NOTE: this is a guest post from Anni Fife, author of LUKE’S Redemption. Enjoy! –jen
I’m a debut author, so when the reality slapped me in the face that I needed to organize the launch and publicity for my first novel, I broke out in a cold sweat: I knew nothing from nothing, and I needed to learn fast.
Completing your first novel, having it accepted by a reputable publisher (or professionally self-publishing), sweating through the editing process, contributing creative input on the cover, writing taglines and blurbs, dedications and acknowledgments, selecting favorite excerpts—this is the rollicking ride new authors love (and probably more experienced ones too!) It’s all driven by a breathless excitement at seeing your novel become a reality, and a nervous anticipation while awaiting your upcoming release date.
But somewhere between signing off on your final galley and receiving your formatted arcs, you have to start thinking about your launch and publicity. In fact, you needed to have started laying the groundwork a lot sooner. Jennifer Blanchard has mentioned numerous times that it is never too soon to create your author platform and start building your brand. Listen to her!
The basics you need are a website and a Facebook author page. Both should clearly identify your brand and be written in the style of your author voice. Once you have these—and there are plenty of informative websites and books offering advice on how to approach this task—then you can start the long-game of building your followers.
You need to be seen out-and-about on social media platforms, posting interesting stuff, commenting on other authors’ and readers’ posts, and sharing interesting blogs. And don’t forget, you need to be writing interesting content for your own blog.
Okay, enough about that. Let’s talk about Blog Tours.
What is a Blog Tour?
A specific period of time when your book is promoted across selected websites and blogs that are relevant to your target audience. The time can vary from one day to a week, a few weeks or even longer. The duration of your tour is based on the goal of your promotion.
A blog tour is like a book signing tour, except you are doing it online. It works for authors who are located in remote areas, have limited funds, or may be shy when it comes to public speaking. The fundamental aim of blog tours is to build relationships with your potential readers and industry influencers.
Blog tours do not necessarily spike sales. Their main success lies in increasing awareness of your book and your author name.
What are the different types of Blog Tours?
A regular Blog Tour includes content from your Media Kit (details below) and a unique article. This can be anything from an interview with the author or characters from your book, an interesting essay about your novel or about writing in general.
The blog host guides the content and tone. Often the blog host has daily or general themes that you need to accommodate. Don’t be shy to offer blog hosts unique ideas for your post, as well.
PRO TIP: Bloggers love exclusive and original content that fits their site guidelines
Make sure your promotional company, or the blogger you are approaching, is aware you are willing to provide unique, original content. This will increase your chances of securing quality blogs stops.
Blog tours range from a few days to months. Example: I have a four-month tour booked with one blog stop a week. The goal is to keep my name in the public eye over a sustained period of time. I selected this route to address my debut author status. I decided it was equally important to market my name as well as my book.
There are three main types of blog book tours:
- A Book Blast is a one-day tour where you send the same content out over multiple blogs. Aim for at least 20 blogs. It is usually used for a book release day, a cover reveal, or an event like a one-day promotion or Blog Hop. The idea is to try and saturate as many blogs as possible with your promotional content. Some promotional companies also offer Twitter Blasts where they blast approximately six tweets to their followers over one day.
- A Blurb Blitz Tour is like an extended Book Blast. For the duration of the tour, you stop on a different blog each day. The content for each blog is the same, and usually consists of your book cover, a blurb, a selection of excerpts, an author bio and picture, and your social media and buy links. This is the ideal tour to publicize a new release or to build awareness of your book in the weeks prior to your release.
- A Review Tour offers blog hosts the opportunity to review your book. Credible reviews are difficult to come by so this is a great tour to receive guaranteed reviews of your book. Be aware that guaranteed reviews do not equate to guaranteed good reviews. However, as you are paying for the promotion, a reviewer will normally agree not to post a review that is less than three stars until after the tour is finished. Each stop usually also includes material from your media kit.
Note: Amazon has changed its rules for posting reviews, and it is possible that they might delete reviews received from a paid review tour.
Selecting a suitable blog tour
Promotional companies offer a variety of tours, but generally they are a derivative of the tours I have described above.
When booking a tour, it is important to be clear about what you want to achieve. List your goals and select the tour that most meets your needs. Ensure that it falls in with your launch or promotional plan and rollout schedule.
Most blog tours are accompanied by a giveaway competition where authors offer readers the opportunity to win a copy of their book, a gift voucher, a selection of swag, or other items. To enter the giveaway, the reader is offered a selection of tasks to complete, from interacting with the author’s social media to joining their mailing list.
There is no doubt that giveaways do increase traffic to your blog stop. The value of your giveaway is dependent on the size of your pocket and your feelings about giveaways in general. Personally, I prefer small giveaways. A valuable giveaway skirts too close to bribery for me.
There is also an opportunity to offer a prize to your blog hosts. I like this, as it is a great opportunity to thank your blog hosts.
How do you set up your blog tour?
There are numerous companies that specialize in book promotional tours. A lot of them tend to concentrate on a specific genre. Don’t be shy to ask your network of author friends for recommendations. If you fancy a couple of different companies, follow them for a while on social media and see how effective you find them.
Once you have made a selection, it’s as simple as making a booking. Prices are fairly reasonable and clearly displayed on their websites.
PRO TIP: You need to book your tour at least six to eight weeks in advance.
The following two recommendations are promotional companies that specialize in romance that I have personally had dealings with:
- Goddess Fish Promotions–I selected Goddess Fish Promotions for my debut release. They came highly recommended from my publisher and author friends. I’ve found them to be reliable and efficient. But their banners are boring! If I use them again, I will request more interesting banners. Note: Several days ago they informed me they have hired a graphics artist to improve their banners.
- Magic of Book Promotions–this company came highly recommended. Tami Adams is very hands-on, and I found her helpful in the quoting stage. GFP were more suitable for my needs but I wouldn’t hesitate to use Tami in the future.
Organizing your own blog tour
If your budget is tight (or non-existent) don’t panic. It just means you have to work harder.
PRO TIP: Start as far in advance as possible.
- Search for blogs that are relevant to your genre and start interacting with them. Follow the blogger’s social media links, and get a feel for the style and taste of the blogger. If you have an idea for a guest post, write to the blogger and suggest it to them. Write a succinct query letter that clearly states who you are, what you would like from the blogger, and what you have to offer. Include information about your book and a brief excerpt. Don’t forget to indicate to the blogger that you are familiar with their blog.
- Ask your author network to recommend blogs sites they have appeared on. Don’t be shy to ask them to recommend you to these bloggers.
- Connect with other authors–A lot of authors have their own blogs and use them to spotlight other authors. If you think one is suitable for your book, request a guest spot. Most are very amenable. If you are a debut author, ask for help. I promise you, you’ll receive it.
- Find the most influential bloggers with the largest traffic. Look at the amount of comments posts generate. They should average around eight. If they are consistently less than eight or zero, avoid them. Their traffic is not worth your time. Often one large blog will lead you to another as they often share each other’s links. They all need content. Don’t be cautious about offering yours.
- Write up a schedule and start to plan your tour. Limit your stops to one per day. (Unless you are planning a book blast.) All your stops do not have to offer exclusive content, you can mix it up (though it is highly recommended). Alternate unique guest posts with general book spotlights. Don’t underestimate the amount of work it takes to write the content required for unique guest spots.
I suggest sending requests to around 35 to 40 bloggers with the goal of securing 10 to 12 spots. If you get more, great!
PRO TIP: When organizing a blog tour, don’t make a request for a review the primary aim of your query letter. Reviews are like hen’s teeth and bloggers are inundated with requests. I suggest you separate review requests from your blog tour. If you get them, consider them cream. (I send out requests for reviews on a near daily basis. It is time consuming but it is a numbers game. The more requests you send, the higher your odds of getting a ‘yes’.)
Your Blog Tour Is Happening. Here Are Some Tips
- Inform all of your blog hosts that your book is available for review if they so choose. Ensure you have a copy of it in different formats—PDF, MOBI and EPUB are the most popular.
- Send your content requirement to each blog well in advance. Be meticulous. Your reputation is on the line.
- Once your tour starts, work hard to promote it across your social media platforms and don’t hesitate to ask your friends and network groups to share your social media posts and re-tweet your tweets. Remember: the more you help promote their promotions, the more they will be inclined to help you when you need it.
- Most blog hosts will post on Facebook and Tweet your blog post on the day you are scheduled to appear. Make sure you share their posts and re-tweet their tweets.
- Visit the blog early on post day–thank your host and welcome his/her readers in the comments. Let them know you welcome their questions.
- Check your blog post hourly. Try and respond to comments as quickly as possible. Respond to each and every comment, even if it is just to thank the reader for popping by.
- Remember to post a sign off comment on the blog at the end of the night. Thank the host and readers again. Inform the readers of where you will be stopping next.
- Arrange your own giveaway. I suggest you run it for the duration of your tour. You can use a company like Rafflecopter to organize it for you.
Your Media Kit
You need to have the following content available for all of your blog hosts:
- Book cover image
- Blurb (150 to 200 words)
- A selection of excerpts–three is good. If you write erotic or erotica, make sure you have a combination of excerpts that include a PG-rated version. (Around 300 words)
- A biography (150 words)
- A picture of yourself
- Your website
- Your Facebook author page link
- Your Amazon author page and/or Goodreads profile page
- Any additional social media links–Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.
- Links to buy your book
Share With Us
Phew! That’s a lot of information, but I hope it helps you. If you have any questions, comment away and I will answer wherever I can.
About the Author: Anni Fife left a successful career in television to fulfill her lifelong passion, writing. In the space of one month, she shut her business, packed up her city life, and moved to a small seaside village to begin her new life…as an author. LUKE’s Redemption is Anni’s debut novel. Anni loves spending hours on the beach searching for pansy shells, more hours drinking red wine with her gals, and the most hours writing steamy romance novels filled with hot alpha men, and the sassy intelligent women they can’t live without. She is currently working on her second novel, GRAY’s Promise.