Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blog Touring

Across the Valley--Charles Reiffel--1862-1942 I was looking at my calendar yesterday and adding a guest blogger for Mystery Writing is Murder to it when I realized I have seven guest bloggers coming up in the next five weeks.

I enjoy having guests on the blog—I love reading  different perspectives on writing. It also gives me a chance to find out about some great new releases.

When I first heard about blog touring, though, I really didn’t have a clue what people were talking about.  It was 2008 and I loved the idea of it—the not having to physically tour part—so I spent some time looking it up online. I even signed up for a blog tour class on a Yahoo group that gave some really useful information on blog touring…both hosting one and being a good tour guest.

Reasons to Consider a Blog Tour

It’s hard for you to leave job/family/etc. to travel.
Traveling is expensive
A blog tour reaches many more people than a physical tour
Increased Google Hits for your book and a higher Google ranking
It’s a great way to increase visibility and buzz

Publishers like blog tours, which is another reason to consider having one.  A few years back, when blog tours were just really getting cranked up, Felicia Sullivan, a senior online marketing manager of a HarperCollins imprint,  was interviewed by the New York Times:
“If I had to choose, I’d rather have an author promote themselves online. You can reach at least a few hundred people on a blog, and save time, money and the fear of being a loser when no one shows up to your reading.”

Are you limited to just visiting blogs with a virtual tour?

No, it’s probably a good idea to mix it up a little. Podcasts are nice. (I was on Red River Writers once…that’s a good one to check out. There’s also the Reading and Writing podcast.)   You could also arrange to send your book to online book reviewers so they could review your book—you wouldn’t be making an appearance on their site, but your book would.  Also remember to promote or see if friends can tweet or mention your tour or release on Facebook and Twitter or other social media.

When should you start the book tour?

Probably you should kick it off with the release of the book, unless you’re shooting for good pre-orders.  And a tour can last as long as you like—and be as intensive as you like.  I’ve seen some blog tours where authors have every date in a three-week period booked for an online appearance, and I’ve seen tours (like mine) which were stretched out for a while, but with appearances every couple of days or so.

What kinds of formats should you consider for your appearance?

Reviews—You’d ask book bloggers to consider reviewing your book.

Interviews—The blog host would conduct an interview with you.

Character Interview—These can be fun—the blog host interviews your character.

Guest Post—You write a post for the blog host on a topic of the host’s choice…and it usually ties into your new release.

Contests—Holding contests for commenters is a nice way to spur interest in your book.

How do I reach potential hosts?

Finding good hosts is really key. You’ll definitely have online friends who’ll be happy to host you, but also consider reaching out to other bloggers who write or read your genre….particularly blogs that have a lot of followers (usually there’s a widget in the sidebar that shows followers), commenters, and participation.  Obviously, you want to get as many eyeballs as possible—and some potential new readers— to look at your book cover and buy link.

Usually, as a host, I get an email or a Facebook message from authors who are interested in appearing on my blog.  If I don’t know them, they introduce themselves, tell me a little about their book, mention the date it’s being released, and ask if there’s a date during their launch month that’s available for them to guest post.

Don’t forget to pitch the book.  Make sure that you provide your blog host with a “buy link”—a link to an online retailer where an interested reader can purchase your book.  Sometimes the blog host will hyperlink your book cover to a buy link, too.

List your tour dates on your blog sidebar.   It can help readers keep track of where you’ll be and provides nice exposure for the blog tour hosts.

Etiquette- don’t be obnoxious.  Not that any of y’all would be!  But some folks get a little too tour-happy and you end up with a bunch of BSP (blatant self-promo) coming out at you from all directions—all the time.  Usually it’s enough promo to send readers over to the blog stop du jour from your blog, tweet the stop, and Facebook the stop.

Interested in hosting others’ blog tours?  Here’s a post on how to be a good blog tour host that Helen Ginger created (scroll down after you click over.)

A lot of you have been on blog tours—have you got any additional tips to share?