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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

#IWSG: About Blog Tours

It's that time again. The first Wednesday of September. The Insecure Writers Support Group meets once a month online where writers share and encourage each other.  IWSG is the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh Thanks, Alex, for starting this group and keeping it going. And thanks to this month's awesome hosts  Julie Flanders, Murees Dupé, Dolorah at Book Lover, Christine Rains, and Heather Gardner!


Last month, I did blog tours for two books, my newest sci-fi romance THE PROTECTOR and my PI mystery THE CASE OF THE BY GONE BROTHER. The week-long tours were back to back with the Sunday in between off. I hadn’t planned it that way. The first I paid for and the second was a freebie from the same company Novel Book Tours. During the first week, IWSG participant Crystal Collier wanted to hear my impression after the tours were over.


In the past, I’ve set up my own tours by begging friends to have me on their blogs or responding when someone on various groups and loops offered to host. It sounded easier to let someone else set up the tours. Plus, as gracious as my fellow authors are, I felt I was hitting the same audiences. Also, the tour director offered the book for review to those who signed up to host. (I’m a host for that company, so I knew the drill.)

I learned a few things. Never do back-to-back tours. It's too much. I felt like I was constantly hitting up people I knew to come and visit. I'm sure they were as tired of visiting as I was of begging.

In all the tours I set up in the past (well over 100 spots), only one host didn’t post (didn’t even respond when I emailed). With the paid tours, out of 30 spots, 3 were no-shows. They weren’t just spotlights, either. They were supposed to be guest posts or interviews. Extra work on my part for nothing. Five hosts requested copies of the book for review. Since I’m self-published, I could send coupon codes for Smashwords and they could choose the format. I got 2 reviews. Better than nothing, especially since they were good reviews.

In all, I wrote 11 original posts. I visited each site multiple times each day and through each week to respond to comments. All of which was very time consuming. Since I offered a giveaway each week ($15 gift card), I had a lot of comments from strangers. I got 32 new subscribers for my newsletter, gained 25 “likes” on my FB page, and more Twitter followers. Great for name recognition. 

But if the main reason for doing a blog tour is to sell books, I didn't do so good. For the past 3 weeks (includes the tours), I’ve sold 8 of the two books. Not really impressive, is it?

Was hiring a tour service worth it? In terms of sales, no. In terms of new followers? Yes, but who knows if they will buy books. If my sales skyrocket in the next week or so, then the tour was a success. Somehow I doubt that will happen.

I’d love to hear your experiences with blog tours.

Click here to find others on the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop. Or go to IWSG on Facebook to see who’s blogging today.

53 comments:

  1. I feel your pain, Di! Book Tours are exhausting and while they do pay off in name recognition and reviews, they never seem to sell books - at least not at the time of the post. The Preaching to the Same Choir thing is the hardest to get past.Worth it? Like any self-promo, there's no way to tell. My take on them - Do what time and sanity allows. (you had a lot of good posts, btw!)

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. I agree that there's no way to tell on self-promo. Good advice.

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  2. I will be releasing my first book soon and I didn't want to do a blog tour. It sounds like so much work. However, I do admire and envy authors who do go the blog tour route. Maybe because I'm a newbie, I think 8 sales sounds good. Maybe those new followers will share info about your books to their friends who might buy it. I hope your sales pick up soon. Wishing you the best:)

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    1. Thanks, Murees. A tour is a lot of work. Good luck with your debut release. If you'd like to come to my blog, I'd be happy to have you. Email me at dmburton72@gmail.com.

      Offer good to all IWSG members.

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    2. Forgot to say thanks for co-hosting. Thanks!

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  3. Hi,
    I don't have a book out yet so I haven't done a blog tour. I know if I did one, I probably wouldn't do a back to back one because that is unbelievable stress. Now on to the issue of selling. You sold 8 books. I don't know how well known your name was before the book tours, but if you were not very well known, you have gained a lot by getting your name out there. According to one marketing specialist report that I read some time ago, people need to see things six or seven times before it registers in their minds and they decide buy it, or do it. So you may have sold only eight books for now, but who knows what the engagements will bring you in the future. Don't give up.
    Shalom,
    Patricia

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    1. Pat, you words are so uplifting. Thanks.

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  4. Thanks for the information. I'll be doing something similar in November.

    Anna from Elements of Writing

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    1. Good luck with that, Anna. Let me know if I can help.

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  5. You were uber busy that's for sure. I enjoyed reading the posts but I can just imagine the work that went into getting them all setup and then doing the comments. There's so much that people don't realize about tours.

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    1. Thanks, Melissa. You were one of my faithful followers who commented on every post. Thank you so much.

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  6. I'm over tours. The hosts don't usually promote, and I feel no one looks at these author blogs except the same old same old author pals. I've been on a few bigger blogs (like HEA) with wider reach. While those didn't elicit any more comments, I hope readers who didn't know about me before saw the posts. It is discouraging because it's hard to know what else to do. Just another frustration in this business! Wishing you the best of luck. You're incredibly diligent in your promo. Hoping it pays off!

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    1. Thanks, Jannine. I wish there was a way to know the results of promo. I guess we do our best and hope something leads to more sales.

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  7. Diane, I had the same experience this summer and my reaction is/was the same. Never again will I do back-to-back blog tours. As you said, I felt as though I was beating people over the head to visit these various blogs. Lots of work writing the blogs, time that was taken away from writing. On the other hand, I had some very gracious hostesses, yourself included, and that was a pleasure.

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    1. It was a pleasure having you here, Maris, for both your books. I had many gracious hosts--some old friends and several new. I should have mentioned that I really liked interacting with those who stopped by.

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  8. My experience with blog tours has been great, and I've done some really heavy tours, both through my internet guru, Florence Price, and through Sourcebooks. I've never set one up on my own, but I have responded to anyone who asks me to be part of one. Fellow writers like Nancy Gideon have also helped out, but I hate asking too often. I've had great reviews and responses; however, blogging can be VERY tiring and time-consuming. I generally hold them only when a new book is coming but not much in between. In my "down time" I just keep posting my own blogs and hope someone will read them. I think for the most part blog tours are worth it because I have found a lot of new readers that way.

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  9. Blog tours can be tricky. We never know if we'll reach the right people or have the right people hosting us for our tour. And even the time of the year can be a factor when it comes to how effective a blog tour is. I always do my blog yours myself. The hosts are always super nice. I may get a lot of the same visitors but many new ones too. And the sales during those times were nice. Now, months later, I am struggling.

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    1. Chrys, I liked the way you set up your last tour. I'm glad you've had success with tours.

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  10. My experiences have been the same. Tours didn't lead to more sales. Lots of new followers, yes, and some more exposure, but not sales nor reviews. If I do hire a company to do a tour again, I will choose to do a review tour. That way those hosts that sign up know what they're signing up for and will do it. So if it doesn't lead to more sales, at least I get some reviews!

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  11. Having done many blog tours myself, I have to say the results have been much the same for me. Nice to interact with old and new friends, but I'm not sure anyone buys a book based on a blog post. However, anything is possible, right? From a purely personal standpoint, I enjoy reading posts to learn more about author friends.

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    1. Good to know, Margo. I like reading posts (esp. interviews) to learn more about friends, too.

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  12. I haven't done any blog tours myself, but I have hosted one thus far and read several. As a reader I enjoy them because they enable learning more about the book and the author. If I start seeing a book on several of the blogs I read I'll definitely buy.

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    1. Good to know, Ula. Maybe there's hope yet for me. :)

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  13. I've done blog tours when Beachwalk Press paid to have them done. They discontinued to do it because it didn't generate any sales, however, I did get a couple of great reviews in the process. It is time consuming and as what everyone else said, it gets your name out there, but doesn't do much for sales. I'm curious to know if in a couple of weeks, you do get an increase in sales as a result.

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    1. I'm curious too, Connie. That would be a great result

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  14. These are great and helpful insights that are timely for me to read. I'm in the midst of developing my marketing plan/schedule for the next book. There are many ways to gain exposure, and I will think long and hard before doing a blog tour. I suspect it's not the best way to reach my audience.

    Thanks again!

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    1. Thanks, Nadine. Maybe just getting my name out there will be helpful for future sales.

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  15. I've heard many success and failure stories when it comes to blog tours. There are so many factors as to why some generate sales and why some don't. I think the things that bothers most people is when they pay for the service and feel they got what they paid for. The thing we all have to remember is that no one can guarantee us sales. All we can really do is build a following and hopefully a buzz and then let consumer-nature take its course.

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    1. You are so right about guarantees. There aren't any with regard to promo. Building a following takes a long time.

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  16. I never did too well with blog tours, like you it seemed I was hitting up the same bunch of people. I do better with actual book signings or media appearances. I do enjoy writing and accepting guest posts and when I only have one at a time to promote it seems to be more effective.

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    1. I think you're right, Doreen. One at a time!

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  17. Wow, that sounds like a ton of work, Diane! I got exhausted just reading about it.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I've never done a blog tour. A few IWSG folks asked why I wasn't doing one when they heard about the release of my novel, but I didn't see the point. The same people do tend to read all those blogs. The paid version sounds interesting, but I can't believe three people jammed on you! That's terrible.

    I hope you sell tons of books in the coming weeks.

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    1. Thanks, J.H. I hope so, too. BTW, the hosts aren't compensated (other than exposure). The tour director is paid to set up everything.

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  18. Thanks for sharing your experience, Diane. It's been an eye-opener to read everyone's comments.

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    1. Me, too, Nicola. Very interesting comments.

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  19. In my experience blog tours never really seem to sell books either. Or very few if they do. I've paid for two tours and the last one was such a disaster so I do it all myself now.

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    1. My conclusion, also, Patricia. Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. Diane, they've been pretty successful for me in the past. I have one next month so we'll see, One drawback is blog tours are a lot of work and the tour stops reach basically the same people. It's important to look for some blogs to reach new audiences for the tour to be successful.

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    1. That's what I thought, too, Stephen. I did seem to reach different people on the tours. At least, I got my name out there. Good luck on your tour.

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  21. I've done both and found I could do just as good a job if not better setting up my own. Some tours set you up on sites with low followers and comments. True, we are a tight circle of blogs, but you can also reach out to book bloggers and hit a new audience. One week is good tour length, so I can see how doing two back to back would be exhausting.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. I'm going to check out more book blogger sites.

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  22. Thanks for letting us know how the blog tours went for you. The insights we get from your post and the comments are so helpful! You weren't kidding when you said tours were exhausting. As a newbie, I set my own up when my book came out and was delighted at how many people graciously volunteered to host me. (Thank you!) Next time around, I plan to do the same, though I like L. Diane's suggestion of reaching out to book bloggers, too.

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    1. I love IWSG. We get so many insights into this crazy business. Who knows what works with regard to promo. I'm sure that's true for any industry. We keep throwing things out there and hope something appeals to somebody.

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  23. I've only set up tours on my own and try to go for a variety of sites. Plus my tours tend to last longer than a week (even if it's one a week after that for the next couple months like my last tour) so I don't think two weeks and with two different books was too much.

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    1. I prefer spreading out a tour over a month. I guess tours get our names out. Thanks for stopping by, Alex.

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  24. You've been really busy. Thank you for visiting my IWSG post. I'm not far enough along in the process so I don't have any personal experience with book blog tours, either kind. I've heard from writers who've had positive experience and increased sales and I've heard from some who didn't have such a great outcome. I suppose it depends on far too many factors.

    I agree that many book blog tours reach the same audience over and over. I wish I knew the answer. Obviously, it would be most beneficial to reach a wider audience, I just son't know how to do it. Sorry, I'm not much help. I will buy your books. I love the sound of The Case of The By Gone Brother.

    See, you made one new contact through the IWSG that will lead to book sales. I know one doesn't have that cha ching ring to it, but hopefully every new sale and every new contact will lead to another.

    It was nice connecting with you.

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    1. Melissa, you are so sweet. (no pun on your last name intended) Each sale does have that cha ching ring, as you'll find out when your book is for sale. Thanks so much for stopping by.

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  25. This was fascinating, Diane! I learned so much. I haven't done any blog tours... not to this extent. I think I sold more books when my daughter just shouted out to everyone she knew that her mom wrote a book! ;) Word of mouth is still EXCELLENT! When you talk about book bloggers, are you speaking of reviewer sites? BTW, happy labor day! I know you're having fun with your family. :)

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    1. Thanks, Jess. Word of mouth is still the best. I think book bloggers are review sites.

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  26. Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm always grateful to authors who describe such things in detail, so the rest of us can learn. Here's to continued sales! :-)

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    1. Thanks, Deniz. That's how I've learned. Just paying it forward.

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