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The Mechanics of a Professional Blog Tour


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#1 AQCrew

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 11:40 AM

Wowzers... blog tours have really gotten crazy complicated, don't ya think?

 

Today's discussion is shining the spotlight on blog tours -- and we're turning to the community for insight and clarification because blog tours have become -- quite frankly -- menacing beasts.

 

First off -- raise hands if you've participated in blog tours, organized blog tours, or have heard about blog tours.  You already win a gold star.  Pull your bean bag up to the front row and accept your free cup of hot chocolate, then settle in...

 

We want to know from all of you your experience with blog tours, ACR (advanced reader copies) and giveaways -- and anything else that seems important to the discussion.

 

But first, we'd like you all to look at this:

 

It's an example of a professional blog tour organizer's services packages.  Don't focus on the cost of each package.  Focus on the nuance between the services within each package.  And then try not let your eyes roll back into your head.

 

http://xpressobooktours.com/services/

 

We jest about the complexity of it all nowadays.  We are NOT making fun of the services that she's providing.  In fact, we're plugging her services for all those of you who write young adult and NA because she's quite legit.  And $200-300 is a rather small amount in the PR/advertising world.  She (Giselle/XpressoBookTours) was even named one of the Goodreads Top 25 Best Reviewers for 2013.  

 

So we throw this discussion out to you all.  If you're being published traditionally, are you organizing your own formal blog tours or  is that something your assigned publicist is doing for authors these days (assigned publicist assuming you're being published with a major house)?

 

If you're self-publishing/indie digital publishing, what are your experiences with organizing a professional blog tour, sending out ARCs to the bloggers, lining up cover reveals (three-months in advanced of the release date) while actually finishing your book along the way?

 

As an aside, we'd also like to tackle the awkward world of giveaways leading to ---> reviews because we've heard through the grapevine that Amazon has been cracking down and deleting reviews that were tied to promotional giveaways because they consider the giveaway quasi-payment in exchange for reviews.

 

Lots of meaty stuff to talk about here.  Hope some of you can pull your eyeballs back into place for the sake of hashing it all out.



#2 LucidDreamer

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 01:11 PM

Fortunately, my publisher arranges the blog tours for cover reveals and book releases -- they do use a service. 

I have participated in several tours by hosting reveals or other info. on my blog. That part is usually easy. Organizing everything -- that would probably drive me nuts! :smile:



#3 Guest_AWExley_*

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 01:57 PM

I can report back about Xpresso next month. My publisher has arranged a review-only tour through Giselle for my YA book that releases end of the month. ARCs are with the bloggers currently.  :smile:

 

I did 2 tours early last year that I paid for myself with disappointing results. One was a rather large tour organiser and I found communication non-existent, to the point I thought I had been scammed out of my money. With both tours I had issues with bloggers not putting their posts up. I appreciate these people are busy, but if you pay for 10 spots and only 6 post, you have an issue. The other problem was with "reach" of the hosting blogs. With no control over who the item was placed with I found some were talking to single digit audiences. The experience put me off and I put blog tours out of my mind.

 

Fast forward to this year and my publisher organised a tour with Candace's Booktours and holy moly what a difference! First off Candace reads the book herself, and decides if it is something that will fit with her bloggers. She then posts a review when asking for sign-ups, so bloggers have a good idea of what they are requesting. I have just finished a 10 day tour through Candace and am thrilled with the response. Has it impacted sales? No, in fact my ranking has dropped during the tour. But I have connected with a number of new readers, my TBRs on Goodreads have gone up and more importantly I have found some "new to me" amazing blogs to follow. I believe it has given my social media presence greater reach and opened up future opportunities through the connections made. I believe blog tours are not about sales but building on visibility.

 

ARCs are handled by my publisher, who sends them to the tour organiser who then distributes them. I have heard Amazon is deleting all reviews that are not "verified purchases" which means all ARC/NetGalley reviews will disappear and surely defeats the purpose of early reviews? It will be interesting to see how that plays out and if it is true, what we can do about it.



#4 LucidDreamer

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 02:01 PM

AWExley, that is disappointing if Amazon carries that forward. ARC reviews can impact pre-orders, which are important.

<sigh>



#5 RC Lewis

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 02:22 PM

My understanding is that reviews can't be posted on Amazon until the book is released anyway, so it won't impact pre-orders. But it's nice when early readers have reviews ready to go during release week, for sure. Will definitely be interesting.

 

As far as blog tours, I guess I'll find out this fall, since I believe I'll be doing one. I hope sharpegirl pops in here, since she's with the same publisher and is at the "sending material out to the tour hosts" stage for her release next month. In her case, at least, it was arranged by the publicity department. (Pretty sure.)

 

From my as-a-reader observations, blog tours definitely seem to be a mixed bag. In the case of YA, I wonder (as always) how many actual teens are reached. Adult readers of YA are always welcome, too, but my first interest is to try to get the word out to teens.

 

Based on what I hear in my classroom, I'm thinking that might be more likely if the "blogs" are on Tumblr rather than a "traditional" blog platform. But I really don't know.


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#6 LucidDreamer

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 02:37 PM

RC, good point about reaching the actual YA readers. Tumblr might be better than traditional blogs, for sure.



#7 sharpegirl

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 03:00 PM

The blog tour that I just turned all my stuff in for (that RC mentions) is actually for my UK publisher. My UK publicist arranged all of it, first sending out ARC's and gauging blogger response before setting up the stops with them. She's very involved and creative. There's a countdown element to my novel and my publicist has played into that with several blogs counting down to the release day later this March. As for the content itself, it's a mix of interviews, Q&A's, Giveaways, Excerpts, Guest Blog Posts by me, book recs and maybe one "outtake" from the novel. Very diverse, and not just the same questions answered differently a little bit each time, which I am exceedingly grateful for. The Bloggers were very enthusiastic and excited to come up with "stops" that were unique to the book and really tied into the subject matter, which was very rewarding. I really enjoyed working with everyone. 



#8 Michelle4Laughs

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 03:12 PM

I haven't used Blog tours yet for my own books, but I've hosted quite a few lately. Seems like this is heating up and I often see people posting links to their tour on twitter to draw bloggers to sign up. I don't really see these sort of posts (on my blog) drawing many readers, not compared to agent interviews or posts about editing.

 

I have tried Net Galley to get fresh reviews, but had better luck giving away ebook copies myself. Those readers were more likely to actually do a review as they met and talked to me on twitter in order to get the free copy. I know when I review an ACR as a Net Galley member I try to be totally honest. It seems a shame to take down reviews just because the copy was free. Hopefully that practice doesn't carry over to Goodreads.   


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#9 AQCrew

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 06:03 PM

Great contributions all.  

 

It's good to see that the traditional publishing houses and their PR departments seem to still be arranging the blog tours for their authors.  And it's an imteresting point to consider in terms of how they are orchestrating it and/or if they outsource the job to a professional service and to whom.

 

If would be fun to track sharpgirl's blog tour as it happens... keep us posted.

 

And funny, AWExeley, about Xpresso Book Tours.  As always, we're reminded that it's a small world and the good players are in short supply and high-demand.  

 

However, we're curious... why did you publisher go with Candace Booktours and then switch over to Xpresso?  Didn't publisher or different genre of book or just trying something different?

 

The reach of the blogger, of course, is extremely important but often difficult to assess or easily masked.

 

Here' s an example:

 

Lady Danielle aka the Book Huntress is on the Top 25 Good Reads Best Reviewers list but you wouldn't necessarily know that if you looked at her blog.  That said, go to her Good Reads profile and it becomes more obvious by the number of reviews she's produced and her number of "friends" (5,000).



#10 TBruce

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 12:01 AM

I just crawled out of the book production cave so I'm a little late to the party but just wanted to chime in - all said and done, I've done seven blog tours so far (Hereafter cover reveal, Hereafter release, Hereafter six month anniversary, Thereafter cover reveal, Hereafter cover reveal (re-release), Hereafter release day promo blitz (re-release), Thereafter cover reveal (re-release)) and will be doing my next one (for the release of Thereafter) in May. As AWExley said, in my experience, blog tours don't really sell books. They raise social media profile, increase shelving on Goodreads, introduce you to new pools of readers, and help the author network/make connections in the book blogging community - which are all awesome outcomes. I have been incredibly happy with each of my blog tours. Sometimes dividends pay out later - some of those small blogs that didn't seem to have an impact have ended up having an impact later. That blogger may not have a large readership of his/her blog, he/she's still an avid reader and may promote your book another way (word of mouth, invite you into a blog hop or connect you to another blogger, etc.). Many bloggers are also librarians and I've gotten my book into libraries and been able to book author visits b/c of those connections.

 

The one thing I wanted to add is that I've seen a sizeable number of bloggers saying they are opting out of blog tours/no longer participating in them, mainly b/c most of the related posts (cover reveal, promo, author interview) don't generate as much interest/traffic/comments on their blogs as reviews do, so many are going back to focusing on reviews and giveaways, which are the two things that definitely generate blog traffic. So, for whatever it's worth, based on conversations with bloggers and conversations overheard (twitter/blog posts), it seems like the luster of blog tours is fading in the book blogging community - which makes me sad b/c I love participating in blog tours. I think they're a lot of fun. Since there are a gazillion book blogs out there, there are still plenty participating, but it seems like many of the older, more established blogs have tired of tours. This may also just be part of the natural life cycle of a blogger/blog - when they are small/starting out, blog tours help them generate content and traffic but then once they get established they don't need tours for that and stop participating. It might be either or a bit of both, I'm not sure.

 

Regarding Amazon removing ARC reviews - I heard this and then immediately heard from various people that it was false information spreading about the internet. Does anyone have any solid info. directly from Amazon/can confirm for realsies that this is happening? I've heard so much contradictory info. that my head is spinning.

 

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#11 Guest_AWExley_*

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 12:14 AM

Regarding Amazon removing ARC reviews - I heard this and then immediately heard from various people that it was false information spreading about the internet. Does anyone have any solid info. directly from Amazon/can confirm for realsies that this is happening? I've heard so much contradictory info. that my head is spinning.

 

 

Amazon will (and has) removed reviews where it considered the reviewer was *paid* for the review. I will try and find the link, it is in their review guidelines that paid promotional reviews are not allowed. They consider blog tours (where you pay a set amount for the tour) to be paid promotional work, and ARCs also come under their umbrella of "paid" reviews as you are gifting the amount of the ARC. Apparently you need to have reviewers change their wording and have them remove mention of ARCs and substitute something along the lines of free copy for an unbiased review.

 

My total number of reviews has gone backwards but I don't track them, so couldn't tell you which ones have been removed.



#12 AQCrew

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 03:02 PM

We'd just like to take a moment here to point out how well AWExley's newest release is doing on Amazon priced at $2.99 because we think it's pertinent to the overall discussion of blog tours and their sales effect (plus, it's awesome to see):

 

http://www.amazon.co...&qid=1396987062

 



#13 Guest_AWExley_*

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 08:11 PM

Thanks Crew, I had a discussion with my publisher about pricing and we decided to have a lower release price for a couple of weeks before it reverts to "regular" price. We are using $2.99 to give the book an initial boost in rankings and visibility.

 

We also chose to do a review blog tour to coincide with release. I'm not sure if that is what has pushed it up the rankings or the giveaway running on YA Book Central. It does bother me I can't pinpoint what is working! Interesting to note that the YA Book Central giveaway has received more than 10 times the number of entries as the blog tour giveaway. Either way I'm delighted with the result  :smile:



#14 sharpegirl

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 10:15 PM

Yay, AW! That's awesome news! 






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