This is part two of my progress with Orangeberry Book Tours, an online promotion venue for authors.
Orangeberry is a high ranking book tour group in Alexa, Google, and other search engines. This gives the group a certain advantage when it comes to natural search promotion in addition to the benefits of working with a book tour group.
This post will go into my impressions about my three month book tour with them. At the time I'm writing this, the tour is halfway finished.
In order to get a good image of the impact of a blog tour, I feel it's necessary to have something to compare the performance of the campaign against. In my case, I'm comparing my debut novel, which did not have any promotions done for it against my second novel, which is the one participating in the blog tour.
Prior to the blog tour, both novels were performing roughly on par. Storm Without End has always had a slightly higher performance than The Eye of God. However, this slightly increased performance has been counted in handfuls. By that, I mean a book here, a book there, for a total of a handful of books when there are no other promotions running.
Storm Without End has a tendency to do very well during countdown deal promotions, whereas The Eye of God does not perform quite as well.
January was the first month the campaign went underway. Technically, the blog tour started just after Christmas. However, I am not including the days right after Christmas because numbers were skewed for both Storm Without End and The Eye of God due to Christmas sales and gifting.
Without any promotion beyond the single book tour, here are the raw sales numbers for January.
Storm Without End sold 26 copies at $5.99 each.
The Eye of God sold 14 copies at $4.99 each.
Generally, a $5.99 sell is harder than a $4.99 sell. However, Storm Without End is a longer novel than The Eye of God. I feel this is a factor in the differential between the sales. In addition, I suspect the covers are playing a notable factor, as well as the description. For whatever reason, the cover and description pairing of Storm Without End has a stronger curb appeal.
I have recently adjusted The Eye of God's cover, and I will be adjusting the description. I'm also going to be doing some minor editorial to smooth out some of the more common complaints with the novel.
However, I digress: Even with these factors put aside, while Storm Without End has always had minor sales advantages to The Eye of God, without promotion on either novel, they ranked very similar, and had very similar sales figures.
January saw a notable increase in the base sales figures. This could be accounted to the one thing that I was doing differently between the two novels: The Book Tour.
I'll start this with saying that I'm very pleased with how Orangeberry Book Tours has been handling something as long and complex as Storm Without End's tour. The operators check to make certain the blogs are running the promised pieces. While they don't list directly to each blog post, the URL of the site and the date the piece is supposed to appear is clearly listed.
My tour consists of 128 stops (as currently planned.) The interesting thing about Orangeberry Book Tours is that this number increases as more blogs agree to do reviews. The number of book reviews is estimated, but I will likely receive 60 reviews from various blogs hosted around the world.
The downside? Because the tour is so massive, the blogs aren't required to start showing the reviews until towards the end of the tour. So, it'll likely be another month and a half before I start seeing reviews come in.
I went into this book tour understanding this is how this group operates.
That's an important distinction. Many authors have an expectation that book reviews will start pouring in at the start of their tour. As a reviewer, I totally understand how overwhelming it can be to have a large review list. I still have a few books I need to address myself. (Eep.)
I would like to also observe that all of the major blog tours I have looked into share one feature: They form cliques among themselves, with each tour having a set stable of blogs who promote many of their books.
This actually isn't a bad thing, especially in terms of search engine optimization. I'd also like to point out that while varied content is important, you don't have to make every post unique — unless you want to. It helps, a little, but even duplicate posts and excerpts function for SEO purposes.
While I ultimately want to find new readers and sell copies of my book, a book blog tour serves more purposes than simply producing sales. If my only focus was on sales, the investment I've made at Orangeberry would be a bust. However, when I look at Orangeberry and any other book blog tour, there are a few things that give it ‘unwritten, untraceable' value.
Establishing an online presence is a major issue for debut and budding authors. Many authors say you need 4-6+ books to be successful. While I do agree that it takes this many novels to really begin reaching critical potential mass, one novel can make a big difference, especially if you're doing long term book promotion. Long term book promotion includes things like blog posts, interviews, and book excerpts. Anything that can get eyes focused on your book — and have a long shelf life — can help build your brand.
In order to build an online presence, people need to know you exist. To do that, you need to spread yourself around the internet and become known where your readers are.
That's the point of doing a book blog tour. You're gaining exposure for yourself and your book(s). With the appropriate linking, you can also begin building your social media platforms.
Orangeberry is one of the groups offering giveaway management services to those in a book tour with them. Partnering your book blog tour with a giveaway can help get your social media accounts hooked up with many new readers and begin the progress of building a fan base.
One and a half months in, and I have already noticed this working. My twitter account has had several hundred new people add it since the start of the campaign. My facebook page has more than doubled since the start of the promotion.
This is a major accomplishment, as it puts me on the map with a few more readers. Will any of these people end up buying my books?
Only time will tell. Until then, because they're watching me, the chance exists. That wasn't there before.
In conclusion, building a brand is one of the key benefits to a book blog tour, and Orangeberry book tours is very good at getting the book out there on high ranking sites in search engines. This makes people aware of me and my book. Maybe it won't lead to a sale right now, but it could lead to a reader or a fan later, when I have become more widespread.
While it can be viewed as sad by some factions of society, familiarity with a brand often equals trust in a brand. For a novelist, the name is the brand, and the more common the name appears, the more likely it will become trendy or interesting to acquire a book by that author.
There is something to be said for the bandwagon when it comes to books.
This is a lesson I'm starting to learn one and a half months into this tour. Doing this book tour is already showing results and could continue to show results for months, if not years.
I don't want to say it is an eggs in one basket situation. It's not. A writer can have success with a single book blog tour. However, book blog tours bring hype and awareness to your books.
You have to rise to the challenge. If you're promoting your twitter and facebook accounts, you need to make these accounts interesting and engaging for readers. You need to make the people who like the types of books you write want your book in particular.
This means forging connections with them.
A Book blog tour, like Orangeberry, gives you the tools to connect with readers. Once you have the readers' attention, however, it is up to you to convert a reader into a fan.
Orangeberry has, so far, done exactly as advertised. They have put my books in front of readers. They have upped my visibility in search engines. (I put this to a test with some search terms, and did indeed find my book through the larger blogs on the tour — mission accomplished.)
So far, so good.
One of the goals of a book blog tour is to start conversations about my book. It is to form a brand for me, as an author, and for the title in particular. At this point in the tour, my book has appeared 55 different times. This is excluding book reviews scheduled that have not appeared yet. This includes twitter blasts (or large-scale promotion runs on a 100,000+ follower twitter account), ad promos on websites, guest posts, author interviews, book features, and book excerpts.
One of Orangeberry's greatest strengths is its twitter presence. Since I started my tour with Orangeberry, my book and twitter account have been RT'd and promoted hundreds of times.
My twitter feed explodified. That's not even a word, and I don't care. It explodified. Between the giveaway and the tours linking the promotions, and people favoriting the posts being promoted, there has been a lot of exposure on twitter of my book and my name as an author. Couple this with the hundreds of new followers on twitter, and the results in this regard have been fantastic. There has also been quite a bit of feedback into Facebook as well.
What there hasn't been is a lot of comments about the posts. I'm not surprised by that. I have a lot of people who come to my blog but rarely comment, and I expect it is no different for these bloggers and their sites as well. I get thousands of hits a month, and only a handful of comments usually. Reviews tend to generate more actual discussion than book features, in my opinion.
That's one thing I wish Orangeberry's blog groups had more of: Truly active commenting blogs.
But, it isn't unusual and I'm not surprised. It's an ‘I wish' item that isn't a deal breaker.
I'm a very hands-on person. If I can find a way to make a mess of things, I will. I want to make my tour do well. In order to do that, I need to make effort.
So, what I have decided to do is start a pinterest board showcasing all of the appearances my book has made. I am pinning each and every place the book tour goes, so I can keep track of it and maybe drive traffic to these blogs.
They're helping me, so it's only fair I do my part and help them. Pinterest is a great way an author can showcase appearances and potentially garner a little favor with book bloggers and review groups, too.
It makes these people and reviewers more likely to consider working with me at the very small price of hitting a button on my browser. Just a thought for those of you who are considering a book blog tour of your own.
Was Orangeberry Book Tours the right decision for me and my book? The unfortunate truth? Only time will tell.
But, so far, I'm feeling rather good about the results of the book tour. Sadly, I'm muddying the waters as I'm expanding my marketing endeavors to other tour groups and promotion venues when I have a little spare change I can dedicate towards establishing my brand.
Still, a tour of this scale is a risk, of that there is no doubt. I'm just grateful I have started to see actual results. I know some people who have tried tours with no notable increase of sales or results.