The blog tour for the first book in my YA mystery series, Monkey Arkwright, has just ended. The tour was brilliantly organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and as a lot of indie authors are in a similar position to me – i.e. seeking ways to give their hard work a bit of publicity – I thought that I’d share my thoughts on the experience.
This is part 1 of a two-part report, where I go through the nuts and bolts of what went on before and during the tour. In part 2 of the report, I’ll be analysing what the bloggers said in their reviews.
Why I chose to do a blog tour
Like many indie authors, after moderate success with sales of my first book, I’d hit an impasse in terms of reviews and sales. Analysing my sales graph on Amazon is like mapping the topography of the Netherlands. Or in other words – flat as a pancake.
Monkey Arkwright was published in November 2017, and I published the follow-up, Black Hearts Rising, in February 2019. As I’m signed up to Amazon’s KDP programme, I thought that the trick of giving the first book away for free would be a great way of selling the second book. So I paid various sites to promote my giveaway periods, the largest amount being $40 to E-Reader News Today (ENT), and I did indeed manage to shift over 700 units. However, I saw no noticeable uptick in sales of either book after this experiment and decided that whilst free giveaways may work for some, they didn’t for me.
As I approached the release of the final book in the series, it seemed that engaging the services of a blog tour organiser would be the best way to generate some publicity for my book series.
Selecting the tour host
I am a member of the Book Connectors Facebook group. If you are an indie author and you are not already a member of this wonderful group, then I suggest you join. There are a lot of supportive authors and bloggers on there, and you get plenty of good tips and opportunities to engage and promote your work.
Reading the daily posts on the Book Connectors group, I noticed that there were a few blog tour sites that regularly cropped up as being recommended by my fellow authors. Rachel’s Random Resources was one of these sites, so that’s who I picked as my host.
Selecting my tour
There’s a dazzling array of products on offer, but reading the various descriptions on the site, they generally follow the same pattern. I decided to go for the 7-Day Review Only Tour, which cost me £55.
I sent an e-mail to Rachel and waited for the response.
Dealing with Rachel
Whatever else happened on my blog tour, I can honestly say that dealing with Rachel was a breeze. She was always responsive to my e-mails and it didn’t take long to set up the tour.
I was required to send copies of my book (I sent mobi and pdf versions), plus cover art, author photo and various other bits of information that are pretty standard for any publicity exercise.
What the tour offered
Once I’d submitted my information, Rachel took over. She created a tour banner and added a dedicated page on her website before inviting potential bloggers to sign up for the tour. You can see my tour page here.
Now came the most nervous part of the experience – the blog tour offered a minimum of 5 bloggers and a maximum of 21 bloggers, but if the minimum quota is not met within 5 days of Rachel’s first e-mail to bloggers, the tour is cancelled and you get a 90% refund.
It’s not that I was bothered about losing £5.50 (the 10%), it was just that if there weren’t 5 bloggers interested in my work when a professional tour organiser offers them a copy for free, what hope is there for selling my book?
The waiting (as Tom Petty once sang) is the hardest part….
Before the tour
It turned out that I need not have worried. In fact, the period before the tour was quite exciting. I checked the tour page after a few days and was relieved to see that seven places were already filled. After this point, I began to check the page daily, and it was great to see new additions here and there. It didn’t take long for the tour to fill, at which point Rachel sent an e-mail telling me what would happen next.
At this point, I must confess to my first minor disappointment. The tour that I’d paid for was a “review only” tour, but the e-mail said that out of the 21 bloggers, 12 would be reviewing and 9 would be providing promo spots. It would have been nice if all 21 bloggers were to provide a review, but being philosophical about things, I probably should look at the 9 promo posts as a bonus. After all, the tour could have gone ahead with just 5 reviewers and I’d have still paid the same money.
All things considered, I remained excited for what was to come – the tour was on!
During the tour
Promo posts and blogger reviews appeared throughout my 7-day tour. Rachel did her bit by retweeting links to the posts at regular intervals, and it was good to see some of the other members of Book Connectors retweeting and liking the various posts. As previous noted, I’ll cover what the reviewers said in a separate report.
There was a slight lull in the middle of the tour caused by some no-shows. Between days 3 and 5, 4 out of the 9 bloggers did not post. Maybe this is an acceptable loss for tours of this type, but a strong finish with 5 superb reviews over the last 3 days left me feeling pretty good about the whole experience.
I was very happy with how the blog tour for Monkey Arkwright turned out. Rachel was an efficient and effective tour host, I got some fantastic reviews and made contact with a few bloggers that may be mutually beneficial in the future. Whilst there was no obvious impact on sales, I do feel like I’ve gained a little of that hard-to-get publicity in what is a very crowded space. If you are an indie author in a similar position to me, I’d recommend giving a blog tour a shot.
Rob Campbell is the author of the Wardens of the Black Heart trilogy (“Monkey Arkwright”, “Black Hearts Rising” and “The Well of Tears”) — a mystery series that will appeal to fans of 80s films such as “Stand By Me” and “The Goonies”, where people stumble across strange things in the woods or uncover dark secrets hidden in the abandoned places around a small town.