Monday, 3 February 2014

What is a Blog Tour?

By Iola Goulton

What is a Blog Tour?

A blog tour is the virtual equivalent of a book tour. Instead of trawling around the country with a pen and a suitcase full of books, an author arranges to promote their book across a series of blogs.  

I participate in several blog tour programmes, sometimes as a reviewer and sometimes as an influencer (if you remember, I discussed the difference last week: a reviewer shares their opinion of a book, while an influencer try to influence others to buy and read the book).

I’ve seen several different types of blog tour, and I’m going to summarise them today.

Review Tour

acrbaTours such as the Australasian Christian Readers Blog Alliance are review tours. An author or publisher books a place on the tour, bloggers request the books they are interested, and post a review, an author interview, or some promotional material about the book on a designated day. Over the course of a week or a month the author will get reviews and interviews from a wide range of bloggers, hopefully each with a different audience. In most cases, the individual blogger is providing the content in the form of a book review.

The down side of a review tour is that some bloggers will request books and never post reviews or interviews. Sure, they will post the basic promotional code (usually a book cover, book blurb, author photograph and biography), but they won’t say anything about the book or author. As a reader, these blog tours are useless to me. They actually make me less likely to read the book, because my assumption is that there is no review because the blogger read the book and didn’t like it.

I understand that bloggers might not have time to read every book they agree to feature as part of a blog tour, but it seems that just posting a book blurb and cover isn’t going to convince many people to buy the book without a review or something more. This is where the next type of tour can benefit both busy bloggers and authors: the interview tour.

Interview Tour


The interview tour includes stops at a range of blogs appealing to the target reader for the individual book. The author may write a series of articles promoting their book, or be interviewed by the blogger. If you look at the blog tour schedule for KM Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel, you’ll see she’s got a series of articles with some high-profile bloggers, including The Creative Penn, LiveHacked and Jane Friedman. This would have been a lot of work to set up, but it sold me the book (which I highly recommend, by the way).

Litfuse Publicity Group | - Something is always stirring here!This works well for non-fiction, but it might not work so well for fiction. The blog tour demonstrated KM Weiland’s understanding of and expertise in plotting, which convinced me to buy the book. But for fiction, the relationship between the quality of writing in the post and the expected quality of the book isn’t so direct.

So what do fiction authors cover in their blog tours? JodyHedlund decided to organise a tour where she shared little-known facts about herself. This was supported by a bigger blog tour organised by Litfuse, a book publicity specialist. She also had activity on Pinterest and Facebook.

Contest

One final kind of promotional blog tour is a contest of some description. Author interviews may well include a contest for a free copy of the book, usually a paperback for US readers and ebook for international readers. In order to enter the contest, readers usually have to comment on the post and answer a question related to the book.

Other contests will be purely promotional. For example, CrossReads do two-weekly book blasts in which 25 bloggers will promote the same book, and blog visitors can enter a competition to win a $50 Amazon voucher. I don’t know if these sell books, but they’ve certainly increased the number of people who’ve ‘Liked’ my Facebook page, Iola’s Christian Reads!

Blog Chase

This is a relatively new concept, and it’s a cross between a blog tour and a contest. Instead of focusing on reviews or author interviews, each post will share something different about the book, and will link to the previous and next post in the chase. Each post will pose a question, and at the end, readers will have to answer all the questions in order to enter the contest draw. Only readers who have ‘chased’ from the beginning will have all the answers.

International Christian Fiction Writers featured a blog chase in October and November 2013, promoting Heaven’s Prey by Janet Sketchley. Australasian Christian Writers will be starting a chase this week to celebrate the launch of Falling for the Farmer, by our own Narelle Atkins. Be sure to stop by on Wednesday to join in the fun!

By Iola Goulton. I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website (www.christianediting.co.nz), or follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christianediting), Twitter (@IolaGoulton) or Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/iolasreads).

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog (www.christianreads.blogspot.com). I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon Reviewer Rank that floats around 2600.

17 comments:

  1. Fascinating! I'm learning so much from all these posts, thanks Iola. I'd seen all of these except the blog chase, but it is still great to have it all defined.
    Looking forward to Wednesday!

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    1. The blog chase is a pretty new concept - we'll see if it catches on with readers.

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  2. Concise & useful info, Iola. I will keep for future consideration, but right now, travelling the country with a box of books seems a whole lot easier to handle. People, I can cope with; technology scares me! Rhonda.

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    1. A lot of writers are more introverted, and I suspect they find the travelling and fronting up with a box of books a lot harder. The other advantage of the virtual tour is you aren't limited by geography - you can visit any blog, anywhere, at any time.

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  3. I am finding this blog tremendously helpful as far as the information we writers need to keep abreast of things.Thanks to Iola and all the other contibutors.

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    1. Thank you, Rita. It's great to know people find our posts useful.

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  4. Iola, thanks for providing these helpful definitions. When Jenny and I first started talking about setting up ACRBA, it took me a while to get my head around all the details of a review/blog alliance tour, from both the author and blogger perspective.

    I'd be interested to hear Jenny Blake's opinion on one of your points. We ask all the ACRBA members to post the standard tour information, even if they don't request or review the book. I'm pretty sure all the other blog alliances are set up the same way. I agree that the standard post (book cover, book blurb, author photo and author bio) is, on its own, not going to sell the book. But it does provide marketing exposure. Multiple exposures of the book and author information may get the book on a reader's radar. I have assumed that the review tour/blog alliance posts without reviews are the result of the blog alliance members not having the time or interest in reading every book that is toured. I don't perceive it as a reflection on whether or not the book is a good or bad read. I'd be interested to hear what others think when they see the standard tour post without a review.

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    1. That's a good point, Narelle. I suppose it depends on the individual blogger - do they usually post reviews? Some might only ever post the standard tour information. And it might depend on the rules of the tour: some want reviews, others might be happy just to get the marketing exposure.

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    2. Iola, as people have different preferences not all will request all books but many will still post the html. I am one of those and I also do it at CFBA. We have found unless there is a major issue with the book all who have requested have so far posted a review or put a note to say review coming. (we have had a couple of people say they could not review a book as they could not give a good review and we were ok with this). I have had people say comment on my blog that they liked the look of a book without having a review or interview.

      I think it depends on your audience. My blog has been doing blog tours for over 5 years now and my audience knows I post the html for all tours but only review the books I request. They also know what my preference is for books so by not having a review they know its not that I didn't like the book its that I didn't request the book.

      I agree with Narelle it does give publicity for a book.

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    3. Jenny, your posts often include an author interview, and those are excellent, and provide additional flavour to the basic blog post. Besides, a review and an interview would probably be too much for one blog post!

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    4. Iola My blog alliance posts dont include an interview they will have a review if I read the book but most are just the basic html especially the past 6 - 8 months where I haven't requested many CFBA book. Partly because of not being well but partly because many of the American publishers do not send to Australia.

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  5. Hi everyone,
    Another great and informative post.
    Narelle and Jenny, I have to say I agree with Iola, when it comes to seeing standard links with no personal feedback on blog alliance blog tours. I always look forward to seeing what readers actually think before I make a commitment to buy a book. If I scroll down and see nothing beneath the official bio, photo and blurb, I'm disappointed. If the same thing happens for one book several times, it gets repetitive and I begin to wonder why so many people couldn't be bothered thinking of anything to say about this book. It might be getting exposure, but the message seems to be that people can't be bothered finishing it to share their thoughts or recommend it.
    I'm getting together an interview tour for 'Imogen's Chance' in April. I've only ever seen a few blog chases. It sounds like a great way to encourage people to visit each blog and I'm looking forward to seeing more. It must take a good bit of liaison with every person who has agreed to host you. Sounds like a jigsaw puzzle. Fascinating.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one with questions if there is no review!

      You are right - a lot of work goes into organising a successful blog tour, but it can be done.

      I've recently participated in a tour for Sixteen, by Emily Rachelle, a debut YA author who is herself only a teen. I think she did a brilliant job in organising the tour, offering author interviews, and writing a range of specific posts for different participating blogs.

      One of the keys for a successful blog tour is getting organised early: Emily contacted me three months before her blog tour to pitch her book and ask if I'd host her. That meant I was able to schedule her in the the timeframe she was looking for (which was a 16-day tour starting on January 16.

      Today is actually the final day of her tour, so pop on over to http://emilyrachellewrites.blogspot.co.nz/2014/01/sixteen-blog-tour-kick-off-giveaway.html to enter her giveaway, or read reviews at http://alexaskrywer.blogspot.co.nz/ and http://christianreads.blogspot.co.nz/2014/01/indie-blog-tour-and-giveaway-sixteen-by.html.

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  6. Thank you for the discussion everyone. I also find all this daunting and will look forward to Wednesday and seeing how the tour for Falling For The Farmer unfolds.

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  7. Thanks for visiting, Elaine. What thoughts do you have on marketing your next book?

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  8. I agree with Iola and Paula about posting a link but no review. To me this seems pointless. If I don't feel I can say anything positive about a book in a review, then I will not put up the link. Of course that doesn't always mean I don't like a book if I don't participate in a tour. It may just mean life is to busy at that time.

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  9. Thanks, Iola. I'm learning so much on these Monday posts.

    Looking forward to participating in Narelle's blog chase this week. First one for me. :)

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