How to add an email subscription function to Blogger (Blogspot)

One of the features I have appreciated on WordPress is the email subscription “widget” (which you can see on the right side under the search box).  This function allows readers to subscribe to my blog and receive new posts via email.  My book review blog, which has been hosted on Blogger since 2010, has never had an email subscription option, but as I was thinking about how important this was, I decided it was time to figure out how to add it.

I figured it out, but also discovered that setting up an email subscription field in Blogger takes a little more work to set up than it did in WordPress.  If you use Blogger, though, and do not already have this set up, it may be worth the effort.  Allowing your visitors to subscribe to your blog keeps them engaged without having to come back and visit your page everyday to see if anything new has been posted.

Blogger’s version of a widget is called a “gadget.” Blogger provides instructions on how to set up an email subscription gadget here; however, I will walk you through the steps and what I learned when I set this up on my blog this week.

From within your Blogger account, click Layout in the lefthand menu.  Then click Add a Gadget. When the Add a Gadget pop up window appears, select HTML/JavaScript.

The Blogger instructions provide a code that you can copy and paste into the “Content” box of the new gadget you are setting up.  Do not enter anything into the Title box.

Before you click to save your new gadget, there are a few very important things you need to do in order for your feed to work properly:

1) Set up a feed in Feedburner.  Go to, enter your blog URL into the appropriate box and walk through the steps to set up your feed.

2) Activate the feed.  Once it is set up, click on the feed name to open the feed settings and then click the Publicize tab.  Click Email Subscriptions. At the bottom of the page, make sure the service is active (if not, click to activate it).

3) Set up the feed link in your gadget. In the Preview Subscription Link… box, there is a code that looks like this:

<a href=”;loc=en_US“>Subscribe to Read & Tell Reviews by Email</a>

Copy only the portion of that code between the quotation marks (shown in blue text above).  Keep in mind your exact link will be slightly different from mine.

Paste that link into the gadget to replace the portion of the code highlighted in blue on the Helplogger page (where you originally got the code).

4) Replace the name of the blog. Looking back at the original code you copied from Helplogger, there is one word (helplogger) in purple.  Replace this word with what you want it to say for your blog.  In my case, I replaced “helplogger” with “ReadAndTell.”

5) Save and test.  Save your gadget and then open your blog in another window.  Your new gadget should now appear on the page.  Test it by submitting your email address.  Follow the steps and then check your email.  You can make changes to the email language from within Feedburner.  You can change the location of your gadget from within Blogger.

Easy, right? Okay, it’s not that easy.  Blogger makes a lot of things easy, but this is not one of them.  Once you get through it, though, you will be offering your readers a great way to receive instant notification of your new posts.

Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

25 Ways to Promote Your Book with Instagram

Some books/genres make take more creativity than others.  If you have published a book about gardening, for example, the possibilities for photos and hashtags are nearly endless.  If your book is fiction, though, you may have a harder time coming up with ideas, but think about all of the visual pieces from your story that you can put together for your readers.

I like lists, especially numbered lists.  If I can put things into a list and number it, I will.  So, I was going to write “3 ways to promote your book on Instagram,” but I decided to make it a little more challenging. Here are 25 ways to promote your book on Instagram:

  1. Add the URL for your Website to your profile so anyone visiting your Instagram account will see it.
  2. Along the same lines, use the bio field in your profile to tell visitors a little about you and your book.
  3. If your book isn’t published yet, have someone take a photo of you opening the box when your first copies arrive. That is a special moment to share with your potential readers.
  4. Better yet, have them take a video of you opening that box. You can share video clips on Instagram from 3 to 15 seconds long.
  5. Post a picture of the front cover.
  6. Post a picture of you holding your book so your followers can see the front cover just below your beautiful face.
  7. The last few ideas are designed to help your followers connect with you and get excited (with you) about your book, but don’t use your Instagram account to just post photo after photo of your book or your followers will get bored and stop following you. Knowing your target audience, what are the things that they want to see?  For example, authors of romantic fiction may post photos of romantic scenes (imagine a table set for two with red rose petals strewn about) or images of other books in the same category that will attract the attention of romantic fiction readers.
  8. If your book is fiction, think about where it takes place. Is it a romantic fiction in small town Iowa or a murder mystery in Denver?  Either way, take photos of scenes similar to what you describe in the book and share them over time.
  9. Connect with book reviewers/bloggers who are active on Instagram. Kate Tilton has a website where she posts resources for authors and readers. Her master list of Book Bloggers on Instagram is a great place to start.
  10. Speaking of Kate Tilton’s resources, she also posted a master list of Authors on Instagram, which contains about 150 authors in alphabetical order. Browse through it and see if you’re familiar with any of the names.  Start following some of the authors you know and peruse their accounts on Instagram to come up with some more ideas.
  11. Share pictures of your writing environment to help your followers connect with you as a person. For example, is there something special about your writing space that your readers might find interesting?  Do you have an amazing view from your desk or do you write with a cat perched on your lap or do you hide under a tent made of blankets after your kids go to bed?
  12. What about your quirky writing habits? Do you eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every night when you sit down to write? Post your flavor of the night. Or do you write first thing in the morning at your local coffee shop?  Share a photo of your beautiful, inspiring latte art.
  13. When your book receives any press like a newspaper article or a review online, take a screenshot and share it.
  14. Your readers will be interested in photos from any of the events you attend for your book — a book signing, an award ceremony, a reading at your local coffee shop. Don’t forget to take pictures at each event and share the moment with your Instagram followers.
  15. If/when your book wins any awards, post a picture of the medal or certificate.
  16. If you published a cookbook, your Instagram feed should be flooded with images of the amazing food your book teaches people to make.
  17. If your book is a non-fiction “how to” book, post photos of the process your book explains and/or the end result.
  18. If you wrote a children’s book, share a video of you reading it to a group of children and be sure the clip shows a few of the interior illustrations as you’re showing them to your captive audience.
  19. Host a giveaway contest with the prize being your book. Ask your followers to post a photo with a theme of something that relates to your book. For example, if your book is about gardening, you could ask your followers to share a photo of themselves in their garden.  It’s important that you specify the hashtag they should use in order to enter their photo in your contest.  That way you can search by the designated hashtag to see all of the entries.
  20. Share inspirational images/quotes related to the theme of your book and/or writing in general.
  21. Start a movement. If your book is in the self-help category or contains a message that you want to spread, create a unique hashtag and challenge your followers to post an image and use the designated hashtag.
  22. Timing is everything. Research a little on the best days/times to post on Instagram to be sure your posts get the most exposure possible.  There is no “one size fits all” formula for this.  Start with for personalized statistics based on your particular followers.
  23. Connect your Instagram account with your accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Fourquare, Tumblr and Flickr. When appropriate, share your photos from Instagram to any of these accounts so your followers on other networks can also engage in them.
  24. Post regularly. You don’t have to become a full-time photographer and post 10 images a day, but you want to post regularly enough that you keep your followers (and yourself) engaged.  Set a goal that is reasonable for you.  Can you post once a day?  Once a week?
  25. Use hashtags! I discussed this in more detail a couple weeks ago.  You can read that post here.

There you have it – 25 ways to promote your book on Instagram!

Can you think of something I missed?  If so, please share it in the comments below.

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Creating a Facebook Page to Promote Your Book, 5 Easy Steps

This post was originally published in 2011.
Due to its popularity, I have updated it on June 4, 2015.

number-591945_1280Given that the number of active users on Facebook is now nearly 1.5 billion, most likely you already have a Facebook account, along with your neighbor, your grandma and your college roommate.  With all of the connections you already have on Facebook, promoting your book to your Facebook Friends is easy, but you can also create a Facebook Page for your book (or yourself as an author if you have multiple books).

Here are 5 quick steps to creating a Facebook Page:

  1. Within Facebook, make sure you’re in “Home” view (where you read your News Feed).
  2. In the left column, under PAGES, click “Create Page.”
  3. Review the page type options and select the appropriate option.  To set up a page for your book, select the “Entertainment” box and then select “Book” from the drop down menu and type in the name of your book.  To set up a page for you as an author (with multiple books to promote under your name), select the “Artist, Band or Public Figure” box and then select “Author” from the drop down menu and type in your name (or pen name).
  4. Read the Facebook Pages Terms and click “Get Started.”
  5. That’s it!  You have set up an official Facebook Page for your book (or author profile). Now Facebook will now walk you through the following additional steps to complete your new Page, including:
  • Adding an image – i.e. your book cover or professional author photo
  • Describing your page
  • Adding a URL for your author website (if you have one)

Once you have all of the details ready you can invite your existing friends/followers (on Facebook and/or other sites) to join your page and add a Facebook button or “Like” box to your own site to start increasing traffic to your page.  You will want to begin posting status updates on a regular basis.

Having set up the page, you will automatically be a Page Admin.  You can add additional Admins at any time.  Managing your page can be done easily anytime you’re on Facebook.  You can find your page listed in the left-hand menu under the PAGES header.

If you don’t already have a Facebook Page for your book, give it a try!

~Happy Facebooking!

Posted in Facebook, Social Media | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

The instant #1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller

Named a Hot Fall Read by USA Today, Vanity Fair, Newsday, O Magazine, the Seattle Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Mashable, Pop Sugar, and the San Antonio Express-News

Named a Best Book of the Year by Brainpickings and Book Riot

“A must read for anyone hoping to live a creative life… I dare you not to be inspired to be brave, to be free, and to be curious.” —PopSugar

From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

MY REVIEW:I have participated three times in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where people set out to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words of one) within the thirty days of November. I successfully completed the challenge two of those years (last year I was close, but lost steam when I went on vacation the third week of the month).

Every year I do it, I think my writing is a little bit better than the year before — the characters are a little more developed, the story is more plotted out.  Also, every year I participate I ask myself a million times WHY am I doing this?  I have never considered myself a writer, but I have found that for some reason I enjoy the process of trying to write a book. There’s something within me that wants to do it even when everyone around me thinks I’m crazy. I would be horrified if anyone actually read the stories that I wrote during NaNoWriMo, but I keep thinking I might re-write them and maybe some day they’ll be presentable.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic was just the inspirational push I needed.  It has inspired me to finish (at least) one of the books I have already started. It also encouraged me to participate in NaNoWriMo again, despite the fact that I tell myself every year in December I will never do it again.  And it even motivated me to make writing more of a priority in my life, not just during NaNoWriMo. Why?  Because it is something I enjoy.  Will I ever publish anything I write? Maybe. Will it make me rich someday?  Probably not. But that is not why I do it.

If you are an artist in any sense of the word, this book is a must read. It isn’t just for writers; it is for anyone who enjoys creating something.  What is your art?  Is it painting, knitting, cooking?  Whatever it may be, Big Magic will inspire you to take a look inside yourself, to listen to your passion and to live a more creative life.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

By now it’s clear that whether you’re promoting a business, a product, or yourself, social media is near the top of what determines your success or failure. And there are countless pundits, authors, and consultants eager to advise you.

But there’s no one quite like Guy Kawasaki, the legendary former chief evangelist for Apple and one of the pioneers of business blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, Tumbling, and much, much more. Now Guy has teamed up with Peg Fitzpatrick, who he says is the best social-media person he’s ever met, to offer The Art of Social Media—the one essential guide you need to get the most bang for your time, effort, and money.

With over one hundred practical tips, tricks, and insights, Guy and Peg present a bottom-up strategy to produce a focused, thorough, and compelling presence on the most popular social-media platforms. They guide you through steps to build your foundation, amass your digital assets, optimize your profile, attract more followers, and effectively integrate social media and blogging.

For beginners overwhelmed by too many choices as well as seasoned professionals eager to improve their game, The Art of Social Media is full of tactics that have been proven to work in the real world. Or as Guy puts it, “great stuff, no fluff.”

Guy Kawasaki writing a book about how to “rock” social media is like Michael Jordan writing a book about how to rock the basketball court. Kawasaki has achieved a level of stardom in the social media world that most of us can only dream about. That said, his tips are invaluable whether you are a newbie or a seasoned social media marketer.

This book is a quick read and covers all of the basics you need to know about the most popular social media platforms. I highly recommend it, although I’m only giving it 4 stars because it’s so short and really could be more detailed.  Amazon says it’s 208 pages, but the content is really only 184 pages.  The format is about 5×7, so if it were a more normal size (i.e. 6×9), it would barely be 100 pages.


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BOOK REVIEW: Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish by Joseph Bates


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Equip yourself for the novel-writing journey!

Starting a novel is exciting, but finishing it–that’s the real challenge. The journey from beginning to end is rife with forks in the road and dead ends that lead many writers off course. With Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish: A Guidebook for the Journey, you’ll navigate the intricacies of crafting a complex work of fiction and complete the journey with confidence and precision.

To maximize your creativity and forward momentum, each chapter offers:

  • Techniques to break down the elements of the novel–from character-building to plotting and pacing
  • Mile Markers to anticipate and overcome roadblocks like ineffective dialogue and “the unchanged protagonist”
  • Guidelines for Going Deeper to explore and implement more nuanced aspects of storytelling, such as finding your voice and the role of theme
  • Try-It-Out Exercises and 27 interactive worksheets that help elevate your writing.

No matter your level of experience or where you are in your project, Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish provides the instruction, inspiration, and guidance you need to complete your journey successfully.

MY REVIEW:I am surprised by the reviews for this book.  As of the date of this post there are only two reviews on Amazon and both of them are only 3 stars.  I feel like there must be some sort of secret about this book that I don’t happen to be in on. (If you know what that secret might be, please comment on this post and fill me in!)  Personally, I thought this book was excellent!

If you have ever tried to write a novel (or have that on your bucket list for “some day”), this book is a must-read!  I think Bates does a wonderful job of walking the reader through everything you need to know in order to put together a story that people will want to read.  It may all seem pretty obvious, but having attempted to write three novels myself over the last few years, I found the information in this book eye-opening.  If I participate in NaNoWriMo again in the future, I will definitely read through this book again before I begin and the worksheets in the back will be a fantastic resource.

I highly recommend this book if you write fiction and/or want to write a novel someday.

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What does the future hold for Twitter (and Google)?

Last week Dick Costolo announced he would be stepping down as CEO of Twitter.  Costolo had held the CEO position since 2010.  Co-founder (and former CEO) Jack Dorsey will fill in as interim CEO beginning July 1st.

Interestingly, a few months ago Twitter and Google announced a new partnership that would provide Google full access to Twitter’s stream.  For Google, this partnership meant faster access to information (in the form of 9,000 tweets per second) from Twitter.  For Twitter, this partnership meant increased exposure, which would hopefully result in higher revenue on advertising since the more people that visit the site, the better the chances of engagement with the ads.

The recent announcement about Dick Costolo’s resignation has spurred speculations about Google’s plans to buy Twitter for a couple of reasons:

  1. Twitter needs Google: Although Twitter has previously turned down offers from Google and Facebook with the intention of competing with them, Twitter has failed to figure out how to effectively monetize their site.  Costolo was under some serious pressure and did not deliver.
  2. Google needs Twitter: Although there are more than 2.5 billion users on Google+ (technically making it the largest social network in the world), Google has never really quite figured out how to compete with Facebook or Twitter in terms of real engagement.  The “user” number is a little deceiving because Google requires users of any of its other products (Gmail and YouTube, for example) to register for a Google+ account.  As a result, there are many Google+ accounts out there where the “user” may never have had any intention of being an active participant on Google+. It is estimated that fewer than 10% of users on Google+ are active.

It appears that the timing may be right for both companies.  Google is tired of sitting on the bench.  They want in the game!  And Twitter has never figured out how to make money playing the game.  Could the two of them team up to effectively compete with Facebook?  We shall see..

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