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!
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/ .