Arguably, one of the most effective ways for book marketing these days is the blog tour. Statistics show that most readers need to hear about your book three different times before they think seriously about buying it. You may have different experiences once you have a fan base, but at least starting out, those are the stats I’ve seen. So how do you get that knowledge out there? Unless your publisher is willing to spend thousands of dollars on a book tour, flying you to various cities, signings and appearances, you need other options. A blog tour is one of those. It’s very cost effective. But it can also be a lot of work. I recently scheduled my first blog tour, which starts this Saturday and runs every day next month. Here’s some things I learned which might help you in planning a blog tour.
1 ) Start Early– Blog tours, like any book tour, are a lot of work to do well. And, in this case, unless you can afford a publicist, you’ll be done the bulk of the work yourself. From booking blogs to planning posts to coordinating a schedule, there are many details here and the earlier you start, the better prepared and less stressful an experience you’ll have.
2 ) Don’t Take No Personally– You will ask people to loan you their blog. Some will say ‘yes.’ Some will say ‘no.’ Don’t take that personally. I ran into people who don’t use their blogs much and didn’t want to open up to that kind of thing for fear it might start a wave. How could they refuse someone else after saying ‘yes’ to me? I ran into people who are against self-promotion and some who don’t understand that it’s the way of the writer in the modern publishing industry. Don’t assume they turned you down because they dislike you. If they do, wouldn’t you rather not know? But at the same time, you aren’t under obligation to help them in the future just as they weren’t under obligation to help you now. I still would though, because it’s the right thing to do.
3 ) Publicize The Ask– Tweet, post on Facebook, Google+ and everywhere that you’re planning a blog tour for the month in question and ask for volunteers. You will get people this way. I did. I would say a third of my tour. Then I emailed others, specifically asked others, and called in repayment for those I’d already helped for the rest.
4 ) Expect To Reciprocate– Do return the favor to those who help you, and, as hinted above, even those who don’t. Blog Tours are a great way to spread out to a larger audience and self-promotion is the way of the industry now. So help others and know they’ll help you. It doesn’t always come in the ways expected, but even if all they do is mention your book and name in conversation, people will learn of you who never would have without them.
5 ) Be Creative– Nothing is more boring than a Blog Tour with the same three posts over and over: interview, review, excerpt. Oh, all three are important but try and mix it up. Here’s your chance to show a side of your personality which will engage people. From using humorous interviews of characters, to writing blog posts on topics relevant to the usual theme of the blogs on which you appear, not only will you enjoy yourself more, but the blog owners and readers will love it more. After all, no one person is likely to read 30 days’ of posts about you but if you give them something new each day, people will look for those and check them out. And trust me, when you’re creating most of the 30 posts yourself, having fun with creativity keeps you sane!
6 ) Make It About More Than Selling Your Book– No sales pitches. Nothing beyond book info, blurbs, author bio and a link. Every other bit of content should be about something other than a sales pitch. From reviews to interviews to guest posts, provide something of value to readers and they will be more likely to consider other things you’ve written might be of value to them too and buy your book. You’re selling yourself as much as your book and the best way to do it is by demonstrating you are smart, funny and worth their investment. That never comes in a sales pitch. It does come from creating and providing content they value.
7 ) Post Daily Links– Hard work? Yes. Use a tweet scheduler if you must but always advertise your blog tour stops. I recommend once in the a.m. and once in the p.m. since users are on at different times. Cross post to all the major sites you can. Put a link on the bottom of your emails. Also, be sure and do an index with all the links to introduce the tour and remind people where to find that from time to time.
8 ) Vary The Posts Daily– Try and avoid scheduling similar posts back to back. Guest posts are fine, especially if you can continue a post from one blog on a different blog the next day. This drives traffic. But back to back interviews, back to back reviews–those get boring really quick. So if you have no choice but to do that make sure they’re each unique enough to keep it interesting.
9 ) Podcasts Can Be Tour Stops, Too– Don’t rule out other mediums like radio interviews and especially podcasts as stops on your blog tour. Often online radio shows have blogs as do podcasts, so you can direct people there to find your interviews and change it up a day by giving them something to listen to instead of read. They’ll probably really enjoy the variety. And, let’s face it, hearing your voice or even seeing your face, gives them a more personal connection with you that can only encourage interest in your writing.
10 ) Have Fun– ”If it’s not fun don’t do it” is an old cliche, but using the hints above you should be able to make the blog tour fun for everyone, including yourself. The more fun it is, the most interest it will generate and the easier it will be to book the blog tour for your next book. Including motivating yourself. After all, book tours are a lot of work. But if you follow these tips, I’ll bet you’ll find it easier and more fun than you had imagined.
So there’s Ten Tips For Planning Your Book Blog Tour. What are some others? Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear them. And do let me know if this helps you, because that’s what makes it fun for me to do these posts–that’s what they’re all about.
For what it’s worth…
If you’re curious what I’m doing on my blog tour, here’s the schedule with links: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2011/10/01/the-worker-prince-blog-tour-schedule-introduction/
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.