What Is an Author Blog?
Last week I wrote about books, blogs and blooks. I firmly believe that any author would benefit from publishing a blog related to their book(s). But if you're new to this blog thing, you may be asking, "What is a blog?" and "Why should I publish one as an author?"
Here's my best attempt at answering those questions ...
What You Need to Know About Blogs
As you may know, the word blog is short for "web log." A blog is basically an online journal that its author uses to publish "posts," which are separate entries to the journal. Blogs can be used for any reason and subject matter imaginable. From teenagers and activists to politicians and best-selling authors, anyone can easily and inexpensively publish a blog.
In many ways, blogs are just another version of a web site with multiple pages. You can visit and read a blog page in the same way you would any other web page. The main thing that sets a blog apart from a basic web page is a nifty web-based file format called RSS.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. In general, it is used to publish and organize frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds and podcasts. The coolest thing about RSS is that it gives people the ability to subscribe to blogs and podcasts.
Feeding the RSS Monster
In the old days, when you found a web site you were interested in and wanted to stay on top off, you had two choices: 1) subscribe to the site's e-zine and get updates by e-mail, or 2) bookmark the site by adding it to your browser's favorites list (but you had to remember to visit it often).
In essence, an RSS feed allows you to subscribe to a web site, which just happens to be a blog. You can subscribe to blogs using something called a news reader, feed reader or aggregator. These readers are popping up everywhere. The latest versions of the Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers allow you to subscribe to feeds directly from the browser.
You can also subscribe if you have a personalized page set up on Yahoo, AOL or Google. Or you can use programs and sites such as NewsGator, Bloglines, Rojo, FeedDemon and more.
If you're not familiar with how these feed readers work, think about how your e-mail Inbox operates. You open your e-mail program and up pops all of your latest incoming e-mails, listed by subject line, with the most recent message at the top.
Feed readers work in a similar way. Open it up, and all of the blogs you've subscribed to will show up, with the latest content at the top, usually with just the headline and maybe the first few lines of the blog post displaying. It's a pretty awesome way to have only the information you want delivered to your desktop.
I'll write more about this soon. But in the meantime, check out this article and this great list.