My book’s virtual book tour ended last week. And I give an “A” to the whole experience. My objective was to bring some attention to my book and to place information and reviews about it on the web for potential readers to find in the future. As a writer and author, I won’t hesitate now to budget for three things: a professional book cover artist, a professional editor/proofreader, and a blog tour. I think all three are worth spending some money on if you want attention—the good kind of attention on your book.
Going back to blog tours, the first thing before picking out a tour company is to decide what you want to gain from the tour. As I said before, I wanted attention and reviews so that’s what I asked for when Sage’s Blog Tours started to plan my tour. I think it is a plus if you can hire a tour company that would accommodate your preferences (more interviews, less guest posts, etc.) within the packages they offer.
Also, I didn’t want a very large tour company because I wanted more individual attention. I queried one that was so booked up that they never answered me. When I got back to their website, I noticed the fine print where there was a warning saying that they would answer only those queries they were interested in. Talk about being treated like a D.O.A. While researching tour companies, I also realized that not all of them welcome self-published authors. I was glad that Sage has no such qualms. In fact, she’s all for indie authors.
Cost is definitely a factor in deciding on a book tour company. After checking a company’s reputation, comparing the type of packages they offer, and how well they match your goals, choose what you can afford. More expensive is not necessarily better or the best for your needs. What you want is that the tour company pairs your book with bloggers who are interested in your genre and are connected to the kind of audience who would buy your book. Before hiring, check past or current tours and sample the reviews and the bloggers associated with your tour company.
For some companies, a giveaway for participating bloggers is a must, but I did not encounter such an obligation with my tour company. However, I think a giveaway is a fun thing to do, and it’s a way to engage both readers and bloggers. Besides, I like free books and I think there are a lot of people out there who like them too. Budgeting for the cost of postage (and a gift card, if you choose) should not break your piggy bank. If you don’t want to deal with the cost of international mail, then make it clear that your giveaway is limited to the U.S.
When you hire a tour company, you’re paying for the company to connect you with a network of bloggers and reviewers. However, you’re not paying for their reviews. One thing that I liked about the tour was the surprise of what I was going to get at each stop (except for the interview since I had to work on the answers beforehand.) But for the rest, I didn’t know who was spotlighting the book and who was reviewing it. Since I wanted honest reviews, it meant my embracing both the positive and the not-so-positive ones. When I got one of the latter, it helped to remember that I cannot make everybody happy and that for each not-quite-good rating, there was another review that enthusiastically focused on the satisfaction the story brought to the reader.
Finally, did the tour increase sales of my book? Well, it’s not flying off the shelves, but my Authorgraph’s report showed a little green arrow pointing up and my sales ranking going from a seven-digit number to a six-digit one. I don’t think I would depend on a book tour to increase sales radically, but seeing a few more books sold as a temporary byproduct of the attention the tour generated is not bad at all.
Doing a blog tour is something I would recommend to any indie author looking to get some attention for their books. Once one is on tour, it is a temptation to sit back and let the company do all the work. However, I think it’s important to actively participate in one’s own tour not only by providing all the information and book copies the tour company asks for in a timely manner, but also, by advertising the tour in one’s own website, providing links to each stop as they happen, visiting each tour stop, and by thanking each blogger and reviewer for their time and effort. That was part of the fun I had in doing the tour and in being a part of it.