Monday, October 5, 2015

Guest Post - Virtual Blog Tours - Are They Worth It? by Laura Templeton


Virtual Blog Tours: Are They Worth It?


I’m so happy to be here today, talking about virtual blog tours and their role in a writer’s promotional arsenal. As an author without a huge marketing budget, I’ve found blog tours to be one of the best values for my money. Here are some tips to help you find a great blog tour provider and to make the most of your investment.

1.    Shop pricing.
The first thing I recommend is that you narrow the field to blog tour providers in your price range. There are a lot of people offering blog tours for prices that range from what-I-can-afford to what-J.K. Rowling-can-afford. (And let me just say—that’s a very wide range!) Err on the conservative side when determining your budget. If you break the bank to do the tour, you may be disappointed in the results. Make a lower cost commitment at first—you can always do a second blog tour later if you’re blown away by the results. I’ve found it’s best to spend small until a promotional avenue proves to deliver results for you and your book.

2.    Determine credentials.
After narrowing your list to affordable options, dig around a bit to determine other authors who have used the site. Anyone you’ve heard of? Sometimes a site may have hosted a tour for a well-known author when she/he was just starting out. That’s always a good sign. Check the authors who are currently being promoted—what is their Amazon ranking? How many books do they have out? If an author has multiple books, you can assume she’s doing something right—and if she’s using that blog tour provider, it’s a plus. Also, check the sight for testimonials. Most sites that are legitimate and have been around a while are happy to provide you with some references to help you narrow your choices.

3.    Consider genre.
This may seem obvious, but choose a site that specializes in your genre.  My first book, Something Yellow, was women’s fiction, so for my very first blog tour I chose Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours (http://www.clpblogtours.com), which specializes in books like mine. I was quite happy with the quality of the bloggers who hosted me. Tour organizers rely on connections. And they tend to have connections with bloggers who enjoy the same sort of books they do. So, if you’re writing horror stories, Chick Lit Plus may not be right for you. You’ll need to spend the time finding the right people with the right connections to get your book in the hands of readers who will love it.

4.    Go for reviews.
You will need to decide up front if you’d like your blog tour to include reviews. That can be a bit scary, as often your tour may happen in conjunction with your book launch. In that case, if you’re like me, every insecurity you have rears its head. What if everyone hates it *chews nails*? Well, hopefully they won’t (and if they do you’ll find out soon enough anyway), so I recommend that you choose to include reviews in your tour. A warning, though. Any tour worth its salt won’t guarantee you good reviews. What they will offer is to let you choose whether the bloggers post their reviews to Amazon and Goodreads. So, you will have an option for damage control. Even if the blogger ends up not liking your book, the exposure may still be good. If your book hits a reader’s sweet spot, she may give you a try despite the review. And consider this: it looks professional to have reviews by actual book bloggers on your Amazon listing.

5.    Keep it doable.
Another thing to consider is how much time you have available to devote to your blog tour. I chose to do five stops on my first tour because I was uncertain how much time it would take and whether it would pay off. I worried for nothing. I was quite pleased with the results. My second blog tour corresponded with the release of my second book, Summer of the Oak Moon. It was arranged by my publisher with Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours (http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com), which specializes in YA books. Again, it was a great experience. But this time, there were an exhausting twenty stops, about twelve of which I wrote posts for! So, definitely a bit time intensive. But it was so worth it. For the two weeks the tour was running, my Amazon stats were quite nice, with the book coming in consistently in the top 100 in the YA Historical category.

Consider tip-toeing into a tour. Choose a small tour, as I did with my first book, to get your feet wet. You can make a larger commitment later, when you have time and you’ve gained confidence that it will be worth that time.


6.    Think beyond immediate sales.
Your blog tour should result in sales, of course. I try to make my marketing efforts pay off. I have a full-time day job, and my weekends are sacred. I learned quickly that taking a full day to attend a local festival and sell two books (maybe) was a poor use of my time and marketing efforts (though it’s still fun to do sometimes). Blog tours work for me. They help get the word out about my book in a medium that is affordable and far reaching.

Remember—your posts and/or the bloggers’ reviews stay on websites, accessible to readers, for months or even years. A reader who stumbles on the site twelve months from now might read the post and purchase the book. And then purchase your previous (and next) books. So the result is cumulative. Plus, if someone sees your book somewhere and is considering buying, they might Google your name. When lots of blog posts show up, you look like a “real” (big name) author, hopefully making the reader more apt to purchase and read your book.

7.    Connect with readers.
Blog tours are, in my opinion, another form of social media. I confess (and this is bad to confess when you’re an author) that I’m not great at some of the other social media platforms. At the end of a long day, I’d often rather read a good book than hang out on FaceBook (except for watching cat videos, of course, and seeing photos of my cute niece and nephew). I prefer writing blog posts on subjects that interest me—and hopefully benefit readers—to following the latest social media trend. Other than speaking at book clubs, which I also very much enjoy, I think blog tours are one of the best, most lasting, ways to directly connect with readers. And as writers, that’s our prime objective.

In closing, I must add that I have a great deal of respect for book bloggers. Most of them blog as a hobby, and their dedication to supporting writers and readers is inspiring to me. I am so very thankful they are there and that they allow me the space to post, to tell the world about my books, and to discover great new reads. And, lastly, since the topic is blog tours, I must give a shout out to Tamara at Traveling with T, who’s my organizer for this blog tour. She has furthered my belief that blog tours (and bloggers) are wonderful!



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