Lola’s Advice: How to Make the Most of a Blog Tour

July 4, 2016 Lola's Advice 26

LolaAdvice

Lola’s Advice is a monthly feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews, which will be posted on the first Monday of the month. Lola’s Advice posts are usually how-to or tips type of posts. They are mainly aimed at authors, but I also try and show the blogger/ reader side of the topic I address. I share my knowledge or personal opinion on mostly book, authors, marketing and promotion related topics. I hope it’s helpful for authors and bloggers alike. Also even though it’s advice please understand that even if you follow all my advice it still won’t guarantee your book will be a success, but it hopefully will be helpful. I also believe that not everything works for each author, every author and book is different and different strategies work for different people. So please use whatever you want to or fits with your style. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.

Today I am talking about blog tours! As a blog tour organizer myself this was one of the first topics I came up for this feature, but I am only writing it now. There’s a lot surrounding blog tours that authors don’t really have control about, but I also think there are some things authors can do to make their tour run as smoothly as possible. So in today’s post I am talking about those things authors can control, about planning a blog tour and what an author can do to get the most out of their blog tour.

The 4 stages of planning a blog tour

I think there are roughly four stages of doing a blog tour: preparation and picking a tour organizer, preparing for the tour, the actual tour and after the tour. Below I list each of these stages and outline what they involve and what as an author you can do during that stage.

  1. Preparation and picking a tour organizer. Before you can consider doing a blog tour, you ofcourse need a book, cover and blurb for your book. It helps to have a catchy blurb, a good looking cover and know which genre your book is and the target audience. It helps to already have done some work on establishing your online presence or at least have set up some social media accounts. When doing a cover reveal it’s usually possible to send the cover a bit later, but then you do need to know approximately when the cover will be finished.
    Then starts the work of finding a tour organizer. There are a lot of tour organizers out there and I can’t imagine how overwhelming it is to find tour organizers and then to decide which one is the best fit for you and your book. I would recommend to first get a feel for what kind of tour organizers are out there. You can use google for this, ask your fellow author friends (even better if they write the same or similar genre as you), visit some book blogs and check their sidebars where some list the tour companies they host for or check some sites which list tour organizers or service providers.
    Then the next step is to get a feel for the companies you found. Visit their site, get a feel for them and their company. Next I would advice to read their policy/ services pages etc. On those pages you can find important information about how they work and what you can expect from them and get a feel for how they organize tours. You can always send them an e-mail if anything’s unclear, added benefit of that is to see how fast they reply and get a feel for the person behind the company as well.
    It is important to have the company be a good fit for you and your book, make sure they actually tour your book genre or look around and see which tours they did in the past to get a feel for how those went. And make sure you agree with their policy and like how they handle things you find important. If you have a blog yourself, signing-up as a tour host and getting a feel for how they treat their tour hosts is also something you can do. Then ofcourse it’s important to know which type of tour you want and how much it costs and if you can afford that and are willing to pay that for a tour. Once you have decided on a tour organizer you can book your tour and hope they accept you and will organize a tour for you.
  2. Preparing for the tour. Once you have had contact with the tour organizer and they accept to organize this tour for you the preparation for the tour starts. This stage is mostly work for the blog tour organizer, but as author you can still play a part here too. You need to send the tour organizer the materials they need to organize the tour and once the sign-up post for the tour is live you can help promote the tour and make sure your followers are aware of the tour. In the case of a blog tour with interview, guest posts and/or top ten lists the author will have to write some posts or answer questions. I would advice to start early in advance in these and make sure to send them about a week or two before the stop the post is for to the tour organizer. Some tour organizers might have a different policy about that, so make sure to ask if that’s unclear.
  3. The actual tour. During the actual tour you can stop by the blogger’s their post, confirm if they posted and you can help promote their post. I always feel it’s very personal how an author wants to get involved during a tour, you can just sit back and don’t post or show anything online, just stop by to check out their blog and that’s it. Or you can take a more active stance and promote their posts and/or stop by their blog and leave a comment. There’s no right or wrong and I think this is an author their personal decision. In my opinion helping promote a post will always go over well. Commenting on a post is not always appreciated, but I think a polite thank you for hosting or being part of the tour is okay. There are also blogs that really appreciate an author stopping by to comment. Or they even welcome it when authors stop by to chat with other commentators. Often you can get a feel for this by looking how the blogger handled previous tour posts or just go with what you feel works best.
  4. After the tour. Once the tour has ended you can look back and reflect on the tour ad how it went. Will you use this tour organizer again, where you satisfied with how the tour went? What are things you might do differently next time? What you did and didn’t like about the tour? Many tour organizers might ask for a testimonial and if you’re happy with their services this is a nice way to say thank you and provide them with a honest testimonial. As an author you also have some new bloggers contacts probably. You might be able to e-mail bloggers who did a review and offer them a review copy of your other books as well if they are interested. Or even contact the bloggers who didn’t do a review and ask if they are interested in reviewing your tour outside of the tour. Or if you have a street team you can invite them to join your team. Again this is mostly personal and how you want to handle it, these are just some ideas. And ofcourse after a tour you can start planning your next tour or promo.

How to make the most out of a blog tour

A blog tour always is a joint effort by the author, tour organizer and the bloggers who sign-up. This means it’s limited what you can do as the author to make sure the tour is successful, but I have listed some tips for authors on how to help make the tour run smoothly. You can always contact the tour organizer with questions, when anything’s unclear. Most tours organizers want the tour to be a success as much as you do and I think it’s better to ask questions if you are unclear about anything than not ask it which can lead to confusion.

  • Start planning your tour early in advance. Start planning your tour early enough in advance. So what’s early in advance? I would recommend to try and contact the tour organizer of your choice about one and two months before when you want the tour to run. It depends a bit on the tour organizer and what kind of tour you want, so it’s helpful to check the tour organizer’s site for a time indication as well. But in general starting a bit early helps for multiple reasons. Tour organizers often start planning tours in advance and they might be booked already for your preferred dates if you don’t book early enough. Having the tour sign-up post live as early as possible means there is more time for people to sign-up for the tour and more time to promote the tour. Or in case the first tour organizer you contact won’t/ can’t accept your tour, you still have time to contact another one. If you book a tour on a short notice it can happen less people sign-up for the tour as they already have other posts scheduled for those dates. So I would advice to aim on the early side. It also depends on the type of tour you want, I personally accept book blitzes with only excerpt stops and cover reveals on a pretty short notice (say 2 weeks), but prefer 3 or 4 weeks in advance for blog tours or book blitzes with review stops.
  • Communicate. Make sure to communicate well with the tour organizer, make sure they understand what you want and if you want anything special for the tour let them know as well. Keeping the communication open and to be clear about expectations from both sides helps prevent misunderstandings. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or correct things if necessary.
  • Send all the materials the tour organizer needs as early as possible. It helps to send the materials the tour organizer needs as soon as possible. That way the tour organizer can start working on the sign-up post earlier. It’s okay to wait a few days, but if it takes longer or if you’re still waiting for materials, let the tour organizer know, so they know what to expect as well. Same with interviews, guest posts etc. make sure to send them in time for the tour organizer to send them to the bloggers. Keep track of which posts you need to write and send them when you have to, to the tour organizer.
  • Help promote the tour. Again it’s not necessary to do this, but I do believe it really helps if the author also helps promote the blog tour, both before the tour starts and during the tour. People who are interested in your books might already follow you and if you let them know about the blog tour they can join as well. And it’s simple math, if two people promote the tour you reach more people than if only one person promotes the tour.
  • Do a giveaway together with your tour. While this isn’t necessary I do think it often helps to run a giveaway during your tour. Bloggers are often enthusiastic to help promote the giveaway and I found that sometimes just the mention that a tour will have a giveaway leads to more sign-ups. And you can set options in the giveaway program to help spread the word about you and your book and get some new social media followers, more people who see your social media posts or add their books to their to-read list on Goodreads. While prizes like amazon gift cards also attract giveaway junkies and you have to keep that in mind, giveaway junkies are not always a bad thing as they do help spread the word about your giveaway.
  • Set realistic goals. Make sure to set realistic goals when booking a blog tour. It isn’t realistic to expect to get thousands more social media followers and see a peak in sales. Be aware that the goal of blog tours is exposure, not sales. It is realistic to expect a few new reviews for the book you tour, get your book seen by some new readers or people adding your book to their to-read list on Goodreads, depending on what kind of tour you do.
  • Do something different/ special/ extra with your tour. This isn’t necessary by any means, but if you have something in mind you would like to combine with your tour or try it might add something extra to your tour. This can be as simple as making teasers or sending multiple excerpts for your tour. Or have the tour coincide with a discount or free promotion of your books and mention that. To doing something special with the giveaway, daily giveaways or maybe have each day have one type of excerpt they should post. Or maybe do a tour host only giveaway to promote sign-ups and thank the tour hosts. Have a good idea for another type of post you want to get included? Or do you want to come up with guest post or top ten list topis yourself instead of letting the bloggers pick? Let the tour organizer know. Don’t be afraid to come up with a new idea to add something special to your tour. Ofcourse your ideas have to be within limits and the tour organizer needs to be open to your ideas as well, but I believe it can never hurt to try and ask if you have a good idea.

Bloggers point of view: participating in blog tours

As a tour organizer I know there are different type of bloggers when it comes to blog tours. There are bloggers who join almost every tour they can join, they join tours for almost every tour organizer and join each tour of them. Then there are bloggers who are more picky, either they join only tours for a certain genre or age category book or only tours from certain tour organizers. Then there are also bloggers who only join tours if the specific book appeals to them. As a blogger myself I fall in the last category, I used to fall more in the second one and liked to join a lot of blog tours, but now I only join blog tours if the book really appeals to me or if I already know the author. While I love supporting authors I don’t have time to join every tour and prefer to only join tours if I know the author or it’s a book I want to read and can sign-up for a review stop. There are a few tour organizers where I am signed-up as a tour host, usually because I know them and like how they work and some I haven’t done a tour for, but plan to do one if the books catches my attention. So I am pretty picky for which tours organizers their tours I join as well. Some tour organizers send materials very late and I don’t like that as I like to plan ahead and schedule my posts ahead as well, so that type of tour organizers don’t work well for me. That’s not to say they are bad tour organizers, but it doesn’t work well with the way I schedule my posts. I only make exceptions for them if it’s a tour I really want to join for some reason.

Authors: Have you ever done a blog tour for your book(s)? How did it go and do you have any additional tips?

Bloggers: Do you participate in blog tours? How do you decide which tours to join?

26 Responses to “Lola’s Advice: How to Make the Most of a Blog Tour”

    • Lola

      I also do few tours anymore, my blog schedule is usually already full enough, so I only join tours for books and authors I am really interested in. And getting the materials late really can annoy me, which is a reason why I always try to send out materials early for my tours.

  1. Sophia Rose

    We have narrowed down what tour companies we will use based on book/author offerings, communication, timing on receiving the tour kit, and original content. The original content has narrowed it down to just a handful of tours/promoters since it means only interviews, guest posts, or excerpt/review combos. We like plenty of time to set up and format our posts.
    As to author participation, we love it when an author stops by and also helps share/post for the tour.

    Well thought post, Lola!
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Into the Blue by Chanel Cleeton #ReviewMy Profile

  2. Ashley Montgomery

    I’ve become a lot pickier when it comes to tours as well. I used to want to sign up for everything when I first started blogging. You can imagine how time consuming that became. I host for several companies but I do have a select few that are my faves to work with. I now base it on if it’s an author I’ve read and enjoyed and/or one I’ve worked with before. I’ll also only sign up if it’s something I’m truly interested in and I rarely will promo anything in a series if it’s not the first book unless I’ve already started the series.
    Ashley Montgomery recently posted…#Release Blast #Giveaway Moonshot by Alessandra TorreMy Profile

    • Lola

      I am signed-up for multiple list even though I rarely participate I still like to see what tours they are hosting and see if there’s anything I like. When I just started blogging I did much more blog tours and yes they can get time consuming if you do a lot and the deadlines can be stressing if you sign-up for too many reviews.

  3. Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

    I have been part of blog tours in the past, but I’m a bit picky. I only do it for books that actually sound good to me. I like to help authors when I can, and I know many of them often try blog tours, so if I can, I’ll post something. But again if the book isn’t for me or I don’t think my followers will care that much, I’m not going to sign on.
    Let’s Get Beyond Tolerance recently posted…What Remains by Garrett LeighMy Profile

    • Lola

      I like blog tours, hence why I organize them myself. But I hardly participate in tours on my own blog. I also like to help authors, but also try and only accept review copies and tours when I am really interested in the book or already know the author.

  4. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

    You already know that I’m not a big fan of participating in blog tours. For me it’s just kind of a lot of extra work, and posting the promotional stuff is very impersonal. To date I’ve only actually participated in one blog tour, and that was because it was the final book in a series I loved, and I wanted the ARC lol, and that was the only way to get it. Luckily they let me post the promotional stuff in a separate post from my review so that I could keep my normal review format. But anyway, that’s the only reason I’d sign up for a tour, is if it’s a book I really want and I can get a free copy. But even then, sometimes I’ll still pass up a book since blog tours kind of stress me out. I kind of feel bad saying this since you run blog tours! But I do see their benefits and why some people like them, it’s just that they’re not quite my thing. I’m kind of a lone wolf blogger—blog tours, challenges, readathons, all those participation types of things stress me out lol.
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Book Review: Girl in the Shadows (Girl on a Wire Book 2) by Gwenda BondMy Profile

    • Lola

      I can understand why they stress you out, I kinda like challenges and tours, but don’t do too many of them so it gets pressuring. I don’t deal as well with deadlines, because of being a moodreader, so I try and not line up too many of them. I have signed-up for a tour a few times when that was the only way to get a review copy of a book I really wanted.

      Fro what I’ve seen as a blog tour organizer there are bloggers who like the easy tours where they just have to copy and paste materials ad sometimes sign-up for another type of post. And there are bloggers who like the original content and go for the top ten list, guest posts, reviews etc. For my tours I set no obligations for what people have to include in their post, so people can include what they want and customize their post to their tastes.

    • Lola

      I agree it seems very few tours offer audiobooks. I would love to organize a tour once with audiobook review copies as well, but I think very few indie authors can afford to make an audiobook of their book. And most of my costumers are indie authors. I only have organized one review opportunity with audiobook files so far and the author ran out of audio copies within a day as it got so many sign-ups.

  5. S. J. Pajonas

    These are all great points, Lola! And that’s why I always work with you for my blog tours! 🙂 As an author on a tour, I always like to go to all the blogs and thank them for participating in the tour. Then I like to take your tweets and retweet them to help with promotion. I usually pick a few posts during the tour to put on my Facebook Page and promote them as well, but that’s the extent of it. I’m usually exhausted by the time the tour comes around. Lol. It’s hard to muster up more energy to do more than what I usually do. All the preparation work is so necessary! You did a great job of lining up all the steps.

    Which reminds me, I have an interview to finish up dictating this morning on the treadmill. Must get to that!
    S. J. Pajonas recently posted…Teaser Tuesday – Complicated RelationshipsMy Profile

    • Lola

      Thanks :). I always enjoy touring your books! I think it’s nice to stop by and say thanks. Sometimes I try and do this as well for the tours I organize, but if I am busy I might led it slide.
      I do always try and share or retweet their links at least, to help their post get more visibility. And yes all the preparation is necessary and makes the tour run more smoothly.

    • Lola

      Same here, I already have a lot of other content so it’s hard to fit a tour in sometimes, but if it’s a book that’s already on my wishlist or one that sounds really good or when I already know the author I will join the tour sometimes.
      There was a time when I got most of my review copies through blog tours, especially when I was a newbie blogger and wasn’t on many arc lists or netgalley yet.

  6. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    I find that I participate less and less in blogtours. In the very beginning when I started blogging, I participated in quite a lot of tours, then, fewer, and now, only maybe six or seven each year. I feel that it’s a bit stressful to read and review for a tour, especially if I don’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would – then I don’t really want to promote the book as much as I would if I really loved it.
    So I’ve become much more picky, and will only participate if I think I’ll love the book, or if I have already read (and loved) the author’s other books.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts #72 – Sweet Little LiesMy Profile

    • Lola

      I do accept a lot of review copies, but most of those are without deadlines. I think that’s the thing that bothers me most about tours that I have to review a book before a certain date. Although ofcourse it wouldn’t be a blog tour without that. I mostly do some cover reveals now that I organize myself and some tours if I already know the book or author or it sounds really good.

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