Let’s Talk About Blog Tours, Shall We?

June 18th, 2012 • Kate

This may seem repetitive for a moment, if you also follow Maureen Johnson on Tumblr, but bear with me, will ya? Thanks!

Two weeks ago during BEA, fellow lit agent Jennifer Laughran, aka @Literaticat, tweeted from a panel on marketing:

YA marketing panel: β€œdo blog tours & cover reveals!” My question: since EVERYONE does those, how is it not just noise? #bea12

Now, Maureen followed that up with a whole post on the subject, which many bloggers, including Bookshelves of Doom, responded to with wholehearted hallelujahs.

I went a slightly different direction, and it’s that train of thought I want to invite you to follow with me today.

Right after Jenn tweeted, and another agent agreed, I chimed in, “But what’s the alternative for those authors who can’t get a mention in Entertainment Weekly or on the Hollywood Crush blog?”

And that’s the question I want to pose to you this week. What ARE the options for the, let’s call it as it may be, midlist author who may not get sent on tour by her publisher, and isn’t going to get the exclusive cover reveal or interview on the big entertainment sites? Blog tours are popular because they are free for everyone involved, minus only the cost of a few review copies, and sometimes not even that. But do they work? If you’re an avid reader of a certain blog, does a guest post by an author make you check them out, or do you skip them, to hear more from the bloggers you came to the site to read? Or do you skip the sites that host blog tours regularly almost completely? What’s the middle ground? To reiterate Jenn’s question, is it all just noise?

I’d love to hear from you on the subject. If you’ve been a part of a blog tour, either as author or blogger, let me know if you want to respond in more detail in a guest post. Otherwise, feel free to let it all hang out in the comments.

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30 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Blog Tours, Shall We?”

  1. Megan Duff Says:

    Hhmm, I have only been aware of blog tours in the last few months. However I do think that as a reader they are effective. You get to learn some extras/insider information, get to know the author and see the book in a whole new light. For example I really enjoyed Leigh Bardugo's blog tour. This is her first book but as a reader I got to know her and the Ravka world right away which prompted me to buy the book. Buy, not get from the library! I was literally too impatient, which is a good sign πŸ˜€

  2. @embattaglia Says:

    I love blog tours. My reading list is dominantly YA, and I find many of the books I read through the blogs I follow. I love when Forever Young Adult does a “Between Two Lockers” segment (http://foreveryoungadult.com/category/between-two-lockers), and I often agree with MundieMom’s recommendations (http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/search/label/Mundie%20Moms%20Author%20Interview). I’m also a sucker for the Hostile Questions segment on Booklist Online (see the Ransom Riggs edition: http://blog.booklistonline.com/2012/04/30/hostile…. I realize those sites generally promote books that are more mainstream, but I’ve seen midlisters interviewed there as well. I also read the GoodReads interviews (occasionally), and I love it when there is a brief author interview in the Amazon book description area (see the Will Grayson, Will Grayson interview). I also check in with a few genre-specific blogs that sometimes get retweets from the larger blogs. The bottom line: I like getting to know the author, hearing what inspired them, and what is important/interesting about the book. That will sell me or put me off a novel 10 times out of 10.

  3. @embattaglia Says:

    So, I think the key is to hit a few blogs that cover the book’s genre or age category. Even if the blog isn’t well-known, the author/agent/editor can still promote the interview. If an agent, editor, or another author tweets something like, “Hey, I just read this great book. Go read this funny interview here.” I will go. I think the key is to have it out there for those that want to know more or are on the fence about buying the book.

  4. @embattaglia Says:

    I run a book club through Spreecast, and lately there have been several authors (most recently Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl) promoting their books through the site. That interview has had almost 2,500 views, and it’s a great way for an in-person interview to be broadcast and available online. The best part is anyone can create a Spreecast. An author’s friend could interview the author about the book and then it’s out there for any a potential reader.
    (This is not a promotion, I just really like the site.) http://www.spreecast.com/searches?search_term=boo
    Contrary to what this post suggests, I don’t spend a lot of time on book blogs. I do check in with certain sites regularly and I usually find a gem I wasn’t looking for. I think blog tours are a great way to promote a book!

  5. @ilanawaters Says:

    I am very much in favor of blog tours! I have a long list of bloggers I follow regularly, and if they're taking the time to do a tour/interview/spotlight, I usually assume that writer has something going on. After all, if I like the blogger, and the blogger likes the author . . . well, you see where this is going πŸ˜‰

  6. DaphneUn Says:

    But does a blog tour really meant that a blogger likes an author (and by extension, their book), or is it just a puff piece? How do you know?

  7. Emy Shin Says:

    I don't read the majority of the blog tour posts — generally because I only seek out interviews/posts by authors whose books I have read or am already interested in reading. That said, however, I do think blog tours and cover reveals are effective promotional tools. If a book or author shows up in my Google Reader repeatedly over a short period of time, I will at least remember their title/name. And though it isn't often, there have been times when I was compelled to check out the book based purely on the publicity blog tours generated.

  8. Susan Adrian Says:

    I don't mind blog tours, as long as the author doesn't oversaturate. A few well-chosen blog interviews (with giveaways, if possible) are interesting to me, as long as it isn't the same questions over and over. I've certainly hosted a few interviews myself, and as a blogger I love to feel that I'm helping the authors I love in some way.

    One trend that I'm less certain of is the group blog. Even with authors I adore I tend to skip those obligatory weekly posts. Though I feel bad about it, and I'm not sure what the other option is there either…what do others think? Are those promotional blogs worthwhile/interesting to readers?

  9. DaphneUn Says:

    Excellent question! How do we feel about group blogs?

    For my part, they've certainly introduced me to authors I might not have heard about otherwise, but I'm not sure that a rigid schedule is the best way to go. If you have to post every Tuesday, and you don't have anything interesting to say that week, is posting something anyway good or bad for your readers?

  10. Sara Says:

    I have picked up books from the Big Idea posts on Scalzi's Whatever. I like them because the author talks directly about *the* coolest thing in the book, for them. So if I think it's cool too, I'm likely to like it!

  11. DaphneUn Says:

    Scalzi's The Big Idea posts are great, absolutely. And have sold me a number of books as well. But can we count that as part of a "blog tour", when it needs to be pitched so differently, for a few carefully curated spots?

  12. @Sarah_Nicolas Says:

    If I see a book on several blogs, I know that I'm more likely to at least pick it up in the bookstore and read the summary/first few pages to see if I'm interested.

    The ones that have the most influence on me, however, are the blogs that don't host blog tours often – because I know that they're doing it because they want to host that author, not because it's just a thing they do. Does that make sense?

  13. lalibrarylady86 Says:

    I am more likely to read books that are recommended by authors I like and follow on Twitter. It's like reading their blurb on the book cover. I am a sucker for cover reveals. Still, I'd prefer to meet an author IRL. I know that's more expensive than blog tours but there are so many book festivals, conventions, YA weekends now around the country…can't they be at some of these in their home region?

  14. Ellen Booraem Says:

    I'm in a group blog devoted to ya and mg fantasy–The Enchanted Inkpot (enchantedinkpot.blogspot.com). There are enough members so that each of us does only a couple or three or four posts a year, and I think that keeps it fresh. We do topic discussion posts on Mondays and interviews on Wednesdays, with the occasional YA or MG cover round-up or goofy haiku post thrown in here and there. Our stats indicate that the interviews and cover round-ups get good readership.

    As a mid-list author who is TERRIBLE at marketing, I liked doing the little blog tour I did when SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS came out, only because it gave me something else to link to on twitter or face book in addition to reviews. I do have to wonder, though, if we're not preaching to the choir–I know that most of my Twitter pals are fellow authors rather than prospective readers, perhaps because I write MG rather than YA. Facebook may reach a broader audience, at least for me.

    Looking forward to what others say!!

  15. Carrie Harris Says:

    I did a blog tour for BAD TASTE IN BOYS, and I'm planning to do one for BAD HAIR DAY. As you said, I think it's a good option to get the word out if you're not a book that's going to be featured by the big guns. And I did have quite a few people say that they got copies of the book because of one of my blog tour appearances–they hadn't heard of me before that! But I also think there's a sweet spot between too much and too little–I plan to scale back a little bit this year to avoid some of that repetitiveness and talking about myself too much thing that Maureen mentioned. I think dismissing blog tours full stop isn't necessary; like everything else, it's possible to do them right just as it is to do them OH SO WRONG.

  16. Ellen Booraem Says:

    I'm wondering if the key is to write about something other than yourself in a guest post. I think I got more buzz out of "concept" posts than I did from interviews, although some of the questions were great. Scalzi's "big idea" posts are a great example.

  17. DaphneUn Says:

    Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for continuing the discussion!

  18. Crystal Schubert Says:

    Hi! Sort of new to your blog, but I wanted to say that I don't think it's all just noise. I get a lot of book recommendations from reading various blogs. Like Carrie mentioned above, sometimes I simply hadn't heard of an author before I saw a blog tour post, so I think blog tours are a good tool for at least building some name recognition within a small subsection of the reading community.

    However, I think I tend to prefer straight reviews by the bloggers instead of a blog tour where the blogger interviews an author about the book, or a guest post about whatever. It's not as intriguing for me to read about an author's writing process until AFTER I've read the book, you know?

  19. Toby Neal Says:

    I'm an indie author/blogger with a series of Hawaii-based suspense mysteries. I about killed myself with my debut novel and close to 100 guest blogs/review sites. Not sure what tipped the scales, but my book Blood Orchids has been a success and I'm now leaving my day job!
    That said, I want to lie down and die at the thought of that much blogging and extra writing as I launch the second int he series next month, so I posted this: http://www.tobyneal.net/2012/06/16/is-anyone-read
    Huge response from other writers/authors.
    We are concluding SOMETIMES, BUT.
    I'm posting a followup tomorrow: Is the Blog Tour Dead? A conclusion.
    Glad to see i'm not the only one questioning the established marketing wisdom.

  20. stephscottil Says:

    I think it's helpful for newer authors because even if I don't click to read the full post on every blog in my feed that day, if I tend to see the same books promoted I will eventually check it out. It's that repetition of seeing a name/book title a few times that solidifies to the consumer. I can think of a dozen books now I've seen because of blog tours that I have on my radar, and if I'm browsing a bookstore or needing a new title for my Nook, I'll remember those and seek them out.

    I particualarly like hearing about an author's writing process, or how they got a story idea, so if they show a snippet of that in a blog tour sometimes it will convince me further to read a book.

  21. stephscottil Says:

    On the other side, the first time I hosted as part of a blog tour I almost quit blogging right then and there. Even though they'd provided me with everything to post, I had to learn about all the features of my blog I'd never used before (which seems stupid now but at the time, stressful). It had a contest with it that totally overwhelmed me. I know some authors hire out to have all that figured out, but I can only imagine how much work it is to plan it.

  22. Mike Hays Says:

    As an author from the rural center of America, doing blog tours, blog guest posts, etc. are the most readily available (if not only) method for publicity. I prefer to see originality in these post, though. I like to learn about an author and their stories, rather than just receiving a sales pitch.

    I agree there is a lot of noise out there. But, with the direction publishing appears to be headed, sifting through the noise and/or fighting through the noise to be heard may become key skills.

  23. Talynn Says:

    I love blog tours! I have read books I never would have heard about had it not been for a blog tour I stumbled upon or was invited to attend. I have recently started hosting blog tours on my blog and would love to offer a guest post on what I do to make a blog tour personal, entertaining and and enjoyable for the author, reader and visitor alike. You may contact me if you would like to talk!
    Thank you for asking this question!
    Talynn

  24. Robin Says:

    Actually, a guest post from the author can be interesting, but What i am really looking for is the situation where the blogger is given an ARC for her/himself and one or two to give away. Then the blogger reads and reviews the book and runs a contest for the giveaway. Maybe it's because I'm a librarian? I only want to read what authors have to say if they're really interested in it – in which case it should probably be on their own blog/twitter/tumblr/etc. But, I love to read reviews of upcoming works that are done by real, live readers like myself. Plus, I love a chance to win an ARC that I can read and then turn around and give as a prize to one of my students.

  25. Amy Sonnichsen Says:

    To be honest, I have been a little annoyed by certain blog tours and usually I don't end up reading the books anyway. I can usually tell from a blurb or a cover that I want to read the book, so blog tours feel redundant. I do like reading author interviews and hearing about new books, don't get me wrong, but when a "huge splash" is attempted, it usually has the opposite effect on me: turn off.

  26. Stephanie Perkins Says:

    As an author who got the entirety of her early readers through enthusiastic book blogger word-of-mouth, YES, blog tours are helpful for midlist authors. Any time that a cover can find a place to get some exposure is a positive thing. A lot of people have visual memories—get that cover out there!

    However, for authors who are fortunate enough to already be an established name, I believe that blog tours take too much time and energy. Book bloggers will most likely show a new cover and jacket copy—without an author ever having to be involved (time, time, time, energy, time)—if they already know/like an author.

    There will always be noise. Better to be a part of it than not, methinks.

  27. Stephanie Perkins Says:

    Have I mentioned lately how much I love book bloggers?

    THANK YOU, bloggers, for giving me a career.

  28. Friday Links « Writing and Rambling Says:

    […] Let’s Talk about Blog Tours – A good discussion of the pros and cons. […]

  29. Elizabeth Fama Says:

    Blog tours are popular because they are free for everyone involved…

    Blog tours are not free for the author, as Stephanie Perkins mentioned above, and Maureen Johnson calculated pretty clearly in her post. Every word you write for a blog you're not writing in your work-in-progress. Publishers also often staff a blogger-outreach person in-house to arrange these tours.

  30. About book blog tours: guest author posts that work for me - the stinking gourd Says:

    […] is old, but from kt literary (via bookshelves of doom): What ARE the options for the, let’s call it as it may be, midlist […]