Welcome to a new feature here on Adria's Romance Reviews. I know everyone and their grandmother gives their opinions freely these days and that's fine because every one is entitled to theirs. All I'm doing is throwing my own opinions/suggestions into the mix. Sometimes they'll be on topics that are serious in nature but other times they'll be silly little things that we can debate and chat about (hopefully). So I hope you'll stick around and become a regular on these posts!
Building a Productive Blogger/Author/Tour Company Relationship
Everyone has an opinion about blog tour companies, I personally think that when handled correctly, Blog Tours not only help authors promote but they can be fun to participate in and they help bloggers get visitors to their blogs and of course, introduce bloggers to new authors and books.
Did you catch how I said when handled correctly? Yep, that’s what I said.
Just like in everything, there are good tour organizers and bad tour organizers but in my opinion, there are the inbetweeners. The inexperienced blog tour organizers that just need a little push in the right direction to be a good organizer. Just like there are good bloggers, bad bloggers and inexperienced bloggers. It’s not just a black and white scenario.
So why am I talking about this? Well, for three reasons: 1.) Because of those inexperienced organizers. 2.) To hopefully help authors pick someone that will please both them and the bloggers who want to participate in their tours and 3.) To help inexperienced bloggers (which I still consider myself) get to a point where they are not only able to participate in blog tours but also enjoy them! *cracks knuckles* So here we go!
Almost anyone can start their own book tour business and that’s great because with all the great authors out there, there should be a broad variety of tour companies to choose from. But just because anyone can start a tour business doesn’t mean they should. It’s a lot of hard work.
My blog is small in comparison to some of my friends’ blogs, yet I get a lot of invites to be a host for so and so blog tour organizer and see a lot of promotion on Facebook and Twitter for many more. However, as a blogger I can honestly say only a handful of those companies are worth signing up with as a tour host.
Most bloggers I know have a personal list of “Do’s and Don’t’s” that they use when opting to sign up with a tour company. While chatting with them about tour companies I noticed that a few very specific points were brought up that don’t always have to do with the organizer themselves. Since a successful blog tour depends on the three parties involved: the organizer, the author and the blogger it’s only fair that I include the main issues that seem to pop up constantly. I also want to be clear that I am NOT bashing anyone! I am simply pointing out some of the issues I or other bloggers have had.
1.) Authors: Bloggers like unique/exclusive content. It’s only fair. We’re giving you space on our blogs for free and if the blogger has a reputation for providing unique or exclusive content then having the same post as 12-20 other blogs is not only a letdown, but it can annoy their regular viewing audience. I have a blog, but I am also an active blog surfer and I can honestly say that whenever I see a tour that just gives out generic material or has 3-4 posts that are getting recycled, I immediately stop following the tour. As a blog follower, I do not want to see the same material over and over again, it’s dull, boring and says to me that the tour isn't going to be all that interesting. Now, I understand that authors are very busy. Contrary to what non-readers might think, an author does not make a living off of their books. Most of them have regular jobs and families so I get the time crunch, but authors might I suggest something? If you know in advance of a book’s release that you are going to want to do a blog tour, why not start writing different guest posts? For example, if you know three months in advance, why not start writing them then? One guest post a week should be enough to cover blogs requesting a guest post. You can also limit the amount of guest posts to fit the ones you’ve already written. I personally don’t care when the post was written as long as it pertains to the book being promoted and isn’t the same as 9 other blogs.
2.) Tour Coordinators: With the exception of cover reveals, bloggers do not like being given tour materials any later than one to two weeks before the post date. Bloggers have lives outside of the computer and life can leave the blogger with little or no time to post without any notice. It takes time to set up a post and sometimes while a blogger is setting up the post, we’ll notice a problem or have a question. We need time to e-mail you with our concerns and get a response back so that we can fix the issue. Giving bloggers tour material 1 or 2 days before their tour date is a sure fire way to make sure that blogger doesn’t sign up with you again. Some of us would rather miss out on a great tour than be frustrated because materials were not delivered with enough time to set up. Providing an HTML copy/paste post can save a blogger from not having the post up on time but not every blogger likes to use them. My opinion is to provide one if you can, especially if you're running late with sending out materials. I will admit to using a provided HTML when it comes to cover reveals because most of the time, those materials don't come in until the very last moment, which is understandable.
3.) Tour Coordinators, Bloggers AND authors: This is an obvious one for me and my blogger buddies but apparently not to everyone else. It is NEVER okay to give, let alone sell bloggers’ e-mail addresses to other companies or authors without permission. We DON’T like it. When we sign up with your tour site we are signing up with YOUR tour site. Not your friend’s. You might think that it’s “just an e-mail” but it’s not. It’s rude, annoying and you’re violating the trust the blogger had in you when they gave you their e-mail address and allowed you to e-mail them about YOUR work or YOUR company. In case you’re not aware, you can BCC e-mails if you are sending out a mass e-mail. That way, no one’s e-mail is exposed to someone who might in turn, sell our e-mails. If you don’t know the difference between CC and BCC then you can check out this very helpful website. If a friend or fellow author wants to contact us, ask us first if you can give them our e-mail address, if they have material that pertains to our blogs, there’s a chance we’ll say “yes.”
4.) Tour Coordinators: Keep your website updated often. The two coordinators that I am host for, Tasty Book Tours and Goddess Fish Promotions both have lists of active/upcoming/open tours that are easy to find. In fact, both sites are very easy to navigate which is something I appreciate. If your site is clean and organized, then I know I’m going to be interested in signing up with you again and again. Also, I need to know who it is I'm working with so an "About Me" page makes it a little more personal. I don't need to know what you look like so a photo of you isn't necessary but a name and a little about you would make me feel like I'm working with an actual person and not a ghost.
5.) Tour Coordinators: Be honest. When a blogger e-mails you because they haven’t received their tour packet or their guest post or interview questions yet, don’t blame the author/publisher by saying they haven’t sent it to you when in reality you just forgot to send it. I don’t know how every blogger will react but I can honestly say that I understand that things get hectic both with a tour company and real life so things are going to slip your mind once in awhile. I will understand if once in a while you say “I’m sorry, I forgot to forward you your materials.” As long as it’s not a regular occurrence, I won’t hold it against you at all. Just be straight up with me. On the flip side, Bloggers: You need to be honest too. If you just couldn't get a tour post up because you were too tired, too busy or you forgot, own up to it and try not to let it happen again. Tour Coordinators are trusting you that when you sign up for a tour that you will have the post up on your scheduled date and a good tour coordinator will understand if, once in awhile, life kicks your butt and doesn't let you do much.
6.) Be professional and polite but friendly. This one goes for all three parties. Bloggers, don’t be demanding if you have to remind an author or tour coordinator to send you your materials. A polite, friendly reminder will suffice. Just like we like to remind publishers/authors that we have a life outside of blogging, they also have a life outside of publishing/writing and organizing tours. If after you remind them and your materials continually don’t come through during tours then it’s time to reconsider continuing with that tour coordinator or working with that author.
7.) Bloggers: Be honest with yourself. Do you have time for this tour? Will you take your time reading and reviewing the book or are you going to half ass it just to say you participated? If you don’t have the time to dedicate to a book then don’t sign up or sign up for a promotional stop if it’s available. Remember that tours are to help promote a book and the author so do your best and don't overwhelm yourself with tours (I've done this and believe me it could suck the fun right out of these tours)
8.) Bloggers: I can’t believe I have to actually say this but DO NOT REDISTRIBUTE REVIEW COPIES! Aside from being illegal, it’s just wrong. Authors and publishers trust you to keep the book to yourself. Don’t be a jerk and ruin it for the rest of us.
Let me be clear that this post is strictly from a blogger’s point of view. I would love to hear what authors and tour coordinators think makes for a productive blogger/author/tour company relationship. Do you know of a tour coordinator that is awesome to work with? Let me know who and why!
Also, please be sure to stop by on October 2, 2014 to see what Lisa Filipe, the owner of Tasty Book Tours has to say about the tour coordinator/blogger/author relationship! Yep, I was lucky enough to snag some time with her for a quick interview!