Last weekend my debut novel completed its very first Blog Tour - a 3-Day Blitz organised by Rachel's Random Resources. I wasn't sure what to expect, I didn't know much about the book blogging community, but I thought I would give it a go. Today, after a whirlwind weekend of sharing, tagging and 'liking' I have my thoughts on the validity and outcome of putting my precious work out there via this relatively new form of marketing. Authors take note, especially independent ones...
First: Book bloggers are true champions of literature. Read that again and repeat it out loud! None of the bloggers on this tour got paid, so they are free to review with honesty. Be glad of that. They love books. That's why they do it. If they love your book, be proud and share that review. If they didn't love it, listen to the reasons they give, take it on the chin and be grateful for a review that's honest. Let's face it, friends and family will love everything you do...unless you have some family issues! I was extremely chuffed to have received one 3 star review (which was actually brilliant and very well considered) and all the rest were 4 and 5 stars. All the reviewers had clearly taken a lot of time and trouble to read the book, think about it and write down what they thought. If you don't want people to be honest, and if you don't appreciate that reading and reviewing takes time and effort, DON'T bother doing a blog tour.
Second: Nothing is guaranteed by the good Blog Tour organisers. If they can't find anyone to blog about your book, that's not their fault (and you will probably get all or most of your money back anyway). The minimum that bloggers on a tour are required to do is either review your book, host you as a guest on their blog or simply promote it, depending on what has been agreed in advance. Often a blogger will do more. They might copy and share the review on Goodreads, social media or on a retail website where readers can buy your book. This is an extra generosity on the part of the bloggers. They don't have to do this. If they do, why not take the time and trouble to 'like' or say 'thank you' where you can? But if you're expecting each blogger to share their post on every social and retail platform and, essentially, do your advertising and marketing for you, DON'T bother doing a blog tour.
Third: If you're only interested in measuring things in terms of book sales, DON'T bother doing a blog tour. The chances are you'll be disappointed, at least initially. I haven't noticed sales jumping, but I have noticed lots more people marking my book as 'To read' on Goodreads, who probably wouldn't have heard of it at all without those bloggers. The purpose of a blog tour is to get people reading and talking about your work. All independent authors out there know how difficult it is to get books beyond their immediate vicinity and out into the big, wide world. Blog tours are essentially global...because they're on the interweb! On Saturday a famous Hollywood actor 'liked' a review that a blogger on the tour had posted on Twitter. Now, I'm sure nothing will come of it, but I was pretty chuffed all the same!
Fourth: Don't forget that book bloggers have lives too and, as difficult as this might be to take, your book is not as important to them as it is to you....I'm sorry you had to hear that! If a blog post you expected is late, or doesn't turn up at all, or is only 1 star when you expected 5, don't start stalking the blogger or giving them a hard time. If their post doesn't show up at all, contact the Blog Tour organiser rather than getting nasty with a blogger, who is actually doing this voluntarily. The chances are they have a very good reason for not being able to post so give them the benefit of the doubt. So, if you can't accept that bloggers' time is as valuable as your own, DON'T bother doing a blog tour...you'll only annoy them!
Fifth: Now, I can't prove this with hard facts, but I can take a good guess at how many hours my Blog Tour organiser spent on my tour, including all the organisation beforehand, putting together a banner, co-ordinating 30 bloggers and 1 Blog Tour virgin author, sharing and tweeting and re-tweeting all the blogger posts, while being patient and friendly with me the whole time. If my hourly wage rate guess is correct, all I can tell you is that this 3-Day Blitz was extraordinarly good value for money. I've compared prices with other recommended Blog Tour organisers and, if they work as hard as mine did, they're all amazing value for money. The reviews and coverage I got this weekend were worth far more than I paid. So, if you're looking for something for nothing, i.e., you believe that Blog Tour organisers should do it for love, DON'T bother doing a blog tour.
Sixth: If you've read all this and have decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it yourself, do remember to do your research and find a Blog Tour organiser that's right for you. Some might specialise in certain genres (if they say this, they mean it!), other have different packages available depending on what you need. Most importantly, ask around, read the testimonials on the websites (they're true - I know, because I wrote one!) and listen to the recommendations of friends. I might not be your friend, but I can heartily recommend Rachel Gilbey at Rachel's Random Resources, who organised my blog tour with impeccable professionalism. I also know authors who have recommended Anne Cater at Random Things Through My Letterbox. Both ladies offer different packages to suit your needs, and they both love books as much as you do, so that's two places you can start.
Am I glad I did it? Yes, I am.
Would I do it again? Yes, I would.
Is there any point in doing a Blog Tour? (...I think you know where this is going!) Yes, I really believe there is.