Sunday, 17 March 2013

How to experience a good blog tour

In light of recent drama, here is what this blogger would like to see out of blog tours...

Expectations

Don’t go in expecting to sell loads of books. It’s about getting your name out there. It’s publicity not marketing. Also remember not everyone is going to love your book. Reading is subjective and every single person will take something different from the experience. Don’t expect bloggers to lie or exaggerate just because you may have paid someone to organise the tour.

Content

Your content should showcase your ability to write. If it is boring or badly written, it is hardly going to inspire someone to read your book.

Think about what you like to read online. Is what you’re offering to blogs of the same standard and interest? Do you have something insightful to say? Is your writing full of wit or charm?

Try and connect your content to your book but don’t make it all about your book. I would much rather host loosely connected content such as recipes, photos, cover design articles or opinion pieces. If you write historical fiction, why not use your expertise to write a piece about a moment in history? If your main character has a hobby that you also share an interest in, write about that. Did you visit one of the settings of your story? If so, consider a piece of travel writing. You can even write about other writers’ books. A lot of bloggers love lists or you could write about one of your favourite books and why it’s your favourite and how it has influenced you as a person and writer. If you're good in front of the camera or like making videos, think about providing video content instead.

Reviews

I don’t think it’s always a good idea to use reviews as part of the blog tour as the chances are the bloggers may not like your book. And trust me; they’ll be honest about it, that’s their job (not to sell books). I very rarely offer a review spot for a tour unless it’s an author I have already read and enjoyed. Sometimes I’ll have read the book already but not got round to posting my review, in which case I don’t mind scheduling it as part of a tour. If you really want reviews, be prepared that they may not all be positive. If you don’t want to see negative reviews as part of your tour, be up-front with the reviewer, many won’t want to take part if this is the case.

Interviews

Never, ever, pre-write your interviews. The blogger should get to ask the questions and you should reply as if it were a conversation, not a soliloquy.

Giveaways

If you’ve only got ebooks, this can be tough; it’s difficult to drum up interest even when you’re giving them away. If you have a paperback option, do consider investing in the extra cost. Also remember the internet is international and not everyone appreciates US only prizes. If you don’t have physical books to give, try and think of something else worth winning that will also help people spread the word. You don’t have to give every blogger a prize to give away, if it is good enough (eg. an ereader), you can get people to earn entries to a grand prize (this is where you give ebooks to the runners up). Do not expect winners to review your book. If they do, great, if not, don’t pester. It’s a prize not an obligation.

Interact

Make time to visit the blogs regularly throughout the tour and look to see if readers are commenting. If they are, respond to the comments in a friendly and considerate manner. Think about other ways of interacting; not all of them will work for you but at least consider the options. How about a Twitter chat? If your book is a re-telling or heavily inspired by another, try and get a readalong going for that book. Give something back to your blog hosts and read some of their other blog posts. Make sure you share the tour stops on your social media channels, including your own blog. Treat every single person you interact with as an individual with thoughts and feelings not a potential sale.

Do you need a blog tour?

Word of mouth takes time to build. A flash-in-the-pan blog tour might get you noticed for 15 minutes, but for the long-term, you may be better off contacting bloggers who fit your book perfectly and offering content on an as-and-when basis. If people are seeing articles about you or your book every month, they might take more notice than just another blog tour.

Don’t be an ass.

I can’t stress this enough. Bloggers talk to one another. Going on a comment rampage only damages yourself and will put readers off you. They might still read your book but they will be scared to share their thoughts in case you attack. This behaviour also makes bloggers wary of dealing with other authors. It’s like sharks; there may not be many man-eaters but it only takes reports of a few for the fear to set in.

If this all sounds like a lot of work for not much return, maybe a blog tour isn’t for you.

19 comments:

  1. Fantastic post. I didn't know there had been drama (what the hell is going on now? /sigh), but this is relevant anyway. A lot of authors join up for blog tours with few ideas, expecting tour hosts to do all of the work for them. I'll definitely be sharing this one for a long time to come! Lots of ideas. :)

    PS. Love the layout changes!

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    1. A disgruntled author took to Huffington Post to complain about the blog tour he had paid for. Then proceeded to comment rage both on original article and on blogger opinion pieces. First action was bad enough but forgivable if he hadn't decided to have a go at anyone with an opinion.

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  2. Great post! I agree with everything you just said. I definitely prefer posts where the emphasis is not on the book itself but something else - recipes and bookshelf tours or writing/reading space tour sort of posts are always interesting (for me, at least). I love getting to know authors this way, rather than reading about the given book for the thousandth time. :)

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  3. Awesome post! I like seeing posts, like Vicky says, that have nothing to do with the book -- there are PLENTY of posts that will promote your book, but it's nice to see that the author is a human being, too. I think a blog tour is a great way for an author to engage with their fans and interact in a way they can't do through only selling their book. It's so much nicer than only seeing the tweets that say "Buy my book!"

    I think authors need to realize that it's not ALL about the money. I know that money is good and some of them need to make a living, but you have to build those friendships and trust with your readers first.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Fab post, Ellie! I don't really participate in blog tours anymore because I just don't like the hustle of reviewing something on schedule. However, I love doing guest posts with authors that give a reader something unique to find about (hence I'm that blogger with lists).

    The most boring part is excerpts. I had an author recently whom I advised to go with a guest post (I gave her some awesome ideas) but she ended up with a half-hearted excerpt which she had already posted on lots of other blogs. It was like she really couldn't be bothered. Well, of course her post had the lowest page views and had zero results. I just think that if someone can't be bothered with a post that would interest a potential reader they shouldn't expect results. *shrugs* it was a real waste of my time. I should just state in my review policy that I don't post excerpts on my blog ;)))

    BTW, I've missed all the drama and glad that I did!

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  5. I never participate in blog tours, let alone stop by blogs and read about one. They just don't interest me and this is why. Are they fake? Are they real? And that blog tour about Marcus and who is he was straight SPAM!

    Angie

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  6. I agree that the content should be different and not always about the book. Like Kara-karina, I never read excerpts even for authors I enjoy as I just find them a little boring. If I want to read a book, I would. When I'm online I want to be blogging. :-)

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  7. I always miss the blogging drama, I'm so out of touch. I have done a few blog tours, I'm happy to participate but am honest from the outset that my review will be my personal opinion and I don't host giveaways unless they are international.

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  8. I totally missed it Ellie as I seem to do with most of these kick offs unless mentioned on Risi or another blog I visit. Fabulous advice on all counts and I think a few authors could really do with it.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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  9. People actually pay others to organize blog tours? I always thought it was something authors sorted out themselves. Are there full-time blog tour organizers? It's not a publicity option I've ever explored, and I don't think I will. I'll just stick to talking rubbish on my own blog, which has the advantage that nobody reads it and I can say whatever I like without offending anybody!

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    1. There are blog tour companies, yes. I'm not entirely comfortable about them making money out of bloggers. None of it comes through to us and the standard of the content means we're basically providing free advertising. The tours I take part in are run by publishers or by individuals doing it for the love of it. Although occasionally I have been signed up without my knowledge only to find out on the day!

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  10. I loved this! Seriously I agree totally :) I am not a huge fan of companies that do the coordinating but if an author goes through them--they should do the research as to what is to be expected. :)

    BLOODY BRILLIANT! :)

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  11. I missed all the drama too. I have to confess that I pay zero attention to blog tours. If I see everyone reviewing the same book on a blog tour I tend to switch off and not bother. Alternative posts sounds interesting though.

    You were signed up for a blog tour without your knowledge? Is that not a bit rude and presumptious of them?

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    1. One time I'd agreed to post a giveaway on a certain date as I had the book through NetGalley. The day of the giveaway I found the publisher tweeting that there was a tour stop with guest post here! I hadn't even written a review.

      Other times it's the fact that you have agreed to accept a review copy and publicist fails to mention that they need it on a date for a tour.

      I wouldn't ignore all blog tours. There is some good content but there are blogs I've stopped following because they repeatedly host tours with poor content. I don't tend to title my stops as blog tour do maybe I'm tricking everyone into reading them! But I do refuse crap content. It's interesting to see different views on a book so I don't think multiple reviews are inherently bad.

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    2. No, this is true. It's always good to hear more than one opinion. I just don't have as much time to read reviews as I used to so I tend to stick to my favourite blogs.

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  12. Awesome post, I hope lots of authors see this one :D One question about reviews though: I heard that part of Amazon's algorithm for ranking books is how many reviews they have, not paying attention to positive or negative. If the author asked everyone to cross post to Amazon and Goodreads, do you think that would still be helpful to them to get a good chunk of reviews, even if they are mixed?

    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

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    1. A wide range of reviews are beneficial to readers. Negative reviews drive discussion which is much better than having a bunch of gushy reviews that everyone thinks are fake anyway. It's also up to the reviewer to decide where they want to post their reviews. I don't always cross-post to Amazon, especially as there is a lot of pettiness over there. I don't personally think Amazon is the place to go to discover books.

      There was a report recently that found out that the majority of Amazon sales were through direct searches and not through "also bought" algorithm generated lists. Out of the 20% bought that way, I bet a lot are people buying books they already knew about but were just reminded of by the algorithm. No one should be making book buying decisions based on a bit of computer code! Also Amazon can change that code whenever they like, so if you put too much effort into gaming the system rather than building a loyal readership, then all your time could be wasted.

      The main rankings are driven by sales. There's something not right if a book appears higher or lower in sales rankings due to the number of reviews.

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  13. I had no idea that this happened but considering what The Huffington Post has let authors rant about us blogger in the past it really doesn't surprise me. I am surprised by the negativity for tour companies that are in the comments though.

    I don't feel like a pawn of marketing when I join a blog tour. I am perfectly capable of choosing books I already want to showcase and have fun on the blog tour day too. I also think it's nice to get a little extra from the author on other blogs. It makes me excited for the book and I discover new authors too. But I guess I am the blogger who is always selfish about posts because I always post what I want to see and I don't really pay attention to what's popular or not on my blog (Aka what everyone else wants to read).

    I am hoping to do something fresh and exciting with authors too. Just like you said these can be really fun for everyone. And it grows more personal connections with us readers that don't have to do with the book.

    It seems like everything with blog tours is the same nowadays and its not so fun anymore. I only do reviews when I really want to read the book. Otherwise I stick to the interviews, guest post, cover reveals, etc. I like excerpts. I post a lot of them on my blog. I think it's a nice way to get to know an author's writing style. Even if people don't read the whole thing. But besides cover reveals and excerpts I always tend to stick to the personal side of things.

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    1. It's up to each blogger to decide what content they want. I personally don't feel like the tour companies who have approached me are offering anything that fits my policies. I ask for unique and interesting content and have often been fobbed off with glorfied press releases. You say they all seem the same and that is exactly the problem, they need to keep things fresh for people to be interested.

      I think the fact that many people don't see blog tours as a benefit would suggest that things could be improved. I'm not saying all blog tour companies are bad but I would rather work one on one with publicists and authors who know both my blog and what I expect in return.

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