19 March 2013

Tuesday Talk: Is A Blog Tour Worth The Effort?

Well my Ripples In The Sand  Blog Tour has nearly come to a close, just one more stop tomorrow.
Have I enjoyed the virtual tour? Being honest here – I’m not sure.

I have had a fantastic time answering the set questions by a variety of Bloggers, I loved writing the couple of articles that were requested: well, I enjoy writing about my beloved pirate, Jesamiah Acorne – as much as my readers enjoy reading about him.

But Blog Tours are hard work. And are they of any use anyway? 

The idea is to promote a recent or newly released book. The modern on-line equivalent to the old fashion Bookstore Tours where an author would be invited into a bookstore, sit at a table looking welcoming and smiley and sell and sign a book or two.

Us Indie authors are lucky if one person takes pity on us and buys a book as a present for a friend. Come to that, we are lucky to be invited into bookstores in the first place; several of the Most Well Known UK  Chain stores don’t want to know. My own local Big Chain back in Walthamstow never got back to me about arranging a signing, even though I faithfully RT’d their Tweets, FB’d them and smoked my socks off being Nice. And despite me attempting to say I now had SilverWood Books, a good, reliable, professional publishing house behind me to produce my books. (Unlike my previous one, Discovered Authors / Callio Press, which was the opposite of all those things) Walthamstow wasn’t interested.

Whether Devon will be I don’t know yet – early days.

The Blog Tour is a superb way of reaching potential readers worldwide, especially if the Tour as a whole is varied and interesting – and the Blogs are well established with a big readership. 
But what if you hit problems about advertising your Blog Tour Stops? Over-egging the pudding, spamming, going on and on about My Book is a no-no on most social media sites – but what about promoting your Blog Tour? It seems that is also a no-no now.

I view promoting tours not as harping on about My Book (although, yes, that is involved) but a legitimate opportunity to draw attention to the kind hosts – be they the top well-knowners or those who have very new blogs. I always assumed that readers were interested in the variety of content of a Blog Tour – my answers to a variety of highly interesting questions; the articles I wrote about my books; when I started writing – my tips for new writers; my thoughts on my characters etc. I find reading other author’s blog tour answers/articles interesting – maybe it is me who is dull then? 

 And yes, it is nice to be able to take that rare opportunity to take pride in blowing your own trumpet for a couple of days over a period of a couple of weeks, to enjoy the fantastic reviews – and enjoy sharing them with my present readers and (hopefully) a few new ones. 

But what to do when you are asked not to promote your Tour on various media sites because it constitutes spamming? Is promoting a Blog Tour blatant spam then? I didn’t realise it was. I wonder, are the big authors also classed as spammers if they promote their blog tours – or does this new rule only apply to us struggling Indies?

Readers who are your Facebook Friends already follow you, so already know that New Novel is now out. 
Like many another, I am a busy person, I can’t keep going back to Author X’s FB page to see where he/she is today on his/her Tour, but if I see a link pop up on a Facebook Page or Twitter, I’m more than happy to like, share, and RT (retweet). I take a look, of course, and usually leave a comment, probably also 'follow' the Blog, especially if it is a new one. Blog Tours are as much about advertising the Blogs and Bloggers aren't they? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick somewhere along the line?

Spamming, that constant, 'buy my book', 'read my book' are posts that usually get blanked by most people because it is repetative, boring - and frankly, occasionally downright rude. This sort of 'marketing' is not the done thing - accepted. But aren't Blog Tours different? They are designed with the goal of 'buy my book' I agree, but this is balanced by articles, interviews and such - the sort of thing that readers are interested in. Or have I still got the wrong impression?

If you can’t advertise a Tour – are they worth all the hard work? (And worth the cost – several companies organise Blog Tours for authors at a cost of about £300 a go.) I have enjoyed this tour, but there's an old saying "Don't let them pee on your parade"; my parade was slightly pee'd on and unfortunately I got a little damp, so 
will I be doing another Tour? I’m not sure. Probably not. At least, not in the same format.

As an author, reader, or Blogger I’d be interested in your honest opinion. 


  1. I'm not one for following blog tours. Once I've seen the book advertised, I log it, so to speak.

    Nonetheless, interviews can be fun, but too many at once can amount to overload of info. I have an award page on my blog and quite a few of the awards entailed set questions. I don't promote them: they're there if anyone is interested in knowing things about me they wouldn't otherwise be told. Equally I have an extensive "about me", which just sits on a page at my blog.

    I do however like the old format of blogfests: the equivalent to on-line book fairs, where authors all sign up for specific dates (3-4 day event) via a host blog. Every listed author then posts their latest book's details on own blog: meaning every blog is linked either via host blog, or each blogger accepts a linky app to assist in ease of moving on to the next blog. FB seems to have killed off blogfests, but I had thought of reviving them for special times of year: beach reading (summer), pre Christmas, say around mid-November, and a spring bash. I am toying with the idea for one post-Easter: all blogfest book fairs purely for Indie authors.

  2. thanks for that input Francine - I take your point. Book Fests - yes they sound a much better idea.
    Please do go ahead - could I help in any way at all?

  3. It sounds as if you had a nasty knock-back from an unexpected source, which took the wind out of the "Sea Witch" sails, so to speak. I hope it doesn't put you or others off a blog tour, as I feel strongly that the right books and authors do well. It's an excellent way to garner reviews to dress up your Amazon/Goodreads shop window, and is good for profile-raising - introducing an author to readers who may not otherwise have come across them. The LoveAHappyEnding crowd (Mandy Baggott, Nicky Wells, Janice Horton, Linn Halton et al) are living proof that blog tours and online support from writers and readers really does put writers "on the map" for new readers and definitely results in sales. For you personally, Helen, your own wide range of social networking activities makes the "Sea Witch" series a massive success both in terms of reviews and sales. Keep doing what you're doing, and don't let anyone get you down

  4. Yes - I was taken full-aback (which is where the saying comes from of course!)I've always found Blog Tours useful - especially for new debut authors, but I am wondering, now, how useful they are for the 'established' author - are they a little over-egging the pudding? I like Francine's Blog Fest idea very much - maybe this is an initiative more suitable for known authors?

  5. I am interested in seeing that you have had some comments about spamming in promoting. It is a fine line, sure, but I know that you also interact about other topics so I would have thought you weren't solely relying on the blog tour promotes for content! If it was 100% promo, then sure, I can see how it would be spammy, but I don't normally see that with you!

  6. Hello Helen as simply an English humble reader whose favourite genres are historical fiction and fantasy I feel that well known writers of your high calibre will always sell your books without blog tours and I'm sure they are hard work for you. As for whoever peed on you....There's always one unfortunately. I personally do have a few good blogs coming through to my mail box and have at times discovered writers new to me that I like. I also feel that bloggers invite authors to write for them to promote their own blogs? Fair enough I guess. To keep in touch with new books coming out from my favourite authors (like you and Sharon Penman) I keep an eye on Amazon. Let's face it....once Amazon pick up on your favourites you get a flow of info re all of them into your mail box without reading lots of blogs (smiles) Thank you for the pleasure I have in reading your books and I've already bought the first of your Pirate novels....courtesy of Amazon's info and a result of following your blog.

  7. Thank you Marg and Leila - I am particularly interested in the feedback I'm getting for this post.
    I don't spam Marg - as you say; I am very aware of how annoying it is, so I try my hardest to be a part of social media sociably - with only the occasional references to my books - mainly on appropriate occasions, such as a new book out or a blog tour.
    Seeing as I was in the middle of moving when Ripples was published I deliberately waited for the planned blog tour to do the necessary "promoting". So being accused of spamming during the tour was a bit of an unexpected blow.
    On reflection, perhaps I should not have used my Blog Tour Logo so much, and should have emphasised the Blog Host a bit more, and maybe only promoted the articles and interviews, not the reviews... but (being honest here!) I was thrilled by a couple of them, and wanted to share my delight. Maybe I should have restricted those to my own FB pages?
    I wonder if there would have been complaints had my publisher, or agent been the one promoting the tour, not me personally?

    Leila - thank you. I am, unfortunately, not quite as well known in the UK, so I do need to promote myself, especially as I am an Indie Author over here. What I need - and what I am especially grateful for - is kind readers, such as yourself,who spread the word.

    Word of mouth is the best way to be noticed.
    But how does an author get people talking? By hoping they read our books, of course.... but how do we achieve that? *laugh* It is a little bit chicken and egg syndrome isn't it! :-)

  8. Reply from Cynthia over on Goodreads (have transferred to here as she has a different opinion)

    "I am not sure who "peed" on you, Helen, but I agree with you. The blog tour is a symbiotic relationship between authors and bloggers. Promoting it is no different than movie stars doing a circuit of talk shows to promote a new movie. How else will you get the word out? Both the author and the blogger are likely to get a few new readers out of the deal, but only if it IS promoted...hmmm...I think it's a bit silly that anyone would not understand this. :/ "

    thank you Cynthia, I appreciate all comments - out of interest for future tours if nothing else!

  9. I really enjoyed being part of your blog tour Helen, and I was proud to share the lovely, thoughtful post you had taken the time to write for my blog. Blog tour posts don't always seem to attract people to leave comments as much as reviews do sometimes, that is just in my experience though. I do think they are useful as a good way to help authors spread the word and for readers to find out about authors they haven't heard of before. I would never have said you over publicised though (I don't know what the criticism/negative reaction was) but surely you are allowed to make a bit of noise for the couple of weeks that you are doing a blog tour.

  10. thank you Lindsay - I was honoured to be a part of your blog, and most sincerely did appreciate the invitation (and the publicity for Ripples In The Sand :)
    I agree it is difficult to persuade people to leave comments on posts, but as long as people are reading them it doesn't matter too much!
    Thanks for the feedback - and good luck with your blog for the future!

  11. Hi Helen,
    I am a relative newcomer to the Blog Tour concept, and so it was with some trepidation that I entered into the spirit of your 2013 tour with no prior knowledge of the Sea Witch Voyage series, although I do have a well loved copy of Harold the King!
    I really enjoyed my role as a tour host and discovered a whole new world, which I was very happy to be a part of, and I also found a delightful hero in the shape of Jesamiah Acorne into the bargain!
    I never felt throughout my tour experience that I was “over egging the pudding” – and would hope that the friendly and informative nature of your blog tour would at least encourage new readers to go take a look at your work.
    Overall, I think indie authors get a raw deal – ultimately, you need to get your work noticed and without a big publisher behind you, there is no other way but to self promote - so you are caught between a rock and a hard place!
    I now like to think that the blog tour acts like virtual window dressing, which encourages readers to come inside and see what’s on offer, - surely that must be a good thing?

  12. Thank you Jo - I suppose I was disappointed by the one negative reaction on one particular page because blog tours are such a good way of promoting yourself - without spamming or trumpet blowing, purely because of the nature of a tour - as you say, a 'virtual window'. A Tour offers articles, interviews and the host's opinions, which many readers find interesting. And in this instance my aim was to reciprocate by drawing new readers to lovely new blogs and bloggers!


Thank you for leaving a comment - it should appear immediately, but Blogger sometimes chucks its teddies out of the cot and has a tantrum (especially if you are a Wordpress person) If you are having problems, contact me on author AT helenhollick DOT net and I will post it for you. Sometimes a post will appear as 'anonymous' instead of your name or avatar - I draw attention to this being a Blogger Blooper and not of MY doing... However ...SPAMMERS or distasteful rudeness will be stamped on, squashed, composted and very possibly cursed - if you spam my blog, next time something nasty happens to you just remember that I DID warn you...