All of us here at Writers In The Storm are happy to welcome Cynthia D’Alba, a genuinely nice person and a debut author of Texas Two Step, a new Samhain release. I’ve often wondered why authors do blog tours. They seem like a bucket load of work. Are they worth it? Cynthia thinks they are and thanks to her blog today, I now know not only the benefits, but the pitfalls to avoid.
By Cynthia D'Alba
Thank you to the Writers in the Storm ladies for inviting me here today. I share the talented Laura Drake with these gals as I twisted Laura’s arm to join my group blog, Everybody Needs A Little Romance wherewe almost never discuss writing. It’s more a slice of life, story-telling and jokes . . . a “get-to-know-us” blog for our readers. So I am flattered to be asked to contribute to a writer educational blog.
I rarely, if ever, blog about the craft of writing. Because I’m a debut author, I figure there’s always someone else who knows more than I do about the subject. But not today.
Today, I’m discussing Book Blog Tours. Why am I such an expert on this topic? Because I’m currently completing a tour of twenty-seven blog stops. Some things I did right, some things wrong, and there are some things I wouldn’t do again.
I picked up more new people via posts on book review sites than I did from fellow author sites. I didn’t expect this. I’d thought that an author would have fans who visited her blog on a daily or regular basis and that they’d be interested in this new author (aka…me) and check me out.
Finding new potential readers worked best at book review sites, followed by group blog sites, and finally single author sites. Some of the commenters were people who followed my blog from stop to stop rather than new viewers.
Bottom line . . . my hosting author may have benefited as much as I did.
So, something to keep in mind: The next time an author wants to guest blog on your personal blog site and promote their book, consider the benefit as a host.
What would I do different? Focus on book review sites and other book reader sites.
Plan far in advance if you want to schedule a blog on a book review site. I learned this when looking for sites to host my tour. One site was scheduling for February posts back in October. All their blogging slots were gone in hours. Most of my February posts were scheduled in September, October and November. So PLAN AHEAD. Months ahead.
Take advantage of reader yahoo loops sponsored by your publisher. Texas Two Step is published by Samhain Publishing. Samhain has a yahoo loop, Samhain Café, which was set up for their authors to interact with Samhain readers. I snagged quite a few blog tour followers from posting at the café.
Extra Steps I Took To Help Make My Blog Tour A Success
I wrote a prequel for my debut book, Texas Two Step, and posted episodes from the prequel for the two weeks prior to my book’s release to stir up interest in the main characters.
First fact – This was a TON of work.
Second fact – it worked!
- Third fact -- I had more hits on my tour during those two weeks than before or since.
I jumpstarted the project by creating a separate blog at Texas Montgomery Mavericks.
Each of the prequel episodes were written in MS Word, converted to pdf and uploaded in a separate blog post. This allowed me to schedule that day’s installment of the prequel to go live on the right day at the right time. I used pdf because it prevented readers from copying and printing the files. Uploading a pdf file on a WordPress.com blog is just like uploading an image.
Would I do a prequel again? Absolutely.
What would I do differently?
First of all, I wouldn’t have waited until the last minute to write each prequel episode. They should have been written about two months before the tour started. Writing and editing each installment required a sizable chunk of time. It was a ton of work, but I have no regrets.
Realize that each installment of Texas Two Step-The Prequel required that I prepare THREE separate documents.
- Each episode of the prequel was edited and converted to pdf.
- A separate post was made to the Texas Montgomery Mavericks blog (to set up
the upload for the scheduled time and list links to previous posts.)
- A third post was made for the guest blog host.
Second, if you are going to do a book blog tour, write guest blogs four to six weeks before the tour begins. There is a reason for this. Writing so many guest blogs in such a short time drained my creativity. I’ve hardly written a word on my current WIP. By the end of each day of my tour, I was brain dead. I’d used my “daily allotment” of clever phrases on blogs, instead of my WIP. Prewritten blogs save a lot of headaches, plus they can be tweaked as the tour proceeds.
Third, I crammed lots of blog visits into a tight window. My thought was to blast the internet with my presence. That was a mistake for a number of reasons.
- When you guest blog, you’ll want to notify RWA chapters, friends, Yahoo loops, Twitter, Facebook and everyone else you can think of. If the blogs are too close together, you risk having all these great sources becoming sick of your promo, promo, promo.Soon, they begin to ignore your posts and they certainly won’t show up at your guest blogs. Trust me! They won’t love you for this.
- My advice is to limit your guest blogs to no more than three (max) per week. I attended anywhere from 4 to 7 blogs a week for four weeks. Too much! Limiting guest spots keeps you sane, gives you time to write, and allows your friends and fellow writers a break from you. If I were do another tour, I would do 3 days one week, 2 the next, 3 the next, etc.
- While guest blogging, you must continue to “chat” and be normal on Facebook and Twitter. Saying, “Hey! Leave me a message today!” doesn’t work. Normal chatty interactions like “Ugh. Dog bath day. Don’t you hate those?” is expected and needed. Readers don’t want to be slapped across the face with nothing but promo. The idea is to make friends with your readers. Friends will buy the books of friends.
What Makes Your Blogs Popular With Commenters
Guest posts with no giveaways will draw fewer people. We (the normal public) like freebies and prizes. Many guest bloggers have a backlist that they use as prizes or give-aways. Not me. Texas Two Step is my debut. What to do?
My author friends stepped up to the plate and donated books to use as blog prizes. The vast majority of these books were digital thus eliminating postage expense. Getting them into the hands of winners was easy. Plus, my friends got PR out of the deal when I posted links to their websites, Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as posted a small cover picture of the book of the day. I also had two freebie giveaways for anyone just for the asking. Those are still available! See the bottom of this post.
Readers love book gift certificates. I also gave away five $5 gift certificates to the Samhain Bookstore. Since during my tour Texas Two Step was discounted from $5.50 to $3.85, winners of the gift certificate could buy my book (hopefully) and have money left over to go toward another Samhain book. One of my winner let me know that when she went to the Samhain Bookstore, she got a 40% discount for being a first time buyer. With the $5 gift card and a 40% discount, she bought multiple books including Texas Two Step. A win-win for me, my publisher and the reader.
Recognize the person who faithfully follows the tour. I have a “Faithful Follower Award” to give to the person who visits and comments on the most stops on my tour. The prize is a $25 gift card to the online store of the winner’s choice. This award has prompted commenters to come back time after time.
Respond to comments. I hate to visit a guest blog, leave a comment, and the author on tour doesn’t have time to stop by and respond. IMHO, that’s just rude. If you are going to blog, then you need to respond. I went on my tour to connect with people. Yes, it’s a enormous time suck to respond to each person, but this is person-to-person marketing, the most powerful mode of reaching potential readers.
A Note of Caution: Do not giveaway copies of your new book. I am told that this will prompt people to wait on buying the book, trying to win a copy instead. I think I ended up giving away only 3 advance reader copies.
Those are a few of my thoughts about my experience. Feel free to ask me anything. I never could keep a secret!
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