The Blog Tour and the Buzz

In this week’s New York Bookwoman piece, Dorothy James, fresh off the “road” from her first Blog Tour, discusses her experiences and offers some insight. 

Dorothy James in Cafe

The idea of a blog tour, I heard, was not to sell books but to generate buzz. What is buzz, I thought, and do I need it? 

A year ago when I was looking for ways to sell my mystery novel, A Place to Die, I discovered the blogosphere and its book reviewers. Coming from the world of refereed academic journals where books molder for eons before a recognized scholar  deigns to notice them, I was amazed to find that all over the US, to say nothing of Canada, Australia, the UK and other far-flung outposts of the English language, there are myriads of book reviewers, beavering away on blogs, in big towns, small towns and in the wilds, reading and writing, night and day, largely for fun, because they like to read books and talk about them.

Blog Tour Banner

Who are they, these book bloggers? They are everybody and his brother, or more often than not, everybody and her sister. This is the democratization of criticism. Anybody can do it. They come from all walks of life – nurses, teachers, academics, secretaries, librarians, many a stay-at-home mom. I recently came across an oil-rig-worker book blogger – and why not? Aren’t these the people you want to reach? Do you really need professional critics to approve of your book if the general public is talking about it?

But that for the author is the big question: Are enough people talking about it? This is where the idea of the blog tour comes in. Authors with generous publishers could always fly about the country, smiling, talking and signing copies. But now you, with a small budget, can go on a ‘virtual book tour.’ For two or three weeks, you smile from the pages of one blog after the other, writing guest-posts in some, being interviewed in others, reviewed in others. Keep smiling; they will not always like your book, but in your guest posts you can say what you like.

A Place to DieYou can organize your blog tour yourself, and many publications will tell you how (see Google), but it takes a lot of work and web skills. You have to create a blog tour website and contact potential bloggers yourself. You have the advantage of choosing congenial bloggers, but the disadvantage of researching for hours to find them. You have to write to them, set up a schedule and monitor it daily, commenting, thanking, tweeting, etc. I turned to a blog tour organizer, Nicole Langan of Tribute Books, who did all this very efficiently. I wrote the posts, which was fun, and some of the comments. But in any case, I liked the serendipity effect of having my book go out to all sorts of people about whom I knew nothing.

Some blogs have hundreds of followers, and since geography is no object, these followers may be anywhere in the world. For three weeks, my book entered the lives of a lot of people. They may or may not buy it, but surely this is buzz.
Dorothy James is a mystery-writer,  former professor,  and book blogger.  She lives in Brooklyn and travels frequently to Vienna, Berlin, Wales and wherever the fancy takes her. Her blog tour in February took her to some fanciful places. 

3 Comments

  1. It was an absolute pleasure to work with Dorothy on her blog tour for “A Place to Die.” She is a professional in every sense of the word, as well as a talented writer. I encourage everyone to read her Vienna mystery.

  2. Rhona - WNBA-NYC Bookwoman Editor

    Dorothy,

    Thank you so much for writing this piece! It explains beautifully, not only the mechanism, but the benefits of doing a blog tour.

    You are a dream to work with – patient, professional, and so much fun!

    Looking forward to reading your book!

    Rhona

  3. Fascinating and so cool that you did that! I’d love to host guest bloggers on my blog (The Blabbermouth http://lindapepstein.wordpress.com) but I’ve never really reached out to anyone to do it.

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