The secret to blogging success. (Really.)

As you guys might or might not remember, I’m currently in the process of visiting all of the blogs I’ve followed since the first time I started blogging.

Yes, I’m still doing this more than a year later. I followed a lot of blogs.

You know what’s frustrating me, though? How many people stopped blogging seemingly because they were discouraged by the lack of comments on their blogs.

The reason why I find it frustrating? Time and again, these would be the people I used to visit frequently, but who just never seemed to visit back. And having been through about half of my list and visiting everyone at least once, I can say with safety that there are still people out there who expect other people to read their posts, but who don’t actually seem to get involved with blogs outside their own.

And now, it’s seemingly getting worse, because google seems to be actively discouraging the use of their “follow” button. So there’s no longer an easy, surefire way of getting a blog’s feed on a blog reader. (I use bloglovin, but dang, it can sometimes be a major schlep. Because bloglovin requires me to search for the feed on their site, and then, if it’s not there, they’ll add it later and I’m supposed to “check back.” Right. Because “checking back” on a link I will have forgotten in a day or two is going to happen.)

At any rate, it’s becoming easier and easier for people to “lose” blogs they visited once or twice. And there’s only one solution that I can see to this:

We have to visit each other, people. I know I disregard my advice a lot, since time sometimes just doesn’t allow me to do anything but post and run. But the moment I do that for a week or so, I can see my traffic taking a hit.

Back to my point. If we got back to the old ways (gosh I’m sounding old now) of reciprocating visits, and we knew everyone we went to would do the same, we wouldn’t have this problem with people not visiting.

It’s not that difficult either. First stop is your comments section. More often than not, your commenters’ names are in fact links that lead to their profiles, that lead to more links, that lead to their blog. So if someone says hi, go say hi back. See? Suddenly this has become a bit more of a conversation. A first step toward a relationship.

And suddenly, you’re not alone.

Tada! Discouragement problem solved.

Seriously, though. If you’re a lurker, yes, you in the back seats munching pop-corn while reading the comments. Please say hi! I actually WANT to find your blog.


At the least you’ll get a hi back within a few days. Or… depending on what you’re posting, maybe even a really thoughtful comment. (I try to be generous with those.)

Anyone else sharing my frustration with people not visiting around and then getting discouraged? Any tips for me to find new bloggers? Are you a lurker? (Hi!)

Coming soon to a blog near you.

So yesterday, I started doing something I haven’t done in YEARS.

I’m culling the follow lists on Bloglovin. (DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUN!)

Don’t worry, though. See in the course of my five years of blogging, I’ve followed about 5000 blogs. (It’s so bad that back when Google Reader still existed, I broke it in about two years after starting. This, in case you’re a new blogger, is one of the reasons why I have 1000+ follows.)

The thing is that I only really realized the need for separating the blogs a bit sensibly after I broke my Google Reader and I’ve been putting off creating order ever since.

But last year, my more-often-than-not absence has dwindled to nothing because I can safely say I haven’t been visiting enough people. So I thought, what better way to get out there than to go down my follow list and commenting on every single active blog I have on it? (And while unfollowing anything that hasn’t been posted on in the past year or more.)

I’m trying to see how many I can visit before April, because I’ve entered three of my blogs for the Challenge. (Still need to decide what I’ll be writing about.) I really really want to meet some new bloggers. But before I do, I’d really really like to actually be able to find them again later.

Then I changed something else today. I noticed a big drop in my comments from yesterday to today. (Which is unusual for my blog. Not blowing my horn, but yours. You regular visitors are AWESOME.) Today while on my visit spree, I noticed that I’m having problems with getting to the comments page on Blogger if the comments pages are embedded. So now I’ve changed mine to a pop-up. If, for some reason, the comments don’t work (or word verification – oh how I loathe those), please mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com to let me know.

In case you’re wondering, I’ll still be visiting people who commented on my posts. And if you haven’t been commenting lately, I should be dropping by anyway at some point. Right now I’m at A. Don’t laugh. I’ve already been through a whole lot of blogs starting with numbers and punctuation marks.

How many blogs do you follow? How do you maintain order?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Ian Bott on The Shifting Sands of Blogdom

When I entered the blogging world six years ago, first as a lurker and occasional commenter, then with a blog of my own, I was looking for information and advice. I lapped up posts on the writing craft. I devoured advice on querying and looking for agents and publishers. I followed endless numbers of blogs by big name agents, and then started hanging out with other writers.

The blogging world was alive with posts, comments, awards, tags, and blogfests. Then, maybe two or three years ago, I noticed things started changing. Once-vibrant well-known sites like Query Shark, The Public Query Slushpile, The Intern, and Flogging the Quill, are either dormant or very quiet. Many writers’ blogs I follow that used to be hives of activity have either slowed or died.
I’ve seen a spate of posts recently about this topic, so I don’t want to rehash old news. I’m looking for hope and positive thoughts in all of this and I’d love to hear your collective wisdom in the comments.
First off, I know my own relationship with blogging has changed over time.

As a blogger, I’ve always mixed in life and hobbies alongside writing-related topics. The latter has tailed off as I concluded that the world will survive without yet another post on the correct use of the apostrophe. 
As a blog reader, I barely touch blogs by industry professionals any longer. I will occasionally read posts on the craft of writing, but these days they have to be offering some new perspective to make me sit up and take notice.
But that’s just me. One small drop in a very large pond. It doesn’t explain the overall slowdown. Or is that slowdown just an illusion? Maybe it’s just that the group of writers I connected with in the early days have moved on as a group. Maybe there are other hives of activity out there beyond my horizon, where people are beginning the cycle all over again. 
What do you think? Is the slowdown widespread, or just patchy? Or am I imagining it all?
Blogging remains my chosen social media outlet. I shudder at the thought of FaceBook and Twitter. But in order to keep blogging fresh and alive, people need to be posting things that other people want to read.

What attracts you to a blog? When you follow a blog, what enticed you return to it? What do you look for, and how has that changed over the years?

Ian Bott is a science fiction writer who successfully evaded the writing bug until it bit him, late in life, by means of a sneak stealth attack. As a software developer he rebelled against narcolepsy-inducing software specifications and resolved to write technical documents fit for ordinary human consumption. From there, it was a small step to speculative fiction.

He lives in beautiful British Columbia with his wife, two children, and a steadily expanding menagerie of pets.

Ghosts of Innocence is his first novel. See details on his website:

Or connect with Ian on his blog:

I’m bringing guest posts back.

You know something I’ve been missing lately?

Guest posts on my blog. And interviews.

Remember I used to do a ton of them once?

Yeah me too. It was awesome. And it was a great way for people to get to know each other.

I want to bring them back. On… Mondays.

Since this was a subject of some confusion before, I’ll pre-empt you by doing some FAQs from last time:

What do I write about? 

Basically, I leave the subject open to you, lovely people. All it has to do is hold some sort of relevance to writers. About writing, editing, querying, self publishing, marketing or any sort advice you think people will find useful or interesting are usually easy and great fallback choices. 

Do I have to have something published in order to do a guest post on your blog?

No, in fact, I’d love it if we could feature writers in themselves on Mondays instead of their new books. Something nice and fresh, don’t you think?

What if I do have something that I want to market? 

Of course, you’re welcome to contact me and ask for a spot any other time of the week. Except the first Wednesday and the last Friday of each month. Those are reserved for IWSG my own big goals bloghop.

How do we do this? 

All you have to do is mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com and ask for a Monday. I’ll post available dates on the left side of this blog. I’ll assign dates on a first come, first serve basis. 

Any other rules? 

Yep, just a few: 
1) Please keep the post under 500 words not counting your bio. If you don’t, I’ll send back and ask you to edit. 
2) Please keep in mind that we’re a diverse and opinionated group. Being controversial is fine, but if you get personal in any way, your post won’t see the light of day and you’ll be barred from posting on this blog ever again. 
3) Yes, you’re welcome to tell your friends.  
4) If you book a date, please ensure that I receive your post a week ahead of time. 
5) Please do tell your friends when you’re posting here. I don’t charge and I ask nothing, but it would be nice for me to see some new faces on my blog.
6) No, I don’t do cover reveals. Especially not on Mondays.
7) Yes, I am willing to return the guest post favor if you want me to.
8) Images are welcome, but please no copyright infringements. I will ask. 
And that’s pretty much it. I have every Monday except 14 July open, so do please start mailing me. 

I’m Co-Hosting the Novel Films II Blogfest

Some of you might remember the Novel Films blogfest from last year. I do because it was fun and interesting to see who liked which movie adaptions and why.

So when Madeleine posted she needed help, I stepped in. Late on Friday. Which is why I’m only posting this now.

Anyway, the entries are still open, so I’d be thrilled if you joined. Here’s how it works:

Like last time, it will be a three day fest and on each day there will be something different:However, you can choose to post on just one day if you prefer.

Paying Forward and IWSG

Nominations for the Paying Forward Awards will close on Friday, so please get your nominations in if you haven’t yet.

And for you astute people who noticed that the blogfest coincides with IWSG, I will be doing both bloghops on Wednesday.

Anyone in for the Novel Films II Blogfest?

Also, happy Labor Day to all my US friends. 🙂

Meme Time!

Hi all!

Gwen Gardner nominated me to continue with this meme, so I decided I’d do so and see what you’re up to. I’m supposed to nominate more people, but I’d much rather see your answers in the comments. So do me a favor and at least answer some of them?

1. What are you working on right now?
Since I finished drafting that sequel I mentioned in IWSG, I’m now rewriting a high concept urban fantasy. 

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre? 
It doesn’t have humans, vamps, angels, demons, werewolves or fairies as main characters. 

3. What experiences have influenced you? 
Playing Assassin’s Creed, actually. Weird, I know. 

4. Why do you write what you do?
I write whatever interests me. And these characters are danged interesting. 

5. How does your writing process work?
Rough draft by hand, rewrite to computer, revisions and edits (many many times)

6. What is the hardest part about writing?
For me, it’s either discovering my direction while drafting, or keeping my interest alive while rewriting. Guess it depends on what I’m doing at the time. I always long to do anything except what I’m doing right now. 

7. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?
Well… Uhm… See… I wanted to say write a mystery, but I did that as a short story. So I guess I’ll say write a mystery novel…

8. Who are the authors you most admire?
Right now, Robert Galbraith J.K. Rowling. 

9. What scares you? 
My biggest fear at the moment is that Doorways won’t interest readers. I wish I could say it’s irrational and unfounded, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a well-conceived and edited book went largely ignored. 
Can’t wait to read your answers! 
In the meantime, I just have two things I want to remind everyone of. 1) If you have a crazy/important goal, you might want to check out my new bloghop. 2) Please please please don’t forget to volunteer for the new Paying Forward Awards

I’m a minion!

Sort of like this, but prettier. And with two eyes.

Yep, I volunteered to help out the A to Z Challenge cohosts and Damyanti picked me to help her, along with Mina, Pam and Rosalind.

Because of that, I even got this badge.

For in case you’re new to the blogging world or lived under a rock for a long time, let me give you some info on the A to Z Challenge.

The concept is easy. There are 26 weekdays and Saturdays this April. On each of them, you do a post. The topics/titles of the posts have to correspond to the day’s letter. (A on day 1, B on day 2 etc.) If you want, you can follow a theme, or you can be wacky. You can plan ahead or improvise. As long as there are 26 posts from A to Z.

The fun, though, is the fact that this is by far the biggest blogfest I take part in. Last year had over 1000 blogs participating, covering a wide variety of topics. It’s an amazing way to get to know people.

But please remember, the best way to get to know them is to go to their blogs first and leave a nice comment. And also, please don’t start at 1 unless you’re planning to hit as many blogs as possible. Yes, I know it’s not nice to tell people what to do, but as someone who hit 800+ blogs last year, I found it really sad that some really good blogs went unvisited because they were lower down the list.

Anyway, does A to Z sound good to you? Great! Click the badge below to sign up.

A to Z Challenge [2013]

Before you go!!! Please don’t forget to volunteer prizes for the Paying Forward Awards! You ladies and gents make it awesome, so please search your hearts. Any prizes will be welcomed, so please contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com if you’re interested in contributing. Please make “Paying Forward” your topic so I can keep track easily. 

Also!!! Don’t forget to check out February’s Word Master Challenge. Entries close on 3 March. 

Are you signing up for the A to Z Challenge? Got a theme planned?

News Day Week 3: Announcing Nominees and Sponsors

It’s News Day again! For those of you new to my blog, it’s a series where I bring awareness to goings on in our writing community. If you have something you’d like me to share, please contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. It can be anything. From blogfests to great beginners to posts you think everyone should read. It can also be your own bit of news, if you’d like.

Today, though, I have to focus on the biggest piece of news for MFB:

I present to you the nominees and sponsors for January’s Paying Forward Award. By the way. I think the name’s sort of lame. Anyone have a better one?


Before I get to the nominees, I want to give a special thank you to this month’s sponsors and their prizes. Please go visit them all and give them some love. Why? Because they are all amazing.

Beta read or editing of first 100 pages
Critique of first three chapters
Redesign of a blog button, header or background
Her two YA time travel novels: Screwing Up Time and Screwing Up Babylon
Beta Read or Edit of first chapter 

Critique of first chapter
Critique of first 500 words. 

Finally, I will be giving away a $25 voucher to the vendor of your choice (assuming I can purchase it online).

Now, onto the Nominees by Category (in no particular order):

Most Encouraging Blogger: 

Best Reviewer: 

Best Writing and/or Inspirational Blog: 

Beginner and/or Small Blogger with Most Potential:

Thanks to every single person who nominated these extraordinary bloggers! Voting must please be done by email with “my vote” as the subject. E-mail address: mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Please pick one or no blogger for each category. Voting will stay open until 31 Jan and I’ll announce the winners on 5 February. 
So people. Who are your favorites in each category? Got a better name for the awards?  

Beginnings Blogfest

Today I’m taking part in L.G. Keltner’s Beginnings Blogfest. Being the nice person she is, she didn’t give us any rules as to which beginning we should write about. So I thought I’d be all lazy and post the first post I ever did on this blog. But that’s easy. And unnecessary. Because if you wanted to read it, you’d have gone to archives and picked the first post. 

Instead, I thought, I’d do something a bit more helpful to new bloggers. On this blog, I’m going to do two posts from my early blogging days. On my other one, I’m giving ten tips I wish I knew as a beginning blogger. 

Okay then… The first post is from 3 August, 2010. It’s the second one I ever wrote. 

On the joys of being a new blogger

So… at the moment I’m still blogging to myself, which kind of feels strange. Almost like a new empty house. Everything I say reverberates in my mind and I wonder how I’m going to get this out there. 

For now though, just building this blog is bringing up complications. For example, do I continue with the use of my dark but beautiful background or do I go lighter. Do I allow advertising to cover my blog? I suppose that I should be worrying about this later, but somehow I just can’t help myself… 

I will get over this overwhelming desire to put too much nonsense on my blog. I promise. This extends to my posts. Therefore… Thus closes this post.

As you can see, I was completely lost in the start. In fact, I’d e-mailed about five blog authors begging for advice. They were wonderful and gracious when they answered. Which is why I fell in love with blogging. But there was a problem…

Nearly a week. and… nothing but soul searching

I’m starting to feel rather down now, but maybe it’s just that I want to sleep.

I’ve been blogging for almost a week now and this is the impact I’ve made: five profile views. Absolutely no followers. 

As much as I enjoy blogging, I never really enjoyed the idea of writing for myself. Not even my book. Since I was really small, everything I wrote was presented to someone to see. My mom (for honest crit) and my gran (full out support) were my favourite recipients. After I got the idea of short stories down, I wrote every assigned task with the idea that someone else is going to read this, namely my teacher.

I would ask, what am I supposed to do? What do you want to see on the blog… but… alas you are not here. So the empty house reverberations continue, leaving me to fight a slight sense of panic. 

What if… the same happens with my book… What if… I write all of it and no one cares. Should I even care at this stage of the game? I think so… everything I write comes straight from my heart. Repeating this process again and again and again without anyone actually seeing this makes me feel… well… terribly lonely. 

When people tell you that you should blog, they never warn you about the beginning days. The writing isn’t hard. The honesty isn’t hard. Sharing experiences isn’t hard. But blogging to yourself is. It sucks. Big time… So much so that I’m wondering why I’m doing this to myself. 

[Huge amount of insightful but currently irrelevant soul searching withdrawn]

I guess that the only thing I can do is to just do my best to get followers for my blog and not get hit so hard by the apparent lack of interest. I’m sure that someone out there cares enough that he or she will stumble across my attempts and join me in the experience. Maybe it’s just coincidence that they haven’t stumbled across me already….

This same blog crossed 100 followers by the end of 2010. I hit 450 by end 2011 and by end 2012, almost 900. There is hope. Don’t give up. 

To all you veteran bloggers out there, what were your first days like?