Authors: Everything You Need to Know Before Booking a Blog Tour
What's a blog tour?
The most common response I got when telling people that my book was going on a blog tour was: "What the heck is a blog tour?" A blog tour is a paid marketing service wherein a host seeks and enlists numerous book bloggers to feature you and promote your new book on their blogs. Depending on your budget, you can buy a tour from a week long to two months long, and be featured on any number of blogs, from seven to forty-seven. There are several affordable blog tour companies, or "hosts," which you can find by searching online.
On a blog tour, you will typically need to submit free electronic copies of your book for reviews or giveaways. You will also need to submit an author biography, your book's summary, and possibly excerpts. Be prepared to write new content for guest posts and answer interview questions, if you select those options. You will be given the choice whether you'd like the blogs to feature promo posts, interviews, book reviews, guest posts or excerpts of your book. But before you pay a host and choose all of the above, please read this hub!
Six suggestions before booking your tour:
1. Check out the blogs the host works with FIRST.
Before you book a tour, visit the blogs you would be featured on. Most likley, the host company has tweeted about their customers' tour stops, or they display a list of links and affiliates on their website. Usually, they post the tour schedule for other authors on the site, with links to the blogs that will hold the features.
Definitely scrutinize those blogs. Do they look legitimate? Do they have original and interesting content, or do they seem spammy? Do they post dozens of tour stops per day - likely leaving you with the chance of your paid promo being buried on page 4 before anyone gets a chance to see it? And most importantly, do they have any readers or subscribers? Is there an active community leaving comments? Is the site's hit count impressive? If there's no evidence that the blog has any legitimate readers, then there's no point in paying for them to feature your book. You want to ensure you're paying to be featured on high-traffic blogs.
I once read an awful story about an author who paid a good deal of money for a blog tour (not from the company I used), only to learn that each of his tour stops were posted onto "fake" blogs with no readers, which were actually all run by the blog tour company. While that scenario is certainly fraud, and most tour hosts (should) operate with integrity, these are things you want to look into and beware of before giving anyone your money.
2. Don't choose the "promo posts."
When you've found a legitimate tour host and start to book your tour, you'll have the option for your tour stops to include: promos posts, excerpts, book reviews, giveaways, author interviews, character interviews, or guest posts.
Whatever you do, DON'T choose "promo posts"! If you do, you'll simply end up with various blogs posting the same exact cover art and summary of your book - which can all be found on your Amazon listing, anyway - all over the Internet. It won't be anything interesting or worth sharing. After your second such feature, you won't even see the point in posting a link to it on Facebook or Twitter. A promo post contains no original content, nothing to engage new readers or pique their interest in you or the book. A blog tour is your shot to spread original content around the web for people to find, read, and decide whether they want more. A simple, bland ad will not likely accomplish that.
3. Choose reviews, interviews and guest posts.
Reviews are best. This means some of the bloggers on your tour stops will actually read your book and post their original review on their blog. Guest posts are also a great way to get original content out there and introduce yourself to readers in an engaging and personable way.
Author interviews are fun, too (although, be forewarned: some bloggers will make you write your own interview questions to answer!). There is even something called a "character interview," in which you answer a set of interview questions as of one of your story's characters. (Personally, I find this cheesy and rather difficult to do. However, my word of advice, if you decide to do this: choose a villainous or extremely colorful character, even if they're not the main character, to answer the character interview questions. At least people will find it funny.)
Giveaways and excerpts are fine too, but you'll want to be careful, because the same excerpts might become repetitive, and giveaways don't necessarily entail fresh content or even participants.
4. Not everyone will post on-time - if they post at all.
Don't expect perfect punctuality and professionalism from all bloggers. This isn't to rip on them, only to prepare the author to take a more laid-back approach to the process. If you wake up first thing in the morning looking for your latest feature so you can share it on Facebook, it might not appear 'til much later (sometimes this is due to bloggers living in different time zones or overseas). In some cases, the feature doesn't show up at all (but this is rare).
5. Not every reviewer will cross-post their reviews.
Blog tours, or even specialized review tours, unfortunately aren't often the way to gain Amazon reviews. A few reviewers might cross-post their review onto Amazon, but in my case, many didn't. They do feature the book review on their blog, which is all that's required of them. And tour hosts do encourage their reviewers to cross-post onto Amazon and Goodreads. However, blog tours are just that - blog tours, not Amazon review tours.
6. Expect exposure, not a sales increase.
A blog tour is about exposure. It's about creating new and shareable content to spread around the internet and introduce yourself as an author. It's about building experience by answering interview questions, writing new articles, and accruing some reviews and feedback on your book.
When I did my first blog tour, my Amazon rankings actually dropped. This is no reflection of the tour company or the work they did, neither is it "proof" that tours don't "work." Rather, it's actually not uncommon for an author to see no boost in sales as a result of a tour. So, don't expect to make your money back. If you're looking for a return on your investment, then you may need to look into other marketing venues. But if you enter a blog tour without expecting to see significant sales from it, you won't be disappointed. Instead, recognize it as an opportunity for exposure.
© 2015 CK Brooke