How to Publish: Organize a Blog Tour

The more I look into the prospect of promoting my book, the more I’m interested in focusing my time and resources on a blog tour. Instead of organizing an event and traveling to it only to have 10-15 people show up, I can write up a few e-mails and set up a virtual tour on a blog that receives hundreds if not thousands of hits every day. If readers like the book, they can easily order it online. But even if sales don’t result directly from the tour, I still increase my book’s visibility. Thinking this is the way to go, I did a little digging into online tours.

By far the best resource I found is this step-by-step guide. I recommend carefully reading through it, if not printing in out so you have time to digest all of the steps involved in a blog tour from working on your own blog, to contacting bloggers, to following through on the day of the virtual tour. I was especially interested in finding out how long a typical tour lasts–2-3 weeks if you were wondering too.

Steve Weber, author of Plug Your Book, offers the following key steps for a blog tour:

  • A short book excerpt displayed on the host blog previewing the tour appearance.
  • A one-day appearance where you submit an opening statement – a short essay or commentary on the topic of your book, opening the floor for discussion.
  • Follow-up visits for the next four to seven days to answer questions and comments from the blog audience.

This is a tall order, but if bloggers are willing to help by forwarding comments on to you and if you can plan ahead, then this massive task shouldn’t be too hard to pull off. Of course the big difference will be how many bloggers you can interest in the tour and how much traffic they receive. That all depends on your niche market, as the top bloggers in each niche will have very different traffic. I would imagine bloggers in fields such as cooking, politics, and management will have higher stats than say, religion, which happens to be my field of choice.

Technorati can help you get an idea of who you need to include, but don’t forget to check the blogs listed in the sidebars of each blog you visit. If you see the same blog pop up over and over again, then you’d better add it!

For a broader view of blog tours and what they mean in the publishing world today, check out this NY Times article. In short, publishers really, really like them. The reason? Cheap publicity. Take note of this comment:

“If I had to choose, I’d rather have an author promote themselves online,” said Felicia Sullivan, the senior online marketing manager of Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins, who maintains that the Internet exposes authors to a broader audience than most bookstore readings.

“You can reach at least a few hundred people on a blog, and save time, money and the fear of being a loser when no one shows up to your reading.”

If you’re still swimming in the possibilities here, let me offer a few steps to follow.

  1. Research bloggers and ask them who they would include in a tour besides themselves. You’re essentially helping their friends get free books and extra online traffic, so they’re likely to help you out.
  2. List the bloggers in a spreadsheet with the following fields: name, e-mail, mailing address, status on the blog tour, and date on the blog tour.
  3. Prepare a review kit that will provide bloggers with all of the information they will need about your book: endorsements, author bio, author online information, table of contents, etc.
  4. Don’t forget to send out a picture of yourself and possibly a sample chapter they can post with the review.

This should move things in the right direction. Provided you can stay organized and keep on top of who is posting when, you should be able to drop by each blog on the tour and help make it a success!

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