Me on Indie Publishing

A Tome About Promo for Indie Authors: Part 1-The Blog Tour

I’ve been thinking a lot about promo lately, looking at what I’ve done, what others have done, and trying to gauge what the best bangs for your buck are.  This is totally relevant to an indie because starting out, you don’t have many of those bucks to spend.  So anyway I thought I’d talk about what I’ve done over the last year to promote my books and my platform.  Your mileage may vary.  I started to put this all in one post, but it was turning into a Post of Ridiculous Proportions, so I’m going to break it down into a series.  We’ll start with Part 1.

Right out of the gate when I released Forsaken By Shadow, I did a month long blog tour for the month of May. This was somewhat about promoting the book, but really more about getting my name out there.  Except for the small following I had already on my blog, mostly a group of other writers, nobody knew who Kait Nolan was.  This was evidenced by the fact that the top search terms for my blog were “Gerry Butler”, “the crud” (seriously? Who needs to look up what the crud is?), and assorted terms that led to my post opining about the unfortunate moniker “tramp stamp” for lower back tattoos.  Obviously I’m doing something right as currently “Gerry” is only beating “Kait Nolan” out for lifetime searches for my blog by a hundred or so now.

Anyway so I did a 31 day blog tour for the month of May.  Some of my stops were the blogs of already traditionally published authors who were Twitter friends.  Some were simply other wonderful writer friends who gave me a shot to talk to their blog audiences.  Many also had small audiences, as I did, but that was fine.  Baring the death of that blog, these posts will be out there for eternity in the Google world, and people still stumbled across them from time to time.  We were helping each other.  Mostly I didn’t post about the book unless the host asked me to.  That was reserved for the little author bio/blurb at the end with discrete buy links.  I talked about all kinds of stuff, trying to gear the post toward something that the host’s audience would find interesting.  Some of that was about writing.  Some was about books in general.  My topics were all over the place and were, hopefully, interesting and non-repetitive to anyone actually FOLLOWING me on said tour.

Going back to track those initial sales for FBS, they doubled from April (went from 23 to 50).  I was thrilled with that.  I have no way of knowing how the tour really affected those sales.  They could easily have been from the darlings on Twitter who RTed and told people to help get the word out.  But it certainly didn’t hurt.  And other than quite a chunk of time, it didn’t cost me a dime, which was exactly where I was on promo budget at the time because I was still earning back that initial $150 investment for copyright and cover costs.

A few words to the wise for doing  your own blog tour:

  1. Be sure to gear your post toward THAT BLOG’S AUDIENCE.  This shows that you’ve been a thoughtful reader and you’ve taken the time to check out what sort of posts that host makes themselves BEFORE approaching them.
  2. Be sure to provide your draft post to the host well in advance and politely make certain that said host knows that you CAN and also HOW TO schedule a post in advance so that it actually goes live on the proper day.
  3. Be sure to check out the potential host blog to make sure that they post on a regular schedule. One of my hosts, I discovered after the fact, hadn’t posted in 3 or 4 months prior to my guest post, so I suspect no one actually SAW that post.
  4. Be calculated about this. If you write in a particular genre, it would absolutely behoove you to pick some blogs by other authors in your genre because they probably have a higher chance of having fans who would also like your stuff because they already read in that genre.
  5. Above all, be polite and remember that the host is doing you a favor.

I’ll be back with Part 2 on Monday (tomorrow is my usual Sunday Summary and #ROW80 check-in).

16 thoughts on “A Tome About Promo for Indie Authors: Part 1-The Blog Tour

  1. I agree, Susan–great idea for a series. When I just try to find stuff about promoting out there on the Internet, I end up with a lot of noise, crazy stuff, and spam. I’ve been wanting to hear from someone who’s actually doing and succeeding!

    Looking forward to future posts!

    Amy

  2. Great discussion of using a blog tour as “presence marketing” for a digital release and author. This is exactly the kind of in the trenches insight I hope many who are considering or venturing not self publishing or digital publishing for the first time take the time to read.

    Like many to-this-point mass market authors, I’m being swept into the digital wave much more quickly than I expected. Particularly with my fantasy series, still being market by Dorchester Publishing. My experience with my first “Legacy” book and this one will be quite different (going from an initial mass market release with an eBook to follow, to a simultaneous digital and trade relase of the second novel this may. My first blog tour was well received a year and a half ago, and we’re hoping this year’s will have an even successful effect, since the digital product will be available sooner rather than later.

    Keeping the content of so many blog appearances varied and geared toward the current site’s visitors was probably the greatest challenge during the tour month.

    While the posts did tend to be all over the place, as you say, I did try to stay focused on the core personality of the novel, the original idea of the character and story, in mind for each. Guest blogs are great opportunities for anchoring your unique identity as a story teller within whatever genre you’re writing. What drives you to write? How do you look at the world in your own way through your characters? That sort of thing. Keep that consistent, and readers will be interested in knowing more.

    Great post!

    1. It’s always great to hear from others who’ve done the tour thing and had success! I’m not sure if I’ll do a formal tour for future releases, or if I’ll limit it to a handful of targeted guest posts. There are other, less time consuming, means of promo (I get into some big ones on Monday) that have, for me, been a much more effective tool in getting the word out. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I’ve never tried a blog tour, but am considering it. Not quite sure how to set it up, although it seems you did it pretty informally. I just did three blog posts that were a discussion I had with Randy Ingermanson, where we Skyped back and forth (typing, not talking– so we would have the transcript). I found that a very quick and efficient way to produce a lot of material. We ended up with about 3,500 words in an hour with the back and forth discussion. I’d like to do more of that in the future. The key is to make sure there’s a specific topic. Randy and I talked about the future of publishing. We each then were able to post excerpts on both our blogs, thus helping each other. So a variation of a blog tour might be Skyping with others, then both get to post the results and both are equally featured?
    Since I have a foot in both camps, traditional and non-traditional publishing, it’s been an interesting time.
    At Write It Forward, our focus in blogging is on the business of writing, particularly, digital, and sometimes on craft.
    I look forward to your next posts.

    1. Well it varied somewhat. A few were very informal requests of actual friends “Hey, can I guest blog at your place?” But actually at least half were writers I didn’t know well, so I made an effort to follow them and actually INTERACT with them on Twitter (much of my stuff was done via Twitter) for a few weeks before I sent a polite DM asking if they would consider allowing me to guest post or interview at their blog. I’m southern, so I’m big on etiquette and the “right” way to do things in terms of making requests. I’ve definitely seen far too many people be either too casual, not bother building any kind of foundation with whoever they’re asking, and definitely not paying any attention to the content of the blog itself before saying essentially, “hey will you post this on your blog.” So I took my direction from both the “My mama raised me right,” school of being polite and doing the opposite of all the requests I’ve gotten over the last couple of years that have annoyed me.

      I actually would be quite interested in seeing some back and forth kinds of conversations between various industry folks. I think it’d be educational…and like an interview (I love reading interviews). I think it would be cool to do a series and have a kind of back and forth where one person hosted one interview and the other person hosted the next, and so on.

  4. Kait, Very interesting post! As a writer, I really want to know what works for other authors in terms of promotion. Since results are hard to quanitfy, I do believe a lot of it is about getting your name and books in front of the public. I know when I’ve heard of someone, I’m much more likely to look twice at their books, even if they are outside of my normal reading comfort.

    I’m looking forward to your future posts about promotion.

    As a reader, I will say that I’ve certainly bought books I might never have heard of after reading about them on other blogs, or hosting the authors on my own blog. And the thing that pulls me into the post is when it is about something related to their books, but not just book promotions only. Give us something to talk about, other than, “Oh, that book looks nice.” It shows me more about you as an author and person, and engages me as a reader. So I totally agree with the assessments you and Anna made about blog content.

    Thanks!

  5. I’m always open to talking about writing or the business as long as they have an angle that can succinctly fit into a title. One thing we’re doing at Who Dares Wins is publishing books ourselves. We’re in a bit of a different situation than people who just self-publish as we now have five authors with several more coming on board shortly. I think the power of a team is important, especially with regard to promoting.

  6. #1 is incredibly important. Since I follow many of the “big” blogs in the romance blogosphere, it’s pretty difficult to ignore blog tours, and I’ve read more than a few posts from a touring author which read as though they threw together four or five posts and spread them across seven to ten blogs, only varying the wording on some, or even just doing the incredibly impersonal (to me, at least) “Excerpt Post” when they had nothing else to say. I’d also add that the touring author should take the time to browse through the prospective host’s blog to get a feel for the topics their audience responds to, and the tone they effect (snarky? down home? etc).

  7. A very good post. My collection of short stories has just come out and I am interested in drumming up some sales and thanks to your advice I am now considering going on a blog tour to promote my work further. I can’t wait to read your other posts. Thanks

  8. Hi! Great post. What would you recommend for an author who is published in the self-help category and not in fiction? My book, Reformat Your Life, is now on Amazon, but I’ve not been promoting it enough.

    1. Seek out relevant groups on Goodreads, get involved on the assorted boards for Kindle, Nook, etc. I’m not sure about the best means to promo nonfiction except to say to go to where your target audience is.

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