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Planning a Blog Tour? Think Twice

13 March 2013

From The Huffington Post:

Blog tours are all the rage right now for indie and traditionally-published authors. My advice: think it through, and then talk to other people who’ve done them, and think it through again.

I’d heard mixed reports about them, and decided to try one myself. Now I wish I hadn’t wasted my time.

Working with one of the tour-organizing web sites, I arranged for a two-week blog tour that ended up with 14 “stops.” The organizer was thrilled by the strong response.

. . . .

One blogger never ran a review, re-scheduled, then still didn’t run it. Nine other reviews did run, ranging from good to excellent. But some were cursory, and a number of them were by bloggers who apparently didn’t believe in proofreading, and weren’t very good writers to begin with.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Barb for the tip.

PG wonders if book signings and blog tours are about as effective as peddling your book door-to-door.

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Social Media

29 Comments to “Planning a Blog Tour? Think Twice”

  1. This article can stand as a companion piece to the one PG recently posted about social networking being a waste of time in promoting your book.

  2. A good blog tour–review only–can be extremely helpful. A poorly run tour is an annoyance and waste of money. If you contact the bloggers on your own and don’t go through a tour host, it gives you the opportunity to create a relationship with people who are your potential audience. I’ve met terrific book bloggers, kind and smart women who genuinely love books and want to help writers find readers.
    Isn’t that what we want?

  3. I’m not sure that proofreading or being a good writer is key to having a popular blog/site. Facebook, Youtube, Reddit and other sites seem to do quite well despite the posters poor grammar and spelling.

  4. What’s even sadder is seeing blog tours conducted within the inbred new/aspiring author blog community. Most days my blog feed is just a constant barrage of aspiring/new authors talking each others’ releases/news up to other aspiring/new authors. I read hardly any of those blogs anymore.

    • Sarah, this was going to be my exact response so I’ll just support your comment. The barrage diminishes the book promotions and, like you, I end up skipping them.

  5. There’s this dirty little secret about blog tours no one will tell you because everyone urges newbies to do a blog tour – a blog tour will not result in increased sales despite all your hard work. Most of the visitors to your blog tour will be your fellow authors supporting your effort.

    The one positive – if done right, if you visit the right bloggers for your genre, a blog tour will get your name out there. Thus at some point in time when a reader sees your book, some neurons might fire and he or she might think… “Hey, didn’t I see this author’s name somewhere? And wasn’t that a pretty good review of this book?”

    I’ve done mega blog tours, radio interviews, sent out ARCs and received stellar reviews. Sales resulting from all my hard work were minimal. What does matter? The right place, the right time, the right material, the right readers, and ultimately, critical mass. Critical mass provides a tipping point. If you only have one book out and nothing in the works you will be disappointed by the results of even the most hellacious blog tour.
    Unless, of course, you’ve just authored the next To Kill A Mockingbird.

    • “Thus at some point in time when a reader sees your book, some neurons might fire and he or she might think …”

      Like most forms of advertising. It may or may not be cost effective, but some of the benefits may not be measurable. I’ve heard that to sale something a potential customer has to see your name or product X number of times. What X is differs from source to source, but a blog tour is going to increment X for a large number of people.

      • The question is whether it is going to expose it to the right people.

        As someone above pointed out, many of the blogs that participate in book tours are mostly followed by indie writers and the general “book promotion” crowd. So odds are you are only exposing your book to the same group as with everything else you do to promote.

        • Absolutely, Camille. And that is also hard to measure or know for the blogger and even tougher for the author/blog tour promoter. I did survey about a year ago on my blog and *if* the numbers are accurate, then roughly half my followers are authors (actually I think it was 60% of those who responded). If those who responded are representative of all followers, that’s still a decent number of readers. My suspicion is that the actual percentage of author followers isn’t that large, but the authors are the most engaged, both in making comments and responding to “please take this survey” posts.

          • I don’t have any data to back this up… but I believe authors are much more likely to respond to surveys, etc. So only 60% is pretty good.

            I noticed that when I started posting more fiction and less ‘writer stuff,’ my numbers shifted around a lot. I had an increase in RSS feeds, and a bigger increase in “reach” on RSS. Commenting, on the other hand, came to a near standstill.

            My overall blog traffic got odd. One of my stats counter showed no change. The other showed that I doubled individual hits, but I didn’t have more unique visitors. Just the same number of visitors clicking around more.

    • Isn’t getting your name out there as a newbie the point?

      • Yes. But if the only people following your blog tour are your friends and other authors a tour doesn’t really sow many seeds.
        As I said – right blogs, right readers, right genre…
        And another book is super important. I can’t stress that enough. One book won’t do it for you unless it’s the best book in the world. Well, or unique and timely – like say… Wool.

  6. “Working with one of the tour-organizing web sites, I arranged for a two-week blog…”

    Sounds like the typical, I’m assuming, trad-published author? Instead of going to blogs where he already contributes, he complains afterwards about the quality of the blogs he was sent to.

    Not the right way to do a blog tour, methinks.

  7. How many people show up at a typical book signing for a relatively unknown author? I’d be willing to bet the typical blog tour stop beats whatever that number is in people who read the interview, guest post, review, or whatever. Whether it sells as many books (which is ultimately the point) is another question. I’m not sure that either one is cost effective, just like most forms of advertising aren’t, although it is going to be different from situation to situation.

    As for the bloggers not being able to write, I’ve been saying for years (with apologies to whoever first said the famous quote I’m paraphrasing), “those who can do, those who can’t critique.” 🙂

  8. Barbara and Sarah and one or two others really hit it:

    The problem with blog tours is, basically, that they are mostly spam being seen by other spammers.

    The whole culture of it revolves around advantage to the writer and the blogger — not the advantage of the reader. The writer touts her books, the blogger gets a day off of blogging. Whoo hoo! But why should the reader bother with it?

    Guest posting has its value, although even there, outside of writing/publishing circles, that is becoming seen as more of a spammy scheme than it used to be.

    Here’s what I’ve started thinking: I recently decided to change my blog to fiction and announcements only. No regular blogging at all. (At least until the end of the year.)

    Instead, if I have an idea for a hot blogging topic, I will treat it as an article. I’ll write it as if I were going to submit it for pay to real professional magazines. Same with some short fiction.

    And then I’ll go back into the old submission cycle: to real pro magazines and sites, as well as sites I’d like to break into which may not pay, but they have a “real life” readership — not just other bloggers or writers who want to be like them.

  9. I recently read and reviewed a book I hated. A couple of weeks later, it came up in my blog feed as part of a blog tour. So, out of interest, I googled to see what the tour participants had thought of the book.

    A small number gushed about it (which served as notice never to trust their opinions). Some reviews were well-written; some were not (I may not have writen a 90,000 word novel, but I like to think my review and report writing is at least passable).

    Most blog tour participants just posted the obligatory author bio and plot summary, leaving me wondering… Had they read the book at all? Did they like it? Or were they just posting the necessary to disguise the fact they hated it?

    In which case, what is the point of a blog tour? It leads me back to the conclusion above: authors are better off connecting with individual readers and bloggers.

  10. I did not find that a blog tour was effective at reaching my target readers. I learned a lot from the tour, had some great reviews, and also some highly critical reviews. But, it did nothing for sales, and in the end, nothing to connnect me with my target readers. As the tour went on, I began to use the tour just as a way to talk about certain historical characters in the book, or educational topics. I met some incredibly nice people, and did enjoy most of the experience, but I did not see it have any effect upon sales.

  11. As a veteran of blog tours, I don’t remember anyone ever saying it was meant to create sales. What it should do is improve name or book recognition.

    If you’re trying to hand-sell to an online audience, your best bet is to garner reviews. I’ve not come across a book yet that has sold me with their “character interviews”.

    The other thing that many people do in error is approach other authors for a guest spot. Unless said author has a HUGE fan base, they’re probably peddling to the same people who are already following them. Your best bet is to line up posts and reviews with popular book bloggers who have a built-in audience of readers (who are not necessarily authors).

    I also write all my guest posts as topical articles regardless of where they appear. This method has served me well and always nets me a lot traffic back to my blog.

    • Your right about both. It can help with name regonition, or “branding.” I will tell you that for six months, I had to really “learn” my own book inside and out. I noticed that many other authors have book review blogs, and I have not beem tempted to go down that road. But, I am thinking of a blog on non-fiction books just about writing, plots, or the psychological aspects of character developements.

    • This. And if going with a tour company make sure they know what they are doing and have enough good book bloggers in your genre to support your tour.

  12. This is one of the more ridiculous things I’ve read in awhile, which doesn’t give me much confidence in this author’s books.

    Bloggers are book lovers. Period. They’re not professional writers, they’re not NYT book reviewers, they don’t have copy editors. One blog didn’t get posted? The travesty. Also, welcome to the online world.

    The question of efficacy is valid (and difficult to pin down) but his arguments are just… silly. Personally I consider blog tours a must-have. Certainly they’re more effective than paid ads.

  13. Blog tours are about exposure for minimal cost. If you go into it thinking you’ve just struck gold, that’s when you’ll be sorely disappointed.

  14. Blog tours don’t work? Social media doesn’t work? Advertising, PR don’t work. Does anything work?

    • Define: work.

      If you want work to mean: I put X amount of effort into channel Y and will therefore always get Z more sales immediately, then no, it’s not going to work.

      If you want work to mean: I reached out and got brand awareness to X many potential customers in M specific market. Given Y many repetitions of seeing my name/book, Z1 percent will clickthrough to check out my book (and Z2 will check out my blog then book), and Q1 & Q2 percent of those will purchase, over T time period. Well, then, yes, it can work. But how well depends on your market reach, your timing, your approach, your product’s packaging, your product, the messaging and placement of your ads…

  15. Stephanie McKibben

    One of my most read posts was a review on one of Terry Goodkind’s confessor series. I can’t tell you if it boosted sales, but I can tell you it got exposure. Right now I’m thinking exposure isn’t a waste because it statistically takes up to 7 times of seeing the same book for a reader to pick it up.

    I can attest it took about 20 times for J.R. Ward in my face to buy one of her books.

    I feel your frustration. I know you want to scream at the world to buy your book. It’s such a good book and you worked very hard on it! It deserves its due. But marketing is, and always will be, another term for creative exposure.

    Maybe think of your time as connecting to your fellow authors and current fans. With them on your side your marketing efforts grow 10 fold.

  16. I generally agree with you about the probable usefulness of blog tours. That said, I just recently organized two blog tours for a single purpose: to get reviews (and get them posted to Amazon, GR, etc).

    I have asked readers who have told me they read my books to post reviews, but it hasn’t worked. My publisher, among others, keeps insisting that reviews are critical. Whether that’s the case, I don’t know, but it was the least I could do with minimal effort on my part, without distracting me from writing that next book.

    If they increase so-called brand recognition or anything else, that’s a bonus.

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