#BookPR What the Heck is a Book Blog Tour?
To most of us participating in them, they seem pretty obvious, but to most people – from book reviewers to readers and authors that are new to this type of promotion – the blog tour that promotes a book is a mystery. Sure, they might know every element it comprises, but what the tour really is, how much work it requires from everyone involved, that’s a bit of a foggy area.
So, let’s start with the basics and work our way through to the juicier, more complicated aspects. Everyone new at this is entitled to ask, just like those fine gentlemen on the chorus asked who the f*** Alice was: what is this blog tour you are talking about?
Photo: Wikipedia by Rob Sinclair
I love to band-on-tour analogy! The author and the book are the band. The book reviewers hosting blog hops (posts published during the tour) are like the concert venues – stadium, concert hall, bar, TV studio etc. The blog tour organizer (which sometimes is the author themselves) is a sort of a band manager, making sure the posts, book details, the author, everything is where it should be when it should be.
You know how band tours also get media coverage? Well, that’s partly handled by the book reviewers, partly by the author and blog tour organizers. The posts can be interviews, guest posts from the author, all sorts of other cool promos. Then these articles of all kinds are shared with other readers via emails (for subscribers) and social media (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr…). So bloggers are both providing the venue for the tour and act as journalists. That also just happens to make the blog tour host a publicist or PR rep.
What’s the purpose of a blog tour?
Nothing in PR and marketing is done just because. As any other marketing efforts, tours have their clear purpose: get as much exposure as possible for authors and the books they are promoting. By having reviews, interviews, and guest posts published on book blogs, authors manage to reach those who would be interested in buying and reviewing their books. These bloggers are who readers look up to for their next book recommendation. Plus, being everywhere – blogs, twitter, Facebook, Google+, helps quite a bit with popping up on people’s radar.
What does everyone do during a book blog tour?
To better explain everything, let’s assume we have the following:
- – an author and their book(s)
- – a blog tour organizer (band manager, publicist, jack of all trades)
- – a number of book reviewers with blogs and availability to join the tour.
To start off, the author and tour organizer agree on tour dates. Typically, this needs to happen quite a while before the actual tour. Most bloggers need at least two weeks (three or four or even more in most cases) to schedule a tour stop. They need to fit it in their schedule, read the book if they are reviewing it, come up with interview questions if needed, get everything ready for their date of choice, etc.
What I like to do is set this up before the book is even published (for future releases), so that I can create a whole promotion strategy around it (cover reveal, release day promos, blog tour, Facebook parties, etc.).
The next step is to organize the tour. The tour organizers will contact the reviewers who may be interested to join the tour. Usually, organizers have their contact lists where they add more blogs as time goes by. They are divided by genres they are interested in, availability, types of posts they are willing to write and publish, and so on. The quick version of this is that the tour organizer will:
- – create a tour sign up form
- – post it on social media and email it to reviewers they are working with
- – based on those who fill out the form, create the tour schedule – each day, a new (or several new) stop(s), just like it would happen with a band
- – create the blog tour kit (details on the book, the author, giveaway if any, buy links, cover images, other promotional images) and send it to participants
- – make sure bloggers get what they need – replies for their interview questions, guest post, excerpts from the book, etc.
- – make sure bloggers post on their designated day, reschedule when needed, pretty much try and have everything running smoothly
- – promote all posts within the tour through social media
- – make sure giveaway winners are chosen and that they receive their prizes
- – create a blog tour roundup, highlighting all the posts within the tour – this helps the author get a better picture of what’s happened, it’s a way to send more traffic to the bloggers, and a way for the tour organizer to show off their work
What’s expected from the author?
The author is not exactly free to do whatever they want, although tour organizers try to keep their effort to a minimum. They still have to provide all the needed details on themselves and their books, answer interview questions, and write blog posts. Blog tours are most effective when they also pitch in by promoting blog posts along with the organizer.
Can authors organize their own tours?
Of course they can! This is not rocket science. Even if it were, if anyone wants to become a rocket scientist, they can. They’d have to invest time and effort into it though. Probably a lot more than a seasoned tour organizer would. Building a list of contacts, organizing every step of the tour, making sure everything is delivered on time and that each post gets enough exposure, it is all quite a chore.
I won’t lie, I’ve run my own tour before, and I will again. However, please keep in mind that I have spent many, many years working as a PR and marketing consultant, I’ve been blogging for ten years, and I’ve been involved in social media marketing and blogger outreach campaigns since before it becoming the huge thing it is today. Publishing and promoting the books that are published takes a lot of effort and resources, so everyone with a certain skill set can use it and cut their costs. If you don’t posses the skill set, you’ll have to learn and that takes time away from other tasks you should be focusing on.
Did I miss anything? Have you organized your own tours or have you had one organized for you? What are your thoughts on the matter?
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