REPOST: How to: When writers want authors to Guest Blog…

While speaking at the wonderful Whidbey Island Writers Conference this past weekend, I was asked a question: “If you’re not a literary agent, how do you get an author to agree to appear on your blog?” Oooohhhh. It struck me that it must seem MUCH harder than it actually is to interview an author for your blog or to have them guest blog for you. So raise your sword because I swear by the power of Grayskull…you can do this.

…and here is how, aka, follow the pictures.

Pick an author. For our purposes, we will choose an author that has appeared on This Literary Life: Gitty Daneshvari. Author of the School of Fear series.

Now, there is a reason I chose Gitty. It wasn’t a random choice. I KNOW my readers. They are writers and they write children’s books. This was a calculated choice. You do not want to feature an author whom none of your readers will identify with. Plus, Gitty is just absolutely fantastic.

So, I’ve selected my author. The next thing you will want to do is get in contact with your author. Sometimes you will not be able to do this, and that’s just a fact. But for every author who does not put contact info on their Web site, there is an author that does. So I head on over here:

Then I went here:

Can you feel it? We’re getting closer…

VOILA! So the truth is, the easy part is over. Now you write an EXTREMELY polite and informative email to the author and…WAIT. DO NOT PESTER. I don’t think I can stress that enough. Write once, and wait. If they never get back to you, move on.

So this was my next step:

It took her a few days to respond, and we found a time that worked for HER (do not make this about yourself, they are doing you a huge favor. You work on their time schedule).

A word about blogs: Always tag and use categories on your blog!!! When tagging or using categories, use “hot words” like Gitty Daneshvari and School of Fear and Middle Grade Books, etc. “Hot words” are words that people use in a Google search. You do this so that your blog has a higher chance of appearing when someone searches these words. Advice: Look through your entire blog post after you have finished writing it and think to yourself: what key words or ideas are used in this post that people would Google search? Then tag them or use them in the categories.

Also, use images. Not only does it make reading a blog post much more exciting, but when people Google Image Search for Gitty Daneshvari, the image I used of Gitty will appear with the many others, and will drive traffic to my blog.

ALWAYS feed your blog link through other social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, etc.

**It’s important to remember that authors are people too. Which means a few things: They love to promote their books, as well they should. It also means that they have crazy hectic lives just like all of us, and “no” is very much a reasonable answer. So, be patient, choose wisely, and remember that “if you never ask, you’ll never get.”


September Operation Hot Blogger: Gitty Daneshvari

[tweetmeme source=”breeogden” only_single=false]

Happy September!! One month closer to October. Which can only mean we are getting closer to the spookiest, most delicious holiday ever! And to celebrate what I like to call: the spook factor, we have a very special Hot Blogger to start this month off right.

Gitty Daneshvari!

Poor Gitty, I’ve been hustling her for a few months now, right before she has a new book coming out: School of Fear 2. I’m shameless. But lucky for me, she is extremely generous.

When I first read School of Fear, I thought to myself, “Should I be ashamed that middle grade fiction is totally doing it for me?” When I went back through it to ponder my level of intellegence and/or my maturity, I realized that not only is School of Fear brilliant and hilarious enough for a grown adult to enjoy, but smart, easy and spooktastic enough for a middle grader to love and GET.

So many editors struggle to find… and writers struggle to write that perfect middle grade novel; wobbling as they walk the thin line of uncertainty between older middle grade and younger YA. How do you write for a middle grade reader and not write like a middle grader? Yet how do you successfully write witty, smart, intelligent prose without confusing the middle grade reader? I asked Gitty to share some tips because she, without a doubt, successfully pulls this off in School of Fear. And because she is awesome. Her advice is so delectable, it makes me want to write middle grade humor. In all seriousness, her words of wisdom are truly that: words of wisdom.

Before she Hot Blogs your mind off, watch this awesome little promo video for School of Fear. Isn’t she an absolute doll?

And without any further nonsense from yours truly: Please welcome to This Literary Life, Gitty Daneshvari!

Bree has generously asked me to share my thoughts on writing for a middle grade audience, specifically how to avoid writing down to them. First I must preface this post by saying everyone needs to find their own approach, this just happens to be mine!

I don’t believe in any restrictions while writing a first draft. I use the same vocabulary and humor I do when writing an adult book. This allows me to flesh out my ideas and characters without time consuming self-editing along the way. On occasion when I attempted to mind the reader’s age while writing a first draft I felt stifled and moved at a snail’s pace. Plus, experience has taught me that I will rewrite much of what I have written so I don’t need to agonize over every word and joke on a first draft.

Now when I begin the second draft I look for words that may be too challenging and find an easier synonym. While I change most, I do not change them all, because I think looking up words is an important part of building a vocabulary. I also tend to do an “appropriate” check on my humor. Could any of these jokes be hurtful to the reader? If I am in question, I email a friend with kids or my editor. At the end of the day, you never want to feed into a child’s insecurities, but you also don’t want to over sanitize your work. It’s all about finding the balance.

More than anything, I want to emphasize how much revising and rewriting I do with ALL of my work. Don’t be afraid of a weak first draft, writing is a process, you just need to persevere.

SCHOOL OF FEAR 2: CLASS IS NOT DISMISSED is out this September 2010 from Little Brown. My email is