Elizabeth Dulemba

Blog Book Tours
(As seen in the September-October '07 SCBWI Bulletin)
by Elizabeth O. Dulemba

     I first ran across this new marketing idea at Tracie Vaughn Zimmer’s blog. She was on tour with her new release, Reaching for Sun. Suddenly she was popping up in interviews on several of the blogs I follow, including the highly popular A Fuse #8 Production by New York librarian, Elizabeth Bird. Each interview included links to other blogs hosting Tracie. It seemed revolutionary ­ what a great way to utilize the blogosphere as a marketing tool.
     I did some digging and managed to track down the blog book tour’s source in the kids lit world. Tracie first heard about the idea through John Green’s tour for An Abundance of Katherines.
     “Anytime you can have a discussion about YA books with people who read and understand and think critically about YA books, I think it's always a good idea,” John said, although he admits he borrowed the idea of a blog book tour from Frank Portman, author of King Dork.
     “What do you do when you can't afford a book tour? Do it on the internet!” Frank said. “Andrew Krucoff, whom I knew from blogging and from my band, coordinated it. Most blog book tours I'd heard about before I did mine were low-key, somber affairs. (And I'd never heard of a YA one.) Our idea was to try to bust into the greater pop culture world beyond the "lit" blogs.”
     In today’s market, word-of-mouth is the most powerful mode of promotion, and herein lies the attraction, it’s what blogs are all about. Blog book tours are suddenly quite popular as a quick, inexpensive way for famous (or not so famous) authors to get the word out about their new releases to an exponentially growing audience. Obviously a successful author with strong contacts will have access to more popular blogs, making their exposure more effective, but anybody can jump on this bandwagon.
     I talked to my children’s book marketing group and we decided to try it for ourselves. At first, everyone was a little fuzzy on how a blog book tour works so we created a model. Five bloggers agree to interview one author/illustrator in a one week time period. Each blogger is assigned a day to post their interview. Within their blog post they include links to the other blogs along with a cover image of the featured book, an image of the featured author/illustrator, a link to the author/illustrator’s website, a link to where the book can be purchased, and of course, the interview. The interview can be about the author/illustrator’s new book or their methods and journey into children’s publishing.
     We kicked off our efforts with Joe Kulka’s new picture book Wolf Coming!
     “I was honored to be the guinea pig of the blog tour,” Joe said. “Last Sunday my sales ranking at Amazon was dipping into the 500,000s. It now is at 80,000. Somebody is buying some books, and I have a distinct feeling I owe it to the blog tour.”
     In my marketing group we are leaning on each other to host our tours, but some authors approach popular bloggers and ask to be hosted.
     “It was both terribly easy to arrange and a painless way to get some face time,” Tracie said. “Basically you just ask (sweetly, of course) bloggers if they'd be willing to host you. Then, you answer their interview questions (and most had read the book already). Post where you'll be on your own blog (if you have one). Voila!”
     Since Elizabeth Bird has her nose to the children’s publishing industry like few others, I asked how she felt about this new marketing endeavor.
     “At this point in time no one has been able to assess the amount of influence blogging has on actual honest-to-goodness sales,” she said. “But even if the tours don't reel in heaping helpfuls of money, at the very least they allow first-time authors (and established geniuses) the chance to go and put their name out there. That's worth something.”
     As with anything new, there are naysayers who accuse blog book tours as ploys to create content (the essence of any successful blog), while others accuse it of out and out pandering.
     “Pfui,” Elizabeth says. “As long as the blogs have an active stake and interest in the person doing the tour, I cannot see a downside.”
     Although blog book tours are a rather new concept, they are catching on and popular bloggers are being inundated with requests to host authors. While not as significant a request as a book jacket blurb, a blog tour request should still be approached professionally. If the blogger isn’t familiar with your work, have your publicist send a review copy of your book. Also be prepared to hear “no” as bloggers become more selective about who they choose to promote.
     Want to start your own blog book tour? Either gather some friends who blog, or seek out popular bloggers you think may be receptive to hosting you. Line up enough interviews to fill a week, then coordinate with the bloggers to link to each other’s blogs. To avoid sending readers into endless scrolling, have everyone update their links to each post’s static URL (or specific web page address) as the interviews come in. Most importantly, as interviews are posted, talk them up on your own blog!
     Blog book tours are great promotion for you and your latest book and can also be good promotion for the lesser known bloggers who host your interviews. It’s a win for everybody involved.
     Want to see some blog book tours in action? Follow the kick-off dates in each blogger’s archives to visit these tours:
     Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (April 2, 2006)
     John Green (September 21, 2006)
     Frank Portman (April 14, 2006)
To see Blog book Tours I've participated in go to:
     Joe Kulka
     Dotti Enderle
     Kerry Madden
     Ruth McNally Barshaw
     Kim Norman
     Barbara Johansen Newman
     Karen Lee
     Alan Gratz
     Elizabeth O. Dulemba (Me!)
     Terry Pierce
     Anna Levine
     Kirby Larson
More are coming soon, so visit my blog and click on the category “BlogBookTour.”

More Articles on planning Blog Book Tours:
     The Quickest Blog Book Tour Guide Ever
     5 Tips To Get Massive Exposure For Your Book With Blog Tours
     All Artwork © Elizabeth O. Dulemba -  Y'all play nice, Okay?