Book Blog Tours: Fun for a Grumpy Old Author
I remember reading about those good old days when publishers did all the promotion for you and booked really great book tours. And they paid the freight, too—motel rooms, travel expenses, food and drink. These were the same people who gave authors a substantial advance.
We all know none of that is true anymore unless you are Jane Evanovich or Harlan Coben or some other famous author already selling millions of books. Ironic, yes? So now promotion and publicity are on the backs of most authors, and that includes paying for ads, travel to conferences, bookmarks, business cards and other expenses. The return is that the author may sell a few books, but it is all too common that we find ourselves talking to a handful of people and selling few books. I’ve sat all day long, first in the cold outside waiting for the sun to hit my sidewalk table, then when it did, finding it so hot I thought my shoes would melt off my feet. The first author event I ever did was at a beer festival in Upstate New York. One of the brewers I interviewed as background for my book was kind enough to share his booth with me. It was May. It was at the foot of a ski center. It was raining. I froze, but it was a free booth. I think I sold four books for the day.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less willing to suffer bad weather for that one book I can sell on a day at a craft festival or to spend hours constructing a program for an audience of three. Even if the audience is large—I once spoke to a group of over one hundred and no one bought a single book—there may be no pay off. I’m not merely talking about how many books I sold, but whether the outreach worked in terms of making my work more visible. That’s hard to assess, but I think the return from that group was minimal. Sometimes, a group will pay an honorarium which will cover some expenses. I’ll admit I’ve become jaded enough that, if a program requires an overnight stay, I ask a set amount. I’ve lost more than one possible booking this way. Yes, I have become an old curmudgeon (the title of this blog says I’m grumpy!)
I’ve spent considerable money attending workshops and conferences for writers especially when I was learning my craft. Now, I attend conferences where I can appear on a panel to network with other writers as well as to attract readers. I have become more considered about how to spend my time and money on promotion and publicity.
I’m getting better at using social media and the internet to promote and publicize my work. Recently, I finished a two-week book blog tour with a tour organizer who promotes cozy mysteries. I’ve used her several times for my work, and I think she arranges a great tour. I highly recommend her http://escapewithdollycas.com . In those two weeks I did several guest blogs on topics of my choosing and two interviews. There were reviews of the book, some book blasts that featured the synopsis of the book and selected excerpts, and, most fun of all, several character guest posts where I wrote the guest blog as if I were one of my characters. The tour sites allowed visitors to enter a giveaway for a copy of the book. Best of all, the cost for a cozy mystery tour was nothing. The reviews will be posted on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other sites. I’ve posted some excerpts from the reviews below. Yes, they all seemed to like my book, but there’s no guarantee that a reviewer on the tour will be positive about the book. One reviewer seemed to like one of my books on a tour, but referred to the cover as “cheesy.” I paid for that cover, and I like it. Her “cheesy,” “my cute.”
The question you might ask is does a book blog tour translate into increased sales? Sometimes, maybe, how does one tell? There are tours a writer can pay for as well as the one I got for free. They all require you to write the guest blogs and character guest blogs and do the interviews as well as provide the organizer with these materials up front and provide the free book, an excerpt, bio, picture, copies for review, book cover, synopsis and excerpt. While it is work to accomplish this, I find the tours fun, especially the character guest blogs. Clearly, the reviews are priceless, if they are posted, and in all tours, free or paid, sometimes they are not posted when and where they were promised. There are other glitches such as a blogger forgetting to post your blog that day, but these are few.
My assessment of this way of spending my time and effort? I like it, and because I see other, better known authors using book blog tours, I think they must be useful. I will continue to use them, and have another coming out next month. Here’s the tour page for it:
Along with book blog tours, I use Facebook to post announcements, but only because I have an author page and I can (just barely) tolerate posting there. Sometimes I use twitter-ugh!
There are groups I do programs for, and they may or may not pay off with many sales, but if I deem them fun and not too far for travel, I do it because I like in-person interactions.
I do signings at local bookstores where I have a reasonable chance of seeing a few friends and fans. I especially love to do programs for libraries where I am known in the area. Many libraries provide an honorarium, but I do the programs because I think it’s important to support libraries. The opportunities for programs and for book stores signings are better if you live near a city. The nearest city of any population is about eighty miles from where I live. There is a gift shop near me that carries my books and does a darn good job of selling some. An author never can predict when a contact will pay off even if you live in a county where there are more alligators than people!
The joy for me is in the writing as I believe is true of all authors. That’s why we have all these wonderful writers for readers to discover.
What are your thoughts on promotion and publicity?
Some comments from reviewers on my book blog tour for Old Bones Never Die:
The reader is taken along through the questions and twists and turns of the mystery in an entertaining and comical ride.
~My Journey Back
I can tell you that I have found a new hero in Eve Appel. She is one sassy, funny, and determined woman.
This book was so wonderful, that I hope to chat with Eve one day. She seems like the kinda character a book lover would want to know. I know I do!
I really enjoyed this book. I found Eve to be likable, spunky and determined and she is surrounded by an amazingly diverse cast of family and friends…
Just as I loved Laura Murphy in Murder is Academic and Failure is Fatal, I’m a big new fan of Eve Appel in Lesley A. Diehl’s Old Bones Never Die.
I like the mystery inside the mystery and Eve is one tough lady who is also funny and sassy.
~Bab’s Book Bistro
I think it was so cool how the author was able to create a mystery within a mystery…
~Rainy Day Reviews
Special thanks to all of you who visited the sites on the tour and who entered the giveaway. Someone is going to receive a free copy of Old Bones Never Die. Yeah!