How to run a successful book blog tour


Banner - The Sham by Ellen AllenIf you’re thinking about running some promotion for your self-pubbed book, you could do worse than organising a book blog tour. The idea is simple. Instead of touring actual real-life, physical book stores, you tour a number of virtual book blogs, appearing on one or two different blogs each day with either a guest post (about yourself, your characters, your inspiration, excerpts, a music playlist, etc.) and/or a review of your book by the person whose website you’re appearing on.

The advantages are clear. You can, theoretically, reach lots of people – often simultaneously and in different geographical locations – and you don’t need to leave your house, so they’re cheap. You can increase traffic to your book and gain exposure in a cost-effective fashion. But here’s the rub; I’m not entirely convinced of their effectiveness and they are a great deal of work (either for you or someone else).

If you decide to organise it yourself – which I have done – it is incredibly hard work, particularly if you aren’t already a book blogger tapped into a network. For my first “tour” (which wasn’t called a “tour” then because I didn’t know what one was) I had a guest post on a different site each day over a three-week period with the same people simultaneously reviewing my book and I’ve since run two others, organised by other people, with varying success.

Here’s what I’ve learnt if you want to organise your own for the best results. Some of this is obvious when you think about it, but you might not know to think about it until the moment has passed:

  • Choose the right tour organiser. There are thousands you could go with so follow a few beforehand (when you’re in the writing phase of your book) so that you have an ideal one identified. Also, be warned! A good book blogger will not be free for a few months in advance. Bad ones will be. Also, look at how much they’re taking on. Some have a great blurb and sound really friendly but they may be taking on more than they can handle. Have they got more than one tour running at a time? If so, how do they handle them? Is their website updated? Is your blog tour page updated?
  • Make sure they choose the right bloggers. Book bloggers will normally send an email out to their network to ask who wants to read your book. I imagine the first ones to reply are the ones that get the slot? This means there is no guarantee about who is seeing your book or what genre they read or how many followers they have. In my experience, the book bloggers who sign up tend to be the ones who have already heard of your book (maybe, you’ve even been in touch with them before) so you don’t create too much of a new audience, you simply get the book bloggers that you’ve already contacted to actually read the book. Bare this in mind; they’re human too and they want to decrease their TBR pile with an extra incentive. You might be able to increase the effectiveness by asking some questions at the outset. How many people do they have in their network? What types of genres are those people interested in? (i.e. make sure that the person you choose to organise your tour can match the genre/style of your book. It’s might not be the best idea having a guest slot on a romance blog when your book is a dystopian crime thriller.)
  • Send them everything they’ll need. Quickly. As soon as book bloggers have signed up, they will need lots of things from you. 1) The book! In all formats. 2) A high resolution jpg of the cover. 3) A long blurb and short blurb of the book. 4) A good author photo and short bio (preferably with some personality). 5) All your links and contact details. 6) Excerpts from the book (some may use them as well as reviewing your book, some may use it as a back-up when they don’t manage to get it read in time. Choose wisely – you don’t want other people to choose for you in a hurry. 7) Some tour posts should be guest posts (it needs to be a varied book tour) with either author interviews, character interviews, or music playlists. These need to be worked out well in advance (ideally you will have completed these as part of your marketing strategy, pre launch).
  • Prepare well. Most organisers will make a banner for you and set up a homepage, which hopefully will be updated daily. For you, this means making sure you have a list of where your book will be stopping and making sure you are available to maximise whatever happens (if you are UK based this might mean keeping your evenings free to comment on sites as other people do in the States or vice versa, depending on the geographical location of your blogger’s sites – find this out!).
  • Maximise opportunities. When the tour is under way, make sure you engage with other people. Always reply to every comment (preferably not repeating the same thing each time!) in a good-natured way – EVEN IF THE COMMENT IS NEGATIVE and thank everyone. Think of yourself as a brand and you don’t want to do anything to affect how people think of you. Remember, even negative reviews sell books! If it’s a Review Only tour, make sure you publicise the good ones from goodreads on facebook and twitter. Ask the organiser if they can remind them to post to Amazon too (but it isn’t guaranteed). If organisers have included tweets and facebook coverage in their package, ask them to do it (if they haven’t already). Some of the book bloggers that I’ve encountered are amazing and leave reviews everywhere – Amazon, goodreads, facebook, twitter and of course their own blog. Many don’t leave reviews anywhere other than their blog, so unless they have a lot of viewers, then no one will see it. N.B. Remember, you’re only paying for reviews, NOT good reviews. You may get less-than-excited people in some places and that’s fine. Celebrate the good ones!
  •  Things might go wrong. People are busy and don’t always review your book when they say they will. Most organisers will factor this in, but be aware that review numbers may come in at the lower end of what you’re expecting. (Imagine if you had to review a book by a set date; life gets in the way. It is after all, just a book that you’re reviewing for free). This means, you will inevitably get a few that just post an excerpt (have them as back up) and maybe just repost the book blurb.

I hope this is helpful. Book Marketing Tools recently ran a series on running successful book tours, and you can read their advice here and here. Make sure to tell everyone how you get on and add to these recommendations with your own advice below!

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