The Problem with Virtual Book Tours

(that some authors don’t even realize they have)

Blog hops, virtual book tours, book-a-paloozas or whatever you call them – book tours are becoming one of the “recommended” ways to promote your book release.

You’ll find tons of posts of how authors have used book tours to boost sales and improve their brand. In fact, I actually like book tours.

So, what’s the problem?

I’m a numbers guy – and what I really want to know is if a book tour lives up to it’s promise.  When I really started to think about it, there are at least 3 problems authors have with book tours (that they might not even realize they have).

1. Did the book tour actually do anything?

Most of the authors will say something like: ” I was doing a book tour from <date> to <date> and sold X books – so it was successful!”  But wait…Did ANY of the sales actually come from the book tour?  or was it from someone tweeting about your book?  your Facebook post? a lucky Amazon recommendation?  One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen is false attribution of sales.

How to avoid this problem: I try to use track-able links whenever I can so I know EXACTLY how many people clicked on a link.  Check out http://bitly.com – many Twitter users will already have an account! It’s a free URL shortener that also gives you all kinds of statistics and information about who’s clicking a URL. Whether the destination is your website, Amazon, BN, Twitter, or anything else…  You can use it to  generate links that go through your site  and track clicks.  (Note: I also use a WordPress plug-in called “Pretty Link” – it’s also free and can be used in the same way)

Statistics from Bitly

Statistics from Bitly

So, when you do a blog tour, for the first blog, set up Bitly link just for that blog that points back to your site.  For the next blog, create a different Bitly link that points back to your site.  See the trend?

A separate link for each blog to use and you can see exactly how many blog readers click on a link to buy your book or go to your website.  You may even have separate links for a blog that point to Facebook, your web site, twitter, Amazon, and BN!  Note: some bloggers use affiliate links – especially with Amazon.  When setting up the blog tour, just ask them to track it or let you make a bitly link out of their affiliate link.  Some bloggers won’t let you, but it’s worth asking!

 2. Some blogs have no real audience

Blog tours take time.  Time to schedule, set up, and plan – plus the time you spend writing the blog post and hanging out for the day.  You want to make sure it’s worth your time.  When setting up a blog tour, many authors look for blogs that review books similar to theirs.  They find some blogs and submit some requests… and BINGO! get accepted to blog/interview on their site a certain day.

The problem is – The blog may not get much traffic and posts more than a day old disappear.  I’ve seen blogs that get 50 hits on the first day and nearly zero after that….

How to avoid this problem: Really look at the sites you’re submitting to/requesting for your book tour.  How popular is the site? How many comments are there on most posts? How active are people?  How easy is it to find another authors interviews from a week ago/month ago/year ago?

If you can, watch how another author does with a blog tour on that particular blog.  See if it gets shared on Facebook/Twitter/Google and how many people interact.  Look over their platform and see

I’m not saying a blog needs thousands of readers (although awesome if it does!) – but just make sure that it’s not empty.

 3. The Rip-Off Blog Tour Services

There are legitimately some great services out there that will help you set up a blog tour.  Unfortunately, blog tour services are one of the latest ways “not so honest” people are separating aspiring authors from their hard earned royalties.  They charge anywhere from $50 to $2000 to authors to promote your site and set up a blog tour.   The problem – no one sees the pages and you don’t sell any more books.

Many of these services own a dozen or more sites and import content or have convinced new bloggers to be included in their service.

How to avoid this problem: Before you spend a penny on a service, have a good understanding what you’re getting.  Most will promise something like “blog posts on X sites” – so find out what those sites are and research them!   You’ll quickly discover if they have real interaction, twitter followers, and more!

 

With any promo you do – remember your goal: Build your brand and SELL more books.  When you look at any opportunity like a blog tour, be sure to ask yourself if it helps you meet that goal!

Posted in Marketing.

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