Monday, March 23, 2009

Planning a Blog Book Tour

Our guest blogger today is Beth Groundwater, author of the 2007 Agatha-nominee for Best First Novel, A Basket Case. Beth is a refreshing voice, a person whose candor shows through in all she does.

I’m in the throes of planning my first blog book tour, and I thought I’d share the process with Inkspot readers for two reasons. First, if you’re a reader, I’ll show you how much effort authors expend putting on an interesting tour and encourage you to participate in your favorite authors’ tours by reading and commenting on their guest blog posts. Secondly, if you’re an author who is curious about blog book tours and considering your own, I hope to give you enough information to decide whether or not to do one and to get you started.

So what is a blog book tour? Instead of traveling hither and yon making personal appearances to promote a new book release, instead an author visits online web logs, or blogs, from the comfort of his or her personal computer at home and posts articles as a guest on those blogs. The Blog Book Tours website at http://blogbooktours.blogspot.com/ has an excellent article from mystery author Liz Zelvin about using cyberschmoozing to plan your tour. Also there is a February 22 post from me about using the Goodreads social networking site for book promotion. Lastly, a helpful guide on planning a blog book tour can be found at: http://quickest.blogbooktourguide.ever.com/.

On that same Blog Book Tours website is a link to join the yahoogroup called blogbooktours, a classroom-type email list hosted by Dani Greer. The class cycles every four months through the topics of setting up your own blog and/or website, being a good tour host, social networking, planning your own tour and more. It’s best to join the group 4-6 months before you need to conduct your own blog book tour. Active participation is a must, so plan on dedicating some time to the group to get the most out of the training.

What can I add to this wealth of information? My own personal experience. I started collecting a list of potential host blogs over a year before planning my own tour. I got this information by noting what blogs posted information about author visits in the mystery fan email and social network communities where I hung out. I also searched for blogs related to my winter sports setting in Breckenridge, Colorado, and to my sleuth’s occupation, gift basket designing. Broadening your search beyond book review, author interview, and book genre blogs is important to capture a wider reader base.

It’s important to be organized and keep a spreadsheet or table of tour dates, links to blog websites, point of contact information for hosts, topic of each visit, and due dates for articles, photos, interview answers or whatever will be posted on each blog. Also, plan far enough ahead so you have time to write your articles. I started requesting guest appearance dates in February so I could spend March and April writing my articles. Most blogs request articles between 500-1000 words, and I am writing sixteen articles and answering two sets of interview questions. I plan to spend the whole month of May promoting the tour and responding to comments.
Promoting the tour is crucial. There’s no reason to go through all the work of writing the articles if you aren’t going to tell people about them. Sure, your hosts will promote your visits, but you also need to list the tour dates on your own website and/or blog, create event notices and update your daily status on your social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, or Goodreads, and send notices to your email groups. And lastly, to keep things fun and interesting, run a contest to give away something to one or more of your tour participants, such as autographed copies of your books, as I’m doing.

Will my blog book tour result in increased sales for my new mystery release, To Hell in a Handbasket? I sure hope so! I don’t know exactly how I will measure the response, but if I can come up with any analysis or lessons learned, Joanna Campbell Slan and I have talked about having me return to her personal blog, http://joannaslan.blogspot.com/ , with a report in July or August. So, stay tuned!

To see the planned stops on my May blog book tour, go to: http://bethgroundwater.com/Book_Blog_Tour.html . Every comment made on every one of my posts to the blogs included on the tour and on my own blog during the month of May at http://bethgroundwater.blogspot.com/ will qualify as an entry in a contest to win autographed copies of both books in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series: A Real Basket Case and To Hell in a Handbasket. Good luck and let’s have some fun!

Bio:

Beth Groundwater’s first amateur sleuth novel, A Real Basket Case, was published in hardcover in March, 2007 and was nominated for a Best First Novel Agatha Award. The second in the gift basket designer mystery series, To Hell in a Handbasket, will be released in May, 2009. Beth lives in Colorado Springs and enjoys gardening, skiing and traveling with her family. Please visit her website at http://bethgroundwater.com/ and her blog at http://bethgroundwater.blogspot.com/ .

27 comments:

Jess Lourey said...

Welcome, Beth, and congrats on your new book release! I organized a blog tour with a friend last May--we both had books coming out--and I don't know that it added readership but it was a blast. It's always nice to have guest bloggers.

Mare Fairchild said...

Wow, I guess you do have to really plan it out. I don't know why I would have thought it any different, but I'm glad that you shared this information with us. I'll definitely check in on more guest blogs.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Beth, thanks for joining us today. This was such a great post that I printed a copy for my reference files.

www.joannaslan.com

Marvin D. Wilson said...

"I started collecting a list of potential host blogs over a year before planning my own tour."

A+, Beth. Good article, I think you've done well with how much you've planned ahead and prepared. So many times I see hastily thrown together virtual tours and they look just like that.

I also like to see variety in a tour. Not just an endless same old same old "Interviews with the author." Booooooring. spice it up with articles written to cater to the hosts' blog topics & readers demographics. Have one of your characters be interviewed. Have one of your characters have a chat with the hosts' character if the host is also an author. Stuff like that.

Good luck on the tour!

Marvin D Wilson
http://inspiritandtruths.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Hi, Beth,

Thanks for providing info about blog tours. I'm a novice at book promotion myself. All the best with your new novel. The first in this series was great!

Jacqueline Seewald
THE INFERNO COLLECTION
just released! THE DROWNING POOL--check it out on Amazon or request it at your local library

Debbie said...

Congratulations, Beth! I've been wondering what a blog tour was all about. You summed it up. Yes, that is something foremost in my brain.Thanks for sharing this information. I'll be checking guest blogs.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks so much for your comments, folks!

As Marvin said, mixing it up, topic-wise, on the tour is good not only to give the readers variety but also to give you, the author, enough variety to keep YOU interested in the tour. I've been writing some of the blog posts this month, and I'm really glad they're not all the same thing.

For those of you who are authors and are planning your first blog book tour, I really recommend the yahoogroup I mentioned!

Michael said...

Two years ago I used to say that Beth Groundwater was everywhere. That assessment was clearly off. NOW she is everywhere. Beth, are you trying to write about something different at each stop? Hope you can maintain your sanity during your whirlwind tour.

Beth Groundwater said...

LOL, Michael! Yes, I'm trying to write something different for each stop, which is why I've set aside 2 months to write the articles and run them through my critique group, so they come out looking polished and professional. If a blog invites me to be a guest, I don't want to disappoint them! To see the list of stops I've planned and the topics for each visit, go to: http://bethgroundwater.com/Book_Blog_Tour.html

Cricket McRae said...

Great post, Beth! Thanks for sharing such a wealth of information. Like Joanna, I printed it out, even though we just talked about it the other day!

Helen Ginger said...

Looking at it from the other side of the equation -- from the view of the host -- I'll add that you need to get your post to the host pretty early. Not the night before. I usually do a promo piece on Straight From Hel (my blog) the day before the visit, then another promo piece on the day of the visit in Doing It Write, my newsletter, then the actual stop by the author on SFH. Each of those require me to write intros and wrap-ups, plus I often have to crop pics to fit on the blog. And if the author can get me all the information at least one week ahead of time (two is better), I create a private online page with all the posts for the author to review ahead of time. If anyone is interested in seeing what the hosts do behind the scenes, I have an article on my website called "30 Tips for Blog Tour Hosts."
http://helenginger.com/blogging_advice.htm#blogtips

Thanks for your post, Beth. It'll be fun to follow you around.

Beth Groundwater said...

Helen is SO right about getting your posts to the blog host 1-2 weeks prior to the appearance date! It's always a good idea to allow the host time to review the article to make sure it has no gotchas and fits the host's idea of the topic you both previously agreed upon. I recommend her article about being a good host, too. I poured over it before I hosted Jean Henry Mead, the first guest on my own blog.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I would add that it's best to attach a JPEG for your book cover and photo--which is exactly what Beth did. It's more work to ask your host to go track down your cover and add it.

www.joannaslan.com

Kenna Coltman said...

Great post, Beth! Thanks for sharing. I hope sometime in the (far) future to put all that I'm learning to good use.

Chester Campbell said...

Great suggestions, Beth (she's a fellow journey person on the blogbooktours yahoo site). You were wise to get started early. I'm just finishing up my planning for a tour a month off. It takes a good deal of effort but will hopefully be worth it. I agree with you on the valuable articles by Liz Zelvin and Helen Ginger.

PSGifford said...

Most informative indeed!

Continued success.

P.S. Gifford

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Beth, Thanks for sharing the information you've gathered and how you've set up your schedule. I've copied down the pertinent urls and am off to join the blogbooktours Yahoo! Group.....Pat

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Thanks for this helpful post, Beth. I now have more ideas to keep in mind when planning my own tour.

Jane Kennedy Sutton
http://janekennedysutton.blogspot.com/

jen said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Kaylee

http://grillsblog.com

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks to all those who commented on this blog, and I encourage any late-comers to keep on commenting. I'm so glad that so many of you have found this post to be useful, especially those fellow authors who are now planning blog tours. Good luck with your tours and be sure to let me know your schedule!

G.M. Malliet said...

Beth - This may be our most commented-on blog ever. If not, it's a contender. Thank you so very much for such useful information!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

As Beth mentioned, the plan is to have her guest post on my personal blog http://joannaslan.blogspot.com after her tour. We hope she'll share insights and lessons learned.

www.joannaslan.com

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Hi Beth,

Sorry it took me so long to pop in here. As you know from BBT, I'm in the midst of a tour myself. So now I can tell you that the work doesn't end when with the preparations. Keeping up with reader comments every day as well as promoting throughout the day at places like twitter takes time.

Mark (my husband and co-writer) planned his tour for The Resqueth Revolution to begin at the same time as Spring Break (he's a teacher) so he could dedicate enough time. Once we realized responding to all those comments would take more time than we antiipated, we knew week 2 would be a real challenge, as school would be back in session.

We've also learned to continue checking each site for a few days as some people visit later and leave comments.

Back to the tour,
Charlotte

Amy said...

Bummed I missed this 1st day of your tour but just got the message and email about it today. I'll be at tomorrow's one!

Ketutar said...

I have never heard of book tour on-line, but I have to say it sounds very interesting :-)
Congratulations for the success of your books :-) May it continue and may writer's block never take more than a day in a month from you :-D

donnas said...

Congrats on the new release. And thanks for sharing the info on planning a blog tour. I dont think readers like myself truly understand the work that is involved in something that sounds as simple as a blog tour.

April Star said...

Great post, Beth! Very informative. All the best with your newest release. April