I’ve conducted six blog tours over the year and learned a great deal from each one. However, I wanted the opinions of a couple authors who just recently completed blog tours. Marvin Wilson just finished a tour for Beware the Devil’s Hug and Alex J Cavanaugh just finished one for his first book, CassaStar. The boys were good enough to answer some questions and I threw in a few thoughts of my own…
How far in advance do you contact hosts? What goes into that first contact email?
Marvin - I contact hosts at least 3 months in advance of the tour, so that I can have the tour schedule completed by 2 months before it begins. Even 6 months in advance is not too early.
Alex - I was fortunate most of my hosts offered. I contacted bloggers 2-3 months before my tour, including my book’s information and link to the trailer and my own bio, and asked their preference of guest post or interview.
Me - Some blogs book spots up to six months in advance, so the bigger the blog, the sooner you need to contact them. You should also be a follower and leaving comments before asking for a guest spot, too. I contact mine 3-5 months before the tour with a polite email inquiry.
What do you look for in host sites?
Alex - Blogs with many followers are good, but ones with lots of comments are best.
Marvin - Traffic, average number of comments per post, and if the blog's topics are on point with what the book genre is in. Also the quality of the host's posting.
What’s the best ‘length’ for a blog tour?
Me - Ten to twelve stops with no weekends.
Alex - I was told two weeks although mine spanned for almost three. Fortunately I didn’t lose steam near the end.
Marvin - I think 2 weeks. I tried a month once, and people just lost interest - traffic fell off after 2 weeks. Since then I've used the 2 week schedule and it builds nicely without fading at all.
Once you have the topic/interview questions, what’s your turnaround time? What’s the latest a host should receive your post?
Marvin - Well if it's something I am supposed to write and provide, I try to get it to the host at least a week ahead of the post date. If the host is doing something independent of me, then that's up to him or her, of course.
Alex - I tried to complete everything the month before my tour started. I didn’t want to panic my hosts and once the tour began, I knew I wouldn’t have time.
Me - All hosts receive my post/interview just before the tour begins, if not sooner.
What’s your blogging schedule before and during the tour?
Alex - Intense! Before my tour, I was blogging 3-4 hours a day, and during the tour it was closer to 5 hours a day. I checked in several times a day for each stop and left comments, but I also went back to posts that were several days old. I was amazed how many continued to gain comments!
Me - The worst thing you can do prior to or during a tour is shut down for any reason! That’s when you need to be the most active. I’ve had the misfortune of a couple physical events scheduled during a tour, and it’s tough to manage. During a tour, that needs to be your only focus.
Marvin - For at least 2 and up to 4 weeks before the tour I actively promote the upcoming tour on my blog, facebook, twitter, Yahoo groups, all that ... then during the tour I make myself available off and on all day and into the early evening, responding to commenters and visiting the other tour hosts' blogs to encourage them to keep actively involved with the tour and get their readers interested in following it as well.
What do you post on your site during the tour?
Alex - I announced the day’s visit and thanked everyone for visiting the previous stop. I wanted to give my followers more than just a ‘go here’ though, so I included a short post each day. I was participating in NaBloWriMo at the time, so it wasn’t difficult. My hosts had lots of visitors and my own site maintained its normal level of comments.
Marvin - I usually just post an announcement of where the tour is happening that day, with a link, of course, and a brief enticing summary of what's happening to help drive traffic to the host's blog. I also have a link to the (my) blog's "Contest and Prizes" page so people can see how to win prizes during the tour.
Can you share some of the stats from your last tour?
Marvin - The average number of comments per stop was nearly 30, with some still coming in - the tour generated such interest some people are still hearing about it, logging on and checking out the archived posts, leaving comments. But the big stat is the book's Amazon ranking at the beginning of the tour was way down in the 2 millions, and by the end of the tour it had risen to in the top 90,000! I't creeping down again a bit now, but many peeps commented that Hugs is now on their shopping/TBR/Christmas list that I know sales will benefit from the tour for quite some time.
Alex - On host sites, I averaged 35 comments and the greatest was 70 comments. Several hosts told me it was the most comments their site had ever received. My own site enjoyed 60 or more comments a day and I crossed over 400 followers during the tour. I don’t know the exact numbers, but both the print and eBook version of my book went above 10,000 in the sales ranking on Amazon and my book trailer received several hundred new hits.
What’s the secret of a great blog tour?
Alex - I think it’s a combination of things. Selecting a good variety of hosts, with interesting (and sometimes humorous) posts and interviews, is important. Interaction is vital as well. You have to interact with those who comment. Promoting isn’t my thing so it was difficult for me to tell others ‘hey, come check out today’s stop.’ So, I guess it’s also important that your followers like you and think you’re interesting enough to check out your tour!
Me - Making it a win-win for everyone involved. Yes, you’re placing yourself in front of another blogger’s followers (and are counting on them to read and comment) but you have to bring your followers as well so the host benefits from new readers and followers. And if you’re not promoting your tour, creating great guest posts, and pouring your all into the tour, it’ll be a bust.
Marvin - VARIETY and CREATIVITY! Nobody wants to follow a tour where all the stops are the same old same old. Author interview after author interview ..... boooooooring! Make a list of possible formats and ask your hosts to add to the list, get imaginitive. On the Hugs Tour we had a few author interviews, yes, but also interviews with different book characters, book reviews, guest posts by me on several different topics, characters doing interactive scenes (not from the book, but situational 'what if' kinds of things) with each other, one post the host interviewed me and the main character from the book on the paranormal and spiritual, things like that. No two stops should be the same, all stops should be entertaining, unique and informative, and the tour's schedule should follow a theme with all the variables tying together into a harmonious whole.
Thanks guy! Please visit Marvin and Alex’s blogs and tell them thanks for taking time to answer these questions when I'm sure both men are exhuasted from their fantastic tours!