Monday, July 12, 2010

The Secret and the Prize

First, the prize.

Hart at Confessions of a Watery Tart was giving away a prize – the critique of fifty pages of a manuscript. Much to my surprise, I won! Hart informed me I could use it in September (when she has time to do the critique) or pass it on to another writer. Since I won’t be ready with my manuscript until the end of the year (as in, I won’t feel comfortable letting anyone read it until it’s complete and I’ve had a chance to do some editing) I’ve decided to pass this prize on to another deserving writer.

I can think of several fellow writers who will have a manuscript ready by September. However, I don’t want to volunteer someone and cause that person to panic as well! So, I am offering this prize to anyone who desires a critique of his or her work. Please leave a comment if you are interested and I will draw names from a hat.

Hart’s an awesome writer and this is a great opportunity for some constructive feedback!

Now, the secret. The secret to successful blogging with lots of comments and followers.

Hate to disappoint you, but I’ve no idea!

I realized I’m about to hit 200 followers and that simply floors me. Around the end of March, approximately 100 days ago, I had thirty. That was it! Somewhere along the way, I did something right, and since I’ve no idea exactly what I did, all I can do is recap what I’ve been doing the past three months.

In searching for blog topics, I decided to focus on my profile description. I didn’t set up a schedule, just selected a few topics of passion. I blog about movies. I blog about books, music, games, and tech stuff. My theme is science fiction and fantasy, so all of these elements center around that subject. Yes, geek and fanboy stuff! Marvin Wilson commented that there seems to be a correlation between science fiction and heavy metal music, so I will explore that in depth one day.

I signed up for Arlee Bird’s April A-Z Challenge, in which we were to blog the letters of the alphabet every day except Sunday. (Good math work there, Lee!) I think a hundred bloggers participated, and I made a lot of great friends along the way.

Arlee Bird also hosted a Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites in May, so I met even more bloggers when I posted my favorite albums.

Last month I hosted my own blogfest, The Movie Dirty Dozen – twelve favorite movies. I was stunned when sixty people participated in this event, and I met even more new bloggers. The real pleasure came from the response of those who participated, though – they had a great time, met new bloggers, and some received the most comments on a post ever. That is awesome!

I’ve met so many amazing people and learned so much about writing, movies, books, and life experiences. My blogroll is LONG, but I visit those people every day and there’s more I need to add. (Yes, I really need to organize it before it scrolls off the page!)

So, what’s the secret? Well, if you can glean something from my ramblings, then I hope you’ll discover it. In the meantime, I thank every person who follows and comments. I am humbled. You’ve made this an incredible experience!

57 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

First and foremost Alex (I hope you won't blush) you are an extremely nice person, There is always a comment from you and that goes a long way, it's lovely to reiceve comments but it's important to give the also.

I too got tremendous support from the A to Z challenge and the musical list along the way but the biggest comments I had on any one post was your movie challenge.

So between Arlee and your kind self I have you to thank for my success and good luck in getting your 100th.

Yvonne.

Piedmont Writer said...

Are you sure you want to give up that prize -- That doesn't come along all that often. Hart is an amazing writer.

And like Yvonne said, you're a really nice guy, that's why you have so many followers now.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Doubt I'd have anything ready by September either.
And you just dove right into the blogging thing with great posts and making new friends. You did it right, Alex!

Cruella Collett said...

Congratulations on whatever it is you are doing right! ;)

Actually, I think one of the things you are doing that is very right is being yourself. Visiting other blogs, leaving lovely comments, writing thoughtful and interesting blog posts of your own - it all makes for a very good blogger, and I think it is great that you are getting the attention you deserve for that.

Will Burke said...

I think they've nailed it on the head -- your participation in the community gets people to byour Blog, but your quality postings hok them!

Mason Canyon said...

Congratulations on what you're doing. Your posts are always informative and entertaining. You'll pass that 200 mark before you know it.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Matthew Rush said...

Interesting that we're in a similar boat Alex - in that I started blogging in March too and my followers have gone up so fast I have no idea how or why either.

One thing I do know is that I enjoy your blog very much. Also I believe I found you because of the A-Z challenge, so that is pretty cool.

DEZMOND said...

Congrats Alex! I must admit that I'm emotionally attached to your blog because you know I've been here from the beginning when you were just starting and it was a tremendous experience watching your blog growing, developing, becoming more beautiful, getting new followers, friends .... It was like watching a baby growing from a small newborn to a mature adult :)))

And I always knew what's the secret - you just being a kindred spirit who visits dozens and dozens of friendly blogs every day and leaves comments and attention :)

But the best news in this post of yous is the fact that you are working on your new manuscript and that it is progressing well :))

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Congrats on nearing 200 followers! I like your blog because it just feels different - and I'm a HUGE movie and pop culture buff, so your blog fits right in :D

Glynis said...

Congratulations on your win Alex!

You are an interesting blogger, and you befriend others. You support and encourage, in times of need. That is the secret to your success, as I see it. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Aw, thanks Yvonne. I'll try not to blush.

Piedmont, I am sure - if you're interested, let me know.

Thanks Diane and Cruella!

Will, I guess the pressure's on then!

Matthew, that challenge made such a difference to a lot of people.

Thanks, Dezz! And don't tell anyone, but I really haven't grown up yet.

Zoe, different is good!

Thanks Glynis and Mason.

Jemi Fraser said...

In my humble opinion, I think your blog is a hit because you come across as a real person - honest, fun, real, kind. Some people come off as plastic. You don't. I'm not in the least surprised by the success of your blog :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Nice prize. I wouldn't be ready for that either. Sounds like you've got some choices.

Bryan said...

Absolutely agree with everyone so far. You Are so encouraging it's borderline stalkery. Is that a word? Don't stop, I think we all like being stal...er followed. But what really stands out is that you do follow up with a note however short. It makes a difference. I'm looking forward to your post with the link to purchase your book when it's ready. I'll be looking for flying cars and possibly some heavy metal?
Cheers, SFDaddy, Bryan

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Jemi, I'm real, faults and all!

I wonder what my wife will think of the stalkery thing? I'll keep it up, though - along with heavy metal and flying cars. And thanks, Bryan - I appreciate your interest in my book!

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

I like the geeky, nerdy stuff. I just organize my blogs on to a separate blog or its own. I have writers, illustrators, just fun,…. My biggest fear is that somehow I drop a blog in my transfer over.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Love your movie reviews...always reliable. You have such a fun site that encompasses all the geeky/scifi stuff I like. Congrats on the prize...to whoever gets it. Hart is awesome!

Talli Roland said...

Congrats on almost 200 followers! You deserve it because you're very interactive - which is what blogging is all about, really! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I promise I won't lose the geekiness!

Beth Zimmerman said...

Alex, I think the secret to your blogging success is that you are a genuinely nice guy who invests your time and energy in supporting other bloggers! And you do without expectation of anything in return! Besides that ... we love you! :)

Stephen Tremp said...

The April A-Z challenge was one of those events where you picked up a lot of your followers. I'm glad to be one. You have a terrific blog going and I look forward to visiting. Have a great week.

Stephen Tremp

Elana Johnson said...

Congrats on the win -- and look at you being all pay it forward like. That's cool.

Carol Kilgore said...

I like your blog because I always learn something here and it's usually something I never thought about before.

Falen (Sarah) said...

oooh sign me up for the drawing!
AND we have almost the same amount of followers!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I don't need to be entered in the drawing, Alex, but I did want to respond to your comment about now knowing how you pulled in so many followers -- you participate (blog challenges), you engage (leaving comments at other blogs), and your posts are interesting. The same rules work for Twitter and Facebook (participate, engage, be interesting).

BStearns said...

Great to hear Alex! I'm sure 200 seems like a lot of followers now, but in no time you will be far beyond that. As most everyone else here, I'm very excited for your book to come out and I can't wait to read it. Keep up all the great work!

-Bryan
www.sff-hub.com

Helen Ginger said...

Alex, I think the secret to your growing blogroll is you. You make friends online. You have interesting posts. You write about fun topics.

The Yard Bard said...

I've seen several instances of the "If you blog it, they will come" mentality. Any old thing, and not much effort. Not here! This is where I find the "If you make it interesting, they will come" outlook. I'm adding myself to your list of stal-- er, loyal readers. ;)

Ted Cross said...

Sorry that you can't use such a great prize, but it is awesome of you to pass it along. I can always use outside help in understanding issues with my MS, so please add my name to the pot, and thank you!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Beth, that is sweet of you to say! You're an awesome friend, too.

Stephen, that A-Z Challenge really kicked it off!

Elana, that's a new description of me - 'pay it forward like!'

Awesome, Fallen! And we're both rockin' right now.

Patricia, I'm just having fun...

Thanks, Bryan!

I hope I can continue to entertain, Helen.

Yard Bard, stalkers is the word of the day!

Ted, will do!!

j.m. neeb said...

Alex, I think it is really cool that you are willing to turn around and give away your prize. :)

If you are wondering about your blogging success, I'm sure being a good guy like that helps.

Also, I had noticed you in the comments sections of a lot of blogs that I follow before you started following mine. You always have interesting things to say and I'm sure that helps, too! (People like following interesting people - from the Department of the Obvious) :)

WritingNut said...

Congratulations Alex!! I agree with everyone - you naturally draw people to you -- I'm very happy I discovered your blog :)

And that is an amazing prize - good luck to the participants!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

j.m. - I thank the Dept of the Obvious then! I'll have to let my wife know I'm interesting. Hope that's not news to her!

Thank you, Writing Nut!

Clarissa Draper said...

Well, I know that I really appreciate your blog and I'm glad you won that prize, it's too bad you can't use it.

CD

Journaling Woman said...

You ARE nice and your posts are very interesting. I enjoy coming over and visiting. You seem like a quality person.

I think you should get what chapters you can ready and hand them over to Hart. This is an opportunity you don't want to pass up. I'm just saying....

Teresa

Cheeseboy said...

I think the secret is commenting on other blogs. It seems the more I comment on other blogs, the more comments I get on mine.

Glad I found you though, Alex. You are a blogging stud.

Jesson And Rey Ann said...

nice post, like the prize!

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Alex, congrats on the win! Awesome prize. And as for your blog, it's simply great. No wonder you have so many followers. Now about heavy metal and sci-fi, the first thing I thought about was the movie Heavy Metal. Great music, but a lot of the scenes make me blush!

Ellie said...

Congrats on winning; No, please don't throw my name in the hat, this time ;-D!

Attention to Detail...you make an appearance, often and it means a lot!
I am finding summer's laid back lifestyle, kids home and their friends, throwing me a curve ball. I'm still in the game and will try to visit more...

A-Z challenge, really put me in a new world, a bigger circle, varied group of people, with many talents! It was an incredible experience...as was your Dirty Dozen. I still need to catch up... I was ill at the time; it showed~

Secret is be authentic~

Hart Johnson said...

Hey--great way to go about this, Alex! I like the contest idea, and you really HAVE exploded with followers! I think a huge part of it is because you are such an awesome follower--commenting regularly and such...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cheeseboy, I'm putting that on my resume! And haven't you hit 300 followers yet? I want to see the McDonalds tubes!

Doralynn, good thing that movie is animated, huh?

Elle, that A-Z helped so many of us!

Thanks, Hart! And I think I enticed some of the Blog Book Tour class to visit your site, too.

Monti said...

How nice of you to give away the 50-page critique that you won. The universe is being good to you in return. Awesome to have nearly 200 followers.

Happy blogging,
Monti
http://marymontaguesikes.blogspot.com

arlee bird said...

I have watched the progress of your following increase at a wonderfully rapid rate. The various blog fest gave a lot of us a big boost. But I think there is a lot to be said for your likeability factor and the fact that you comment relentlessly--I see your comments on just about every blog I comment on and I know you're doing more than just those. And you have a book coming out! That's a big deal and a lot of us want some of the magic to rub off on us. But when it comes down to it, you're just a darn good blogger and you've got the touch. Great job, Alex!

Lee
Tossing It Out

Ocean Girl said...

Congratulations. Blogging is interactive for people who genuinely love people. That is what I have discovered.

Powdered Toast Man said...

I'm mad that I missed Arlee's alphabet posting game. I did find his blog til a month ago.

I love Movies that's why I'm following you and I participated in the Movie Blogfest.

Don't forget the Movie Game on Wednesday.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks, Lee, Your challenges really helped kick start the process for a lot of us.

Powdered, I do love my movies! Will be watching for this week's game.

Sugar said...

Congrats Alex..You are Awesome!! Maybe if I try I can have mine done by September..I am actually aiming to have a first draft done my the end of July..squeeee...I'm pretty excited about it!
the a to z challenge was so fun!!BTW.. THANK YOU for all your meaningful comments on my blog!

B. Miller said...

Yessss... put my name in that hat! I would LOVE for Hart to crit the first 50 of my MS.

Alex, I love your blog. I think there are several secrets to your success. First, you post regularly, almost every day. You also comment regularly on lots of peoples' posts, which brings them (and some of their followers) back to your blog. You write wonderfully, and your blogs are never too long. You post about a variety of interesting topics. Overall I think your blog is an inspiration! :D

Sadako said...

Congrats! Just found your blog and it's pretty cool.

Michele Emrath said...

So that's how your comment numbers sky-rocketed! The blogfests really are a great way to meet others and bring in readers. Thanks for the tip!

Congrats on winning the critique, and I wish I was in a place to take it from you.

Michele
SouthernCityMysteries

DEZMOND said...

Alex, since I see you added some new buttons above, I thought you might like this as well:

http://www.addthis.com/web-button?type=bm&wp=org&where=blogger&url=&bm=tb3&analytics=0&clickbacks=1

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sugar, your name's in the hat!

Thanks, B. You're in, too. And I appreciate your comments - half of those who critiqued my blog said my posts were too long.

Thanks, Sadako!

Thanks Michele!

And thanks, Dezz.

Donna Hole said...

Can a new girl get her name in the hat?

Hi Alex; I've been seeing you around the blogoverse for a while now. I stopped by a couple times. I don't think your posts are too long at all; they're interesting.

If there is a secret to a successful blog, then I'd guess being "interesting" has to be it. Keep up the good work.

........dhole

cassandrajade said...

I know I keep coming back to your blog because your content is good and you seen to genuinely care about your readers. Your blogfest was also fantastic and I loved getting the chance to connect with all those other bloggers who participated.
Thanks for sharing this excellent blog and I hope you keep it going.

Mr. Stupid said...

Congrats Alex! I enjoy dropping by your blog. Every post here has something new in it. I guess commenting helps bring in comments.
Hope you have an awesome day!:)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks, Donna - welcome to the party.

Thanks Cassandra and Mr. Stupid.

elizabeth mueller said...

Congrats, Alex! How exciting! :)