by Sue Heavenrich
Remember Blog Tours? Those week-long, sometimes two-week-long events came with a schedule for tour stops, author and illustrator interviews, drawings and giveaways. If someone missed a stop, they could link back to a previous post.
Blog tours were a thing – until they weren’t. “What happened?” I asked a publicist.
“Blog tours are still happening,” she said, “but in a different way. Many of the blogs have migrated over to Instagram, and the content of the reviews has shifted as well.” Instagram, it seems, allows for more talking points, better photo opportunities, and briefer posts.
Betsy Bird, who writes a wonderful blog, mused on blog tours recently. “… when blogs started to disappear, they left a significant gap in the marketplace,” she wrote. “When a publisher wants to get the word out about a book, what do they do? They can pay for advertising, but if you’re a small publisher you just don’t have a ton of money to do so, and if you’re a large publisher you’ll only be able to highlight a few titles from your upcoming season...”
Publishers may not be organizing blog tours, but some writers still do. Last year Annette Whipple organized a tour for her book Ribbit! the Truth about Frogs.
“I wanted to promote my book,” Annette said. “Despite the incredible feedback I’ve had from people about my books (including the other books in The Truth About series), most people hadn’t heard of them.” So Annette decided to use the power of the kidlit community to show off her newest book. She reached out through a couple of kidlit Facebook groups and her monthly newsletter. Once she gathered a team, she created a Facebook group where they strategized ways to generate buzz around the book launch date. Then she emailed PDFs of the book to all of the bloggers and team members. She also mailed small packages of fun froggy swag to her launch team.
Teresa Robeson’s blog tour came about accidentally. She wasn’t planning to do a launch party for her book, but her friends wanted to share her book on their blogs. Vivian Kirkfield reached out to bloggers she knew and created enough posts for two weeks. That meant every day there would be something about her or one of her new books.
Jennifer Swanson also reaches out to bloggers, offering to email a pdf or link to an e-galley. While many authors focus on getting the word out close to their book’s launch date, Jennifer is less concerned. “I'm fine with bloggers interviewing me and then spreading out their posting times – it extends the life of your book launch.”
Tips for a DIY Blog Tour
- Blog tours and book launch teams take an incredible amount of time, even when they’re small.
- Read blogs and keep a list of the ones you like, where you see book reviews and/or author interviews.
- A few months before your book launches, reach out to bloggers to create your team. Think about blogs that reach parents and homeschoolers, too. You want to end up with 6-10.
- Organization is essential. Use a calendar or other means to keep track of when bloggers will feature your book – you don’t want them on the same date.
- Think about offering a book for a drawing (sometimes publishers are happy to provide a book).
- If a lot of friends want to help out, think of them as a “promotion” team. They can post a review on Goodreads or Amazon, ask their local library to buy a copy, and post things on social media such as a photo of your book and the caption “currently reading”
- If you don’t want to do a launch tour, think about a blog tour focused around a holiday.
A huge thanks to these folks who generously shared their blog tour tips and experience. Check out their websites and go read their books!
Annette Whipple https://www.annettewhipple.com/
Teresa Robeson https://www.teresarobeson.com/
Vivian Kirkfield https://viviankirkfield.com/
Jennifer Swanson https://jenniferswansonbooks.com/
More DIY Blog Tour Resources:
“Everything You Need to Know about Organizing a Blog Tour” from the Author Newsletter (Penguin Random House)
How to Get the Most Out of a Book Blog Tour, from the Writing Cooperative
Talking Story Facebook group