A book blog tour is a marketing initiative in which an author — instead of physically visiting a bookstore or event location — is a “guest” on a blog via a post including giveaways, contests, interviews, guest posts, videos, excerpts, etc. Blog tours are a great alternative to traditional in-person book events, saving significant marketing dollars on travel time and transportation costs.
The goal of incorporating blog tours into your marketing plan is to increase and grow your author brand, create awareness for your latest title, garner reviews, spark book sales, and build long-term relationships with influential bloggers and fans. Readers are always looking for new book recommendations from sources they trust. A nod from a book blogger with an avid fan base interested in your genre is pure gold.
Blog tours can work really well if you target blogs your audience actively reads, and offer unique and interesting content. While you can hire professionals to help set up your book blog tour, you can do it alone. It takes time, planning, research, and patience!
Who to contact: Research the best bloggers for you
Like any other book marketing campaign, plan for making relevant book tour stops to reach your target audience. Each blog should also match your tone and message. An erotica book, for example, is likely not a fit for a family friendly blog. You may already know your favorite or most influential bloggers in your genre. If not, research those focused on your genre with professionally presented websites/blogs, recent posts, lively comments, and an active social media presence. Also check how these bloggers promote their visiting authors.
When compiling a list of blogs you want to reach out to, research where other authors in your genre have participated in blog tours. Ask your writing communities for recommendations and readers for book bloggers they follow. Here are some websites that can help you find book bloggers:
- Blog Rank
- Blog Nation – Book Reviews
- The Book Blogger List
- Book Blogger Directory
- YA Book Blog Directory
- The Indie Review
- Where Writers Win (one of our favorite author resources)
Blog tour stops can include a variety of content types ranging from guest posts to contests to Q&As, but it’s always a bonus when the book blogger reviews your book as well. Offer free review copies (yes, for free). This is often a prerequisite for agreeing to a blog tour, especially for a new author. Book bloggers often cross-post reviews to valuable places like Amazon and Goodreads.
When researching, reading the submission or review policy is an essential step to learning if your book is a good fit. Here is an example policy from Luxury Reading:
Blog Tours/Guest Posts
I love to participate in blog tours and welcome guest posts from authors.
For blog tours, books must be received at least 3 weeks prior to the tour date. If I do not receive the book within this time frame, I will reach out to you to reschedule the tour date. Please keep in mind that this may result in the tour date being pushed to the following month.
I must receive guest posts 1 week prior to the posting date. If the guest post is not received within this time frame, you will forfeit your posting date. I generally have a very busy posting schedule, and may not be able to reschedule guest posts.
All guest posts have to be original, and not be posted anywhere else.
Remember, just because a blog is “popular” does not mean it’s the right fit for your book. Also, if you are self-published, check the submission or review policy to see if self-published books are accepted. Some bloggers only review traditionally published books.
Beyond traditional book blogs, those who write about a topic related to your book can also be excellent places to contact. For example, if your novel has themes about cooking, wine, fashion, Southern living, boating, the Civil War, time travel, etc., contacting subject matter bloggers can provide excellent coverage opportunities to reach your target audience. For nonfiction books, this type of blog is especially ideal.
What to offer: Be personal, creative, and targeted!
When you are on “tour,” you exclusively “visit” one blog per day and need to offer unique content to each blogger. You may have fans following you to each blog tour location and therefore you will want to share something different at each stop. Also, Google penalizes websites containing duplicate content, which can negatively affect their rankings on Google. So plan to offer different content on each blog in advance.
Plan your tour two months or so before the actual tour dates, which should ideally be soon after the launch of your book so readers can easily buy it after hearing about it on the tour. Each book blog tour length is different, ranging from two weeks to six weeks.
Send each blogger unique ideas based on their audience. Research what they’ve done in the past and which authors have been the most popular. Have fun and be creative! Ideas for book blog content include author interviews, Q&As, and excerpts tailored to the blogger’s demographics. In addition, you can offer insights, observations, backstories, personal observations, character interviews, related recipes, holiday/awareness month themes, advice, expert opinion or how-to’s (especially for nonfiction), or location/setting inspiration. The goal is to offer each blogger exclusive content readers can’t find anywhere else.
When contacting a blogger, personalize your outreach. A generic template email will not entice them to participate. After reading each submission policy, your email should include:
- Something you like or notice about their blog (a recent post, shared favorite author, etc.). A blogger will often delete generic emails.
- Your book title, genre, brief summary, publication date, and Amazon link.
- Your original idea(s) for their blog.
- Ideal date range for the tour.
- A short bio, website/blog, social media.
- An offer of a free review copy (in the format of their choice).
- Your plans to promote the potential tour.
- Your contact information.
- Be genuinely kind. “Please” and “thank you” go far.
Also, don’t send bloggers any attachments unless asked.
Making the most out of your book blog tour: Setting yourself up for success
Once your book tour takes shape, follow through on your promises. Create really valuable original content for each stop on your blog tour, and carefully edit each of your posts to make sure you’re delivering polished content. Meet deadlines for sharing your agreed-upon content. Also, offer book bloggers your book cover and author photo for use on their site.
Promote each leg of your blog tour through your newsletter, blog, website, social media, etc., sharing the dates and conveying the unique value of each stop. Always include the blogger’s social media and blog links in your promotion. Don’t forget the value of your own friends, family, and network to help share the news and excitement of your book blog tour.
After the event, keep abreast of comments and activity, and respond positively and quickly to encourage additional interaction.
Thank the blogger both personally and publicly. After all, you will likely be contacting them again for your next book. If you will be publishing more books in the future, the time and effort to compile book blog lists and develop relationships with these bloggers will benefit you down the line as well. Once you have a relationship started with bloggers, continue with authentic interactions by commenting on their other posts, retweeting or sharing Facebook posts, etc.
At Smith Publicity, we “pitch” our authors to bloggers with the goal of securing expert articles, Q&As, reviews, etc. The benefits to the author include:
- Increased Twitter followers
- Increased Facebook likes
- Positive and widely distributed book reviews
- Increased online book visibility
- Book sales
- Ongoing writing and speaking opportunity invitations
Incorporating a book blog tour into your marketing plan can be an effective way to introduce your work to new audiences, especially those who are fans of your genre. Bottom line: Be personal and targeted in your outreach, carefully read submission guidelines, get creative with your offerings, promote the blog tour before and after the date, and respond to fan comments. Most of all, enjoy the interactions with this vibrant community as you continue to build your author brand.
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