The Dos and Don’ts of Promotional Blog Tours

November 13, 2015 | By | 13 Replies More

anneGoodwin1(1)When I invited my blog followers to host a guest post to publicise my forthcoming novel, I never imagined I’d be embarking on a marathon tour of twenty-five posts over five weeks. I’m not sure if that makes me someone to emulate or a narcissistic masochist but, for what it’s worth, here are some suggestions for blog tourists based upon what I learnt in the process of mine.

As with any book promotion strategy, do plan ahead. I posted my request for hosts three months in advance of publication, which would have given me ample time to prepare my posts if I hadn’t been also working with my publisher on the final tweaks to my novel. So do give yourself time, not just to write the posts but to liaise with your hosts, respond to commenters and tweet the post when it’s published. It’s also polite to offer to reciprocate, hosting your hosts for a return visit (at some future time at their convenience) to your blog. I’d also hoped to introduce each of my hosts on my own blog on the day I visited them, but this would have been impossible if I also wanted to get to bed at night and a weekly summary had to suffice.

Do try to schedule a spread: I aimed for one post every weekday with a weekend break. But do be flexible: it did no harm to have two posts on publication day and a Sunday post in week five. It’s all about making it as easy as you can for your hosts; they’re the ones doing you a favour not the other way round.

Unless you’re pitching a post to fit with a specific series (for example, Urszula Humienik’s Monday Inspirations, Sacha Black’s focus on character or Avril Joy’s Writing Rooms), it’s generally easier for your hosts if you propose the topic, although you can give them a choice, as I did with this menu that accompanied my original request. Do make each post unique but don’t worry if there’s some overlap between them; that’s partly how you discover what your novel’s about! Do try to match posts to hosts in a way that fits with the style and ethos of their blog (for example, I asked Lori Schafer to host my post on the autobiographical element because she’s published a memoir, Julie Stock to host a piece on setting part of my novel in Cairo because she’s particularly interested in exotic settings) but don’t tie yourself in knots over it: part of the appeal of a guest post is bringing something different to the blog.

So make your content lively and engaging, perhaps working a little harder on your guest post than you might for a post on your own blog. Consider it a gift to your host rather than an obligation. Do choose subjects that connect with the book you’re promoting but don’t make it all about your book: the aim is to inform potential readers of your book’s existence without alienating those of your host’s followers who genuinely don’t want to know. Better still, write a how-to-do-it post like this one or The shrinking violet’s guide to promoting your novel generously hosted by Charli Mills. It can feel uncomfortable to put yourself forward as an expert, but readers are always free to disagree.

blog tour summary(1)Do offer your hosts a range of images they can use to accompany your words but don’t bombard them. Most will want an author photograph and PDF of your book cover, but bloggers differ in their use of images so let them call the shots. (I couldn’t have sent my illustrated walking route to anyone but photo-blogger Geoff LePard.) Do consider creating a media page where hosts can select from a range of options, although I’m not sure mine was used to great deal.

Do take the same flexible approach to the blog tour button: some bloggers will proudly display one whereas others won’t admit they’re part of a tour. I think it’s still worth creating one, however, as you can use it for tweets and on your own blog. I had five – one for each week of the tour – assembled by superimposing text on my cover image using PicMonkey, which is free to use. All you need is a list of dates, blog titles and addresses. But do take care to check it thoroughly before saving; make a mistake and you’re back to square one.

A publicist, if you have one, will organise the tour for you, but I don’t think I’d have been as happy with someone else at the wheel. However, an intermediary makes it easier to include reviews within the tour. Personally, I shied away from asking bloggers not only to read and review my novel but to post their review on a specific day.

Most of all, don’t fret and do enjoy it! But, be warned! These things can become addictive.

If you’ve hosted a post, done the grand tour or watched from the sidelines, what do you think are the main elements of a successful blog tour?

Anne Goodwin writes fiction, short and long, and blogs about reading and writing, with a peppering of psychology. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill. Catch up on her website: annethology or on Twitter @Annecdotist.




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Category: On Book Marketing

Comments (13)

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  1. Alive says:

    Good piece! I’ve commisioned blog tours as well as done my own for all four books. The important qualities you need are grit and organisational skills, but the essential one is to be nice.

    Don’t expect your book to fly off the shelf immediately – this is marketing, not selling – but you are building up great contacts as well as awareness of your book. Good luck to all!

    • Annecdotist says:

      Thanks, Alison, you’ve obviously got a lot of blog tour experience under your belt. I like the way you sum it up: Be nice! Can’t go far wrong there. I also appreciate your distinction between marketing and selling – I’ll bear that in mind when I’m wondering why people are walking past my stall!

  2. Very useful. Thank you. I am trying not to get anxious about all this, and your post has helped.

  3. Terry Tyler says:

    This is a really helpful post, Anne, especially for new writers, I would imagine, but also for old hands like me. I have never done anything as ambitious or organised as a blog tour, but have been featured on a fair few people’s blogs with my new book coming out last month. Yes – the difficulty is not repeating oneself! I think I’ve only had about 7 posts, plus some reviews, but already I am starting to feel embarrassed, wondering if people are thinking, oh God, not this bloody book again. But then, they’re not all on Twitter at the same time as I am!

    • Annecdotist says:

      Pleased to know there’s something here for an experienced promoter like you! The possibility of overkill is also a concern of mine, but I think if a post addresses much more than “buy my book” people don’t really mind. I don’t know if it’s something about this particular novel, or the way my mind works, but I still haven’t exhausted my ideas for associated blog posts. And where there’s a possible overlap, I’ve tended to link to and build on the previous post.
      Of course, someone might come back to this now and tell me I’ve overdone it – I am aware that five weeks plus heading for a dozen follow-ups is rather extreme!

  4. Emma says:

    I’ve been a stop on several blog tours before. And I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I made a deliberate decision to take this year off from them though. I love book blogging but agreeing to review or post on a set day was getting too much. I totally agree with you about making it easy for bloggers – it’s so important.

    My points on how to make it work for bloggers would be:
    Agree with the hosts what you’re going to write in the guest posts – I got told I was getting a guest post and then with no warning sent a one written from the perspective of a dead character about being dead. The date I had on the tour was the anniversary of a friends death – the now defunct blog tour organiser banned me for refusing to share it on that day and “ruining the tour”

    Give me time to get stuff done – if you want a post up on Tuesday I’ll get it up on Tuesday. But I update my blog in the evening usually so that’s when it’ll be up. If you want it up at 9 am on Tuesday don’t tell me on Monday night.

    Share the links back to my posts etc.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Sorry you’ve had to take a break from hosting, Emma, so annoying to have people abuse your hospitality that way. Thanks for underlining those points about AGREEING the topic and giving the blogger sufficient time to get the post up. It’s like visiting someone’s home – we have to remember our manners!
      Hope you have some better experiences in the future.

  5. JazzFeathers says:

    Great post!
    I’m planning to self-publish a story next year and the blog tour is one of the options I think I’ll chose as promotion. I just like the idea a lot, and I like your take at it. I do plan to enjoy it.
    Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  6. Really good advice – am just organising the tour for my debut and am stunned at how generous bloggers are. Can only handle 2 weeks though, 5 is quite a commitment!

    • Annecdotist says:

      Thanks, Catherine. Five weeks was a bit crazy, to be honest, but I was enjoying it so much I didn’t want it to end! I think it was partly because it was an opportunity to look at my novel from lots of different angles, so I rarely felt as if I was repeating myself. I’ve continued to do a fair number of guest posts related to my novel since ending the tour – I think it’s rather obsessional – or a way of avoiding getting on with my next! Wishing you all the best with yours – I do think a fortnight is plenty.

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