What I learnt on my first Virtual Book Blog Tour
by Richard Denning
From 31st January until the 17th of March I embarked on a Virtual Blog Tour. Now it is over I thought it might be worthwhile feeding back some thoughts on how it went. Here then is a quick guide to what I did.
- Finding the blogs. Tomorrow’s Guardian is Young Adult Â Time Travel Fiction so What I did was to google terms such as Young Adult Fiction Blogs , Sci Fi book blogs etc. So firstly you need to identify your target audience. There is no point having the blog tour take in gardening books blog sites if it is Sci-Fi as the readers of those sites wont be interested. I then trawled through the sites looking for appropriate ones that matched the sort of book I was promoting.
TIP: There is a useful site that lists Blogs willing to review books. On the site he lists many blogs but also sells a 99cents pdf which is well worth the download as it Â contains a nice little reveiw of each blog with an idea of their policies and numbers of followers. http://www.stepbystepselfpublishing.net/book-reviewer-list.html
- So now I looked over the sites and established how many followers they had. I had no problem doing a blog on a small site or new site as I saw it as me helping them as well as them helping me BUT it makes sense to focus your tour on sites with hundreds of followers (or more). Many of these sites list the numbers of followers they have on Facebook and Google Friends or Twitter.
- Find the policy page. Most blogs will somewhere have a page that states what their policy is on doing book reviews, giveaways, hosting guest posts etc. They may also say whether they have any problems looking at self/independently published authors. Some get snooty about this. Others are open to looking at anything. Some will say that they are busy at present and can’t take new books till they clear their backlog. If in doubt locate an email address and send them a query. This can at times be hard as some blogs make it difficult to contact them.
- Email the Blog. I sent a press release about the book with short blurb, cover image and if possible some existing reviews or links to the Amazon page if it has reviews on. I politely asked about the possibility of them reviewing the book. Then I offered to take part in giveaways (ebook giveaways cost you nothing if you have done your own conversion, paperbacks cost you a few quid but I see this as an advertising expense) and also to provide them with content by way of a guest post. Most blogs will lap up guest posts. Make them interesting but linked in some way to your book.
- You can tell a lot from how quickly they respond to the email and if you send a follow up query how quickly they come back on that. Some site owners just put up a site, review 2 or 3 books and loose interest. Some owners agree to review your book and then fail to post a review or even to reply to emails. There is no easy way to pick this up apart from trial and error and I have already started drawing up my own list of good sites and bad sites. Once you do have communication going back and forth I offer a few dates to the blog owner. Try and give them at least 4 weeks notice and probably more like 2 months. Everyone has busy lives and people need time to read and review a book. I also agree about giveways, deadline on any guest post submission and also try and get an undertaking for the reviews to go up on Amazon and Goodreads as well as the owner putting it out on facebook.
- I collect the various blog dates into a tour itinerary and when it is fairly full publicise the dates. Get that on your website, Facebook and Twitter.
- Write all your guest posts. Try and get them done way before the actual tour itself. Tuck them away and when called for email the Blog owners. They will often come back and say “all set up and scheduled to run”. A few days before each blog post/ visit I email them and check all is ok.
- On the day of the post I see that it is up and then link to the PERMALINK. That is the actual individual address of the post NOT the Blog’s own URL. Usually if you click on the title of the post and save that address this will be aÂ permanentÂ link. I put that link on my website as well and now drop in a mention on Facebook and Twitter.
- I follow up the visit with a thank you email and keep the channels open for a return visit.
- Ideally I would then make some notes about each site so I can remember what went well and what not so well. Sometimes a Blog NEVER appeared on the agreed day. I usually follow that up with a polite “hope everything is OK” type message. If I hear nothing I send another similar message. Then I drop it and leave it to them to come back and make a note not to use them again.
Does it cost?
Well the short answer is “it depends”. There are a number of sites that now ONLY take e-books. If you have done your own e-book conversion it costs nothing other than your time. If you need to supply paperbacks to say 20 sites then that will cost a bit BUT just think a moment. If you place a single advert anywhere you will spend quite a bit of money. £7 to £8 to post a paperback to some one (including the book cost) should be seen as advertising expense in my opinion. I treat giveaways the same. Keep the numbers manageable though. I usually offer 1-2 paperbacks and 5 e-books.
So was it all worth it?
Time will tell. I have had reasonable (if not stellar) sales of paperbacks and e-books during the blog tour. Reviews you gathered and guest posts sit on the internet and provide ongoing advertising for you.
TIP: set up Google Alerts. You can specify various words and phrases such as “Tomorrow’s Guardian” or “Richard Denning” and then each day you get an email telling you if and where those terms come up. Many are not relevant but I find I pick up on many mentions of topics I want to know about and find reviews and comments and even forum posts and discussions. That way you can automate some of the monitoring of the internet but still keep an eye on what is going on.
Promoting and selling books is an on going and very hard task. The new world of publishing that the internet and ebooks allows has made it possible for small press, independent authors to get their books out there. But we need to be onto everytrick there is to help that process. Doing a Virtual Book tour is one of them.
Check out my own tour here: