Saturday, June 16, 2012

Deciding to do a blog tour for your book

Most indie authors are publishing on a shoestring. So it makes sense to pay close attention to anything that costs money and might not earn back out. One of the less expensive marketing plans includes a blog tour.

When Baby Dust came out, I had a clear marketing plan for it. I knew I wasn't going to focus on traditional book review blogs, but blogs that resonated with women who had lost a baby. No book tour company could really help me with what I needed, so I spent about a week searching for blogs with enough traffic to be worth approaching, tracking down and emailing the blog owners (sometimes this is much harder than you think), and setting up dates.

While this was extraordinarily work intensive, I was very pleased with that tour. I gave away books at each stop (this is NOT a good idea, I learned later, see below), and many of the hosts posted two or three times about my book--an author interview, a review, and a contest for the give away. Each blog stop netted me between 10-30 sales. Since the only cost invloved some paperbacks and shipping, this was an excellent return.

But when I looked at a tour for my next book, I knew it would be much harder. This was a novel for 9 to 12 year olds, and so the blogs had to have an audience of parents, teachers, or librarians. A few feeble searches got me nothing useful, so this time I hired a blog tour company.

Lots of these companies exist. Some are very inexpensive, and primarily cater to small to mid-traffic blogs run by avid readers who like to get free books and to be part of the publishing culture. Tours at these companies tend to run less than $100.

Others are large companies. They might have some bigger sites on their roll sheet, but you aren't guaranteed any more traffic than the smaller tour companies. Typically their packages will start at $300 and will include banners and other perks.

Most tour companies specialize in specific genres, and you want to make sure yours is a good fit. The more narrow the focus of the blog, the more likely you will see results. But remember success of a tour isn't measured only in sales.

Less tangible but important gains from a tour is:
  • Exposure to new readers
  • New reviews
  • Permanent "homes" for information about your book that can be picked up by Google
  • A network of wonderful blog hosts you can call upon later outside of a tour

Some guidelines for your tour, whether self-directed or through a hosting company:
  • Don't give away the book on tour. People won't buy it if they think they can win.
  • Give away something related to the book, or a backlist book.
  • Do give copies to your host. You want the reviews!
  • Vary the type of posts. Some hosts give excellent ideas for topics. If not, you must!
  • Promote each stop yourself to drive traffic to the host.
  • Stop by and add your comments to the conversation about your book.
  • THANK your host publicly on the blog.
  • Promptly send out give away items to the winners.

Ideas for blog tour topics:
  • Q/A with a writerly focus
  • Q/A with a personal focus
  • Q/A with a humor focus
  • Five things no one knows about you
  • Inspiration for your book
  • Book Excerpt
  • Book Outtake
  • Poignant moment on the writing journey
  • The first story you ever wrote
  • Your first rejection letter
  • Why you write

Here are some excellent inexpensive small tour guides:

Bigger companies: (for traditionally published authors)

June 18 starts my two-week, ten-stop book tour with Goddess Fish. I am curious to see how it goes. If you want to follow the stops, check the schedule!


Deanna Roy is the author of Baby Dust, Jinnie Wishmaker, and several other novels for women and children.