Wednesday, July 28, 2010


“It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and sense of duty.”

- Albert Einstein

There are many lurkers out there. How do I know this? Because I get a nice number of comments for every post (and I appreciate each and every one of them), but the number doesn’t compare with how many visits I receive per day, which now runs near 300. (To get your own info:

This means some come to my blog by accident, others read my posts but don’t comment, and then there are the people who read and comment.

So many people who target writers advise them to build a platform. This isn’t like the movie “Field of Dreams” where shoeless Joe says to Ray, “If you build it, he will come.” Readers don’t magically show up. If it’s not magic, what is it?

  1. You have to have something interesting and honest to write about.

  1. Being warm and/or funny is a plus.

  1. Make your blog easy on the eyes. LARGE font. Good contrast between background and font. S P A C E between paragraphs. And don’t make your paragraphs tooooooo long - it’s tooooooo hard to read on a computer screen.

  1. Don’t bash people in the publishing industry.

  1. If you review books, be careful what you write. It’s a small world.

  1. Don’t list your mountains of rejections.

  1. While some pictures are nice, don’t make your post only pictures.

  1. Consistency in post size, and/or content is appreciated.

  1. Speaking of post size, try to keep them under 1k words. This includes when you do writing fests. I find it hard to concentrate on a large amount of text, even if it’s good writing.

  1. If someone follows you, follow him/her back. It’s good manners.

  1. If you set up a Google profile, make sure you add your blog as a link. If you don’t and you follow a blog, that blogger won’t be able to click to find your blog.

  1. Comment on other blogs. It’s especially important if someone comments on your blog that you comment in return.

  1. Don’t start a blog just for a platform because it may be obvious.

  1. When you begin, plan to write consistently or people will forget you. But it’s probably not a good idea to write everyday unless your posts are short.

  1. Promote your blogger friends’ blogs, successes, and books when you can (See below). Go a little farther and preorder the book or put it on your Amazon wishlist. And write an Amazon review. (See #5)

  1. Link your blog to Facebook by setting up a Networked Blogs account.

  1. Don’t let blogging take over your life. You’re supposed to be writing, remember? If you stop writing, this “platform” will be for nothing.

  1. When you get that coveted agent/book contract/spot on the “New York Times” Bestseller List don’t forget to keep your blog interesting. No, each and every post about buying your book or patting yourself on the back is not interesting to anyone but you. Okay, maybe your mom. And if you stop commenting on other blogs, people may stop reading your blog.

I’ve mentioned that my blog began as a way to vent about substitute teaching. Before that, I hadn’t looked at other blogs, at least not on purpose. Maybe they came up on a Google Search or something. But once I began my blog, I sought out other teachers and subs. It took me months to realize I should seek out other writers too. (Teachers who are writers have a special place in my heart.) That’s when I learned about something called a PLATFORM.

Having this platform, even if it doesn’t lead to a zillion book sales, is teaching us how to network and promote. So when a publishing company tells us writers to get out there and help sell our books, we’ll have followers, friends, and published writing friends to ask for help and advice. A platform is even more important for self-published writers.

Back to lurking. (I’m too tired for a segway because I’m covering from my daughter’s birthday party: I baked in the sun for 3 1/2 hours. Even though it was in the 90s, somehow it was windy. I didn't buy juice boxes, but decided to be good to the environment and write people's names on cups. Those kept blowing away in the wind, so I spent a lot of time chasing them. Sometimes the wind would dump the juice in the kids' laps. I couldn't light the birthday candle. And a box of cupcakes tumbled to the ground also caused by said wind.)

On “Let the Words Flow”, there’s an interview with Natalie Fischer:

She talks about lurking on other blogs and recommends that you link part of your manuscript. I thought that was a great idea. So I’m adding a link to my sidebar, near the top of my SECOND TITLE “Earnest Writer’s Excerpts” The first chapter of The Disappearances and the prologue and chapter one of Aura will be there. Feel free to visit and comment.

By the way, which do you prefer for a title:

The Disappearances


The Mist Chasers

I was all set with the first one, but someone in my critique group suggestion the second title after the term “mist chaser” appeared in chapter four.

Here are a few fellow writer-bloggers who are selling books (If I forgot you, e-mail me tmilstein at gmail dot com or put your blog in the comments and I’ll add it). They’re in alphabetical order by author.

Aubrie Dionne:

Karen Gowen Jones:

Kate Kaynak:

Walter Knight:

Mary McDonald:

Susan Kaye Quinn:

Beth Revis:

Talli Roland:

Katie Salidas

Hilary Wagner:


Do you view your blog as a platform?

What do you like about blogging?

What do you dislike about blogging?


  1. How wonderful that you get 300 hits a day! Congrats.

    I read your blog whenever you do write. I haven't been able to comment as much lately due to internet troubles, but I always read your posts.

    And I appreciate you commenting on my blog when you do. You were my first follower! I didn't even KNOW I had a follower until weeks after you started commenting. (I was a little slow to the blogging world).

    I have fallen into the blogging world head first. I pretty much read blogs all day long. My Google reader is always popping up something. I don't always comment, but maybe I should.

    Good advice!

  2. I love Mist Chasers! Think of the cover! Something with gorgeous play of light/shadows softened by the mist.

    It's not a platform yet. It's more like my sofa. We're all just hanging out in my living room laughing and having a good time.

    I love blogging because it provides a creative outlet and has introduced me to so many wonderful writers/friends.

    I dislike that there aren't more hours in the day so I can continue to enjoy the blogging experience!

  3. I looove Mist Chasers!

    I love blogging mostly for community. It takes time, but the rewards are amazing.

  4. The Mist Chasers sounds so intriguing.

    I think I break many of your blogging guidelines:) I love the photos so I tend to post quite a few. I suppose it all depends on the target audience your are writing for or trying to reach.

    I agree, blogging is a great teaching tool for networking and promotion. I just need to learn to use this platform more effectively:)

    I do view my blog as a platform to promote early childhood education.

    I like writing every day - I like the opportunity to share ideas and be creative.

    I don't like spam:) Other than that, I love it. I have had to adjust my approach over time and find a rhythm that works well for me. I think I just have about gotten there but I keep an open mind!

    Thanks for the article and your blog as well:)

  5. What a great post, Theresa! Thank you for the wonderful advice :) I love your blog, and try my best to visit and comment as much as I can.

    I'm think I'm failing at balancing blogging and writing, but I'm working on it! It's so easy to get caught up - especially when you're meeting and connecting with such wonderful people.

    And I really like "The Mist Chasers"

  6. Last night I really didn't feel well and I was trying to get all my comments done before going to bed. My husband asked why it was a big deal. I replied that a. it was polite b. the posts were usually very interesting and c. it was supportive. If you were to create a button and put it on your sidebar, you could title it something like Blogging Etiquette...and we could all do with you. Great advice.

    As for the title, I really like them both. The second one may generate more commercial appeal...?

    The three questions:

    1. Platform? Not really. I began blogging for two reasons-discipline and a place just for me. I've mastered the discipline and really want to go to posting just a few days a week (#14) because #17 is beginning to happen.

    Also, because you can have your blog published, I want to write about all kinds of things. My husband said he'd do that for me when I was ready. Cool.

    2. Love-the wonderful, supportive, accepting community I have found here. Wow. People care if you're having a bad day! If you're trying to accomplish something, they wish you luck and offer advice; point correct directions. I don't know if a better group of people could be found and I am thankful to have 'met' them.

    3. Dislike? I haven't encountered anything to dislike yet. I have received comments about some very ugly tirades people leave on blogs, which amazes me....

  7. I have to admit, I'm kind of lazy about commenting. I like the neme the Disappearances, myself.

    I started blogging to have an organized place to write down stories about my kids for my family without having to write 50 emails. Since then I've just fallen in love with blogging in general. I love the people I've met, the blogs I've discovered, and I'm kind of proud of all the writing my blog has motivated me to do.

    What don't I like about it? Sometimes I get sick of myself. Then I just have to take a little break.

  8. Those are some great tips. I have never looked at my Blog as a platform. What began as a simple way to write your heart out is now read by people from different parts of the world. That is something I like about blogging.
    I can't think of any dislikes. BTW, congrats on your 300 visits a day. That's pretty cool!


  9. Thanks for these reminders and some good points about blogging in general!

    300 hits a day? You rock, baby!

  10. Hi,

    I guess I'm a lurker!

    Not because I think your posts uninteresting, I came here initially due to a blogfest signup!!

    By following all entrants to a blogfest I can see at a glance (dashboard) when a blogfest post is go! I then post mine and scoot over to read/comment on other entries.

    As for comments in general: more blogs followed than bloggers who've joined with me I tend to follow those who pop up on the dashboard page.

    Re Titles: "The Disappearances" comes across as likely POV of those searching, as in crime thriller!

    "The Mist Chasers" sounds more fantasy orientated and could be from POV of those hiding from something, or psychological thriller: more mind than physical.

    1)Blogging is a platform unless private, right?

    2) Meeting writers and readers!

    3)Can't think of anything off the top of my head - for the most part it's a fun thing to do.


  11. Damn,

    Meant to say: either way titles are eye catching!

  12. I wouldn't venture to make a comment about which title I thought was best without having read what it is a title of.
    Hover as titles out of context go: "the disappearances" reminds me of several movies including ( and there is alrady a book by the name of the disappearance (The disappearance).
    The mist chasers sets several things going in my mind, but doesn't remind me of anything already penned...

  13. I recently added a stat counter, and yes I was also amazed at the 300 hits per day numbers. I wish I had added it when I started my blog but I was afraid I'd get too obsessed with numbers. Instead I'm obsessed with questions like who are all these people viewing my blog and why don't they follow and/or comment so I can return the favor and make a new friend.

  14. Well done on your 300 readers a day, that's brilliant:)
    Personally, I don't see my blog as a platform, it's something I set up I guess just to make a little more time for my own writing, rather than running the company and getting bogged down in all that admin. I've been a bit lax in my posts lately, but hopefully when things calm down a bit, it will all change!

  15. Do you view your blog as a platform? Not really, I mean, maybe it is, but I never intended it to be one. :)

    What do you like about blogging? For me, it's really a way to reflect on my teaching, my students, and also a way to remember some of the special times we share together.

    What do you dislike about blogging? I don't like feeling pressure to post. The more readers seemed to comment and my hits went up, the more I felt I needed to post. This whole 'writing thing' is new to me, so it's coming slowly, but I'm really enjoying it.

  16. @ Tiffany, after I posted the stat, I felt funny and went to take it off, but you commented already! I should've been more vague.

    I appreciate you reading, even if you don't comment. While I love comments, I also understand not everyone has something to say every time.

    And I've enjoyed your blog. I didn't realize I was the first follower - so cool.

    @ Vicki - thanks for your input about the title.

    Sitting on a couch. I love that picture, which is so much better than a platform. It doesn't want to feel like we're giving a speech, does it?

    I guess I picture my posts like we're all having coffee (or something stronger) and talking about our days, disappointments, dreams.

    @ Julie, thanks for your title vote.

    I agree with you about community. The first time I posted when I was down (and actually had readers), the outpouring of support brought tears to my eyes. I love my blogging buddies.

    @ Deborah, I may have been too harsh about the photos since I do like a few blogs with a bunch of photos. Al, Old Kitty, and Bossy Betty always have great pictures. I guess it's when there's mounds of text with mounds of pictures that go on forever.

    I don't like spam either. On one of my most sentimental posts "Honoring My Father on Mother's Day", I get a spam comment almost every day. And just that one. Like people will read the post, peruse the comments, and decide what they really need is Viagra.

  17. @ WritingNut, I always enjoy your comments, when you get a chance to leave them.

    Blogging does take time, so I think all of us writers find the balance difficult.

    @ The Words Crafter, I'm glad you think this is a helpful post. Many people have tackled blog etiquette. Talli Roland recently did a good one.

    Thanks for your title recommendation.

    I've never had an irate comment either, and I hope I don't.

    @ Sarah, there's nothing wrong with not commenting. It takes time. But I like when people comment because I automatically comment on your blog. Otherwise, I can't get to every follower.

    Get sick of yourself? That's funny!

    @ Mr. Stupid, "write your heart out" is a wonderful way to put it. Some feel the pressure of a platform, but if I'd heard that first, I probably wouldn't have begun a blog.

    @ Bossy Betty, I'm glad you think it's good advice.

    @ Francine, hi lurker! I love finding bloggers through blogfests. When I've participated in one, I try to read all the other entries.

    Thanks for analyzing the potential titles. I never thought I'd consider changing it but when it came up in critique group, it was an "Ah ha!" moment. Maybe I'll do it.

  18. Great advice. I enjoy blogging - but I was such a lurker at the beginning. :)

    It took me quite a while to understand all the nuances of blogging - okay I'm still learning!

    I haven't used feed burner before - I'll have to check it out. Thanks :)

  19. @ Alesa, good point. Mist Chasers is more unique. It is hard to know which one to vote on without reading the manuscript, but since readers choose books by their cover, the title is pretty important for a first reaction, I think.

    @ KarenG, I know what you mean about not wanting to obsessively check. In the beginning, I looked a lot, but now I forget about it. I checked it for this post, and was surprised at the number.

    @ Olive, I think the act of writing anything is a good exercise. I've missed your posts.

    @ Halpey1, you have one of the best blogs around. You always have one photo that goes well with the posts. The posts are never too long. And they're always touching. And written well.

    I can't wait to see what your second year brings.

    @ Jemi, I think you wrote a post about being shy the other day.

    I think Google Analytics is even better, if you want more info, but I haven't bothered with that. My husband and mother-in-law kept telling me to find out, but I had resisted for months.

  20. I've used google analytics right from the start... It offers a lot more data than I'd expect the average user would need... But it does work well.

  21. @ Alesa, I read on someone's blog that with Google Analytics you know if someone has visited from an agent or editor's blog or website.

    I can't imagine what I'd need all the info for either. It's not like I have tens of thousands of readers.

  22. LOL!!!!

    I wrote a beautiful reply (hehehehhe!) - nice looooong one and when I clicked on "publish your comment" Error 503 "service unavailable" popped up!! LOL!

    So as I can't recall the essay that I just wrote and lost here
    :-) I shall leave you with this:


    Take care

  23. Yeah you can track referral sources.

    That means that if an editor or agent put a link to your blog, everyone who clicks into your blog from there will be a +1 to that referral source.
    I suppose I can see uses for that.

    For instance, 25 people have clicked into my blog from "part gilt-part gold"...

    I don't think there is a way using G Analytics, at least not with the basic account, to track specific users.

  24. Theresa, great post and thanks so much for posting a link!

    For me, the coolest thing about Statcounter, which is what I use, is seeing how people found my blog through Google and other search engines. The best search string to date: Creepy dead zombies who like rats. :) Too funny!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  25. Wonderful tips. I try to keep my posts to 500 words. (The key word is "try.") Sometimes guest posters will go much longer. I tell them to try to keep it to 500 words, but it'll show up and be three times that. People tend to skim or skip long posts.

    Your blog is definitely part of your platform. The thing about blogging is that it will cause you to do more to build your platform. Inevitably, blogging leads to tweeting which leads to facebooking which leads to...a blog book tour when your book comes out.

  26. Thanks for the tips, Theresa. I have my on and off days with blogging. Mostly I really enjoy it--but there are times it feels like a distraction from the real work of writing. I guess what I dislike is the pull to get out there and mingle all day when I have limited hours. But making new friends is so much fun! As is learning great tips and the joy of helping others through their rough patches.

    BTW, I have an award for you on my blog.

  27. @ Alesa, thanks for the info. I don't think any of these services can be too specific. Perhaps privacy issues.

    @ Hilary, I'll check out stat counter. It's funny how specific some searches can be - zombies AND rats!

    @ Helen, I know all about the key word "try". Sometimes, I think a post will be 500, but then somehow... I'd rather not be skimmed

    For the guest post I did on Olive's blog that had to be 500 words - a good exercise for me.

    I still haven't succumbed to Twitter.

    @ Laurel, I agree with everything you say. The support and benefits shouldn't keep us from writing... for long.

    An award for me? I'll visit your blog then!

  28. I sort of backed into blogging and have had a long learning curve. It's becoming more enjoyable, but it takes a lot of time away from the kind of writing I really want and need to do. The positive side is that I meet some interesting people with excellent ideas.
    Thanks for your post.

  29. I can sometimes be a lurker. My big issue is time. I generally run short of it. I work f/t, am a single and only parent, follow >100 blogs, read and review books, and write in what spare time I can manage. Whew, it's tough to comment sometimes. It's great that you have so many hits per day and lots of followers. Of which I'm one. Yay! :)

  30. Thank you so much for linking to my book, Theresa! Yay! I really appreciate it.

    I love blogging - it's so wonderful to have a supportive community around you. The only thing I don't like is all the time it takes. I love commenting etc but... sometimes I get quite stressed out about returning comments and making sure I'm following everyone back etc.

  31. Thanks for linking my book, Theresa. You're awesome.:-)

    As far as the names go, Mist Chasers has a certain ring to it.

    I don't get nearly as many blog hits as you do, but that's my fault because try as I might, I don't get to as many other blogs as I'd like.

  32. I didn't know you commented on my blog just to be polite! I'm crushed... Okay, I'm over it now. :-)

  33. @ Cleemckenzie, I try to blog when I wouldn't get writing done anyway. But it's also replaced other forms of procrastination. Besides, as you mention, there are all these great people to meet.

    @ Lisa_Gibson, you sound very busy. No wonder you don't have time! Having and checking other blogs should be fun rather than a burden. We have to keep that in mind.

    @ Talli, I know what you mean. Blogging shouldn't be stressful. And I think the more popular a blogger gets, the more impossible it comes to do it all.

    @ Mary McDonald, I was happy to link it. And you are the best selling on Kindle in your category, so you're doing okay. : )

    @ Judy, while I comment on all who comment on mine, I also comment randomly on other blogs. At least I commented on yours the other day because it came up on FB so I'm not just polite!

  34. Thanks for putting my book up there!

    Yes, I view my blog as a platform! I devote 1-2 hours to blogging almost everyday. It's reading all the other blogs and commenting that takes up all that time. But it's so worth it!

    Good rules for blog comments. I actually stopped commenting on the blogs that never comment on mine. I just don't have the time!

  35. I like the new title! Something more along those lines would be great.

    Hopefully you're recovering now from the party and thanks for the book links!

    (There! I didn't lurk. Hee, hee.)

  36. @ Aubrie, that's about my time limit too.

    I try to comment periodically on followers' blogs even if they don't comment because I assume they visit sometimes. But I don't have much time for it now that my # of commenters has grown.

    @ Jackee, it looks like I'm changing the title.

    Thanks for commenting!

  37. My blog is mainly my platform. I like your list of blog etiquette.

    One recommendation I have for you is learning how to do a link. You provide the whole URL. That's not necessary. It's a matter of copying and pasting the URL to the link that you want to highlight. It's hard at first but oh so great when you have learned how to do it.

  38. @ Paul, you blog is a platform for important issues.

    I do have the info on how to do it. Part of the reason I haven't is because I'm lazy. But the other part is because I feel people often ignore the links if they're not bigger. But the Amazon ones are so big, I should've done it. Next time!

  39. I began blogging mainly because I saw it as a good platform. I very much enjoy it too, of course, because it's given me the chance to talk about writing when in real life, I don't really have too many people to talk about this stuff with. The only thing I really dislike about it all is that I have less time to read actual books; but in this scenario, I'd say the pros outweight the cons. :]

  40. Good stuff, Theresa!

    The thing I like best about blogging is the people I've met and the opportunities (like critiques) that I've been given via my blog.

    I most dislike that I don't have enough time to spend on blogging, writing, and reading.

  41. Wow, 300 hits per day? You rock.

    Good advice for blogging. I think being genuine and building relationships with people is one of the most important things for me with blogging.

    The difficult part is setting aside an adequate amount of time to write and read other blogs--it can be quickly overwhelming.

    I like Mist Chasers.

    Also, I bookmarked your
    Earnest Writer’s Excerpts site and will drop by later.

  42. Hi there...from one of your Lurkers. I've been enjoying your blog for a while, ever since surfing over from Miss Snark's First Victim blog.

    I may not always comment, but that doesn't mean you haven't made me think!

    By the way, I like Mist Chasers too. It's more 'active' than The Disappearances. And I agree with the other poster that it has great visual imagery.

  43. I Love the new look you have going here. Well, I will have to say I'm not as thrilled about blogging as I once was. It does take lots of time...and time is very valuable. I guess now that I have gotten faster it doesn't take as much time now. I think you hit the nail on the head about not letting it take over your life.

  44. Mist Chasers.

    I look forward to checking out your work, and that was very nice of you to link to the bloggers with books.

  45. @ Slamdunks, I appreciate the relationships too.

    Thanks for planning to visit my new blog. I don't really know what to do with it.

    @ Esther, hi lurker! Do you have a blog too? If so, I'd love to take a look.

    I'm glad you've been enjoying my blog and that you found me from Miss Snark's First Victim. I have found other writers from her blog too.

    @ Barbra, keeping up with three blogs must be a challenge for you. I like your new "Green" blog a lot.

    @ Missed Period, it's official. I'm changing it to "Mist Chasers". Thanks for the comment!

  46. Don't always comment when I visit folks and I should. *___*

  47. Okay, so I can see I missed commenting back to a few people. Let me remedy this:

    @ Old Kitty, I responded to you personally via e-mail but I forgot to here. I was updating my blog when you tried to comment, so it's all my fault you did that work for nothing. Sorry!

    @ Amanda, I completely agree with you. Before blogging, I hardly shared my feelings, and trials and tribulations regarding writing because there were friends who understood. Now I have a giant writing community.

    @ Susan, you just reminded me that I've met critique buddies through blogging too. Thanks, Jackee and Aubrie!

    @ Victoria, I'm a blabber blogger, but not everyone likes to comment. Thanks for being a visitor!

  48. I've never thought to check out how many hits I get a day! I've tried it out with the link you gave and we'll see if I find out the secret to my success! Congrats on 300 hits! I doubt I get that a day but what an amazing accomplishment!

    I love my lurkers!!!

    How sweet of you to take the time to showcase everyone's books that are being sold! I should do something like that as well!

    I love blogging, it's a way to express who you are, your loves, frustrations, goals, goals that aren't met, and support you couldn't grab from anywhere else!!

    I don't like super long posts without a purpose. I visit so many blogs a day that I'm forced to skim through a lot of them and I don't like to skim!! Keep it short sweet and if you like them long make sure they are ENTERTAINING all throughout!! *like yours!*

    Happy Friday Theresa! Lets see if I worked the feedburner right and grab some stats, lol.

  49. Definately "Disappearances." Wot? Oh, no, I mean "Mist Chasers," because it is unique, final answer is "Mist Chasers." Really, I mean it.

    Thank you for graciously listing my Sci/Fi series America's Galactic Foreign Legion. That was very sweet.

    What do I like about blogging? I'm addited, you know like gambling, except gambling isn't a problem, as long as I win, while blogging is a problem because my wife is suspicious I am communicating with wild ladies on the internet, and I say most of them are not wild at all, except that one that has her legs for a photo, but actually blogging helps me with my writing and sentence structure, Theresa, don't you do editing on the side, have I got a deal for you?

  50. These are wonderful tips! I'm so glad I stumbled onto your blog!! And congrats at hitting 300 hits a day. :D

    1. I definitely think a blog is a platform. You get your name out there, and you network with other amazing and talented writers; even with lit agents and publishing professionals! Even if people don't realize it, blogs are great tools for building a platform (but blogs are also so much more than that!)

    2. I love the community that comes from blogging - the people you meet, the friends you make, the people you help - it's nice to be able to go somewhere (even if it's online) and talk to people who share the same interests as you! I love sharing my thoughts and opinions, and hearing from others!

    3. It takes up A LOT of time. I think that's the only thing that can get to me - it feels like a second job sometimes! It's the reason I don't have my own personal blog - I could never update my own and the writers blog I contribute to! The writers blog already feels like my own (even though I didn't start it, and there are the other contributors who put in just as much time and effort).

  51. @ Jen, you do many interviews, so you're helping promote many authors too.

    I agree with everything you say about blogging.

    And I bet you have many more readers than me.

    @ Walter, glad to mention your book.

    Blogging can be addictive!

    I edit my own stuff and critique other manuscripts. What did you have in mind. Feel free to e-mail me
    tmilstein at gmail dot com.

    @ Vanessa, I'm glad you stumbled onto my blog too.

    I agree with your responses for 1 and 2.

    Those blogs with a few authors are a smart idea. I'll check yours out.