Michelle Isenhoff

So, You Want to Book a Blog Tour

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You’ve written a book and you’re ready to get it before the eyes of millions of ebook readers. You just know it’s going to be an instant best-seller. You’re on fire. You’re ready to promote. And you’ve heard blog tours are a great way to get your book in front of would-be adoring fans. How do you begin?
Instead of giving a tutorial, let me share my experience.
First of all, what is a blog tour? It’s simply a consecutive run of posts about a particular book on a variety of blogs with an aim to give your book as much exposure as possible. I organized a month-long blog tour for the final novel in my Divided Decade Trilogy. Since I write in the children’s genre, the first thing I did was compile a list of blogs that review middle grade fiction. They’re easy to find, especially when you find one with a long blog roll of similar sites, but I was a bit choosy. I wanted active blogs with a fair-sized audience to get the most publicity for my efforts. I also searched out a few blogs by kids.
It took much longer than I thought. Only about a third of my queries were accepted (or even answered). Also, many of the larger blogs do not review self-published work—but they often accept guest posts. So, in addition to soliciting reviews, I wrote a variety of articles, including character interviews, a post about lumberjack lingo, a few aimed at teachers. I even put together a handful of lumber camp recipes on a cooking blog. With a little creativity, you can find many “angles” to write about.
As the tour progressed, I learned to never assume things will run as planned. Several bloggers backed out or forgot to post. Some didn’t include links. A few needed further explanations. A couple rescheduled. And two dropped off the face of the earth; I never got another response after their initial agreement. My advice is to stay organized and keep in touch with your bloggers as much as possible. Send out reminders, graciously untangle crossed wires, link to their posts, follow up with thank you comments, and roll with whatever happens.
Here are some of the benefits I reaped from my tour:

  • feedback from many different reviewers
  • lots of eyes checking for any last elusive typos
  • new contacts
  • reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads
  • thirty different blog audiences exposed to my name and work
  • interaction with my audience through blog comments
  • a small spike in Newsletter sign-ups
  • a few more followers on Twitter and Facebook

But what about sales and Amazon rankings? The increased sales of other books? That’s really what all the effort boils down to, isn’t it?
Honestly, my blog tour did not sell many books. I must take into consideration that I was promoting the third book in a trilogy, and even though they are each stand-alone novels, I’m sure that put some people off. I did, however, see a slight increase in the sale of book one. I got some exposure. I got my name and titles in front of a lot of people, but I sold a ridiculously low number of books.
Will I do a blog tour again? No. The energy I spent organizing the tour could be better applied to writing my next novel. Instead, I’m pursuing promotional efforts that require much less time and energy. For example, setting the first book in the series free on Amazon has sold exponentially more copies of books two and three than a tour ever could.  Also, occassional advertising or KDP Select free days take only minutes of effort and reap much larger rewards.
In conclusion, if you want to get your name out and make connections in the blogosphere, a tour is a great option. If you’re looking to sell lots of books, you may be disappointed.

So, You Want to Book a Blog Tour

11 thoughts on “So, You Want to Book a Blog Tour

  1. I really appreciate this honest assessment of the pros and cons of a blog tour–it’s great when authors pull back the veil and discuss the nuts and bolts of this business. Thank you! As a point of discussion, and since I noticed your Cybils nomination (and congrats on that!) just below this post, do you think having done a blog tour once helped you get that nomination? So many awards require first that people be aware of your book, which is it’s own challenge. Would love to hear your thoughts on that!

    1. Suzanne, that particular nomination was not a result of last year’s tour. It was a different book, and I had met the woman who nominated me before the tour. That connection was made because of my several years in the blogging community as a book reviewer. However, it COULD have been. That’s the type of benefit reaped from a tour: connections.

  2. Yes, I enjoyed reading your honest assessment of blog tours. The key is to get the top bloggers like Cynthia Leitich Smith to review your books. One thing to be aware of is look at the top bloggers they selected for the Cybils Awards and follow their blogs. Go back to 2012 to see who was selected.
    It’s a lot of energy, but I think I would hire someone to set up the tour. Many of my friends have. But, I think you’re right, your best sales pitch is to have people download your books. I hope being nominated for the Cybils get your book before the eyes of people you wouldn’t normally reach. And, I think your Emblazon efforts will pay off — keep adding authors.

    1. Those are some very good insights, Pat. I’ll definitely follow up on the Cybil’s bloggers. And if I ever do a tour again, I would hire it done. I don’t see that happening soon, though. I’ve got several series books on the docket, and I don’t think a tour would be very effective.
      Emblazon was definitely the best move I made this year. I believe that cooperative effort will pay off. We’ve already implimented so many ideas. I can’t wait for our catalog to get done. Very soon! It’s a big project.

  3. I had the worst experience with my last blog tour and will probably not do one again. Blog hops are a little different and don’t leave you so drained. Wonderful, eye-opening post, Michelle! Will share and tweet! Cheers!

    1. Thanks, Sharon. I’ve been involved in a few blog hops, and they were definitely easier, but I’ve even avoided those lately. Other than a few blog posts a month, my writing time has been manuscript time this year.

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