The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

JACK THE HACK: Expat authors, let’s reopen that blogging can of worms (1/3)

JACK THE HACK _writingtipsA pressured existence in the UK led Jack Scott and his partner, Liam, to seek sanctuary in the Turkish port town of Bodrum. This expat experience was literally something to write home about (as in a book!), after which the pair returned to the UK, where they are living the life of Riley in Norwich.

We have invited Jack, now reinvented as Jack the Hack, to submit a monthly column targeted at those of you who are still displaced and hacking away at travelogues-cum-memoirsor, in some cases, autobiographical novels. Warning to non-Brits: Don’t be put off by his wry sense of humo(u)r!

—ML Awanohara

As far as the book malarkey goes, unless you’re lucky enough to bag a big boy in the publishing world, you will carry the can to get the word out. These days, this means developing a strong and dynamic online presence.

To some, this seems like a step too far. I’ve worked with a number of new authors who just don’t have the time, skill or inclination to do what it takes.

“I wrote the damn book. Isn’t that enough?” I’ve been told.

Well, no, it isn’t, I’m afraid, not by a long chalk.

So I work with them to take the pain away. You see, it doesn’t need to be a can of worms. Those who regularly dip into Jack the Hack will know that I’m a passionate advocate of blogging—for fun and for glory. With a little effort and imagination, you really can make the Web work for you, and blogging is a very good place to start (cue Julie Andrews, the old Dame who tragically lost her fabulous soprano timbre).

Still not convinced?

Then let’s start at the very beginning…

So what is a blog?

The word is an abbreviation of “weblog”. Put simply, a blog is a journal where the entries (posts) are published online, with the most recent first (the reverse of a traditional hand-penned diary). A blog can take many forms and is a perfect vehicle to reflect our multi-media world of words, music, video and images.

Importantly, blogs differ from standard websites. They are dynamic (rather than static) and constantly evolving (assuming they are kept up to date).

Why do people blog?

It may sound grandiose, but blogging is an important democratizing force, giving a real voice to those who might otherwise not have one. It’s a great social leveler tooanyone can do it, no qualification required. There’s no editor to correct your flabby grammar and no one to censure your words (unless, of course, you live somewhere with lively Internet police).

While this means a fair amount of dross is floating round the crowded blogosphere, there are roses among the weedsand you could be one of them.

Bloggers blog for all sorts of reasons and to continue the tenuous Sound of Music theme, here are a few of my favo(u)rite (things):

• Because they have something to say about an issue they care about (the campaigners and spleen-ventors);
• To tell their world what they’re up to and to keep in touch with friends and family (a common topic for expat blogs);
• To help others (health-related blogs are often written for this purpose);
• To be seen as an expert or influencer in a particular arena or place (the Arts, politics and travel leap to mind);
• To connect with like-minded people (this blog, The Displaced Nation, is a good example);
• To flog a service, brand or product (oh, like a book).

Most successful blogs tend to focus around a particular theme or niche. I know a blogger who writes about knitting patterns. It’s hugely popular, attracting thousands of hits a week.

Among the big hitters are travel, politics, food, family life and…ta-da! books and creative writing.
Blogs are a boundless, no-to-low-cost way to lay out your stall in a way an ordinary Website might not. Why so? Because Internet search engines like Google love content that’s new, fresh and frequently updated.

Even well-established businesses take blogging seriously these days. So why wouldn’t you?

Has Jack converted you to the cause? If you’re hooked, let him reel you next month with tips to launch your blog with bang.

BLOGGING TIP FOR EXPAT AUTHORS NO 1:

Blogging increases the chances of getting your mug shot on the first page of Googleand that just might sell a book or two.

* * *

Readers, any comments, further questions for Jack the Hack? He’ll be back next month with the second in his blogging advice trilogy…

Jack Scott’s debut book, Perking the Pansies—Jack and Liam move to Turkey, is a bitter-sweet tragi-comedy that recalls the first year of a British gay couple in a Muslim country. For more information on this and Jack’s other titles, go to his author site.

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, another installment in the life of our fictional expat heroine, Libby. (What, not keeping up with Libby? Read the first three episodes of her expat adventures.)

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to register for The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with seasonal recipes, book giveaways and other extras. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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Images: from top, clockwise: Hand with pen / MorgueFile.com; Boats in King’s Lynn, Norfolk / MorgueFile.com; Jack Scott, used with his permission; Turkish boats / MorgueFile.com

9 responses to “JACK THE HACK: Expat authors, let’s reopen that blogging can of worms (1/3)

  1. Adventures (@in_expatland) October 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Can’t wait to see the next two parts in this series on blogging, Jack. I think you’ve captured the why of blogging, and why an author benefits from such a platform. Putting time, effort and creativity into a blog that reflects you and your objectives yet is entertaining to others is no small feat. It needn’t happen overnight, but you’ll never get there is you never start.

  2. Jack Scott October 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I’m a bit of a blogging zealot though I completely accept it’s not for everyone for a whole host reasons (not least, the commitment it takes). But, it is one of the key ways to get noticed. Of course, I’m a convert who genuinely gets a kick out of it. I really should get out more🙂

  3. ML Awanohara October 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Interesting time to deliver this post. I see that some of those who have made developing an author platform not only a cause but a biz are writing posts this week expressing their fatigue at maintaining these platforms. Joanna Penn talks to Dan Blank about combating platform fatigue and thinking longer term; and Judy Lee Dunn expresses disillusionment with social media, wondering if other writers are finding it shallow…

  4. jamoroki October 5, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Reblogged this on JAMOROKI and commented:
    This is my first reblog and I thought you would be interested in Jack’s straight forward and unpretentious approach to his subject matter. Hope you enjoy it. James

  5. Let's CUT the Crap! October 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    You make good points, Jack. I look forward to blogging fatigue mentioned above. Fatigue are us.

  6. backtobodrum October 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I think I’ve got a touch of blogging fatigue. How long do I have to wait for the remedy?

  7. Pingback: Thou Shalt Blog | perkingthepansies

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