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Friday, 15 February 2013

Lessons learned planning my blog tour

It’s time for another chapter in the story of my progress towards a blog tour in April. It's been a long and drawn out experience, but I have enjoyed it.

I decided I had two choices. Because of my lack of knowledge and experience in these things, the easy way out would have been to spend some money and hire one of the many blog tour specialists to do all the hard work for me. My second choice was to continue what I’ve been doing all along - plodding along and learning how to do everything myself, and share my experience, maybe helping other novice authors to make a decision as to what might work best for them. So this post is to share some of what I’ve learned along the way.

My first piece of advice is, if you have finished writing your book and you're up to the pre-publication processes of editing, choosing covers and so on, you should also be right in the thick of planning for your blog tour. I found the process of culling and selecting blogs from lists of bloggers and blog directories to be an extremely time consuming task, taking me several months. I began working on it in November last year at about the time my book was launched, and I was still sorting through them up to two weeks ago.

What you need to do is to work your way through the blogs and select those who will potentially be a good match for your book in terms of genre and style. To state it in the most obvious way, if you have written a sci-fi story, you won’t be looking for romance bloggers, unless you’ve come up with something rather unique.

Where do you start? If you want to do as I did and ‘go it alone’, just start by typing ‘blogger directory’ into a search engine, and start making a list from what comes up. When you have your list of blogger directories, work through the lists one at a time, looking for bloggers whose blogs are representative of your novel’s genre. Some lists will have the bloggers already sorted into genres, which certainly helps. I then began a second list - this time of potential blogs/bloggers - and when I had about 5 pages worth, I started to cull through them, eliminating those that weren’t quite right.

With those that seemed a good match, I then read the blogs through thoroughly, exploring the blog content to get a feel for the blogger. I read through policies to find out whether the blogger was willing to be a host for a tour. If you are self-published as I am, you will find many blogs that are suitable in all respects, but they won’t review or look at self-pubs. So your list of potential bloggers will shrink, and you might have to go and search out even more blogger directories as I did. I also sought out bloggers to follow on Twitter and kept a list of those to work through. When you have a list of bloggers and start going through them, I also recommend that you  follow those blogs you plan to approach as a means of showing genuine interest in what they do.

How many bloggers do you need? Well, that depends on how long you want your tour to be, but you will need to start with a list that is much longer than your proposed tour, because you will need to allow for rejections and those who simply won't reply to your pitch. I thought that I would plan for a ten-day tour. I sent my original pitch to 31 bloggers and from that list I ended up with 7 bloggers accepting, 6 declining and 18 not replying. A contact from Goodreads recommended some other bloggers not on my list so I approached them and had 2 more acceptances. I was still one short, but I eventually got another from another blogger’s recommendation.

There was one thing I had expected to be difficult, but it sorted itself out quite easily. I was expecting some problems in assigning the ten dates to the ten bloggers.  Bloggers often have regular schedules for their guest posts, preferring to host or do interviews on the same day each week, and I expected that some of my bloggers would request the same dates, and that juggling this might be difficult. However, although some of the bloggers expressed a preference for a certain date within my nominated range, if that date was already taken, they were all accommodating and it was a very smooth process. In fact, the process from sending out the 31 pitches, to having my ten bloggers took 5 days.

Happening at the same time as this process, was the planning of the schedule of guest posts, interviews, etc. I have read a lot of online information about blog tours over the past months, and have found that it is best practice in a blog tour not to have similar posts on consecutive days. My schedule has two back-to-back interviews, and two back-to-back excerpts, so I will be looking to vary these as much as possible - planning for very different questions with a different emphasis for the interviews, and different approaches and presentations of the excerpts to make them unique and different. I now have eight weeks left to plan, prepare and submit the posts.

If all this seems too much like hard work, it is, but there are many experienced blog tour organisers who can take the task off your hands. They arrange these tours every day of the week and have extensive networks of bloggers to draw on, and know exactly what genres they represent. I am pleased that I have done all the hard work of my upcoming tour myself but I feel daunted when I think ahead to planning another one. Next time, I will seriously consider paying the price to have it done for me.

Having planned my tour myself, I can’t actually recommend any tour planners for you to try if you want to go that way. You’d need to research this option for yourself, but it probably wouldn’t be as long and involved as the search for bloggers.  However, I have had some helpful advice and encouragement from a lovely woman named Teddy Rose this past week. She specialises in blog tours and I think I might certainly consider her as a starting point for help and advice for promoting my second book. If you’d like to check out what she can do for you in regard to planning a blog tour, check out the link below.

And if you are of an independent frame of mind and want to go it alone as I did, I’d like to hear about your experiences. I’ll be cheering you on.

Contact Teddy Rose here:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for mentioning me. I know how much work it is setting up a tour, so I am glad to be able to do the time consuming part for authors. One word of caution to other authors who decide to put together a tour for themselves, like Kerry did, be sure to read book blogger's review policies and be sure to read there blog over to make sure they read your genre book. I cannot tell you how many book pitches that bloggers get that have nothing in common with what they actually read. It's a waist of your time and theirs.