Blogger Thoughts: Blog Tours

So I was debating on doing a post on this but thought it might be worth talking about to get a better idea of what everyone thinks.  
A majority of blog posts that aren’t my own content, come in the form of guest posts.  Namely, blog tour posts.
A blog tour, for those that don’t already know, is an online tour of various blogs and websites usually over a week or two.  Each day a new post goes live with some sort of exclusive content on a subject from the author, a book extract, interview or feature.  The idea is to give the readers an insight into a book or author and, ultimately, promote a new or upcoming book release.  Often these tours are put together by the publishers or a PR company, though much more recently I have seen authors organising their own.
A while ago I decided to stop signing-up to every tour going and be more selective about the kind of posts I want for my blog tour stop.  Once Upon A Time I would just say: “Sure! Sign me up and I’ll take whatever you’ve got!”.  

Not anymore.

I wonder how much blog tours ACTUALLY help promote a book and if people even want to read/follow a tour.  I find them interesting, but even as a blogger I know there are certain kinds of posts I won’t bother reading.  “Exclusive extracts” hold no interest for me because I’d rather just read a whole book when it arrives.  Sometimes I’ll take part in posting extracts if I’m really behind an author or want to show my support, but would rather pick another kind of post.  People rarely read them.
Interviews are great but only when the questions actually give information that hasn’t been rehashed in every interview I’ve already read.  This is partly why I have my 20 Random Questions feature because it’s silly, fun and a laugh but it also gives an author a chance to answer questions they probably haven’t before and gives a reader a look at an author in a way they haven’t before.  
Special posts that relate to the upcoming book and its themes in it can be really interesting to read but not every time.  Sometimes I find my mind drifting and wondering if there are any biscuits left in the cupboard.
Now my rant:

Lately, on the last few tours I’ve done, I’ve been contacted a few days later for the page view numbers for the post.  This is very much a new trend.  I wonder why they need to know the figures?  Am I, as a blogger, having my card marked with low numbers or are the authors.  Are my posts being used as testing ground for publishers own blogs?  

I have happily given the information, I’ve nothing to hide, but it does have a bit of a strange whiff about it in my opinion.

I think tours have lost their charm and didn’t do much anyway so why are they still going on?  They’re easy to do.

A blog tour should find a way of uniquely showing an author off to an audience.  Not making them just another face in the crowd.  You want to see their personality and then think “oooo, I’d like to see them at an event and read more by them”.  I think blog tours aren’t being used to their full potential and thus are getting very samey.

There needs to be less confined rules about what authors can do for tours and posts and give bloggers a chance to interact with the authors.  We can discuss ideas and perhaps come up with something really unique for us both.  I’m not saying that all tours are the same, because they aren’t.  I will say that, many do seem very much alike in content and don’t have enough flare that’ll get people talking about it, or the book.

I think my main reason for posting today is to pose some questions to you as authors, publishers, bloggers, readers and people at large.
Do you like blog tours?
What kind of posts do you enjoy/not enjoy reading?
Do you even think that a blog tour has any effect on books-sales?  Is it a good and valid form of promotion?
I think that a blog tour shouldn’t just be hashed together for the sake of it or even just added to the list of jobs to do in the run up to a book’s release.  A blog tour should have things in it that someone will actually want to read, not just ticking boxes with standard features from the catalogue.  A tour shouldn’t go on forever!  I’d rather see a tour of just 4 or 5 bloggers than a month-long tour of every person on the contacts list.  I’ve seen some tours go on endlessly and 3 bloggers posting all on the same day.  It feels like there isn’t a personal touch to the tour at all, plus I’ll never read them.
I’d love to hear thoughts on how you’ve found blog tours from your individual point of view and if you’d like to see more of some things in them or less of other stuff.
COMMENTS PRETTY PLEASE!

22 Comments

  1. The stats would really annoy me because I can't give accurate stats. Yeah I know how many people viewed the actual post page on my blog, but some people read it on the main blog page (I don't usually shorten posts) and I have no idea how many of my email subscribers read their emails and Feedburner is so random with RSS figures these days.

    I don't do that many really. I have to be into the author or think they have someting interesting to say. I have been saying yes to straighht giveaways but they're starting to be more hassle than they're worth too!

    I wrote a post a while ao on things I think make a good blog tour: http://www.curiositykilledthebookworm.net/2013/03/how-to-experience-good-blog-tour.html

  2. M

    I rarely accept guest posts where I/we haven't been involved in pitching the direction of the questions or themes. We only do blog tours for something we're heavily supporting: either an author, book, event or curiosity about a topic/theme. I prefer one offs and no set formula. I hardly ever pay attention to web stats.

  3. Funny you should have this blog post because I'd posted a lengthy missive on Facebook about blog tours yesterday. I think I won't be doing another one. The blog tour I had for STUDENT BODIES really didn't help promote the book – I'd used a blog tour service to organize it – what a waste of a hundred bucks. I was contacted via Twitter by someone who said they'd won my giveaway but they couldn't get the blog tour organizer to respond to their emails. I too haven't received a response. So yeah … I won't be doing another one.

    • I'm sure there are good blog tour hosts out there, but I've been underwhelmed in my dealings with them as a blogger personally. I find it far easier going via someone at the publisher, or directly to the author, to discuss features/interviews.

  4. I didn't know how blog tours worked until I read this post. I'm nowhere near a big enough blogger to actually be involved but as someone who darts about blogs a lot and spends a lot fo time on Twitter, I find that very few of these propesed blog tours catch my attention enough to get me to want to read them. Another author talking about their book? Interesting, but there are at least two others of these in my feed alone so I'm going to bypass them for the discussion piece over *here*. I'd rather read a discussion by an author on a topic than another promotion of a book. I prefer to see where the author stands on a topic and learn about the book that way, rather than the other way round.

    As far as stats go, I'd not be terribly comfortable giving those out. Like you said, if they're not high enough would that mean I'd have a little black mark beside my blog's name and hear nary a word from the publisher ever after?

    I think the temptation would be to see a blog as the blogger's only outlet for mentioning a book and helping pass on the word. If their blog isn't heavily trafficked they could get black-marked, but then, what if that blogger is actually a librarian, or a bookseller, or someone else in the bookish industry? Someone who can reach a huge number of people just not online? The online community can be a wonderful thing, but bloggers should not be judged solely by their actions online.

  5. I'm with M here – I don't really do blog tours, unless they're for something I really want to support. I think the only two I've done in the last few months are Ingrid Jonach's When The World Was Flat (And We Were In Love), as it was for Strange Chemistry and they're my favourite publisher/imprint, and Celine Kiernan's Into The Grey – for an author I really enjoy reading.

    I'd also be very uncomfortable handing over stats – as Ellie says, I have no idea how many people click through to the article itself, and how many read it on my front page.

    Overall, I much prefer to try and grab interviews/guest posts 'as and when' rather than take part in a tour.

  6. I've actually been thinking about this sort of thing a lot, both as a blogger and as an author. I just interviewed a bunch of self-published authors for my blog series, Perpetual WIPs, and asked them which posts do best, and they mostly said Reviews, Top Ten Lists, and Giveaways were the most helpful. (You can read the whole thing here, if you're curious: http://dailydahlia.wordpress.com/perpetual-wips-2/perpetual-wips-self-published-authors/q05-blog-tour/)

    As a reader, much as I want to support my fellow author friends, I just can't bring myself to read posts about/by the same people every single day. As an author, though, I realize it's possible each of those posts is hitting a different audience, so I have to imagine there's *some* impact. But I don't really know. I agree I don't care to read extracts, or rehashings of the same review questions over and over, but I tend to like playlists and I do occasionally read reviews. I expect I'll do some sort of blog tour once my book gets closer to release, but I don't really think there's much point in it being longer than a week, especially if it'll be duplicating any of the same kinds of posts.

    • I guess it's possible that each post is hitting a different audience, but I'm not sure it's all that likely. Looking at Twitter, I have 1274 followers, SisterSpooky has 1305. I may be totally out, but I'd guess that there's a fairly big overlap in those followers – especially in people who read our blogs regularly. Widening out to other UK YA bloggers, I think an awful lot of the regular readers are reading a large amount of the same blogs….

    • I was part of Marcus Chown's blog tour recently, and that had such a variety of blogs, some book bloggers but also science and personal bloggers. I think something like that could work really well if an author can tie in their work to different areas. From the author's point of view, they should be trying to reach new audiences that may not usually shout about books. S&S do something similar with their Books and the City; they target young women into fashion who might also like books.

  7. In the last few months I've completely gone off of blog tours. Like you say, they tend to be same-y content and interviews where the questions and answers are more or less similar (it's why I love your 20 random questions feature so much!)

    I was also getting a little uncomfortable with the idea that with most blog tours we get invited to take part before we've even read the book – I understand why this happens but it plays a big reason in why I decided to stop hosting them.

    Like everyone else I'm not too comfortable in handing over my stats – I've only ever been asked to once (not part of a tour but to 'update their database') but I wouldn't like to do this too often.

    Like Jim I tend to get posts on the hop – when I really like a book / author – instead of taking part in a tour.

  8. As an author who has had his books feature on blog tours, I've found the format to have a touch of the dark arts. I know some publishers feel this way too, although they wouldn't publically admit to it. Often there's no way of knowing the impact of the tour, or indeed the reach of the articles. Added to this the quality of bloggers out there is quite wide-ranging too, with some putting more into these blog tour articles than others. I recall my own tour featuring a mix of in-depth pieces where the bloggers had really got into it, and others that were lightweight in the extreme, leading to annoyance from the publisher.

    (A nice gimmick we had was the evolving drawing of a Werewolf which was sent on from blogger to blogger in the real world, with the blogger adding to the doodle, scanning, posting and then forwarding on!)

    Personally I think it's hard to beat a bonafide interview article where blogger and author have exchanged thoughts. There's usually more genuine sentiment there with the blogger interested in the author's work, and I have to say those bloggers who've interviewed me (looking at you, Jim) have shown a tremendous degree of integrity and smarts. The appeal for me to do interviews as opposed to tours is the chance for a genuinely original question.

    Great topic!

    • Thanks Curtis! I definitely think that those type of interviews are by far the best (although I'm clearly biased!) and for that reason, I agree with Jesse that being asked to sign up prior to reading the book is a problem for me. I was lucky with Ingrid in that WTWF(AWWIL) provided me with some really interesting questions (at least in my mind!) but I'd have felt in an awkward position if I'd read it and not felt there was anything I particularly wanted to ask her.

      I remember your Wereworld tour with the drawing, by the way – that was very cool, and one of the best uses I've seen of a tour!

  9. Spooky's 20 questions method sounds ace – I did something similar recently with another blog, where I got to choose a dozen out of 20, but would be intrigued to see what yours are m'dear.

    And yes, Jim – signing up to a blog tour before you've reviewed a work puts you in an onerous position. If you don't like it, what do you do? What do you say? You do right to steer clear if you're uncomfortable – again, it's an integrity issue.

  10. I actually don't mind blog tours, but I do tend to use my own posts for it. I have a certain list of author guest posts that the publishers tend to use, so they fit with what I would have on the blog anyway.
    What I really don't like is the trend for asking for my stats. I understand why they do it but it makes me feel like a child in school who has failed all her exams!

  11. I'm getting a little bit bored with blog tours as well, but a lot of the blog tours I take part in usually go along with features that I already host on my blog like Bookshelf Requirements.

    I usually accept blog tour invitations when the book fits into UKYA or is an author that I've previously read and enjoyed books by as it can be hard to gauge whether or not it'd be a good fit before reading the book.

    I really don't like extracts at all. The giveaways are nice but I wish they would go together with something more interesting rather than sitting on their own in a blog tour. Some interviews can be really interesting (character interviews etc) but most bloggers tend to go with very samey interview questions as well 🙁

    I think what blog tours need are some really creative and new ideas. Make it a rule that music playlists/extracts/fantasy cast lists are no where in sight and start again with fresh ideas that tie in with the books.

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  13. You know I had to weigh in on this one for a number of reasons.

    My second novel, West of Sunset, is about to be released. But for those of you who don't know, when I decided to do a virtual book tour for my debut novel, Hollowstone, I didn't expect anyone to be interested. Shockingly, it turned out to be a huge success and one of the biggest honors was when Sisterspooky invited me to stop here as part of my blog tour.

    My two cents: Anyone who opens their blog to a writer, publisher, what have you, is a privilege not a right. I am a guest in someone's home and they didn't have to invite me. So whatever it is they're wanting from me, I'm happy to provide. Guest post, I'm happy to do, 20 questions, I'm happy to do, whatever works for the host and her readers, you let me know.

    Asking for a page counts and stuff like that, I think is absolutely ridiculous. Again that is your house, and the author is the guest. Unless you're being compensated monetarily or something like that, they have know business coming at you like that.

    Anywho, count me as another author cosigning on your points and thanking you again for the wonderful work you've done.

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