Blog tours are like virtual book tours. We provide blog hosts with information we want them to post on their blogs for us, and then they drive traffic through social networking to those sites. Each blogger has a different realm of influence—a different readership. The combined effect of being on multiple blogs in the same week helps increase your search engine rankings and exposure. Some of the blog hosts will also write reviews of the book. Some just post what we provide them. They are accustomed to working with us, so it’s a happy partnership. For their effort, we send them a copy of the book they are promoting.
Lots of companies are using bloggers to help with marketing and free advertising, as well as consumer reviews. Ask Target who their biggest fans are, and they will say “mommy bloggers.”
So, it’s sort of like running the same commercial on a bunch of different stations at once so that you get multiple audiences. And it stimulates an appetite for the book by the very consumers we hope will purchase the title.
Marketing experts say that consumers often need 7 “touches” before they make a purchase, so we like to try to get the word out in a variety of ways to achieve this purpose: newspaper, social networking, radio, TV, internet, reviews, bloggers, book signings, speaking events, advertising, etc. We also try to do direct-to-consumer awareness and pitch-to-media promotion as well. So, blog tours provide one touch in a plan that includes several other elements as well.
How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into an author’s overall marketing plan?
Blogging by the author helps set them up as an expert on certain subjects-each blog should fit a niche. It develops a readership and a platform. It also allows the author to network with other bloggers and trade services such as blog tours.
Blog tours fit into the marketing plan because they develop a grassroots level exposure to the book, creating buzz thanks to the oldest PR method on the planet, “word of mouth.” Other bloggers will reach readers the author couldn’t reach any other way.
What method do you use to plan the blog tour? Normally we use an e-blast that has the press release of the book, including the author bio, the photo of the book cover, photo of the author, and a Q & A style interview with the author. We also like to add one other element to personalize the tour—sort of like lagniappe (a little something extra). And some of our authors also choose to provide a grand prize giveaway, so we coordinate the drawing of that winner.
Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
I would highly recommend authors be willing to post blog tours for other authors on their sites, to develop a network so that when their own books are ready to go on tour, they already have a long list of blog tour hosts ready and willing to return the favor.
We have over 500 in our database for blog tours, and often run between 25-50 hosts who volunteer for any given tour. Some authors select the number they wish to limit their tour (if books are limited) or they tell us to run as many as possible.
What the blog tour service covers:
- designing custom e-blast
- sending e-blast to our database of blog tour hosts
- making a mailing list of all volunteers
- mailing complimentary books to all blog tour hosts signed up for this tour
- following up with volunteers and answering any questions
- posting blog tour on our professional blog and listing all blog links to drive traffic to all the blog tour hosts
- following up with any stragglers who haven’t posted the blog tour before the tour wraps up
- gathering names of finalists for giveaway from blog tour hosts
- writing e-blast announcing prize winner and thanking all hosts for their participation
Here are some examples of blog tours:
Today’s article is by Kathy Carlton Willis, wife to Russ, mom to Jazzy the Boston Terrier, author, editor, publicist and a certified CLASSeminars speaker. Kathy Carlton Willis Communications encompasses her many passions. Learn more about how she reflects Christ as she shines the spotlight on others at: http://kcwcomm.blogspot.com/ or http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/.
Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of being a Christian who reads speculative fiction (supernatural, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, etc.) is the lack of speculative titles available in Christian bookstores. It is routinely estimated that 75-80% of all Christian novels are some form of romance, which leaves the other quarter-of-a-percent to duke it out for the remaining space. But apart from the two big names — Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti — spec titles are a rarity in Christian bookstores.
While many groups have formed (independent presses, blog tours, message boards, crit groups, etc.) aimed at addressing this disparity, the bottom line remains: Christians who like speculative fiction are forced to find their “fix” outside the Christian market.
Why is this?
I privately queried one industry insider regarding the dearth of spec-fic in Christian bookstores and they wrote back with this answer:
“…it’s not just a CBA thing. Across all of publishing, sales of Spec fiction lag behind many other kinds of fiction. The spec/fantasy crowd (both writers and readers) are an extremely vocal minority. They are always out there screaming that there’s not enough spec fiction to suit them, but publishers have not seen profit in it. Believe me, if they did, everyone would be publishing a lot more spec.”
I’ll be honest: I have a hard time believing this. I mean, when Borders and Barnes and Noble contain aisles — not just a couple shelves — aisles of horror, science fiction, graphic novels, and fantasy, it is really difficult to believe that “publishers have not seen profit in it.” On top of that is the prominence of spec-fic in popular culture. For instance, of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all-time, more than half contain speculative themes (The Dark Knight, The Sixth Sense, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Spider Man, etc.). In literature, there’s Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight epic and Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which have sold gazillions of copies. Nevertheless, spec titles comprise a relatively minuscule portion of the religious fiction market.
So what gives? Is this industry insider (and their professional peers) deluded? Are they part of some grand CBA conspiracy to suppress the growth of speculative fiction? Is the spec/fantasy crowd simply “an extremely vocal minority”? Or are Christian readers really not that interested in speculative fiction?
I recently posted on this subject at my website (link HERE) and received a lot of great response (the comment thread is currently pushing 50). Nevertheless, the answers remain varied. Of the possible reasons why speculative fiction is under-represented in Christian bookstores, these seem to be the most common:
- Demographics; the Christian market is primarily geared toward women, and women, by and large, don’t prefer spec titles
- Christian publishers are behind the times, operating under an “old model,” unwilling (perhaps unable) to risk broadening their market
- Speculative titles are “unsafe” and push the boundaries (thematically and theologically) of traditional Christian fare
- Christian bookstores cater to conservative clientele; hardcore spec fans cannot go to Christian bookstores to find their “fix”
Anyway, these are the going theories.. While I have several of my own, definitive answers appear elusive. Either way, I guess I’m part of that “extremely vocal minority.” What about you? Why do you think Speculative Fiction is so under-represented in Christian bookstores?
Mike is a monthly contributor to Novel Journey. He is represented by the rockin’ Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. Look for Mike’s debut novel, “The Resurrection,” in stores Spring of 2011. You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com.
Wanted: Writers of suspense/crime/mystery/cozy mystery novels for entry in our contest. Identifying features: a plotting mind and observant eyes; possibly an avid reader; suspect has never published a novel through traditional venues. Must be turned in on or before July 10, 2010. For further details, enquire within.
Special Alert: Writers of other genres are also wanted. These suspects create fictional accounts of contemporary or speculative events for the purpose of entertaining men, women, and/or young adults, enticing them to willingly suspend their disbelief. May be armed with laptop.
Persons of interest, and those with information that might lead to the apprehension of any such suspect, should contact NovelJourneyContest@gmail.com. Please provide a completed entry form along with the following evidence: first chapter of the suspect’s fabrication and a short (one- to two-page) synopsis.
Reward: Each respondent will receive a personal email of thanks from the contest administrator. If printed out and framed, this can be used as a wall ornament or conversation piece, and will make you the envy of all your friends.
Furthermore, each monthly winner will receive Fifteen Minutes of Fame right here on Novel Journey. So don’t be shy; turn yourself in!