Blog Tours (And How to Have a Successful One)
Having just embarked on my first ever blog tour, and knowing several up-and-coming authors that are about to embark on them, I thought I’d share some of the things I learned having just wrapped one up.
Let me start by thanking 4Wills Publishing for organizing a fun and successful tour for me. They made the process easy to understand, answered my myriad “stupid questions” (I put that in quotes because I honestly think the stupid ones are the ones that aren’t asked) and provided a bevy of support in terms of promotion. And promotion makes all the difference.
Whether you’re arranging your own tour or using one of the many services available to authors out there, here are some tips that I hope will help you make it as successful as possible.
Determine Your Measurement of ‘Success’
This should be the very first thing you do and you should do it well before you book a single spot or pay for a tour of your own. Are you a new author with no platform? Are you an established author with a fan base and several books under your proverbial belt? Depending on where you are in your writing career, you’re going to have to measure success differently. It’s not as simple as just saying that a tour is a success if you make back your money in sales.
As a new author with a very limited platform and no real marketing plan of which to speak, I measured success on a number of factors:
- My number of Twitter followers
- The number of likes on the FB page for my novel
- And last, but certainly not least, sales
The reason that increasing my social media presence was important to me on this tour is because prior to it, I had a very limited one. Twitter and Facebook are, in my opinion, passive avenues for promoting your work. I mean passive in the sense that they take little effort to get the word out and if you’re witty enough and have a decent following, your work will be shared and your name will get out there with very little of your own effort. You want and need a team of people supporting you, cheering you on and helping to promote you.
Translate Your Definition of ‘Success’ into a Plan
It’s not enough to define success, you have to have a plan for how to get there. Since building an author platform was my highest priority on this tour, I used my posts to not only showcase who I am as an author, but who I am as a person. I’ve followed plenty of other tours before embarking on my own and I have to say that posts I always enjoy the most are the interview-style posts where you get to know the author. However, if you’re planning a 7+ day tour, it can get repetitive if that’s all you do.
I staggered my posts in the following way:
- Day One: A post about how I came to write the book and a little more information than what the blurb on Amazon provides.
- Day Two: This was a double-pronged approach where I did two posts in one day. One was an excerpt from the book; the second was about how to be more effective in our day-to-day lives featuring practical advice.
- Day Three: A later excerpt from the book
- Day Four: Since food is a large part of my main character’s culture, I wrote a post about some of her favorite foods, including a recipe for her favorite dish.
- Day Five: A discussion on LGBTQ homeless youth. This is a direct tie-in to the book while actually discussing a serious subject and highlighting a subject that’s important to me.
- Day Six: A brief author interview. I used part of this to help promote other indie authors as well.
- Day Seven: An excerpt from much later in the book.
By structuring it this way, I got to talk about me, about my characters, build interest in the book and provide samples of my writing for those that weren’t exactly ready to make a purchase.
I’ve seen tours where authors have spent the entire time discussing things from the POV of their main characters. Or tours where some of the posts dig deep into the characters, some even with drawings or photos of them. Use this as opportunity to get yourself out there in new and fun ways. It doesn’t have to be such a hard sell; the buy links will do that work for you.
Get Organized and Play Nice
Want to make a name for yourself? And what name is that, exactly? Manners go a very long way, regardless of who we’re interacting with. And I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always handle everything in the most professional way; sometimes my buttons get pushed. But your blog tour is the time to show how professional you are. So here are some tips:
- Read through the materials you need to provide and ensure you can meet the deadlines – if you need more time, ask for it upfront or consider having a little leeway in your dates
- In terms of deadlines, aim to have your materials to your organizers a day or two earlier
- Clearly label all materials before sending them
- “Please” and “Thank You” go a long way. Thank your hosts and the guests that stop by your posts.
- Engage in meaningful discussions with your host and their guests
- Do not engage in negative discussions on your host’s pages. If you get someone that shows up just to cause trouble (hey, it happens!), ignore them. Seriously. Ignore them.
Consider Sales and Giveaways
I timed a Kindle Countdown Deal with my tour, lowering my price by 67% as an incentive to buy it. I find that people are more willing to take the risk on a book that’s $1 versus $3+. Lowering the price for this one week moved my ranking from the 700,000s to the 100,000s. I still have a long way to go until I get into any sort of Top 100 list, but that’s a big jump for one week’s worth of promotion.
I made the decision to do a giveaway during my tour because I think it encourages people to follow the entire tour as they have a chance to enter the raffle daily. Make sure that your prizes are worth the effort of those taking their time to follow you on each stop. I opted to give away 2 free Kindle versions of the book as well as a $25 gift card for Amazon. People love free things, even books, but I think if you make it an opportunity for them to win something neutral (i.e. not just your book but something a little extra), it goes a long way.
So, How Did You Do?
I’m a big proponent of taking things – especially anything I find on the Internet – with a grain of salt. But my results don’t lie. Remember my goals? Let’s take a deeper look:
Increase Twitter followers and Facebook page likes
I had a 34% increase in my Twitter followers in the one week of my tour. It’s too soon to gather an ROI on the longer-term effect (as I am also tracking it against one- and three- month post tour benchmarks). I only had a 2% increase in my Facebook page likes, however, I realized after the fact that I had been linking to my author/personal page, not the one for my novel. My personal page saw an increase of 5%.
This is what every author wants to see, right? Well, in one week, my sales increased 67% over my previous 1 month sales. And when I compared the week of the tour to my prior three months of sales, I saw a 25% increase. I will be following up with sales one- and three- months post-tour as well.
While my tour didn’t pay for itself in one week, I think it’s short-sighted to only look at that as the measuring stick. As authors, we want people to engage with us and our work, but it does us no good if they only do that at one point in time. No, we want and need them to become invested in us and that takes time.
So, my final piece of advice: Be patient. And don’t stop promoting yourself because no one will do it better or with more fervor than you will.