We all carry an idea of what our book release will look like inside our vivid imaginations. People will be cheering and falling over each other to get to the pile of books. Our names will be plastered on billboards and all over the internet.
We wish! Sometimes being a new writer is hard only because the reality is so different from that dream in our heads. People don’t automatically know we have a book for sale. Getting the word out can be a lot of work. However, there are some things we can do to make our book release amazing—for us and for our readers.
Blog tours are a great way to start spreading the word. As an added bonus, the more “stops” you have will drive you closer to the top of search engines. Blog tours don’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, I didn’t spend a dime on mine (not including items for the giveaway on release day), and yet they can be inventive and fun for everyone involved.
Writers and book bloggers are often more than willing to help out with your tour if you give them enough notice. Why? Because it drives new traffic to their sites. Even though it’s a win/win situation, it’s important to remember that they are doing you a favor.
Here’s what I learned while planning my blog tour:
- Start early. I started 4 months before my release date and managed to grab the last slot on the one blog I REALLY wanted to get on for my genre.
- Be willing to help others regardless of whether or not they can help you. Remember how your mom used to tell you to be the kind of friend you wanted to find? Yeah, it’s sort of like that.
- Use the resources that are out there. (See some helpful links below)
- Be professional. Even though you are working through email instead of face to face, present yourself with confidence. Craft your correspondence with the same care you crafted your queries. Be honest with your expectations. Most importantly, when someone declines, say thank you and move on.
- Be prepared with ideas for your tour such as guest post topics, games, giveaways, etc. I started with a list of 12 different pre-planned topics.
- Don’t be afraid of trying something new. Just because you’ve never seen it done, doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for you and your book.
- Take some time to create good headers and buttons that draw the reader’s attention and give a feel for your book, or pay someone else to do so.
- Keep good records of Who, What, When, and Where so you can deliver what you promised and answer questions when someone asks about “the plan.”
- Work a little every day so you don’t feel overwhelmed. I ended up with 34 tour stops, which is WONDERFUL, but if I had to prepare all of those posts within a month I’d curl up and die. Because I started early, I was able to work on them over two months instead of weeks. Hopefully the posts were better because of that.
- Be flexible. If someone wants to host you, but they don’t like any of the topics you pre-planned, be willing to write a post that fits their blog and readers. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.
- Show your gratitude. These people have just become a part of your marketing team. Find a way to thank them sincerely. My favorite way to do this is to return the favor if they have a book coming out or offer a critique if they are still working on that first project. Marketing is as much about building friendships as it is selling books.
Perhaps the greatest thing I’ve learned from this experience is that I can do this. And if I can do it, so can you. Here are the links to sites that I found most helpful while planning my blog tour.
- Book Marketing Buzz has a post titled 50 Great Ideas for Great Guest Post for Authors Promoting Books.
- There’s a great new site called The Blog Tour Exchange. It pairs you with other writers in your genre so you have a few sites to swap tour dates with. Great jumping off point.
- And finally, check out the post How To Plan an Awesome D-I-Y Blog Tour for loads of links.
Good luck and have fun!
Charity Bradford lives in Northwest Arkansas with her hubby and four children, and firmly believes a smile can solve most problems. The Magic Wakes(WiDo Publishing, 2013) is her first novel. You can read her blog at Charity’s Writing Journey.