Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blog Tours and How To Screw Them Up Pt. 2

A quick moment of self promotion: I've got another book out! Love in Darkness, the sequel to Castles on the Sand is out and $.99 this week.
Alex had everything when he was with Madison. But the darkness within him wouldn't go away. After two years apart, he returns to Pelican Bluffs and to the girl he never wanted to leave. 
Madison wants to give their love another chance, but Alex can't fight fate. He is what he is. Ruined. Crazy like his mother. And Madison deserves so much more. When his secrets spill out into their small town, Alex has a choice to make. Hide away in the darkness forever, or let love in.
Head on over to any major book retailer for your copy!

And now on to the second installment in my series about how not to treat book bloggers or conduct a blog tour. Part One is here. Again, I'll use the same outline as my friend, noted book blogger, Ritesh Kala, used in his I'm a Blogger... series. Today I'll go over the points he made in I'm a Blogger... pt. 2.

In this post, Ritesh gets a little more general about what to do when publicizing a book anywhere, so it's got a broader focus than just blog tours, but nevertheless, the advice applies to blog tours as well.

6. Put Out A Good Book: Everyone, not just book bloggers, is tired of slogging through badly written, badly edited books. For this, let me take a business person's perspective. As far as the arts goes, novels and publishing are one of THE CHEAPEST types of venture. Think about it. Would you try to produce a film without getting the right camera, the right editing equipment, and putting your best foot forward to film festivals? Even with all the advances in digital filmmaking, it's pricey. Consider painting, or music, or quilting, or... well, you name it. In comparison publishing is pretty darn affordable. Do not try to break in for free. Invest in yourself, and I'd suggest setting aside a budget of $1,500 to spend on 1) editing 2) copyediting 3) cover design 4) formatting 5) publicity and marketing. If that dollar figure makes you choke, then indie publishing isn't for you. If you don't think you can sell enough books to make that money back, then your book isn't ready for prime time.

A publisher would spend upwards of $15,000 or more on a novel, and that's a novel they aren't investing much in, to be honest. There the author got almost no advance. So if you're into indie publishing to be more cost effective, that can work. If you're into it because you refuse to part with any money, you're not in indie publishing. You're in vanity publishing. All you will gain is the right to say you have a book out. Period.

I'll add one caveat, you can do this for cheaper if you train yourself, but that means a serious training investment. I've got the full Adobe Creative Suite on my computer and have studied Photoshop and InDesign pretty extensively. Thus, I'm as qualified a cover designer and interior formatter as most people who hang a shingle out, and starting next month, I will have a shingle out as a book designer. People have started coming to me to ask how I make my interiors as pretty as they are because I don't just do it competently, I do it better than most, and that was my aim when I decided to do it in-house. Two of the three novel covers I've designed have made it to the top #300 books on Amazon. Another good example is Colleen Hoover who had very little money, couldn't afford a cover designer, but spent twelve hour days blogging and interacting online to do her own publicity. She compensated for what she couldn't afford in cash by investing vast amounts of time. That can work too.

7. Help the Blogs in Return: Bloggers and authors should have a mutually beneficial relationship because they're after compatible goals. The author wants to sell more books. The blogger wants more traffic to their site. Hence, you want to drive people to the blogger's site, and the blogger will in turn drive them towards the sales listings of your books. There are some very simple things you can do to show proper gratitude:

1) Tweet, FB link, and link the review from your blog. I link the reviews a couple of times because this creates backlinks, which helps the blogger's blog rise in search engine results. With twitter, I tweet the review regularly; right now given how many reviews and content about my books is out on the web, you'll see the same tweet about a review every 10 days or so, and I intend to keep doing that regularly for a very long time. Thus, bloggers who reviewed you two years ago still get a little residual traffic trickling in and will be more likely to feature you in the future.

2) When on a blog tour, make a Twitter list of all the blogs participating and RT their tweets for the duration of the tour. Make them like hosting you because you drive people to their site.

3) And most importantly, when a blogger features a guest post by you or an interview of you, keep that page open in your browser for a week and refresh it a couple of times a day. Answer any comments that come through, again creating interaction and thus more hits on the page. The blogger has given you a forum to interact with new potential fans. The appropriate thing to do is to make use of the opportunity, and I let me tell you, this can earn you big brownie points with a blogger.

8. Don't Demand Reviews: Bloggers are, like anyone else, people with lives. They have dayjobs and families and lots of books they want to read. It's not unusual for a new book blogger to bite off more than they can chew and end up unable to read and review all the books they take on. Always show some class in this situation. Understand that this isn't them bailing out on you, this is them trying to help everyone and getting overwhelmed. There are only good motives here. Also, here's a chance to learn something important: Was your book one of the ones they got to no matter what? The top selling books are the ones that were, and that has more to do with your writing and your book than you may want to admit. If your book wasn't that book this time around, note the ones that did make the cut and get glowing reviews and learn a little more about the market for your next project.

There are enough rude writers out there, that being a polite one will yield results. Not everyone I've followed up with has reviewed my book immediately, but some sure have. When they realize that I'm not seething or about to snap at them, they want to work with me. They know I won't do something diva-ish and offensive. Unfortunately, that does make me stand out from the crowd, and it'll work for you too.

9. Price Competitively: This is just marketing advice. Know your market and know the price points. Know where you are in the grand scheme of it all. I'm more established as a writer now than I was a year ago, but I still need to keep a book or two at $.99, because that's the kind of clout I have. It's limited. I may be "Amazon bestselling" thanks to the day one of my novels spent on the Kindle Top 100, but that alone doesn't make people flock to my books. Most people have never heard of me and hence are taking a chance. I need to make that easy for them, and that's just the way it goes. People who set their prices high will attract fewer readers curious to try something new.

A book blogger doesn't want to advertise books that their readers won't buy. It's a wasted post for them if they write up a review and get a bunch of comments that say things like, "$7.99?!? No way!!!" And a book blogger can't afford negative reviews any more than a writer can. If they're not blogging about books their readers will go out and buy, they aren't successful. You need to help them be successful.

10. Don't Go To War: There have been a few flame wars that got so big the parties to them are famous, so I don't know why people take so long to learn this. Do not fight back against reviewers or readers. There's one simple truth here: they don't work for you. They work for other readers. You try to push them around? They don't care, or they just get annoyed. They are entitled to their opinion and have a right to broadcast it. Fight with them and you appear petty and small and worth avoiding at all costs. Even if it's a positive interaction, be VERY careful about responding to a review. I'll respond to someone who asks about when a sequel's coming out, sometimes. Once someone posted a very apologetic negative review and I replied to say they had nothing to apologize for and I appreciated them being honest. Even that is walking veeeeery close to the line. Readers and reader reactions are not something you should try to influence in any way other than shoring up your writing skills and doing a better job on the next book.

Needless to say, book bloggers will not work with authors who start a flame war. It makes the site look bad and gives the blogger more headache than anyone deserves. This includes calls to fans to downvote bad reviews and upvote good ones on Amazon and appeals for "white knighting," which is when someone else goes to bat for the writer and takes on negative reviewers. As sweet as this may seem, if you catch it happening, try to put a stop to it. Express gratitude, but invite the person to take the high road. It's too easy for people to assume that's a fake account you made, or a friend or family member behaving unprofessionally.

The link to Ritesh's post, again, is here. I'll be back when it's my turn to post next with more on this series.

And again, Love in Darknessthe sequel to Castles on the Sand, is now out and is $.99 this week. Go check it out!

11 comments:

  1. Great advice, Emily. I soaked up every word. Yer an asset to the crew, an' that's the truth!

    What percent of your time is spent contacting and working with book bloggers, considering all the time you spend on your writing?

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca!

      It probably averages out to an hour a day, but varies a lot from day to day. Many days I spend no time on it, but today I spent entirely on doing guest posts and interviews and filling out an application for a blog tour. Also, over time the nature of what I do has changed. I used to submit to blogs individually and send out queries. Nowadays I hire a blog tour service to handle this and spend more time writing content for the blogs that host me.

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    2. Great points, all, and I'm glad you added that last tidbit EM in answer to Rebecca's question. I've seen a big shift in the last year to authors using blog tour services, and I've done the same. I'm also using NetGalley to reach reviewers. It's just too time-intensive on everyone's part to individually query book bloggers (generally speaking), so the services provide an efficiency the system was lacking before.

      I like your points about continuing to tweet out reviews and such long after they post. I haven't done this, and I should - or at least keep track and occasionally tweet out reviews and such. Again, it's a time factor, but I always make sure I thank reviewers and tweet/FB/Pinterest at least once, as well as check back for commenters.

      Great post!

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    3. Thanks, Susan! Re: having tweets go out, I use Hootsuite which lets me save tweets. I've got a big long list of saved tweets and I just go through them in order, doing a few a day, so that I get around to all of them over time, and the more content I put out on the web, the less repetition there will be in my tweets.

      And I'm on NetGalley too, thanks to you giving me a heads up about a slot. For which I am MOST grateful!

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    4. Ah. I've used Hootsuite, but I didn't know you could SAVE tweets there. VERY useful. Thanks for the tip!

      I hope you're having a good experience with NetGalley - some of my authors are getting some unprofessional reviews, but my personal experience has been pretty good. Although the actual review rate seems pretty low to me - I think it's akin to giving away free books, for the most part! (Of which I'm not averse)

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    5. Yeah, I've yet to upload an unpublished book to NetGalley, so I'll have a much better idea of how it works when I do that for my launch in the fall. The head of our team is very selective about who she gives books away to, which I think is great that she's putting in that kind of time.

      And yes! To save a tweet in HootSuite click the icon of a old fashioned floppy disk below the entry field (wonder if that icon means *anything* to people under 20?)

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  2. Woohoo on the new book, Emily! I have a Nook, and I'm trying to get it through Barnes and Noble, and I'm not having much luck. Any suggestions? And thanks for the awesome info on blog tours!

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    1. Oh really? Stupid B&N. This link doesn't work? http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-in-darkness-em-tippetts/1115375631?ean=2940016471211

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    2. Thanks, Emily! That link worked and I bought it. However, I just did a search on Barnes and Noble under E.M. Tippetts and it's still not bringing up this book, just your others. (It does work with the title and a little searching.) Thanks for the help!

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    3. oh, yeah, they take forever to update their search engine thingy. It's always slow to add a new book to the results. Thanks for being persistent, though! Hope you enjoy the book.

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