A few days ago I read this article on the Huffington Post book page. The title "Planning a blog tour? Think twice." caught my attention. I'm doing a lot of work right now putting guidelines and resources together so our clients can have successful blog tours. If there was a hidden drawback I hadn't heard of, I wanted to know what it was so I could plan against it.
After reading this article, the apparent drawback is not doing your homework and wasting everyone's time.
There, I've said it. You said I could be honest. Your book's success belongs to you. While it is in the best interest of your publisher and agent for your book to do well, no one is gonna love those 350+ pages like you do.
In this article, the author was discouraged by a lack luster tour that did nothing to help his sales. There was a lot going on here that worked against him, so let's take a look at some of the key issues so we don't get knocked on your derriere.
|What happens when you aren't prepared for your blog tour...|
The author decided to use a website that organizes author tours. Now, I'm sure there are plenty of great companies out there that do this. I'm also certain that they can help an author save a lot of time. Soliciting review and blog space is time consuming and keeping track of all of it is not something you can do on the back of a napkin. But here's the deal folks. Not all blog tour companies are created equal.
The company was able to secure the author 14 tour stops and the organizer was "thrilled by the strong response". What? There are literally hundreds, no thousands, of book bloggers out there. While the process can be time consuming, an author who's been on the social scene and doing all the right stuff (commenting on blogs, making friends, etc.) should be able to get 14 posts if they work at it. A company you are paying, who should have tons of sites clamoring to sign up, should be able to do this as a standard.
If you are going to go with a company like this, make sure you know what you are getting. How many stops does their average tour get? Ask to see links for recent tours showing the stops included. This is not an unreasonable request.
If you're flying solo, start early so you have plenty of time to get all the stops your little heart desires.
Next, the author describes all the work he put into preparing for the tour. At the tour company's request, he prepared "a character interview with my lead; an interview of my own in response to a series of questions; and supplied the book trailer and book cover". I'm not suggesting that authors put together hand-sewn puppet shows complete with an original soundtrack. That said, two original posts (the interviews) along with the material you should already have is not enough for a 14 stop tour.
I'm shocked that this is all the company requested from him. Be sure you are not just getting a head count of tour stops, but also a deep look at the content of each stop. A company that suggests you don't need a variety of information doesn't have a realistic view of how to get readers engaged. You can also assume they are not using the blogs to drive readers to view other posts since it will just be more of the same.
If you're flying solo, ideally, each stop on your tour should be different. There are a ton of different posts you can do (I'll have to do a separate post for that).
The last straw on the camel back for the author in the article was that 5 of the 14 tour stops never posted the material, and of the ones that did, several had serious grammar and spelling issues. To me, this suggests that the company doesn't have a screening process for bloggers who want to sign up for tours. It's a free for all.
If you work with a tour company, ask them how they solicit blogs. Is it from a pre-screened list of bloggers who they know have done quality work in the past and always post the content when they are supposed to? Is it an open sign up list that is then reviewed for quality? Is it a come one, come all, we'll take what we can get kind of situation?
If you're flying solo, don't send an email to every Tom, Dick, or Mary with a review site. You need to look at the reviews on their page. Are they well written with a thought out evaluation of the work? Are they free of most grammar and spelling issues? If not, think twice about asking that person to represent you and your work. There are a ton of great reviewers out there, so there's no reason to ask for a review from someone not up to par.
There are valid reasons why an author might go with a blog tour company to help them spread the word about their work. There are just as many reasons for doing it yourself. Just remember, no matter who does the planning, a successful blog tour is your responsibility. Do your homework, educate yourself and plan for success.