In an ever-changing industry, lots of marketing tactics go in and out of fashion more often than I have hot dinners. But sometimes marketing isn't about generating sales, but growing awareness and building an audience. ALLi author member and children's book author Sue Wickstead explains why you should do an indie author blog tour.
Since November 2018, I have experienced two indie author blog tours and a blog blitz and enjoyed the experience immensely. I appreciated all the hard work that went into it. It’s not all about making sales, but of course we all hope for that. The reviews and feedback are just as valuable as sales. Plus I've loved the experience and appreciated all of the hard work, the lovely feedback and reviews I've gotten from the tours.
I'm a teacher and an author and have currently written six children’s picture books with a bus theme. When my two children were young, they attended a playgroup on a bus. It wasn't an ordinary bus, but a Playbus stuffed full of toys to capture their imagination. For over twenty years, alongside my teaching career, I worked with The Bewbush Playbus Association. I painted the bus, worked in the groups, helped raise the profile of the project and its work, and was part of the committee involved in raising funds to replace it with a newer vehicle. This led me to write a photographic history book about the playbus.
Having written the history book I soon found that many children had never been on a bus before, let alone a ‘Playbus.’ And they wanted to know more. I decided to write a fictional tale about the bus, whose number plate was JJK261. ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’ came out in 2014. Since then I've published five more picture books.
Are Indie Author Blog Tours Outdated?
I'd heard of blog tours but never gone any further with them partly because I didn't have a Smartphone but also because I didn't know where to start. Eventually, I was recommended Rachel’s Random Resources, and I decided to give it a go. Please note this is an organized blog tour, there are other blog tours available, but I chose this one.
Aside from sales, for me blog tours are also connecting with readers: children, parents, and other teachers. It was an exciting revelation: maybe an indie author blog tour would lead to sales. But if not, I would enjoy the journey.
How the Blog Tour Worked
Rachel Gilbey was very helpful and we set up a date for November for a one week tour. She produced a banner and set up the content with my author bio and purchasing links etc. She then put out a request to bloggers and the slots for the tour was quickly filled; physical books or PDF copies were sent out to bloggers; there were some requests for author interviews as well as guest posts. The tour was ready to go. Nearer the date, I was sent the banner with a list of bloggers showing their allocation. In my case, there were three bloggers a day. The tours have been well organized and managed; the bloggers set up and sorted; the content and the dates arranged; and most of all it has been a good way to get my books out there. Rachel, as blog tour organizer, was also another voice re-tweeting and commenting on every stop.
I Didn’t Really Know What to Expect
At the beginning of my indie author blog tour, the constant ‘ping’ of my mobile signaled a mention on Twitter with a link to a book review. The reviews and comments were great to read and it was a lot of fun and great to communicate with bloggers, many of whom I now follow. At the end of the tour, I reflected on the success. There may not have been many book sales but the reviews and feedback meant that I had a lot of information to use as well as an important boost to my self-esteem.
One-Day Blog Blitz
I was extremely happy with the process and decided it might be a good idea to complete tours for the rest of my existing books. The hope was to raise the profile of my books and gain reviews. But I wanted to try something new. So I arranged a one-day blog blitz in April, which included thirty bloggers. This was a bit manic with constant tweets and messages throughout the day, but it generated reviews and favorable messages. A blog tour tends to be less frantic than a blitz, but it depends on how much time you want to spend on promotion.
The Long-Term View
I've met bloggers online through the tours I've done which has been good both socially and knowing they enjoyed my books enough to come back and support me again. While the tours may not have generated lots of sales, I'm keeping in mind that people could read the reviews months down the line and choose to purchase a book. Plus, I can always repost or tweet favorable reviews I've received.
‘I know that authors keep coming back to me for tours in part due to the self-esteem boost, the boost it can give visibility to a book, the fact they can be addictive, and can of course have the added bonus of reviews / sales. Given that essentially each author is their own brand… it’s all about brand awareness, and marketing and the more people that hear about a book in whatever form the better as you never know how having heard about this great book about a playbus may translate to sales down the line etc… All the big publishers are still running blog tours, or hiring people like me, (Rachel) to organize them for them. If they weren't still doing something positive, then I'm sure they wouldn't be.' Rachel Gilbey, Rachel's Random Resources
‘I don't think blog tours are outdated, I just think they need to be creative and communicated with audiences in such a way. An example is Kiltie's blog tours, she gives an extract to one blogger and then leading on to the next blogger with the next piece. How can we be creative and make it so it doesn't become outdated? Fans and followers will always want to read the extra content so it’s important to circulate this as well.' Author Jennifer Gilmour.
‘I’d heard about blog tours but I didn’t know what to expect when I embarked on one. What I found was that about half the bloggers simply used my blurb and the quotes I provided, but the other half actually read the book and reviewed it. It doesn’t automatically mean you will sell hundreds of books, but it is all part of the vital process of getting your name out there. And, of course, you can always quote the good bits.’ Chindi Author Patricia Feinberg Stoner.
OVER TO YOU
Have you ever done an indie author blog tour? What do you attribute to its success, or what were your learnings?
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