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Coordinating a book blog tour: Dotting your Rs and Crossing your… Rs

Today’s guest is Crystal Patriarche, publicist for BookSparksPR [1].  Crystal has spent time on both the agency and corporate sides, doing PR, corporate communications, corporate philanthropy as well as social media marketing and content for a variety of companies and media outlets. She runs her own virtual PR agency, CPVA, supporting companies across the nation by providing client facing or behind the scenes PR support and freelance writing on topics from books and authors to career women, motherhood, health, lifestyle and more.  We’re thrilled she’s here with us today to pass along some of her wisdom. Enjoy! 

Coordinating a book blog tour: Dotting your Rs and Crossing your… Rs

With Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010 just behind us, it seemed a great time to talk about the growing importance of book blogs to a book publicity campaign. More authors are recognizing the importance and significance of doing official blog tours, but many may not know how to execute one effectively or the many things that need to be considered before you begin. 

Whether you’re an author who’s going to tackle the book blogs yourself or hire someone to help, there’s so much more to a book blog tour than having nights and weekends free to email bloggers.

Your expectations for a book blog tour should be that it’s a huge undertaking and you need skills to be savvy, respectful, resourceful, organized and thorough. Definitely if you have a few bloggers you know yourself and can outreach to them, that’s great and you should use personal contacts. And if you’ve gotten a few bloggers who have learned about your book and contacted you early, then you’re ahead of the game already and you should make sure those bloggers get your book and everything they need. And double check – because you wouldn’t believe how many times a publisher says they’ve mailed to bloggers and those books never arrive. So if they’ve made an early request, try your best to show your appreciation and get them what they need. 

Here are a few more important tips: 

Research

There are hundreds and hundreds of book blogs, each with very specific review guidelines, protocols, lead times, traffic information and styles. If you’re going to book your own blog tour, you need to know each policy, review each blog and find what they accept and what genres they like. You need to check out their profiles and find out their demographic info. If you have a women’s fiction novel and the heroine is married, over 40, and dealing with marriage and kid issues, you may not want to target a blogger who is young and has no children, because she might not relate well to the main character.

Respect

You need to know the lead times for each blog and realize many of them are months out. Many people think because it’s a blog, that you wait until the last minute and expect a review in a week or two. Many bloggers do this in their spare time as a passion and have other paying jobs and families; you need to respect their time, their policies, their opinions and treat each one like media with a lead time. The more lead time, the better.

Reaction

If you want a reaction out of a blogger – meaning you want them to say yes they’ll review your book – you need to craft a pitch about your book that’s going to grab that blogger’s attention and make your book stand out from the 25 others they received that day. And also, make sure you’re adhering to their guidelines – most post them directly on their blogs.

And in turn, when they agree, you need to react by being super organized. Secure an agreeable date with them. Make sure they get the book in a timely manner. Make sure they have the images they need, the important links you want them to post. Make sure the book actually did arrive. Follow up to see if there are any questions or outstanding items. There’s a lot of back and forth and organization that has to take place.  

Reach

Many authors say they want to focus on the “top” book bloggers or most popular or high-traffic blogs. If this is important to you, you need to know how to find out which ones have 3 readers or 3000. Which ones have a readership that gels with your book? Which ones are social media savvy? Which ones also post their reviews on multiple places like Goodreads, Amazon, Library Thing, etc. My philosophy is they’re all important and the more you know about them, the better.

Reciprocate

There’s more to a book blog tour than just securing the reviews, too. You need to figure out ways to draw traffic to those blogs on the days your book review appears, you need to share those links and have a strategy for getting people reading not just one of your blog appearances but all of them. You need to share the links and reviews on your blog, your website, your Facebook page, and your Twitter account too. You need to go by the blog and comment.

Running a blog tour takes a lot of time, research, organization, diligence, strategy and effort. Online sites and book blogs are becoming as important to an author’s publicity push as traditional media–and should be treated that way. Blogs have lead times just like magazines. They should be pitched to just like magazines. They have faithful readers just like magazines. 

You want to be smart and strategic about every piece of publicity you do – including book blogs.

Thanks so much, Crystal, for a great post!

Readers, let’s talk blog tours. What types of posts appeal to you? Conversely, does anything turn you off? And if you’re an author and have had a blog tour, do you have any additional lessons to share? The floor is yours.

Write on!