Blog Touring

So if KDP Select isn’t the cash cow for indies that it used to be, what’s left? One option is to get yourself and your name out there on as many book blogging sites as possible. I’m not talking about asking bloggers to review your work (although you certainly can). What I’m talking about is offering yourself as a guest blogger or interview subject. It will help you gain that all-important name recognition, or so the theory goes, and (eventually) that should translate into book sales.

Book bloggers are often more than willing to give authors a guest-star day. After all, a day on which they publish a guest post is a day for which they don’t have to write a post themselves. Us minions grouse about having to come up with a topic to blather about once a week or once a month for Indies Unlimited; think of what it would be like to have to do that Every. Freaking. Day.

But how to do it? You can spend hours poring over lists of book bloggers, researching their sites, contacting them to offer your services, and waiting to hear back. Or you can hire someone to set up a virtual blog tour for you.

If you do a web search for “virtual blog tour,” you’ll come up with an array of tour operators, each running several types of tours – from “book feature” tours (basically, your blurb, book cover, author picture and buy links) to “review only” tours (the blogger reads and reviews your book – but if they hate it, they’ll often run a feature instead) to full-blown guest post stops and author Q&As – at price points from about $25 or $30 to several thousand dollars. The prices vary from tour operator to tour operator, with the most expensive tours providing as many as 100 stops over the course of several weeks or months. Besides the listed price, depending on the tour operator, you might also have to shell out for prizes – one for a lucky commenter who chooses to follow you from blog to blog (often, one suspects, solely for a shot at the prize) and the other for one of your hosts. Amazon gift cards are a big hit; if you’re feeling flush, you could even give away an e-reader.

I’m cheap, so I can’t tell you anything about the effectiveness of the several-thousand-dollar mega-tours. But I have hired a couple of less expensive tour operators at various times over the past couple of years. One of the operators was extremely professional: the staff was great to work with; my posts went up when they were supposed to; and when they didn’t, one e-mail to the tour operator took care of it – the post went up later the same day. The other tour operator appeared to be newer at the business, and it showed: several posts didn’t go up on time, and when I inquired, I was offered a make-good stop that also sometimes didn’t happen. In addition, one of my stops was at a blog that seemed to be devoted to extreme couponing – perhaps not the best fit for an urban fantasy novel.

One thing I haven’t done previously, and should have, is to get a list of participating blogs from the tour operator and check the blogs’ Alexa scores. Doing it now is somewhat depressing: the names I recall from my tours are ranked around the one-million mark in terms of page views. (That said, my own blog is bumping along in the 18-million range, so I suppose I got at least some exposure.)

Did any of this help me to sell books? The tour operators will all tell you up front that they can’t guarantee sales. Most of the bloggers who gave my book a review did post them at either Amazon or Goodreads or both, which helped my ratings. But in terms of moving books – who knows? I’m filing the expense of the past tours under “building my brand” and weighing whether to do one again.

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

31 thoughts on “Blog Touring”

  1. Very informative, thank you, Lynne. I find the whole idea of a blog tour to be a bit daunting, to be honest. Doesn’t it mean writing lots of witty posts, or do you just use one post over and over again?
    Also, thanks for the Alexa tip – I’d never heard of that before. Now I’m checking the rankings of all my favourite sites and… well… probably I’ll stop doing that now 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Chris. The tour operator usually has a list of blog post topics you can write on, or you can come up with one of your own. If a blogger prefers a Q&A, they’ll give you the list of questions to answer, of course. I did week-long tours in each case, and I think for each tour I had to write two or three posts and a Q&A, and then one day was a book feature.

      I forgot to mention that also, you’re supposed to visit your “tour stop”, thank the blogger for hosting you, and engage whoever shows up to comment in a little bit of dialogue. Which is good, because then you find out when your post isn’t up, but it’s bad in that it takes time to do it every day.

      And yeah, I’m staying away from Alexa now. 😀

      1. Thanks, Lynne. It makes more sense now. So as soon as I’ve retired, the kids have grown up, and I’ve found a way to slow time by about 50%, I’ll definitely be doing a blog tour 🙂

      1. *bows low* It just seemed like a lot of work to research them. I’m not typically a blog reader unless someone recommends a post to me, so I’d be starting from scratch in terms of where to look. Might do it myself next time, though.

        1. Lynne, That is exactly what confuses me. I don’t spend tons of time on blogs except on a limited basis. The Alexa rating seems like a good start. I usually check them out when they are recommended by a friend. I also try to check out my networked blogs on facebook.

  2. I’ve organised my own blog tours in the past as well as hiring blog tour companies at reasonable rates. If you mix it up by doing guest posts, short interviews, excerpts and reviews, it’s not as tiring.

    1. You’re right, Emma. The thing about touring, even if you hire somebody to set it up for you, is that you have to write all the material several weeks in advance, and then stop by to visit the blogs on your featured days. So the work is spread out over a pretty long period of time.

  3. I’ve never been on a blog tour as an author but I’ve read a [very] few as a blogger, and I’m not completely convinced by the whole idea. I don’t have a lot of time to catch up on the blogs I like, so if I see that someone else is posting that day I’ll usually give that blog a miss.
    A related issue, for me, is content. I can’t see much point doing a guest post as a sci-fi writer unless all the blog stops are sci-fi related as well. As you said, “perhaps not the best fit for an urban fantasy novel.” I know there’s cross-over, and any exposure is good but….

    1. I agree with you about blog content — but you can get a genre-specific tour. One of the tour promoters I hired (the better one 😉 ) caters to specific genres.

  4. I did a blog tour for Serial Date last year (my 1st) and it went well. I even picked up a few readers that I wouldn’t normally have gotten, since the tour operator listed my book with a few erotica sites. Interesting, for sure 🙂 Then I did a review only tour for some Kate Jones books, and I made quite a few sales from that. I’m doing another one in April for Bad Traffick with a different tour operator. We’ll see how it goes.

    Thanks for the post, Lynne!

  5. Thank you, Lynne. I have always wondered about blog tours and your post helped to explain them. Now what can you tell me about a “twitter tours?” 🙂 I heard that term recently too. So much to do!

  6. I’ve done a few blog tours now. The biggest advantage for me has been getting my name out there. My sales haven’t always rocketed from them, but plenty of people have added my books to their TBR. I think blog tours have a real purpose, but you need many types of marketing to really see results. They are an important part of the big picture though 🙂

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