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How to Plan a Blog Tour

We start our November series on Virtual Book Tours, with an absolutely brilliant post from Camy Tang, that covers all aspects of virtual book tours. I had originally intended to write my own post on virtual book tours but whilst doing the research Camy suggested that I looked at her post on organising a blog tour. Her post is so good that I dropped the idea of writing one and asked her instead if we could use hers on the blog, thankfully she agreed.

Earlier this year Camy ran her Deadly Intent Blog Tour which ran for nearly two months, had an astounding number of venues and is notable in the diversity of methods and content that Camy used to promote her book. So far this year, the Deadly Intent blog tour, has set ‘The Standard’ for others to follow.

So we are very pleased to have her share her knowledge on these pages.

 

An overview of this series and links to the other posts can be found at

A Look at Virtual Book Tours

 

 

Internet marketing – blog tours

09-11-12a Camy_Tang_bookshelf This article originally appeared as a series of blog posts.
Because of the nature of the web, blog tours have become an effective marketing tool. However, like most marketing strategies, it’s hard to quantify how effective it is in terms of sales.

Regardless, blog tours are low cost and get the word out (buzz) about you and your book, and that’s never a bad thing.

Also, if you’ve got a website contest going on, a blog tour is a great way to get the word out about it, because you can mention the contest at each blog on the tour.

Please use the following guidelines to help you schedule the time you’ll need for the blog tour. You’ll need time the month before the tour in setting it up (contacting people, writing guest blog posts or answering interview questions), and you’ll also need time during the tour to email reminders, to post the daily stops on the tour, to comment on each blog on the tour, and to correct any mis-posts.

Setting up a blog tour:
You can hire a publicity company to do this for you, or you can hire a virtual assistant privately to set it up for you. Most of the time, with these two options, they will send out an e-blast to a bunch of bloggers, and some will agree to host your blog tour on their blog. They usually post the book blurb and your bio, but not much else.

You can also go the cheap route and set it up yourself, especially if you know a lot of people who have blogs. This also gives you more control over the content in the blog tour.

In setting it up yourself, you simply email your friends who have blogs and ask them if they’d be willing to be part of your blog tour. Give dates—typically a good blog tour lasts anywhere from 2 weeks to a month, sometimes longer. Some blog tours are shorter—3 days—so it’s up to you how long you want your tour. A longer tour typically means softer internet buzz about you over a longer period of time, while a shorter tour means a strong internet buzz about you over those few days.

I will usually email friends at least a month before the tour starts, ideally 6 weeks so that I can send books to each blogger in plenty of time (see the next post about sending books) and have lots of time to answer interview questions and write up guest blog posts.

Each person who agrees to be part of your blog tour then picks a date that they will post about your book. An alternative is to ask each person to commit to posting during a certain week of the tour, and then in your Blog Tour Schedule, list the bloggers by week.

Important etiquette: Generally, if someone agrees to be part of your blog tour, you are required to send them a free copy of your book to read.

If they want to give a copy away on their blog, then you provide another copy for them to give away. Another method is to have them email you the mailing address of the winner, and you can send the winner their copy directly.

Pictures: Make sure you send everyone .jpg files of your book cover and you so they can post it on their blog.
 

Central website: Mary DeMuth recently had a blog tour where she had a central website page that included everything for the tour. This is an excellent tool and I intend to use this next time. Her centralized website included:
–links to pictures that people could use
–book blurb and links to buy her book
–link to excerpt
–the Blog Tour Schedule
–canned interviews people could use
–links to examples of reviews and interviews
–detailed instructions and HTML code for those so inclined

I probably wouldn’t include canned interviews because then people all post the same content (I’ll be talking more about content in the next post).

I also would link to my centralized website from my blog and/or website so it’s easy to find—I lost the email with the address and had to search for it to get the information on Mary’s tour. I might even make it a post on my blog so that it’s easier to find.

However, this idea of a centralized website was fabulous and I intend to cannibalize it in future blog tours.

Content:
The best blog tours have completely original content on each and every blog.

You can have a blog tour where each person posts the same pre-written interview or just the blurb of the book and your bio, and those are still good blog tours because the large number of blogs that post about you and your book is still generating some internet buzz.

However, you ideally want an interesting, interactive blog tour, one where people will visit every single blog on the tour. For that to happen, you must have original content at each “stop.”
This requires pre-planning on your part. When you email your friends to ask them to be part of your blog tour, give them three options: to post a review, to post an interview with you (where they email you about 5 questions to answer), or to post a guest blog post written by you about whatever topic they prefer.

If you do your blog tour in conjunction with another group like the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, try to encourage people to email you to get original content for their stops on the blog tour. I had several people in the CFBA who were stops on my blog tour (and got a link on my Blog Tour Schedule) because they posted original content.

 
Try to return your interview answers or the guest blog post in good time. I try to request the questions and return them before the blog tour even starts. You must make sure you give the blogger enough time to format the post before posting it. Some bloggers will post at midnight the day they’re supposed to post, so you must get them the content at least two days before, but that’s pushing it, in my opinion.

Reviews: This means the blogger commits to reading your book and writing the review before it’s their date to post.
Now, you also have to realize that your blogger friend has the right to give you only a so-so review, because it’s their blog and their review. You still have to link to them because they’re part of your blog tour.
However, most of the time, your friend will give you a pretty good review. Just be prepared in case you don’t get lots of gushing.

Interviews: The blogger emails you about 5 questions to answer. This enables the blogger to ask questions that tie in to their blog’s theme if they choose. For example, my blog is light, funny, and quirky, so I’ll ask quirky questions when I send interview questions.
Make sure that even if people ask the same questions, that you don’t just copy and paste answers. Make each answer original writing. If you can, give a different spin on the answers for each blog.
For example, I was often asked how I came up with the idea for the Sushi series. My answers from three different blogs is below:

From Robin Caroll’s blog: What was your inspiration for Sushi for One?
I promise it wasn’t my family! My grandma (and my parents, and my other relatives) are nothing like Grandma Sakai. GS was a conglomeration of stories I heard from friends about their parents/aunties/siblings/grandparents. Of course, once I had Grandma Sakai, what better than to pit her against Christian single women in her family with as much backbone as she has?

From Amber Miller’s blog: What gave you the inspiration for this book?
I actually thought up all the cousins’ personalities at the same time, so I “knew” all of them before I even wrote Sushi for One. I made Lex as good at volleyball as I wished I was. :) Then I went into her family situation and her personality and thought, “What would be the best and worst things that could happen to her?”
Then I applied Donald Maass’ WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK and asked, “How can I make things worse?” I’m so evil. :)

From Erica Vetsch’s blog: Can you tell us a little about how the story went from idea to published novel?
People have asked me if Grandma Sakai is based on my own grandma. No, she’s not. However—unfortunately—she’s a conglomeration of my friends’ aunties, mothers, and grandmothers.
I think lots of people can relate to at least one relative who’s always pestering the single people in their family about getting married and having kids. Sometimes it’s amusing, sometimes it’s downright annoying.
I wondered what would happen if the Buddhist matriarch of a family fell down hard and heavy on a close-knit group of cousins who all happened to be Christian.
I also wanted the cousins to be not-your-average chick lit heroines—I wanted them to be characters that readers would relate to and yet find intriguing. So I made one a jock, one a flirt, one a cactus, and one a doormat. The Sushi Series was born.

Camy here:
You can see how I had a slightly different spin on each question, to make each blog on the tour unique despite the fact they asked similar questions.
I also tailored my answers to the particular blog: Robin is a strong personality who writes strong heroines, so I brought out Grandma Sakai’s strong personality in my answer. Amber’s interview was geared toward writers, so my answer was focused more toward writers. And I tailored Erica’s answer more toward the entire series rather than just book one.

Guest blog posts: The blogger will ask you to write a short blog post, often on a topic of their choosing. Usually the topic is in line with the blog’s theme or the blogger’s interests.
Sometimes they’ll say to just blog about whatever you feel like. Even when given carte blanche like this, try to aim the blog post toward the blogger’s theme.
For example, when blogging for Sharon Hinck, I wrote about superheroes in my life since her theme is “The Superhero in all of us.” When blogging for Mary DeMuth, I wrote about authenticity since Mary’s blog is very authentic. I also managed to sneak in info on my writing and my books, since the blog tour is essentially to get the word out about you.
Try to keep your guest blog posts SHORT. I try to aim for 250 – 500 words. Do NOT run on for more than 750 words maximum, and only do that if the blogger has asked you to address several things in your blog post.

Scheduling:
Some blog tours schedule one person per day. Others let the bloggers choose whichever day they like, and there will be a few gaps.

Still others do a combination of both—bloggers can choose dates, but if someone asks you for a date, you try to schedule at least one person for each day on the tour. For my blog tour, I ended up with at least one person for each day, and some days had several people because they chose that particular date.

Some people will ask for several dates—that’s fine! Sometimes they will send lots of interview questions and break the interview up over two days. Sometimes they will post both a review and an interview, or a guest blog post and an interview, or a combination of the three options you’ve given them.

In general, Monday through Friday are the best days to post, with lower traffic over the weekends. If someone chooses to post over the weekend, you can request that they keep the post up over Monday so that you get maximum exposure. However, if they choose not to, don’t get upset.

Remember, it’s their blog and they’re doing you a favor.

Logistics:
Make sure you’ve scheduled everything on either a spreadsheet or a calender.

For each day of the tour, make sure you have written down which blogger, their blog address, and whether they’re doing a review, interview, or guest blog post, or a combination of all three.

Also write down if you’ve received the interview questions yet. If you haven’t, email them to remind them to send them to you so you have time to get the answers back to them in good time.

Also write down if you’ve written their guest blog post yet. Try to get that done before the blog tour even starts.

Pictures: Make sure you’ve emailed everyone .jpg files of yourself and your book cover so they can post them with the review, interview, or guest blog post.

The Blog Tour Schedule: If you have a blog, prepare a draft of a post that will include all the stops on your blog tour. Link each stop to the blogger’s blog address so your blog readers can click on it to get to the blog.
If you don’t have a blog, you can also email your Blog Tour Schedule to any email loops you belong to which allow you to post about those sorts of things. Be sure to adhere to the guidelines for each of your email loops. In your email, do the same thing as above and link to each blog address on the tour.

In addition to listing the dates and the blogs, I also try to write a short sentence to entice the reader to come to that particular blog. Since I have original content on each blog, I can say something different for each stop on the tour.

Here’s my blog tour post as an example (you have to scroll down to the end because I added the interview excerpts after the tour was over). To a few email loops I belong to, I sent both the schedule list AND the link to the updated schedule on my blog.

If you have a blog, prepare a post for each day that will highlight that day’s blog stops. You can pre-date the posts so that they’re ready to just post when the day arrives.

Here’s an example of day thirteen on my blog tour. I pre-wrote each day’s post (day thirteen, day fourteen, etc.) so that as each day came, I just posted and didn’t have to worry about writing anything. Essentially, I just copied the short sentence from my blog tour schedule.

Email reminders: Ahead of time, write an email for each person on the blog tour to remind them that they’re posting “tomorrow, [Month, date].” Save these emails as drafts so that you can just click and send the day before the blogger is scheduled to post for your tour.
In these emails, resend your Interview questions or Guest Blog post, and also resend .jpgs of you and your book cover.

Giving away books: This is an option you can offer to your bloggers. They can give away books however they like—most will say to post a comment on the post about you and they’ll draw a name out of a hat on a certain date.

If you give your bloggers this option, be prepared to either mail them an extra copy of your book or have them email you the mailing address of the winner so you can mail the winner their copy directly.

During the blog tour:
Permalinks: During the blog tour, post on your blog each day and link to the blog hosting you for that day. When the blogger has put up your post, change the link on your daily blog post and your Blog Tour Schedule to the permalink for that particular post.
For example, before the tour started, I had:

-Alison Strobel Morrow interviews my chick-litty self, and I give the original blurb for Sushi for One that I used for my proposal.-

The link to Alison’s blog was just her main blog page, http://alisonstrobel.blogspot.com/.
However, after she posted the interview with me, I changed the link to http://alisonstrobel.blogspot.com/2007/09/sushi-for-one_14.html, which is the permalink on her blog for that particular post.

-Alison Strobel Morrow interviews my chick-litty self, and I give the original blurb for Sushi for One that I used for my proposal.-

That way, when people click on the link to Alison’s blog, it will take them directly to the post with the interview.

I changed the links on both my post for day fifteen of my blog tour, and also the main post of the full Blog Tour Schedule.

Visit your blogs:
For each day, visit the blogs on your tour and leave a comment, thanking them for posting. You can also answer any questions commenters may have posed.

Correct for any mis-posts:
Things will always crop up. Just keep your cool and remember that it’s not a big deal.

Sometimes someone will forget to post. Just email them and ask them if they’re going to post that day, or if they’d like to post a different day. Then change the dates on your Blog Tour Schedule, and your daily blog tour posts.

Sometimes a blogger will not be able to post on their scheduled day. Just ask them if they would post on a different day, and then change the dates on your Blog Tour Schedule, and your daily blog tour posts.

Sometimes people will post on the wrong date. Just change the dates on your Blog Tour Schedule and your daily blog tour posts.

Some people will drop out of the tour, never answer your emails, and never post when they’re supposed to. Just erase their link from the Blog Tour Schedule and your daily blog tour posts.

After the blog tour:
Take a breath and rejoice—it’s done!

Take time to thank everyone who participated. If anyone did a book giveaway, remind them to draw the name and give you the mailing address (if you’ll be mailing the books to the winners).
Now look at see what could have been done better.

Did it take way too much of your time? Consider hiring someone to do the emailing and blog posting for you next time. You’ll still need to do the interview questions and write guest blog posts, however, so schedule time in for that. Or maybe you don’t care about original content and would be happy with just the book blurb and your bio on a bunch of blogs during a few days. Decide what you want and how much time you’re willing to spend on it.

Did you get people their interview questions or guest blog posts in time? If not, then try to schedule more time for yourself next time before the blog tour starts. Also, what I do is do the interview the day I receive it (or the next day if it’s late in the evening when I get it) so that I can get it out of the way and sent off as soon as possible. If someone asks for a guest blog post, I also try to write it that day or the next so it’s done quickly. That way, I only had one or two things to write each day rather than 10 interviews to complete the night before the blog tour started.

Did you write your daily blog posts ahead of time? If you didn’t, consider doing that for next time.
Were you prompt on emailing people? Maybe you need a daily reminder on your computer.
Were there several people who mis-posted or didn’t post at all? Remember who they were so that you know who you can count on for your next blog tour.

Now gear up for your next tour!

 

A Little Bit About Camy Tang

 

09-11-12c Camy_Tang_pink

My name is Camy Tang, and I write Christian romance and romantic suspense with Asian American characters.
Nosy relatives, sibling rivalry, and parental angst are the same whatever your ethnic background, and I hope my stories give people a fun taste of Asian American culture.
If you like humor and romance, my chick lit Sushi Series is out now!

Camy’s blog is at camys loft

Camys’ website is at camytang

 

 

09-11-12b DeadlyIntentweb

Books by Camy Tang 

Sushi for One? in september 2007

Only Uni, in Febuary 2008

Single Sashimi, in August 2008

Deadly Intent, in July 2009

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4 comments to How to Plan a Blog Tour

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Le_Shack: I was so impressed by this post, I asked if I could post it on my blog. Virtual book tours, best how to yet. http://bit.ly/GskUm

  • Blog tours are a fantastic way of getting your book/s ‘out there.’ I am currently on my first blog tour with Wow Women on Writing. http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com. The whole tour was organized well in advance; I sent out books to review posts, and my blog hosts emailed me their requests for posts or interview questions. All the posts are to do with writing for children, my area, but all were different, and in some cases challenging. It has been a wonderful way of promoting my book, myself, and my skills. Many sites allow you to share on social media sites, or else the host does this for you.

    • Fiona I would like to wish you the very best of luck with the tour and if you would like to keep notes and write a post about your blog tour adventures and mis-adventures, I would be pleased to post it as part of this series.

  • Thanks for reposting my article! I hope it helps other writers!
    Camy