My Blog Tour Was a Bust

Blog tours are all the rage right now for indie and traditionally-published authors.  My advice: think it through, and then talk to other people who’ve done them, and think it through again.

I’d heard mixed reports about them, and decided to try one myself.  Now I wish I hadn’t wasted my time.

Working with one of the tour-organizing web sites, I arranged for a two-week blog tour that ended up with fourteen “stops.”  The organizer was thrilled by the strong response. At her direction, I’d written a character interview with my lead; an interview of my own in response to a series of questions; and supplied the book trailer and book cover.

One blogger never ran a review, re-scheduled, then still didn’t run it.  Nine other reviews did run, ranging from good to excellent.  But some were cursory, and a number of them were by bloggers who apparently didn’t believe in proofreading, and weren’t very good writers to begin with.  I found the latter aspect of the tour dispiriting.  After all the work I’d put into the book, I was being reviewed by people whose writing skills were minimal?

The tour cost $200.  I also spent $75 running my book trailer for a month on a web site specializing in the genre of my book.  Was either expense a good idea? Absolutely not.  I saw no bump in sales over the previous month whatsoever.

There was a good side, of course.  I didn’t have to deal with flight delays and all the other hassles of a real tour.  But those were the only advantages, and they don’t add up to much.  With a real tour, actual people show up, books get sold, and you feel you’re making something happen, however small.

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20 Responses

  1. Thanks for your insight, Lev. I’ve been considering one, but I’ll look deeper into it before I spend any money on it.

  2. As a blogger, I personally never commit myself to a book tour if I’m not 100% certain I can contribute a good piece on time. I’m not helping anyone if I give out a bad piece or if it’s late.

  3. With so many blogs eager for guests, I doubt I’d ever PAY someone. As a matter of fact, on my own blog, I refuse to deal with publicists, etc., but only with the authors/guests (I don’t restrict my guests to writers) so there are no communication gaps.

    • I didn’t pay the bloggers, I paid the blog tour “agency.”

      • The point was, you paid for the tour. As others have said, there are so many other ways to get guest blog slots, I can’t see that anyone needs to pay for the service. I think the only one benefiting is the agency. (And you’re welcome to be a guest on my blog any time. I don’t do much “touring” so I rarely ask for reciprocation, and rarely take anyone up on their offers)

  4. Setting up your own blog tour works best, and it’s free. With all the networking we can do through organizations like MWA, SinC and other writers’ clubs, it’s easy to find bloggers who will host you, often simply in exchange for hosting them. I’ve done 3 tours of 2-4 weeks each and have been satisfied with the results. More if you wish!

  5. I’ve heard a few writers who have had successful blog tours, so I am glad to hear from the other side, from someone it didn’t work out for–not that I am happy your blog tour didn’t turn out well. The point you make about some bloggers not proofreading is a good one– there seems to be a lot of free promotion opportunities out there, but often I look at the blog and wonder if I’m going to be any better off by the blogger mentioning me, because I feel the writing on the blog is not that good. Does it help to be promoted by someone who misspells words or fails to use punctuation? That is my concern with paying for someone else to set up a blog tour, that I might be featured on a blog that (1) I would never have chosen on my own and (2) may make people think less of me than they did before they read it. (The money is always an issue as well.) But I also don’t think I have the energy to set up my own tour, so it’s kind of a dilemma. Thank you for posting your experience and insights.

  6. Terry, I paid for the convenience of having someone do the arrangements for me since I didn’t have the time or energy to canvas bloggers myself. But I’d be happy to guest on your site some time! 🙂

  7. Thanks, Lev. Depressing though your experience may have been, sharing the reality with other writers was very kind indeed. It’s hard to evaluate all these new promotional possibilities.

  8. I participate in some blog tours (as a blogger not an author) but I have a specific goal in mind for those. On the whole, I agree with Terry and Camille that you can set up a tour just as easily yourself for free. The big advantage is that you can check out the blog BEFORE you either ask for a spot or accept an invitation. You’ll know whether it meets your standards. You’ll also know that, although you probably can’t claim enormous (or any) sales from a tour, it hasn’t cost you anything—unless you do giveaways of print books or swag—and a few more potential readers have heard about you.

  9. Lelia, I would have done it myself if 1) I didn’t have 65 students to teach 2) a family health crisis 3) a book to finish. But even if it had been all free, I’m not convinced “a few potential readers” make a difference. I’ve published 24 books, one of which has sold over 300,000 copies, and all without a blog tour or any tour at all. 🙂

  10. I think for guest blog spots to be at all useful, you need a blog with hundreds of active followers and a focus that is suitable. I do the occasional guest post (I’ve never done a tour), but I’m trying to be more selective about where I submit my work. Given your experience, I would definitely hesitate to hire someone to put together a tour, unless they could guarantee quality blogs with high readership in the right area.

    • You’re right, and if I’d had more time, I would have investigated the participating blogs more carefully. That’s why I suggest authors think twice as well as talk to people who’ve done blog tours.

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