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.
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.
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.
You 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.