Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Week Forty-Three: To Blog Tour or Not to Blog Tour?

A book blog tour is when a writer promotes a book at a different blog every day for a set number of days, often during a crucial time in the life of their book, typically publication week or month.

I've had various book blog tours in the past, always organised by my publishers around publication week, and though I'm sure they helped get my name out there a bit more, I don't recall any massive sales boost during the tours or in the immediate aftermath. They are lovely for the ego, but can take a great deal of energy to prepare for - all those blessed blog posts and endless Q&A's that steal time away from actual writing - and it can become very repetitive, going on Twitter or Facebook each day to point people towards the latest blog stop.

Blog stops can involve some fun and interesting posts, it's true. But also they may result in some same-old, same-old posts, or a few less than exciting questions, like 'What is your favourite colour?' or even, 'Where do you get your ideas from?' (See this post for more about that old chestnut!)

So if, a few months ago, you had asked me if a book blog tour was worth the expense and hassle, I would probably have murmured, 'Unlikely, no.' But very quietly, as I know many people - publishers, in particular, and book bloggers, in general - put great store by such promotional tools, and rejecting that opinion can make you look like a Difficult Author.

However, something happened last month that has drastically changed my attitude to blog tours. Possibly forever.

My latest psychological thriller, FORGET HER NAME, came out with Thomas & Mercer.


To celebrate this event, and in the hope of reaching a wider US readership than I've enjoyed so far with my psychological thrillers, I decided late last year to pay for a blog tour.

It felt like a gamble. A real shot in the dark. But for several years I had been online friends with a lovely blogger called Rachel Gilbey, whose enduring love for my romcoms (written as Beth Good) had made me love her in return and got me to the sweet spot where I was pretty much inclined to trust her with anything. So when she started running blog tours, under the fun name Rachel's Random Resources, I became interested in the idea of asking her to run a tour for me. But being a busy person, I kept putting it off. Until FORGET HER NAME was nearly due out, and I thought, what the hell, and sent Rachel an email ...

Rachel is a total star. And a hard-working star at that. She asked me for a few basic details about the book, and some jpgs of me and the cover etc, and charged me an extremely reasonable fee. She did everything else at that stage. She asked around her blogger friend contacts, and got together a group of bloggers interested in my book and willing to take part. She sorted out dates for each blog stop, and made a poster for the blog tour. She also sent me a list of blog posts I would need to write - about nine in total - sorted out review copies for everyone, and which blogs would carry reviews or just straight promo for the title.

And for some weeks, that was it. I forgot about it. No sweat, no worries. I just cracked on with writing my next book. Until the deadline for my blog posts approached, and I had to sit down and write them.

That was quite hard work. But nothing comes of nothing, so I did my best to make all the blog posts lively and informative and strongly differentiated from each other. I sent the posts to Rachel, and she liaised with the bloggers on my behalf, and again, that was it. I just sat back and waited for publication day. No hassle!

Publication Day dawned. There were three blog stops on that day, all promoting FORGET HER NAME, and it was the same every day for the next fortnight. (Rachel very kindly allowed me a longer tour than most, as so many bloggers were keen to be involved, which was nice.) All I had to do was retweet bloggers' tweets and occasionally mention the tour myself ... Though I'm sure I could have got away with not even doing that. Except I was enjoying the process too much to take a back seat.

Rachel's Random Resources blog tour was the only promotion I had for the book. But it worked. Boy, did it work!

FORGET HER NAME rose steeply into the UK Kindle Top 100 almost immediately. Later it reached the Top 40. It rose into the top 2000 on Kindle US, higher than any other of my books previously, except for a couple of one-day Bookbub promotion spikes organised by my publisher. The first month sales figures blew me away. And my publisher was pretty pleased too.

But it didn't stop there. Although FORGET HER NAME has since settled into a nice position just above the UK Top 100, its stablemate LOCK THE DOOR, my previous thriller from 2017, has shot past it into the Top 100. In fact, at the time of writing this post, LOCK THE DOOR is at number 14 in the UK.

LOCK THE DOOR at #14 overall, and #2 in Women's Fiction, 26th Feb 2018

Although other factors may be at play here, including a price reduction to £1 by my publisher, I also attribute that massive success to Rachel's blog tour. Especially since I've been able to promote my books using some of the lovely quotes from bloggers that you can see in this post! (Which Rachel also organised for me, another of the useful services she offers to save busy writers time during promotions.)

So the blog tour was a catalyst for the success of my backlist thrillers, which are now all selling strongly after a few lacklustre months. And I don't think any of that would have happened if I had not reached out to Rachel and booked a blog tour with her excellent service. Running a launch tour with Rachel's Random Resources is the best thing I could have done for my book, and has made the publication of FORGET HER NAME a resounding, spectacular success.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Rachel, and ... I'll be back!!

And if you are a writer considering the expense and hassle of a blog tour, I would certainly recommend taking the plunge if you have a book which might respond to that kind of promotion.

Yes, it costs. But not a massive amount. Not given the possible success you could have. (Unless you have to pay for review copies or a Netgalley presence.) And yes, it's hard work when you have to write blog posts for the tour. But you can ask for a tour without author-contributed posts, or just write a few and request reviews or promo for the rest. And I can testify to the fact that it is wonderful to see bloggers' reviews going up on Amazon, Goodreads and Netgalley within days of your book's publication ... There is no guarantee that bloggers will give you the thumbs-up, of course. That's the risk you take when giving out free copies in large numbers. But I was lucky and most seemed to enjoy my book!

Getting the word out on your new book, or a backlist of books, is always difficult. But when you can hand over some of that work - if not the bulk of it! - to another person, especially someone as friendly and efficient and gifted at working with others as Rachel Gilbey, then you should find launch week a little less tiring than usual.

Not to mention the chance of it being mind-blowingly successful!



1 comment:

  1. Great post Jane. So interesting. Rachel is brilliant, she’s already done a book anniversary promo for me which was hugely successful and has organised a two week tour for my new book The Best Boomerville Hotel which is out on 13th March. Wishing you continued success (and Rachel) . Caroline x


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