In which the intrepid C. M. Mayo (whose recent novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, is not-so-coincidentally out in paperback) explains why guest blogging is a flourishing new literary genre and a powerful tool for promotion, and provides 10 hot tips for coming up with your own guest blog posts. And does it, of course, in a guest blog. Derrida would have a field day.
I felt very avant garde back in 2006, when I wrote my first guest-blogs for Wendi Kaufman’s now, alas, apparently abandoned “Happy Booker” blog (“If I Had an iPod: Top 5 Mexican Music Selections “) and for the travel blog World Hum (“The Speed of Rancho Santa Ines”). But over the past year, in promoting this new novel, Holy Smokes! I’ve written for:
- Work-in-Progress (“How to Hang in There and Finish Your Novel”)
- beatrice.com (“What Connects You to the 1860s?”)
- A Writing Life (“Break the Block in 5 Minutes”)
- bookreporter.com (“A Book Club Meeting Menu”)
- Largehearted Boy (Playlist for The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire)
- Red Room (“C.M. Mayo Celebrates a Batch of Bookstores”)
- Potomac Review Blog (“Who Knew That Mexico Had a Half-American Prince?”)
- Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Blog (“VCCA Memories”)
- … and more.
I’m not unusual in this regard; many long-established writers are newly busy with guest-blogging— and hosting guest-bloggers. On my own blog, Madam Mayo, I’ve hosted several other writers on their so-called “blogtours” — Sandra Beasley, Sandra Gulland, Joanna Smith Rakoff, Porter Shreve, Tim Wendel, and many more (view the full line-up of Madam Mayo’s guest-bloggers here). Two more examples: Leslie Pietryk and Christina Baker Kline, both outstanding novelists, frequently host other writers on their blogs, Work-in-Progress and, well, this one here. (Editor’s note: praise unsolicited.)
And so — 10 tips for coming up with your own guest blog posts:
1. Think about music: what songs might make a great soundtrack? Which songs might your characters would sing in the shower?
2. Think about food: any recipes from the book? Any recipes your characters might concoct?
3. Think about places: perhaps a certain city or mountain or lakeside resport in your book (or etc) is special. Photos, please!
4. Fantasize: which actors could play the parts in the movie? If your character were born in Virginia in 1960 instead of say, France in 1765, where would she work?
5. Tell a story about the book (e.g., how I found my agent; why I finally, with much gnashing of teeth, threw out chapter 1; the day I got the idea to write the book).
6. Thank those who helped you (Chekhov? Tolstoy? Teacher? Mom? Husband? Dog? Cat?).
7. Select an excerpt that might work.
8. Interview yourself (don’t be shy!). Ask yourself three questions about the book.
9. Offer helpful hints (How to bake bread; how to write a novel in 12 easy steps (ha ha); how to keep your cat off the laptop; how to find time to write; how to find an agent).
10. Generate lists, e.g., three poets who influenced my understanding of rain; 10 reasons to take a writing workshop; 7 cities I wish were in the novel but they didn’t make the cut ; my favorite places to write in Washington DC; 5 books everyone in Bethesda should read right now; 4 yoga poses to make your creativity bloom …
In sum, guest-blogging is at once a flourishing new literary genre and a powerful tool for literary promotion. While you probably won’t get paid in cash to write a guest blog, you will get paid, and sometimes very handsomely, in clicks. And if you don’t think that counts, check out what Facebook charges per click for advertising. (Speaking of which, please click here.)
P.S. More resources for writers here.
C.M. Mayo is the author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, an historical novel based on the true story and named one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2009. She is also the author of a travel memoir, Miraculous Air, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. A long-time resident of Mexico City and an avid translator of Mexican poetry and fiction, she is the editor of Mexico: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. She divides her time between Mexico City and Washington DC, and blogs on sundry subjects at Madame Mayo. This was adapted from a post on First Person Plural.