post talking about the pros and cons of promotional blog hops/tours from my perspective as a blogger. I was interested to see whether my views tallied with those authors who take part in the tours and so I asked for some authors to email me their views. Many thanks to the authors who sent me emails because they managed to show me a range of views, some of which surprised me slightly. Hopefully I'll do those views justice now as I set out the good, the bad and the ugly of blog tours from the view of authors.
1. It allows authors to give the readers some background to their novel
When blogging tours are done right they can be a perfect way of telling the readers where an author got the idea for their story or characters, or even provide a tidbit of information that they may have left out of the book but which nevertheless contributed to the creative process. Jo Myles told me, " I love talking about my books. To me, it's an opportunity to give my readers a "behind the scenes" glimpse of the kind of things that influenced me as I wrote, and little anecdotes about my creative process on a particular work."
2. It's a way for authors to connect with 'shy' fans
There are many readers who lurk at author blogs or who wouldn't ever think to email an author. Visiting other blogs, especially those run by readers rather than authors, can be a way for an author to reach out to those fans and engage. Lori Toland said, "It's an open forum where anything goes. But the posts on my tour where we get a discussion going, like this one post on The Long Con book tour, those are my absolute favorite. The host didn't review books in my genre but her followers and my fans showed up in droves and we chatted about Spooks and Hustle, my two favorite TV series. It was lots of fun."
3. The 'scattergun' approach can gain you new readers
Visiting a range or variety of blogs can mean that an author piques the interest of someone either new to the genre or who have never read their books before. Clare London said, "If a potential reader only reads a handful of blogs, isn't there a justification for the scatter-gun approach to promo? Is that potential reader more valuable than annoying the people like me who follow many blogs?" Jo Myles said, "I'm primarily writing with my existing readers in mind, but I always hope that there will be new readers out there who might have their interest hooked by a particular post."
4. It's a chance to publicly celebrate a new release
Writing a book can be a long and lonely slog, so blog tours offer an author the chance to celebrate all their hard work with people who will hopefully appreciate it. Lori Toland said, " It's really hard to write a book and when we cross the finish line, it's really exhilarating. So to have a chance to celebrate a new release with readers, it's really a lot of fun. It's like a party in your honor and everyone is cheering you on. It's really cool."
1. It's a lot of hard work
This has been the universal downside to blog tours from authors. It takes a lot of planning especially if an author is going to produce something interesting for the readers. Val Kovalin said, "it takes effort to write several different interesting posts and then to keep an eye on them and go back to interact through comments." Lori Toland said, "Honestly, authors are really busy too...It's sometime hard to come up with ideas for your followers." A new author, Amber, left this comment on my post two weeks ago, "It's rough coming up with so many posts and still keeping it fresh and interesting. Really tough, although I think it's so important because readers will easily get fatigued with posts that are mostly a blurb/excerpt." Another new author who commented two weeks ago, Sage Marlowe, had this to say, "Authors are led to believe they have to do so much that they just can't keep up, so instead of writing a few, interesting bits here and there, they restore to mediocrity and repetition because it's easier to copy and paste the same thing over and over again."
2. There's no real way of measuring the effectiveness of a tour
Many authors hope that this type of sustained promo will eventually pay off in terms of sales, or even just getting their name known in this small corner of the internet. However, it's almost impossible to be able to quantify the effectiveness of the tour. Val Kovalin said, "I'm not a big enough draw as an author to bring readers flocking to a blog, and I don't think I'll become better known solely through blog tours." Clare London said, "I feel quite strongly that they're a burden in many ways, and I'm not sure if/how much they work for ongoing sales...there's still no way of knowing if any of this works, or how to measure it. More sales on release? Might have been there anyway. More hits to the author website? Small recompense." Jo Myles agreed, "It's really hard to judge the effectiveness of a blog tour. You can look at the number of comments and whether people clicked through to your website, but there's no guarantee those people will have bought your book. You can even try to correlate your Amazon ranking to the days you guest blogged, but the fact is you can never really know for sure if the two things are related as people might read the post several days afterwards, and a sales hike might be due to something entirely different like a review appearing on the same day."
3. Giveaways aren't the draw they used to be
There was a time when the lure of a free book would have readers flocking to an author's blog post in the hope of winning a book. As a blogger I've noticed that this doesn't seem to be the case anymore and the authors have also taken note. Jo Myles said, "it helps to offer a prize that's a bit unusual. I don't think free ebooks and gift vouchers are all that much of a draw any more, sadly." Val Kovalin said," And the chance to win a free book isn't the draw it used to be four years ago because everyone has way too much gay romance to read right now. (And we're all feeling guilty about our to-be-read list)."
It takes time away from writing
What many authors really want to be doing is writing books for readers to enjoy. Sustained promotion, like blog tours, takes time which could be spent on writing books. Sarah Madison says, "I know that we're told we need to spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day on self-promotion. I keep coming back to the notion that writing good stories on a regular basis is the best form of self-promotion I know...But I think most of us would be much better off if we just shut up and *wrote*" for a change." Clare London says, "I know I feel particularly sympathetic for the authors who - shock!horror - just want to write." Two weeks ago Jules Jones left this comment, "I have to admit that I look at all this stuff and think, I'd really rather be writing the next book."
One final thought from Clare London which I thought was interesting but didn't fit into the categories above, was to do with whether blog tours should be deferred until some time after release. She says, "I think it's more effective to hold back some promo-energy for a couple of months down the line, when it will have sunk back off the New Releases spot, and needs some new attention. Nothing worse than the royalty statement for quarter #2 when the numbers have plunged."
So there you have it, the pros and cons of blog tours from an author's perspective. Many, many thanks to Sarah Madison, Josephine Myles, Val Kovalin, Clare London and Lori Toland who emailed me their views. This blog post wouldn't have happened without their input.
I'm throwing this out to any authors out there today. Do you agree with the points above? Are there good and bad points which haven't been mentioned? Please do leave a comment as I'd be interested to see if there's a range of views on this subject.