Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Blog Tourer’s Guide to the Galaxy (with Apologies to Mr. Doug Adams)

1st Turning Point » A Blog Tourer’s Guide to the Galaxy (with Apologies to Mr. Doug Adams)

The blogosphere is a wild, unregulated place, but if-as some say-you gotta go, then you’ve got to go…blog touring, that is.

JA Konrath aka Jack Kilborn, Emily Bryan aka Diana Groe, Joy Nash, Sandy Lender, and yours truly have found that blog tours can be fun, incredibly time consuming, hard work, and very good for name recognition.

Joy Nash advises :
“I’ve done two extended blog promos-a 50 Day, 50 Books Blog Tour Giveaway for Immortals: The Crossing, and a Countdown to Summer Blog Party for A Little Light Magic. I highly recommend a tour as a fantastic way to get out and meet the readers. A theme adds to the fun. My Summer Countdown had readers posting all kinds of summer-related memories and experiences. If you’re doing a tour, be sure to include giveaways and contests-it can only increase your traffic. Caveat: be sure to allocate a good chunk of your (probably over-taxed) free time to the endeavor. What with the advance planning, writing up content, and interacting with readers, I guarantee it will take waaaay more time than you think.”

So, here’s how to do it.

Finding Tour Guides and Hosts:

Penny Sansevieri
Marianne and Judy of
DIY: email colleagues directly, ask your publisher’s PR department for help, post requests for hosts on your-genre-related author loops…and on Facebook and Twitter.

Know Your Goal:

The goal of a blog tour is to meet and entrance new readers at each blog. A lesser goal might be to make friends with the more established authors who are hosting your visit.

Know Your Limitations:

How long does it take you to write a piece? You will need to write one unique piece for each stop on your blog tour, and you will need to bookmark and return to each stop for at least the day your blog posts, and for two days after that, and then once a week until your tour is over.

Your Ticket: (You need a good hook)

Content is King (but Contest is Queen). Know something about your hostess, her interests, and her audience. Write a good headline, one that will attract readers, even when it is archived. Write an original post for each hostess. Don’t forget to name your book, give a buy link, give the URL to your website.

Some authors treat their blog tour like a scavenger hunt, where anyone who wants a free copy of their book must follow that author from site to site all month long.

Do those authors realize that such followers will probably postpone buying a copy of the book for the entire month? Time your blog tour for the month before your book is released. Then, parsimony makes sense.

If you want comments, you should offer prizes at each stop. The prize does not have to be a copy of the book in question, but it could be, especially if you have ARCs, and want reviews before your book comes out.

Making Friends Along The Way:

Show up early (send your blog post in to your host in good time) and stay late.

Successful guest blogs may get up to 100 comments (including replies by the guest author) on strong, busy sites such as Bitten By Books, all the way down to none at all, not even a public welcome-and-thank you from a hostess.

Take heart. Just because blog visitors don’t comment does not mean that they aren’t reading your guest blog post, and or don’t want to win your book. Moreover, if you have an intriguing headline for each individual post and a few quotable quotes in it, the search engines will pick you up.

Don’t forget to bookmark and go back to the blogs you have visited this month, and to respond to anyone who has commented (this will double the number of comments, giving the impression of success, and will gratify your hostesses, as well as your potential readers.)

Shouting Out The Stops:

Talking of good manners…how and where should an author promote her tour and her destinations?

Status updates (on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Gather, Ning, Eons, etc.)
Yahoo Groups-Some accept such announcements on certain, designated days, or on Promo Only groups. Others frown on it.

Otherwise, promo is doable if the blogger focuses on a topic of general interest and spins the blog as an excuse for other authors with similar interests to promote themselves to the readers who regularly visit the hostess’s blog. (That’s why so many authors support Barbara Vey’s PW blog.)

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