One of the reasons I was hesitant go the traditional route in publishing was the horror stories I had heard about book tours, from my friends who were published authors and from authors’ blogs. (You know, the headaches of organizing tours, the long car rides, bad hotels, bad food, and hard-to-find venues, and the embarrassing book signings where no one shows up or those who show don’t buy any books.)
However, when I decided to self-publish, which meant that my books would be sold primarily as ebooks, on line, I discovered that a new method of marketing had emerged, called the Virtual Book Tour, or the Blog Tour. I first read about this in an informative piece on Publetariat in 2009 called What’s A Book Blog Tour? In the past few years, doing a blog tour when you launch your book has become almost as de rigueur for an indie author as the old-fashioned book tour for the traditionally published.
The typical blog tour seems to be about 30 days, with authors signing up to guest post on a different blog each day. Some variations include swapping posts, or getting a whole group of bloggers to agree to post on each other’s blogs during that month. This can be a complex enterprise and there are now companies that will organize blog tours for authors, just as there are companies that organize the real book tours. It tickled me to discover that the well-respected book marketer, Dana Lynn Smith, just launched her new book, Virtual Book Tour Magic, with a Virtual Book Tour.
Yet, when I launched my first historical novel, Maids of Misfortune, I didn’t do a blog tour. The truth is, my first ever blog post, Why I Decided to Self-Publish: The Long and Winding Road, came 2 weeks after the publication of the book, so I was in no position to start doing guest posts on other blogs. I told myself I would do one for the launch of the sequel, Uneasy Spirits, which came out October 9, 2011.
I am now confessing that, despite my good intentions, I didn’t even try to organize a blog tour for the launch of this book. I was too busy getting the book out early enough so it would have a chance to garner enough reviews and sales to push it up the rankings in the historical mystery category on Amazon before the Christmas holidays when all the new little Kindles will be under the tree. Of course, the fact that I am a very slow blogger, seldom writing more than two posts a month, may have had something to do with my decision (smile.)
For a nano second I felt like a failure, until I realized I had inadvertently signed up for an alternative to the classic blog tour. Instead of a whirl-wind trip through the blogosphere, I had planned to do a series of very pleasant two-week vacations where I got to hang out on three separate blogs.
My first visit in mid November was to a delightful blog that the historical mystery author Susanne Alleyn has set up where she interviews the fictional sleuths in historical mysteries. In my case this resulted in an “Interview with Mrs. Annie Fuller, Boarding House Keeper and Clairvoyant,” which was great fun to do. I got to give away a few books, make new friends, and even introduce a few of my friends to this blog.
My second visit came two weeks later, when I visited author Jenny Milchman’s blog, Suspense Your Disbelief, to tell about my “Made it Moment.” Here I was asked, as a guest, to tell about some seminal turning points in my journey in self-publishing. As readers of my own blog will tell you, I just love to talk about this subject. What was most rewarding was the number of people who dropped by to comment on my story, and I had such a good time that I plan on visiting again soon.
Finally, I am currently on another two week vacation, this time to Suzanne Adair’s blog, where I was able to slip into my history professor persona and talk about “Women and 19th Century Spiritualism,” as part of Adair’s Relevant History Series. During this visit I get to talk about Victoria Woodhull, a real-life 19th Century celebrity who ran for the U. S. presidency, as well as reveal why I chose to give my fictional protagonist the job of clairvoyant. Again, this visit has been a very pleasant one, where I am getting to meet new people, so do come and hang out with me awhile.
What does this all mean? For me, a slow blogger, this experience has revealed an alternative to the more hectic, difficult to organize, blog tour. I am not a good traveler in the real world. I don’t like trips where you have too many stops, where you are in a new place every day. I like to go somewhere and stay for awhile. I guess that works better for me in the virtual world as well.
Does it sell as many books? Probably not. But I have discovered that for me to be successful in marketing I must be doing something I enjoy, and, despite my failure to do a traditional blog tour, my new book Uneasy Spirits is selling well. It is consistently one of the top five best-selling historical mysteries in the Kindle store, and in the past few days it has started showing up in the top 20 bestselling historical mysteries on Amazon.
So, what about the rest of you? How do you like doing blog tours? How successful have they been for you? Have you discovered alternatives that work better?
I would love to know.