Blog tour tips from A to Z
While the old-fashioned book tour still exists, going from city to city and bookstore to bookstore, it’s certainly much rarer, and tends to be an event reserved for bigger named authors with more publishing caché. Thanks to the Internet, lesser known and self-publishing authors still have a means of “getting around” via the virtual blog tour. Those who have done it will tell you it’s still a LOT of work, but much less costly than booking plane flights and hotel stays.
The following, while not necessarily in chronological order, are tips for creating a successful blog tour.
ADVANCE. Start early. Figure out how much time it will take you to compile a list of potential participants, contact them, agree to the terms, send them a copy of your book, and schedule your tour. You will not start a blog tour today and get it ramped up by the end of the month – or even the end of next month. Note, as per Pump Up Your Book: Be prepared to send a second copy to the contest winner once you receive their mailing info from your blog tour participant.
BIGGER BLOGGERS. Approach the bigger bloggers. Sure, they may be inundated with requests, but if you write a solid pitch and you have a good book that falls into their particular favorite genre, they may say yes. And the worst they’re going to say is no, which means you’re no further behind than you were before you asked them. You might go on a list with 20 authors ahead of you – but if exposure on their blog is worth it, you’ll agree to wait.
COMMENTS. Look for blogs that are well trafficked and receive lots of comments. One caveat, however: blogs that offer contests often use the comment section to manage contest entries. So READ the comments; don’t just look at the numbers. Look also for bloggers who are posting content from lots of different sources, as those writing only about their own books are unlikely to be good targets for your tour.
DATES. Choose the dates for your tour. Make sure to publicize them on your website calendar, blog calendar, and social media sites.
EXPECT TO SUCCEED. Attitude is half the battle in virtually every undertaking. If one blogger says no, you say, “Next!”
FOLLOW UP. Create a checklist of steps and make sure you follow it with every blogger. Remember, the bigger, better bloggers are deluged with these kinds of requests – so after they say yes, make sure to follow up to be sure you’re on target for your guest appearance.
GOOGLE BLOGSEARCH is the place to begin your research for book bloggers who read and write on your genre.
HELP. If you can’t devote the time it will take to create your own tour, you might want to think about hiring a tour organizer. Certain virtual assistants are now specializing in this type of work. (If you’re a blog tour organizer, send me you’re link and I’ll add it to my Resources section.)
INTERVIEWS. Interviews are probably the easiest way for an author to take part in a blog tour. Get a jump on this by writing some prepared questions for the blogger to ask you – and have your answers ready to go, too.
JUST ASK. No one is likely to beat your door down inviting you to guest post on their blog, so you’ve got to go after them. Get over your fear that you’re just little old you, your concern that your book’s not good enough, and your worry that you don’t know what you’re doing and JUST ASK.
KEEP THE GREMLINS IN CHECK. A lot of bloggers are reluctant to review indie books or participate in blog tours for self-published authors. This is not necessarily a reflection on you – but simply a means for the blogger to streamline his/her requests. Again, if you hear no, you say, “Next!”
LIST. Make a list of the bloggers you will approach. You might start with 25 to 30, and eventually winnow that list to about a dozen.
MESSAGING. Make sure you and your host bloggers are on the same page, in terms of the way they will present your information and what they will say about your book. If it’s a review, they may not tell you ahead of time – so be prepared for anything.
NOTES. Make sure you take good notes and keep good records. Know which bloggers you’ve contacted, and at which step you are with each of them. Record things like:
- Contact name
- Blog name and link
- Genre reviewed
- Required format (Paperback? PDF?)
- Other promotions offered by the blogger
- Twitter handle
- Personal notes (how you found them)
- Email address or link to their submission form
OFFER. With about 6 weeks’ lead time, decide what you will offer the blogger for your blog tour. You can offer to do a guest post, prepare an excerpt, or do an author Q & A
PARAMETERS. Determine what you want the blogger to do. Is your preference for the blogger to interview you? Review your book? Host a giveaway of your book? Feature your book in a post they write? All of the above? Be clear about your goals, but willing to negotiate a bit with each blogger, accordingly.
QUERY LETTER. Draft an email invitation to the bloggers you want to participate. Make it professional, succinct, and interesting – no different than the letter you’d send to an agent or publisher. Keep it simple, something like this:
Hello, [BLOGGER’S NAME],
I love your blog about [SUBJECT]. I’ve recently written a book that falls into your genre of [NAME OF GENRE]. I would really appreciate it if you would consider being part of the blog tour to launch the publication of [TITLE OF YOUR BOOK]. Would you consider running either a brief review or an excerpt from the book on its publication date [INSERT DATE] or within the week thereafter? The excerpt can be of your own choosing, or I can supply you with one, and as such, be your guest blogger for that date. Or, if you prefer, I am happy to do a Q & A via e-mail.
I appreciate your consideration and hope you will participate. Please respond at your earliest convenience. If yes, please send me your mailing address so I can send a copy of the book to you. If you’d like to do a giveaway, please let me know that, as well, so I can send an extra copy.
Best regards –
REVIEWS. Request a review as part of the blogger’s participation. Ideally, the blogger will post the review on their blog, but you will also post the review (or a link to it) on your Amazon page, on other book sites, and on both of your social media sites.
SOCIAL MEDIA. Make sure the bloggers you’re considering have a good social media presence before you approach them.
THANK YOU. These bloggers usually do these reviews/blog tours for no compensation other than a free book – so if they participate in your tour, the very least you can do is say thank you publicly! A small gift card would be an even nicer gesture.
UNUSUAL GIVEAWAY. Giveaways are almost ubiquitous with participation in a blog tour. Consider giving away your book, of course, but something additional as well that’s special and perhaps unique (e.g., a PDF of your revised first chapter, so the reader can see your process as an author).
VARY IT UP. If you are providing the content for your blog tour hosts, make sure each post is a little bit different so you don’t get dinged in the search engines for too much duplicate content. Where possible, tailor the content to each blogger’s specific style or needs.
WIN-WIN. Don’t head into a blog tour with your hand out. Begin several months in advance and build relationships with the bloggers you plan to approach. Make sure that when you do approach them, you’re proposing a win-win opportunity for the blogger. One great way to do this is by offering to reciprocate by promoting them on your blog for a certain amount of time.
XTRA MILE. Go there! Reach out to book blogger groups, asking even those who aren’t part of your tour to promote it.
YOUR OWN BLOG. If you don’t already have a blog, start one now! Even if your book is just in the planning stages, it’s NEVER too early to get your blog up and running and scoring in the search engines.
ZOOM IN. Follow every blog you’re targeting every day leading up to your post. Comment, where appropriate. And once your post hits, with the blogger’s OK, respond to any comments on your post.
Best of luck with your blog tour. If you want to the Marcie Brock blog to be one of your stops, just ask!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!