Friday, January 10, 2020

Tips for a Successful Blog Tour: What Authors Need to Know


Happy January, dear Seekerville-ians! 

Carrie here.

I wear many hats in the book world. I'm a blogger, book reviewer, author interviewer, influencer, and speaker. I've reviewed for professional magazines, and I've had the privilege of co-founding the first major author-reader event specifically for Christian fiction. But lately most of my time has been spent as the co-owner of JustRead Publicity Tours (the irony of that is that I rarely have time anymore to 'just read'). 

At JustRead (and several other tour companies that I also blog for, including Singing Librarian Book Tours, Prism Book Tours, and Celebrate Lit), we help promote Christian and 'clean read' books through a coordinated network of blogs and social media hosts. We do the footwork and the managing of each tour so that you, the author, can focus less on marketing and more on writing new, yummy books for us to read. 

But while we do most of the heavy lifting, there are some things that authors can do to aid in achieving a successful blog tour from start to finish. 

Let's start by clearing up some common misconceptions: 

** "Blog tours & social media tours should result in more sales." 

While that would certainly be ideal, there are multiple factors that affect and influence book sales. A successful blog or social media tour should result in more attention directed specifically toward your book.

The idea behind these tours is to get your book in front of people over and over and over again, so when they see it online or in a store they'll feel a connection to it and be more likely to buy it. But it won't happen overnight. It's a cumulative process, which I'll address more in a minute. 

** "Blog tours are outdated. Podcasts are where it's at." 

I would almost agree with that statement if it were for anything other than books. But books are for readers, and readers... well... read. Which means, while we might embrace a few podcasts that are relevant to our interests, we won't quit reading blogs or social media. Because reading is at the core of what we do. Therefore, a blog tour or social media tour continues to meet readers where they're at and reach potentially new audiences for your books.

So, what can authors do to help their blog or social tour to be successful? 

I'm so glad you asked :-) 

Plan ahead. 


Most tour companies that I work with - including JustRead Tours - are booked solid at least 4 months out. Chances are, if you wait until January to plan a tour for your book that will release in February (or heaven forbid, in January), you will be out of luck. At least when it comes to the established, reputable tour companies. Ideally, if you have a book releasing anytime this year and you want to book a blog or social media tour, you need to do so now. There's not really any such thing as planning too early when it comes to publicity and marketing, but there is definitely such a thing as planning too late. 

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. 


Ideally, you'll want to do a blog tour and a social media tour of some sort to keep the book popping up everywhere and staying on people's minds. BUT covers are key here. Some covers just don't work well on social media. It might be a great cover but there are some elements that seem to get less engagement on social media. So ask your tour coordinators for their recommendations and respect their expertise. 

You can also do what I call 'stacking' - where you book tours with more than one company. With the companies I mentioned above, we all have an overlap in hosts but we also have hosts that only work with our company (or one of the other tour groups). PLEASE NOTE: If you decide to stack tours, it's best to schedule different tour types with each company (for instance, a blog tour with one group and a social tour with another group, etc.). It's also best to stagger the dates when stacking tours - so each tour is separate from the other. This avoids confusing hosts who blog for more than one company, and it allows for maximum participation and a more focused campaign. It also takes host availability into consideration - even the 'overlap hosts' will have certain dates that work better than others (so maybe they can't participate in one company's tour but their schedule allows them to participate in the other) or maybe they can participate in both tours, especially if the tours are different types (i.e. one is a blog tour & the other is a social tour).


Have all your ducks in a row.


I cannot emphasize enough how important this is: Make sure your book is up on Goodreads. If your book isn't on Goodreads, you are missing a vital free-to-you marketing tool. To take this one step further, make sure your book is on Goodreads at least three weeks before your tour starts. There must be a place for us to send readers who are interested in the book we're promoting. Retail site links are, of course, also vitally important but the timing on those sometimes doesn't match up with a promotional tour (with cover reveals, for instance).

Also, a media kit is hugely helpful for authors to send bloggers in general and especially for tour company hosts who are putting together your tour. It should have your website, social media links, headshot(s) and at least two versions of your bio - a short bio and a regular bio. Related to this, please make sure your bio and website are updated. It's also highly advisable to have an author Facebook page, separate from your personal timeline. 

 

Share and support.


Share the tour posts! Or at least the giveaway info with a link to the tour company's landing page for your book's tour. An engaged author leads to a more engaged tour all around.

 

Just Read. 


Thoroughly read the invoice and all materials that the tour company sends you. Important details and deadlines are often included in the invoice, terms/conditions, and 'next step' emails. If you have questions, don't be afraid to ask! That's what we're here for. But please do make sure you're aware of the terms you're agreeing to and the materials (and deadlines) that have been requested.

Blog tours and social media tours can be overwhelming, but these guidelines should ease some of the stress - for both you and the tour company - and help your promotional campaign be as smooth and productive as possible. 

(You can hear some more tips - and a bit more details on the ones I've mentioned here - on the Writer's Chat episode I recorded in December. Watch it HERE.)  

~*~*~*~*~*~ 

Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours, Carrie lives in Kentucky with her husband Eric. 

She can be found lurking at various blogs and websites (because she can't stop talking about books) but her main home is the blog she started in 2015 - ReadingIsMySuperPower.org.
 ~*~*~*~*~*~

I am giving away a FREE 1-Day Blog Blitz (a $65 value) with JustRead Tours to someone who leaves a comment on today's post!!  

(must be scheduled by Dec 31, 2020)

http://justreadtours.com

 What scares you the most about booking a blog tour or social media tour?
What questions do you have about the process? 

leave a comment below & be entered to win!


52 comments:

  1. What a great blog post. Thank you for sharing tips, especially the plan ahead. It's good to know 4 months in advance is a good rule of thumb.

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  2. Wonderful post, Carrie! Very timely, too. Lots of great info. Authors, if you've never done a publicity/blog tour, they're a wonderful opportunity to get your books in front of people who might not otherwise see it/pick it up.

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    1. thanks, Mindy! We love working with you & your books! :-D

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  3. Great post, Carrie! Word of mouth is the most powerful sales tool for books and blog tours and social media are certainly the way to spread that around. I know my debut wouldn't have been as successful without the blog tour I did for it. And what a great tip about getting on Goodreads beforehand. Thank you!

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    1. Goodreads is so key right now. And BookBub is quickly becoming so as well.

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    2. I've enjoyed Goodreads, but I need to work on it more. Thanks!

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  4. I love what you're doing with JustReads. You guys are innovators!!!

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    1. you're such an encourager, Mary! Thank you :)

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  5. I just signed my first contract, so everything about launching a book is brand-new to me! I'd heard about blog tours, but didn't really know what they were (#noob), so thank you for such a helpful and informative post!

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    1. yay, Amanda! Congrats on your contract!! :)

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  6. I highly recommend JustRead Publicity Tours, and I hope to work with them on many more projects in the future!

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    1. aww thanks, Heather! We love working with you :)

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  7. You are amazing! That is all! You are such a pro at what you do!

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    1. haha One day ppl are going to realize that I have no idea what I'm doing... until then i keep plodding on ;-)

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  8. Love this post! I'm definitely saving it in my "favorites" to refer back!! Thanks for all you do to promote Christian and clean fiction!! YOU are my favorite! :)

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    1. I'm so glad you found this post valuable! Dear Regina, YOU are in my favorites too :)

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  9. Thank you for all of this information, Carrie. I have found great value in the tours I've done so far and this will help me with future tours.

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    1. thanks Kimberly! I'm so glad the post was helpful!

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  10. I loved both of my book promotions with JustRead in 2019! Carrie and Annie and their crew do such a wonderful job on the graphics, organizing/coordinating, and everything in-between. As an indie Christian author, I appreciate JustRead's positive attitude about presenting Christian and clean fiction for all age groups to the world. I also enjoy being a blog hostess for JustRead's tours and events. Thanks for this great post and the opportunity to win this giveaway!I hope 2020 is another successful year for all of you at JustRead! :0}

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    1. We love working with you on both sides of the process, dear June! :)

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  11. This information is SO good! I definitely need to bookmark it for *when* I have a debut 🤣

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  12. Needed to read this, as I'm ahem planning to release an Indie title in May. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Carrie❤️.

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  13. The two big problems the immediately come to mind are: I'm an introvert AND I'm not tech savvy. I've spent (wasted) hours (days) this week trying to buy my domain and set up a website.
    I truly needed your post today, Carrie. Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. I'm so glad it was helpful & timely, Jackie! One great advantage of hiring a tour company is that they do all the techy stuff & extroverting for the campaign ;-)

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    2. As soon as I have a date, I'll be contacting you.

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  14. This was a great reminder to email you and get "Finding Peace in Wishing Bridge" onto your schedule!

    :)

    Wonderful post, Carrie. Thank you!

    Ruthy

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  15. Carrie, this was a great post! Full of "you didn't even know you needed to know this" facts!

    And thanks for the reminder - I hope to be contacting you as soon as I get a release date for my next book!

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    1. YAY!! Looking forward to it, dear Jan! :)

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  16. This is great advice and much needed for me right now. Thanks!

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    1. so glad it was helpful & timely, Jamie! :)

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  17. Carrie, great info. How many blog posts does the author write and in what time frame? Often authors are working on the next story and/or sometimes revising a third book. How labor intensive is a tour for the author? (I'm clueless about the actual process, and did I mention that I'm asking for a friend. :) )

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    1. lol Debby - that's a common question actually. And the answer is - it's totally up to you! We encourage at least a couple of interviews or guest posts for a blog tour because it helps readers get to know you, but you don't have to do ANY if you don't want to. Or you can give us a limit of only 1 or 2. You can interact as much or as little as you like, though some interaction does aid in the tour's effectiveness as I mentioned above. The idea behind hiring a tour company to help promote your books is that WE do most of the work so it's very low on the labor intensive scale. Once you answer our questions as far as giveaway, entry options, and send us a couple of excerpts (for blog tours), your job is over until we contact you with the giveaway winner :)

      The nice thing about social tours is that there are NO posts that the author has to write ;-)

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  18. Carrie, this is so helpful! I know a lot of people who have used JustRead and been very happy with the services.

    I'm glad you mentioned scheduling ahead. I'm afraid I'm not great about planning early enough! It helps to have an approximate time frame.

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    1. thanks, dear Missy! That's the one key piece of advice that I give to authors - even ones just reaching out on their own to bloggers/reviewers. Give us plenty of time!

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  19. What a fantastic blog on a topic few people are talking about. And you're so uniquely situated to speak on several angles here.

    I appreciate your wisdom and holding my hand through my very first publicity tour coming up in a couple of months. You've given me such sage advice, and your willingness to work with my publisher's publicity person means so much!

    April will be here before I know it. Perhaps I should be thinking ahead to the release of book 2 in July... :D

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    1. you totally should be ;-) LOL

      And thank you, dear Erica. We are so looking forward to helping promote your book!

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  20. Newly published author here. Thanks SO much for this info! It definitely will take some of the stress out of my first tour, whenever I schedule it. 😊

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  21. Great post, Carrie!! And I've loved working with JustRead!! (and you :-)

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  22. In this world of constant competition, it is difficult to survive as a self-pub author. Every detail matters and getting reviews is a big part of my marketing strategy. I ordered a few reviews from https://100freekindlereviews.com to get more visibility and sales this Christmas season..

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  23. Such great advice! I love your wisdom! I do always get nervous whether people will like my novel.

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  24. I've never done a blog tour, but this has me interested.

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  25. Thanks for your words and for all you do for readers and authors, carrie!

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  26. This is fantastic advice. Thank you for all you do in the market.

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