Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blog tours: Affordable book promotion in the Internet age

You have written a book and published it…now what?  Book promotion is the biggest challenge for authors.  Many authors who have little background in marketing or business find the sales end of writing a challenge.  Whether your book is self-published or not, sales generation is largely up to the author.  An affordable and easy way to do this is by conducting a blog tour, a planned series of reviews, interviews and guest blog posts on several book blogs.  But where does an author begin?  I recently sat down with book promoter, Samantha Robey, for answers.
What made you decide to go into the book promotion business?
When I first started my book blog, I was doing it really just to connect with other people who loved books as much as I did. My mom loves to read, but my friends…not so much. After about a year of book blogging, interviewing authors, and hosting guest posts, I realized what a big asset having a book blogger on your side can be for authors. I felt I was really helping promote them, their books, and drum up interest- and business- as well. I was getting requests daily for book reviews from authors and publicists, but in one week I was asked to review a non-fiction book (which I do not review for my blog), asked to read a book and have the review posted in three days (yes THREE days), and asked to promote a book on my blog without even being given a copy to read for myself (don’t want to drop names, but I’m sure these reality sisters could have coughed up a Kopy). In one week I got all these emails, and thought, “What are these people thinking?” I wanted a way where I could genuinely help authors. Where I do the leg work for them: find bloggers that review their genre, accept eBooks, make the initial pitch, etc. And that’s where my idea was born!
What types of services do you offer authors?
My services include a ten-stop blog tour with reviews, guest posts and interviews, pages on both Chick Lit Plus and CLP Blog Tours, initial email pitch to bloggers, calendar of tour dates, all correspondence with bloggers (making sure they received book, getting information on guest posts and interviews, etc) and generating buzz before and during the tour. I provide links on CLP Blog Tours to all the blogs that have posted for the tour, and do my part in spreading the word via my blog and social media outlets. I also offer an optional TwitParty for all authors at no extra charge.
One challenge authors have with designing their own blog tours is finding sites to work with them.  How do you go about cultivating a network of bloggers to host your authors?
From my two years of blogging, I have made so many wonderful connections with not just authors, but other bloggers as well. I love the community that I am in. Book bloggers support one another in big ways- helping spread the word on articles we write or giveaways we are hosting- and are truly some of the greatest people I have met. I can’t say enough good things about the bloggers that I have befriended over time. But to answer the question, that is really where my network came from. Before I officially launched CLP Blog Tours, I started making a database of some great blogs that I was familiar with, and contacted the bloggers with my idea. I got great feedback from them, lots of enthusiasm, and a very willing attitude to participate. From there, through word of mouth and social media, my database continues to grow.
Why are blog tours important for writers?
I think blog tours are important for authors because of the publicity they can receive. I have had authors tell me they received emails from readers saying they started reading their books because they saw my rave reviews. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. Bloggers really do generate business for authors, and by having guaranteed reviews along with guest posts and interviews, your book will be thrust in the eyes of other readers who count on bloggers reviews to point the way to their next read.
How difficult is it to get reviewers to agree to review e-books or self-published authors?  Is this changing?
This is a great question! In truth, I have come across some hurdles when it comes to self-published authors and eBooks, but overall, nothing too bad. There are book bloggers out there that haven’t yet succumbed to owning an eReader. Some site price, others are just hesitant to be giving up the feel of a physical book in their hands. I own a Kindle and think it is great, but nothing will ever beat a paperback for me! I think as times are changing, it is important to own an eReader to be able to read what authors are writing. As we get deeper into the digital age, it would be a shame to miss a great read because you can’t support the format.
As for self-published authors, well, I can relate my own experience there. Since authors are self-publishing and don’t have a publicist to help guide them, they can easily make mistakes- especially when it comes to blogs and social media. I had one author go completely unprofessional after I wrote a review for her, in which she called me the unprofessional one and then went on to say that book bloggers can’t write more than a grocery list. You can imagine how bloggers took this. It was all over the internet for weeks, with bloggers backing each other up and making sure no one was brought down by the horrible and immature words this author was saying. If you can’t take criticism in this industry, get out. But, that is sadly more common than it should be among self-published authors. And if the authors don’t respect the bloggers, the bloggers certainly don’t want to take their free time reading the books, writing the reviews, and trying to gain publicity for them. I have had a few bloggers tell me that they no longer will write reviews for those who choose to self-publish. I can’t say that I disagree with them. After my situation happened, it really turned me off from an author who self-published. When I started CLP Blog Tours though, I realized that a lot of authors who come to me are self-published, and don’t have a PR person doing this sort of work for them. I had to learn that not every self-published author has a mean streak to them! And I am happy to report that I have loved each and every author that I have worked with!
Where can authors go to learn more about the services your offer? 
If you are interested in booking a tour, please visit CLP Blog ToursChick Lit Plus under the “Services” heading, or email me directly at Samantha(at)chicklitplus.com. I will work with most fiction genres, but I prefer chick lit, woman’s fiction, romance, and mystery. And I try to start booking bloggers at least two months before you prefer a tour, ensuring adequate time to the bloggers. I look forward to hearing from you, and a big thank you to Jesi for having me!


  1. I found your comments really interesting in that I too really love to write and I have been looking for ways to promote my book as well as other people's books. I love to write and post to blogs and I felt sure that blogging was indeed a good way to get the word out. Thanks for the great interview with Samantha!