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Book Marketing: Should Self-published Authors Bother with Blog Hops?

Helen Hollick wearing a cream hat

Helen Hollick, with her author hat on – literally!

Way back when, before the internet started to reach saturation point with bloggers, taking part in blog hops and other blog-related events was all the rage to help indie authors reach a wider audience with their self-published books. Now many authors are wondering whether these practices are worth the effort, because although they generally cost nothing to run, unless you’re employing a facilitator, they are very time-consuming.

Historical novelist Helen Hollick, always a generous supporter of fellow authors, shares her views on whether blog hops, blog chains and blog tours are still worth bothering about, drawing on the experience of her most recent blogging project.

For the second year running I took part in the online A-Z Challenge.The idea is for bloggers to post an article themed A-Z throughout April (not including Sundays) which gives twenty-six articles. I’m still not sure whether it was worth all the time and effort or not, but it was good fun and I interacted with some fabulous authors and bloggers (two thousand or so bloggers took part).

The point of book tours, chains or hops – whatever you want to call them – is to create some exposure for you and your books in a different area to your usual haunts.

Which means interaction. If you do not blog much, are not prepared to spend at least an hour a day during the tour, answer comments or otherwise be active, don’t accept the offer of joining one of these social media exposure topics if you are invited, or if you want to organise one for yourself.

I am assuming you have a blog (either Blogger, WordPress or via your website) and you are fairly active with it? If you’re not, then this article is probably not for you.

Definitions: Blog Tours, Blog Hops, Blog Chains

  • A blog tour is primarily for you alone talking about (usually) a newly-released book on other people’s blogs. More often than not, these will be the big review blogs, and the tour is arranged well in advance of your publication day (or ahead of a particular push, special offer, or whatever.) Articles, interviews, reviews about you and your book/s are the norm for these and arranged between you and the blog host.
  • A blog hop is just that, a hop from one blog to another covering a variety of blogs and topics. There is usually an article of interest followed by a live list of blog URLs for the people taking part. There’s a widget called a linky list, or the URLS can be added in by hand if not everyone can host these widgets. Visitors will read the first article then hop to the next, then the next and so on. This can be to many blogs or just a few, can cover just one day or several. The master list can be added by everyone taking part, or just be on the blog belonging to the host. 
  • A blog chain is usually for one topic or theme. Similar to the blog hop, there is often a complete list of blog URLs of the people taking part, or just a link to the person before and the one following. The idea is for visitors to go through the chain from one blog to the next.
leaping squirrel by Morguefile via juditu

Look before you leap into a blog hop

The Etiquette of Blog Hops

There are rules of etiquette, and if you do not follow them you are unlikely to be invited back in future, or you even risk having your article, or link, removed. The whole point is exposure for yourself and the others taking part; you’ll not be thought well of if you don’t do your full bit. And this doesn’t mean just poking your head round the door on ‘your’ day – it means fully taking part on most days.

  • As a ‘hello’, leave a comment to say thank you to your host for inviting you
  • Leave comments to the other participants on their blogs
  • Answer any comments left for you, on your own blog or elsewhere
  • Do not spam – no ‘read my book’ additions to any comments you leave
  • No ‘please follow me back’ pleas please
  • Tweet about the event, for everyone taking part, not just your own contribution
  • Facebook the event – ditto for everyone, not just yourself
  • Be polite and cheerful
  • As a goodbye at the end of the event, leave a comment to say thank you again.

Keep in mind:

  • you want visitors to your blog
  • you want people to ‘meet’ you
  • you want people to buy your book
  • you want new followers

To get all that means a certain amount of hard work, dedication, and full participation.

Further information is on my blog: ‘Let’s Talk Of Many Things’

OVER TO YOU Have you taken part recently in a blog event of some kind? If so, did it work for you? What advice would you like to share about it? We’d love to know!

#Authors - are #blog hops still worthwhile? @HelenHollick offers top tips Click To Tweet

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22 Responses to Book Marketing: Should Self-published Authors Bother with Blog Hops?

  1. Aaron Wills August 11, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog centered on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

  2. Lori Henriksen July 24, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    Thank you Helen. I jumped into blogging with the A-Z Challenge and have close to 50 followers. I know it’s not that many in the scheme of things, but it more than I had when I started. New subscribers trickle in. It’s daunting to post and receive no comments, but I like Alice’s “Do it Anyway.” It’s fun and a challenge to come up with relevant content.

  3. Alison Morton July 24, 2016 at 8:07 am #

    Cooperative blog hops or similar multi author online events must have the support of all the participants. I’ve been on events where three authors do the heavy lifting, most do a few tweets and a post to Facebook, and some do nothing or just their own. This is not only selfish, but ruins the effect of the multiplier effect of the event and spoils the impact of their own participation.

    Always flattered to be invited to a blog hop but always hope it will be well supported by other participants.

    • Helen Hollick July 24, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

      100% agree Alison – we’ve been on a few hops and tours together now haven’t we – and I’m always happy to invite you onto anything I do because you _participate_ (she says emphatically) 🙂

  4. Ben Boyd, Jr. July 23, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

    Nice job Helen. Thanks for the tips.

  5. Linda Austin July 23, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

    Hello, and I agree to do these for exposure and publicity. You’ve heard it said people need to see or hear about something about 7 times before they buy. Don’t know much about blog hops, but I’m a firm believer in blog tours IF you tour blogs whose audience is similar to your reader niche and if your host has a decent amount of followers and is good at social media. Gives the author and host new exposure and a reason for both to publicize themselves. Sometimes the author gives away a book to a lucky blog reader – blog host draws from those who leave comments and winner is encouraged to write an Amazon and/or Goodreads book review. And yes, these things can be fun.

    • Helen Hollick July 24, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

      Thanks for leaving a comment Linda. The other advantage of doing anything on a blog is that it usually remains there and is then picked up by search engines, so it can be continuous exposure. I also occasionally go back and RT or Reblog an old post by guests on my blog.

  6. Gippy Adams Henry July 23, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

    Thanks for this, Helen. I had never heard of these fun ways to get one’s book out there, but it sounds like a great possibility. Unfortunately for me, time is scarce these days as I have taken on too much at one time. But I will certainly keep these suggestions in mind and look into it when I have an extended break. Have a great day!

    • Helen Hollick July 24, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

      Time is scarce for all of us who write Gippy, it goes with the job (unfortunately) The trick is to learn to say ‘no’ to doing some things when asked. If you find out how to work that trick though please contact me! LOL

  7. Helen Hollick July 23, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

    And I had better add: thank you ALLi for publishing this post! 🙂

    • Debbie Young July 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      Our pleasure, Helen – and thank you for sharing your valuable experience with us! Win-win 🙂

  8. Helen Hollick July 23, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    If it creates exposure to readers you wouldn’t otherwise have ‘met’ then anything is worth it!

  9. Anne Holster July 23, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    Wow, what timing!! Just yesterday I finished a week-long blog tour for my new novel ‘Finished’. As of yet, and it may be too soon to tell, it’s made no impact on sales, but I don’t expect it to. I did a similar blog tour last summer for my previous novel and it didn’t yield much in the way of sales either. With that being said, would I recommend it to other self-published authors – the answer is a resounding YES! Any kind of exposure is good and it got my name out there in front of readers who might otherwise never have heard of me. But aside from that, it was so much fun interacting with the people who commented on the posts and it also yielded me some pretty good reviews from a few of the bloggers – always a plus! So I say, give it a try, you have nothing to lose! Excellent post!

    • Alice Orr July 23, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

      I recently completed a month-long blog tour. Fifteen stops designed and scheduled by me. I’d previously decided to give up on blogging. I’d done it for the three previous books in my indie published romantic suspense series, and I had no evidence of much response. A colleague with lots more marketing experience than I possess threw my own long-time mantra back at me. “Do It Anyway!” she said. Being out there. Possible name recognition and visibility. Those were her top reasons. Another reason has come across as most relevant via my recent blog tour. Guest posting establishes relationships with bloggers. The prevailing wisdom is to research the bloggers with the largest following and blog with them, which makes a lot of sense. Except that many of these big-infuencer types aren’t interested in featuring unknown beginning writers. My current response to that would be another resounding “Do It Anyway?” Because why? Because the future lies ahead, and we don’t know what it may hold. For example, on this fourth tour I pretty much accidentally tumbled onto a site with 3.5 million followers and a generous host. She not only featured me, she also recommended me to another blogger with a similar following. The result. More attention on social media especially Twitter, for my new book. Plus I learned things. Like about Triberr and how it works and what I should do about it. Plus-Plus those relationships I spoke about, not just with the big influencers, but with everybody along the line. I’ve already begun to nurture those relationships by following all of those bloggers, commenting on their posts, promoting their own new books across my social media network and even buying those new titles and reviewing them on Amazon and Goodreads. You may think this is a lot of work, but nurturing relationships has always required effort. Consider it an investment in your future. Now that I’ve taken my first steps on this pay-it-forward-with-mutual-support path, I simply consider it fun. Alice. http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

      • Helen Hollick July 24, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

        Alice: I like ‘do it anyway’ (herewith stolen for future use!) And I’m always happy to host new writers (and old writers!) on my blog – if for no other reason, it saves me writing something! LOL

        Feel free anyone to contact me via my website about a potential slot on my Tuesday Talk guest spot!

    • Helen Hollick July 23, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

      I agree Anne, if you are doing it for sales don’t expect much. For exposure (possibly long term!) then go for it.

      If you would like a guest spot on my blog Anne, contact me via my website

      • Anne Holster July 23, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

        I’ll definitely do that Helen! Thank you!

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