Recently I did two blog tours for 66 Metres, one in the US and one in the UK. I’d never done a blog tour before, so was intrigued to see how it worked and what was the result. What I wanted from the tours was more exposure, more reviews, and more sales. I had no idea how to organise one myself, and after spending quite a lot of time getting turned down by bloggers (too busy), and one or two bloggers to agree, I decided to have someone organise them for me, and duly doled out some cash.  Just to be clear, the cash is for someone to organise the tour – the actual bloggers’ reviews are independent and honest (they don’t get paid), and so can be positive or negative.

Both outfits were very professional, and had similar requirements. I had to give all the links for the book (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads) as well as a bio, a photo, and links to my website and Facebook page. I was also asked for an excerpt or two, and a couple of guest blogs (e.g. one was about three of my favourite books). I also had to send electronic versions of the ebook, in ePUB or PDF format, which I got from the publisher.

Both outfits created a ‘banner’ which advertises the Blog Tour, and they set up an agenda of bloggers, one or two per day, over a period of 1 week (UK) and 2 weeks (US). Then I sat back and waited for them to happen…

The UK one was first, with Thick as Thieves (Crime Book Junkie), in July, and was a blast. From the first blogger’s review, everything kind of exploded on twitter, with the first review and then the second being retweeted by many, many people. Roughly a hundred tweets per day. I was having a hard time just keeping up, and saying thank you or simply liking the retweets etc. I gained a couple of hundred new twitter followers in the space of a week.

The reviews were also generally very good, between four and five star. Some bloggers clearly loved the book, others were more measured, but always finding something great to say about it. I ended up with ten more reviews on Amazon, which was great and meant that I comfortably passed the 30 reviews barrier with an average 4.5* rating.

Blogger reviews, as I’d realised from the two who agreed prior to these tours, are a little different from normal Amazon customer reviews. Bloggers read A LOT of books, and so their insights are often deeper and more genre-savvy, so I paid a lot of attention to what they said, particularly if they thought an aspect was special in some way (e.g. depiction of underwater scenes), or hinted at where there could be some improvement. As I’m writing the third book right now, I’m still frequently looking over what they said, making sure I deliver and hopefully nudge them up to 5 stars next time.

It was also clear that, in the UK at least, there is a tremendously supportive blogger community. I was impressed, and by the time the survey had ended I had already booked another one with the same outfit.

Oh yes, and sales. They did increase. I was happy because there had been a bit of a slow-down prior to the tour. Almost as soon as the tour started, there was not so much a spike, more of a consistent surge that continued throughout the week. And the good news is that sales have continued, they haven’t simply gone back to where they were in June, for example. 

The second tour was at the end of July, over a fortnight, in the US, with Partners in Crime Tours (PICT). Again very professional, very helpful. Because this was over a two week period, there was a mixture of reviews and ‘showcases’, where an excerpt is shown etc, but no review. Again, there was a lot of twitter action, mainly about the giveaway that came with the tour, so that 4 people could win Amazon vouchers or a copy of the book. I did feel the blogger community was less connected, but still, there was a lot of chatter, and again I got another couple of hundred Twitter followers, most of whom still seem to be following. One thing that was different with the PICT tour was a radio interview in New York, which I telephoned into from France. This was really good fun, and quite animated with radio host Fran Lewis.

On the sales side the US tour did not have the same effect. However, it may be simply that the book is $2.99 in the US, whereas the most competitive price in the US is $0.99;  in the UK 66 Metres is £0.99, so maybe it isn’t a fair comparison. What I did get was some more reviews on Amazon (about 7), which tipped me into double figures in the US. Maybe if the book had been called 218 feet, I’d have sold more copies, lol. In any case, I have booked a second tour with PICT for 37 Hours, as the US market is important, and while the UK is my home market, I want the books to have a presence in the US, too.

One other thought I had about the Blog Tour process. When trying to market your book, people tell you to use Twitter, and Facebook and Instagram, etc. However, after a while I run out of new ways to say ‘Hey, buy my book, it’s great!’ Like many writers, I’m not actually that ‘into’ social media, and I don’t want to spam people. I also don’t want to badger my friends and family into reading my books and giving me reviews (though many of them offer, thankfully). I found that the blog tours took the pressure off me for a while, which is especially important right now as I need to write…   

What’s next?

Well, there are some more tours coming up, for 37 Hours, and for 88 North when it comes out in December. Here are a couple of rather snazzy banners for two of the tours, including the one that starts next Monday, which I’ll be following closely…

My final word is a HUGE thanks to the bloggers who make this all possible. Thank you for your passion to read, and your ability to critically review. You are an important part of the writing and reading business model that I never knew existed. Nice to have met you 🙂