AHA · Authors Helping Authors · Marketing

“I Did A Blog Tour and Nothing Happened” by Mercy Pilkington

Bee resting on a flower (Eucera cf. longicornis)So many of my clients have reached out to me wanting a blog tour, but all too often I end up cringing when I hear what it is they want. If you’re not familiar, a blog tour is a really interesting concept in which you as the author “appear” on several different blogs and talk about your book. It’s organized into a tour because it has defined start and end dates, which helps with the promotion and the generating of the all-important buzz.

 

There are a couple of inherent problems with a blog tour.

First, they’re not new anymore. Everybody’s doing it. Even worse, tons of people have decided that just because they know how to work Facebook, they’re now suddenly qualified to create a blog tour AND charge money for the service. I’ve seen companies spring up overnight with flashy little websites that charge hundreds of dollars to get all of their blogger friends to let you write a blog post to pimp your book.

Second, there’s no very concrete data on how good an investment this is going to be. There are so many variables that come into play, such as the genre you write and the quality or pricing of your book, that it’s impossible to say, “Blog tours are the best promotional tool EVER!” or “Blog tours are the biggest waste of time and money EVER.” It’s impossible to say whether or not investing your time and money in this promo concept will pay off in terms of book sales.

Third, how can you be sure that the blogs you’re being hosted on actually have a readership? If you’re scheduled on ten different blogs whose only traffic is the blogger and whose only shares are coming from the account she made for her cat, you’re not going to sell any books or build your audience.

Finally, the biggest problem is they are so easy to screw up. As an author, you are relying on other people to post the writings that you send them, and sometimes they just can’t post them for one reason or another. I’ve also clicked a link that some author tweeted, announcing that today’s stop on his blog tour was at such-and-such a website, and was HORRIFIED to see that his political spy thriller novel was being featured on a website whose background was a deep blue starry field filled with fairies and unicorns. The unicorn crowd who pops over to that particular website doesn’t strike me as huge Alex Cross fans. I may be judging here, but that’s just the feeling I got.

So, does that mean we should all shun blog tours? Of course not. But it does mean you have your homework to do.

First, there are lovely people out there who really just care a lot about indie authors, and those people will be happy to help you find book reviewers or people to let you talk about your book. For free, even.

Second, if you are paying a company to set this up, ask for the concrete numbers of book sales or audience shares that they have generated from the last three tours they set up.

Third, find out who these blogs are before you pay anything. Make sure they are specific to your genre and that they have a genuine audience who shares the posts, not a cat walking across a keyboard who accidentally hits the Share button.

The most important thing you can do is to remember that a blog tour is NOT a way to shove your book in people’s faces and get them to click the BUY button. It is a way to connect with readers, to share a little bit more about yourself and your craft, and to build connections within the publishing industry. And make sure that you use your tour to reciprocate, and to share the bloggers’ generosity in hosting you by supporting them and their readers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Mercy Pilkington is the CEO of Author Options, a full-service solutions provider for authors and publishers. Her sense of humor leans a bit to the sarcastic side, hence her overuse of the word crap. She is looking for romance titles that do not involved chiseled men with giant penises, and no more vampires unless there is something stunningly different about them that doesn’t involve sparkling. www.authoroptions.com

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11 thoughts on ““I Did A Blog Tour and Nothing Happened” by Mercy Pilkington

  1. If only it were that simple, Marjorie! I don’t have a cat, but I do have two children and a dog who like to come in my office and mess with my computer. There’s GOT to be a way to capitalize on that! 🙂

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    1. Truth be told, there COULD be some good in it, IF all those variables I mentioned are met. HOWEVER, do you not have a lot of writer friends who would host you on their blogs? I maintain several blogs, and guest posts are an awesome way to get content on there while getting a mini vacation from all the writing.

      If that’s not an option, really think about the investment. I know one company who charges hundreds of dollars. I steer my clients into at least looking into some of the reputable review companies like Kirkus and ForeWords. Yes, they’re paid reviews, but the publishing industry knows those people will NOT give it a good review if it doesn’t deserve it.

      One last outlet is NetGalley. Anyone can pay to list their book on NetGalley, and even though it’s very pricey, it could put the book into the hands of actual book bloggers, instead of just in front of people who skim through a book blog. You might come out ahead with the same investment, and less legwork.

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  2. One of the primary reasons we developed our Winner Circle was to publish a book of vetted reviewers categorized by genre. We got tired of hearing about clients paying upwards of $1,000 to be listed on blogs that had nothing to do with their genre or had just plain lousy traffic. Add to that our source of nearly 200 LIVE book clubs and we have an author resource that represents thousands of man hours in the making – proud to be helping authors and thanks for shedding more light on this subject!

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