This post, from Yen Cheong, originally appeared on her The Book Publicity Blog on 6/11/09.
An interesting discussion emerged on Colleen Mondor’s blog Chasing Ray a couple days ago about the blog book tour and in particular who schedules them and how they are set up. I caught the tail end of the discussion on Twitter.
Blog tours aren’t new — this New York Times article from a couple years back explores one author’s blog tour experience – and sites like Blog Book Tours or this post at The Dabbling Mum contain some excellent information about what exactly a blog tour is. But beyond that, I thought it might be useful to look at how blog tours are set up and how they differ from online publicity in general.
First, the basics: for those of you who attended the book blogger panel at BEA, you will have heard the blog tour explained as an author going from blog to blog (rather than from store to store as they would on a traditional book tour) which is a great, quick way to explain it. Depending on the author and the blog, coverage may consist of any of the following: book review, Q&A (either posted or live) or book giveaway and then I’m sure some bloggers have gotten creative and come up with other ideas. Blog tours, like traditional bookstore tours, will feature a designated number of “stops” — often 10 to 20 blogs — and can roll out over the course of a week or a month (or whatever other length of time that has been decided upon).
Here’s some more information about blog tours.
How do blog tours get set up?
Blog tours are typically set up either by the publicist of a book or by blog tour companies / coordinators. Since it takes time (and expertise) to schedule blog tours, publishing companies sometimes feel it is worthwhile to pay a third party — an online marketing company, a freelance publicist, a blog tour company, etc. — to set these up. (We’ve been doing this for years with the broadcast industry — we hire companies to set up a series of radio or TV interviews, also known as radio or TV “tours.”)
Although typically book publicists ask authors not to contact the media directly, different rules apply to (some) blogs. For example, Natasha from Maw Books Blog, mentions that authors sometimes contact her directly to schedule a “stop” on a blog tour. (Other bloggers may prefer to work directly with publishing houses — many bloggers will have information about how to contact them on their sites.) Sometimes, a group of bloggers may come together on their own and contact the author (or publishing house) to schedule the tour.
Regardless of who sets up the blog tour, the end result is the same.
What’s the benefit of a blog tour?
As with radio and TV tours, blog tours enable a book and author to generate buzz for a book without having to travel.
How is the blog tour different from online publicity?
A blog tour is simply one type of online publicity. One difference between a blog tour and online publicity in general is timing. Blog tours start and end on designated dates, the goal being to generate a certain amount of publicity within a certain amount of time. A general online publicity push, on the other hand, could start months (or weeks) before the publication of a book and could end months (or weeks) after.
Also, while the goal of online outreach is to generate any coverage of a book — from a mention to a full-fledged review or interview — blog tour “stops” will typically skew on the more robust end of coverage, e.g., a post rather than a one-line mention.
Are bloggers paid to participate in the blog tour?
No — paying anyone to cover any books would be unethical. (Paying for ads is a perfectly ethical practice, of course, but with PR, coverage — good or bad — should come free). To clarify — since this can get confusing – with blog tours (or with radio or TV tours), publishing houses aren’t paying bloggers (or radio or TV hosts) to cover a book; we’re paying someone to schedule the tour: finding blogs that would be appropriate for the book, arranging dates for the reviews / interviews, reporting back to us about who is running what when, etc. It’s like we’re paying a party planner to put together a party and the guest list (but we don’t pay guests to actually attend the party).