How to Make Your Blog Tours More Successful
I could be shocked: “What do you MEAN? Of course they work!”
I could be ambivalent: “Meh. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.”
I could be doubtful: “Not really. But we can keep our fingers crossed.”
I could be enthusiastic: “Absolutely! All the time. Every time!”
So which one is it?
I’ve run several blog tours, with blog tour groups and on my own, and I’ve learned that promotions aren’t always 100% effective (c’mon, no one has a PERFECT record, right?). But I’ve also learned that there are simple things you can do to coax potential out of any situation, making a ho-hum promotion a successful one or an already good promotion into a great one.
“Blog tours DO work,” I told the author, “but you need to be willing to put in a little effort.” She and I talked for several minutes about what we’ve done in the past and what we both could do now to make her next blog tour more successful. Here are a few tips we discussed:
1. Define “success”. Before you begin, determine what you want out of the tour. Blog tours are traditionally defined as “coordinated media blitzes where free books are offered in exchange for coverage or review of that book during a specific time period.” (The tour is arranged for a day, a week or longer, and participants are assigned to post information on the book at a given time during that tour). But success can be defined many ways. Do you measure it by the total number of participants in a tour? Do you measure it by how many people review the book (as opposed to just posting information about the book)? Do you measure it by how many people interact with the author during the tour? Do you measure it by search engine rankings? Do you measure it by sales? Every author and publisher has their own goals, so define what it is you want from the tour before you start. And then communicate that to the tour coordinator so he or she can help you achieve the success you want.
2. Provide original content. When gathering the necessary materials for a blog tour group, it’s very easy for publishers to grab the “stock copy” they’ve developed for the book, whether that be catalog copy or back cover copy or something else. While there’s nothing wrong with those pieces, ask yourself whether or not they really reach a blogging audience. At Kregel, catalog copy is written for sales reps and back cover copy is written for readers. Bloggers are certainly both, but they have their own identity too. Can you write a short description about your book that would be more enticing for bloggers? Absolutely. Look at the blogs that participate in the blog tour group. Understand who you are working with. Then give them something they won’t be able to refuse.
3. Promote a review with an incentive. Many tour services don’t require a review to be posted. While the basic information still markets the book and puts out more data for search engine web crawlers to find, here’s a not-so-profound secret: Publishers love reviews. We always want more! Granted, we want GOOD reviews, but we appreciate the not-so-good ones as well (yes, really… what better way to grow as a publisher and writer?) So if a review is what you want, ask for it. I recently offered a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky blogger who posted a review. I didn’t require a review, but I offered an incentive to those who wrote one. The chance at a gift card made my bloggers much more responsive. I had over fifty registrants and over forty of them reviewed, making that tour one of the most successful I’ve ever coordinated. One note of caution: If you work with a blog tour group, always ask permission before you offer an incentive. I think you’ll find that tour coordinators are more than willing to work with you. They want successful tours too!
So do blog tours really work? Yes they do, and they work better when you’re involved. These are just three easy tips and tricks that may help. Visit my website http://www.cathoort.com/Marketer.html for more ideas. Or comment here and share your thoughts and suggestions. To tour or not to tour. Do you?
About the Blogger: Cat Hoort is Trade Marketing Manager at Kregel Publications.