Susan Gunelius recently published her third book, Google Blogger For Dummies (aff). Susan’s a friend, expert copywriter and marketing consultant, business and personal blogger (and About.com weblogs guide), and she has graciously granted me this interview. You can download some free sample chapters she has courteously provided, with Wiley Publishing’s approval (and encouragement!).
1) Why should anyone choose to use the Google Blogger system as opposed to the WordPress blog system?
Google’s Blogger is a great option for a novice blogger. It’s completely free and allows monetization whereas the free version of WordPress does not allow monetization. Also, Google is investing time, resources and money in re-energizing Blogger with new tools and functionality to make it more competitive with WordPress. With that in mind, it’s a great way to get your feet wet with blogging, and as more and more new features are being added, fewer users are finding a need to switch to WordPress.
2) Why did you pick this topic to write about?
The publisher approached me directly and asked me to write it.
3) What was the most surprising thing you learned about Blogger?
I was most surprised to learn about how much Google is working to integrate Blogger with their other applications (e.g., AdSense, Feedburner, Picasa, YouTube, etc.). There is no doubt that the enhancements will continue.
4) What was the most unusual thing you learned about Blogger?
I’m not sure if it’s unusual but certainly a unique thing about Blogger is the wonderful and loyal user base that supports it. Also, I was surprised to learn how accessible Google’s Blogger team is to help users.
5) Describe your process in writing this book from the time you started the project till completion.
I was approached over the summer of 2008 and began writing in September. The Dummies writing process is fairly stringent in terms of following the basic structure of all Dummies books. They have to be written primarily for beginners and each chapter must be modular, meaning a person can pick and choose the chapters of relevance to them to read and each chapter will stand on its own. I began with a table of contents. Once that was approved by the publisher, Wiley, I began writing. The rest is history.
6) Did you start with a publishing house asking you to write on a topic or did you have a manuscript and then go to the publishers?
I have worked both ways. This book started with an acquisitions editor from Wiley approaching me directly.
7) What did you do to stay motivated when you were in the middle of the project and the initial euphoria had worn off but completion was not yet in sight?
That always happens with any book I write. I think most authors could say that’s true for them, too. There’s always the initial excitement of starting a new book, researching, getting organized and diving in. However, writing a book takes time, and as with anything you have to do for a long time, you do end up getting a bit bored with the topic and ready to move onto the next. At least that’s how I am. I’m always ready for whatever comes next! I stay motivated by trying to remember my initial excitement and by remembering what a reader would feel like when he or she picks up the book. I always try to keep the reader in mind and that keeps me motivated.
8) Share some expert-level tips for using the full power of Google Blogger.
I think the biggest tip I can give would apply to any Blogger user and that is to keep your eyes and ears open for new enhancements. Read the Blogger Buzz blog (www.bloggerbuzz.com) and don’t think you’ve got it all figured out, because Google is working hard to take Blogger to the next level. There is always something new in the pipeline. The rest you’ll have to read in the book.
9) What is your book’s target audience? Are there subsets within that audience that would particularly benefit? Why would they benefit most?
The target audience is beginner Blogger users or beginner bloggers in general. However, I did include entire parts that are dedicated to more advanced topics like monetization, promoting and growing a blog, and advanced Blogger functions, so there is a broader audience of existing bloggers who can learn a lot from the book, too.
10) Tell us about some of the lighter times you had writing this book, some amusing anecdotes :).
Well, my 4-year old son (actually, he’s one of a set of triplets) is obsessed with Dummies books for some reason. I have no idea why, but he sits and flips through the pages of any Dummies book he can get his hands on all the time. Mind you, he can’t read, but that doesn’t deter him. Anyway, when I was writing Google Blogger for Dummies, I had a big stack of at least ten Dummies books that I used to make references to whenever possible in my book. Well, being as enamored as he is with Dummies books, my son kept coming into my office and taking them. I’d find them here and there around the house. Sometimes, I’d be in the middle of writing and want to make a reference to another book, but it was nowhere to be found. Needless to say, he could never remember where he left the missing book when I needed it. I can laugh about it now, but I remember on more than one occasion searching for a Dummies book amongst the mine field of toys that litters my house.
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