In November of 2013, I decided I wanted to try some promotional marketing for myself. I started looking around at the various book tour groups online, trimming down to a list of four or five. These all had one thing in common: They accepted indie authors.
A lot of the larger book tour companies don't. This doesn't surprise me, as many of the blogs and review groups associated with the blogs are interested in professional work only. It's a bit of an unfortunate truth that there are many more amateur indie authors out there than professional ones at the moment.
I went with Orangeberry Book Tours. This group has a reasonably large tour blog pool, allowing up to 90+ day long book tours. In the interest of testing out the viability of a book tour service, I wanted a group that could support that many ‘stops' (or visits to various blogs.)
What interested me about this touring group includes three things: Their twitter services, their rafflechopter organization, and their book club. Book reviews tend to be a part of most touring groups, but few tours I have seen use a stable pool of readers in the form of a book club. It is my hope that because the reviews will be coming from a book club group, they'll be more serious than standard customer reviews.
The impact of their reviews, rafflechopter, and twitter Services, however, will be a discussion for another post of this review of Orangeberry's services.
Today, I want to focus on the preparation process for the book tour. Due to the extensive size of my book tour with them — which has blog stops scheduled into the third quarter of next year — there was a great deal of preparation work needing done.
I'm going to break this up for you, step by step, so you know what was needed, why it was needed, and my thoughts on whether or not this is an effective marketing tactic.
Guest posts are a big part of a book blog tour. Some of you are probably nodding at this point. I get along really well with guest posts, especially about writing and reading. I took to this like a fish to water. I started with 20 some unique 500 to 1,000 word guest posts on a variety of different subjects.
Orangeberry Book Tours provided a master list of subjects I could write about, with the additional perk of allowing me to create my own subjects to write about. This pleased me quite a bit.
In February, I will be writing additional guest posts, as I want every blog to have unique content.
This is something that many people have complained about: There are a notable amount of authors who do not want to invest the time to make a unique post for each blog. This hurts your success at a book blog tour. I emailed back and forth with one of the organizers at Orangeberry Book Tours, and she confided to me that many of the authors who participate on the tours will do the absolute minimum. This hurts their tours.
I didn't make that mistake. I provided enough guest posts for the first 30 day tour to have unique posts. In the beginning of February, I will be giving Orangeberry Book Tours additional guest posts so that blogs can have unique content.
At the end, I suspect some blogs will share content. It's extremely difficult to write a minimum of sixty unique blog posts in a short period of time.
If you decide to participate in a book blog tour, invest in yourself and your book. Write unique posts for the participating blogs. It makes them happy, and it'll make you a lot happier with the results at the end of the day.
In addition to guest posts, interviews are a part of the standard Orangeberry Book Blog tour. Interviews were done in an interesting way with them — and I understand the reasoning for why. It's really hard to coordinate that may direct interviews with blogs. So, to solve this problem, the Orangeberry coordinators give authors a massive list of questions and ask them to answer as many of the questions as possible, once again with a set minimum of questions needing answered.
Orangeberry then compiles the questions into interview batches to give to participating blogs. This is an effective way to ensure each blog gets a unique interview without adding a lot of additional overhead. Being a fan of running interviews on my blog, I know just how much time it takes for me to get one interview done.
So, from a blogger perspective, I can see how this would be a huge relief — and a major saver of time.
Like with the guest posts, I went overboard with the questions. Unique content is king, and considering you only need to write 50-100 words per question, there is no reason an author can't answer a lot of questions, making sure their interviews are unique and interesting.
I had a lot of fun with the interview questions. Like with the guest posts, I added some questions of my own to the list to add a little spice to it.
In addition to the guest posts and interviews, excerpts are used to help generate interest for a book. Orangeberry uses blog posted excerpts and bookbuzzr to handle excerpts.
If you're in KDP Select, like I am, you have to be extremely careful about the excerpt selection. In KDP Select, you cannot post excerpts from the novel outside of the sampling section listed on amazon.com. Not many authors are aware of this. (Orangeberry was very clear about the limitations on excerpts in regard to KDP Select, as it is in their better interests to make certain their clients do not violate KDP Select rules.)
This was quite appreciated by me, as it shows that Orangeberry does, indeed, care about making certain the authors are aware of potential issues with their novels and the excerpts.
I selected the minimum number of excerpts for the tour due to the fact that I am enrolled in KDP Select, and I was struggling to find good excerpts of the appropriate length that didn't include major spoilers for the novel.
One of the more interesting services that Orangeberry offers is their twitter promotions. Orangeberry has some 100,000 followers, making it a good place to get your name out there. I definitely noticed a surge in followers following the twitter blasts and interviews.
Twitter blasts are snippets of the book and the book's blurb, links to the book, and brief quotes and other things of interest from the novel. The twitter interviews are a series of questions pinged out by Orangeberry over the course of the interview date(s).
An optional component of Orangeberry's tours is the addition of a rafflecopter. I opted to do one for a $25 amazon gift card. These raffles give users a chance to win a free gift card. In order for them to participate in the raffle, they have to do little tasks. This can be tweeting about the book, following my twitter account, or liking my facebook page.
Rafflecopters are a way to get additional exposure. If you're dishing out for the tour, I personally recommend you add the extra $25 for the raffle. It has a synergistic impact with the book tour, draws additional attention to the novel, and helps with branding.
Orangeberry set up and maintains the raffle, which is a huge relief for someone like me who has no idea how to set one up and get it posted without help. (I'm sure with some effort I could figure it out, but I like that it was a free service — I just paid for the gift card.)
One of the more frustrating parts of setting up the Orangeberry tour was setting up the bookbuzzr feed. This feed allows users to start reading your book, much like the amazon's sample reading. KDP Select users must ensure that the sample is the same length, or shorter, than what is available on amazon.com.
Setting up the bookbuzzr was a little more complicated than I like, but considering that each of the book blog posts includes this feed plus links to buy the book, it was well worth the frustration and the headache to set up.
Orangeberry asks for at least six weeks to prepare a book blog tour. This gives them time to coordinate with their various blogs, find out if their club members wish to review the book, and so on. During the first four or five weeks of the wait period, authors are expected to write up their guest post content, answer interview questions, and prepare the excerpts.
Use this time wisely. These posts do take time to write up, and the responsibility is all on the author to make sure the posts are in good shape for the blogs.
Blogs reserve the right to reject content that has errors or is lackluster.
I expect I spent at least 30 hours preparing for the book blog tour. But, I view this as time well spent, as it is invested in making certain that my book gets the best exposure possible.
The most important thing I have walked away with from the preparation process of the tours is the fact that you really get out of the tours what you put into them. If you want your tour to do well, write the best posts and content possible for them.
That's how you get the attention of potential new readers.
One of the reasons I decided to start with a book blog tour is the fact that I want to brand myself and my novels. That means spreading word about my books (and links to amazon) around the internet. With a tour of this size, I will be able to increase the relevancy of my name to my novels. This doesn't have an easily-calculated value, although it's valuable all of the same.
More to come, as I experience the tour in full, and have a change to gather some data on how the tour has impacted my novel's performance.