Since practically everything else has gone virtual these days, it’s no surprise that authors and marketers have turned to the internet to garner more attention for their books.
Sure, every once in a while you might still see a beaming author posing for pictures and handing out signed copies of their book at your local retailer, but that’s no longer the most practical or cost-effective option.
With some carefully planned content strategies, authors can now take advantage of the blog tour, an inexpensive and low-maintenance type of campaign that can help you get publicity for your book using some simple networking and SEO tricks to your advantage.
What Is a Blog Tour?
Blog tours are defined by a set period of time, usually a few weeks, during which original, engaging content is created and shared across multiple blogs.
Blog tours shouldn’t be confused with “blog blitzes,” which is when the same content is posted on multiple blogs simultaneously.
Whereas virtual book tours can use a wide range of outlets (like podcasts or webinar events), blog tours are designed to focus on high-traffic sites and provide readers of those blogs with fresh, engaging content.
Usually if a person is a reader of, for example, blogs that review historical fiction, it is likely that they follow more than one of those blogs.
This is why it’s important to have targeted, original content for each blog you plan to tour. Blog blitzes are effective, but they act a little more like ads than readers are generally used to.
It is also worth mentioning that blogs love exclusive content, so authors should be willing to do interviews and release exclusive excerpts or personal essays.
The publishing team should also be willing to help authors curate and organize this material.
Who Are Blog Tours For?
Well, if you can find multiple blogs willing to post your content and perhaps talk about your book, then any author can benefit from a blog tour!
However, the most successful blog tours are usually within genre fiction and YA or MG books.
How to Start a Blog Tour
Here are some tips that will increase your rate of success when it comes to pitching.
1. Do your research.
If you’re thinking about doing a blog tour, start following the blogs you have in mind before you even pitch.
Create a spreadsheet to track the blogs you’re considering, and create a column that denotes if you reached out to the blogger, when, and what their response was.
Read the content, leave comments on posts, or retweet the blogger.
The more you interact and engage with that blogger’s content, the more likely it will be that they remember you when you pitch to them.
This interaction can be initiated by the author or by the publisher—but it may seem more genuine and “normal” coming from the author.
3. Follow up.
Be sure to follow up in a timely manner with the bloggers you didn’t hear back from. Sometimes your message got stuck in a spam filter or you may have emailed on a hectic week!
Things to Consider Before Pitching
Before you start sending out pitches to bloggers, make sure you have a clear idea of what kind of content you want (and are able) to deliver.
What to Pitch
When you send your pitch, be specific about what kind of content you’d like to provide for the blogger.
You might offer guest posts, interviews, exclusive excerpts, or even video posts, just to name a few.
To sweeten the deal with a blogger, you can also offer a giveaway to go along with the post.
Giveaways always get readers’ attention, and bloggers love to offer special deals or prizes to their audience, since they can also use giveaways to increase traffic to their site or get more engagement on social media.
(Think: “Tag a friend who needs a copy of this book!” or “To win: Follow my page and @authorspage and like this post! Tag friends for additional entries!”)
What to Include
Now that you’ve decided what kind of content you will provide to the different blogs, remember the important pieces of information that need to accompany your post.
Who Should Pitch
While it is acceptable for an author to pitch themselves to bloggers, it is considered more professional for a publicist or the publisher (acting as a publicist) to contact bloggers on the author’s behalf.
This doesn’t mean that the author shouldn’t have a say in who is pitched and what kind of content will be provided. It also doesn’t mean that the author is off the hook for creating that content.
What it does mean is that having contacts in the industry is important to create a successful blog tour—and being in a respected industry role helps get books through the door.
When to Start
You never want to waste free PR. For this reason, scheduling a blog tour around the release date of a book is imperative.
For example, if you’re going for a two-week blog tour, then use the week before and the week after your book’s release.
With that said, you need to give the blog time to consider your offer and to schedule it alongside their other content.
Reach out six weeks to two months prior to your book’s publication. This gives you time to follow up with the blog if you haven’t heard back after a week or two.
This doesn’t mean you should start planning six weeks before launch—this means you should start your execution six weeks before launch.
Give yourself a couple of months to plan an effective blog tour, alongside your other marketing and publicity efforts.
What Happens When They Say Yes?
Once you’ve been given the green light, deliver what you’ve promised to the bloggers ASAP!
They’re excited to have you featured on their blog, or they wouldn’t have said yes.
Getting the information they need to them, allowing them to schedule it into their regular posts, and offering to help with any additional promotions that they think would help your post perform better will always win you good favor.
The idea here is to cultivate relationships with these bloggers, so when the author releases another book—or another author you represent releases a book of the same genre—they will be interested in working with you again.
After the Posts Go Live
Share! Share all the posts! Put them on your social media accounts, and always tag the poster and link to their site. Also encourage your followers to enter the blog’s giveaway contests.
Blog tours, like guest blogging, are meant to be mutually beneficial.
Always thank the host blogger and keep an open-door policy with them. You never know what ideas people may have that you can collaborate on in the future!
Author Blog Tour Services
Coordinating an author blog tour can require a lot of work and strategic planning. If you’re stretched for time, or if you simply want some guidance to ensure your posts reach the right audiences, you might consider paying an author blog tour service.
Below are several blog tour sites that will take some of the stress out of planning.
- YA Bound Book Tours: This site offers tour options for YA authors that range from $75 for a 15-stop tour to $200 for 50 stops. Your tour stops will be promoted and tweeted daily. Note that tours must be booked 2–3 months in advance.
- Xpresso Book Tours: Xpresso has a reach of over 1,200 bloggers. Basic tours start at $100 for 15 stops. The site primarily serves romance and YA readers.
- Goddess Fish Promotions: Goddess Fish is run by authors, and they work with virtually every genre. Tours range from $45–$300.
- Sage’s Blog Tours: Sage’s Blog Tours is also run by an author. Prices range from $60 for 10 blog stops, to $200 for 30 stops. Book your tour with Sage 6–8 weeks in advance.
- Rockstar Book Tours: This site is free, but you’ll only be interested if the site owners are interested in reading your book. If you’re selected, the site will get you to 20 different bloggers who will list your book.
Blog Tour Benefits
Participating in a well-planned blog tour can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for your next book.
Always do your homework and decide what kind of content you want to share to promote your book. With the right plan, you can make valuable contacts, get exposure for your book, and even pick up some new fans.
Have you ever participated in a blog tour? Tell us about it in the comments below!
If you found this post helpful, then you might also like:
- Virtual Book Tours: A Powerful Promotion Tool for Authors
- 6 Reasons Authors Should Be Guest Blogging (and 3 Ways to Find Host Sites)
- How to Blog Your Book and Build Your Author Platform
Hannah Gordon is the project manager at TCK Publishing. With nearly five years of experience in the book publishing industry, Hannah has worked as a book designer, editor, ghostwriter, publisher, marketer, and a publicist. Follow her bookish adventures on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @HR_Gordon