Blog Tours – The Basics

I often get asked what a blog tour is and I thought it would be useful to create a blog about blogtours which contains all the basics and some handy hints from established bloggers, authors and publishers. (I also wanted to know how many times I can mention the word “blog” in one post).

Blog tours are an easy, effective and inexpensive way to spread the word about a new book on social media.  The tours are normally organised by the publisher or a freelance Blog Tour Organiser. Book bloggers are invited on the tour to review the book on a specific day on or around publication date.  The tours can run from 3 days (Blog Blitz) to a month and all bloggers involved should be posting unique content from Q&A’s and extracts to reviews.

Organising a blog tour can be challenging, imagine herding cats through custard!  The organiser needs to find bloggers who are a) interested in reading the book b) not already booked up on other tours and c) are reliable.  The more established book bloggers are usually “booked” up at least 3 months in advance so if you are thinking of having a blog tour you need to start organising it as early as possible.

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some incredible blogtours over the past year and my advice to any blogger who wants to get involved would be:

  • Get a diary/wall planner (see mine for February below)
  • Sign up with some blogtour organisers (details at the bottom of this post)
  • Only commit to blogtours for books you are interested in reading
  • Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to read the book because if you don’t like it – you need to let the organisers know asap
  • Prepare your blogpost as early as possible, include the blog tour poster, author bio and any other marketing material you receive from the organiser/publisher.  Schedule your post for the blog date as soon as you can.
  • Post it on social media as early in the morning as possible (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc).
  • Tag the author, organiser, publisher on your blog post so they can RT and share for you.

Below some fellow bloggers share some handy hints:

Emma Wilson – The Glass House 

  • Do read the book as soon as you get it and write the review as soon as you finish. That way if you are hesitant about the book or worried you didn’t like it enough to write a positive review you can talk to the blog tour organiser about an alternative.  
  • Do always make sure you have enough time in between blog tour books to read something you WANT to read .. so you don’t get negative or feel resentful about always reading to a deadline.

Anne Cater – Random Things Through My Letterbox

  • Buy a cheap diary; when you agree to a tour; put it in your diary with the title, the organiser and what content you’ve agreed to do.
  • If the book doesn’t arrive, let the organiser / publisher know ASAP, don’t leave it until 2 days before your slot.
  • Try to post during ‘office’ hours, ie. before 5pm – authors are usually patiently waiting for the spot.
  • Don’t say yes to a tour just because you think you should. Organisers would rather that you say no, than overstretch yourself.
  • Remember that a Blog Tour is part of a marketing strategy and is to promote the book. If you really don’t like the book, let the organiser know. You can withdraw from the tour, or post alternative content.
    Whilst we always need honest reviews, when it’s for a Tour, we are looking for positivity, and the author/publisher has paid for a Tour.
  • If, for any reason, you are not able to post on your day, please let the organiser know in advance (I realise that in some cases, this is not possible). Organisers have to shield complaints from authors and publishers when posts don’t appear – and I have to offer a refund.
  • Proof read your post. You’d be amazed how many people get the author’s name wrong, or the title – I’ve done it myself.
  • Remember that Blog Tour Organisers are usually bloggers themselves and know all about the pressures of work and home life. Organisers are human too, and can make mistakes. However, they are approachable and are there to ensure that the Blog Tour is a success.

Yvonne Davies –

  • Don’t be afraid to say No. I’m still trying to do this one

Yvonne Bastian – Me and My Books

  • Keep a note of the dates, it sounds obvious but it can save a lot of stress and double booking… Speaks from experience 😕😀

Aoife Bheineid – Pretty Purple Polka Dots

  • DO let the publisher/person running the tour if you won’t be able to/don’t want to review. Perhaps they can get another form of content ready.
  • DO actually read the book. It’s crazy I know. But people can sign up for too many tours, and it’s instantly recognisable if your review is just a copy and paste from a couple of other people’s Goodreads accounts.
  • DO post on the day you were assigned. Don’t hog someone else’s spotlight.
  • DO promote the shit out of it on social media. This is a promotional tool for authors, give them the best ROI you can.

Lisa Adamson –

  • Write your review as soon as possible after you finish reading it. That way, the reader will get the full impact of your feelings about the book. This is especially important if you feel quite emotional about a book you’re reviewing. Even if I can’t write the review there and then (if I’m burning the midnight oil to finish a fantastic book), I’ll make brief notes of my initial thoughts to revisit the next day. Also, don’t write the review so far in advance you forget to post it on your day! Done that a couple of times! 😬

Linda Hill – Linda’ Book Bag

  • It’s better to tell organisers in advance if you’re not enjoying a book and get some other content than to post a luke warm review.

I asked a few of my favourite authors what they think of Blogtours;

Steve Cavanagh – Author of Thirteen, Twisted, The Liar, The Defence

Bloggers and blog tours are invaluable to authors. Bloggers are enthusiastic, passionate readers and writers make their living by readers talking about their books and recommending them. The more bloggers who are willing to shout about books, the better authors will do. I owe a large part of my readership to bloggers, and blog tours have helped immensely with this. Book bloggers are one of the vital elements of an authors success and I can’t thank them enough.

M.R Carey – Author of The Girl With All The Gifts, Someone Like Me, The Boy on The Bridge

I’ve experienced blog tours from both ends, as it were. When The Girl With All the Gifts came out, I wrote guest posts on a baker’s dozen of blogs. It was hard work coming up with different topics and angles for each post, but it was fun – and it definitely raised the book’s profile. Then when my latest novel, Someone Like Me, was released, Tracy Fenton organised a blog tour on my behalf, inviting many, many bloggers to read the book, review it, and schedule their reviews into a rolling program. That was awesome. It encouraged a conversation about the book that was both really enjoyable for me to be a part of and extremely valuable in raising awareness. Of course, the whole thing was very skilfully managed and paced by Tracy, which I think is crucial. Nothing was forced, everything felt very relaxed and organic, and the cumulative effect was – I think – considerable.

John Marrs – Author of The One, The Passengers, Her Last Move, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared

Being reviewed by Blogs when I was an unknown writer and trying to publicise my debut novel was a Godsend. It really helped to spread the word. And as my career has progressed, I have loved being part of Blog Tours. They can bring you to the attention of a new audience who might not have heard of you, and the enthusiasm Bloggers show for the books they feature is second to none. They rarely get the credit they deserve for their hard work and the long hours they dedicate to their Blogs and websites to keep their readers entertained. I will always be grateful to them for helping to launch me and for supporting me for the last five years.

Alison Belsham – Author of The Tattoo Thief

Don’t underestimate what a well-organised blog tour can do for a book and for its writer. Certainly, it will drive some early sales directly, but more importantly than that, it puts a new book on people’s radar – so that when they subsequently see it in a book shop or an Amazon offer, they remember it’s something that’s already piqued their interest. In the same way, a good blog tour is an excellent brand building exercise for debut authors. Each encounter a reader has with an author might not result in a sale, but it does build familiarity and that certainly builds sales in the longer term. When Tracy organised the blog tour for The Tattoo Thief more than 30 bloggers reviewed and wrote articles about the book – and in that month built a really high profile for my debut which I, as an author, could never have achieved on my own.

Louise Beech – Author of The Mountain in My Shoe, How to Be Brave, Star Girl

The passion and dedication that bloggers give to Blog Tours is invaluable. A lot of these guys have full-time jobs also, and yet they devote hours to reading and reviewing, purely for a love of books. These tours have not only put my books on the map, but I’ve forged genuine friendships with the book-blogging community. And that, for me, has been a huge bonus.

Tara Lyons – Author of DI Hamilton Book Series

I’m always amazed by the amount of work bloggers put into something that is a hobby and not a job. The ones I’ve worked with have been professional, honest, fun and passionate. Blog tours have helped me reach many more readers and for that I’ll always be thankful!

KA Richardson – Author of The Forensic Files Series

I think blog tours are essential for getting word out there about a new release. It can also encourage readers to go back and read others in the series so is definitely effective in my view. The bloggers I know work very hard and get little for the work they actually put into blogging. I’m always exceptionally grateful to anyone who wants to read one of my books and blog about it. It’s a massive deal to me and I love that bloggers share that feeling and that we all have a massive love of books.

SE Lynes – Author of The Pact, The Proposal, Mother,Valentina

I love the blog tours and am amazed when bloggers volunteer their time. They can be nerve wracking but really help with spreading the word, especially for those with a debut book. Blog tours rock.

Heide Goody – C0-Author of The Clovenhoof Series

A wonderful way of making sure that the widest possible audience sees your book and hears some tidbits about it. Let’s not forget that it also makes the author feel a teensy bit like a rock star for a few days 😀

Tracie Podger – Author of The Facilitator and The Fallen Angel Series

A virtual blog tour is an effective way to share the details of a book to a wider audience. In addition, it’s a great way to start/build a relationship with a book blogger. As an author, I don’t expect sales from a tour, it’s all about the publicity, creating a buzz for a new story, and having influencers excited for a novel. A good tour host and an amazing group of bloggers can give the book the boost it needs either in its release week or for a backlist title that needs a little fresh exposure. If a tour can achieve those things, it was a success.

Jane Isaac – Author of The Beth Chamberlain Series, DCI Helen Lavery Series, DI Will Jackman Series

Bloggers are truly the unsung heroes of the book world. Shouting from the rooftops about a story they love helps to spread the word and is invaluable to independent authors and those with smaller publishing houses who don’t have a massive publicity budget. I’m hugely grateful for all their hard work.

Will Carver – Author of Good Samaritans and the January David Series.

What do I think of blogtours?  It’s a great way to get the word out about a book from the people that matter: passionate readers.  I never did a blog tour for my first three books. I was published by Random House and they got it EVERYWHERE. I did the occasional guest post but that was it. The thing is, I sold a lot of books but it didn’t really seem like anybody was talking them.  With Good Samaritans, I’m with a ‘smaller’ (but brilliant) publisher and I took part in my first blog tour. 72 stops in one month. Maybe that was overkill but there was a buzz that was created and people were talking about my little book. And we should be talking about books, right?

Below some publishers tell me about the benefits of blogtours:

Karen Sullivan, Orenda Publishing

Blog tours have proved to be an effective marketing strategy, and there is no question that they work. A good percentage of our list is made up of international authors in translation, and we also publish a lot of debuts. It can be difficult to attract the attention of readers and booksellers, particularly on a limited budget, and blog tours achieve exactly what we set out to do: create a buzz around the book and the kind of exposure that works on an almost osmosis basis … seeing the jacket of a book flitting through your timeline throughout the day, for weeks on end does mean that it registers. Whether there is a one-click purchase because of the coverage engendered, or someone later sees the book in the shop and purchases on the basis of the reviews they’ve seen or because they’ve unconsciously ‘remembered’ seeing the book. It also offers a brilliant opportunity for my authors to interact with bloggers and other readers.

When a book comes out, we are effectively starting at ground zero, and it is essential to generate interest and provide readers with reasons why they need to read it. Bloggers have written some of the best reviews we’ve seen, and the culture of sharing each other’s reviews means that that word is spread wide! Reviews are left on retailer sites, which will influence future readers, and before long a book is given impetus. A good example of the effectiveness is a book we published a few years ago, Su Bristow’s beautiful debut novel Sealskin … a retelling of the selkie legend. The excitement generated by her blog tour led to an extraordinary surge in sales, and we reprinted before publication! Another unexpected benefit of the tours is that it draws the attention of booksellers, TV/film people/scouts, foreign publishers and mainstream press. We had five call-ins from the press for Matt Wesolowski’s Changeling, during a month-long tour, and numerous other opportunities, such as festivals.

They are an essential part of our marketing plan, and will remain that way!

Ben Willis – Orion, Senior Commissioning Editor

Bloggers are an incredibly important part of a book’s like, especially in the early stages, pre-publication, where their passion can kickstart it into wider readers’ minds for the very first time. I’m constantly amazed at quite how much book bloggers read, and always very chuffed and grateful when they choose books I’m working on to shout about.

Poppy Stimpson – Orion, Senior Publicity Manager

Blog tours, in my experiences, have been fundamental and key to the process of publishing a book. The groundswell of noise that bloggers can create on social media cannot be matched. It’s fantastic and I love working with book bloggers throughout the year.

Working with Tracy Fenton on blog tours has been a total joy! She has an unbelievable wealth of contacts and is always so speedy, efficient and ON IT! I’m very grateful to her for her brilliant bookish work

Annabelle Wright – Account Executive, ed public relations

Bloggers and blog tours are a really key element of many of our fiction campaigns – particularly when trying to create noise around a debut writer. The strong relationships we’ve built, the friends we’ve made and the support we receive from so many passionate bloggers is vital. A tour triggers discussion, creates quotes and allows for structured and varied coverage within a specific time frame in the run up to, and at publication. Bloggers are also wonderfully supportive of each other’s tours and their enthusiasm and sharing of content can really make all the difference to a campaign.

Useful Resources: Blog Tour Organisers

Anne Cater – Random Things Tours

(click on the image to visit Anne’s blog)

Rachel Gilbey – Rachel’s Random Resources

(click on the image to visit Rachel’s blog)

Emma Welton – Damppebbles

(click on the image to visit Emma’s blog)

Sarah Hardy – BotBSPublicity & Promo Services

(click on the image to visit Sarah’s blog)