How to run your own blog tour and a question as to whether it’s really worth it

This is a post by Pavarti K Tyler

103 Blog Stops in one month sounds like an insane thing to do. But that’s what I did during November for my blog tour for Two Moons of Sera.  Guest posts, interviews, reviews, giveaways, all kinds of things all over the blogosphere – but that’s not even the hard part!

What? You may ask. How exactly is that not the hard part?

Oh dear reader, let me tell you, the hard part is always that which you don’t see: behind the scenes, in the trenches.

The Two Moons of Sera blog tour began on November 1st, 2011.  I began sending out ARCs to reviewers on September 23rd, but I was cutting it close.  My hope was that because 2MOS is under 20k words, it wouldn’t be a huge time investment for reviewers.  My bet paid off but if I’d had a full length book I would have needed to start sending those requests in August.  But sending those emails wasn’t even the beginning of the process.  I started planning for this blog tour all the way back in May.

Here’s what I did:

 

Creating a Blog List

In May, I began compiling my master list.  This list has 1217 Blogs on it including information about:

  • Contact Name
  • Blog Link
  • Genre Reviewed
  • Request Requirements (form? Paperback only?)
  • Other promotions the blog offers (Giveaways, Interviews, etc)
  • Twitter Name (and yes, I’m following ALL of them)
  • Personal Notes (How I know them, who through, point of reference)
  • Email Address or Submission Form link

As I built this, I added all of these blogs to my Google Reader as RSS feeds and try to check in with them at least once a week.  This isn’t always feasible and I don’t always comment, but I try to keep up with if they have book releases or something personal announced.

 

Making Friends

Hi!  My name is Pav and I want to be your friend!

It’s really too bad things don’t work the way they did in kindergarten.  Once I had my list of contacts, I went about figuring out who was an acquaintance and who was a friend.  There isn’t an easy way to do this, but I can tell you that through this process I’ve made great friends, some of whom have become BETA readers (Hi Jamie Salisbury!), some who have become confidants (Hi Carissa Elg!), some who have become business partners (Hi Emlyn!) and many, many others.

I mention this because it’s not all some cold calculated attempt to take over the world, although that is my ultimate goal. None of this works without the people you surround yourself with–every single one of them has the potential to change your life.  Maybe you don’t hit it off and that’s ok too, but maintaining relationships and being open to the possibilities takes an investment of time.

 

Reviewing Books

Not every author wants to review books.  I understand that, you write, you don’t want to critique.  But I learned more about how to run a book tour by being a reviewer for one then I did from any article or blog I read.  Reviewing books is hard work.  It takes a tremendous investment of time and mental resources.  I didn’t realize that when I started, thinking: Hey I like to read books, how hard can this be?

Now I understand how much goes into writing a quality review and how to manage relationships with bloggers in a tour. Plus it’s a great way to get to know more authors, deepen those relationships and maybe learn something.

 

Fine Tuning the List

As the completion of Two Moons of Sera loomed, I began going through my list.  I wasn’t going to submit a request to all 1217 of them!  I needed to go through and select the ones I thought would be of maximum value.  Some I picked because of my personal relationship with them, some because I’d read previous reviews, some just because I liked their blog name.  I went through the genre list and removed anyone who said they disliked Fantasy or Romance.  I removed all of the genre specific sites that didn’t fit into the 2MOS audience (i.e. horror). I picked through the list until I had a final compilation of 229 blogs.

 

Deciding on a Giveaway

Before I started contacting bloggers, I had to get all my ducks in a row.  Was I doing a giveaway?  Was it for readers or bloggers too?  What were the rules?  What were the prizes? Did I have swag?  Did I need to order anything?  How was I going to organize/run/select winners?  In the end, I had a mega giveaway for bloggers (two won), and a giveaway for readers that went on the entire month of November.

 

Sending Requests

How to send a request to a blogger is something we’ve been talking about a lot on Novel Publicity (see this post from a publicist’s perspective, and this post from a blogger’s perspective).  I can tell you, finding the balance between being personal and getting all the information conveyed isn’t easy.  It took quite a while.  I limited myself to sending 20 emails a day so I could make them personal instead of mass emailing.  So for 229 bloggers that took a week and a half.  Many bloggers also had requirements or forms that needed to be filled out, which added to the time this took.

 

Tracking Emails/Responses/Dates/Requirements

Now here’s where the astronomical commitment came in.  After all the time I’d already put in I thought I was pretty organized.  I had a nice big organized spreadsheet and a Google calendar all set up and ready to enter all those YES responses I was going to get.  But then the emails started rolling in. Out of 229 emails only 47 didn’t respond at all. That means that 182 people responded to my email request to either pass or set up something on their blog.  Folks who passed I always responded to, and some turned into advance scheduled blogs for January when Pt 2 of Two Moons of Sera will be released.

All those emails had to be translated to my master list where I tracked who was a yes, who wanted a guest blog or interview, who was doing a giveaway and what date they were going to post.

 

Follow every blog every day

When the blog tour officially began I was already exhausted.  Now came time for interacting with all the blogs, readers and promoting.  This was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed seeing what everyone’s impression of Two Moons has been, but in case you’ve been counting, that’s 103 blogs to watch and respond to.

In addition I need to promote all these events.  But I need to do it without spamming.  How the hell do you do that with 103 blogs?  I’m trying to figure it out and spread announcements out between my blog, my facebook page, my facebook profile, twitter and G+, so no single stream becomes saturated.

 

Send Thank Yous

Every single blogger who participated in my tour got a personal thank you.  I emailed them either the day of or the day after their post and make sure it’s clear that I saw what they wrote, not just that I’m sending a form thank you.  Again, this is all about relationships.  I know what they’ve done for me and I know it’s an essential marketing tool for me, I don’t ever want a blogger to think I don’t appreciate it.

 

Manage giveaways and events

With the end loomed near I needed to organize my giveaways.  I had gift bags, ebooks, books and all kinds of other things to send out.  I needed to remember who gets what, get them out on time and make sure I have everyone’s address.  And for some reason getting to the post office has always been really, really hard for me.

 

 Summing it all up

Are you still here?  Did you read this far?  If you did you’re one step closer to organizing your own blog tour.  But the really important question to ask is do you want to?  I work from home, but still I spent HOURS getting this together for the release of 2MOS.  I don’t have a lot of money and am by nature a bit of a control freak so for me it made sense to do it myself.  I have the time to invest, but if I had the money I’d much rather let someone else do it next time around.

In my day to day, I work, write, market, blog tour, parent, teach, cook and sometimes sleep.  I would never suggest someone not do their own tour, but the investment you need in order to do it successfully is quite high.  It’s fun, rewarding and educational.  Good luck on your adventure, and let me know if you find any awesome blogs, I’ll add them to my list 🙂

 

About this post’s author:

Pavarti K Tyler, Marketing Department DirectorPavarti is a member of the Novel Publicity Team as a PR Campaign Manager. She also provides content editing as a consultant or for her Novel Pub clients. Her unique experience as a dramaturge, both on and off Broadway, has provided her the opportunity to work closely with many playwrights and directors, allowing Pavarti to consider both the literary and audience perspective. Pavarti K Tyler’s novel Two Moons of Sera is a Fantasy/Romance and is being released in a serial format. Her next novel Shadow on the Wall is scheduled for release in early 2012. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.

 


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