did.

Build relationships.

The Internet brings out the strangest behavior in otherwise normal people. You wouldn’t show up to someone’s house, open the door, and shout, “I’m awesome! Buy my stuff! Bye!” and then turn around run down their driveway cackling madly about how great you are at business without engaging anyone in conversation. Yet, the internet leads some to think this is the best way to approach visiting other people’s blogs. Some authors don’t even return to your site to respond to comments.

Guest posters may not have anything to offer each other for a while after exchanging posts. But, done right, it’s the start of a good relationship. Sometimes I catch one of their tweets or they catch mine and we rekindle our association. Morgan Barnhart wrote many posts for my site in the early stages of my writing career when I was blogging without a clue. Now she owns Sociable Boost and I know I can go to her site for the best information about social media. She’s also a voice talent and is one of the first people to review my publications.

That’s right. Effective guest posting is about networking. When I get a chance to connect one on one with another author, we often sit down and trade efforts over a few weeks. We trade badges, which are another way to increase linking, we trade reviews of each other’s work, we trade tips on blogging and social media, and we give each other beneficial feedback. These relationships can run their course, but often that leads to us recommending each other for years. It’s more than just a link.

Occasionally, I run into someone who doesn’t want to network and is only interested in being a writing buddy and we exchange contact information. They may want to work together eventually, but they don’t feel ready to self-promote. These can be valuable friends, but I take caution and put limits on my interactions with people who don’t view writing as a business. Jealousy comes in all forms and it seems to hover around those obsessed with their worth as artists. Yes, I’ve gotten drunk calls from writers. Writers who wasted my time by posting guest posts of mine and pulled them down when I didn’t take their drunk call every evening and stop working on my novel to begin a joint venture with them. Wait, no, I mean alcoholics. Avoid alcoholic authors. Shy ones are fine.

 I want to thank Chris for giving me the chance to write about guest posting. I’m finally at the place where I feel comfortable with what I have to offer other people with my writing. If there is any advice I can give Chris or anyone else on getting started, I’d like to say treat people’s blogs like their homes. That’s what I’m really trying to say. We spend a lot of time developing them and making them our face to the world of online publishing. If you can remember that at all times, you’ll be in high demand and well admired everywhere you post.

Carrie Bailey is the author of a reptilian self-help book and an Oz novella about Bungle, the glass cat with pink marble brains. She obsesses over pineapple and coffee daily on Twitter as @PeevishPenman.

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My Own Sesame Street (Sorta)

I could start singing the theme for you, if you’d like. 

Sunny day. Sweepin’ the clouds away…

Snuffi

We all know it. Or at least those of us born in 1969 or later really know it, particularly here in the U.S. (I’m so glad that at least I can honestly say I’m not in THE oldest class of kids who watched. Okay, I’m part of the second oldest kids that watched. In 1970. Oy.)

This isn’t a blog about TV, by the way. You probably don’t believe me. I wouldn’t blame you.

I had planned another topic today, one more related to the book itself that I’m working on. Okay, here is where I think I’m supposed to pipe in with that mandatory early plug – I suppose I’d better get used to this… *coughs*

THE MUSE UNLOCKED coming this June!

And now, this is where you’re supposed to add a flag to your June calendar to remind you to check on its availability then. So go ahead. I can wait here. Go on.

I wonder if I could hire George Clooney to step in and say that little book  promo every time for me as my spokesperson. And I could just sit back and watch him…say it. Uh-huh. Or Stephen Amell of ARROW. Yeah, that would work, too. Or my Man of Steel, Henry Cavill. Mmm.

<Crickets.>

<Crickets.>

Sorry, lost myself for a moment.

No, this isn’t a blog about TV, my book or singing really great TV show themes poorly.

But I think it should be known that anything I’d sing for you this morning would sound much, much sexier than my usual nasal Midwestern twang thanks to my LOWER, raspier Kathleen Turner pipes that I’m developing courtesy of one miserable head cold and nagging cough  (So I’ve got that going for me…) These two guests are determined to ruin my birthday weekend, but I’m not going to let it. No way, no chance, nuh-uh.

So… what is this blog about? Good question. I think my cold medicine’s kicked in and I don’t really know anymore.

Oh wait, I do know.  Focus, Chris, focus.

Community. That’s what it’s about. Now, I remember.

You see, when I entered the Twitter community back in 2008, I was an editor for a magazine, so my interaction and updates were pretty specific and mostly locally-driven. In 2009, when my job changed from full-time editor to holy-shit-I’m-unemployed-now, I had to broaden my mind and my message, and go for it. After all, I could write for anybody, anywhere, anytime – and hey, that included me. So I started talking to people of all backgrounds, professions and home turf as I grew my work as a freelance writer and editor. Twitter basically opened the door to the world for me and invited me to take a step outside.

So I did.

Fast-forward four years.

Now, I’m out here exchanging wise quotes and lyrical sound bites with a former journalist based in Singapore, chatting romance and book boyfriends with an aspiring Canadian author I’ve since met in person and completely adore, and volleyed delicious double-entendres and what-not back and forth among a charming collective of erotica authors across the U.K. and the Land Down Under. And here in the States, I’ve truly enjoyed clinking virtual toasts with the newly published and engaging in conversations about everything from the writing process to Walking Dead with newbies like me and already published, successful authors. 

I’ve been dazzled by how giving folks are in the writing community, and it doesn’t even matter the genre. I am regularly interacting with fantastic writers beyond the realm of the contemporary romance scene — erotica, suspense, vampire thrillers — and it doesn’t seem to matter to them if I’m bound for one genre and them, another. All that truly matters is that connection, a genuine appreciation for each other’s work and the opportunity to learn from each other. That last one’s immeasurable.

I am discovering  a surprisingly symbiotic network out here in a field that I may have falsely presumed was solely about self-promotion but whose outstretched, open arms have embraced unexpectedly and  invited me graciously to be a part of the network, despite not being published yet.  The words of encouragement and support are beyond anything I could have imagined.

Now, for years, I haven’t been above gushing about people who I admire, for their work or the way they carry themselves, and I don’t think anything of doing this and spreading the love. It’s so refreshing to see writers out there doing the same for each other in the published world, and I so look forward to gaining my full-access membership card to this club. Soon… soon…soon. Must. Keep. Plugging.Along. Am trying to finish those all-important final steps.

So a special thank you to the members of my little informal, eclectic Sesame Street. People like…

Karen M. Hanks

Cameron Lincoln

Paige Thomas

Rebecca Gibson

Lisa Fulham

Robert India

John Geddes

Khaled Talib

Carrie Bailey

P.J. Bayliss

Mark Grago

Tiffany Reisz

M. Leighton

Sylvain Reynard

Gail McHugh

…just to acknowledge a few. Thank you for making me feel a part of something much bigger than a silly little book written by a lowly copywriter thrilled to be invited to her first prom.  Yep, I guess I am on my way and the air is definitely sweeter with you in it. 

Much love to my favorite posse of writers. I encourage you to check out their work which runs the gamut of genres, writing styles and formats.

Enjoy the rest of your day, everybody. And happy reading!
ck