Monday, August 18, 2014

Marketing Mondays: Blog Tours and Bling for Advertisements

Welcome to the last (for now) Marketing Mondays--that glorious day when we take the overwhelming ideas of marketing and try to make them a little less stressful. In case you missed it, we've already talked about author brandsFacebooksocial mediabloggingonline parties and giveawaysstreet teams, newsletters, and Goodreads, and websites and Amazon author pages. Today, we are wrapping things up with blog tours and advertisements. This involves coughing out some cash, which is a very important topic to discuss.

Blog Tours

We've already discussed hosting blog tours when discussing what kind of content to put on your blog, but now I want to take a really good look at the flip side of that coin--having a blog tour to promote your book. Blogs are a very useful tool for promoting your book, and you can do this a number of ways. You can generate buzz about your book before it releases with things like a Cover Reveal and teasers. After the release, you can schedule a release day blitz or a blog tour, or do both. Coordinating all of the above is pretty much the same, and we'll go over some of the basics. 
  1. Coordinating a Tour
    1. Do it yourself: If you have experience with hosting blog tours already and plenty of blogger friends, you can give coordinating it yourself a shot. After about a year or so of hosting tours myself, I was able to build up enough connections to fill up a month long tour for Heirs of War, so it is doable. I'll get to some tips on how to coordinate your tour on your own later, but for now we'll just list it as an option.
    2. Let someone coordinate the tour for you: One of the benefits to having someone else organize your tour is that it is a heck of a lot less stressful for you. There are plenty of blog tour companies out there with reasonable prices if that is an option for you. Make sure you choose a company that fits your book, though. Some tour companies cover mainly romance or paranormal romance, and if you write mysteries, this tour company might not be the one for you. If you can do this, I say go for it. Prices range anywhere from $45-$175, depending on what you want your tour to include. It might be worth it just to have one less thing to worry about during release week. Because if you are releasing a book, your stress levels are probably already pretty high. 
    3. Image from AndreRealizes
    4. If you have a publisher, their marketing department might coordinate the tour for you. 
  2. Dates
    1. One day release blitz: One day for everyone to showcase your book. Generally done with just a promo post, but you can open it up to other options.
    2. One week or two week blog tour: Usually the more affordable options if you are hiring a tour company, and a way to play it safe if you are coordinating on your own. You can also go with three weeks if you're feeling plucky.
    3. One month blog tour: Usually more expensive if you are hiring a blog company, but this gives you a full month with your book and name spread across blogs. If you are coordinating yourself, it is something to think about for that reason, too. This also opens your dates up, obviously, but that might be more appealing to bloggers. 
  3. Content
    1. Promo post: I've also seen this referred to as a spotlight stop. This usually consists of the basics to promote your book: Banner (if you have one), cover, blurb, purchase links, Goodreads link, your bio, your author pic, your links, and maybe something like a book trailer or short teaser.
    2. Guest post: This is where you take over someone else's blog by sending them an article that you write. For example, I could blog about my marketing experience with Heirs of War for a guest post. Other ideas are music playlists, dream cast, your road to publishing, your inspiration for the book or characters, editing...the list goes on and on. You can plan guest posts ahead of time and dole them out, or you can let hosts pick a topic that might fit their blog.
    3. Excerpts: I was surprised by how many people requested excerpts for my first blog tour. You can give the same one or different ones. I recommend different ones since that allows you to showcase different characters or different aspects of your book. You can tease romance, or action, or humor. And if you have teaser images that accompany the excerpts, you can include them as well. Visuals are always a good thing!
    4. Character interviews: These are so much fun! Sometimes bloggers have questions pre-planned, and sometimes they will do research to tailor the questions to your characters. Either way, getting a chance to explore your characters again is always fun.
    5. Author interview: Oh, the dreaded author interview. I have several of those for my upcoming tour for Heirs of War, Crown of Flames. I both love them and hate them at the same time, mostly because I feel like an idiot with everything I say. But readers love them, so I do it and you should too. 
    6. Open option: This is always a good idea in case bloggers have a weekly feature that might work for you. During the Heirs of War tour, Crystal Collier signed up for me to be featured during her Writerly Wednesdays feature that includes Two Truths and a Lie, which was awesome and a lot of fun. 
Like I said before, you can totally do this on your own!
Image from Congaaaa
Here are some easy steps to coordinating your own tour:
  1. Create a Google form for people to sign up through. Standard form entries: Name, email address, blog url, post type, and date. I also include the option of reviewing an ARC. More reviews never hurt, right?
  2. Email your contacts. If you have blogger friends, author friends, critique partners, street team members, etc--don't be afraid to ask them to help out. 
  3. Post about it on social media. Put the call out their to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Post a polite request in groups that allow that kind of post (always check the rules for the groups you want to post to!). But, as with everything social media, don't spam. If you aren't getting any responses, check back through your old posts and see if there's a better time where your friends respond more. Then post during that time next week. 
  4. Keep your posting options open to draw in more people. 
  5. Stay on top of emails. I don't know about you, but I have a very bad habit of reading emails or texts and replying in my head, but never actually doing it. That's definitely a habit to break when organizing a blog tour or promotion.
  6. Limit your guest posts. Interviews, excerpts, and promo posts aren't very time consuming, but guest posts can be. I had way too many during my Heirs of War tour, and they sucked up a lot of valuable time. They're great to do and a lot of bloggers request them, but I would limit how many you allow. 
  7. Balance your time as best you can. If you won't have a lot of time to create posts, only run a week long tour, or two weeks. Don't over-commit to something you might not have time for. 
  8. Make sure you stop by each blog and thank them for hosting, and then check back over the next few days to respond to any comments people leave. 


You've probably seen a lot of sites like Facebook and Goodreads offering advertisements. It looks like Twitter is even jumping on this bandwagon now. I've also seen websites and blogs that offer paid advertising slots. Some advertisements, like on a website or blog, might be a one time fee, while others, like Facebook and Goodreads offer daily budgets or pay per click options. Facebook allows you to set a daily budget as well, which can be helpful. You can also set up a target audience by selecting people within a certain age range and with specific interests to target with your ad. Just to give you an idea, I chose fantasy film, fantasy literature, magic (paranormal), witches pagans, fantasy movies, books, and e-books as my interests to target, and my potential reach is 52 million, which looks pretty good from the outside. There are plenty of articles out there to help you create ads and tell you why they are great, but I want to talk about something else that is very important and ties back to blog tours:

When do you spend your money?

Pretty good question, am I right? The thing is, if you are self-publishing, then chances (and hopes) are that you have hired an editor and a cover artist already. That means that you are in the red before your book is even published. You've already invested money into it. And then there's things like swag to giveaway as prizes for contests (which we've also covered) or to hand out at signings or just on the street. 

Point is, you can end up dropping a lot of money really fast. Could you end up making all of that back and then some? Sure. It happens. But you can't let yourself get too carried away. Cut costs where you can so that you can actually enjoy some of the money you make back or use it to invest into your next book so you aren't as in the red when it comes out. 

There's a reason I didn't go into a whole lot of detail with advertisements--I've never done one before. At all. I don't have any plans to do one in the future, not unless I see some major sales with Heirs of War, Crown of Flames. I'm already trying to cut back my swag addiction (I love giving out signed swag packs. Love it. In fact, I want to give one to you now...), so I don't really let myself spend any money beyond the necessities. Advertising is a necessity, of course, but not one I need to pay for right now. 

I'm not saying that you shouldn't purchase a Facebook ad--I'm just saying to keep a tight eye on your budget. I've heard a lot of people say that you should wait until you have more than one book out before you pay for advertisements because your other books help sell each other. And you should definitely be wary of what kind of advertisement you choose, particularly with Facebook. There's been some concern that running an advertisement for Facebook likes will only get you bogus likes, not actual people. And that can hurt your page instead of help it since Facebook algorithms dictate how many people see your posts based on how many people interact with your page. 

So the two key things to take away from this blog post? Balance your budget and time, and do your research before making any decisions that involve money, whether it involves ads or blog tours. 

Thank you for tuning in for Marketing Mondays! Don't be afraid to tell me what you think, or if I've missed anything. This has all been based on my personal experience, and I hope to return to this segment once I get even more experience under my belt. Even if that means contradicting things I've already said. =) 

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