Now that you have 10+ reviews lined up on your book, your social marketing tools (website, Facebook, Twitter in place), it’s time to get the word out there.
Word of mouth sells books, and one of the ways to build word of mouth is to go on a blog tour. A blog tour is a virtual book tour. Instead of visiting bookstores and hoping that people gather to meet you, you meet the readers where they are instead, at the blogs they frequent. The advantage of a blog tour is that the post is always there. You can meet readers for more than just the few hours that you would otherwise be at a bookstore.
Blog tours are labor-intensive, even if you outsource most of the administrative details of the tour. For the do-it-yourself cheapskate (like me,) here’s the step-by-step on how to organize a tour without going insane.
How far ahead should you organize it?
At least a month in advance of the start date of the blog tour. You’ll need the full month to get your act together, trust me.
How long should my blog tour be? How do I pick the dates of my tour?
It’s up to you. Blog tours can run anywhere from a week to three months. In September 2012, I ran a two-week blog tour to promote Perfection Unleashed, and in December 2012, I’ll run a four-week blog tour to launch the next two books in the sequel, Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon.
I find it easier to pick the LAST day of the tour because it usually culminates in something, e.g., a free promotion, a paid promotion, a release of your new novel. From there, you work backwards and decide how long you want your tour to be. In the case of my September tour, I would have been happy to tour for four-weeks, but I only received enough responses to fill a two-week, fourteen-stop tour.
Do you tour seven days a week?
You can tour as many days as you want, subject to the willingness of the blog host to tour you on that date.
Okay, how do I get started?
Remember that excel sheet I told you to keep, with the list of book reviewers (most of whom have blogs)? That’s the first place to start. Even if they declined reviewing your novel, many of them will be willing to host you for an interview or a guest post. Send them an e-mail. Here is what I sent:
I am seeking an opportunity to guest blog or interview leading up to a large promotional event of my novel, PERFECTION UNLEASHED, in mid-September. I’d be happy to send to you an electronic copy of the award-winning dystopian/science-fiction novel. Reviews are always appreciated, but are not necessary.
I would be deeply appreciative of an opportunity to guest blog with you. Your followers will be eligible to win two $25 Amazon gift certificates, and bloggers who host me will also be eligible to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate. The drawing will be held on September 21st.
You’ll find all the details of my request below. Thank you for what you do and thank you for the consideration.
Title: Perfection Unleashed
Release date: June 2012
Author: Jade Kerrion
Number of pages / words: 212 pages / ~87,000 words
Genre: Science-fiction (Dystopian) / Urban fantasy
Cost: $9.99 (paperback), $2.99 (kindle)
PERFECTION UNLEASHED (REVIEWS AND SYNOPSIS):
“A breakout piece of science fiction.” – RPLA Judge
“The excitement escalates and stays high. The social commentary is subtle and sublime.” – Bobbie Christmas, Zebra Communications
Danyael Sabre spent sixteen years clawing out of the ruins of his childhood and finally has everything he wanted–a career, a home, and a trusted friend. To hold on to them, he keeps his head down and plays by the rules. An alpha empath, he is powerful in a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution, yet his experience has taught him to avoid attention.
When the perfect human being, Galahad, escapes from Pioneer Laboratories, the illusory peace between humans and their derivatives–the in vitros, clones, and mutants–collapses into social upheaval. The abominations, deformed and distorted mirrors of humanity, created unintentionally in Pioneer Lab’s search for perfection, descend upon Washington D.C. The first era of the Genetic Revolution was peaceful. The second is headed for open war.
Although the genetic future of the human race pivots on Galahad, Danyael does not feel compelled to get involved and risk his cover of anonymity, until he finds out that the perfect human being looks just like him.
How many responses did you receive?
I sent to 72 blogs, and received 13 positive responses (one person had two blogs and hosted me on both.) A few responded and politely declined, saying that they did not have time to review my book in advance of the tour. Most of them never got back to me, but it didn’t really matter. I sent out e-mails until I got to a comfortable number of acceptances.
When they responded, we agreed upon the date of the blog tour, and what the content would be. Options include guest post, author interview, character interview, excerpt, book feature, and anything else that strikes your fancy.
You can also host a giveaway. It’s not necessary, but I did, to sweeten the deal. Besides, I wanted to build up my Facebook and Twitter fan base. I decided to offer Amazon gift certificates instead of books because I want people to BUY my books. If I put books on the giveaway, people might have waited around to see if they’d win anything before buying my book.
You can organize giveaways in two ways. 1) Have people respond by commenting on a post, and then including their name in the giveaway; or 2) Use Rafflecopter. I wasn’t about to increase my administrative nightmares by manually tracking names, so I used Rafflecopter.
How did you decide which blog to visit first?
I went on my September tour in advance of a Kindle Select promotion. I first fixed the dates of my promotion (September 18th-20th) and then I worked backwards. The first one who responded to me, I slotted on the 17th, the one after that on the 16th, etc. I did have a few gaps in the beginning because I left my weekends open, but in the end, I filled them up too.
How do you stay on top of all that information?
For me, instinctively. I’m the hyper-organized sort. I build excel worksheets just because… In excel, I built a worksheet with the following columns:
- Website: The website of the blog host
- E-mail: The e-mail of the blog host
- Name: The name of the blog host
- Activity: Guest post / Author interview / Character interview / Excerpt / etc
- Status: Use this column to keep a running log of whose court the ball is in. Do they owe you interview questions? Do you owe them the answers? Have you sent the answers to them and you’re waiting for confirmation that they received it? Did you receive confirmation that the post is up and ready to go?
You have to be organized. Your blog tour hosts are doing you a huge favor. Make their lives easier by sending your posts back to them a week in advance of the posting date so that they have time to format it for their blogs.
What happens after that?
After that, you prepare your blog posts by answering the interview questions they send to you, writing up an interesting post that will appeal to their readers and fans, while still subtly (or not) promoting your novel. Then you package it all up and send it to them.
I sent each one a word document with the following information
- Author biography
- Social media links (Website, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Buy links for the novel)
- Book synopsis
- Rafflecopter script
- Guest post / Author interview with the DATE of the post (just in case they forget)
I also included an author photo and a book cover. I thanked them profusely and promised to stop by their blog on the day of the posting to chat with their readers and fans. Make sure they confirm that they’ve received your posts. Follow up if necessary.
That’s it? Sounds easy enough.
It is. It’s not hard, just time-consuming. Finding hosts is the toughest part. And remember, you’ll need to carve out time to write the guest posts and author interviews. Plan on spending one to two hours per post (if you intend to write unique material for each stop.) However, you can shortcut the process for a really long tour by writing five really good posts and then recycling them at each of your stops. You could send all five posts to your hosts and have them pick the one they prefer, or pick for them. If the former, you run the risk of having the same post appear day after day after day across several blogs. Control freak that I am, I’d opt for the latter…picking the post for them.
How did you promote your tour?
I created a page on my website with all the dates of the tour stops, links to the blogs, and the Rafflecopter giveaway. Each day of the tour, I’d go back and update that page with fresh links to the post itself.
To promote my tour, I went to all my Facebook, Goodreads, and Book Blog groups, and posted a discussion in their respective forums, announcing the tour and providing links to the first stop and to my novel. I returned to each discussion each day of my tour to post a new link to the next tour stop. I also created an event on Goodreads and Book Blogs and invited my friends to it. (Do you see now how this could take up LOTS of time?) I also posted each day on Facebook, Google+, and several times on Twitter, with a link to the blog tour stop.
Early in the morning of the tour, I’d stop by the blog and post a comment to thank the host and offer to answer any questions. I’d stop by throughout the day to chat with anyone who responded.
That is A LOT of work. Is it paying off?
Check with me at the end of September.
NEXT: Read Free Promotions