First of all, let me say I won't be quoting prices from any particular blog tour company. We'll use my fictional one called A-1 Super Great Fantastical Wonderbar Blog Tours (A1S). I did a search and they don't exist as of the date this post is going live.
Now, A1S offers a tour that's all inclusive for $300. This money gets you:
- 1 Month of Promotion
- 30 Tour Stops
- 10 Reviews
- 1 Facebook Party
Let's look at the numbers.
A1S has 15k followers on Twitter. 250 people subscribe to their blog. 12k people like them on Facebook. Seems like a pretty good deal, huh?
But... Come on, you knew that was coming.
How many of those followers are readers of your genre? Better yet, how many of those followers are readers at all? Even more intriguing, how many of those followers are readers hungry for exactly what you're offering?
My guess is, most of them are authors who have previously used the service OR are tour hosts with the company and not your target market: readers of books. My second guess is, you'll either get 1 or no posts on their blog. Most often, Tweets are marked #BookTour. I don't know about you, but I glaze over those when scanning my feed.
Before I jump ahead, I'm gonna break down what you've paid for above and show you why there's a flaw in the system.
- 1 Month of Promotion - This includes all the items listed above on various blogs. I've learned (from speaking with other authors) that you oftentimes appear on the same blog more than once. And you get, what, one tweet a day? Oh, my bad, you get two.
- 30 Tour Stops - 10 of these stops will be reviews so no work there. But now you have to come up with either a guest post, an interview, or an excerpt from your book for the other 20 days. All of these are things you have to provide. So what? Well, if it takes a day away from your writing and there's no return (I'll get to that in a moment) you just wasted a whole day. Besides that, there's no guarantee these blogs target your genre of book or that the blogs have been alive more than a year (do you know the statistics for blog life?).
- 10 Reviews - Reviews are an Indie author's life blood. I get it. But if that review doesn't get posted to Amazon, what good is it doing you? A review that sits on a blog, stagnating, rotting in the archives, doesn't do anyone any favors. Oh, and those reviews can be any star rating. While I admire honesty, the tour companies don't guarantee they'll match your book with bloggers who prefer your genre. This could be an EPIC fail.
- 1 Facebook Party - Really? What are they gonna give away? Free copies of the book you sent? Swag (you have to mail)? Paperbacks (again, that falls to you)? And people show up because they're hungry to win something and go away, never giving two sh*ts about you or your book. It's likely the partygoers are the blog tour hosts.
Another problem with touring blogs is: You can't guarantee your book will land on a blog with a good following of readers. If the blog hosting your book only has 13 followers... Well, you can see where I'm going with that. And is it crazy to suggest maybe those "followers" are previous authors who appeared on that blog? I think not.
Don't even get me started about those tour hosts who don't post when they're supposed to. Dear me...
But, Jo, it's about the exposure!
Let me clear that up for you with some numbers. We all love numbers because they don't lie.
- 30 stops where each blog has maybe 100 people that actually read their content (and that's really a generous number). Okay, that's 3,000 right there. You're right. It is. 3,000 random, non-targeted people who may or may not be readers. Most likely, you'll be lucky to reach 10 readers of your specific genre who actually read the content on one of the 30 blogs your book appears on. Oh yeah, I forgot you're on some of those same blogs more than once. Nevermind. See my point?
- 10 reviews that could all be one or two stars and slam your book into the nether. This is gonna hurt you more than it helps. In this case, you PRAY those reviews don't hit Amazon. Yikes. If the tour host does post the review on Amazon, you've provided a copy of the book. There's no "Amazon Verified Purchase" on the review, and the reviewer has to state that you gave them the book. *shifty* So your 4.42 star average on 35 reviews (20/5*, 10/4*, 5/3*) could plummet to 3.8 stars with just a couple of bad reviews and you have no control over it. As a matter of fact, if your tour company isn't targeting people who enjoy your genre, the likelihood of that happening increases ten-fold.
- 1 Facebook party that gets you 10 additional likes on your author page by the hosts of the tour company and a lot of stuff to mail out afterward (does the money ever stop leaving your pocket?). Totally worth it. Not. Even if you get 1k new likes, with the way Facebook has changed things up, you'll be lucky to reach 5 of those people.
And don't tell me you aren't out there through the whole tour, marketing your rear end off to drive traffic to those blogs. Oh man, are we crazy or what?
After all that, I'm now going to hit you with something you may not want to think about. But I need you to think about it. How many sales did that tour get you? How did you go about tracking those sales? A good rule of thumb here is to use a specific, shortened link with a marker attached. Use bit.ly for this if you have to so you see with your own eyes I'm not blowing smoke up your bum. Chances are, you'll get maybe 20 clicks.
Oh, wait! Most tour companies won't let you send in your own links. Why? Because they add their affiliate code to them and they probably don't want you tracking those clicks anyway. If you still feel you must tour, avoid companies that won't let you use your own links. They're in it for THEM, not for you.
I have a couple of friends who recently paid for blog tours and I'm going to share a little of their experience with you.
Friend A has a very popular YA book with great reviews on Amazon. This friend did a month long tour much like the one above (sans FB party). While the book was on tour, it was on sale for $0.99 (regularly $2.99). A number of great reviews were written, with maybe half of them making it to Amazon. A couple of the tour hosts never posted about the book (most tour companies say they aren't responsible for this if it happens... Like HELL they aren't).
Guess how many sales this author got over the course of the tour?
NONE. That's right, not a single one. And that book hit Amazon's top 100 overall during its free period. It has a very high rating and not a single one or two star review on over 20 reviews. Plus, it's in a popular genre. Go figure.
Friend B has another popular YA book that's been hailed as unique, fascinating, and well written. This one also did a blog tour recently. At least 10 or so reviews went up on blogs during the tour. Very very few made it to Amazon.
Want to take a guess at how many sales there were? This book is also well reviewed with a very high average.
Now that I've completely disheartened you, it's time to tell you where your money might be better spent.
I have no personal experience to back this up with, but I know many people who've used it and they swear by it. Plus, the company isn't afraid to show you their statistics. Best of all? They target people interested in your genre. There's also no additional work needed from you beyond producing a great book! Holy crap!
I'll say it again:
Take a look at the prices here. Now scroll down to the Teen and Young Adult genre (which both of the books above are in). Look at the average sold numbers.
Why does it work? Because they're in the business of connecting readers to the books they want. Their target market isn't authors.
Now that you know, what the heck are you waiting for? Again, numbers speak for themselves.
Blog tour companies would be wise to follow that business model. Build a list of blogs that target specific readers, have been around a long time, and who are trustworthy. Guarantee you'll put the author's book into the hands of people who enjoy their genre, and, for the love of all that's good, have some sales numbers to back up your business.
Rethink what you're doing.
I'm not compensated by anyone for my thoughts and opinions on my blog. I'm just tired of seeing Indie authors waste their money. We don't have a lot to spare to begin with. Will I be gracing Book Bub with my business very soon? You bet your butt I will.
Guess what else? You have a pretty good author clique going, right? Why not organize your own tour if you want/need exposure? It'll take about the same amount of time and it's free.
I know that was long. I'm sorry. But I hope you were paying attention. I do speak my mind.
What have your experiences been? Did this post help? Leave me a comment and let's talk about it.
Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!