Working your Blog Tour

Craig here again. Today I want to talk about taking your book out on a blog tour. This is a great way to expose your product to new readers.

Blog tours come in many formats, and I've done several kinds. These include a cover and excerpt, cover and blurb, and we might as well include email blasts in this list too. Today, I'm going to focus on the “friends and family” plan. I promoted a book priced at 99¢. With a 35¢ royalty, how many copies would I have to move to pay for a $75 blog tour? Friends welcome you to their blog without having to pay. Be willing to host them when the time comes.

I recently finished a tour involving my friends hosting me at their blogs. It was simple enough to set up. I posted a request for hosts to help me out. I wound up with thirteen individual hosts.

Going on this kind of tour requires some thought. You have more than one friend out there, and so do your hosts. Many of these will be the same people. Don't ignore them, and I'll talk about them later. Then there are the ones who aren't your friends yet. They read your host's blogs, but haven't discovered you yet. Those are the real target of this kind of tour. It's a bit like trying to hit the outer ring on a bullseye.

As part of my request, I told everyone what kind of book I wanted to promote, and asked for topics. In my case it was a book of short stories and micro-fiction, called The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II. (Obligatory link here.)

If you read my last post on Story Empire, you know that I keep living documents, and I have one for blog tours. This gives me a starting place, because many of the answers you get will be, “Whatever you like.” I know I can post about inspiration, share an excerpt or two, and maybe include a writing tip. To my surprise, three different people wanted to know about the difference between short stories and novels.

Part of my goal is to make every post unique and valid. This is the part about respecting the inner circle of your online friends. They're likely to see a majority of your tour, but if nothing else, every post should be interesting to them. I don't want my posts to become white noise for my regulars. I'd really like them to come along and read them all, but that's not going to happen with all of them. At least if they stumble across a subsequent post, it will be something different.

Back to the request. The difference between shorts and novels is really one post. I decided to write one about what a short story is, and make that the second one. I really had to think about the third post, but chose to focus on micro-fiction there. Very few people write about it, and it is relative to the book I was marketing.

When I first started out, I thought a blog tour was all about selling books. A shipload of books, mountains and mountains of books. I was wrong. I sell books at almost every stop, but that isn't my focus anymore. These days I understand that I am the product. What I'm selling is myself. I'll take all the spur of the moment sales I can get, but what I'm after are fans. If someone checks out my Amazon page and decides a different title is more suited to their likes, that's a win for me. It's all a bit like this:

What we all want.

How we get there.

These are some tips to setting up the tour. When it came to writing the posts, I used my knowledge of the host blogs. Some hosts will make a specific request, others leave you to your own devices. If you know what your host writes about normally, you can target toward their likely audience. One of my hosts writes about a lot of outdoors topics. I wrote about a wildlife filmmaker for her post, because it influenced a story in my book. Her audience might appreciate it more than a post about outlining.

This doesn't mean you're done though. Getting the post and the marketing packet emailed out isn't the end.

You have to participate in the comments. When someone leaves you a comment it's the mortar that goes into your brickwork. Be there when someone asks you a question. People tend to become friends with friendly people.

Maybe they won't buy the book. Maybe they'll start following your blog instead. That's a win, and in some ways better than one sale. These are the kind of people who may host your next tour. Maybe they buy the book you release two years from now, but you would have missed them if you hadn't played along in the comments.

On occasion, you will post on a site that has a different system than your own. I use WordPress, but there are other valid blogging platforms like Blogspot. When you comment on these other sites, you will likely have to enter some kind of identifying information, like email and name, every time you post. In many cases, you have to solve a Captcha to prove you aren't a robot.

Complain and cuss in private. These sites are golden. This allows you to reach a whole bunch of new people you might not have reached any other way. When you're hosted by one of these sites, that “outer ring” that you're aiming for is much larger. If these readers were on WordPress, I may have already discovered them. Solve that Captcha and answer every single comment you get.

I check back on any guest post I make for three days, whether it involves a tour or not. I won't convert everyone, but like the example above; one brick at a time.

Victories are small in this business. Enjoy them when it happens. Maybe someone likes your Facebook page, or tweets out your post. That's a win. Work your blog tour for sales, but pay attention to the other things you're building along the way.

Note: I'll be participating in the comments here too. An author never knows where he's going to make a new friend.

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36 thoughts on “Working your Blog Tour

  1. What a great and informative post, Craig! I totally agree with what you say about always replying to comments. I hate it when I host authors on my blog and they can’t even be bothered to interact with their visitors. Grrr. So rude. If someone takes the time to talk to me, then I’m sure going to get right back to them. I’ve had some wonderful conversations and met great folks via blog post comments. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is something to be said about not doing something wrong. That seems to be more important than doing something right in this business. People skim right over good things and move to the next attraction, but they remember bad things. Snub a commenter and you may never hear from them again, and that includes sales. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  2. I’m late in chiming in (back in town now) but had to say I thought this was a great post. There are a lot of authors who are unfamiliar with blog tours and how they work. I remember being intimidated by them when I first started publishing and thinking I would never catch on. I always think of them like someone making the talk-show rounds, only online. And talk does mean comments! Commenting on blogs and having interaction with the host is what keeps me going back to all the blogs I follow. And I’ve found a number of those through tours as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely, and I felt the same way. I bulled my way through, and if it helps someone out, the post was worth it. I also agree that interaction is everything. Story Empire is young, but the post seems to have performed well. Hope you had a good time.

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  3. About comments: I tend to lose interest in a blog that doesn’t respond to my comments.

    I don’t expect a reply to every one, sometimes I’ll just post something like, ‘cool!’ … but when its a paragraph or two, or more, I’ve posted one or two comments that ended up being longer than the post I’m responding to, then a bit of acknowledgement is called for. I do it on my blog.

    When I think about it I usually only leave think-ful comments on blogs that I know the blogger reads/responds to the comments section. Blogging is a dialogue. If there’s no community engagement, then all the blog is, is a newsletter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree. I try to say something, even if it’s just to thank the commenter. There are times when someone leaves a comment for the host of the tour. It’s hard to comment on those, but “thanks” still doesn’t hurt.

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  4. Pingback: Should have gone elk hunting | Entertaining Stories

  5. Totally agree. Replying to comments is a must when someone is kind enough to host you. And blog tours really work, too. I’ve noticed a huge difference in releasing a book with a tour and without. I also agree with your philosophy about tours. It’s the exposure that’s valuable, not the sales. Plus, it’s always nice to make new friends. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for explaining blog tours, Craig. I’ve never participated in one before, and really had no idea how they work. Now, I understand a lot more, and am thinking I might like to do one with the release of my next book, That Darkest Place. I’m going to set up a folder on my desktop for notes and ideas. And I’m going to reblog this later today on The Write Stuff. (I have an #ExcerptWeek guest this morning, and would like to give them a bit longer as the first post on the blog, today.)

    Keep on keeping on with this great and informative site! I won’t be he adding over to buy your book, alas, but that’s just because I’ve already got it on my Kindle. Hope to start reading it soon!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Nobody’s shining this morning, because I haven’t had a chance to put together the next excerpt. (Takes time to do that for the folks who send me all the pieces-parts.) 🙂 So, just reblogged this, and YOU can shine for a while. Can’t wait to get going on your stories, btw, and both books are moving up in my Kindle TBR folder. 🙂 Have a great day!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy the stories when you get to them. The time involved for a host is another part of this topic. A host still has to stitch all the pieces together into a suitable post. Some will send the html file, and that seems to work 80% of the time, but not always.

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  7. Great post, Craig. I’m still new to the “blog tour” world, so getting a peek inside is nice. I’ve done plenty of guest posts, but never organized in tour form; they’ve always been one-offs. Two points of yours that really stuck out for me are tailoring your content for specific audiences and keeping a list of various topics so you aren’t stuck when asked to come up with a fresh post. Thanks for sharing your wisdom on this one.

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  8. The book tours, yes. An interesting topic for authors. A must for all of us, either self-published or with traditional publishers. I walk this path and, as for me things are a bit different because of the part of the world I live in, I have to rely on my own forces. I organize my own tours, asking both other fellow authors or bloggers to host my posts. (By the way, even getting reviews is a tiresome endeavor. I have a comprehensive list of bloggers who read/review or host tours free of charge, on my blog, if interested.)
    I totally agree with your attitude – replying to the comments left. I do the same. It’s a minimum sign of civility toward the person who left it. I am disappointed when I host someone’s post/promo and there are comments and the author proper never comes back to reply. And I have many such “guilty” authors on my list. I reply to the people who leave comments but the author whose book or interview is that day’s post don’t. Sad, but there are such people.

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