OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
[Update Nov 2012: BookTour.org has been reported to me as an unsafe site in terms of malware, so I have removed the links to that site. However, that doesn't change the fact that blog tours are still a viable form of marketing, so I am leaving the post up without the links. Thanks.]
Let's say you're an author with a book in print. Or at least a book for sale, if you're one of those new-wave-digital-book-only folks. Clearly you are not selling enough copies. I know I sure don't.
One of the best ways to get your name (and book) in front of many eyeballs and start building a fan base is to go on a virtual book tour, aka a blog tour. In fact, you are probably reading this article because you already have a desire to go on tour. I won't waste your time trying to convince you that's its something you should try.
My purpose here is to help you maximize the usefulness of your upcoming tour. So without further ado, here are “The 5 Commandments for Blog Tourists”. Follow these, and your tour will be much more successful.
(1) Thou Shalt Promote Every Tour Stop .
If a host is nice enough to have you on her blog, you need to send some traffic her way, too. A simple post with a link on your blog that says “I have a new article over at The Creative Penn” or something similar will do. Also be sure to tweet or facebook (can I use that as a verb?) about the tour stop, too.
(2) Thou Shalt Be Different .
That doesn't mean you need to be really weird. It just means that for every tour stop, you need to say something that you haven't said on any other stop. As your blog tour steamrolls forward, people at every blog you visit will start to follow you around. (Electronically only, hopefully…) They'll hook on to your blog's RSS feed, they'll friend or fan you on facebook, and they'll follow your twitter account. New fans are the easiest to lose. So even if you are doing 23 interviews via email right in a row and they all ask the same four questions, you have to come up with new material every time. And by new material, I don't mean to just reword every sentence. People aren't stupid. Add in different anecdotes, jokes, tangents, whatever, and you'll have a shot at hooking those readers for life.
(3) Thou Shalt Be Flexible.
Not every blog host wants to do an email interview. Some are going to want an article, some might want you to answer questions in the comments of the tour stop post, some are going to want to record a Skype call, some may even ask for a little recorded webcam video. Don't be afraid how to learn any new technology. No matter what the host wants you to do, a simple Google search will point you to a tutorial on how to do it.
(4) Thou Shalt Put Forth Effort .
Again, the host is doing you a favor. Everything you can do to make her life easier, the better. For instance, I would have much preferred to have Joanna go on my site, read all about everything I do, then write some glowing review of me and everything I do. Yeah, that would have been way easier for me, but that's just not how the world works. So instead I'm writing this article. Hosts are busy people, too. Asking a host to do all the work for you is like standing in front of a cast iron potbellied stove and saying, “Give me heat, and then I'll give you wood.”
(5) Thou Shalt Give Thanks .
After the tour stop goes live, make and effort to contact the host again and say thank you. Not only is it the right thing to do, but they'll be much more willing to work with you again in the future.
To finish up, I'd just like to say thanks to Joanna for being awesome and thanks to you for reading. Good luck on your next tour!
About The Author
Bryce Beattie has been working feverishly to build a website that helps authors and bloggers line up stops on a virtual book tour. It's called BlogTour.org, it's new, it's free, and it's great for bloggers who want content and for authors who don't know where to find willing blogs. Bryce also has an action/adventure/pulp/science fiction/zombie novel. It's called Oasis. (http://www.ZombieNovelOasis.com)