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The Truth About Blog Tours

The Truth About Blog Tours

A Session with Ethan Cross

Chances are that in this day and age, you know what a blog is. In fact, you may follow a few. And chances are that if you’ve ever published a book or are considering publishing a book then you’ve heard the terms “book tour” and “blog tour”.

Physical author promotional tours or book tours have become a thing of the past for all but the most elite of authors. James Patterson and John Grisham may have the fanbase to draw a crowd to an event in every city in the country, but for those of us whose books don’t regularly top the NYT bestseller list, book tours require a large investment of time and money, result in events with (if we’re lucky) a handful of people in attendance, and never come close to giving us a return on our investment.

That’s where “blog tours” came in. They allowed authors to do a virtual promotional tour which could reach many more people without nearly the same investment of time and money as a traditional tour.

There you have it, right? All you need to do is reach out to some bloggers who would like your book and watch the copies fly from the shelves. Or you can hire a third party to schedule a string of appearances and reviews for you.

Unfortunately, the blog tours that we were all doing two years ago are not as effective today. This (and a great many other issues faced by the industry) is due to the level of saturation in the current marketplace.

So how do we adapt?

Here’s what I’ve found:

  • Bloggers are readers and people who love books
  • These bloggers mostly want to develop a relationship with authors directly (not with the publisher)
  • It’s much better not to schedule the posting or to have a specific timed schedule (better acceptance rate)

So what I’ve been doing myself and advising others to do is to reach out to bloggers individually as the author simply asking for a review. No timeframe. No deadline. No schedule. This has resulted in a much better ratio of acceptances to requests.

It’s very hard to quantify the impressions gained from blog appearances into sales numbers. Many people discover the book and add it to their to-be-read pile (in the digital age, they do this without actually purchasing the book until they are ready to read it) or even discover it on the website at a later date than the scheduled appearance. This makes it nearly impossible to say that XX appearance results in XX number of sales. Books are sold most effectively by word of mouth, and blog tours are one of the best ways to generate that buzz (much better than traditional advertising which often has no effect at all).

Let’s think of a virtual appearance in comparison to an in-person signing. Most signings result in a handful of people showing up and a handful of sales, but let’s say that it’s a really successful signing with a hundred people in attendance. In order to accomplish that, the author has to spend hours traveling and sitting at a table, the book store and author have to promote and pay for advertising, etc. A virtual appearance on most reputable blogs usually results in a minimum of several hundred impressions (usually thousands), and it remains on the site indefinitely and continues to be found by readers. All this with much less time and money invested. That’s not even mentioning the fact that most bloggers post not only