What is a book blog tour?
Most authors have heard of them, many have used them. Book blog tours have come to replace most public appearances for the lesser known author publicizing their book. Even large publishing houses are using them to cut costs when it comes to getting exposure for their authors. A fee is paid to the tour organizer and then the organizer finds bloggers to “host” information about the book/author. This can be in the form of a promotional post, a book review, an author interview, character interview, excerpt, or even blurbs from the book or reviewers. It’s basically the standard advertisement that you find everywhere during the time of a book release. The big difference here is that the only people getting paid are the tour organizer, and the people benefiting from sale of the book.
… the only people getting paid are the tour organizer, and the people benefiting from sale of the book.
Why is that a problem?
A while back I was looking for book blog tours which would pay me for participating. Upkeep of a blog is pricey and I like to get paid for my time and effort if I can. But I couldn’t find many blog tours which did pay their hosts. Oh, there were rewards a plenty. However, getting a regular cut of the money charged for organizing the tour was not normally a thing with a lot of the blogs I researched. Of course, I had to know “Why?”.
The more I researched the more confused I became. It seems there are a lot of people who feel that getting an ARC (advanced reader copy) of a book was sufficient reward for the time and energy which went into reading it, reviewing it, and then posting the review (and other promotional material for the book) on their blog. And I thought “WHAT?!”. That was poppycock. Honestly, if someone gave you a ten dollar book that took fifteen hours to read, an hour to review, another hour to edit, a half hour to schedule a post with links, and then an additional hour of efforts to advertise the blog/network with readers for the week of that scheduling; and then told you that $10 book was sufficient compensation for the 18.5 hours of your time to review it and advertise it for them, what would you think of that? That’s right. It is CRAZY to expect book review bloggers to review for a fraction of what their time is worth. That $10 book isn’t even the equivalent of minimum wage in many parts of the United States.
According to Study.com, the median salary for a book critic was $62,170 in May of 2018. These can be working for a publication or working freelance to provide their book reviews independently to publications. Now, I’m not saying that book bloggers should be making that much money. What I am saying is that no one should be telling us that we shouldn’t be getting paid for what we do. It is a valuable service and more than a few companies have tried to solicit free reviews or ” unpaid brand ambassadorships” out of me. And if it happens with a fairly new blogger like me, imagine what the more established blogs have experienced over the years.
Book reviews boost book exposure. For as long as that post is up on a website there are people who are going to stumble across it and read it. There are going to be sales generated from it. Even Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and hundreds of companies from every other major industry pay bloggers for hosting advertising space (Or at the very lest affiliate links which generate income for the blogger if someone purchases that product.), reviewing products, and promoting their services. What makes the book industry exempt from that? What makes so many people in the book industry feel like the work which every other industry pays bloggers for, should be free for them.
If an ad for a book were being televised, the network hosting that ad would receive payment. If an ad for a book were being placed in a newspaper or magazine, that publication would be paid for it. I know, I worked in advertising for a bit. My company was paid a lot of money for developing ads for various media and determining where those ads would be most effective then finding out how much it would cost to put those ads there.
Why should you pay bloggers for your tour and not just the tour organizer? Book blog tour organizers provide a valuable service in scheduling advertising. But they can be limited in what is offered. I’m not saying that they don’t have their place in internet marketing, because they do. They can be immensely useful for targeting specific audiences with mass exposure. The crux of the matter is, many tour organizers determine which blogs get to host your book for the tour. The purchaser of the tour has little say in who reviews and hosts information about their books. Because of this many niche audiences or new consumer groups are missed in the blog tour because advertising is too focused. Blogs which are paid for their services can offer a greater variety of services outside of the primary book blog tours.
Below are some examples of custom services.
Custom reviews – Blog can post a review which includes discussion of specific points/ topics in a book which might get overlooked in a regular book review. Things which an author might want specifically noted in a review to appeal to a particular audience. I have yet to do this for someone. However, after I reviewed “The Turing Revolt: The War Against Infinity” (click to see the detailed post), the author saw how I disliked the way women were represented in his books and offered to explain to me how he develops his female characters. In a book with controversial characters, character choices, or plot devices, or if a book contains significant information that makes their book different from others; an author might want to request a custom review to specifically address the points they are concerned with.
Curated/Blogger Excerpts – Most book blog tours include links to excerpts. But how many tours include excerpts from a book which was chosen by the reviewer? These excerpts can be discussed in an additional blog post in addition to or instead of a review. What readers find compelling and what authors/publishers/editor find compelling might not be the same. If a blogger is going to be reading and reviewing a book anyway, maybe let them decide what parts they want to share on their blog. They can choose one, or several to be posted on the same day, or multiple days over the course of a week, several weeks, or even months leading up to the release of a book
Sidebar excerpts – Blog posts small excerpts of book (instead of a full post worth) in a sidebar advertisement on multiple posts in their blog over the course of several weeks. This can be the same excerpt or a different excerpt on each post an excerpt is posted on. Excerpt includes cover/book art and purchase links or email sign up links to be notified when book is available for purchase.
Blurbs – Blog posts little blurb from compelling scene/section of book as advertising added to unrelated posts on the blog. This acts just like a regular paid ad spot but it is on my blog forever, like your blurb could be, instead of just over the course of several weeks. (To see an example of this for one of my books on my blog take a look at my post “Review of Book Raid for Independent Author Book Advertising” the blurb is at the bottom of the post.)
Cover Artist Interview – Blog dedicates an entire post to an interview with the cover artist where the creative process as how it relates to the book is discussed. Images of the art in various stages of completion are revealed as well as potential prior cover ideas which were not used. (If it is available, even a video of the artistic process can be hosted on the post.) This generates interest in the book, the author, the artist, and other books/projects the artist has created. If the same cover artist is used for an entire series it increases their exposure to participate in this, if a different artist creates each book cover, that is even better as the potential readership is increased by the interest of those artists fans.
Author interview – Blog dedicates a blog post entirely to an interview with an author. This can be used to generate interest in previously published books as well as upcoming projects.
Character interview – Written interview questions are answered by the author as if they were a character from their book. This can be the main character or any character in a book. Art of the character is usually posted also. Or the post can be used to generate reader interest by introducing and hosting a character art contest.
Character advertisement – Blog posts images and blurbs about characters from upcoming book and link to book landing page.
Contests – Fan art, fan fiction, trivia, raffles, character naming, book titles; signed book copies, meet the author, fan gear, event tickets, the sky is the limit and a blogger can put in the time (and website space) to host those for you.
Podcast Author interview – Interview completed via web audio chat and recorded by the interviewer. It is then uploaded to website and transcribed, and posted to podcast distributors. This generates a larger audience as there are many people who listen to podcasts rather than read blogs.
Podcast cover artist interview – Combined benefits of a podcast interview with a cover artist interview. Exposure to new audiences in the art community, the artists own fans, and podcast listeners.
Podcast Character Interviews – An audio only interview with someone who responds to questions as the character. You can use an actor, the author, or if there is an audio book the narrator or person playing the character. This is particularly effective advertising for audio books. Potential listeners get to hear what the narrator, or voice actor cast as that character sounds like outside of the standard audio sample.
Podcast Voice Actor Interview – This is an audio only interview specifically with the voice actor/actors who perform in the audio book. It’s an interview just relating to how they came to be a part of the project.
Cover Creation Video Advertisement – BLog posts as a sidebar or embedded advertisement video of the book’s cover being created in a time-lapsed or accelerated video with image of completed book at the end of the video. It is purely an advertisement and can advertise both the book and upcoming interviews of the author, the cover artist, or any contests or upcoming related events.
Streaming and Live Streaming Video Interviews – Bloggers can live stream video interviews and then host that interview to their site and social media accounts for perpetual advertising. Not all bloggers can or would be willing to do this but it is a great option which is immensely popular for YouTubers who release videos about new games and other forms of entertainment.
Host links to Twine Games – Maybe indie authors and small publishers can’t afford to make a full video game and toy line to help merchandise a book, but they can create a Twine game to help advertise a book. Getting an individual blogger to host links to that game is a lot easier than including it in a regular blog tour link. It’s also very shareable content.
Scavenger Hunts – Exactly what it sounds like. Blog Tours occasionally set up scavenger hunts which required a reader to bounce between different blogs over the course of a blog tour in order to find a special prize or reveal related to the book tour. It’s also possible to set up a scavenger hunt within the posts of one blog, where the scavenging clues are seeded not only in the upcoming blog posts related to the book release but also back seeded into previously published content so that popular posts can lead new readers into a scavenger post.
Continuity – Why would you have certain book advertisements on one blog and then continue on another. With most book blog tours, the hosts sign up, tell the organizer what day they are available, and then the host determines whether they are accepted for review or promotional posts. Imagine if you could use all of the previously mentioned advertising techniques. Starting with the teasers, increasing in ad frequency, adding more detailed promotional techniques as release dates drew closer all while providing the additional information to bloggers and their readers who were already familiar with your book.
What it all comes down to is that bloggers and their readers can have a significant impact on the reception of book advertising, but they can’t work with you comprehensively if you don’t pay them. More importantly, working closely with a handful of bloggers will allow you and them to find the kind of in-depth advertising which will tantalize potential readers and generate shareable content across multiple platforms and devices. Whether you are an independent author, an agent, a PR company representative, a publisher, or even looking for advertising completely unrelated to the book industry there is a blogger or group of bloggers out there who can help you. Shouldn’t you be paying them for that help instead of expecting they’ll do it for free?
I’ve opened an Etsy shop where I currently offer a few basic book review and author interview services. I will be expanding my services in the near future both on the shop and on this website. Check out Authors4Bloggers, where independent and traditionally published authors can show support for a blogger who provides honest reviews and hosts that advertising.
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