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The Truth about Blog Tours

They seem to be all the rage lately – blog tours. Authors either make one from scratch themselves, or they use the help from a Blog Tour Agency. The few very lucky ones get their publishers to get the tour together – in this article I’m going to leave this group alone. This is purely about homemade tours or those mediated by freelancers/bloggers.

There seem to be quite some misconceptions about blog tours and book blogs in general. The post that sparked this article is this one by the author Lev Raphael. Raphael booked a blog tour of fourteen stops at an unnamed blog tour agency. Here are his experiences:

One blogger never ran a review, re-scheduled, then still didn’t run it. Nine other reviews did run, ranging from good to excellent. But some were cursory, and a number of them were by bloggers who apparently didn’t believe in proofreading, and weren’t very good writers to begin with. I found the latter aspect of the tour dispiriting. After all the work I’d put into the book, I was being reviewed by people whose writing skills were subpar?

Worst of all, I saw no bump in sales over the previous month whatsoever.

To me, this in a few sentences shows what people assume wrongly about blog tours.

Blog tours are not about selling your book – they are about gaining name recognition

Unless you are doing a tour where you are selling your book for $0.99 on Kindle, I don’t think you will sell any books directly because of the tour. Those thousand online readers you reach just aren’t going to buy a book just because you write one interview or guest post. You don’t buy a car just because you see it driving by once either. You will wait until you see it around more, until you read reviews on it from bloggers you trust, or until you bonded with the author online. This one momentary flash that a blog tour is, is just the beginning of the process. You might get them interested. They might start to follow your blog. And if you stay in touch with them, they might become the most loyal readers you can wish for.

But just because you took the time to write a few posts doesn’t mean people will buy your book.

Β Blog tours aren’t on the same level as flesh and bone tours

They just aren’t the same. If we compare a blog tour with a real author tour:

  • A blog tour will cost you about $50-$200. A real tour will cost at least $1000 with hotels, travelling costs, food…
  • A blog tour takes about 5-6 hours of work, writing a few interviews and guest posts. Maybe you’re OCD about your posts and will proofread them ten times. Let’s say, it will take about 10 hours max. A real tour takes days if not weeks of your time, in which you can do little else between signing, appearances and travelling.
  • On the internet people don’t feel obliged to buy what you are selling. In the flesh people often find that author behind the big stack of books a bit lonely, and will buy a book out of pity or politeness.

To compare a blog tour to a real tour, you should at least put in the same amount of money and time. And I’m sure a blog tour with a $1000 budget and 50 hours of work actually would lead to tons of sales. Case in point: publisher-led blog tours.

The thing is that blog tours are meant for selfpublishing authors with little resources that want to get a foot down in the blogging community. It would be quite weird if Dan Brown all of a sudden decided to do a blog tour.

We are not industry professionals and we do not get PAID

We do this all because of our love for books. Yes, maybe some are in it because you can get to read for free, but if that’s your goal, you will probably be done with blogging within a few months. The amount of work you have to put into maintaining a healthy blog isn’t worth the few ARCs you receive. It is worth it if you do really love blogging, love interacting with fellow readers and authors.

But we’re people, and we are volunteering to read your work. And that means that when life gets in the way, we will pay attention to our lives, and not to that pesky little guest post we were supposed to post. It is up to the touring agency to make up for the blogger that didn’t follow through. If it’s a good agency, they will make up for the one that didn’t get posted with one at a later dates. I know some very good ones that always keep some extra bloggers ready for posting just in case something like this happens.

Never, ever, EVER call our reviews subpar

This one should speak for itself.

The moment you publish a book, it’s in the hands of the readers. You don’t decide who gets to read it and who doesn’t. You don’t get to decide who gets to review it and who doesn’t either.

You should be glad your book gets reviewed at all, and don’t backlash at bloggers because we apparently don’t write as good as a writer that had thirty years to perfect his craft. We are students, stay-at-home-moms, people with day-jobs, we range from the completely uneducated to PHD-students, we come from every crevice on the entire planet. And some of us use nice grammatically correct sentences, and some of us like the freedom of not giving a shit. And just because we don’t write nice Oxford English, doesn’t mean we didn’t love the book or will recommend it to our friends.

However, by calling reviews subpar, I will make sure to avoid any books by that writer. Even though the reviews might not be that good – I don’t care. You don’t say something like that about people that you picked, you researched, and you are not paying a single dime.

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  • Sally@Always Lost in Stories

    Fantastic post! You have so eloquently stated everything that made me fume about that article! He seemed to forget that he was paying the blog tour agency and not the bloggers themselves- who enthuse over books for free because it is a hobby!
    And you are right that is not one blog tour that will spark an immediate rise in sales- it is the prolonged online exposure. I know for a fact that once I’ve seen a book cover on a few different blogs over time it makes me intrigued to find out about it, just because I see it everywhere.
    The other thing that really bugged me- he complained so much about poor proofreading in reviews, and then in defense of himself in the comments section- his COMMENTS are full of typos and errors! So much for being a sticker for proofreading!
    Such a fab post- everything you said is so right.

  • mariska

    What a story. And I love the last part of it. You are sooo right.
    English is not my mother language and it is a long time ago that I was on school to work on it. But I try to make reviews. The last few months not, because it takes to much time. But I am also one of those girls who tell her friends about these books if I like them. So that is also a great thing for a publisher.
    And I really hate it when they call our reviews subpar. That would be one of the reasons I never read a book from such a publisher.

    But still, I like to join blog tours. You never know when you win some great book right?


  • Victoria Hooper

    Excellent post! I missed all this drama, been busy this week and offline for most of it!

    I’ve only once bought a book straight away because of a blog tour. Usually if it gets my interest I’ll add it to my Goodreads shelf and then there’s a greater chance I’ll buy it at a later date. Blog tours also help to make the author’s name stick in my head – and if I then see other people talking about the author later, I remember the name and it all begins to build up. Then, when I’m in a bookshop or on Amazon browsing, that author’s name is more likely to pop forward. Like you said, I see blog tours to be about building awareness, getting the book talked about and in people’s minds, and less about actual sales at that point.

    I think it’s actually a similar thing with attending book fairs and conventions, and sometimes even with physical tours and signings too, depending on how well known the author was to begin with. I work with a small press and I go to book fairs with their books sometimes… selling books at the fair covers the costs of transport, food, etc, but it’s the publicity that’s the most important thing. Paying for a blog tour and then not really engaging with it is a little like paying someone to stand in for you at a book signing and then wondering why readers don’t seem interested in you.

    Anyway, brilliant article! You make really important points. πŸ™‚

  • http://twitter.com/Kelsenator Kelsey

    Wow, very good points here! I think he’s focusing too much on the money and not enough on actually getting his book noticed the right way. I think this whole thing will actually screw him over, like it has other authors in the past. I especially like how you mentioned that we don’t get paid for this and for most people it’s a hobby, we put so much time and effort into what we do, and favours like blog tours are supposed to be fun.

  • http://unconventionalbookviews.com/ Lexxie

    Yeah, I just had to leave a comment there, as well. I think blog tours can work, but that it really depends on the kind of book being toured. I Haven’t read any of this author’s books, and I don’t know if I will. But blog tours sometimes make me discover a book I hadn’t heard of before, and it may very well help me decide to purchase that book. Especially if the author has a funny interview or blurb on one of the blogs.

  • Kristilyn Robertson

    Personally, I love the authors who take the time to be on social media and interact with their readers. They make us interested in their books and eager for their next book to come out. Showing that you’re not all about the money is definitely key … I mean, yes, money is nice, but it’s not the be all end all for things. I’m betting a lot of authors didn’t go into writing to make ALL THE MONEY, but to share their love of writing. Isn’t that why we do a lot of artistic things? For the love of it?

    I also think that there are authors out there who forget that word of mouth is a big thing. If we love a book or an author, we’ll shout it from the rooftops! We’ll tell our friends! We’ll get our library to bring in their books! BUT when an author starts being snarky and rants negatively about bloggers, that spreads, too. It’s so easy to shoot yourself in the foot these days through the internet. One wrong thing said and you’re screwed.

    Authors need to realize that we do ALL OF THIS for the love of reading. We don’t get paid, we’re just happy to help and be a part of something special — like a book tour. I do think that authors or tour hosts should do research when hosting tours, but I also think that you can’t go into a blog tour thinking that it will make you rich. It’s more of a means of reaching out to people, getting your name out there, and showing that you’re more than the picture on the back flap of a book.

    Great post!

  • Jen S

    An excellent post! Personally, I am a bit tired of the constant blog tours but an author should still not complain about the quality of a review by a review who has likely received nothing more than a free e-copy of the book.

    Perhaps his sales did not increase because his book was not interesting enough?

  • Veronica MostlyReviews

    Couldn’t agree more with everything you just said. I could start raging about it in this comment but I won’t. I just wanted to say that it’s true that some authors get out of line (some reviewers too sometimes) but the authors should never forget that they need us. The readers are the reason why they write.

    And no one should expect miracles from a tour. Sometimes it works perfectly and sometimes it doesn’t that is just how it is. But if a book is worth it sooner or later people are going to find out about it and buy it.

  • http://twitter.com/JenHartling Jennifer Hartling

    All I can say is AMEN! Great post πŸ™‚

  • http://www.facebook.com/marlena.fein Marlena Fein

    I love this post! While not a blogger (I do review for a blog however), I feel that author was very ungrateful for the time that was put into his work by each reader and reviewer. I wonder if he goes through Amazon and critiques his other reviews by the “subpar” people on there? Anyhow, I have seen many successful blog tours for authors. I know of one indie author that did a blog tour and her book started in the top 100 and has remained there for quite a few days. So, I have seen it work. I will also say, I personally love the blog tours the authors do. I discover a lot of books and future reading material that way. While I usually do not purchase the book immediately, it will go onto my wish list and I do usually buy it at a future date, or may borrow it from the library and then leave a review. Apparently, they do work. Also, usually on the tour, the authors are nice enough to offer a prize through raffflecoptor. While I may not win, I love entering and having the chance!

    Thanks for the great blog post,

  • Pragya

    Wow! Thank you, Celine for writing this post. It says so much about things I have felt and wondered about but I’m so glad you said it all out loud. At times, there are authors who don’t even follow up on the blog posts where readers have commented. If you don’t take out time to reply to your readers, how can you expect them to pick up an unknown book based on a handful of reviews? I love authors who take out the time to reply to comments and chat about their work. I will be more inclined to buy that author’s work if I am faced with two unknown books with similar rating stats.

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  • http://angelasanxiouslife.blogspot.com/ Angelas Anxious Life

    Great post!!!

  • http://twitter.com/Sugar_and_Snark Lu

    Very well said!

    Blog tours are about getting your book out there, getting it seen so that people remember it. You need to create buzz and above all have respect for bloggers!

  • Megan @ReadingInTheSunshine

    LOVE YOU Celine for writing everything that lots of us wanted to say and for getting your pooint across so well πŸ˜€

    I just read the authors post this evening and I am shocked – Subpar reviews?! Our reviews can help an author to get where they are now. Some authors sometimes forget that it is the readers that can turn them into a success and spread the word about their books. Without us readers and bloggers, our posts and word of mouth, talking about what we love and recommending, there isn’t half as much promotion for their books.


  • Joanna Hennon

    Great post. Authors like the one you quote want such quick results and I agree that working with bloggers is about getting your name out there so that if you do see the book for sale somewhere, you might consider buying it.

  • http://losetimereading.com/ Lauren

    Great, great post. I thought what the author said about “subpar reviews” was incredibly rude. One of those “subpar” reviews might have made one of the readers buy that book. It actually made me very, very angry. I feel bad for the reviewers who put time into reading that authors book with only being belittled as their thanks. I surely won’t read any of their work after reading this. Thanks for posting this!

  • Tin

    I really enjoyed this article.

    I think it clarifies the blogger’s role in a blog tour as well as the author’s.

  • Angie F

    Great post! I completely agree. Authors should be happy that we’re taking our own time to read, review, and promote their book! So what if our writing isn’t as good? I think the point still gets across. We’re not professionals, this is a hobby, something we enjoy doing. We don’t have to join tours at all, but I know I do because I like spreading the word about lesser known books and authors. Do I love every book that I review for a tour? No, but someone who comes across my review or promotional post and might decide to add it to their to-read even if they don’t buy it, and that’s still good! One more person has discovered the author!

  • Lindsay Healy

    Great post, excellent points, and I feel you have stood up for bloggers.

  • thegeekyblogger

    AMEN! You pretty know I agree with but now that we have a few articles out on expectations hopefully we won’t get another “L” issue. Seriously a little research will go a long way on setting realistic expectations and proper ways to respond to things that don’t quite go your way.

  • Anya Johnson

    Woot! Thanks for emphasizing the “subpar” comment, since that was the one that rubbed me the most. I don’t catch every mistake I make typing, but I also don’t care about mistakes when I read other blogs. It’s the passion and the intent behind the review that counts!

    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

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  • http://www.caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ kimbacaffeinate

    well said my friend!

  • http://twitter.com/onwingsofbooks Kimberly Peterson

    This is a really great post! I’m not a writer, nor do I have any plans to be, and I know that my reviews are not always grammatically correct or eloquently worded. I write them to share my love of books.

  • http://twitter.com/TrishHannon Trish Hannon

    Hear, hear! Great post, was so annoyed when I read that author comment. Reviewing the reviewers, not OK, not ever.

  • Leah Woods

    Great post! I read that quote and my blood just boiled. I don’t know where some people get off sometimes, I really don’t. Way to isolate fans! Ugh.

  • http://www.spajonas.com/ S. J. Pajonas

    Great post, Celine! I hope authors learned some good lessons from this debacle.