The Do's of the Host:
- Be clear as to what you need from your guest author. Do you want a guest post? If so, give an idea as to the subject matter so the writer has an indication of what you want. If you want an interview, make sure you know the guest author's genre before sending the questions, give an adequate lead time for them to be completed, and a clear deadline as to when you need them. Need jpegs? State it.
- Follow through with the scheduled posting date. If you are dividing the feature, be clear in communicating that to the author. Guest posts are utilized as promotion for the author and often sync with new releases. An understanding of dates and division of material is needed and appreciated.
- Know your blog audience! It's okay to say no to an author, even if you know them personally. Don't invite an erotica author onto a PG rated blog and then be upset by the content. It will be a disaster for both you and the author, often creating bad feelings. On the flip side, if your audience likes edgier material and you host an picture book writer...you see where I'm going with this? It's okay to turn down an author because they won't fit with your audience.
- Take the time to format the post so it's easy to find and pretty to the eye. The author has poured their heart into their work, wants to use the post as promotional material, and wants to be proud of the way it looks. Taking the time to highlight your guest to the best of your ability builds your reputation as a blogger and strengthens your relationship with the guest author. It's a small world, people talk, build your reputation as a professional.
- Follow up. If you're hosting an author in two days and haven't received the material, send a courtesy reminder that they have a scheduled post. A nice note sent as reminder is often appreciated in today's hectic world. If you hear nothing from that author in response, then have a firm policy of how to handle any follow-up requests for a posting. Personally, if you ditch me once without acknowledging it, then I'm most likely booked for the foreseeable future.
- Have clear guidelines in place about giveaways. Who is handling it? You or the author? Are you using Rafflecopter or another service? Be clear and stick to it so that there isn't a misunderstanding later. You also owe it to your blog followers and readers to have the answer to this question before stating that you're running a giveaway. If the winner never receives their prize, guess who gets the blame? Yep, you as the host.
Do's as the Guest Author:
- Know the demographic of the blog before asking for or accepting a guest spot. Don't just send requests out to every blogger you know. That's not only a waste of time, but unprofessional. You need your guest spot to be a win-win situation. What's the point of displaying your work to people who won't even consider purchasing it?
- As with all writing, meet the deadline. If the host has requested that they receive all material 48 hours in advance so they have time to format it correctly, adhere to those standards and deliver.
- Deliver what is asked for--nothing less. If a host asks for a guest post or an interview, and you only send an excerpt and blurb, don't be surprised if it's not published. Most bloggers don't like to schedule simple promos because it's rarely interesting to their audience. Be a professional and do what is asked of you.
- Put your best foot forward in both interviews and guest posts. This is your time to shine! Pretend there are cameras and Matt Lauer is giving you your 15 minutes of fame. Always do your best and remember that you're being introduced to a new audience.
- If you're doing a giveaway, know in advance what you want to put up as a prize. I never give out my new releases as prizes because it limits spur of the moment purchases, but I do give away my back list or gift cards. This is your responsibility so think about it before blurting out that you want to do a giveaway. Also, tell the host this when you're scheduling the post so she/he doesn't need to do any last minute scrambling.
- Comment on your post. Stop by and say thank you to the host, respond to reader comments, and interact as much as possible. This shows that you're accessible and creates good feelings all around.
- Prepare a media kit. A media kit has your blurb, publishing information, several excerpts to choose from, author bio, author contact information, and all buy links. Not only does this save you time, it's easy for the host to pull what they need from this. This is a must-have.
Don'ts for all of the above:
- Don't be an ass. I don't care if you're the host or the author, remember to be professional at all times. Manners still go a long way, even in cyberspace.
- Don't ever treat another's work as if it is unimportant and an "option" for you. These are relationships that you're building. Maybe you don't think blogging is relevant or maybe you think authors have it easy...get over yourselves! Each has its own set of obstacles, challenges, and headaches. Respect goes a long way.
- Don't flake. Whether you're a host who promises a said date and then fails to deliver--or if you're a writer who forgot to send your work as promised--it's all bad. Bloggers expect content; authors expect their time in the spotlight. When one or the other flakes, it all falls apart.
- Don't expect more than you stated up front.
- Don't deliver less than you promised!
Above all...be professional and respectful in all things.