Guest blogger Tips


Thanks for your interest in guest blogging for Off the Beaten Shelf!

I've put together a few notes about how to make the most of your guest blogging experience that will help you here, as well as anywhere else you're considering contributing content. All these tips are based on my six years experience as a freelance writer, and my hope is that you'll put these tips to use here and in all your freelance writing adventures. If you're a seasoned writer, scroll to the bottom of the page for specific info on guest blogging for OTBS. 

Read the blog before submitting

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people don't have a good grasp of what a publication covers before pitching a story. Despite how thoroughly I've branded this site as a book blog, I still get pitches for wedding dresses and sporting equipment. Read through a couple of posts to see what topics the publication covers, as well as the tone in which it's written. If you have a piece in mind, use the search bar to see if it's been done already. If you're pitching something that doesn't align in an obvious way with what the site covers, look for ways you can make it relevant. If someone pitched me a post on literary-themed weddings or books about sports, I'd be much more likely to accept that than a regular old post on wedding dresses and baseball bats. 

Note the publication schedule

If you're pitching a time-sensitive post, you'll want to check the publication schedule of the website. For example, I publish posts every Monday, so if there's a holiday on Tuesday and you want to submit a holiday-themed post, in order to edit and schedule the post, I'd need it by Friday before at latest. 

Play to your strengths

If you're pitching to a publication that's mostly text-based (such as this one) but you're more talented in the visual department, do what is going to make you look best. I doubt anyone would turn down a post that's really well done just because it doesn't look or sound like the site owner created it. (I know I wouldn't.) People want guest bloggers because they're looking for new voices and different perspectives, so show off your strengths. You want to make sure your content fits within the overall picture of the publication while still highlighting what you have to offer. 

Be the kind of guest that gets invited back

Contributing a guest post is a lot like being a guest at someone else's house--you want to make sure you're invited back. Turn in clean copy that's been proofread beforehand. Share your post on social media, preferably multiple times. Respond to readers' comments on the post. If you can drive traffic to the post, you're more likely to be asked to contribute again and more likely to be paid well for your work. 

Be amenable to editorial direction

Editing turns good writing into great writing, so if the site owner changes something or requests that a part be rewritten, it's not because they don't like what you submitted. It's because they believe in you and want to make it even better. Trust me, it's a compliment and they're doing you a favor. Every writer needs an editor. 


Guest blogging at OTBS

A few quick notes:

  • New posts are published every Monday. You're welcome to turn in a post any time, and if it's accepted it'll be published at a time that makes sense for the editorial calendar. 
  • Send guest post topic ideas via the Contact page along with some links to your previously published work, preferably on the topic of books and reading. If you don't have previously published work, no worries! I'm totally open to new writers. After you've contacted me, I'll get in touch with you shortly to let you know if I'm interested in the idea(s). From there we can discuss details via email. 
  • Note that I generally wish to see the post in its entirety before I decide to publish it so I can determine if it's a good fit for my audience. If I decide it's not a good fit, I absolutely encourage you to submit elsewhere. 
  • I'm open to nearly any kind of book-related post, but I particularly love moving personal essays about books and reading. That can be how a book changed your life, how you met your favorite author, how you learned to love reading, etc. 
  • If a topic has been overdone, I likely won't accept it unless you offer an extremely unique perspective. Stories on that old book smell, ebooks vs. paper books, and "think" pieces exhibiting book snobbery just aren't that interesting.
  • Writers retain all the rights to their posts, though I do request that a post isn't published elsewhere, including your blog, for 72 hours after it's published here. Sharing links to your post here is, of course, welcome and encouraged. 
  • I believe in paying writers for their work, so if your post is accepted for publication I'll send you money via PayPal. 
  • If you have any questions about guest posting that I haven't addressed here, drop me a line via the Contact page. I'd love to hear from you!