A year ago, a blog tour was something of a mystery to me, but for February of this year, I planned a tour of my own to celebrate the publication of my new book.
Was it a good investment, or too much effort for too little return as I’ve read here? For me, it was definitely a good investment, and here’s why:
#1. I learned a lot. Some publishers are well set up for blog tours, like Tyndale House Publishers and their blog network. But since my publisher is relatively small, I did a lot of planning on my own. Another option would have been to hire my own publicist or blog tour service, but instead—with google as my friend—I did some research and arranged my own modest do-it-yourself tour. A helpful post:
How to promote your book with a blog tour–essential information for the 21st century writer
#2. I invested a modest amount of time. Between pastoring full-time, with a lot on the go in my personal life, and wanting to keep up with my own blog, I knew I didn’t have a lot of time for a blog tour. So borrowing a page from the Slow Blog movement, I decided on a Slow Blog Tour with just one stop each week during February coupled with a Blog Carnival where people could write their own post on a Sacred Pauses theme and link up.
You can see the results of my blog carnival here, and as it turned out, I had eight blog tour stops that started at the end of January and spilled over into March. For me this was a manageable pace and investment of time and energy:
January 31 Shirley Showalter posted her interview of me the day before my book’s February 1 official release.
Who else wants simplicity? April Yamasaki’s Sacred Pauses Offers a Way
February 7 Another Way – Melodie Davis wrote her own reflection and review.
Have I become spiritually flabby?
February 15 Anabaptistly – my colleague, Chris Lenshyn, posted a 5-question author interview.
Sacred Pauses Author Interview: April Yamasaki
February 21 Godspace – Christine Sine posted a brief excerpt from Sacred Pauses as part of her Lenten series.
Come, Lord Jesus, Be Our Guest
February 28 5 Things To Do Today – David Ridings published my guest post on taking a break.
5 ways to take a break and be refreshed in the midst of a busy day
February 28 Mennonite Women Canada – Waltrude Gortzen interviewed me on writing and ministry.
March 20 Godspace – Christine Sine published my guest post on taking a social media fast.
Today We’ve Disappeared
March 20 Frank Viola – My publisher arranged for Frank Viola to post an author interview.
Unfortunately that interview no longer appears on his site so I’ve removed that link.
#3. I made connections. I knew some of my blog tour hosts and carnival participants personally, but most I had met online within the last year or during the course of my tour planning and blog carnival. These connections grew as I met some of their followers in the comments section and have started interacting with some on Twitter as well.
#4. I tried not to obsess over statistics or sales. I’ve seen other blog carnivals with a lot more people linking in, and my book isn’t exactly a New York Times best-seller, so at times I’m tempted to compare and despair. But most days I manage to avoid that trap—instead of focusing on the return in numbers, I think of my tour as an experiment to learn more about social media, to make connections, to celebrate the publication of my book. And at least according to my publisher, the book has been doing “fairly well” so far.
#5. I had fun! I enjoyed both the planning and the tour itself. It turned out to be a great mix of interviews, guest posts, excerpt, and review. Not quite as evenly spaced as I had hoped, but I was continuing to post once a week on my own blog and had the carnival running at the same time to fill in the gaps.
My initial blog tour is now over, but I have another guest post scheduled for May, and would like to develop more in future. I also hope there will be more reviews of Sacred Pauses in the next while (hint, hint, to any readers who have their own blogs or are willing to leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon). But I’m not going to obsess over that either. For now I’m starting to work on a Sacred Pauses guide for small groups—I plan to meet with a test group to help me develop it over the next couple of months, then offer it free through my blog. So I’m still continuing to learn and having fun—and oh yes, taking time for sacred pauses.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: Are you planning a book blog tour? Have you ever done one before, and how did it go? Would you do it again?
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11 thoughts on “The Book Blog Tour: too much effort for too little return?”
April, thanks so much for including me in your bog tour. Now that I am starting to plan for my own book launch, this will be a post I will come back to and study.
Your wise, gentle, and humorous spirit is welcome at my blog any time you have something you want to share with my readers!
I echo Shirley’s comment, April. Your experience is encouraging and instructional. I’ve bookmarked your blog to come back to as I get ready to do my own. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Shirley, I’d love to be a guest again, and the feeling is mutual if you’d like to guest post for me sometime too. I’m glad we’ve been able to connect and encourage each other. And Carol, I’m glad to see you here–I wasn’t able to leave a comment but loved your story at http://soniamarsh.com/2013/04/giving-up-everything-to-find-what-matters.html.
April, I shared this post with a FB group you might want to join yourself. Gutsy Independent Publishers. Sonia Marsh set up the group and has several hundred people who actively help each other learn about publishing and marketing. Just search on the name. I think indy publishers and small press publishers have a lot in common.
Oh, and another question — was the Carnival arrangement beneficial? Did it bring in more readers, do you think?
Shirley, I appreciate your point about some of the similiarities between indie and small press publishers–I’ll definitely check out that FB group. Thanks for the tip! As to your question, I saw a nice bump in views and viewers during February, both from the blog tour and the carnival, that subsided somewhat in March, then resurged in April when I re-designed my site and started posting more often, especially with Writer Wednesday–my post on 10 sites for writers has now become my most-viewed post: https://aprilyamasaki.com/2013/04/24/10-sites-for-writers-that-you-wont-want-to-miss/.
I’m so glad it was a good experience for you, April. Thanks for sharing what you learned from it. Yes, it takes time and thought and effort, but the connections you can make on a virtual book tour are so important!
I think your basic points are absolutely right. The one I would add is that you need to limit your guest blogs to hosts whose market is similar to the one you want to reach. There are a number of hosts who emphasize sci fi, thrillers, or erotica that I wouldn’t want to take the time to be on. They may be very good sites, but they won’t serve my larger purpose.
Sandra, I’m glad to meet you–thanks for your comment and for sharing this on Twitter with your followers. I look forward to learning more from you. Mary, you make a very good point about keeping the larger purpose in mind. I was once approached by someone to be part of their blog tour–the timing wasn’t quite right for me since I had just started my blog, but it also wasn’t quite the right fit for my readers, so it was really best for both of us for me not to be part of the tour.
It’s interesting that you mentioned a small group discussion guide, because I had been thinking about having a group read and discuss the book at my church. I will be looking forward to seeing how that develops. Blessings on the journey, Mark
Thanks for your comment, Mark – if there’s anything in particular that you would like to see as part of a group guide, I’d be very interested, so please feel free to use my contact form to tell me more https://aprilyamasaki.com/contact/.