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Create a Stir: Blog Tours
I love blog tours! I
love being able to help out the author and publicize the book. It gives
them great exposure. I love the free book, too!
I’m a book lover from way back. Whenever I find a book I love, I’m compelled to tell everybody why they need to read it, too. I’m not the only one who suffers from these compulsions. The blogosphere is filled with opinions, rants, and raves of many a blogophile. These days, capturing a blogger’s heart with your book or product is like guaranteeing a bazillion sales. Well, maybe not a bazillion. But more and more corporations, media experts, and publicists are turning marketing dollars and focus to the wide world of blogging. The good news is that never before has it been easier to give your audience a “sneak peak” into your latest project or to hook them with an excerpt from your new book. Your audience is literally at your fingertips.
A blog tour is, in short, advertising. It’s the push behind the book—building a campaign for the author and giving it wings. The beauty of blogging is the natural platform for building relationships. A blog tour gives authors a chance to connect with a broader audience. And more relationships hopefully means more book sales.
A well-executed custom-designed blog tour generates buzz for both the author and their latest release that extends beyond the last day of the tour. A good tour will not only generate buzz, but also sustain it. A reader whose interest is piqued by a book she saw on a blog or two, who then later saw it advertised in a banner ad, will be more likely buy it when she spots the book at her favorite retailer.
You can either hire someone to execute your blog tour or do it yourself. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Research, research, research! Get to know the blogging community. Ask your friends about their favorite blogs and read them. Get to know the bloggers. Also, try to target blogs that fit your book’s niche. For example, if the main character in your novel is a knitter, find bloggers who love to knit. This may seem like wasted time, but I guarantee you will find many delightful blogs (and some crazy, delightful women). After some searching, make a list of fifty to seventy blogs you’d love to be featured on.
Make the connection! E-mail each blogger individually and ask if they would be interested in receiving a free copy of your book. Make it personal. Tell them how much you admire their blog and let them know why you think their readers would enjoy your book. Ask if they’d be interested in reviewing or simply blogging about your book after they’ve had a chance to read it. Start this process at least five months before your book’s release date. The bloggers are B-U-S-Y, so give them enough time to have a good look at your book.
Design your tour! For many, when you hear “blog tour,” you groan inwardly. Perhaps you think they’re boring or they don’t work. I think both of those statements can be true. However, the success of a tour depends how it is designed. A great tour is one where the material is fresh on each site, so provide a variety of materials to the bloggers. Ideas include guest posts,
interviews, opinion pieces, personal application, and more. Every blog should also include a call to action, which is a way of encouraging readers to buy your book. If you have a variety of materials, the reader learns something new about the author or book on each “stop” of the tour.
Be user friendly. Bloggers like joining tours that are “unique” because—like the author—they’re looking to build readerships, too. Offer them content that will drive people to their blogs and keep them there. It’s a win-win deal. Not only do the bloggers receive interesting fodder for their blogs, but word about you and your work will spread in a more natural and organic way.
Advertise your tour! Get the word out by announcing the tour dates on Facebook, Shoutlife, Amazon Connect Page, Twitter or wherever else you hang out. Link to your blog tour post and invite more people to get involved. You can also uniquely advertise the tour through your own blog posts. Track your progress in setting the tour up on your blog. Write posts about funny things that happen along the way . . . or catalog what you’re learning. Also, link to the blog tour participant’s blogs. Give a shout to the great posts or fun contests they’re running on their own blogs. Entice your readers to come back for the tour by announcing you’ll be revealing the book cover or the first chapter or telling the story behind the novel.
Give stuff away! Invite readers to get involved. One great way is through contests. For example, if your novel is a multigenerational story, host a contest asking people to leave a comment with their favorite childhood memory for a chance to win a great gift basket. Also, give away copies of the book as runners-up prizes, or offer extra copies to the bloggers to give away on their own blogs.
Follow the action! Make sure you list the blog tour schedule and blogger’s addresses on your own blog. This allows readers to follow along and discover great new blogs. The bloggers and their readers love interaction with the authors. As the tour progresses, pop in and out and leave comments or answers to people’s questions in the comment section. If someone left a particularly nice comment or told a funny story, follow that blogger back to her blog and leave a comment.
Be grateful! Once the tour is over, express your gratitude! Thank each blogger for hosting you and your book. Be genuine. Write a blog-tour follow-up post pointing out anything that went spectacular or anyone who went above and beyond your expectations. If you feel led, mail thank-you notes or small gifts of appreciation. The relationships you form with your bloggers will be priceless!
One last thing! Publishers love authors who take the initiative to get involved in the publicity of their own books. Oftentimes the publisher will help cover the costs of the blog tours by mailing books to the bloggers, providing extra books for giveaways, helping to pay a third-party publicist to design and execute a blog tour, or helping to cover the cost of the contest giveaway prizes or postage. The publisher, might cover the costs/design fees of having bookmarks or postcards made. All you need to do is ask.