More on the Thorny Question of Blog Tours

A study of roses 1

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.

Bird of Paradise

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.