Did you include a blog tour as part of your last book launch? If you didn’t (or if you’re planning a launch right now) you need to consider it! Blog tours are a smart, relatively easy way to market your book right from home. Now more than ever, a blog tour might be the best way to promote your book and your brand!
In this post, we’ll look at the ins and outs blog tours, how to plan yours, what your goals should be, and even some bonus marketing tips. Most importantly, these strategies are done entirely online. You can take your book on a blog tour without ever changing out of your sweatpants!
And yes, I am wearing sweatpants as I write this…
What Is A Blog Tour?
Basically, you’re going to ‘visit’ a bunch of different blogs around the web! That means creating unique content for each blog and appearing on a planned schedule, usually over a couple of weeks. It’s like extreme guest blogging.
For many authors, it’s even better than that. Because you might not even be writing most of this content. Ideally, you’ll find bloggers to work with, give them a copy of your book to review, and they’ll write something about you!
Just be sure you have some copy prepared to use; a description of your book, yourself, and the preferred links for both.
Why Do A Blog Tour?
Don’t be fooled into thinking a blog tour is easy. You won’t have to get in your car and drive across the state to bookstores for signings. But there’s still a lot that goes into it. The effort can definitely be worth it though; there is a lot to be gained from a blog tour.
First, you get a ton of exposure to a new audience. Just like a guest blog. Every blog that you get to be a part of is an opportunity to connect with new audiences and new writers. Don’t undervalue the back-links too, they’re great for building up some search engine value.
It’s also a great supplement or replacement for an actual book tour. If traveling isn’t an option (which, yes, of course, it’s not), you can use a blog tour much like a virtual book tour. Each blog you are featured on is like a bookstore you set up a table at. The goal is the same: sell your books and build your brand.
The last, and arguably most relevant benefit is that you can do a blog tour for very little investment. If the blogs featuring you are doing a review, you’ll want to gift that author a copy of your book. This can be a free ebook, though I think it’s worth printing them a copy (you could even customize a dedication page for each blogger). And if you’re writing the content and it’s more of a guest post than a feature, it might cost you nothing!
We’ve talked a lot about building overlapping networks. Blog tours are an amazing way to achieve this. Sometimes even more potent than actual bookstore events. Why? Because you’re interacting with readers on their computer or device, where they will be more likely to follow you or subscribe to your newsletters. Sure, that happens when you meet people in person, but they aren’t right there, able to subscribe or follow on the spot.
Finding Blogs For Your Tour
Now we’re into the trickiest part; finding blogs to host your tour. Honestly, this is going to be the biggest challenge. It’s a good idea to start this process early; you may need to go through a few lists of potential bloggers before you find enough participants to fill out your tour. And this process can be very time consuming, so be prepared and give yourself plenty of time.
1. Create A List Of Blogs
You want to be sure the bloggers you’re identifying are either dedicated reviewers or authors in your genre. This can be really important, as you’ll have little success if you pitch your Fantasy novel to a bunch of nonfiction author bloggers. The key to a successful blog tour is matching your work and your brand with complimentary bloggers.
Start your list off with any blogs you already follow and fellow authors you already know. These few should be relatively easy to reach out to. Next, look for lists of reputable bloggers and book reviewers online. Here’s a couple of good lists to get you started:
You have to decide how many blogs your tour will try to hit. I think 10-15 is a great number to shoot for and makes for a couple of weeks worth of solid content. If you aim for 10 blogs, you’ll probably want to start with a list of 20 or more to contact. Don’t be discouraged by rejections; it’s going to happen and it’s no reflection on you or your work.
2. Make Your Pitch
With your list of blogs you want to include in your tour, I suggest first checking for contact or guest post submission guidelines. Most bloggers will include some way of contacting them, even if it’s just through social media. Then put together your elevator pitch with an emphasis on catering to their content style.
That means you’ll craft a unique pitch for each blogger. I cannot stress this enough: read their content! Get a feel for what they post, what themes or underlying tones exist on the blog, and for other books they’ve featured.
3. Determine The Content
As I mentioned above, there are two essential types of content; book reviews and guest posts. The book review content is going to be pretty straight-forward: they read your book and post a review. I suggest offering to do a little Q&A with the reviewer so you can insert yourself into the post a bit, but that’s not a necessity.
If the content will look more like a guest post, there are a lot of directions it might take. An interview (written, video, or audio) can be terrific for helping build your brand. And it gives you a deeper connection to the blog featuring the interview, which will pay dividends for your next book (and your next blog tour!).
You might write about a topic relevant to the blog. If you’re a subject matter expert or have a unique talent to share with their readers, this is a really great way to build your own network. And it adds a bunch of value for the blogger, so it’s a big win-win.
If you go this route, be sure to link to other content on their blog (you’ll be doing them a favor) and to avoid ‘sales pitch’ language when promoting your book. You should definitely mention your book, just keep it honest and natural—the synopsis, a bit about you, and plenty of images! If the blog has a common theme, be sure your content ties back to it.
And finally, be open to possibilities! Blogs and blog posts are never concrete things. Lots of bloggers out there are trying new things, so if you find a blogger or reviewer who has a unique idea, it’s probably worth exploring.
Scheduling Your Blog Tour
For the most part, you’ll want your blog tour to align with your book release. If you’ve got a few bloggers doing book reviews, try to get those published before the launch date. On launch day and for the next few days, you’ll want to post a lot on your own blog and website, but this is also a great time to start rolling out the interviews and guest blog pieces of your tour.
Staying focused on your book launch, you’ll want to get your tour done largely in the three or four weeks surrounding the launch date. Of course, the timeframe will vary based on how many blogs you’ll be featured on.
Alternatively, you might consider a blog tour as a way to spark interest in a title you’ve had in the market for a while. I hesitate to call this a ‘re-launch’ but that may be the way to think of it. But a blog tour for an existing book is completely reasonable!
You’ll still want to schedule the posts around a small timeframe; probably two to three weeks. And it’s a great idea to push some book sales during this tour with a discount on the book or a special edition cover.
This may seem a bit gimmicky.
Don’t let that stop you. A blog tour builds your relationships with other bloggers, helps you find new readers, and drives sales. If it takes a gimmick to help facilitate that, I say go for it!
Leveraging Your Social Networks
We’ve written, at great length, a number of posts about using social media for marketing your book. From Facebook dos and don’ts to a marketing pro’s take on which channels to use, and even Social Media Day content with a focus on Instagram; we’ve talked a bit about using your social networks.
I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but I think it’s worth mentioning the importance of your social profiles when creating and scheduling your blog tour. Social media may be your primary means of contact for a lot of bloggers so that right there is important. But even more important is the role social media can play in continuing the conversation.
Blogs are great, but they’re also static. Once a post is out there, it’s out there. Sure it can be edited, but only so much.
Social media is fresh and now. Along with a plan to post and share the blogs you’re featured on during the tour, you’ll also want a plan to use your social platform to build and maintain connections with these new bloggers and new readers.
How you do this will vary by platform, but if you’ve got a sizable following, I strongly recommend creating a group for yourself (so your author brand) or for your specific book. If you’re writing serialized fiction, a group for the book series is perfect.
The goal is to focus your social presence. That makes it easier for you to track and respond to posts. And it makes it easier for your followers to find you.
Going On (A Blog) Tour
If you haven’t considered doing a blog tour, there’s never been a better time! And if you have, I hope this post helped with some new ideas. Drop me a comment with anything unique you’ve done on your own blog tours, I’d love to hear from you!
Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, writing weekly blog posts and helping guide content for the company’s marketing. When he’s not deeply entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person, but considers himself cat tolerant.