What is a blog tour?
I might be a digital marketer, but I'm new to book marketing. If you're like me, you might be asking the same kinds of questions:
I hadn’t heard about blog tours until an author friend of mine, Jennifer L. Allen, shared her blog tour on her social sites. I was curious about the concept and did some research, and asked her about her experience.
A blog tour is essentially a digital book tour. Bloggers sign up to participate in a blog tour (which is generally hosted by a blogger or a book tour service). Then during a specified time period, they post reviews or just the book info on their blogs.
Some bloggers will host blog tours for authors, but many of the blog tour hosting sites I have found require a fee, ranging from $40 up to $300. Publicity cost money, and it has me curious about the true benefits, or return on investment, of a blog tour.
What are the benefits of a blog tour?
You get reviews. In some cases, lots of reviews. Jennifer, the author who told me about her blog tour experience, had about 90 bloggers that signed up to participate in her tour. That is a LOT of reviews, which is great. Reviews are crucial to convincing a reader to buy your book.
Blog tours are also great for search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is a technique, such as content marketing, that will organically (without paying) bring visitors to your website. It is essentially increasing the rank of your website, and making it easier for web users to find you. I’ll blog later about SEO for authors, if you’re interested in learning more. Blog tours will link to your website (if you have one) or your book’s sale page, greatly increasing the free traffic (web visitors) to your website. Search engines, like Google, love links to your site. It gives your website “authority”, which in turn increases your ranking, and search engines will show your website more often in search results.
Does a blog tour increase sales?
Blog tours do increase sales for a short time following the posts. Does the return make a paid tour worthwhile? That depends on factors like the blog traffic and the popularity of your genre.
“As a result of the blog tour, I did have an increase in sales that week and my website, Goodreads, and Facebook traffic increased as well. It wasn't monumental, but it was still more than I would have had without the tour,” explained Jennifer.
Overall, it is doubtful you will recoup your investment immediately, but long term, I believe the value is worth it. And, if you can hit the blog tour lottery like Jennifer, you’ll be in a great position.
After talking to several authors, they don’t spend too much time submitting request for reviews. They suggest doing cover reveals and paid blog tours, which typically have a better response rate (and a paid tour is a sure thing).
Jennifer was committed to sharing her book with reviewers: "When I inquired with blogs for ARCs prior to the release of my book, I contacted blogs via Facebook and email, depending on what information was present on their sites. I contacted maybe 100-200, heard back from about 50 (mix of yeses, nos, and maybe laters), sent out about 25 ARCs and got maybe 10-15 reviews." It is a lot of work for a small response rate, but consider the valuable connection she made with the blogger that hosted her tour. She's also made other valuable connections through the process that are now helping her with the promotion of her second book, scheduled to be released in November.
If I try a blog tour, either paid or manage to get a blogger to host one, I’ll be sure to share my results with you.
Jennifer put in the work to send out her books, and also had a fantastic book, which helped to garner the attention she hoped to find. Another great way to get the “in” with bloggers and promoters? Connect with other authors. I can’t stress enough the value of other authors for a self-published author. They can teach you so many things, and connect you with the people and opportunities that could make a big difference in the success of your book, and your author brand.
Remember, marketing is a time and cost investment. You’ll only reap what you’re willing to put in. Keep learning, be tenacious, and connect with everyone you can.
Want to check out Jennifer's book, Our Moon? It is a great contemporary romance.