Marc and Bethany respond to Josh Lanyon’s post ‘How to Pull Off a Killer Blog Tour‘ on the Not Your Usual Suspects blog, to provide the review-blog-point-of-view on this topic 😉
Marc- I think a lot of authors are wondering about blog tours, Interviews, Character Interviews, Blog Hops, Cover Reveals, Book Blasts, Release Parties, Live Interviews, Reviews on Review Blogs, etc. and all the many, many ways to promote books. Bethany, RGR’s blog tour Coordinator Extraordinaire, linked me to Josh’s post and I must admit some of his points are really interesting and I agree with a lot of it. However, as LGBT Review Blog we do have a different view on several aspects Josh discussed and given the great interest in this topic, we decided to use his post as opportunity to share our own thoughts.
Bethany~ Okay, let me start off by saying I am a HUGE Josh Laynon fan. I love his books, I love how he writes; he is a go-to and a re-read for me. He is an author I will ALWAYS recommend. So when I saw his post I was interested to see his thoughts on something that I spent a lot of time doing. After I finished I was amazed to see how his views differ from my very own. When Marc suggested this post, I was nervous we might offend him. Then I realized it is ok to have different opinions on the subject just like it is ok to not like a sub-genre that someone else loves. So here are my thoughts on Josh’s views of a successful blog tour. Enjoy.
We will go through every point Josh discusses in his post and join the discussion with our own POV. We hope y’all will join the discussion in the comments as readers, bloggers and authors and share your own experiences and opinions. 😉
1 – Stop arranging blog tours for every book release. Pick one or two releases a year to be your “big” release and focus your promotion on those. Make these books a BIG event. Do not do two of these big books in a row. Remember, you have to keep the tour special.
Marc- Blog tours are a lot of work and should never be underestimated. I think every author should carefully consider how many blog tours they can handle. If there are more releases than they can manage, it might be a good idea to limit blog tours to one or two ‘big’ releases. In any case, I think it is always a good idea to do something when you release a book. Before I became reviewer, I actually didn’t personally follow any blog. I did however, search for any snippet about the series I loved and new books from the authors I loved. And I often got hooked at the blogs and read through all the other different interviews and guest posts on the blogs, discovering many amazing authors I did not know about at all.
Remember that many of your fans are excited about any new release you have and even if you set up something on one blog only for smaller releases, it can be very successful and blogs do enjoy exclusive content that drives readers to them and will be happy to set something up with you. I think a lot of work goes into every single release and no release is too minor not to celebrate it in some way and share the excitement with your readers. ❤
Bethany~ Yes, blog tours are work, a lot of work. I should know, I have spent countless hours putting them up on the blog, making sure they look good. Making sure the links work, and they have the correct categories and tags. I read the blurbs, and the excerpts so I know what is going on with this tour. I am in constant contact with authors & blog tour coordinators, emailing back and forth to make sure I have correct dates, correct files, and all the extra info that goes with each tour. Sometimes when I don’t get to a tour the night before, I will get up an hour before I need to get the kids up for school just so I can get tours put up. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to hand it all back over to Marc so I could go back to JUST reading. Do you know why I didn’t?
They work, blog tours, Interviews, book blasts, and Spotlights work. Whether an author does one or ten per year, readers follow their go-to authors, readers find new authors to follow. So when I receive a comment from a reader saying they have never heard of this author before, but the excerpt sounded so good that they went out and bought the book right away – that is how I know they work. That is why I keep doing what I do, to support this community, the authors, readers and reviewers.
2 – Stop relying on prizes and giveaways to draw your audience. The focus of the tour is your book. You don’t want to bring in people only hoping to score a free Kindle. You want to attract the readers most likely to be genuinely interested in your book. That has to do with the quality and content of your posts, not the number of — or price tag on — the giveaways. The best “prizes” are those that will ideally lead to new readers trying out your work for the first time: namely free books from your backlist — or unique themed gifts that tie in with this particular title. The first are good for new readers and the second are good for rewarding already devoted fans.Keep in mind that a successful blog tour isn’t about the quantity of people who show up. It’s about the quality of the response to the tour. Fifty people who might really end up buying your book is way better than five hundred people who are only there in hopes of getting a trip to Hawaii.
Marc- Prizes and how to effectively use them is a very interesting topic and I think I could talk about it for pages 😉 I do have some very different thoughts about this topic as the owner of a LGBT blog with access to statistical data. Offering a prize is the single most effective way to draw an audience for your blog tour, interview, etc. I do agree that the trend has been to offer bigger and greater prizes and I do wonder if that pays off.
In my experience, the big benefit of giveaways is not from exclusively or even mostly about the people who end up actually participating in the giveaway. Some of them are already devoted fans thankful to get the chance to win a book or prize from one of their favorite authors. Some are people who have never read one of your books, but are interested in the chance to win a great book in the genre they love and might become fans who buy, read and review future books. Then there are some who are mostly lured by the chance to win anything and will not even read the content of the post. Sometimes the very short comments needed to be entered in a giveaway will tell you how wonderful the interview you gave was, when you wrote a guest post or things like that and that is sad.
The reason why giveaways are so important, is the way they increase your blog tour’s reach. It begins with the new promotional opportunities that will be open to you. For example, I have a group called ‘M/M Romance & LGBT Giveaways‘ on Facebook, that is exclusively for posts that include giveaways, free book promos and sales. It has grown to 2500 members since I created it about one year ago, because a lot of groups are swamped with promos.I wanted a place where readers could find out when books are offered for free in special promotions, when big sales are happening and when authors are offering generous and special prizes. There are many other groups, or special places on Goodreads and other websites where giveaway posts can be listed and it makes a big difference in the way people respond whether they see an author do some self-promo or whether they see an author who let’s them know about interesting original content and prizes on different blogs and in the process can introduce them to new and upcoming releases, without it feeling like the promotion is pushed on them or disappearing in the background.
What happens next in my experience is that your readers help you to increase the reach of your post by ‘word of mouth’. Whether they intend to enter the giveaway or not, have read the book or not, or even know you and your work, there are many bloggers, readers and other authors who will tweet about, like, comment on, share on their timeline and in their favorite groups and just do a tremendous job to help you spread the word. Your post is turned from just another promo post into a post with a cool giveaway people want to tell their friends about.
The result is such an increase in traffic compared to a non-giveaway post, that there are also many more people who click through on the buy links to get the book directly. The people who comment on a post and participate in it are just the people you see. There are many more who just find the post through the increased visibility and read it, maybe buy it. I can see them in our statistics. I can see where most of them come from (most from Facebook and Twitter), I can see which links they click, which country they come from. I can also see when people stumble over posts even months after they went up on the blog through their google search or some other way, and the info that is still out there helps them to make a buying decision, even when the giveaway is no longer available. The content you have created is still there and interesting.
What kind of giveaway you offer matters a lot less than that you offer some kind of giveaway. Generally, I think a lot of readers and blogs prefer local giveaways that are exclusive to the blog and they will generally take care of drawing winners through random.org (unless you want to pick them) and readers can see the other giveaway participants and have a greater chance of winning. However, I think the trend of big giveaways has been a response to big blog tours where one or a few huge prizes are actually less expensive for the author than providing each blog stop with a smaller prize. In those cases, a rafflecopter can be extremely useful to authors and you can be creative. Kindle Alexander provided eBooks, print books and a few CASES OF BEER from different popular brands as prizes and a lot of people participated in that giveaway and LOVED the idea. It was a huge tour and all stops could share the link to the rafflecopter and use the unique prize in their promotion.
The benefit of Rafflecopter Giveaways, beyond being able to have one pool of prizes for all blog tour stops is that you can tie entries for the giveaway into readers accomplishing certain tasks such as liking a Facebook Page, following a newsletter or blog or many other things. Just make sure that you don’t ask too much of the readers and that there are some really easy tasks that everyone can easily accomplish. You can have some prizes limited to a certain region, especially if you have physical prizes and the shipping would be too much – but consider providing some kind of prize for your international fans, so they feel included. Asking readers to comment on the blog that brought them to the Rafflecopter will bring more activity to the different posts and enable you to get an idea of how many readers from the different stops participated in the giveaway. Finally, consider to include tasks that encourage readers to support the blogs that host you in some way.
Bethany~ I will leave all the statistical stuff to Marc, so let me tell you a story instead.
About a year ago I stumbled on a review blog via Facebook. I had never followed one before and I got all my reviews through Goodreads or Amazon when I was thinking of buying a book. Well, they just so happened to have a giveaway one day and I read the blurb and thought it sounded good so I left a comment. This was a new to me author and I had never read her work. I ended up winning, read and loved the book. That author is now an auto-buy for me. I reviewed that book for RGR and we now work closely with that author.
Moral of my story? Sometimes giveaways work.
3 – Stop scheduling your blog tours around review sites. Right now most blog tours rely heavily on review sites to host their posts. This is problematical for a number of reasons. First, it creates a potential conflict of interest. Reviewers have to be free to review books without restriction. At the same time, the point of a blog tour is to sell books. You see what I’m getting at? From a puzzled reader’s perspective it can feel a bit like what you have theah is a fah-ail-yur to communicate.
It’s understandable that some authors or author representatives want a guarantee that they aren’t bringing a bunch of readers to a blog where the book is going to be reviewed unfavorably. But you can also see why on the reviewer’s end this might feel like coercion or even blackmail.But the real problem with this arrangement is that a review — while necessary and appreciated — is not the fresh, original, special content that we’re talking about. I mean it can be: sometimes a reviewer will fall in love with a book and write a rave review and grant you the equivalent of Book of the Month status, and that’s fantastic. If it happens organically. That kind of heartfelt enthusiasm will be great for one blog stop. But basically, barring the outlier one and five stars, you’re going to receive a series of largely similar reviews. Necessary and appreciated, yes, but probably not the incentive for drawing in that audience you’re looking for. Especially if you’ve scheduled a number of review sites in a row.
Remember, with a blog tour, you’re trying to drum up excitement and enthusiasm. Woohooo!!! You’re throwing a party at every stop along the way. And every stop is different. Relying on reviewers to bring the paper hats and whistles is like asking your BFF to help you host a party and then you skip out on all the work and show up as one of the guests.
Marc- This discussion point is why we felt strongly that we could offer valuable insights. From this reviewer’s end, blog tours couldn’t feel further from coercion or even blackmail, nor do we feel like there is more of a ‘conflict of interest’ than at any other time we review a book for an honest review.
I have never experienced a blog tour organizer or author who tried in any way to influence the outcome of a review. Actually, some blog tours don’t even have a review part and if they have, blogs are usually not required to provide a review. The potential conflict of reviewing a book without restriction and participating in a tour to sell books is very easily and effectively solved. If we decide to review a book for a tour, get the review copy and our reviewer doesn’t enjoy the book a lot ( usually measured by a rating below 3 stars), review blogs are simply asked to post the review after the tour has ended. There is no censorship or even the attempt thereof and I think waiting a bit until the tour has ended is a wonderful compromise everyone can live with.
For Rainbow Gold Reviews this is kind of a non-issue since we decided from the very start that we don’t want to waste time with books we wouldn’t personally recommend or use our growing reach to ‘warn readers off’ certain books. If a book has a rating lower than 3/5 or in our case 6 out of 10 pots of gold, we either let another reviewer have a go at it, who might be more suited for that book or return it to the author or publisher. This is a bit of a controversial decision, but we have made it from the very beginning, and stand by it. We put book reviews on the blog with honest ratings and reviews that show all positive and negative aspects a book had for the reviewer, as long as the reviewer sees potential in the story and at least liked the story enough to give it 3 stars. So the blog tour policy doesn’t even affect us in any way 😛 and other blogs will be able to decide if they can live with the compromise of postponing a review in the case they don’t like the book or if they rather not have a review copy for the book.
During a blog tour, a tour organizer (if you have one) and the review blogs are your friends. They take a lot of the insane workload that goes into a blog tour off from your shoulders. Tour organizers are usually paid by the author and will have time to focus on your tour, work out a tour strategy with you, use their experience and contacts, create review art and organize everything. They can be worth their weight in gold and minimize the amount of work you need to put into the tour or leave you free to create unique and special content. Blogs will usually do a lot of work for free to be able to help you promote your book and offer their readers new content they might find interesting. For Rainbow Gold Reviews, Bethany almost single-handedly manages blog tours. We have new tours, spotlights, interviews, guest posts, etc. almost every day and Bethany reads through all the blurbs, comes up with questions for interview portions or focus questions for guest posts. She emails back and forth, makes sure she has all she needs for the post, figures out solutions if there is a problem, puts up the posts on the blog and spends SO many hours working without earning a cent. We are on your side and think that is why more and more authors feel comfortable working closely with blogs.
I do think that readers like to read some reviews during a blog tour. As I have said before, I’ve never been one to actually follow along a blog tour at every stop nor did I utilise blogs to find reviews before reading a book. However, I do like to compare reviews to my own opinion of a book and to each other. When several reviewers with a similar taste to my own write wonderful reviews about a book, I really want to read it. I usually read quite a few reviews on goodreads, when I am interested in a book. I look if the things people really like about a book are things I like as well and I read 3 star reviews to see where people had some misgivings with the story, but still saw potential in them. Reviews on their own can help book sales, just because readers will get information about a book and hear back from a reviewer they trust and follow.
However, I do agree that reviews are not the most important part of a blog tour. That is why blog tours don’t usually require reviews. We get so many review requests by authors who sent their book in PDF or MOBI format with a medipack (blurb, cover image, buy links, excerpt, author bio, contact links, author photo, … whatever they want us to include with the review) and patiently wait until we can have a reviewer read their book and put up a review. We can’t just review all new releases with blog tours and neglect the other review requests. Blog tours and other posts like Spotlights, Interviews, Guest posts, etc. are a way you can put out your book info where it can reach a lot of readers, whether or not a reviewer has time to read the book. You can share something interesting, funny, touching, and in some way engage with your readers or potential readers and ‘celebrate’ your release in some way on every stop.
I must admit I love when authors appear interested in their own blog tour. Authors who check in shortly before a tour is scheduled to make sure everything is in order and there is nothing more we need from them are not a nuisance, but I feel like they are actively invested in the blog tour becoming a success and given that we have so many tours and reviews to post every day, it is never wrong to make personal contact and make sure everything is ready to go. Even when authors send a review request and wonder if the book will be reviewed soon, checking in with us is always a good option, especially considering that our emails are filled with more than 1250 emails, with a lot of back and forth and correspondence on Twitter, Facebook, in groups and on our page, event pages and chat rooms.
We also love when authors take the time to interact with their readers and read comments left on the blog tour post as well as respond when appropriate. If readers connect with an author, they are much more likely to try out their new book and it can be a wonderful and giving experience for both readers and the author.
Another good way to support your own blog tour is to help promote it. Use your website or blog to guide your readers to the blog tour and the original content you have for them there, use your Facebook groups, pages and your timeline. Use Twitter and any other social network you frequently use. Update your Goodreads status, do whatever you can think of to spread the word and in addition to the blogs promoting the posts and the tour organizers and readers promoting you will be surprised how many readers you can reach.
Bethany~ I agree with Marc here.
4 – Start coming up with fresh and original content for your blog stops during the editing process. There’s no better time to think about angles for promotion than while you’re finishing up the book. Deleted scenes and character interviews are especially popular. Ask funny interview questions of side characters focusing on the main characters and their relationship. Interview the villain. Consider whether a particular scene was especially fun to write or especially difficult, analyze why, and write about it. Talk about the characters and the story, but dig a little deeper than usual. You don’t want to write a cookie cutter post. Avoid writing a coda for a book that most people haven’t read yet, but consider writing prequel scenes. Feel free to share artwork, playlists, or other sources of inspiration. Remember you are trying to amuse, entertain and interest both existing and potential readers.And don’t be afraid to ask your readers what they’d like to see in your next blog tour.
Marc- I agree with everything Josh Lanyon says here. It is a great idea to find unique ways to promote your book with fresh and original content. Including your readers in decisions regarding future blog tours will help you to form closer bonds with them and to realize what readers long for, and what they are tired of 🙂
Bethany~ Yes, Yes, & Yes. Even with the amount of time I spend on tours, spotlights, and emailing back and forth, I love to see original content. So I will gladly work with our blog tour coordinators and authors to provide these type of posts. I will gladly come up with an interview or an essay post to make your stop at RGR special. And I like to see it all, from funny interview questions to the serious essay as to the struggles you went through to get to where you are. Heck, tell me why you named your dog what you did. NOTHING is too much work if it will set your post out from the rest. Don’t be afraid to ask your coordinator for that, he/she wants the same thing. I want the same thing for you.
5 – Keep the tour short. Three to five stops MAX. Remember the keyword is special. Rafflecopter nothwithstanding, the longer the tour goes on, the more readers fall away. By the end of a long tour you’ll feel like interest in the book is fading. It’s not — interest in the tour is fading. Keep the tour short and lively. You want to end the tour while reader interest is at its peak.
Marc- I’m a bit torn on this point. I can see how a shorter tour would give the tour stops you have a more exclusive feeling, and authors will be more likely to give every single stop their one and all. However… I’m not sure how many readers actually follow a blog tour along on every single stop. Some of your fans will, of course, to get every snippet you reveal about your book and that is cool. You don’t want to bore them.
I think a majority of blog followers have a few blogs they regularly check though. Having a long blog tour with many stops means that readers, who follow all these different blogs will find the information about your book. It will be extremely important for long tours that you are organized, start early on getting your content ready for the blogs. If you don’t know what all to write about, feel free to ask the blogs. We often get requests for a focus question and the different POVs might help you to get fresh angles you hadn’t even thought about, when talking about your book.
I’m sure there is a drop-off of some readers with every stop, as there are a few readers, who follow several of the blogs participating in the tour, and following every tourstop might get boring for some readers after a while. As long as you have the time and ideas to prepare enough original content for every tour stop, I’d say go for it. Even if you don’t, there are certain benefits to having even just Spotlight promo information on 15 different blogs, including several who might review your book. It gives your book visibility.
There is no reason in my mind against alternating long blog tours with short, more exclusive ones. Of having some very involved blog tours with a lot of original content and some blog tours that mostly bring you more visibility for your book with simple promo posts. Or even hybrids where you might, for example, be very involved with the first and last tour stops and make real events out of them.
Consider Rhys Ford’s ‘Hair of the Dog’ Blog Tour. Rhys wrote a serialized short story from the POV of a dog from her ‘Sinners’ universe. The story was released in 11 different parts on 11 different blogs. Part One can be found on the post hosted by Rainbow Gold Reviews and it still marks our record with 1100 people reading the post within 24 hours. There are 80 comments on the post. It was a HUGE success and the interest in the post lasted for a long time with a few readers finding and reading the post still.
In addition to the 11 stops, there were 6 additional tour stops with different original content, different prizes and one Facebook Chat. I’m sure a ton of planning went into this tour, but I also think it was clearly worth it. I’m still impressed! 😉
Bethany~ This to me is a personal preference for you and your tour coordinator. How much work do you want to do with it? If you don’t have time for individual guest post or interview questions, then sure – 15 stops with no guest post can work. Do you have the time to answer those 15 essays, and interviews? Then go for it. But if you want something originally for each stop but can only answer 3-5 stops then go with that.
6 – Scout out new and original sites to host your blog tour. Your fellow author blogs and social media streams are prime real estate, especially if you’re tapping real friends and especially if your real author friends are willing to come up with a post of their own. Interview each other — cross promotion is great. Funny posts are great too. If you want to go full out, you could try organizing a friendly little author roast — with yourself as the victim. Or get a fellow author’s characters to interview your characters. There are tons of possibilities.Don’t repeat content. Don’t kid yourself into thinking cover art, blurbs and excerpts equal fresh, original, exclusive content. That stuff is already on your own website and the publisher and bookseller pages.Don’t rant. Don’t rave. This isn’t the time to jump on a soapbox.
If you do want to utilize review sites, don’t be afraid of small, obscure or brand new sites. But again, you have to bring the fresh and original content. You can’t leave that to anyone else. And regardless of how successful the tour is, mix it up next time around. Remember, every blog tour has to be special. So try not to repeat visit any one site more than once a year. That keeps it fresh and interesting for everybody.Does all this sound like a lot of work? It is. And that’s why you don’t want to try to do it for every book release. But if you plan ahead, keep the tour short and lively, take the time and trouble to create exclusive and original content, and focus on reaching the readers most likely to give your work a try, you’ll actually have fun — and you’ll sell more books.
When Bethany sent a link to Josh’s blog post to me and asked for my opinion, I found many wonderful tips for authors there I could whole-heartedly agree with. However, there were also some aspects that Bethany and I had different opinions on, given our experience on Rainbow Gold Reviews and our close work with different authors and blog tour coordinators.
I’ll be honest, while we loved this topic and thought we had something to contribute to this discussion, we weren’t sure if we should. Our idea was not a general post on the subject of blog tours, but specific responses and discussions of the points Josh Lanyon wrote about in his blog post and there is an inherent danger in doing that.
Unfortunately, while there is incredible love and support to be found in this community, there have also been many wars fought out in public. Author VS Author, Reviewer VS Author, etc. Instead of learning from each other and respecting each other’s points of views, too often biting remarks, insults and misunderstandings have turned interesting discussions into battlefields that escalated without need and pitched friends against each other and fans against fans.
Now, I think anyone who has read this post can see that no attack can be found here and Josh knows that we are rather huge fans and consider him one of the best writers in this genre and respect his views and experience and most importantly are thankful to him for opening such an interesting debate. Still, just the fact that we were wondering if we should ‘rebut’, when we felt we had something interesting to say, made me want to talk openly about it.
If we felt like that, then some of you might be cautious about responding to posts as well, always fearing that you might offend or be misunderstood in some way, just because you have a different opinion. This post, however, is a safe zone. We want to listen to YOUR experiences, YOUR opinions and YOUR ideas. We want you to get involved in this discussion, because we think this discussion will be interesting and helpful to many authors. If we all come together and listen to each other, share what we know, think and experienced and listen to each other, it will be an incredible thing.
So share this post on Facebook, tweet it to your followers, re-blog it or mention it on your blog, tell your friends about it and get your friends here so we can all talk about it. Parts of this will be very subjective as different people like different things, expect different things and are different. We can all listen and learn, though. Now it’s your turn to share what you want to say in the comments section. 😉
When I first saw Josh Lanyon’s post, I sent it to Marc ’cause I wanted his opinion, his thoughts and his reaction on this subject. Now, we want your opinion and your thoughts, whether you are an author, blogger, or reader. We want a healthy, diverse and constructive discussion in the comments and hope this posts lays a good foundation for that. Attacking anyone will not be tolerated. We get enough of that from the haters who don’t support us.
And that is why I am here, Marc is our rational member of the blog, he looks at things from every angle. His answers are analytical. Mine….are not. I am the emotional member of the blog, I can’t help it, it is just in my nature. Our genre is something that when you tell people what you read they look at you funny. Our genre is amazing, people who you have never met in person are some of your best friends. People that you admire, and fangirl/fanboy on, actually talk to you via Facebook or email, and when they do you realize they are people just like you. And you love them even more for it.
So add your thoughts but remember who we are and why we do what we do.
55 thoughts on “‘The Importance of Blog Tours’ by RGR’s Marc & Bethany”
Every book must be promoted, absolutely.
But is a blog tour the way to promote every book? No. Definitely not. Again, the key to a brilliant blog tour is SPECIAL.
If you do the same things to promote every book, that’s not special and it becomes boring to everybody involved. Including bloggers! We’ve all been in the position of being a “guest” on a blog where we’re just one of a million things happening. Including multi-blog tours sometimes! And it’s great that the blogs are busy and active and lots is going on. We all want to support the review blogs! BUT I keep coming back to the SPECIAL element of a blog tour. And if a blog tour stop is buried beneath a ton of reviews or other posts…that’s not going to be effective promotion. That blog tour stop is going to get lost. This is not a criticism. This is just observation. We’re hoping to sell books on a blog tour. That is the point of the blog tour.
Even if the blog tour stop gets lots and lots of visibility, you still don’t want to do the same promo every single time. In the same way that you don’t want to write the same book every time, you don’t want to promote the same way every time. You have to mix it up. Ask any advertising firm. 🙂 You don’t run the same ad campaign every time.
Also a successful book launch is the result of cumulative efforts. No one single factor — with the possible exception of author brand — is responsible for a successful book.
Authors must experiment and try and a variety of things to see what works. But what works once may not work again.
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I agree that something really special is always nicer than something that everyone does. Well, mostly. There have been times when I have worked closely with authors to set up something truly different that I thought would be received with a lot of interest from readers. Something special always has the chance to be truly grand or to fail. I think it is great when authors take the risk and go away from the mold to try something different and put a lot of time and effort into it. Especially if you have different stops where they have to also do something special to have a whole tour that way. I can understnad, however, that some authors don’T have the time to do something like that, but still would like the benefits of being featured by a lot of different blogs. Especially when it’s an author’s first contact with a blog, it is a good way to build a ‘relationship’.
An author will be featured with an interesting book and ofen either work with us on getting something cool together or say ‘hi’ and ‘thank you’. As a blogger that is enough to have the author’s name in mind and readers can get to know a new author as well. Especially if the author shares something personal, a lot of readers are interested in their story and connect with the author, which makes them more likely to give the book a chance.
We have quite a few blogtours that are successful, even with the ‘standards’ and they can be personal, funny and informative. Authors don’t always need to make the celebration of the year with bigger and better things that eclipse everything that came before. Sometimes they just need a platform to get in contact with many different readers and blog tours are good for that.
Still, if an author has the time, resoucres and energy to make an amazing killer blog tour with amazingly original content on every stop, I thing readers will reward that and love it. 😉
How are you judging successful? The number of people that click on the website or sales the author gains from the blog tour. It’s been my experience that blog tours are lots of work for very little payback. I’m not an author, I have several friends that are and they all say their time would be better spent writing.
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I don’t have access to the sales numbers of the authors we host, so the only way for me to judge what seems to be successful on Rainbow Gold Reviews is to see how many people read a post and how many people click on the buy links or social media links of the author. Granted, I don’t know how many people will actually buy a book, but I figure if a lot of people read a post, even those who do not participate in a giveaway, and click through the links that is a good thing. Still, a lot less people click on the links than read any given post, but I still think it is a good thing when readers take the time to get to know an author and read the info about a book they provide as well as the original content and I’m sure that will stay in the readers mind and maybe get them to check the author or book out at some point. Given that professional tour organizers are flourishing, I agree that organizing a blog tour is too involved, too frustrating and costs more time and effort than the returns are worth for many authors. But blog tours seem to be successful enough even when authors pay someone to do the organization to make it worth it in those cases or there probably wouldn’T be so many authors who do it. Josh is right though, the more authors do it, the less ‘special’ will every individual tour be. It is understandable, though that if something is working others will try it as well. Even if every tour gets slightly less successful with the increase of tours overall, they still seem to be a good way to promote their books for many authors.
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As a reader and a blogger, nothing is more frustrating than following or being part of a tour where all the stops are the same. I love to follow tours of upcoming releases I am anticipating. I frequently skip over the common points and head straight for the excerpts and unique parts. If the excerpt is the same after the first 2-3 stops I’ll quit following a tour no matter how big a fan I am of the author. As a blogger I hate it when the material I get for a tour is obviously identical across the board and will often contact the author directly, asking permission to post a unique excerpt. I’ve never had an author turn me down.
Giveaways can definitely bring huge crowds to a blog. No question. But here’s the thing — and this gets back to social media in general. Many people make the mistake of confusing quantity with quality. A thousand followers who follow you because you follow them, is not what you need. A lot of people don’t believe this because they hope that maybe those thousand followers will read a post and be interested enough to try the artist’s book/music/cake whatever. But increasingly social media is white noise. Everybody talking and nobody listening. So one hundred dedicated readers who are honestly there to check out your work is way, way better than someone who arrives in hopes of scoring a free kindle. Believe me, I’ve given away thousands of dollars worth of books and prizes over the years. I’ve tested this one again and again. Keep it small and focused and you will sell more books in the long run.
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I think the prize that is most often offered by authors is an eBook copy of the book they are promoting. I was always a bit confused why that would help the authors, as the commenters on the post are entering a giveaway for the book they get a lot of info for and are supposed to want to buy. lol.
When I commented on such posts, I was less likey to buy the book, waiting to see if I won. It was kind of a thrill and sometimes I did win and it was really cool. However, I don’t think I ever bought a book that I didn’t win, once I didn’t hear back about being a winner, unless that same book came up in a different conversation and I was reminded again.
I need to act directly. I see a cover that looks cool, an interesting blurb and interesting original content and if it is just my taste, I act instantly. It is super easy to buy books. It goes so fast.
BUT I don’T think it’s the participants of a giveaway who in most cases end up buying a book. Though I know some do and some even buy the book, before the contest has ended and already own the book they win 😛
But if there is a giveaway, the post will automatically get more readers and more people share it. I don’t see the sale numbers and I agree in the end those are most important for an author. But if a post gets 300 views in one day and 20 people comment in the hope of winning a book then you have 280 people who did not enter the giveaway. I think they therefore chose the post to read the information. Learn about the author, the book, read the guestpost or interview.
It is so easy to leave a comment. Often readers write ‘Count me in’ and we count them. so for the 280 people, the giveaway can’t have been the driving force. many of them click through to the retaileror publisher site. The buy link. Some may read an excerpt if we don’t have one in the post, but given that we use all the info the retailers and publishers show on their pages, I assume mostof them will buy the book. Some of the people who read the post may not buy the book directly, but they read about the book, know the author’s name, perhaps even read a review or some amusing or interesting original content. They may remember it. I know once I hear about a book again and again I get more and more interested. I may not buy them directly, but at some point my strength leaves me and I just have to have it and try the book, even though my kindle is filled with enough books to last me a lifetime.
I don’t think bigger prizes will definitly draw more potential readers, but they will definitly cost more for the author. We don’t ‘require’ prizes to put up an interview or guest post. It’s the authors who make the decision if they want to provide a prize and what they want to give. It just makes me sad, when an amazing interview or guestpost doesn’t get much attention, because it has no prize attached. It’s sad, because those are often some of the most interesting posts, but while giveaways are not something ‘special’ anymore, they are expected. In the social media white noise people just tune them out, in most cases.
So when authors ask me, I usually tell them that a backlist eBook or an e-copy of the book they are promoting might be their best bet as a prize. It might be conventional, but publishers often provide them for promotional use and if not they are much cheaper than some other prizes, but still very effective in getting a lot more reader attention.
I agree with Marc here. Yes, giveaways do tend to increase visibility (page views, clicks, shares etc) but I tend to get more views of a post for a recognized author without a giveaway than a new author with one. The action that has the highest impact on my post visibility is sharing on social media. I schedule most of my posts in advance. I’m not always around the a computer the day it posts. I have a core group of followers that consistently interact on my blog and via my newsletter. It has been my experience that sharing my posts in 2-3 Facebook groups and other social media outlets consistently triples page-views regardless of content.
Also, I’m not saying authors shouldn’t offer guest posts or visit blogs regularly or anything like that! I’m strictly talking about blog tours. As a matter of fact, I think a really powerful tool for any author would be to find a regular “column” spot on a variety of blogs — post several times a month around the web to keep visibility high. I think spacing those posts out will get much more mileage for both the author and the blogs rather than cramming them all into a week-long blitzkrieg.
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I did think you meant choosing only the biggest releases to promote. I think visiting blogs only once or twice a year would limit visibility a lot. I totally agree. If you can do one or two blog tour very well and effectively use your new contacts at the blogs that hosted you, there are many ways to promote your books very effectively, even without more blog tours. Thoug I think we are not swamped by many authors doing more than one or two blog tours a year. It feels more like the number of different authors in the genre keeps increasing and more and more authors and publishers try blogtours as ways to set the authors apart from the rest. Spacing posts out and using columns, parties, chats, interviews and any creative idea an author may have might just be the best way to make the most out of the promotion of books. That’s why our contact us page lists several popular ways to promote and tries to explain what they are and how they can be used to my best understanding. A smart combination of the different tools available to an author, with some effort taken to provide interesting content for readers would be the best way to prmote books in my understanding as well 😉
Can I come back to you about a month from now? In a few weeks I’ve got two blog tours starting (different book, different sub-genres, one co-written). Getting all the posts written and organized has been a bit of a nightmare but it’s done now. Whether or not it will lead to anything remains to be seen but since these are my first books it seemed like a good idea to introduce myself the readers out there.
Great post though and a lot to think about for the future.
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Well, I certainly wish you the best of luck. I think it is a good idea to introduce yourself to readers and a lot of them are excited to get to know new authors 😉
I’m in the same position as Helena Stone (points upward). I’m a new writer, with two releases in this last week. I chose to do a blog tour, but opted for low-key prizes (a Kindle? Who in heck can afford to give away a Kindle? Am gobsmacked) and also predominantly went with other authors’ blogs. Every one has had a unique post written for them, not just a ‘buy these books’ sort of harangue, and it has been a heck of a lot of work to get it all ready.
But also a lot of fun. I’ve made new friends in other writers who will come to my blog when they have books to promote, and bring readers and new content to me. I’ve made contacts with new readers who had never heard of me before, but who might now be tempted to go and read my books. Only a handful maybe, but it’s a start. It’s all about creating a presence, isn’t it? Not a huge one, like Josh’s, maybe; but the beginnings of establishing myself and building up a readership.
And you know, that’s maybe the difference. Josh is established and famous in the genre, with a huge following. I’m just starting out. Different strokes, people.
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Lol. I know, right? Though I can see it as a group prize. I know in one of the online parties, several authors added smaller amounts to a pot and in the end there was a 100 Euro grand prize. But I don’t think authors need such big prizes. Even something that doesn’t cost anything like naming a minor character after the winner can be something cool. ❤
I personally love to read posts authors do with other authors. You can feel the camaraderie and fun the authors have while doing it and you are right. They are often very creative. As Josh has mentioned, blogs do have many posts on every given day. Perhaps we should change that. Do you think it would be a good idea to limit RGR to doing only one interview/ guestpost/ spotlight/ bookblast/ … a day and pinning that post to the top? We could still ahve reviews, just unpinned. Maybe something to consider!!! 😉
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I noticed the big fish/little fish comparison as well, not from an author’s perspective but as a blogger. Marc and I *waving happily* started our blogs around the same time. I would consider RGR to be a “big fish” and myself a “little fish” because RGR features multiple reviewers and posts each day while I run mine by myself and typically post once a day. It’s all very time consuming, no matter the size of your blog, because all the prep work needs to be done (My hat is off to Bethany!) in addition to the reading. I primarily post reviews and work with a large number of tour promoters, but I also have a form on my website that independently generates about a third of my reviews. mostly from new authors, who I love to host.
I am commenting from the reader point of view. I think Josh is correct. I get a sense that your rebuttal is based on sensitivity rather than being able to offer any real metrics or data to support your contentions. Yours is an opinion just as Josh is opining based on personal experience, although I suspect Josh is probably able to offer return on investment information. What percentage of the 2500+ Facebook group followers translate into actual sales for any of these authors who participate? I’m a member of a few Facebook groups, but I do not buy books based on promos and giveaways or visit any of my groups on a daily basis. I buy books based on recommendations from like-minded friends or a known quantity. I have specific authors that are an automatic buy.
I go to the author’s blog more so than any review site for snippets and will only occasionally visit a review site if the author is being interviewed, but I lose interest rather quickly if the questions are stale (and, in my opinion, most are). Publicity and fresh interest are very important to any author, but given the number of authors who need to support themselves outside of their writing, managing their time is crucial. I have followed a couple of blog tours recently for a couple different authors and I feel as though I’m reading the same thing over and over just on a different site. I get off the tour bus after a few stops when I see: Hi there! We are so excited to have ________ today! We’re giving away ______.
It’s a big yawn for me and has no real value.
I agree with everyone that authors need to be selective and get a handle on what can be reasonably managed. I do, however, agree with Josh overall because there are new books out all the time and as a reader need to be selective as to which I wish to read. It won’t be because of a blog tour unless it is fresh and creative. Giveaways may increase traffic on a blog site compared to non-give away, but it doesn’t necessarily increase book sales for the author. So who is the real beneficiary and has the vested interest in these tours?
In point of fact, where is everyone? Hey, I’m opining here. Helloooo?
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Don’t worry. I think more commenters will show up as it becomes clear that all points of view are accepted and there are no insults and personal attacks, which is very important to me. There have been a few bloggers who were not sure if this post was a smart move and are observing to see how the comments turn out, before daring to dive into the discussion. A lot of posts on different blogs and social media platforms have sparked controversy and quickly turned out of control. But I don’t want that to keep us from posting our points of view for an interesting debate.
I think it is important to remember that most blogs don’t earn any money. Those that do, usually just earn money for things like sidebar advertising to pay for pretty url names that are easy to remember. We don’t actually make money from hosting authors, doing interviews, setting up blogtours and guestposts and such. We do it, because we love the genre and want to see the authors succeed. So as much as I may like to see high visitor numbers to know that a lot of readers are interested in the things we post, it is more because we feel validation in what we do and can contribute to an author connecting with their readers. It is cool to be able to offer a platform for authors to use, wonderful when readers and authors actually show up to use them. But we don’t benefit from them. We don’t enter giveaways and have no financial gain for the work we put in, which is more than I would spend on a full-time job. It’s fun, though and I feel like I’m doing something good and meet very interesting people, get to ask the specific questions that plague me after reading certain books and I just enjoy it a lot.
We do this, because we want to help authors suceed. Obviously, as a blog that is not yet a year old, we don’t have all the answers. 😉 Josh has been selling books very successfully for many years and I have been chatting back and forth with him on Facebook and learned a lot. Still, the game is ever changing and I think getting together and discussing the different aspects of blog tours and other things can be extremely interesting. I’m not too proud to listen when somene has more experience and can provide great insights. Still, I think we also have some interesting things to add to the discussion, in my opinion. Like the fact that reviewers are never asked to alter their reviews to make them more positive or not post them at all, when they participate in a blogtour. They are usually not required to review and if they do and they really didn’T like the book, they are just asked to postpone the review until the blogtour is done. I think that is something we all can life with and removes the ‘conflict of interest’ from reviews during blog tours. That’s why I loved that Josh was willing to read through the long post and clarified some of his points and got in on the discussion ❤
I think the M/M Romance & LGBT Giveaway group is working, because it hasn't yet turned ito white noise. There are a few lovely ladies (some readers, some from different blogs), who make sure the group is not swamped with adds and self-promo. There are a lot of people who are still active and share when an author offers a book for free for a day or there is a big sale or a cool post with a giveaway. The rules of my own group also make sure that I can't post info about this debate there, because it does not fit into the group. There aren't a lot of active LGBT blogs left, most are white noise of endless promotion. If you want to be a member in a more active group that is mostly there to give you book recommendations, the M/M Rec group is your best bet. I think it is the most active group on Facebook in our genre and I love it if I have a specific question, a looking for a book with a certain theme or want to talk books. promo posts there are largely ignored and 'strict' rules limit the promotion taking place there, but it is extremely active when books are discussed 🙂 Personally, I get my book recommendations from friends on GR and Facebook and I don't follow any blog closely. So I understand you and am very much like you in that respect *g*
I also understand that the same old same old quickly grows boring. For interviews I like to change it up by doing live interviews at times, or focusing my questions mostly on things I wondered about in the author'S book(s). There are only so many eneral questions you can come up with and though sometimes authors really do a great job answering in interesting, personal and or entertaining ways, I think readers like questions that are specific about the books they love from an author or questions about a new book they consider reading. It is not always easy not to give away things and sometimes I purposely mark an interview as filled with spoilers to discuss what happened in the book. Especially with a series, where a lot of readers are very invested in the characers and what will happen next to them. But I think it feels more fresh to shake things up.
Still, I'm not completely sure how to make so many posts all 'super special'. If every post is special, then none of them is. Right now I think blog tours are a solid way for authors to reach readers interested in the genre. If you pay a tour coordinator like many authors do, because it really is a ton of work to pull a tour off, they mostly want to be featured by as many tours as possible for ther money. Some choose to do a limited tour and the kind of origiina content an author provides is really up to them. I think if an author really oes the extra mile and invests time and original idea in making a tour amazing, it will pay off most of the time and the tour will be 'special', because it is more interesting than other tours for readers. That doesn'T mean though, that a 'routine' blog tour can't be very successful.
Generally, I think increasing the number of people who read the contents of a post and who click on the buy links is a very good thing for authors. i don't believe in using giant prizes to do it, because it might not pay and the increase over a 'normal' giveaway is insubstantial. Though I know sometimes authors just want to giveaway a print book internationally, so one of their fans can hold a signed book in their hands and have a physical connection to them. Which is really cool. I just see too many great posts without any kind of giveaway go under and the giveaway posts getting most of the attention. If an author asks me if I think it will help them to reach more readers when they use one of the 5 or ten or 20 copies their publisher allows them to give out for promotion on blogs or whether to provide an e-copy even if they need to buy it from amazon themselves to get it to a winner, I tell them yes. To the best of my knowledge, including some kind of giveaway pays off.
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Marc, I appreciate your detailed although lengthy response, but to be honest, it really isn’t a meaningful discussion if you are holding back comments in order to craft responses. Anyway, I am not stating you or any other blogger gets any compensation, but rather you benefit from the traffic (eyes on your page) you get as a result. My assertion is that you and other bloggers have a vested interest in people coming to your site as a result of the author and not necessarily the other way around.
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I’m not holding back any comments. WordPress has a system where people who have commented before and have been ‘approved’ before, get their comment ‘approved’ automatically. But given hateful anti-gay messages and such, any other new comment has to be approved in the admin section of the blog. I try to regularly go there and approve new comments, but I’m not there every second. 😉
I can only speak about myself. I know there are other bloggers who never look at their numbers, don’t think they are very important and have no use for them. Personally, yes, I like if the blog I built does well and a lot of people visit it and read the posts. It vaidates the work I put into it and next to the review copies and early review copies and the contact with authors, readers, publisher and other reviewers is my ‘compensation’ for running the blog. It feels good. It is also very interesting to find out what kind of things work. For example we did a Scavenger hunt where readers had to find our RGRicon on different author blogs. That was a huge success. When I did it again, I thought it would be cool to hide specific words in on the author blogs, but that just was too much. The first tour was easy and fun, this second was too involved for many readers and less successful. I try to analyze the numbers I can see for every post and the feedback I get directly from our readers and improve on how we do posts and events. We are very new, like to experiment and still have a lot to learn. But I also think that the information can be valuable for authors and help me find more effective ways to promote them. readers aren’t just numbers, if they read a post and perhaps even click on a link, I think that is always a positive thing for an author. In any case, most of the time it is the only thing I can use to improve the way we work and while I think numbers show important trends, I always love to talk to authors, bloggers and readers to learn new things and don’T rely exclusively on numbers that can never give me any conclusive information without specific sales numbers.
I enjoyed reading the different points of view and seeing both sides of the coin. Sometimes, there seems to be so many blog tours going on and some of them seem to last so very long. I like seeing occasional reviews with the tours, since I gain better insight into the story, especially if there are items that are uncovered in a review that I might not enjoy reading. Also, I really like character interviews since they’re fun and I get to know the characters more personally.
Through the blog tours, I’ve found some new authors, new books and/or new series that have drawn my interest and which I’ve added to my wish list. I can sympathize with authors that the amount of time, effort and expense when compared to the readership gain/ purchases is something that may be very variable in results.
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Yeah, it’s insane how many new books are released every day in this genre. So many new authors joining the fld and so many people trying to get a piece of the cake and finding a readership for their books. It is natural that after many authors successfully used blog tours to promote their work that authors want to try the same. So I love to see every time it works. When readers PM me and tell me how awesome a book was they found through the blog, it really shows me that all the work wasn’t for nothing.
I have bought so many books, just because other reviewers on RGR kept raving about the book they were reading for review and I couldn’t listen anymore and needed to read it as well. Or seeing a new tour and realizing that anew book in one of the series I loved is coming out or just a book that sounds so good that it stays in my head and I really want to read it.
A beautiful and intriguing cover and a great blurb go a long way in making me interested. Original content is the cream on top 😉
But yeah, if an author puts in a lot of time and effort in a tour and it doesn’t help them to sell books that sucks. I do think that quite a few must be successful, though, otherwise authors wouldn’T continue to pay coordinators to organize them 😛
I feel like we’ve been inundated with book tours with giveaways lately. It’s gotten to be too much for me.
I still like to read reviews when I’m looking for my next read, but I’ve recently decided that it’s too time consuming to fill out a gazillion Rafflecopters. If I want a book, I’ll buy it. I may or may not enter the giveaway. If I’m not really sold on it, I’m not going to spend time trying to win it.
I know it’s a lot of fun to win stuff, but it looks like the same group of people commenting and winning all the time so it’s not clear to me how many new readers are actually gained. It would be very interesting to be able to see the actual number of commenters that actually buy the books.
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When I was new n facebook rafflecopters always made me feel sad, because I wasn’t out and I didn’T dare to do many of the tasks that were asked of me. When I started not to care as much who knew I was gay and did the tasks, I was swamped a bit with notifications and emails and couldn’t find important emails at times. As a reader I prefer local giveaways, especially if I have the chance to get cool swag or signed print copies, because I treasure them highly and they are something really special.
I do agree, the people who follow a blog closely and reguarly comment on giveaway posts have a very good chance to win from time to time.
I think how successful a tour or post is really depends on how well-known an author is, if the author is new, what kind of post it is, which day of the week, chance, and many more aspects. It would be interesting to compare it to sales numbers and some authors do share a bit of the info when they are frustrated, because the interactions they have don’t translate well into sales or when a specific post really helped a lot and got the author the third highest sales-day.
I think the authors themselves know best about how many books they sell, but it must be difficult to know exactly what helped the sales. What is successful and what not. I think that over hundreds of posts, some trends on RGR can be clearly seen and I am trying my best to use what I learn to help authors use the tools we can provide for them more effectively.
wow!! this was really insightful! loved all your POV’s and can see where each of you is coming from. I also loved that Josh was happy to reply to your points as well.
As a reader I like giveaways as they allow me to try out new authors and I’ve added many to my “must read” list as a result
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Yeah, it’s pretty cool of Josh to weigh in 😀 I’m glad giveaways have helped you to find some new authors *g*
I agree with Lee. Several of my favorite authors are ones that I started following after winning a giveaway.
Ty for this interesting post. Giveaways are like a lifesaver for an avid reader like me
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Yeah, our reading addiction can quickly use up budgets we set for ourself. I am in awe again and again how generous the authors are. ❤
I haven’t had a coffee budget in years… it all goes to books! 😀
Good points from everyone around. As a reader with limited funds I think blog tours that provide giveaways are great but the downside to that is that it is also very taxing sometimes. There’s a fight within to try to meet and work with those giveaway standards (I know, what am I complaining about, no one is forcing me) so when the blog tour goes on for fifteen or more stops it does get a bit vexing but at the same time I admire that there was so much effort put into such a long tour.
For the tours that don’t provide any incentive to follow (giveaways). I find that I still do follow along although my comments maybe nonexistent. I do read through posts just so I can a sense of what was going on with the author when they came up with the concept for their book and to catch any details that may have been scratched out during the writing process. I add the books I like that have burrowed into my mind while reading exclusive excerpts, blurbs or character interviews to my wishlist for later buying (no matter how long that shall take).
I do especially enjoy blog tours when it comes to new authors since it’ll give me a chance to meet them through the post, get to know them and become aware of their book.
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Oh yeah, the ever growing TBR mountain. lol.
It is cool that you take the time to read through carefully-put-together posts and find some new authors and books to try out. That’S all one can hope for. 😀
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There are many MANY good points on both sides here and I’m loving reading them all. As an author, I haven’t done many blog tours, and I have to say a lot of that is due to my laziness / time pressure / weariness rather than a conscious decision to be selective. Judge the efficacy by my low level sales, I know, I know! :). But whatever my own experience, I can see the importance of getting a balance.
To me, the one stand-out pro for blog tours is that quantity *can* be preferable to quality if an author is trying to reach out, to get started, to be noticed. Much respect to Josh – and I’m sure he started out in a similar way to us all – but his reach is much wider now, and before a blog tour even starts. I can only judge this by the way I follow authors and blogs, as a reader. My time – like everyone’s – is precious, and I can only follow a selection. I don’t follow a Blog Tour per se i.e. every visit, but I *do* stand a chance of catching one stop, in one of my followed blogs.
I also think that – initially – it gives confidence to many authors, to be working on a broad exposure. However, given the passage of time, more releases, more respect and knowledge for the way the industry and community works, and more personal confidence – and I believe the attitude towards full, long blog tours changes. As a writing career snowballs on, I think authors have less time to devote to marketing and tours, and become more selective, as Josh suggests. Many are writing in addition to a job outside the home. Every word counts!
For me personally, it’s all summed up by that odd acronym YMMV, your mileage may vary (never came across this until the last few years *g*). Most of the social media marketing advice I’ve ever come across says “do what you can manage”.
I used to work in media and this all makes me think of how we’d joke with a new business development manager, telling him/her it was a really easy job – just buy the programmes that’ll be best sellers, and only pay the lowest price for them. If only those things were known in advance, we’d all be successful!!!! LOL
/sorry, didn’t mean to ramble on LOL
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Thanks for your comment. I think you may be right. If an author has a solid fanbase already, I think readers will be actively scavenging for any info they can find about new releases. Connections with a lot of readers are already there and they won’t forget about sequels to their favorite series, even if the sequels are not pushed out with very short breaks between each other. I think blogtours are a wonderful way for newer authors and those who are still looking to find a bigger fanbase to connect with readers and bloggers. Now again, I’m hardly an expert given that I only know numbers of my own very new blog. I don’t have the sale numbers each tour produces and I would love to hear from other bloggers with more experience and different POVs. But to me it rings true that large blogtours might be a good start in the beginning to say ‘Hi’ everywhere and that they can and maybe should be reduced to smaller, more potent blogtours as the fanbase grows and people know who the author is. 🙂
I agree with Josh that it might not be the best thing for authors that there is a huge pressure to put out one book after the other and in turn having only limited time to polish a book and let it stand on it’s own, before being forced to cannibalize the own sales. There are so many releases and authors and giveaways that the ‘special’ is harder and harder to achieve. I still think in the current environment, even if the ‘basics’ that everyone offers aren’t ‘special’ anymore, they can help to be ‘eye to eye’ with other releases and anything on top of that like real creativity and content created during the writing or editing process can really help to make a tour or post stand out. I’m not sure how one would go about ‘re-setting’ the market. I think that would have to be group effort of a majority of publishers and authors. I do see some authors promoting so much taht they burn-out and the pressure to not disappear in the ‘white noise’ and between the many, many authors and releases must be insane. I can only speak from very limited experience on my blog, but I love to use anything I learn from that to help promote authors in any way I can. ❤
I love Blog tours I have a very tight budget so I do follow a lot of tours. I’ve also found so many new authors and won books that I’d never would have read but then end up buying the authors backlist!! I enjoy reading interviews with characters and just visiting different blogs it’s amazing the different variety of blogs and contests you can find in this M/M genre.
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I’m glad you enjoy the tours. I agree, there are some cool posts out there and I love to learn more about authors and books. It adds a lot to my reading experience, knowing some of the background of what was going on when an author wrote a book. How they got the idea and all those things I wonder if I read a book. I think the book market has changed a lot and I love the close contact readers can have with authors, even if it may not be the easiest thing to keep up with as author.
I’m glad to see this topic being discussed because it raises some excellent points on both sides. I love Josh Lanyon’s work to death, (it is the standard to which I aspire) and yet even while I was reading the post and nodding along, I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah, but you’re Josh Lanyon.” (No offense, Josh! 🙂 )
By that, I mean, that once you become a big enough name, blog tours probably don’t factor very much in getting the word out there about a new release. You already have name recognition. People are going to spread the word for you because, “OMG, have you heard? There’s a new Josh Lanyon book coming out!”
I’m not saying that to be cute, or be a fawning fan, I’m just telling it like it is. 🙂
On my own front, I’d have to say I don’t have that name recognition. And unless my friends hosting me for blog tours have name recognition, then only a very small circle of people are going to know anything about a new release of mine. In 2013, I began using promotional book tours for the first time, having looked around and determined which of my friends were doing much better in sales than I, and deciding promotional tours were a factor. Having also decided to try my hand at an indie publication, I felt I needed the additional boost from a book tour (which would be entirely in keeping with Josh’s recommendations). I was pleased at how well the story did, so when it came time to promote the next release, I went with an even bigger book tour.
Here’s the thing. I like writing blog posts. Coming up with new material isn’t difficult for me. Put me in the corner and tell me to talk to the wall and I can do so effortlessly for hours. I also go back and comment on posts, responding to statements left by other people. I love that sort of thing. Having someone else run the book tour for me was a relief–I am tight on both time and money, so it was a compromise between paying someone to organize a tour that would come off smoothly and trying to do it all on my own at less expense. I’d go with a promotional company every time over trying to organize it on my own. I also think getting my name out in front of people who follow review sites was a major factor in why my latest release broke the top 100 in Amazon sales in its genre–the first time that’s ever happened for me. Without the driving force of some sort of giveaway, people tend to pass tours by. Why? Because *everyone* seems to be doing them now.
And that seems to me to be the biggest argument for perhaps backing off on doing a tour for every book, for picking one book to make a big hoopla about, and simply producing others (on a regular basis, never underestimate the need to produce new stories in a timely fashion!). So many of my friends have tours going now that I feel guilty for not having the time to read and respond to their posts. I know how hard I work on mine; I’d be disappointed if none of my friends managed to drop in for a chat. But with 300+ messages in my inbox every night, even with the best of intentions of showing support, sometimes I end up emptying the mail folder without looking at any of them.
However, since I am still trying to break out of the pack, I suspect I will keep trying my hand at book tours, at least for the foreseeable future. But it’s a tool like any other. Once everyone starts using it, some of its value is lost. As Clare London said, the longer you do this, the greater the need to become more selective in how you use your time.
Speaking of which, I gotta get back to that WIP!
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Well, yeah. I did five books last year. But two of them were novellas. What about short stories? Do I need a blog tour for a short story? 😀 You see what I’m saying? Pick and choose. Be selective. THINK about your promotion. Have a plan. Five blog tours would have been WAY too much. Of course, I did none. So maybe somewhere in the middle? ;-D But while I am always ALWAYS looking for new readers, I don’t think those readers will be found at the same old blogs.
This is no disrespect toward the blogs, but you can’t keep mining the same ground and expect different results. What about trying a blog tour at *mainstream* romance sites? A mystery site? An archeology site. You get what I’m saying? Effective promotion requires thought and planning. Dragging along the same old much-trod blog tour trail is not going to get you where you want to be. You are trying to stand out from the crowd. Believe me or don’t, but I didn’t start out as Josh Lanyon Superstar. ;-D
That said, I want to point out that I did not say don’t use review blogs. I said don’t CENTER your blog tour around them. You will get way more mileage from your fellow author blogs. Why? You aren’t competing with a hundred other authors for shelf space and the posts will be more personal and more original, and both those things are the key to great promotion.
It’s true that I’ve been in publishing a long time (thirty years — more than half my life!) and I do have an established brand. But I didn’t have an established Josh Lanyon brand ten years ago. I built this brand from nothing. From scratch. YMMV is absolutely true. But I’ve been there and I’ve done that. 😉
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I agree. Iy you play your cards smart, put a lot of thought into it and work together with your fellow authors and bloggers, you can create a killer blog tour with interesting and thought-provoking or just very entertaining posts at different, interesting and effective blog stops. I think such would be an incredibly effective ‘killer’ tour, but as you say – it is fricking difficult.
There was a time when I was thinking about just offering to do blogtours for authors who wrote incredible books imo, but didn’t get as much of a readership as I thought they deserved and didn’t have the money or time to do a blog tour by themselves. But I’m not realy the best organiized person out there and it was just too much for me 😛
I think to do what you are suggesting, you need to be strongly involved in the tour by doing it yourself or with the help of friends and fans. I think what makes so many authors interested in working with a blog tour organizer is that they have many contacts to different bloggers who are regularly hosting tours and the coordinator makes sure he or she has everything the blogs will need, sends it to them, makes sure every blog posts the tour stop in time and helps if there are problems. So they may be able to say how many stops they would like, should they prefer to limit the tour to a certain number of stops, but can’t decide the specific stops. In turn though, authors have to spend a lot less time scouting for blogs, making contact with each blog, giving them what they need in time and making sure to stay on top of everything. I think it is a good concept and it is quite successful, so we are happy to help by hosting many tours, when coordinators ask us.
Doing your own blog tours in a smart and interesting way can make them amazing, but every author has to consider the time they put in and what they get out of it and decide what will work better for them or they will end up being frustrated and exhausted and stop doing blog tours altogether, because they burned themselves out and the results don’t make up for it. If authors are very organized and have good friends and supportive fans, I think it can work.
I think a lot of authors are doing blog tours organized by someone else, because they lay the ground work for readers to know the author and book is out there and then find additional ways to chat, interact with readers, cross-promo with their fellow authors and such. I must say I was very intrigued by Jordan Castillo Price joining a mainstream ‘psychics’ blogtour and putting her ‘Among the Living’ book into a mainstream bundle. 😉
There are authors with cool and interesting ideas out there and I love to see how each unique promotional idea turns out. Whether it succeeds or falls short of the author’s expectation, I think it is really cool that the authors try different things and I think the experiences they make help them for future project, however their effort may turn out 😉
It is unfortunately always a difficult decision whether or not to post an opinion piece on your blog, because whenever you post one, you make yourself vulnerable for it to be misunderstood. Especially something long that not everyone may read in its entirety. Some people may cast a quick glance and think Bethany and I are leaning too far out of the window. I sincerely hope that no one will assume we think of ourselves as experts on this topic and believe only our own opinion is right. But I’m too interested in friendly discussions about interesting topics to not speak my mind and in the end people will think what they will think, but I will learn a lot and have a great discussion that hopefully be interesting and of value to many readers of the post. I think I have been reading M/M for about 3-4 years now, had my first contact with the community about 2-3 years ago and have been active as blogger about 1-2 years. There is so much I’m learning every day and that’s why I love to discuss interesting topics with others, because everyone can benefit from openly sharing and debating.
So I’m super glad that there are so many interesting comments with interesting POVs to read. I can only share the limited POV of a newbie in the genre with a new blog, but I don’t mind talking about the statistics on Rainbow Gold Reviews and using them to make informed guesses as to which trends seem to be successful on our blog.
I do agree with you. Name recognition plays an important part. As does the subgenre someone writes in, how well readers like a cover and how much the blogse scramble it to fit the format of our blog theme, as does luck, the right timing and many other things.
I’m really glad that blog tours have helped you find a wider readership. i love how much support you give to others in this community and it is great to see you succeeding as well ❤
All we can do in the end is try to use the tools we have to the best of our ability. There are so many LGBT Review blogs out there that will happily allow their blogs to be a platform for authors and readers to come together. Not everything will work for everyone and nothing will work evertime. I don't think there is one perfect solution that will work for everyone, thus different ideas and open discussion are so valuable.
As Clare said, your milage may vary, we can all work together to make sure no one ends up in the middle of a busy Highway with an empty tank. 😉
I don’t think it’s possible to quantify the usefulness of blog hops/tours etc with regard to sales and name recognition. I don’t seek them out even for authors I like. I’d buy the book anyway. Attitudes toward them vary between – brilliant and useless. Yes, I’m sure writers will pick up a few new readers sometimes but I do wonder if this type of promo has more recently been overwhelmed by the huge quantity of books out there. Pay for a blog tour? Don’t pay? Don’t do one at all? You can’t tell whether it makes any difference.
I agree with Josh that getting readers to try one of your backlist is the key. But even then, unless you are a big name, like Josh, you’re in competition with so many others, it’s hard to stay in people’s memories. I don’t have books pouring out of me month after month like some do. All mine are long – they take time to write so by the time my next is available, I’ll have been forgotten by many. The best way for me is word of mouth recommendations.
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I must admit, I have never followed a blog tour either. Though I do occationally read posts when I really like the cover ( I know, I know. I shouldn’t judge books by the cover, but If I see one I really like I just need to know more) or when the author is new to me or an author I heard a lot about or enjoyed reading in the past.
There have been times when an author PMed me after a specific post and told me they had a big spike in sales directly after the post went live. Though those are moostly exclusive blog posts and not part of a tour and mostly with newer authors, where one post could actually create a clearly visible spike.
I think it would be hard to say which post and which content from which blog was the most successful for an author, but if there is a discernible rise in sales directly after a blogtour, I think that would make the tour successful to the author. (though of corse there are many hours of work that go into all the posts, so… it would be hardto know how to put a value on the time lost. You would need to have some fun doing them or have fun with readers reading the content.
btw, you might not have new releases as often as other authors, but I do often hear your name and your readers are quite happy with you and the books you write. ❤
Barbra, the very first book of yours I ever read was Bloodline and I won a copy while it was on tour. I’d never heard of your books before that and stopped to check out the post because the cover caught my eye on Facebook and I loved it.
Very interesting topic. I am a reader. Up until about 8 months ago I didn’t realize there were blog and review sites. Found all that out being on Facebook. I have been an avid reader for 35 years, the last 3 years reading MM romance exclusively. Up until the reviews and blog tours (and Facebook) I had a small group of authors I read and recognized. Blogs and review sites have definitely expanded my author list. I have found some great authors by following the blog and reading the reviews. I generally don’t read the reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, feeling that those sites I visit give a better rating without the back stabbing. I agree a blog tour of 25 stops is long but it also depends what is on those stops. I remember 2 blog tours that I very much enjoyed. One author posted questions to open up conversation., he then went back and answered. I learned a lot about the author and what he was writing about. I am currently following an author I don’t know blogs tour. At each stop there is a different excerpt from the book. For me it gets me a taste of the authors style of writing and gives me a more in depth look into something I may have never looked at twice. This author also answers comments. Long winded…sorry
Anyway I think it all comes down to preference and what you are comfortable doing. If you see your sales aren’t being impacted by the blogs you have been doing, change it up. If it’s working for all your releases, the old saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” comes to mind. Thanks for opening a very intriguing conversation and for letting me put my two cents in. ❤
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Lol. I do write very long winded responses, so don’t worry 😛 I really think it is super interesting to hear back from different authors and readers about this topic. I almost exclusively use my friend reviews on goodreads, when I look at different ratings. Though I usually only read reviews AFTER I read the book, to see if others agree with the thoughts I had, while reading the book. It is so fascinating how differently people can see certain things.
I’m absolutely happy, though that you enoy posts on different blogs and have vastly expanded on your author list. ❤
I don’t know how I missed this yesterday! I have to agree with Sarah Madison with respect to those of us new in the genre and trying to find our place. It is daunting. I am a guilty party in this respect having 2 releases within 2 weeks-one is with a publisher and one is my first self published endeavor, and both with tours. I think, and obviously I dont have the experience or wisdom of Josh Lanyon (who I have said over and over again is my favorite author) but we all try different things. No one will want us to write a column if no one knows us. I think going on non MM blogs to get exposure outside the usual blogs I’d also important. It’s a hard sea to navigate. This conversation is so important and interesting I don’t read reviews because I make up my own opinion. So we continue to try different things.
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God, two blog tours in such a short time must be exhausting. But I hope that the time and effort you put into them will pay off and many readers find their way to you 😉 I think it is a great thing to experiment with different things and figure out what works best for you and change it as needed as the LGBT Fiction community changes and you and your name recognition change. ❤
I'm very glad you found this conversation interesting. Thank you so much for adding to it ❤
Hi Felice!!! I’m recognizing a lot of familiar names here, both readers and authors. It’s a small, small world. LOL
As a blogger who signs up for tour spots, I can say that original content and unique topics are greatly appreciated. Since the first of the year, I’ve noticed a few books that I’ve signed up for cover reveals and then later a release day blitz or blog tour, that the content the author provides is exactly the same. Excerpts, teasers, they are exactly the same. I post them because I’ve signed up for it and don’t want to not fulfill my commitment but I feel like I’m shortchanging the people who read my blog. Also, with limited exceptions, I only sign up for reviews for books that I know I’ll be able to give my heart too. Mostly, the reviews I post are from my own reading time and have nothing to do with blog tours. As for genres, I try to sign up for all kinds of genres whether it’s cover reveals, RDB, or blog tours but if you go back and check out my reviews, you’ll find I mostly review MM because that’s my personal preference. I do enjoy when I open emails and find the authors have provided character interviews, playlists, and other unique extras. I feel like it helps me to offer my readers a little insight into the author and/or their process of getting the story to the public.
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Thanks so much for joining in on the discussion. I didn’t even think of this, but you are absolutely right. There are many very similar posts and that feels like repeating something that has already been done. I’m not the biggest cover reveal fan, anyway. I think if the author has a high name recognition or posts it in the author fan group it can be successful, because there will be a lot of people interested in it. If a cover is really, really cool it might work as well. Covers like ‘Dangerously happy made my jaw drop, because it was just gorgeous. But otherwise there does not seem to be a huge interest in hust looking at a cover and not even being able to buy it yet. I think if it is smartly done, with an interesting discussion and interesting original content it can be a great post, but it will take away a lot of attention off the blog tour post. I think if an author does both, it would be a good idea to at the very least have differnt blog stops for the tour and the cover reveal, but in the end a blog tour stop when readers can buy the book directly seems to be the more valuable kind of post.
I do agree that reviews are never forced on us. I rarely review blog tour posts, either. Sometimes I see a book I just need to read and I welcome the opportunity to et an early review copy or there is a book that belongs to a series I wanted to continue for a while anyway and I jump on the chance. It’s not the rule, though.
But yeah, it’s extremely cool when authors really provide fresh and interesting original content. Or when I get back interview questions and the author doesn’t just give very short, very minimalistic answers, but very personal, very entertaining or informative answers that make me feel closer to the author, like a bond has formed and I really want to read one of their books. 🙂
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Oh bugger. I had a three point comment ready to post and my puppy stepped on my laptop and the whole thing got lost, so my rather painfully written and re-written post that I wanted to sound “just right” has now been reduced to this.
No one has mentioned it yet, but from the perspective of someone who used to get uncorrected proofs mailed to me from the publisher for reviewing, the introduction of ebooks and self publishing as drastically changed the worlds of reading, writing, reviewing, and promoting.
Josh has a point. Bloggers don’t get paid for writing reviews, but tour hosts do get paid to organize them. As a small blogger who focuses on reviews I won’t post a promotion for a book that I wouldn’t recommend to my friends or small group of followers. I rarely post promotional posts unless it’s an author that I am familiar with and consider to be a consistent writer of quality work that I am comfortable promoting sight unseen. So when a tour hosts asks me not to post a review of 2 stars or less until after the tour, I’m fine with that, because I wouldn’t post it anyway BUT I’m careful to select which books I commit to reading outside of my independent reviews because I don’t want to commit myself to host a tour for a book I didn’t enjoy. I’ve had a tour hosts tell me their new policy was that bloggers couldn’t a review of less than 4 stars without first submitting it to them for “approval” and that was unacceptable to me because I felt I was being censored. To me, 3 stars isn’t something to be ashamed of, and I’m never nasty, although as Marc pointed out, it can escalate to that point easily in a medium where words are presented without tone and can easily be misinterpreted. Whew, I was just going to quickly summarize my points here and that got long pretty fast but I’m not going back to edit it down like I did last time. You’ll just have to stand me somewhere next to Sarah so at least we look like we’re talking to each other! 😉
Okay, final point. To review or not to review, post on every blog that will take you or hand pick a select few, what it ultimately comes down to is the quality of the work being presented. If it’s an honest, character driven, entertaining and engaging story, that word will get out there eventually. It doesn’t matter how pretty a show you put on for a book that’s dry as toast. Readers talk to each other, reviews DO matter, and it IS a small world. I have to believe that, because if I didn’t, what point would there be to my spending so much time putting MY heart into reviewing what author put their hearts into writing?
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And at this point I would like to profoundly apologize for the multitude of errors in that last post! :p
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Well, the take-away advice I’m getting from this thread (and it’s a good one) is not to rely on any one promotional approach. That makes sense, as we’ve all seen that when you rely on a particular tactic, as opposed to having an overall strategy, you can get left high and dry when tactics change. Amazon mixes up their algorithms or drops tagging, and all the sudden, people are scrambling to figure out how to get their books noticed again.
Book tours are useful, but they shouldn’t be the only tool in the kit.
I would be very interested in hearing what other things people are doing in addition to or in lieu of book tours. Inquiring minds want to know!
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Wow there are a lot of valid points on both side of this story. I love when a blog tour includes something original and unique to the author and book. Maybe a interview with the “characters” or something else clever. Maybe an author can create a different post for each blog site the tour will be featured on in order to create that special quality and keep the blog tours from feeling boring.
Knowing a few authors, I know that self-promotion tends to be a full time job all in itself besides writing the awesome books they release. I would think that blog tours could be a very beneficial thing,
I’m going to be honest, shamefully I don’t always read reviews when I stop by a blog to read about a new book because if I like a book’s blurb enough to buy it, I don’t necessarily want someone else’s thoughts in my head when I start it. But I have read reviews that have reinforced the blurb and made me buy the book or at least put it on my wishlist so I don’t forget about it. I don’t think a review should ever be discounted when it comes to a blog tour. Even a bad review can lead to me buying a book, when I find it impossible to believe that a book can be as bad as the reviewer made it seem to be.
As far as prizes go, I definitely don’t think an author should go to extremes to garner attention to their book. But prizes go a long way to drawing readers to the posts which brings the book to their attention. A simple ebook copy of the book being promoted can be a special prize to the reader and when the reader tells all their friends about the awesome book they read, that could be many new sales for the author.
Ultimately I think it is up to an author to decide what is right for them, what they have time for, because I’m sure it requires a good amount of work for them too, when setting up a blog tour even if they use a promotion company to contact the blogs.
p.s. I am a huge Josh Lanyon fan too. I’ll admit that started by word of mouth because I haven’t seen any tours for his books. I believe he can claim his success primarily down to the quality of his writing and the fun characters and the great plots he creates. So for him maybe his standards work. I just think it depends on the author and what works best for them.
One last comment from me, as the subject’s been mulling over in my mind. I actually don’t think for many of us that the effect of blog tours – whether short, long, rich or poor – can be measured that easily. Yes, I sometimes see a spike in sales after an online visit somewhere, but if I learned anything working in retail, it’s that you can never predict human shopping nature :). I find it’s a damned hard task to match any promo activity with a sales pattern. But I do believe think there are qualitative benefits as well as quantitative. For example, my #1 rule of selling books – which is, the reader has to know you and your book are out there in the first place! – and then also community and networking benefits.
Just thinkin’ :).
I’ve just discovered you and am impressed by the amount of information and helpfulness of everyone on here. I have just finished writing my first book and it isn’t in print yet. I would like to have a blog tour, but I am so busy trying to establish myself on Facebook, Twitter, etc., I don’t know where to begin. I suppose I am beginning by finding you and connecting. Thanks for all your comments and posts and I will be sending my book in for reviews as soon as I can.