Also be sure to check out part 2, which focuses on blog tours from the perspective of the blogger.
As we’ve discussed, book marketing is no longer about lonely book signings and time-consuming schlepps to beg every store in town to carry your book — taking your marketing online (while not appropriate for EVERY book/subject matter) offers you the opportunity to reach a wide audience with only a moderate input of time and effort.
While blog tours have been around for a few years, they are rapidly becoming more and more popular as a marketing strategy — and for good reason. They allow you to gain a large number of followers/potential readers in a relatively short amount of time. There are some tips, tricks and guidelines to follow, however, to make the tour a success, both for the blog host and the author.
Since many authors out there are bloggers as well, we’ll cover this topic both from the perspective of the author and of the blogger.
Blog Tours for Authors
What is a Blog Tour?
A blog tour is when an author visits a blog, providing some source of content for a post. The content itself could take many forms — it could include:
- Writing a guest post.
- Participating in an author Q&A/interview.
- Receiving a book review from the blogger.
- Offering a contest or giveaway.
- Guesting on a podcast.
Or, really, anything else that gets your name and project out there on another blog.
How do I set up a blog tour?
This is the part that takes some time. We recommend first doing some planning/brainstorming. Ask yourself:
- What is the goal of my blog tour? You know we’re very goal-oriented here at Duolit! Sample goals include increasing my Twitter followers by 30%, selling 50 more copies of my book, or gaining 25 new blog readers.
- What types of blogs would be best suited to helping me reach this goal? You can choose blogs that cover a topic close to that of your book, fellow author blogs, the blogs of friends and family — whichever is best suited to help you reach your goal. You could even choose a combination of all of them!
- What kind of content do I want to provide/have included? While you don’t want to force a blog host to publish a particular type of content, having an idea in mind of the types of content you’d like to include will be helpful, both to use as a suggestion for them and for the next step.
- How long do I want my blog tour to be? Decide how many ‘stops’ to aim for. You can use the different content types you settled on above to guide this number.
- When will my blog tour begin? The more advanced notice you can give a blog host, the better. I’d aim for a target at LEAST a month out, preferably two or more. This gives you plenty of time to set up the tour and have your content ready and gives the blogger plenty of time to plan for your arrival. It also allows BOTH of you more time for marketing!
Now that you have some guidelines in mind, it’s time to contact the blogs that you’re interested in having as hosts. It’s best to go about this in rounds: start out contacting the exact number of blogs you’re aiming for as hosts (that way you don’t end up having to say ‘nevermind’ if you book more than you planned).
For your initial request, it’s very important to keep these tips in mind:
- Be polite. Never assume that you’ve already landed a place on their blog. Introduce yourself and your project in a friendly, gentle manner.
- Be informed. Take some time to research the blog before sending your request. Become familiar with their posting schedule, writing style and personal background and include tidbits that could help make your case.
- Be detailed, but concise. I know; this sounds like a catch-22, but this is an important tip. You need to provide enough detail to get your point and project across but not so much detail that a blogger would be turned off by a huge wall of text. Bullet points help!
- Be helpful. Offer to answer any questions the blog host may have and to provide any materials necessary (book for review, items for giveaway) to make your stop a success. You may also want to attach a media kit, author bio or website address so they can learn more about you.
- Be gracious. Be sure to thank the blogger for their time, regardless of whether or not they decide to host you.
Bonus tip: If you’re writing to a blog where the host may not be familiar with the concept of a blog tour (for example, one that has never hosted a tour guest before or a non-writing-related blog), give a quick intro to the concept to frame your request.
After you’ve sent your requests, give the bloggers a week or two to respond, but be sure to answer their follow-up e-mails promptly.
Once you hear back from your first round of hosts, decide on your next step. If you received positive responses from all of them, congratulations! Now start working on your content. If you came up short, you have a couple of options:
- Make another list of potential tour hosts and send inquiries to the remaining number you were aiming for.
- Make the blog tour shorter than you anticipated (this helps if you’re short on time).
Once you nail down the hosts, be sure to converse with them to decide what kind of content your tour stop will include and provide any additional materials they ask for. You may also want to work out a schedule for when you’ll both do marketing activities, view and edit the tour content, etc.
Is there any particular blog tour ‘etiquette’ to keep in mind?
Many of the tips I gave above (be polite, be informed, etc) apply here as well. In general, simply using common courtesy and being polite/gracious in e-mails and your content will get you a long way. Here are a couple of additional tips to keep in mind:
- If you’re writing a guest post, ask the blogger what format they’d like it in, if they don’t tell you.
- Be sure to send along your author headshot and book cover image to add to your content.
- If possible, provide a digital or hard copy of your book to the host (necessary if they’re reviewing you, of course).
- Be unique. Make sure you’re not saying the same thing over and over again in your content for every blog stop. Even if you’re asked the same questions, vary your answers to keep readers interested. Nothing will turn off a potential reader more than 7-stops worth of copy-and-paste.
- Make it easy for readers to follow along with the tour. At every stop, be sure to include your contact (e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, website, etc) information and consider creating an overview post for your blog detailing each tour stop that you can link to every day.
How do I market a blog tour stop?
As soon as you finish booking your tour dates, it’s time to start promoting! Some ideas include:
- Posting a list of your tour dates in your blog’s sidebar.
- Announcing the tour on your personal blog/Twitter/Facebook.
- Asking your readers for their input on the tour — what would they like to see?
- Reminding readers of the upcoming tour as it approaches. Do it once a week when you’re a month or two out, then almost daily in the week leading up to it.
- Tweeting daily during the tour, being sure to share a link to the tour stop (and thank the host).
- Take A Blog Tour [The Dabbling Mum]
- An Author’s Guide to Blog Tours [Starving Talent]
- The 5 Commandments Of Blog Tourists [The Creative Penn]
- Blog Touring [Mystery Writing is Murder]
We have some exciting tools planned that will help you plan and manage your own blog tour, but in the meantime we want to hear from you! Have you been on a blog tour? What was it like? Do you have any tips for other authors? Let us know in the comments!