“Wait, how many people reviewed your book on that blog tour?”
A fellow author stared at me—stunned.
“Forty. I think. Maybe thirty-nine. Something like that.”
I think I got a few blinks. A curious look as if to see if I might be teasing—or lying. I offered to show him the blogroll.
People ask me all the time:
Just what is a blog tour anyway? How do they work? Why do you use them?
Well, I’ll be answering the why I use them over at Alive & Writing, but I thought I’d share how they work first—both from a blogger/reviewer perspective and from the author’s perspective.
Note: when I say Blogger Reviewers are the best ever, I mean it—but not to toot my own proverbial horn. I just mean that as an author, I’m so very grateful for these people who invest so much into me and my books! So, in advance, thanks!
How does a blog tour work?
As I said, I’m both a blogger reviewer and an author who participates in blog tours on both sides of the issue. So, I’ll share from both just what it entails
As a reviewer:
For me, the blog tour actually begins when I receive an alert that a new blog tour is available. This is usually shared in a Facebook group or email with a copy of the book’s cover and synopsis.
Note to authors: This is why you need stellar, professional covers. Trust me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chosen not to read a book based on its very amateurish cover. One rule of thumb for me. If it uses Papyrus font, I’m not going to sign up.
The same is true of synopses. If your synopsis doesn’t grab my attention with its excellent writing, I’m not going to be compelled to sign up. I’m likely to skip it. And similarly, great covers and fabulous synopses have tempted me to try books that I otherwise wouldn’t have. And because of those, I’ve found great new authors who became favorites!
If I like the look/sound of the book, I click on a link to a Google Doc and request it. Many times, you have the choice between paperback and eBook. I like paperback because I can then give it away or donate to my library.
Note: by LAW, you cannot sell those copies. Don’t do it. Just don’t. And don’t contact the author for permission to sell it. There are so many reasons why this is a bad thing. Just don’t.
In that Google Doc, I will also choose a date (I usually let them assign me one).
When the tour is filled, the company sends out a welcome email giving me my date. This goes in my editorial planner and my Scrivener Blog Project.
Then on my review day, I post my .02 on the book, what I liked and didn’t, and why. I usually tell who I recommend it for.
I have a “Quick & Dirty Guide to Easy Book Reviews” post that I follow sometimes as well as a “How to Write a Helpful Book Review in 10 Easy Steps” post. While I don’t always use these formulas, they’re helpful when I’m in a rush. For examples of a couple of my reviews, here are a few links.
What I Thought of Just the Way You Are
Murder on the Moor by Julianna Dearing: A Book Review
Summer on Sunset Ridge: A Book Review
I then post just the basic review portion over at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.
I used to do Christian Book Distributors, but until they make it possible to copy and paste into their software without getting odd characters to replace all apostrophes and quotes, I’m not bothering with them anymore.
After that, I share my post on social media—Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest to be precise. And that’s it! I fill out the tour response form to show my post and links to reviews, and bam! I’m done!
It’s a little different as an author, but I wanted you to see all the WORK that reviewers do for authors.
They don’t just read your book and throw up a few words about it.
I write very thoughtful reviews. I spent a minimum of an HOUR just formatting my blog post for optimal SEO and creating images to make it appealing to readers. Frankly, I work HARD on my blog posts. And I’m not the only one, I assure you.
By the time I’m done reading, writing the review, formatting it, and sharing on social media, I’ve logged a good eight to ten hours.
So, the attitude of, “Well, they’re getting a free book out of it” (which I hear much too often) is rather condescending and arrogant. With that attitude, they’re working for you for about 1.50 an hour. MAX. For those who aren’t fast readers like I am, it probably drops to .50 an hour.
This is why Blogger Reviewers are the Best Ever
Of course, this all looks a little different for authors!
Blog tours for authors:
First, I have to choose a book. There are two options for authors.
1. New or recent release (books less than three months old).
Scheduling a blog tour during release week is a FABULOUS way to supercharge your release. One of the key things that helps the ranking on a newly released book is REVIEWS. And when you have 14-30 in just two weeks, just from your blog tour (not including faithful fans and launch team members), you are sure to shoot up in rankings if you’ve written a good book!
2. Backlist (Anything older than six months).
I need to do a whole blog post on how you need to nurture your backlist, but for now, let’s just put this out there. You spent weeks, months, sometimes years writing that book. So, what you need to do now is keep it in front of the eyes of new readers. A blog tour is a great way to do that.
If you have a large backlist, a “Scavenger hunt” styled blog tour is a great way to share a bunch quickly. I did one in the fall and man, it really sparked new interest in my books!
What do authors have to do to ensure a successful tour?
A lot. No, really. A lot. But it’s worth it. Here are the things you have to do.
1. Schedule your blog tour.
Please give the company a minimum of 4-6 months advance notice. Sometimes they’ll have a cancellation and fit you in, but the company I use, CelebrateLit.com has been booked for 2018 since mid-2017. Don’t wait until six weeks before your book releases and expect to get squeezed in. It can’t happen that fast. It just can’t. Nine months is a more realistic time frame, and even then, you can’t count on it.
Just don’t hesitate to ask. Like I said, cancellations happen. So ask. If they can squeeze you in, most companies will. They are there to promote authors. It’s what they do—their passion!
2. Choose a giveaway prize.
Blog tours thrive on giveaways. Plan for something unique if possible. I personally like to have a couple of options to suggest to the blog tour organizer and see which he or she would prefer. They know their audience best and will guide you. If you have no ideas, give them your budget. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but expect to spend a minimum of $25. I usually plan for something in the $75-100 range.
3. Send the requested info BY THE DATE REQUESTED!!!
Seriously. I’m bad about this, but don’t be me. If they ask for it by June 1, get it to them by May 25 if at all possible. After all, they really aren’t asking for much. I actually have a file I like to keep it all in so I’m not scrambling every time. In that file is my:
- list of my social media accounts
Additionally, they’ll want your:
- book cover
- a picture of your giveaway.
Here’s the hard part. They also want a blog post.
Okay, now I’m the world’s worst about this, but be judicious with that post. It can be a recipe, an interview, anything. But try to keep it reasonably short. Seriously. Just do it. As I said, I’m not good at that myself, but I’ve received a couple that I know my readers didn’t read because it was insanely long. I get better every time, but still. Remember the reader and don’t weigh them down with too much.
4. Send everything out.
Send out the books in a VERY timely manner. If they are uncorrected proofs, STATE IT. And then send out corrected proof links later. Seriously. Just do it. You do not want your readers to be scrambling the week before their post is due because they just got the book and have 20 others ahead of you since your slot got bumped. (Not that I’ve ever done that *cough*)
Paperbacks can be mailed directly from the publisher. I mail mine straight from Createspace. I originally ordered them, wrapped beautifully, and shipped them out. Then I found I was taking too long. So, I chose speed over pretty.
For eBooks, create a link on BookFunnel.com and send that. It’s so easy for you AND for the reader.
I personally like to send EVERY blogger the ebook file as well as the rest of the stuff, so I request emails for everyone, not just the ebook folks. What I do is create a Word document with the following information in it.
- Short welcome note
- My email address
- Book Title/link
- Ebook link
- Book synopsis
- Blog post
- Link to blog post archives related to the book/series
- Social media links
I upload that document, all quote images, the cover, my headshot, and the prize photo to a Dropbox document. Then I send all of that to every blogger with a thanks for their time and an explanation of where they’ll find everything. Sometimes, they still don’t find the ebook link, but I’d rather tell them again, than not have them open that Dropbox folder. Because everything is in there. And I want them to see that.
5. Visit EVERY blog.
Preferably on the day the review goes up. Comment. Thank them for their time and opinions. DO NOT ARGUE WITH THEIR OPINION. It’s theirs. Let them have it. Even if they’re terribly wrong. 🙂
Blog tours work by giving your book exposure on a rather grand scale.
Your book has the potential to be seen by 400-500K people (not including social media shares!).
If that’s not worth the work, then nothing is.
The old days of writing a book and having a publisher do all the marketing of that book are over. But I feel like blog tours are the closest thing we get to that today.
Sure, authors have a lot of front work to do before the tour starts, but once it gets going, we really do reap great benefits. And as I said in this companion post, it’s a great way to make friends and find new launch team members!
Note: This post was written without coercion or compensation. I just had to throw that in there. I have no personal interest in convincing anyone to use a blog tour service aside from my desire to help you get your books in front of people who want to read them!