Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How to Book Your Own Blog Tour, Part 2: Recruiting Bloggers

Previous post - Part 1: Planning Your Tour

Today is Day 2 of my week-long series on how to book your own blog tour. Here's what you're going to get out of this crash course:
  1. Planning Your Tour
  2. Recruiting Bloggers (This post!)
  3. Keeping Yourself Organized
  4. Kicking Off the Tour
  5. Wrapping Up the Tour
This is Samantha, and I'm using the following examples as we talk through how to book your own tour:

My July 2015 blog tour
 ran for two weeks and had eight stops.

My October 14, 2015 cover reveal
 ran for one day and had fourteen participants.

To add to my copious list of qualifications (as well as, apparently, to further inflate my already bloated ego), I'd like to turn your attention to the fact that for a year, I ran a book review blog accepting self-published novels. (I should probably mention here that many book bloggers do not accept self-published novels for reasons we are all aware of and which are beyond the scope of this particular series.) So when I talk to you like I know what the inside of a book blogger's inbox looks like, well, it's because I do.

Believe me. It's not pretty.

More Planning. Yes, I Said More!

Let's talk for a minute about how busy you are.

You're busy, right?

And what do you hate more than anything in the world?

Overcooked asparagus, spiders that menace you from dark corners when you're stumbling into the bathroom in the middle of the night, and spam.

Spam can come in many forms, and since we're not actually talking about you in this blog series, we're talking about how to recruit bloggers to your book tour, let's get back to talking about bloggers.

Bloggers, bloggers, dear, sweet bloggers, who have opened their inboxes to all manner and sundry of micreants. People sending them requests for reviews even when they don't do reviews. People adding them to email lists unrequested. People demanding things, being rude about things, being downright confusing about things.

Rule #1 of emailing anyone: Don't be that guy.

"So what's your point, Samantha?" you're asking. "I get that I shouldn't be that guy. I won't be that guy. But what does that have to do with planning?"

My point is this. The next thing you need to do before sending out emails to poor, unsuspecting bloggers is to write a short, polite, and to-the-point introductory email.

Using an extremely few number of words, you need to explain these key things in your first email:
  • Who you are,
  • What you want from them, 
  • What they're going to get out of participating, and
  • What you're offering specifically. Those dates we talked about yesterday? This is where you communicate them.
The third item (what they're going to get out of participating) will be part of what you're conveying with the second and fourth, but you need to keep it in mind. When you get something in your inbox, what do you think? "I certainly hope this is more spam that is asking me to do something that will waste my time"? No, you don't. You think--subconsciously--"What's in this for me?"

In this instance, what you're offering to the bloggers is 1) to bring content to their subscribers that they don't have to expend energy creating themselves and 2) a chance to advertise their blog outside their own sphere of social media influence.

Aha! Yes! That little tidbit we'll bring back in a couple days when we talk about what to do when the tour is going on, but it's super key. If you have an impressive number of **REAL!!** Twitter or blog followers, you can point it out as something they'll get out of it. If not, that's ok. If you're pitching HuffPo, well, good luck, but most bloggers aren't going to care. Most of us are just trying to scrape out a meager little corner of the interwebs, so we're all in the same boat.

An Extremely Few Number of Words

We're all busy. I think I've said that before. I'd check back above, but I don't have time.

Don't ramble on in much the same way this blog post, to an extent, is doing. Don't copy and paste the blurb from all fifteen of your books into the body of the email. Don't make them hunt and search for what you're asking buried in fifteen paragraphs.

I recently received an email from a book-related mailing list that I signed up for at some point. It went on a bit about their organization and then it said, “Would you like to help with an awareness campaign on Amazon?” OK, I have no idea what that means. Not only that, but I don’t care to figure out. I'm busy. I've got things to do: this blog series to write, a book to edit, a critique partner's novel waiting for my feedback, a short story languishing in my head, and another book outline to work on.

Do not be vague.

Instead, tell them exactly what you want in a manner that they can say "yes" or "no" to. Don't be shy. You're going to get a ton of no's by way of non-responders. That's life as a writer. If you don't want to get rejected, you need find a new profession. In fact, telling your "cold calls" exactly what you want is going to work in your favor. You're not their crotchety old aunt Betty who will complain about them at the Thanksgiving dinner table if they don't reply to your email. They have no obligation to wade through your head-scratching prose to get to the point.

Get to your point. Get them to the "yes" or "no." You do that, and you'll see yesses.

An Example: Hello, Good Blogger, My Name Is Samantha

Here's the email that I used to round up participants in my blog tour last spring. This is a format I shamelessly plagiarized borrowed from Kate Tilton, a fabulous author assistant for whom I reviewed books many times during my book blog days:
Subject: SFF author seeking guest post, interview, or review on your blog

Dear [Blogger],

I found you on [Name of List]. I’m an SFF author, and I was wondering if you would you be interested in any of the following:
  • Author interview or guest post (unique to your blog) during my tour in July
  • Cover reveal in the fall of my upcoming release
  • Free review copy of my book, Guarding Angel (available now), and, if you enjoy it and want more, the upcoming sequel, Reaping Angel (available early 2016)
If any of these opportunities sound like something you'd like on your blog, please let me know.

About Guarding Angel
Genre: Adult Paranormal (Contains adult content—further details can be provided)
On Amazon – 4.3 stars
On Goodreads – 4.0 stars

[Book blurb]

Thank you for your time,
Samantha Saboviec
I'm not going to go on about all the bits and pieces of this email because you can read it for yourself, but see what I'm saying? Short and to the point. You know what I'm asking. You can say "yes" or "no" to this. There's no hunting or wondering or head scratching.

A note on bulleted lists: Use them to your advantage. They draw the eye. But since you're a writer, you know all about white space and paragraphing, eh? *wink wink*

Oh, and use their name. It will take a bit longer to find it, and in some cases you won't find it, but if you actually send out an email that says, "Dear Blogger," so help me, Flying Spaghetti Monster, I will hunt you down and make you eat your entire spam folder. In the cases where you really can't find it, just leave off the "Dear" part.

Where Are Those Secret Lists You Promised Me?

I didn't forget the lists I promised yesterday. Lo and behold, here they are! Because I'm a self-published author, they're skewed in that direction. You're welcome.
After booking my tours, etc., I've gotten through #1 and started on #2. The further into the archives you go, the more likely you are to find dead links. So it's a short list of lists, but it will take you a long time to get through them.

Please note: If you don't take a long time to get through them, you're not getting a refund on this course. Don't even ask.

Uh. Now What?

Glad you asked. Now you start sending out emails and getting ready for the tour. Nothing to it, right?

See ya later, alliga--

Oh, you want some more info? Well, let's get into that tomorrow. You've already got some homework to do. When we reconvene, I'll talk a bit about organizing your campaign and responses.

Questions, comments, concerns? Post 'em below.

Next post - Part 3: Keeping Yourself Organized


S. L. Saboviec grew up in a small town in Iowa but became an expat for her Canadian husband, whom she met in the Massive Multi-player Online Role-Playing Game Star Wars: Galaxies (before the NGE, of course). She holds a B.S. in Physics, which qualifies her to B.S. about physics and occasionally do some math for the sci-fi stories she concocts. Her dark, thought-provoking science fiction & fantasy contains flawed, relatable characters and themes that challenge the status quo.

Her short fiction ("I Am NOT Little Red Riding Hood") has appeared in the webzine Grievous Angel. Her debut novel, Guarding Angel, received an honorable mention in the 23rd Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards: "... A fascinating story of a particularly loving guardian angel. Overall, the writing is emotionally grounded, character-focused, and technically superior..." The sequel, Reaping Angel, is available now.

You can call her Samantha.

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Andrea Rand said...

Thanks, Samantha for posting about this. I'm a newbie to the indie author scene, and your information is extremely helpful. Looking forward to the next post! :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad you're finding it helpful!

J Lenni Dorner said...

What if the book is currently in ARC, and doesn't have stars on Amazon (or elsewhere) yet. Should a tour only be planned after the book has been out for a while?

Unknown said...

I'm not going to tell you I have the answer, because I'm far from a marketing expert. However, I PERSONALLY would schedule a tour starting the day of or shortly after the release date, if you can handle the work load. (I'm not this time because I don't have time... But that's just me personally.) People like shiny, new books, and you want to have something out there for them to buy right away--if you do a tour prior to the release date, then you've wasted the "buy it!" impulse by not having something for sale.

You could also use my email template just to solicit review of the book. Including that it's an ARC ups the interest factor.

J Lenni Dorner said...

That makes a lot of sense. I have seen a few PR people suggesting getting the "hype" going BEFORE the release. It didn't seem logical to me. Getting people to remember to buy something a week or a month later? I suppose there's something to be said for pre-sales, but with an ebook, would a majority of people remember it when it loads on the ereader later? (I'm not even sure there's such thing AS pre-sales of an ebook...)
Good stuff. Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Thank you Samantha for sharing Kate Tilton's Book Bloggers! It's a really great group of people and I'm glad you were able to be a part of it :)

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