When I first realized I wanted to be an author, I found that I was easily overwhelmed by the extreme learning curve I had before me. And it wasn’t just stuff you had to learn, but also execute every day after that. To keep from getting ulcers (jury is still out on that) I told myself that if I could just learn one new thing a day, I would be okay and I wouldn’t get so stressed out that I wanted to quit.
Well, that kind of worked. Ha! But I thought I would share some of the things I learned along the way on this blog.
Sh!t I Learned Today: How to Run a Blog Tour/Release Day Blitz
For any new author just starting out, the predominant question running through their mind is likely, “How in the hell do I market this thing?” Maybe it’s your first book and you want a successful release, or maybe you hoping to increase your sales this time around. Either way, effectively utilizing and pulling off a blog tour and/or release day blitz could go a long ways toward helping you achieve your release day/week/month goals.
Release Day Blitz: A group of bloggers just post a promotional post about the book. It’s just on one day (the release day) and is meant to “blitz” readers with the book, spreading the release as wide as possible.
Blog Tour: Is spread out over a week or longer. Some “stops” have reviews and some have just promotional posts.
For my first book, The Hunted One, I paid a company to run my blog tour. It was a pretty big company, and my blog stops were at decently sized blogs. But if you’ve read my previous posts on Mistakes I Made as a New Author Part One and Two, you know I don’t believe this is the route new authors should go. It’s probably a GREAT route for authors who are too busy and need the help, but for new authors, we have the time to run our own. Sadly.
Don’t spend the money paying for something you could’ve done yourself.
Except for formatting, editing, and covers. Those you should pay someone for.
Before we start talking about steps to take and all that, remember that this is MY experience running these things. My word is not the final truth. This is just what I’ve learned to do and what works for me. If you have something that has worked for you, feel free to share it in the comments!
Also, I don’t have much experience with the blog tour side of things. So I asked Shweta from Fallen for Books to help out with her experience. She’s offered to run my FAKERS blog tour as a favor to me and is just a wonderful person in general. Her blog is great. Here is the link. And head over and like her page on Facebook.
Okayyyyyyyyyy. Let’s get started.
First Step (and maybe the most important):
You need a list of blogs. Uh, say what?!
I keep my list in Excel. The first column is the name of the blog, followed by the link to their Facebook page, and then the other columns are for my notes. I started building a list just by messaging blogs (on Facebook) and asking them to share something for me, either a teaser, release day information, sale, or free promotion. In the list, I keep up with who actually shares and who doesn’t. I keep messaging new blogs and keeping up with who shares until I have a pretty decently sized list ordered by those who have shared the most for me, down to those who don’t.
I do all this on Facebook. Why? Because this is where your vast majority of readers are going to be most active. It’s worth it to focus on Facebook and run your messaging base from there.
Now for a disclaimer: Some blogs don’t like this kind of “messaging promotion” stuff. Make sure before you message a blog that you check their “about” section on Facebook. They might have policies that you need to adhere too.
Now for another disclaimer: Some of these blogs (most of them) get A TON of messages from other authors asking for the same exact thing. So be nice. Be polite. Always, always, always take the time for thanking every blog that posts for you. And be understanding if it takes them some time to post for you. It’s not something that needs to be done THAT minute, and any help they’re giving you is help you didn’t have a second before.
As you start interacting with more blogs, make sure you keep up with everyone’s names. Write them in your note section in excel and make sure you keep messages personalized. I will copy and paste some stuff, like the “promo” I want them to share, but I try to keep the start of the message personalized. Especially if I know a certain blog pretty well.
Every author needs a list like this. These bloggers are your biggest asset.
Make sure to keep accurate notes and always add to your list. Message new blogs as much as possible. You don’t want to harass the same blog over and over again.
Second Step: Set up a Google Drive Sign Up Form
Google Drive should be your new best friend as an author. You need to create a “sign up form” for bloggers to fill out. This form is really important, because you want to sound like you know what you’re doing. Here’s what to include:
What to include in the DESCRIPTION of a sign up form for a release day blitz:
– title and author of book
– release date
– that an easy HTML will be provided and that top post isn’t required
Example from my latest blitz sign up form for FAKERS:
Thank you for your interest in the release day blitz of Fakers! This is a contemporary romance book. I will email an official release day packet including an easy HTML for you in advance that you can use on September 29, 2014. Please stick to US time zones and post the morning of Sept 29.
Top post is not required, but would gladly be appreciated!
Here is the working description of Fakers (I might change this some, so use the description in the packet on Sept 29):
Kyra Aberdeen is a Youtube sensation. Her bubbling personality and fresh beauty capture the hearts of millions each week through her videos. But she’s just faking it. Because beneath the surface is a simmering darkness that threatens to pull Kyra under some days. She masks her depression with a sunny smile and bright laugh.
When Kyra moves to Canaan Island and buys her deceased mother’s childhood home, she is hoping to confront the lurking darkness that haunts her every step. But life never goes according to plan, and when Kyra meets her grumpy contractor, Hale Cooper, it seems he’s not going to make things any easier for her. Yet Kyra is drawn to him, to a man whose every emotion plays across his face as he feels it. But she’s never let herself get too close to anyone before, and she finds herself in uncharted waters.
If she lowers her guard and allows herself to love Hale, will the darkness creep in too?
All of that general information should go in the description of the sign up form. Beneath that, you start adding questions. I mainly use multiple choice and text answers. Make sure to make the important questions a requirement. All of this is really simple to figure out in Google Drive, so don’t worry about it. You’ll figure all this stuff out when you start.
– below the description, have them fill out:
– contact name
– contact email:
– blog name
– if they want to receive and ARC for review to be posted on release day
– what format they want (ePub, mobi, or PDF)
– an agreement to post on release date (yes or no question)
– an agreement to post review on release day. But if it’s below four stars, ask them to post it on another day besides your release. Most blogs will do this for you.
Now for a disclaimer: Some authors put watermarks on their ARC copies. Or even password protect a PDF. Others don’t send out ePubs because they are easier to pirate. This is every author’s individual choice on what measures they need to take to feel protected. Remember at this point, your work is copyrighted just by being completed and written by you. Once you have the final, edited version, you can officially copyright it at copyright.gov.
Now, if you are organizing a blog tour too, you need to include some different questions in the sign up form. I’ve never tried to do both at once, but I believe it would be pretty simple. Just make sure to distinguish between them and make sure the blogger can chose to opt in for both or only one. But if you want to keep the forms separate, that makes sense too.
– things to include about a blog tour from Shweta:
– list out the days the tour will be running for. Let each blog pick what day they want to feature your blog tour.
– let them pick between a promotional post, a review of an ARC, OR a fun feature (like your playlist for the book or the cast you’d pick if your book was a movie or something different like that)
Third Step: Messaging!
Remember that list of bloggers you’ve got going? Message them with the link to your Google Sign up Form. Ask them very nicely if they would like to sign up. Send them the cover of your upcoming release and the blurb so they know if it’s something they would be interested in.
Fourth Step from Shweta: Time frame!
Set a time frame for how long you can send out the link. Maybe set a goal for how many bloggers you want. But make sure you give yourself enough time. Shweta says that bloggers should have a month to read and review an ARC, and the blogger should get their packet 10-15 days out from the actual tour. If you are doing a special post for them (like the cast of characters or playlist) make sure you send that too. Don’t wait for the blogger to ask you for it. They need all this stuff in advance so they can schedule posts.
Fifth Step: Organizing your packet aka your email to bloggers
This is where things get stressful. Shweta says it can take up to one entire day just to organize all the blog tour packets for each blog. You will have the blogs separated (in your Google Form) by what post they are doing. For the group who is posting promo posts, you could message them all together. Same for review posts. Just stay organized. Keep up with who gets what.
A SPECIAL, VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: When you email bloggers (or anyone for that matter) always, always, always use BCC, aka, blind carbon copy. It’s an option in your email recipient section. It’s just more professional. People don’t like their emails being passed around.
So now let’s get into what you need to include in a packet to bloggers. REMEMBER: when I talk about a “post” and the easy HTML for it, I mean that you are literally going to put together a blog post for these bloggers. This applies to the release day blitz post and a separate post for each blog tour post type. I make these posts on my WordPress blog as a draft post. This makes it easy for me to copy and paste the HTML. I’ll get into that more later, but just remember that you are not just emailing these bloggers your information. You are putting together a complete packet for them.
Sorry if this starts to get confusing. Hopefully by the end, it’ll make sense.
Things you need to include in a “packet” for bloggers. These go in the email as separate attachments.
– easy HTML post
– a word document of the blog post (I do this just so bloggers can see the layout. In this document, you can include an empty spot for a review. This empty spot is for the blog tour stops that will be doing a review.) This also serves as a one-stop-shop of information for bloggers in regards to your author bio, synopsis, etc.
– all pictures you used in the post, like teasers, covers, etc. Separately attach these.
– buy links (any that you have already. If you use Amazon’s preorder option, then you will have some already. If you use Smashwords, and did a preorder, then you will have all of them. But if you don’t, you need to make it clear that you will email links the night before the release day or whenever your book goes live. This gets tricky and annoying, but do the best you can.)
– giveaway information. A lot of authors will do a Rafflecopter giveaway for release day events. Make sure you include the prize information (US only or international?) and the link to the rafflecopter.
– and the blog tour schedule so bloggers can have a reminder of what day they are on and all that.
So I’ve talked about what goes in the actual email to bloggers. Let’s talk about what goes in that “post” you’re making for them.
Here’s what you need in your “post” for a release day blitz:
– title and author
– cover pictures
– promo image/banner
– teasers and excerpts
– about the author and important links (newsletter)
– other books by that author (amazon link)
Here’s an example of my release day blitz post for The Only One, third book in my End of Days series.
Make a separate post for the blog tour too. You have bloggers that signed up for a promo post, a review post, or those special posts. For everyone who signed up for the promo post, send them the release day blitz post you made. Just adjust it to say Blog Tour blah blah. Instead of Release Day Blitz Blah Blah. Then make a post for the reviews and leave an empty spot for the actual review. And then make posts for each “special” interview that people signed up for.
Basically, you will be making a lot of blog post drafts in your WordPress or whatever else kind of blog you use. If you don’t have a way to create a blog post, I suggest you open a free WordPress site. You don’t have to promote on it or even use it, but it will help you when doing stuff like this. You can trust the HTML it makes and you can play around to make your posts pretty.
Sixth Step: Following up on release day
Most bloggers will email you links to their post as they schedule them. You can keep up with things this way. Personally, I’m not that much of a control freak. I get that life can interfere with things, so I believe that if any blog didn’t post, they have good reason. And they don’t need me freaking out on them. Some blogs won’t post a review of the book even if they signed up for one, because they didn’t like the book. No big deal there either. Not everyone will like your book. How you keep up with who posts and who doesn’t is up to you. You have all their information in the Google Sign Up form, so use that if you need to.
So, as you can tell from this very long post, running a blitz/blog tour is just about staying organized and being professional. It’s not super hard, but it can quickly become overwhelming. Stay on top of things. Give yourself enough time. And don’t procrastinate.
Here are a few tips from me and Shweta:
1. Shweta: ALWAYS be courteous.
2. If it’s your first blog tour, keep it simple. Only ask a few blogs to be on it at first. Maybe ten? That way, you can keep up with things easier.
3. Run your blog tour a week or so after your actual release date. Your blitz will happen on the ACTUAL release day (obviously), but a blog tour could bring a nice little bump in sales after your initial release.
4. Shweta: Whether the blog is big or small, any exposure is worth it when you have a new book.
5. Use your WordPress blog to copy and paste the HTML for the easy HTML part. If you have a blog, this is simple for you. When you’re building the post, you can just go to the “text” part of the post and copy all that HTML. Here’s a screen shot.
6. Shweta: Some blogs run tours pretty cheaply. Shop around for prices. If you are exchanging swag for a tour, be fair to the blogger. This takes a lot of time.
Ok! So this was a lot of information. And this post is SUPER long. Ask any questions in the comments, and I’ll make sure to answer them! Remember, this is trial and error. Keep things small at first and build up. Stay organized. Keep your head. Always be polite.
Thanks y’all! Hope this helps.