Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Unusual Guest

Any one who has been reading this blog long knows that I don’t do reviews often. You also know that I don’t like guest bloggers. And you also know that I’m trying to obey my better judgment and not write bad reviews. Today, I think I can manage that last one, but the other two go out the window. I’m going to write a review and of all things, it is going to be about a guest blog post.

I don’t usually read guest posts, even when they appear on blogs that I read daily, such as Rachelle Gardner’s blog. If I do happen to read the post, I certainly don’t comment. That just encourages them. But the other day I saw a guest post on Rachelle’s blog and I read it—at least, enough to get the general idea—then I left a comment. Why? What is so special about this particular post that is different from most guest posts?

The post is titled Would You Pay More For An Agent? and it is written by Chuck Sambuchino. The first thing we notice about this post is that it fits the general theme of Rachelle’s blog. Rachelle writes about the book publishing industry, with emphasis on the author/agent relationship. A post about how much the agent should get is right in the middle of that. This isn’t just another post that says, “I’m a published author, so I’m smarter than you. Here’s my attempt to convince you to buy my book, veiled behind my superior intelligence.”

Second, the post challenges the status quo. In a word, it’s about conflict. A writer doesn’t have to challenge the status quo to make a guest post interesting, but he needs to introduce conflict. There’s plenty of conflict when asking a question of whether the agent fee structure should be changed.

Third, Chuck presents a balance approach to the topic. He introduces the change as possible and mentions some reasons why we might want this change, but he also mentions reason why it may not be such a good thing. At this point, he could have come out much more strongly in support of the change than he did and it still would have been a good post—or the other way around. If I disagreed with him, I would have said as much in the comments.

But he doesn’t do that. He presents the topic as a topic for discussion, recognizing that a blog is better when thing are discussed, rather than the blogger simply saying how things have to be. It appears that he isn’t sure about the right answer. I’m not either, but the post ends with an open-ended question that opens the floor for debate on the topic. There’s no feeling left that we must not disagree with the post because the guest is to be treated in some special way.

Overall, it is about as good of a guest post as we can hope to achieve. And if we’re looking for a good example, this is a good place to look.

Question: What other things can a guest blogger do to write a post that people will actually read?