by Holly West
In preparing for the publication of Mistress of Fortune earlier this year, I wondered if I should book a paid blog tour. In truth, I wouldn't have considered it at all--I'd already put together a blog tour of my own by contacting various blogs (mostly written by people I already knew) and scheduled a series of interviews and guest posts. I figured that would be enough.
But when the subject of blog tours and marketing came up on the Carina Press author loop, my ears perked up. One of their more successful authors mentioned that she'd booked a cover reveal "tour" months in advance of the publication of her latest title. She said it had resulted in 300+ GoodReads "adds." She had a blog tour scheduled for dates surrounding the actual publication of the book, but all I had was my little DIY blog tour. It made me think that I should've planned the promotion of my launch better, but by that time, it was too late.
That said, I was very pleased with the tour I put together myself. The contacts I'd made in the crime fiction world really came through for me and while it was a lot of work, I enjoyed writing the posts and answering interview questions. But had I done enough?
The second book in my series, Mistress of Lies, was scheduled to come out on September 29, 2014, and this time I started planning my promotion well in advance by booking a cover reveal and blog tour. My rationale was that with the first book, I'd done a good job reaching out to the crime fiction community, but I hadn't done enough to get the word out to other reading communities--historical fiction, in particular. I knew I needed to expand my audience as much as possible.
While I paid for these promotions out of my own pocket, my publisher also paid for a tour to promote several mystery titles that they were publishing on the same date. My own book tour included a high end giveaway, which again, I paid for myself. My hope was that somehow, eventually, these upfront expenses would pay off in sales.
So, did they?
Probably not. I say "probably" because up to now they haven't, but who knows how this promotion will affect future sales? Will there be enough over time to justify the expense incurred by both myself and my publisher? I'm thinking it's doubtful.
This post isn't meant to be pessimistic, but I want to be honest about the results I got from booking a paid tour. There's no question that I achieved a bit more reach (and a few new readers) by participating in a tour. I got some additional reviews, which I'm very thankful for. As they say, every little bit counts.
The problem with paid blog tours, I think, is that they are more about the give-aways than they are about the books. People establish Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of following and re-tweeting give-aways. It feels generic and impersonal and the actual book gets lost in the shuffle.
The draw for authors is that they seem like a relatively inexpensive way to get the word out. And I suppose that's true, to an extent. Marketing efforts often feel like you're throwing strands of spaghetti against a wall to see what sticks, so depending on your budget, you try everything you can think of.
In my honest opinion, blog tours don't stick.
Have you ever participated in a blog tour? What was your experience?