Getting Out and About with Book Signings and Blog Touring

The past three days saw me out front and visible in several small communities in my local area, hosting book signing events. I’d like to tell you I sold a ton of books, but the reality of these types of activities is that they’re not about the bottom line of selling. They’re about showing up, connecting with readers and having a good time while doing both. Selling books is most definitely an icing-on-the-cake (maybe) by-product.

Here’s a little photo album of the last three days.

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All set-up and ready to go! Don’t you love the back-drop to my book table? The Oscar Hicke’s Hockey weekend saw most people busy over at the arena, but F.P. Foods had its share of traffic as well.

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Over in Port McNeill, at MarketPlace IGA, my books are prominently displayed and I have time for chatting with old friends like Bob Wheeler.

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Coffee meet and greet over at Captain Hardy’s in Port Hardy. Wonderful chat with other local authors, aspiring writers and readers! Stayed until lunch and the Hawaiian Chicken Burger and fries was to die for.  (And P.S. – I did sell some of those books!)

Many thanks to the local merchants who let me come in and set up shop in their space. And thanks to all the people who stopped by to chat. Nothing warms a writer’s heart more than someone who sits down and says, “Tell me how you wrote a book?” or, “Tell me why you wrote a book?” or even, “Who the heck do you think you are to write a book?” As Bob Dylan would say, “It’s all good.”

On the social media front, my blog tour is officially in full swing. Please pop over to The 4 A.M. Writer where Gwen Stephen’s has been kind enough to host a guest post and please jot down a comment. Remember – there are two free softcover books (mailed to the lucky winners) up for grabs during this tour. Every comment gets your name in the draw bag. More comments = more chances. Check out the whole tour schedule on the separate page tab at the top of the blog so you can stay up to date on all the stops.

Finding Your Own Blogs to Tour On

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I haven’t had a good wrist slapping on social media all that often. Well, there was that one time on Twitter when I commented humorously to a tweet that was definitely not put out there in humour. Thanks for setting me straight on that one, Jian Ghomeshi of the CBC Radio program Q!

The first post in this three part series generated one hard-hitting response. I hope it’s the only time I ever get told to shut-up via a blog commenter! But, I decided to sojourn on. So we come to the final post in this series.

Today, I want to share experiences I’ve had when I sought out or was invited to appear on blogs. These appearances have taken the form of book reviews, author interviews or guest posts. Each one gave me exposure as an author with a debut novel and cost me no more than the time it took to prepare the materials that the blog host requested. Each one came about because I kept my eyes peeled on social media for invites and possibilities, followed book bloggers when I liked their style and was willing to put myself out there and ask if I could appear on certain blogs.

The advantages of seeking out your own opportunities or deciding whether to accept an invitation are huge. This fact only became clear to me when I paid for a tour and had to let someone else choose. When I stayed in the driver’s seat, I knew what to expect. I could go to the blog and look around. I could get familiar (if I wasn’t already) with the blogger, their followers, the level of interaction on the blog and the type of content a viewer would generally expect to find there.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t say no to an invite or turn my nose up when it comes to pursuing an opportunity based totally on a blog’s following. I wouldn’t refuse an invitation in real life because the party was small or people weren’t particularly chatty, so why do it in the blogosphere?

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Since Disappearing in Plain Sight was published in March, I have been featured on the following blogs. (If I missed anyone, please let me know! I try to keep records and links of all these things but if I’m travelling or away having grandma fun I can let stuff slip.)

An author interview on The Flying Pony 

An author interview on Glynis Smy’s blog: Author of Historical Roman with a Twist 

A book review on author Gloria Antypowich’s blog 

Tea with a Dragon interview on Patrick O’Scheen’s blog – Dreamer 

A book review on Roy McCarthy’s blog – Back on the Rock 

Gwen Stephens of the 4 a.m Writer had me on her blog 3 times! A book review, and parts one and two of an author interview.

I guest post on Jessica Bell’s blog – The Alliterative Allomorph 

A guest post on the Alliance of Independent Author’s blog

A book review on Gaele Hince’s book review blog – I Am Indeed 

I’d like to give more detail on the book review that appeared on the I Am Indeed blog. Gaele is one of Amazon’s Top 1000 reviewers. I’m not sure how many reviewers Amazon has but they list this distinction beside her name when she posts a review to Amazon, so you can bet your boots it means something. Open-mouthed smile 

In March, I submitted an email form asking that my book be reviewed on Gaele’s site. A couple of months later she sent out a spreadsheet that had me slotted for the end of August. When my date came along, she wrote a lively and interesting review of my book that appeared on her blog, she put that review up to Amazon.com and Goodreads and she Tweeted out the link to her review of my book over 20 times! And this all happened free of charge. Thank you, Gaele!

I currently have three upcoming appearances in the works – a combination of book reviews, author interview and guest post. I’m looking forward to all of these. 

There are many, many people trying to capitalize on the dilemma that self-published authors find themselves in when it comes to promotion and marketing. Kevin Brennan describes this well in his recent post – Self-publishing Wake-up Call # 999 Please pop over to his blog. The man has a way of making a point. You’ll see when you get there.  

In our house the debate rages on. One partner takes the position that any service being sold via the internet is probably a rip-off. I’ve tried a few times to argue that the world is changing. Why is it any different to pay for a print ad than it would be to pay for an internet one? How would it be better to pay a publicist to book you on a tour to real places than it would be to pay someone to arrange a blog tour for you?

What side of this divide do you fall over to?

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In closing – a big thank you to the dedicated bloggers out there who promote self-published authors because they believe in what we do and they enjoy what they’re doing. I’ve benefited from your generosity and I hope this post gets that message across.

More on the Thorny Question of Blog Tours

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Do you ever get the feeling that without realizing what you’re doing, you’ve managed to tap into something a bunch of people are already talking about? Since my last post, I’ve run into two discussion threads (on author sites I frequent) that relate to blog tours. That got me curious, so I did a Google search using the words – what authors are saying about blog tours. That yielded a number of interesting links. The subject would appear to be a hot topic. Who knew?

P1080597I’ve decided to get on the bandwagon and stretch this two-part series to three. In part one, I was up front about taking responsibility for not having done my homework before I embarked on a blog tour. I’m certainly learning a lot now. Maybe it’s a case of closing the barn door after the horse is out – but better late than never.

The author discussion threads were fairly unanimous on the conclusion that blog tours don’t translate into direct book sales. They’re about exposure, getting eyes on your book and increasing your book’s presence on the net. This echoed points made by commenters on my last post. The issue of cost was also raised. As one wise person wrote – you get what you pay for. You can’t expect to sail first class when you’ve only paid for steerage.

I checked out a post entitled: Reasons why it might be your fault that your blog tour sucked. Stacy Deanne lists several ways that I could have played a role in the outcome of my tour. I picked up some questions to ask myself:

  • Did I choose blogs with low traffic? If the tour is about exposure, then a low traffic blog is unlikely to help me.
  • Did I refuse to have a give-away? There is so much competition now – let’s face it – a hook is required.
  • Was I disorganized about getting my material to the blog hosts? Big no-no.
  • Did I do a poor job of promoting and participating in my own tour? I have to be invested for the best outcomes.
  • Did I provide boring content or the wrong type of content? Just asking for trouble.
  • Did I treat the blog host like crap? Never a good idea.
  • Was my tour too short? Apparently, two weeks won’t be enough unless I’m featured on high profile blogs or I’m already famous. (Alas, no to that last point – as one commenter on the last post pointed out – the last time she looked I was no Nora Roberts or Stephen King.)

Check out Deanne’s blog for more details.

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Next, I hopped over to the  Authors Helping Authors blog and a post entitled – I did a blog tour and nothing happened by Mercy Pilkington. Mercy makes a number of great points:

  • Blog touring isn’t a novelty anymore – everyone’s doing it so that makes it harder to stand out.
  • Not all blog tour organizers or blog hosts are created equal.
  • No real data exists to prove one way or the other if a blog tour is a good investment of promotional dollars.
  • When you sign on with a blog tour organizer you often have no way of knowing if you will be featured on blogs with adequate followings.
  • There is a ton of room for screw-ups. The longer the tour the more chances that dates and deadlines might not be adhered to.
  • You have to do your homework! (Oh, the lesson I needed to learn – there it is again.)

Mercy offers a few suggests:

  • Consider the fact that there are many generous bloggers out there who will host you for free. Find them and connect with them.
  • If you do pay – make sure you get the names of the blogs you’ll be appearing on so that you can check them out.
  • And remember – a blog tour is no guarantee of sales.

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Elene Sallinger’s post – Blog Tours: Lessons Learned provided a few more things to consider:

  • Is the tour organizer reliable and can the organizer give assurances that the individual blog hosts will be reliable? Can blog hosts deliver what they promise on the day they say they will? These are important considerations when an author is trying to participate and promote the tour on his or her own social media platforms.
  • Next you must consider if the blogs you will appear on have adequate reach. Again, the point is made that paying to appear on low traffic blogs is not helpful.
  • Then there is the huge question of what type of exposure you will receive. Will the post consist of a picture of your book’s cover with the Amazon synopsis and a few links? Will there be book excerpts? Will there be author interviews, guest posts or reviews?

In the discussion threads mentioned above, more than one participant wrote that a good blog tour must deliver reviews. Book reviews are what matters.

Consider the following blog post by Angela Scott – Blog Tours: Busted and Broken. Scott writes that she knows blog tours won’t result in direct sales. She does a tour for the reviews. BUT and this is big BUT for her – the review must be posted to Amazon as well as appear on a blog. That is absolutely key for self-published authors. Scott wonders why bloggers would go to the trouble of writing a review and then not post it to Amazon. Good question.

I’ve given you a brief look at some of the ideas that are circulating when it comes to blog tours. I’ve learned more than a few things I wish I had known earlier. I’m no longer sure that I would unequivocally say no to paying for another blog tour. If I did it again, I would understand it’s about exposure and not direct sales. And I would make sure I had data on the blogs I would be appearing on before I signed on the dotted line.

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There you have it – older and wiser! Stay tuned for the third part of this series. I’ll talk about how I sought out bloggers who would host me and the way that worked out.

Orangeberry Hall of Fame Finalist

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OK – OK – I paid to be on the blog tour and now Disappearing in Sight is a finalist for the Hall of Fame in the literary fiction category. And they sent me the cool graphic above to display on the appropriate social media sites. Suspect – maybe? Who knows? Could be every person who paid for a tour is a finalist in one category or another. What the heck, right? Share the wealth.

Guess what? I still wouldn’t mind winning. Human nature, I suppose. Guilty as charged.

Here’s the link if you want to pop over and vote for Disappearing in Plain Sight.

Orangeberry Hall of Fame Finalist – Literary Fiction

If Disappearing in Plain Sight won, I might be in line for some cool swag. Possibly another neat graphic. Who knows. The sky is the limit and I only sound sarcastic to cover my pie-faced grin. Come on – we all love to win (even if we did pay to get in the draw).