Margie Church's The 18th Floor is one of Sizzler Editions bestselling books. She has recently released, Razor, with co-author K. B. Cutter. Both involve romance and bondage. Margie has a reputation for knowing more than anyone else around Sizzler Editions about how authors can promote books on the internet. Below she describes how authors can put together a "blog tour" to promote their books.
I'm sure you've heard big time authors talk about their book tours. When I got my first few contracts, many people asked if me I was going on a book tour. I laughed and said, "Yeah, as soon as I fill my trunk with the books and my tank with gas."
They looked surprised and maybe even a little disappointed, like they'd just been told the Tooth Fairy isn't real. What? You didn't know? Sorries!
What's evolved for today's authors and ebook publishers is the blog tour. Similar to book tours, but not as glamorous, they can be very effective. Some of us think that blog tours are going to automatically propel our book into the mega-sales stratosphere. It can happen, but I'd set my sights lower if I were you. Like ground level. For me, the primary objective of a blog tour is to meet readers. They don't always buy the second they see your book, but you plant the seeds of interest. Be friendly and engaging, and good things can happen. So, having said that, how can you organize a good blog tour?
1. Know your reader. Decide what kinds of people are most likely to want your book.
2. Remembering #1, don't blog where your readers aren't. There's an inclination to be fan-bloggy when you get started on book promotions. I'm convicted on that score. I used to blog anywhere I could. But choose your book tour locations carefully. If you write regencies, don't stop at a blog that focuses mostly on sci-fi. If a pal invites you in a situation like this, schedule a visit at another time. If someone you don't know offers to host you, ask for their blog link. Vet the site. If it's a fit, fine. If not, politely explain why you're passing. These blog tours are time consuming. You're looking for the biggest payoff possible.
3. Be original. Work on these posts. Provide something fresh at each stop. Dig deep to find different aspects of your book to highlight. Readers like to know the back story on the book development, key themes, character traits, favorite scenes, challenges, etc. Give them something worth reading! You'll be surprised how often readers will follow an entire tour once they get to know you. Make it worth their time.
4. Don't over-commit. Not too long ago, I wrote a book in a completely new genre. I had no idea how to find these readers, so I cast my net wide. It's crazy how many authors will offer to host you if you ask. I ended up with 40 stops in about six weeks. Some days I was on more than one blog. I swear some of my posts were on the merits of good line spacing and smart quotes versus curly quotes. I was totally out of original ideas. O.M.G. Here's my point. If you're sick of it the tour, think of your poor readers. They're going to tune you out. I think a few well crafted blogs at fewer, well-chosen stops are worth more than a glut of so-so material splashed everywhere.
5. Promote the tour. You can't leave it up to the hosts to do your promoting. Some authors create a blog tour banner. That's cool and does some work for you if you hyperlink the art to the tour list. Shout it out in your newsletter. Have the dates and locations handy on your blog and website. Promote each location the day of and include the next stop as a teaser. Ask other friends and authors to help you get the word out. Use a Facebook event invitation, too.
6. Be present and engaged. Another good reason not to over-commit is you need to be around, chatting it up, trying to engage visitors. Ask readers questions; have some fun.
7. Put your contact and buy links on every post. A link to your back list can land ancillary sales, information sharing, and recommendations to other readers.
8. Choose prizes carefully. I always look at prizes in terms of ROI. If I give away a Kindle, how many books will I need to sell to recoup that cost? Is it reasonable to think I'll sell enough books to do so? You will get a lot of traffic from people trying to win that great prize, but are they going to buy books, too? Think about that carefully. I'd rather give a copy of one of my books to a reader and hope they like it well enough to hunt for more afterward.
9. Thank your hosts. Ask for stats so you have some idea how well you did. Extend the offer to host them at your blog.
10. Don't be disappointed if you don't get tons of traffic. Like sales, you can't predict what will compel readers to come and to comment. You might make other kinds of connections that are valuable, too. Do your best and have some patience.
You might never have tried one of these tours or you might be an old hand. Wherever you stand on the subject, I hope you'll ask questions and add your experiences so we all can learn from each other. -Margie Church