Paying to do a Blog Tour – Good Idea or Not?

reds rocks ina stream near sedona

My limited experience with paying for a blog tour was less than stellar. I did it once and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else. It’s nothing against the group I went with – I’m not even going to name them. The thing is, I didn’t sell any more books while doing the tour than I had before it started. All blog tours are pretty quick to tell their customers that they do not guarantee sales. Fair enough. Eyes wide open and all of that. I was warned.

The bottom line of promotion is that it’s supposed to sell books. I know the arguments that the tour could contribute to my social media platform – building a following, slowly creating a buzz that will magically catch fire one day. I’m not arguing with that point of view. But when it comes to spending money, analysis after the fact is important.

Here are the facts on the tour I chose:

Tour cost $55.00 (CND). Rafflecopter Draw to augment the tour, $58.00 (CND). The tour ran from July to September and I appeared on a total of 11 different blogs.

My first mistake was misunderstanding what I had purchased. I thought I was buying a one week blitz tour. I never imagined the tour would be spread over the whole summer. (Obviously, this information was there for me to figure out – but somehow I didn’t.)

My book was promoted the first day of the tour. After that, (I’m not listing these in any particular order) I had five guest posts. (The tour organizers had asked for only one guest post so it appeared multiple times. I stopped using my social media platform to promote these over and over.) I had three guest interview pieces on three different blogs. These were easier to promote because the content differed from blog to blog. Excerpts of my book were featured on three different blogs. There was something called a Twitter view and a Twitter blast. I didn’t take full advantage of these because I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do. I was listed in a Book Expo on-line site and entered in a contest, against four other nominees, to win the best book in the literary fiction category. I did win this competition, but I suspect this had more to do with my ability to garner votes via my social media platform than anything about my book. (Maybe it’s wrong for me to be so cynical. What do you think?)

I received five book reviews, featured on five blogs on five different dates (an overlap of the blogs I had already appeared on.) One review was put up on Amazon and the rest are on Goodreads. If a part of the tour sold even a handful of a e-books, it was those reviews.

On the last day of the tour, Disappearing in Plain Sight was the book of the day and a chapter of my novel was put up on most of the blogs I had originally been on. I also received 4 Tweets on that day – all from the same site and all posted at the same time.

And there you have it.

I could have discovered, before I ever made the decision to choose this tour (by doing my own research) that the types of blogs I would be featured on were not going to be what I was expecting. I have no one to blame but myself for not doing this.

All the blogs were all quite similar. To be frank, I could hardly tell them apart. Most of them contained prominent ads for the same books, over and over. All of them did multiple posts per day. In all cases the interaction with followers (judging by the lack of comments) was not great.

The reviews were a different story. I was appreciative of the fact that these reviews, based on a question and answer format, got at some unique aspects of the novel. Not sure why they couldn’t have all gone up on Amazon – but reviews on Goodreads are great, too.

The Rafflecopter draw was discouraging. I had suggested people should like my Facebook author page, follow my blog, and follow me on Twitter. To these requirements were added the need to like other blogger’s Facebook sites – bloggers who were hosting my tour. Since I paid extra for the draw, I wondered about that. (There was probably some fine print somewhere about this.) I suppose it’s a way for the blog organizer to reward bloggers who take part.

Since the draw ended, I have seen a steady decline in the likes I gained on my Facebook page. I should have guessed this would happen – if people sign-up only for the chance to win a prize they probably won’t stick around. For those of you have stuck around – my apologies for the generalization and my sincere thanks.

A few people suggested (on a writer’s discussion site that I frequent) that I not pay for a blog tour. They recommended, instead, that I  search out blogs I wanted to be featured on and then approach those bloggers with my ideas for a guest post, request for a review or author interview. I should have listened. The moral of the story is this – do your own research; know what you’re getting into. Don’t be dazzled by the idea that exposure on a blog tour will translate into extra book sales – it probably won’t.

Stick around for part two of this reflection when I compare my paid blog tour experience with what has happened when I’ve sought out fellow bloggers to review my book, interview me or allow me to do a guest post on their blogs.

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I put these photos in today because the sound of rushing water is supposed to be soothing. Can you hear it? Are you suitably soothed?

Have you done a blog tour? If so, weigh-in on this discussion. What was your experience like? But please don’t mention any blog organizers by name. Let’s keep the discussion about blog tours in general.

The Book Promotion Tool Box

 

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In part two of my book-promotion-sharing-as-I-learn process, I will be filling a book promotion tool box. I love the analogy of the tool box – everything I need all neatly assembled and divided into handy little sections.

The four sections of the tool box are labeled: print media, broadcast and PR; social media and online promotion; non-traditional channels; and events plus peer to peer interactions.

Let’s have a look at the possible tools I might acquire for each section.

Print media

  • I will store my press release in the print media section of my tool box. I could write a complete post on the intricacies of the press release (heck, I probably will). Suffice to say, the press release is quite important.
  • I may also create an entire press kit – it seems it would be jam packed with all sorts of things and probably expensive.
  • Radio interviews, reviews and articles may all be stored in this section. I’ll write another post soon on the need for reviews.

Social media and online presence

  • Here is the spot where I’ll plunk this blog, along with my Facebook site, my Twitter account, my presence on LinkedIn and Pinterest and Goodreads.
  • An author’s website would be stored here – though I’ve had such excellent results with Word Press, I’m thinking I’ll let my blog do double duty.
  • YouTube promotional videos (gulp – I feel a bit faint. I have to put my head down between my knees for a moment. Oh there – that’s better)
  • This is also the place for online events – blog tours, guest blog spots – I’m sure so much more could go here but I haven’t figured it all out yet.

Non-Traditional Channels

  • Here is where I can stash all the business deals I might make in order to sell my book – things like getting the North Island Crisis Center to give a copy of my book to all their employees as a Christmas gift (hey, that’s not a bad idea!).
  • I can place all my ideas for alternative retail outlets in this section. For example – would a local tourist place carry my book or a place that sells crafts made on the North Island? (wow – where are these stellar ideas coming from. I must be channelling a marketing guru here.)
  • This is also where my pitch package goes – pretty sketchy on the details of that – I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Events and Peer-to-Peer Interactions

  • In this section, I will stow book signing events, my table at a book fair or a Conference, a booth at a summer festival, the sale of my book on a cruise ship (Sweet baby Jesus – where do they get these ideas? But think about all those people just captive on a boat. It does have potential. (Note to self: check out how BC Ferries selects the books for the BC authors section, which is available for sale on board all their vessels)
  • This is also the place where I store all the people in my various networks who will be working away to promote my book. (Family, friends, past co-workers – run now, ran hard and fast.)

So – there you have it. A well-laid out tool-box chalk full of promotional tools, all neatly organized into sections. You know that song – Come Fly with Me? The words keep running through my mind, but for some reason I keep wanting to add – over a cliff. But we’re in this together – right?

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