Award-winning Canadian novelist Dianne Greenlay shares her experience of three blog tours, to help other self-published authors considering using this route to reach more readers
I am an author of an ongoing series of books that, while getting good reviews, has only modest sales. Like most independently published authors, I am always on the lookout for effective ways to achieve the following goals:
- Visibility – especially important for the first book in a series, and always for an unknown/debut author
- Reviews – essential for Book One, highly desirable for additional books in the series
- Book Sales – essential for one’s complete stable of books (also essential for the good of an author’s mental state of health)
Over the last three years, I've participated in three of them, and here are the results.
First Blog Tour – 2011
I paid $35 in 2011 for a 10 blog stop as a single participant. Tour host arranged/chose the blogs. She actually gave me 12 blog stops (I don’t know why, except that some of the blogs most definitely didn’t cater to my genre, which is YA).
I was required to do a pre-written author interview post for each of the blog stops. This took a lot of time to do and it was tiring to try to answer the questions in a new and interesting way, without repeating myself too much, for the sake of those who follow such tours. Note: of those blog readers who left comments, there was only one who showed up (ie commented) at more than one of the blog stops…
Results were good in that I got a review from every one of the bloggers. Goals #1 and 2 reached.
Second Blog Tour – February 2014
Times had changed. Now tour hosts enticed bloggers and readers to participate in book blog tours with giveaways and gifts, which are usually free ebook copies and Amazon gift cards. I entered another blog tour with a total of 10 participating authors. Our tour arranger gave us 36 blog stops.
We each paid $30 for the tour and $20 for the Amazon gift cards. The tour ran over 3 days.
I was required to give the organizer my author bio, FB, Twitter, Goodreads links, book cover and blurb, a “buy” link, and author photo. No blog posts required, but authors were expected to visit as many of the blog stops as possible and interact with any commentors.
Tour organizer made a snazzy banner for us to use on our own blog sites and/or FB pages.
I ran a Kindle Countdown during the 3 day tour and advertised, at my own cost, on several sites including the Fussy Librarian, Book Goodies, and Choosybookworm.
Results were modest. I received less than 10 reviews. I had a small increase of book sales. Financially I broke even on this one.
Third Blog Tour – March 2014
Again it was a 3 day tour of blogs, with 8 authors participating. We each paid $40 for the tour and $15 towards the Amazon gift cards.
This was by far the most organized of the 3 tours. Again we received a digital banner to use on our sites and pages, and we were required to submit the same author and book info as in my previous tour, including book prices during the tour dates.
We were each required to write 2 posts – the topics were assigned by the tour organizer – of up to 900 words long. She then posted them on a schedule several weeks ahead of time, to familiarize her readers and bloggers with us. She advertised intensively for at least a month ahead of the tour dates; 54 bloggers signed up for the tour and around 800 bloggers/readers signed up for the Rafflecopter draw for the gift cards, before the tour even started.
All of the authors saw a large increase in Twitter followers (up to 400 new ones; some of my new followers are STILL tweeting about my books) and FB likes (100-200). A few of us got reviews, all got feedback on our blurbs and covers, but most saw only modest, if any, increase in sales, with the exception of one author who reported enough sales to boost her book well into the top 100 ranking area in several categories. This author also ran a free promotion immediately after the tour and had over 97,000 downloads.
- Book blog tours vary wildly in their costs and readership reach. Contact me if you would like the names of the ones I participated in, or any further information on these tours.
- Blog tours, for the most part, DO NOT sell books, but they DO get both an author’s name and book out there in front of potentially thousands of pairs of fresh eyes.
- Tour organizers likely do not live in the same time zone as you. This makes co-ordinating any promo start and finish times a bit tricky.
- One unexpected thing experienced by a couple of authors: bloggers seem to be generally far more critical and picky in their reviews than the average public.
- Some tours’ reach and intended introduction of our books to new readers extend into areas well beyond the geography that Amazon services.
Here's our suggested tweet to help you share this useful post with other indie authors:
“For indie authors: lessons learned from three #blog tours by @DianneGreenlay via @IndieAuthorALLi: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/reaching-readers-lessons-learned-from-blog-tours”