The Book Publicity Blog

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What’s a book blog tour?

An interesting discussion emerged on Colleen Mondor’s blog Chasing Ray a couple days ago about the blog book tour and in particular who schedules them and how they are set up.  I caught the tail end of the discussion on Twitter.

Blog tours aren’t new — this New York Times article from a couple years back explores one author’s blog tour experience — and sites like Blog Book Tours or this post at The Dabbling Mum contain some excellent information about what exactly a blog tour is.  But beyond that, I thought it might be useful to look at how blog tours are set up and how they differ from online publicity in general.

First, the basics: for those of you who attended the book blogger panel at BEA, you will have heard the blog tour explained as an author going from blog to blog (rather than from store to store as they would on a traditional book tour) which is a great, quick way to explain it.   Depending on the author and the blog, coverage may consist of any of the following: book review, Q&A (either posted or live) or book giveaway and then I’m sure some bloggers have gotten creative and come up with other ideas.  Blog tours, like traditional bookstore tours, will feature a designated number of “stops” — often 10 to 20 blogs — and can roll out over the course of a week or a month (or whatever other length of time that has been decided upon).

Here’s some more information about blog tours.

How do blog tours get set up?

Blog tours are typically set up either by the publicist of a book or by blog tour companies / coordinators.  Since it takes time (and expertise) to schedule blog tours, publishing companies sometimes feel it is worthwhile to pay a third party — an online marketing company, a freelance publicist, a blog tour company, etc. — to set these up.  (We’ve been doing this for years with the broadcast industry — we hire companies to set up a series of radio or TV interviews, also known as radio or TV “tours.”)

Although typically book publicists ask authors not to contact the media directly, different rules apply to (some) blogs.  For example, Natasha from Maw Books Blog, mentions that authors sometimes contact her directly to schedule a “stop” on a blog tour.   (Other bloggers may prefer to work directly with publishing houses — many bloggers will have information about how to contact them on their sites.)  Sometimes, a group of bloggers may come together on their own and contact the author (or publishing house) to schedule the tour.

Regardless of who sets up the blog tour, the end result is the same.

What’s the benefit of a blog tour?

As with radio and TV tours, blog tours enable a book and author to generate buzz for a book without having to travel.

How is the blog tour different from online publicity?

A blog tour is simply one type of online publicity.  One difference between a blog tour and online publicity in general is timing.  Blog tours start and end on designated dates, the goal being to generate a certain amount of publicity within a certain amount of time.  A general online publicity push, on the other hand, could start months (or weeks) before the publication of a book and could end months (or weeks) after.

Also, while the goal of online outreach is to generate any coverage of a book — from a mention to a full-fledged review or interview — blog tour “stops” will typically skew on the more robust end of coverage, e.g., a post rather than a one-line mention.

Are bloggers paid to participate in the blog tour?

No — paying anyone to cover any books would be unethical.  (Paying for ads is a perfectly ethical practice, of course, but with PR, coverage — good or bad — should come free).   To clarify — since this can get confusing — with blog tours (or with radio or TV tours), publishing houses aren’t paying bloggers (or radio or TV hosts) to cover a book; we’re paying someone to schedule the tour: finding blogs that would be appropriate for the book, arranging dates for the reviews / interviews, reporting back to us about who is running what when, etc.  It’s like we’re paying a party planner to put together a party and the guest list (but we don’t pay guests to actually attend the party).

What’s in it for bloggers?  They have to read the book and write a post and someone *else* gets paid for their participation?

Bloggers are never obligated to participate in a blog tour — like radio and TV hosts (or like bookstores), they cover books and authors only of their choosing and only when they have the time.  If and when bloggers do choose to participate in a blog tour, we assume they are indeed willing to take the time to read the book and write a post because they are interested in the book and because it helps the blog (by, say, maintaining / increasing the audience), much like the way a radio host interviews an author because they’re interested in the author and it helps the radio show.  (To get back to the party analogy, guests are welcome to accept or turn down our invitations, but if they do accept, they attend because they want to and not because we’re paying them to show up.)  Just as some radio shows choose to find interviewees on their own and never accept pitches from PR people, some bloggers choose never to participate in blog tours and only write about books and authors they find on their own, which is fine — to each his own. 

The blog tour coordinator (or the freelance publicist or online marketing company) only gets paid for being the liaison between the publishing house and the blogger — for doing the “party planning” that is involved in scheduling the blog tour.

Will all coverage in a blog tour be positive?

It’s understandable that authors who take the time and effort to engage in promotional efforts for their books don’t want to walk the online gauntlet.  However, just as you can’t guarantee that a guest won’t get drunk and go on a rampage at a party, you also can’t guarantee that a blogger (or a book reviewer or a radio or TV host) will positively cover a book.  Some may love the book while others may give it a more lukewarm reception — the hope, though, is that coverage will at least be intelligent, substantiated and thought-provoking.  (This is where the expertise of the “party planner” comes in handy — they will find blogs where book coverage is intelligent, substantiated and thought-provoking.)

Some bloggers who find a book absolutely dreadful — or who feel so neutral about a book to the point of not having much of anything to say — may opt not to participate in a blog tour, but loving a book or author isn’t a prerequisite for tour participation.  (I don’t think it should ever be a prerequisite — I don’t think publishers should try to steer coverage of a book beyond sharing our love for it — but should the author or publisher insist on the hagiotour, that should at least be made clear up front.)

I’m an author.  Should I ask my publishing house to set up a blog tour or should I try to set up one myself?

First, it depends on the book — some books lend themselves to online discussion; others don’t.  Also, what blogs are available in that genre?  Are the blogs actively updated and is there a vibrant community of readers?

Second, it depends on the author — blog tours will be most successful if the author has at least some time to participate in either an ongoing discussion or at least to contribute in some fashion (for example, by providing a Q&A).

And lastly, it depends on the resources of the author and publishing house.  How much time and / or money are you willing to spend?

How do you promote blog tour “events”?

Just as we promote bookstore events to try to get people to attend traditional author talks, we also want to drive people to blog tour postings.  Participants in blog tours will often promote their participation on the blog itself as well as on Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites.  Authors should promote the tour on their websites just as they would promote bookstore events.  Also, keep in mind that the site Booktour.com can be used to list events for both IRL and online book tours.

Where can I find blog tour companies?

This list (in alphabetical order) is made up of companies I know of, companies I found on Google, and companies suggested by Facebook and Twitter contacts.  (I haven’t worked with all of these people, so I can’t vouch for their services, but all reputable blog tour companies will provide details about their services and prices as well as references.) 

Blog Stop Book Tours

JBH Marketing & Public Relations

Kidz Book Buzz

Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists

Promo 101 Virtual Blog Tours

PTA Interactive

Provato Marketing

Pump Up Your Promotion Virtual Book Tours

TLC Book Tours

If you set up blog tours and are not listed here, feel free to add your website in the Comments section, but please do not email me since I may not have a chance to post your information.  Also, please only add your company name if you work on blog tours specifically(not in online marketing and publicity in general).

***

Have you participated in (or arranged) blog tours and if so, what was so your experience?

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June 11, 2009 - Posted by | Blogs, Book Tour |

74 Comments »

  1. […] from the Book Publicity Blog, offers some great information on Book Blog Tours here: http://yodiwan.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/whats-a-book-blog-tour/ Comments […]

    Pingback by Book Blog Tours « Jewish Book Council Blog | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  2. Excellent post! There has been some crazy commenting going on at another blog (I think you know which one I mean) but I think your post really gives a good description of blog tours and why bloggers enjoy participating. Thanks!

    Comment by Stephanie | June 11, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks, Stephanie. I’ve modified my original post and have linked to Chasing Ray, where people have been discussing blog tours, so anyone who wants to delve a little deeper can check there too.

      Comment by Yen | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  3. Great book blog tour primer!

    I participated in a month-long blog tour earlier this year to promote my book, “The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir” and wrote about how to DIY without a tour company in a post titled Take Your Book on the Cyber Road.

    It is possible to DIY, but searching for the appropriate blogs, contacting the bloggers, and coordinating the tour dates = very time consuming. So, authors considering it need to weigh the time investment with their available budget and decide what makes more sense (and saves more cents).

    There are definitely more benefits than drawbacks to participating in a blog tour. It increases the author’s online presence and visibility (the tour posts will appear online indefinitely in search results); it gives the author the opportunity connect with exponentially more people than in-person bookstore tours–and it’s cheaper than travel/hotel expenses.

    In addition to launching a new book, a blog tour is also a good way to refresh interest in a title that has already been out for a while. =)

    I had a great experience with my tour and I highly recommend it to authors as an important part of book promotion.

    Comment by Annette Fix | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  4. I’m a small press author and have participated in several blog tours, usually set them up myself. Basically, I’d contact the blogs (usually group blogs or review sites) that I read and respect and asked if I could guest blog. Everyone has been most gracious and I believe I’ve gotten more readers because of them. However, it is time consuming.

    I did post about it and posed some questions on the Independent Mystery Booksellers authors’ blog, if anyone is curious:

    http://knock-em-dead.blogspot.com/2009/05/calling-all-authors-blog-tours.html

    Comment by Clea Simon | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  5. Just when I get out, they pull me back in. :)

    Okay, here goes:

    When an author or a publisher pays a blog tour company, there is assumptive coverage. The position is more or less similar to lobbyist money. If you’re paying a blog tour company anywhere from $600 to $1,000, you’re going to want value for that money. (Back in the day, when Kevin Smokler was establishing the virtual book tour, I got into a similar public spat with him about this. I have a major problem when the blog tour company is profiting off other people’s labor like this — not only exploiting them, but quietly suggesting that you shouldn’t write a negative review. The blog tour, unlike its more ethical cousin, the roundtable discussion, is more about promoting a book rather than seriously challenging a book. Although there are exceptions.)

    If an author or a publisher pays a publicist — pure and simple — to promote a book and there is no assumptive coverage, that that seems perfectly reasonable to me. (Lauren Cerand is one person who comes to mind who does just this.) The decision to cover a book really should come from the blogger. In fact, as Colleen suggested over at Chasing Ray, it’s not terribly difficult for a blogger to set up a blog tour or roundtable discussion on her own.

    I also don’t think you can possibly compare radio and TV with blogs — in part because there are endless blogs out there who will jump at the chance to be part of a blog tour and be exploited as marketing tools/places for nothing but positive coverage along the lines of what we’re discussing. My additional concern here is the shift from editorial to marketing. The move from journalist to junketeer. I mean, these developments were inevitable. But should we not strive for journalistic ethics? Ethically, a blogger should take no more than the book from the publisher. That’s a reasonable request and certainly not something that would cause any undue conflict of interest. (Hell, this is pennies when you consider the costs of review units that you see in the tech journalism world, which I worked in for a very brief time.) What I think we’re talking about here is a scenario in which the publisher is, outside of the costs of employing the publicists and doing business, spending hundreds of dollars instead of a negligible double-digit sum. And with more money on the line, there’s more expectation of getting a return on your investment. That few people seem to be concerned about how money influences journalism is troublesome to say the least.

    Comment by Edward Champion | June 11, 2009 | Reply

    • I don’t think bloggers are any more “required” to cover a book they don’t like than radio/TV/journalists. I think given that many bloggers aren’t trained journalists and blog part-time or as a hobby, PR folk probably need to mindful of that and check in with the bloggers after they’ve had a chance to familiarize themselves a bit with a book to make sure they’re still on board (and also letting them know it’s okay to back out if they aren’t interested or offer fair criticism.). I’m reminded of the times I’ve explained to new hires at media companies that there is no need to return a review copy when they decided against an article/review/etc., that it’s just part of marketing costs.

      I’d agree that if I hire a blog tour company, I do want to see decent coverage. But I also expect that when I hire out for a radio tour. An ethical company doesn’t take on projects that it doesn’t think will work. I know I respect publicists willing to say “I don’t think this is going to work, and here’s why…” When it occurs that something is not working out the way the outside contractor had expected it to (I’ve been there. I can relate.), they can always negotiate a kill fee or perhaps suggest a different avenue of promotion.

      Comment by Kama Timbrell | June 12, 2009 | Reply

      • You raise an important issue (and I had a similar — if abbreviated — discussion with someone on Twitter) when you mention that many bloggers are not professional journalists and therefore may not be familiar with the ethics of the business: that receiving a free book from a publisher does not compel one to write a positive (or any) review, that it’s okay not to like a book, that there’s nothing wrong with a thoughtful, fair, negative review. I’m not saying I welcome seeing authors get trashed, but I also realize that not everyone likes all books! (At the same time, I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with book sites that run only positive reviews — some sites seek to increase interest in books and if they don’t like a book they simply won’t run the review.) There are all types of sites out there — which is a good thing because there are all types of readers out there.

        Comment by Yen | June 15, 2009

  6. […] Visit What’s a book blog tour? […]

    Pingback by What’s a book blog tour? « Travel Reviews Blog | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  7. Great article, Yen. Blog tours have become a great way to build buzz for new releases.

    Also, for anyone interested in more info on blog tours and the benefits of blog buzz, today’s #followreader discussion on Twitter delves even deeper into the topic.

    Comment by Rusty Shelton | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  8. Great article, Yen. I love the party planning analogy.

    I’ve hosted a number of blog tours, and there is no “requirement” that a positive review be given. I haven’t enjoyed all aspects of the books I’ve reviewed, and I’m never afraid to state that.

    Comment by Jennsbookshelf | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  9. Thanks for the great info! I’m not at the “touring” stage of my writing career yet, but I’ll definitely file this info away for future reference. :)

    Comment by Shari | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  10. […] Here’s a great post that gives a clear, quick definition of a blog tour. […]

    Pingback by Blog Tours and Making Money | June 12, 2009 | Reply

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  12. nice post man, ive learn many info in this blog, keep post!

    Comment by gand | June 15, 2009 | Reply

  13. Let the age of virtual handselling begin.

    Comment by michaelsean | June 18, 2009 | Reply

  14. great article. i’m a lit publicist. however, i don’t suggest to all my clients that a book tour is the way to go to promote their book. it depends on the psychographics of the author’s readership.

    if an author’s fans aren’t heavy blog readers, but are big with email then we focus on an email viral marketing campaign over the book tour.

    i belong to many book blog alliances and have created blog tours and continue to participate in blog tours that don’t conflict with my clientele. so I think it’s bad form when the blog planner tries to tell me what kind of content my post should consist of nor do I ask bloggers who participate in any tours we build. I do ask that they use a link we can track in their post and I ask that they link any book purchases to a booksense or brick and mortar store outside of Amazon. not that I don’t like Amazon, but bookstore staff are great at giving authors free advertising to their customers. i think we should reciprocate and promote the good stores.

    Comment by Dee Stewart | June 20, 2009 | Reply

  15. A very interesting read – thanks for posting

    Comment by Tempestuous Visions | July 1, 2009 | Reply

  16. […] consider, along with the usual rounds of readings and books appearances, a blog publicity tour. The Book Publicity Blog explains the basics, and Blog Book Tours goes into the […]

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  17. Really interesting topic going on here…Thanks alot for this usefull information really learnt alot from it and a good contribution by you on the web. Keep it up with good blogs like this.

    Comment by Annneocy | August 15, 2009 | Reply

  18. Good Stuff, Kate!

    Comment by Rena | September 10, 2009 | Reply

  19. I just started my own blog tour.

    I’ve brought out my first book of a series of seven Alternative Poetry Books and the intention is to keep the tour going until the seventh book comes out by the end of next year.

    Although I have my first poetry book to promote, I decided to make the ‘guest’ spots more about having fun and creating an entertaining blog post for the blogger concerned and for their readers.

    A blog post lives on well past the period of time for which it was created and I’m hoping to produce interesting points in my journey that will be worth reading in the long term.

    So although I will mention my book and work in general, the post will be more about shared interests and whatever sparks off from those.

    I just ask the blogger to bung a link to my book’s blog and to the next stage in the blog tour.

    My rationale is that as long as I can keep producing entertaining guest appearances on blogs, then new bloggers will be encouraged to invite me along to their blogs and the momentum should be self perpetuating.

    I’m doing one a week and have lined up 7 to be getting on with.

    I have my own blog with a solid following so the plan is to bring my readers along to the new blogs and introduce them to new bloggers as well as to introduce me to the new blogger’s readers.

    Comment by banana_the_poet/Michele Brenton | October 27, 2009 | Reply

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    Comment by Alexander | October 28, 2009 | Reply

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    Comment by Alexander | December 29, 2009 | Reply

  22. I’m so glad you liked it! I’d be interested to know how their presence back in Ireland changed anything, if at all. Kind of like a Sliding Doors thing. :)Golden Triange Tour

    Comment by Golden Triange Tour | December 29, 2009 | Reply

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    Comment by Pearls Tourism | December 12, 2010 | Reply

  30. What does it take to get in on this tour? It sounds like a lot of fun. I’d love to take my blog national.

    Comment by thriller writer dude | December 16, 2010 | Reply

  31. Man, this post is so helpful. As a brand-new blogger who just happened to like a book and chat about it, and just give the author a heads-up, suddenly I find my blog offered a spot on a blog-tour — without me having Clue No. One about what’s involved.

    Not that I mind; in fact, I’m delighted. I’m just saying!

    Anyway, with this post, presto: Now I know enough to get back w/ semi-intelligent questions & reservations etc. A great contribution! I’m most grateful to you.

    Anita “Nadbugs” Schnee

    http://catself.wordpress.com

    Comment by nadbugs | January 20, 2011 | Reply

  32. […] “What’s a Book Blog Tour?” The Book Publicity Blog […]

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  34. […] one book publicity blog I like suggests: “A blog tour is simply one type of online […]

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  35. Wow!such a great article of tour history.Thanks for your sharing…

    Comment by janetfenton12 | May 31, 2011 | Reply

  36. I have been studying the idea of a blog tour now for some time and getting ideas from different people about the subject. You indicate that it would be unethical to pay someone for a blog tour. I personally totally agree with you on that matter. The idea of paying seems wrong to me, but I have read other blogs and they have said that paying the blogger something would be ok. Do you think that it would be unethical if someone offers some free books for giving away to people as compensation or would that be wrong as well?

    Comment by Paul Silver | July 6, 2011 | Reply

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    Comment by mak11 | July 14, 2011 | Reply

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  39. […] Blog Tour arranged by Novel Publicity.What’s a Book Blog Tour? The Book Publicity Blog has an excellent article that explains the concept.There is no compensation for participation (that wouldn’t be […]

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  40. […] Blog Tour arranged by Novel Publicity.What’s a Book Blog Tour? The Book Publicity Blog has an excellent article that explains the concept.There is no compensation for participation (that wouldn’t be […]

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  41. […] and right now, I’m in a class with author Kathryn Trueblood, who is teaching us how to do a blog tour. Here are my […]

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  42. Thanks! Yen for the list of Blog Tour Companies, Nice one.. Im starting to visit there now… :)

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  46. […] why the Blog Tour is such an amazing […]

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  49. […] out exactly what they are. Here’s a good explanation of blog tours from the Book Publicity Blog: http://yodiwan.com/2009/06/11/whats-a-book-blog-tour/    If you are going to do this, give yourself plenty of time to set up a good one, and give the […]

    Pingback by To Do and To Don’t List for Middle Grade Debut Authors | Dee Garretson | March 4, 2012 | Reply

  50. […] (not mine – yet) with thirty such stories and today marks the beginning of the most audacious book blog tour I’ve ever seen, much less been a part […]

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  51. […] lead to more books sold.  A great explanation of what a virtual blog tour is can be found here.  Pump Up Your Book’s 28-point Virtual Book Tour Checklist is also very […]

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  52. I would like to recommend “Josephina Yatar pr” for your list of blog tour organizers. This is a very savvy organizer that will take care of the details and make everything seamless.

    Comment by Joseph Walsh | April 3, 2012 | Reply

  53. […] couple of weeks ago, I signed up to review a new book as part of a blog tour. I did it for two reasons: 1) I love free books, and ARCs count (even if the ARC is distributed […]

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  57. I honestly think most book blog tours are pointless. The author is paying money in order to promote their book – and they may as well throw that money down the drain if they’re paying for their book to be promoted on blogs that have few readers or reviewed by bloggers who don’t like their book.

    A book blogger should never have to give a more positive review than they feel a book deserves, and neither should an author waste time and money on a book tour that doesn’t actually promote their books. Even 3-star reviews are harmful to a new author who doesn’t have many reviews.

    The only person benefiting in the end are the tour organizers – they gain financial reward while authors lose money and book bloggers are often stuck reading and reviewing books they don’t like.

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  60. Reblogged this on Down Unpaved Roads and commented:
    I’ve seen my fellow writers mentioning setting up a “blog tour”. For those who are not familiar with the term, her’s an article with great information and additional links.

    Comment by Lisa Hall | February 2, 2013 | Reply

  61. […] doing a Blog Tour, and today is her stop at my blog. You can read more about the book and the blog tour over at Alan […]

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  62. Reblogged this on Donovan and the act of musing and commented:
    Need understanding on what a book blog tour is? Read on. This fellow blogger has done a good job of explaining the whole thing.

    Comment by donovanmneal | April 4, 2013 | Reply

  63. […] I’ve never met my editors or even heard their voices. When I want to promote my book, I hit up book blogs and Twitter — and even there, about 50% of the Tweets I see are just auto-scheduled, […]

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    Pingback by What's a book blog tour? | | October 1, 2014 | Reply


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