Not Sure How to Blog? Follow These 4 Steps

Not Sure How to Blog? Follow These 4 Steps
Blogging. It’s wise for all authors to do it. Are you wondering how to blog? Keep reading.


Authors, who write a lot either as a passion or for a living, often seem stymied when it comes to writing blog posts.

I commonly hear the following comments:

“I said everything in my book.”

“My life isn’t that interesting.”

“I don’t have time.”

Well, as someone once told me, it’s not that we don’t have time; it’s that we let other tasks take priority.

Blogging can be as painful and as rewarding as gardening. Yes, gardening is hard work. You have to dig with your fingers into the recalcitrant dirt, get dirty, take risks with those rose thorns, and suffer the pain of bee sting.

But you can also enjoy fresh tomatoes for your salads, flowers for your vases, and the deep sense of appreciation that you created this marvelous symphony of colors and edibles.

Now you might have heard that fiction authors don’t need to blog. I don’t adhere to that philosophy. I know that blogging signals to Google that you have a dynamic website and offers another opportunity to connect with your readers.

As a fiction author, there are so many options you can pursue. You can review other books regularly or whenever you have the inclination. You can share your marketing tips. You can tell your readers about characters who never made the final edit of your book or share back stories on your main characters.

You can talk about how you got the idea for your latest novel. You can even talk about the death of a pet, your plans to move, explain where you write, and discuss why you write.

And you can do a mix of all of those topics.

Fiction authors have a wide open field of topics to select from. With those many options, why wouldn’t you want to regularly blog?

4-Point How to Blog Blueprint for Authors

Here are my best tips for creating blog posts that will light up your website and generate new traffic.

how to blog

Step One:  Write Your Content

If you’re looking for ideas for your blog, be sure to read this post: 34 Blogging Topics Just for Writers. Here are some additional ideas:

  • When you’re really stuck, use HubSpot’s blog topic generator. Type in a few words and Hubspot will give you several ideas.
  • Read other blog posts. I’m not suggesting that you steal other blogger’s topics, however, I do suggest that you check out who’s writing what and how those posts fair in terms of social shares. Maybe you can take a contrary view or expand on that topic.
  • Use BuzzSumo to see what’s popular.
  • Have you read a post that you don’t agree with? Explain why. I did once and it was so popular that CreateSpace included my post in its newsletter for authors.
  • Check out the types of comments other writers leave in blog posts you read. What questions do they ask? Then write a blog post that answers those questions.
  • What questions or comments do your readers leave on your Facebook page? Answer those in a blog post.
  • What questions do your readers ask in your blog comments?
  • Subscribe to a lot of blogs and read them. Yes, this will help you to generate topics.
  • Conduct a survey. I’ve done this and then used the survey responses as my editorial calendar.
  • When all else fails, go for a walk. That tactic always helps me.

how to blog

Step Two: Create Your Visuals

Once you write and upload your new post to your website, your next job is to create your visuals.

Here’s what I do. Using Canva, I take a shortcut by sizing the image of the top of my post using Twitter’s dimensions because those dimensions also work for Facebook.

Then I create a larger visual for Pinterest.

There are many types of visuals you can insert into your blog posts:

  1. Photos
  2. Infographics
  3. Graphic illustrations
  4. Videos
  5. Screenshots

Visuals improve your SEO (search engine optimization) because they become another way to add your keyword to your post. It’s also a fact that color images improve the reading of your post and multiple images keep people reading.

Also, when you share your post on social media, your visual will automatically be picked up and shared along with your headline and link. Updates are social media attract more readers and shares increase when you include an image.

Face it: creating your visuals are as important as writing your blog post.

Step Three: Determine Your Best Headline

Headlines are critical. They have to deliver a punch, attract a reader’s attention, and pique curiosity in your social media followers.

You want a headline that rocks. But don’t start your new post by writing a headline. The best time to write a headline is after you’ve finished the entire post and figured out your keywords.

Write a blog headline that rocks via @CaballoFrancesClick To Tweet

It’s also important to test your headline using an analyzer. There are various free tools on the internet to use but the one I like best also measures the emotional impact of your headline. Here’s the link for Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyzer.

how to blog

Step Four: Promote Your New Posts with Social Media

I use a cool social share plugin called Social Warfare. On the text side of my blog, Social Warfare enables me to upload the images I want to use on social media, including Pinterest.

Here’s an example of what Social Warfare looks like when it’s in use on my website.

Social Warfare plugin example by Frances Caballo

As you can see above, I also have the options to write my Pinterest description, social media description and exact tweet. So whenever someone shares my post using my social share icons, the images and messages I’ve prepared appeared automatically.

In addition to using Social Warfare, I use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. This plugin allows me to set up Twitter cards. A Twitter card is the image that accompanies the tweet.

So there you have it, my four steps to perfect author blogging.

Blogging Just For Writers by Frances Caballo

A terrific and practical book for writers who want and/or need to blog. Ms Caballo knows her stuff. Her suggestions are sensible, doable and down to earth. Loved it. ~~ Vicki Stiefel 

 

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s has written for  TheBookDesigner.com, Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn, BookWorks, and other blogs. Frances wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

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9 Best Practices to Boost Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn
Writers tend to be quick to build followings on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but what about LinkedIn? Sometimes it seems as though this powerhouse of a social media platform gets overlooked.

When I first began to use social media, I started a Facebook profile and then a LinkedIn account. For quite some time, I poured a great deal of energy and time into LinkedIn because I loved the level of conversation in the groups I joined.

People graciously shared their expertise. Were they looking for clients? Sure. But they also disseminated information that I was able to put to use in my writing and marketing.

Lately, however, I’ve all but ignored LinkedIn except when I write a new post or use LinkedIn’s publishing platform.

My focus is instead on my Facebook page and Twitter, and to a lesser degree Pinterest and Google+. So writing this post is helping me to recall why LinkedIn is an important part of a writer’s marketing platform (including mine). And if you’re a nonfiction writer/editor/bookcoach/designer, LinkedIn is where you’ll most likely to find clients.

Four Facts About LinkedIn You Need to Know

Presently, LinkedIn enjoys more than 500 million users.

  • When I review the demographics for LinkedIn, I realize that considering the education of most users and their average salary ($50,000), most of these users are probably avid readers as well.

Sixty-one percent of LinkedIn users live outside of the U.S.

  • Wouldn’t you love to sell your books everywhere English spoken? LinkedIn can help to promote your books to an international audience, just as Twitter can.

Two new users join LinkedIn every second.

  • This network continues to grow. It’s important to be on social media channels that are dynamic and resistant to stagnation.

There are 2 million groups on LinkedIn and 81% of users join at least one.

  • If you’re not in a group, join a few today. This is where you can share your expertise, help others, make new connections, gain more Twitter followers, and join in conversations that will further your understanding in your niche.

9 LinkedIn Best Practices

 Reacquaint yourself to LinkedIn by following these best practices.

  1. Think about keywords when you review your profile. What words is someone most likely to type into a Google search bar in order to find the type of book you’ve written? Have you published a book about gardening in Northern California? Then use those keywords.
  2. Use bullet points to make your specialties stand out. The human eye does not like long blocks of black text. Type your specialties in Word or Pages and then cut and paste them onto your LinkedIn profile.
  3. Connect with people you know. Are colleagues from your book club and writing groups on LinkedIn? Look for them. Did you make new friends at a writers conference? Search for them. Connect with as many people as you can.
  4. Give (and receive) recommendations. Did you hire one of your connections to edit your most recent book? Why not offer a recommendation? If you give testimonials, they will be easier to drum up for yourself.
  5. Personalize your LinkedIn URL. For example, mine is www.linkedin.com/in/francescaballo/. Once you personalize your URL, include it in your email signature to encourage your colleagues to connect with you.
  6. Update your status daily. It’s best to post between 7 and 7:30 am and 5 – 5:30 pm, M-F. However, on Fridays the afternoon post should be no later than 3:30 pm.
  7. Join groups. After you join couple, try to remain actively involved.
  8. Install special features that LinkedIn offers, such as the publications feature. This will help you to showcase the books and stories you’ve written.
  9. When other users endorse you, be sure to thank them and given them an endorsement as well.

Fiction Writers

LinkedIn is not a site that fiction writers need to update regularly. However, I do recommend that you create a complete profile and join a couple of groups to continue your education on writing and marketing your books.

Continue your learning cover on LinkedIn and other social media platforms by buying Social Media Just for Writers.

 

Social Media Just for Writers 2nd Edition

Whether you’re setting up your social media for the first time or wanting to take it to the next level, get the newest edition of Social Media Just for Writers.

Well written, well researched – well thought out. This book is a must have!

Ryshia Kennie 

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com. Frances wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

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7 Tips to Networking on the Social Web (Part 1)

3-10-14

Don’t you get tired of broadcast media?

I unplugged my Comcast cable eight years ago, and I’ve never regretted it.

Television programming would interrupt my favorite shows with annoying and idiotic commercials and cancel the few programs I really liked.

The worst part is that I had to conform my personal schedule to my favorite program’s schedule.

In comparison, social media is perfect.

There are no interruptions, and I can visit the networks whenever I have time and the inclination.

And it allows me to interact with colleagues and friends across the country and around the world.

Most importantly, social media enables me to nurture relationships with readers and friends. Petty cool, huh?

Just as a reminder, setting aside time to be social is the fourth step in my four-step cure to social media suck. Here are the four steps:

  1. Be where your readers are.
  2. Curate information in your niche every morning.
  3. Select an application and schedule your tweets, posts and updates.
  4. Make time to be social every day.

Make Time to be Social

Social media is all about nurturing relationships.

Did someone retweet one of your messages? Find a tweet they wrote that you like and return the favor. While you’re at it, consider sending a note of thanks to everyone who retweeted you.

Do you have new followers? Spend some time getting acquainted with them by reviewing their profiles or visiting their websites. (It only takes a second or two.)

Is there an agent or editor on LinkedIn with whom you’d like to connect, but can’t because they are a third degree connection? Ask a friend to introduce you.

Did a colleague just publish a new book? Help her promote it by informing your friends and connections about it.

Socializing on social media involves these three steps: meet, connect, and repeat. You are constantly meeting new people, connecting with them, and then repeating the process with someone new.

Remember to be positive and open-minded and stick to neutral topics.

If you have an iPad, iPhone, laptop or Android, you can socialize online whenever you have some idle time. (If you don’t have idle time, then it’s important to schedule some in.)

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Social Media Tips for Writers (And Reluctant Marketers)

Social Media Tips for Writers (And Reluctant Marketers)

The biggest resistance writers have to jumping into social media is that they fear they will need to spend countless hours in front of their computers posting, tweeting, updating, uploading images, and of course, and leaving comments or replying to someone’s message.

I refer to this as the “time suck factor” because if you let it, social media can suck precious time from your day and your writing.

But, news flash, marketing doesn’t have to be an ugly word. And it doesn’t have to be a task you accept grudgingly.

We’re not conducting robocalls or telemarketing. And we’re not creating direct mail appeals – junk mail – that people toss without even opening the envelopes.

We’re in the era of social media marketing, and the beauty of it is that it’s not interruption-based marketing. Your message is waiting for people when they choose to navigate to Twitter or Facebook or other social media networks.

But you’re still afraid that if you start to use social media, you’ll lose track of time and spend hours in front of the computer when you should be writing or going to the gym. Am I right?

Nonsense. Fitting social media into busy schedules is easy and takes disciple. That’s right, discipline to not turn a quick internet research for your book into a foray into your Facebook newsfeed, which, by the way, I’ve done.

So I speak from experience.

Over the years I’ve learned that you can manage your social media marketing and still have time to write, cycle, relax with a novel, or soak up suds in a tub by following a simple four-point plan.

  1. Curate your posts.
  2. Schedule your social media updates.
  3. Be social because the essence of social media is engagement.
  4. Measure your results so that you’ll know how to improve your engagement.

By spending as little as 30 minutes a day, you can grow your contacts, further your brand, sell more books, and stay in touch with colleagues, readers, and friends.

Here are my social media tips for writers that will help you to better manage your time while marketing.

Curate Stellar Content

There are applications and websites that can help you to find great content in your niche. These are a few of my favorites.

Scoop.it

Enter your keywords, and this application will scour the Web for you. You can discard or keep the articles and posts that Scoop.it suggests and even create your own customized “magazine.”

AllTop

Not an application but a website, this is the top online source for the hottest trending information on the entire blogosphere from A to Z. Find information on a range of topics from writing to social media to romance novels.

Blogs

Subscribe to the top blogs in your niche. I curate information from the blogs I subscribe to and doing so provides a shortcut to my curation.

Twitter Lists

Create lists of the top thinkers and writers in your industry. Creating Twitter lists helps me to stay on top of my industry, get through Twitter more quickly, and efficiently curate information to retweet.

Schedule Your Posts in the Morning

There are numerous applications to help you plan your day. Here are a few for you to consider and use at the start of your day.

bufferBuffer

The free version allows you to post four tweets daily while with the paid version – starting at just $10/month – you can post as often as you’d like.

HootSuite

HootSuite offers a great free plan that allows users to tweet and post as often as they’d like. The paid version will allow you to also post to your Google+ pages, a range of social media platforms, and the paid version offers analytics.

SocialOomph

This application is a scheduler on steroids. You can schedule recurring tweets, track keywords and hashtags, check your incoming feeds, and analyze your click-through-rates to your website. They offer a 7-day trial plan that’s free. Note: SocialOomph works best for Twitter and LinkedIn only. It is limited in the breadth of social media platforms it serves.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is a free application that enables you to manage your Twitter feed, schedule tweets, and monitor and manage unlimited accounts.

You Don’t Have to Be a Party Animal to Be Social

It’s important to schedule time in your day to be social. What does this mean?

At the end of your day, right before or after dinner, spend some time on social media.

Like and comment on posts you find in your newsfeed on Facebook. Check your Contact feed on Twitter to see who messaged you or followed you. Reply to tweets by telling users that you liked a quote they sent out. Follow back users who followed you during the day – assuming they are interesting enough – and comment on their blog, website, or Facebook page.

Read a few blogs and leave comments. Check in on one of your groups on LinkedIn and add to the discussion. Check in on your Google+ communities.

In other words, put the social in social media to work but limit your time to about 15 minutes.

Check Your Return on Investment (ROI)

I love this quote:

Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s finally done there is surprise it’s not better. Avinash Kaushik, Google Analytics Evangelist

Time is precious, so it’s important to check to see whether your marketing efforts are having any effect. Here are some applications that can help you to make that determination.

Sprout Social

The premium plan comes with a 30-day trial period. Use this application for monitoring profiles and keywords, scheduling posts, and producing reports. The premium level, which is the beginning level, includes ten social media profiles. SproutSocial also measures influence, analyzes your audience, and lets you know whether not you’ve been social enough.

Social Report

With Social Report you can track the performance of everything from your Facebook pages and Twitter profiles, website site performance and blogs. The data from your social channels is downloaded and laid out on a dashboard. And you can track your social media profiles. Pricing starts at $49/month.

Insights

Insights is Facebook’s free and incredibly comprehensive analytics. Once you have 35 or more Likes on your Facebook author page, Insights will reveal your demographics, the best time to post your updates and indicate which posts received the most engagement.

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Indie Author Weekly Update – November 17, 2017

Indie Author Weekly Update

This edition of the Indie Author Weekly Update is chockfull of helpful tips. From Facebook ads to author websites to cross-promotion, you’ll find information to help you sell more books.

Indie Author Updates

Unpublished Writers and Websites: Should You Have One and What Should It Say? by Jane Friedman: “If you plan to pursue writing as a professional, long-term career, I recommend starting and maintaining an author website even if you’re unpublished. Your website serves as an online home and hub for everything that you do, whether in real life or in the digital realm. You fully own and control it, tell your own story, and connect directly with the media, readers or influencers. It’s hard to overstate its importance over the long term. Consider it the cost of doing business in the digital era, a necessary business card and networking tool.”

Use Your Author Website To Make Readers Care About You As A Writer  from Web Design Relief: “As a writer, your job is to create a narrative that hooks the reader, raises curiosity, elicits empathy, and leaves the reader satisfied. But have you ever considered how these fundamentals of storytelling can be harnessed to improve your author website?”

Email Marketing: The Complete Beginner’s Guide from Blogging Wizard: “If you’re a small business owner doing business online, the thought of not making any conversions can make you lose sleep at night. You work hard at creating your website – or the online version of your brick and mortar business – with a distinct brand and logo. You even heard that blogging can generate up to 67% more leads, so you start your own company blog.”

Pronoun Is Dead: The Ebook Retail Universe Redux from TheBoodDesigner.com and by David Kudler: “I’m bummed. On November 6, Macmillan’s Pronoun, the distributor that I had begun to rely on more and more over the past year, announced that it was shutting down its operations. No new books can be uploaded; Pronoun will remove all existing books from distribution on January 15, 2018.”

The 4 Best Types of Facebook Ads for Authors by Andrea Vahl: “Are you an author who wants to promote your book with Facebook Ads?  It can be overwhelming to know what is going to be most effective.  In this post, I’ll show you the 4 best types of Facebook Ads for Authors and how to approach your marketing strategy on Facebook. The first thing to clear up is that there are different types of authors and different goals for your book.  And once you are clear on the next step a reader should take with you, your marketing strategy becomes clearer.”

14 Ways Authors Can Cross-Promote Each Other’s Books from BookBub: “Many authors cross-promote each other’s books to gain visibility with a relevant new audience of readers. It’s a mutually beneficial way to inexpensively boost book sales and word-of-mouth buzz — and to make new friends and build relationships in the publishing community!”

Awards News

Jesmyn Ward Wins Second National Book Award in Fiction from Publishing Perspectives: “Jesmyn Ward led Wednesday evening’s (November 15) National Book Award honors, for her Sing, Unburied, Sing, becoming a two-time winner of the prize.” Her earlier award came in 2011 for Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury USA).

Fiction Writing Contests

Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time (Winter 2017 Edition) from Writer Unboxed: “Much like editors are looking for reasons to reject work, I want to focus on opportunities worth my time. Thus, my list of writing contests below includes reasons to submit to that particular writing contest. May you find a promising opportunity among this list and spend less time searching for where to send your exceptional work.”

Quote of the Week

Ernest Hemingway

New to blogging? Check out Blogging Just for Writers 

Blogging Just for Writers by Frances Caballo

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

 

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50 Blogging Topics for Authors

Blogging Topics

Do you struggle with coming up with blogging topics?

Hey, I wouldn’t be honest if I said that blogging is such a breeze, I could do it in my sleep. Or when I’m sleep-deprived.

There are times when blogging topics come to me in bunches. I could be sitting at my desk, and one thought triggers another, and before I know it, I have six or seven or even ten new blogging topics.

I love those times.

But then there are also the other times. You know, when my fountain of creativity has run dry.

There have been times when I’ve followed my advice and set up a blogging calendar. I’ve used Excel to track my topics, an online app, a scrap of paper floating around my desk, or just a Word doc to keep all of my blog topics organized.

But lately, I seem to be a seat-of-my-pants type of blogger. During these times, I tend to write about whatever is up with me whether there’s something new in social media I’m trying to learn or certain issues that keep cropping up.

I know that other authors have this problem too because they’ve asked me for advice on what to blog about.

When we publish our first book, especially if it’s a nonfiction book, we think we’ve said everything we can on the topic. Then we find out that we need an author website and blog. So we wonder, should I write about my cancer, my trip to the Bahamas, or my garden?

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Indie Author Weekly Update December 9, 2016

Indie Author Update

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of the Indie Author Weekly Update. Be sure to read Joel Friedlander’s series on how he got his start in blogging and soared to success. It’s a fascinating story.

So why the dogs in the image above? Why not? Those who know me well, know that I love dogs. I have an English Lab and fostered dogs for the Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue. Why the snow in the above picture? It doesn’t snow where I live, but it is brisk and feels like it might snow.

I hope you enjoy this week’s selection below and that you have a lovely weekend. Keep warm!


Indie Author Updates

Video Will Be Huge in 2017…Get Ready! from BookWorks: “Video is incredibly popular. Experts estimate that in 2017 and beyond, video will make up 69% of consumer internet traffic. Back in 2015, consumers spent an average of five-and-a-half hours a day watching video content. That number continues to rise. On Facebook alone, some 500 million users view 8 billion videos on a daily basis. Video, because people watch so much of it, is useful in book marketing. At the same time, it’s important to keep your videos to approximately 90 seconds. Five percent of viewers will stop watching a video after 1 minute and 60% by 2 minutes.”

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Blogging Got You Down? Follow These 6 Steps

Blogging Got You Down? Follow These 6 Steps by Frances CaballoI’ve heard so many questions about blogging that I decided to address them today. 


6 Steps to Better Blogging

Let’s raise the curtain on the issue of blogging, shall we?

You know you should write your blog posts weekly but for some reason you feel writing new posts can feel akin to writing essays about the importance flossing.

Am I right? Guess what? You’re not alone. Plenty of authors feel this way.

There are more of you than you might think. Sure, when you look at other author blogs you think to yourself, “Geez. Their blog is great. They  must love to write those posts.”

Here’s a little secret. There are a lot of you who detest it. I have a colleague, and she publishes her blog posts every Saturday. By Thursday, I hear her complain, “I have to go home and try to figure out what to blog about next. Sheesh!”

See? You’re not the only one.

Learn how to refreshen older content for today's readersClick To Tweet

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How to Take Charge of Your Author Blog

Take Charge of Your Author Blog by Frances CaballoYou’re reading the text version of the Social Media for Authors Podcast, Episode 19, written and copyrighted by Frances Caballo.

 

It’s been a while since I talked about blogging so I decided to share today some incredible posts I’ve recently discovered.

As usual, this week’s episode includes summaries of four blog posts with awesome suggestions and, of course, I have your tip of the week.

Let’s start with your weekly tip.

Jody ReinJody Rein is a literary agent and developer of software for authors. She created a website called Writers’ Blog Finder just for authors like you.

You can use this tool to find the top blogs in a number of given categories.

You won’t be able to enter just any keyword. You will need to select a blog category using her designated keywords for your category and a sub-category. She explains that the goal of her tool is different than Google or Safari. She wants to provide writers with a useful filter that produces search results of blogs that she and her colleagues have personally visited.

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The New Facebook Ban Authors Need to Know About

12-29-14 The New Facebook Ban on Promotional Posts - How it affects Indie Authors by Frances CaballoLast week, Nina Amir sent me an email with a link to the AuthorLink.com blog post about the new Facebook ban on promotional posts on fan pages. She wanted me to know what I thought about the ban.

In case you didn’t see it, the blog post, titled Facebook Promotional Ban Spells Trouble for Authors, said that the new Facebook policy that takes effect on January 1st will be a problem for Indie authors.

AuthorLink is talking about the new ban on purely promotional posts created on fan pages that goes into effect in a few days.

ClickZ Explains the New Facebook Ban

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