Well, I did it! I finally went on a blog tour. I’ve wanted to do it ever since I first heard about this form of book promotion, but I didn’t get excited about it until I began writing fun fiction books. It just didn’t sound like much fun or that it would be worthwhile to organize a book tour for my publishing and book marketing books. So the first tip I would offer is, make sure your book is conducive to this type of book promotion. While, certainly, some nonfiction books would do well promoted through a blog tour, this mode of promotion is most conducive to fiction and, perhaps, other books that are fun, entertaining and meaningful in today’s world. Children’s books might do well on a blog tour directed at educators, librarians and parents, for example. I can see a unique book on gardening-fun, party-giving ideas, humor, a fun book on words and countless others being successfully marketed via a blog tour.
What is a Blog Tour?
Okay, let’s back up a notch. A lot of people—even savvy authors—have asked me this week, “What is a blog tour?” You’re probably familiar with the concept of “guest blogging”—being a guest blogger. Doing a blog tour is similar to being a guest blogger, but more organized and targeted. Generally, for a blog tour, you isolate a certain number of blogs to visit during a certain period. It’s exactly the same as doing a book tour throughout your state or several states during a certain period (a week, month or so), only a blog tour is conducted via blog sites and not in person.
Steps to Creating Your Blog Tour
1: The first step to organizing your blog tour is to do a study of blogs that are frequented by your target readers. You may not even be aware of how many blog sites there are related to the theme or genre of your book. Do Internet searches to find them. Here’s a tip—some bloggers list their favorite blogs at their blog sites. Add these sites to your search. Here are a couple of blog directories to help you in your search: http://blogtopsites.com and http://www.technorati.com Of course, I always recommend doing a targeted search using keywords such as: “blog” along with words related to the theme of your book—“cats,” “romance,” “dark mystery,” “political drama”…
2: Check out each potential blog site. Is it active? You want to participate with a site where the host posts regularly. If the last post was dated 2009 or if the host posts every three months, walk away. Does this blog site get a lot of comments? This is a good sign that people are visiting—and you want to involve yourself with a site that attracts a lot of your readers. Does this host do blog tours? You can find out by looking at their “review policy,” for example. Also scroll through the blog and see if you can locate guest blogs (blogs written by someone other than the host).
3: Decide how long you want to run your tour. I did mine for five days and that kept me pretty busy. I recommend starting slow. Committing yourself to a two-week tour right out of the gate might be overwhelming.
4: Choose a time-frame. Make it at three-weeks or a month out.
5: Contact those hosts whose blogs you want to visit. Check their “review policy” to find out the best way to contact each one. Let them know that you are scheduling a blog tour and you’d like them to be a part of it. Give them your time-frame, describe the book you’ll be promoting, give a few suggestions for entertaining posts you could produce and offer to giveaway copies of your book.
6: Decide on an activity for each stopover. What are some of the activities you could engage in? Some blog hosts have a set of questions they ask their guest bloggers related to the theme or genre of their book. Some will review your book for the blog tour. Some want you to come up with something—an excerpt from your book, an article about why you wrote this book, your experiences writing the book, something about your cast of characters, etc. One of my blog hosts had her cat interview my cat character. That was fun and it attracted quite a few comments. I also got to write about my writing process, which is often of interest to other writers within the same genre.
7: Maintain communication with each blogger who agrees to be a part of your tour. Once you’ve set a date with each blog host, find out when they want to receive the material for your stopover and make sure you are prompt with it. If they plan to do a review, ask if you can provide them with a digital or print copy of your book. Remind each host a week ahead of the tour and again a few days before. On the day before each of my stopovers, I sent an email to the host sharing my excitement for the tour and eagerness to promote it and participate in any way possible.
8: Promote, promote, promote. Bloggers want to know that you will do your part to promote them and their blog. Early on, let them know that you have a blog site (or more) and a newsletter, affiliations with organizations related to the theme of the book, etc., and that you plan to promote heavily to all available channels. Are you on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Use these avenues to promote your upcoming blog tour and make sure each host knows that you are making every effort to reach your followers and fans. Start promoting a week or so in advance. List all of your stops and give the links. (Note, test each link before publishing.)
9: Promote each event as it occurs. In other words, on day one of your tour, promote that site using all of your channels—your blog, your facebook page, your list groups, etc.
10: Check comments at the blog you’re visiting every few hours and leave your comment where appropriate. In other words, be present; stay connected.
11: Check your stats. Before you start your blog tour, if you have the information available to you, check your current number of book sales for the month/week. If you are in the Kindle Direct Publishing program or with Create Space, for example, or you are the publisher, you have access to sales figures. Check them before the tour and each day after the tour. I checked my sales figures in the morning before each stopover. I kept track of each day’s sales.
12: Show appreciation. Every morning send a thank you email to the stopover host from the day before. If your sales stats were impressive, share them. At the same time, send an email to the host of the stopover for the next day to make sure you are on the same page.
During the Blog Tour
In my case, I had sent all of my interviews, articles and so forth to each host the week before the tour. So I had none of that to deal with during the tour week. I was free to interact with blog guests who left comments and promote the tour. If you are the publisher of your books, you might also be busy shipping books to new customers.
I also jotted down sales stats for each day and I made notes that I thought might help in future tours. You always learn new things along the way.
Oh, and here’s a neat tip—some people who leave comments at blog sites do not provide an email address. If they’re signed up to comment through Google, for example, when you click on their name, you’re taken to their profile where you can sometimes find their email address. Something else you might find there is this person’s list of the blogs they frequent—blogs related to the theme/genre of your book. What a goldmine for those of us who are serious about promoting our books.
How Many Books Can You Sell?
I promised that I would give my sales figures for my five days of touring with my Klepto Cat Mystery series. On a typical week, I sell around 124 Kindle copies of these cozy mystery novels. On my blog tour week, the figures jumped to 247—that’s double the sales for my efforts this week. And I have to tell you it was fun!
Habits of the Successful Blog Tour Author
- You’re organized.
- You’re prompt and reliable.
- You have a sense and a habit of follow-through.
- You understand the importance of promotion and you actively pursue it.
- You act on the leads and opportunities presented.
- You show your gratitude.
I’m Patricia Fry, a 40-year veteran as a writer/author. After years of supporting myself through article-writing and after publishing nearly 40 nonfiction books (most of them for authors), I’m now writing fiction.
Check out my fun little Klepto Cat Mystery series: Catnapped, Cat-Eye Witness and Sleight of Paw (with more to follow shortly). All are available for your Kindle. Catnapped is now in print at Amazon.com.
Cat-Eye Witness, http://amzn.to/1bJiq0x
Sleight of Paw, http://amzn.to/1mGuAXQ