I’ve been following Dan Blank for some time now. I interviewed him on the blog, and often speak to the students in his platform-building course. Dan frequently speaks to industry groups, and has advised many bloggers and authors over the years on how to use the amazing tools of social media.
At his blog at WeGrowMedia.com, Dan has some unique content, too. First, he’s interviewed many publishing industry players, both on the traditional publishing side and on the indie side. He’s an accomplished interviewer and these videos are a goldmine of useful information.
The other content that’s unique to Dan’s blog are his long, thoughtful, and passionate posts about the writing life, about authors making a career for themselves, and about the intersection of creative writing and the technology revolution. Really meaty, thoughtful stuff that I thoroughly enjoy.
So I was interested when Dan announced he was launching some new ebooks. Although he writes a blog, I don’t usually think of Dan as an author. He graciously sent me copies of both of his books to have a look at.
Here’s my take on what Dan has produced.
A Writer’s Guide to Blogging
In this 72 page PDF ebook, Dan guides you through the process of becoming a blogger in eight separate sections. He steps through subjects like:
- Build Relationships, Don’t Just Post Content
- Understand Your Audience’s Motivations
- Capturing Ideas
- Engage With Purpose, Not Publicity
- The Process of Trust
Throughout, you feel like you’re with a trusted friend, one who’s much smarter than you but too gracious to point it out.
This is not a technical book on blogging, you won’t find lots of information on themes, php, how to use HTML or stuff like that.
Instead, it’s got something more valuable: a common-sense approach to blogging that respects both writer and reader. Dan is at his strongest when he talks about the kinds of communities writers can build, and the interrelationships that form.
“Blogs are successful not because they go viral, but because the author is consistent in crafting unique and valuable content that speaks to their audience in a way no one else does.”—Dan Blank
If you feel a bit lost in the blogging world, and feel like a guiding hand would be just the thing to get you on the right road, this book will be of real value.
A Writer’s Guide to Social Media
In this companion to his blogging book, Dan Blank explains the ideas behind his approach to social media, and again he is mostly concerned with the quality of relationships writers form.
He helps you understand the difference between promotion and communication, and explains all the wrong ways people approach social media.
Dan’s message is very strong because he constantly reminds us that communities may be virtual, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. And just like in real life, consistency, trust, a clear intention are all needed to maintain the kind of community that’s really worth building.
As he walks you through the big social media services like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and so on, he points out the value of each of them, and how a writer might use them. In each case Dan wants to supply you with the information you need to decide whether a particular service fits your personal strategy and goals.
His section on the strategy and logic behind “sharing” is particularly valuable. If you’re wondering what the heck social media is for, or if you’re confused about what you’re doing on social media, this book will help.
Too often writers jump into social media and start flailing away, often doing more harm than good. Dan’s book is a great preventative, it will force you to think about what you really want to get out of your efforts.
Each book is $29.00 and comes with various bonus worksheets and videos. They are available from Dan’s website here: Dan Blank Blogging and Social Media eBooks
Josh Hanagarne, The World’s Strongest Librarian
I’ve known Josh Hanagarne since my first days as a blogger, since we both were in the same community of bloggers who had taken a blogging course that no longer exists.
Josh is a natural writer with a unique style and viewpoint. He initially established his blog by writing 46 guest posts in about 6 weeks, growing an instant audience of people who responded to his honesty, transparency, his love for books (the guy really is a librarian) and his awesome physical abilities with kettle balls and other big-time weight-lifting equipment.
Josh has an extreme case of Tourette’s Syndrome, and bodybuilding became the way that he could bring some control and sanity to his life.
Just a few weeks after starting his blog, Josh got an email from mega-legend Seth Godin, who connected him with his own literary agent.
You can see where this story is going, right? Based on his story, his way of connecting to readers, and his unique brand, Josh signed a contract and his book has just come out this week.
I’m still reading The World’s Strongest Librarian, and it’s a great read. Josh is 6’7″ and strong enough to bend frying pans. Yet he is incredibly well read, a devoted family man, and a very funny guy.
“The word ‘yes’ is just a sound. It’s nothing without context. It can signal the end of a life, an exultation after a scored basket or a vanquished foe; it can answer questions or refute them; it’s an affirmation. Under the trees, leaning against a decaying piece of wood with the warm June sunlight filtering through the branches above, Janette’s ‘yes’ was the sweetest sound I’d ever heard. If there was a more exhilarating feeling, I didn’t think I could have survived it.”—Josh Hanagarne
Josh’s path from blogging to a book deal won’t happen for many people, but I can’t tell you how happy I am that it’s happened to Josh. Get the book, you won’t be disappointed.
The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family has already got great reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and is available at Amazon and other retailers.
You can check out Josh’s blog and also see the trailer he made for the book here: The World’s Strongest Librarian Blog
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