A Beginner's Guide to Blog Tours

A Beginner’s Guide to Blog Tours

This article is a repost from Arina’s old blog, Bookwyrm’s Galaxy.

Blog tours are a staple in the book community, a surefire way to gather up a selected group of readers to promote a specific book. Readers get the books, authors get the promo, and blog tour organizers get to despair over all the work it takes to put together an event like this.

But what exactly is a blog tour, what good does it bring to the community, and why do reviewers love them?

What’s in a blog tour?

TLDR:

  • Blog tours aim to promote and market the author’s work while assembling a group of like-minded readers;
  • Readers get free books, authors get visibility, blog tour organizers get existential dread;
  • Blog tour posts come in many shapes and sizes: reviews, interviews, mood boards, etc;
  • Due to the promotional nature of blog tours, most tour companies will ask you to hold off a negative review until the end of the tour.

A blog tour is much like a concert tour (from which it takes its name and inspiration). Usually a week-long (but they can go up to a whole month or more), blog tours are dedicated promotional events where readers get assigned a day to post about the specific book being celebrated.

An author or publisher contacts a tour company, reviewers sign up to show interest in the tour and the blog tour organizers then set it all up. This means authors get their sweet publicity and reviewers get their sweet sweet free books. Bitches love a freebie (I’m bitches).

Blog tour stops can be anything, from reviews to interviews to other creative ways to promote the book in question, though most times, blog tour organizers and authors crave reviews the most. They are, after all, the main running engine of the community, whatever form they take.

Basically, a reviewer posts either a review, a creative video, an interview with the author, etc, on their assigned day, and this goes on for however long the tour is. Most tours are frantic enough that multiple reviewers are posting on the same day, turning it into an all-out marketing frenzy.

Therefore, the main purpose of a blog tour is to promote and market the author’s work and to assemble a group of readers who are likely to enjoy or have already enjoyed, that specific book, albeit all in their different manners.

They’re a great way to get the word out about a book and to find like-minded reviewers who’ve enjoyed the same type of stories you do.

Due to their nature, most posts on a blog tour are usually positive or at least not negative enough to discourage people from buying it. Generally, organizers ask you to hold off negative reviews until the end of the tour.

Naturally, this raises many a gasp and pearl clutch.

So I can’t post negative reviews during a tour? Is honesty dead?!

TLDR:

  • Blog tours usually encourage positive posts;
  • A blog tour chooses to focus on readers who have sincerely enjoyed the book;
  • Writing a ‘positive review’ doesn’t mean you only write good things about the book;
  • You can and should always post your honest opinion;
  • Blog tour organizers are generally communicative, you can always ask them to drop out of a tour;
  • Some tour companies are actually companies: organizers are financially compensated for the tours.

No, honesty is not dead, only individuality. But yes, it’s common practice during a tour to encourage readers only to post their negative reviews after the tour has ended, if there’s one to post at all.

No tour organizer will or should withhold you from spreading around your flawless code of ethics by writing down your most honest, uncensored thoughts regarding a book, but there’s very little use of a marketing event where people say, “this product is shit” (or something like that painted in nicer strokes. I’ve never been an artist).

Does this mean blog tours are dishonest? I personally don’t think so, but who am I to think for you? Make up your own damn mind. But if you’re interested in my opinion, here it goes. The way I see it, blog tours are what they are: unabashed marketing and promotion. The world’s full of it, and not all of it is dishonest (though megacorps have bred a negative connotation to the word).

Some bloggers in the community also ask for money for promotional services or even reviewing. Damn, I wish someone paid me for shoutout things I like! Best job ever!

So just because a tour focuses on spreading positive opinions of a book, it doesn’t mean that the readers who wrote them are dishonest. The reviews are honest, they come from a sincere place, from readers who actually enjoyed the story and connected with it. The blog tour focuses on promoting those readers, thus promoting the book, while still allowing those who disagree room to stick to their ethics.

You can always ask to back out of a blog tour or to post a spotlight of sorts (after all, even if you’re writing a negative review — meaning, you didn’t enjoy the book—, it might just be an it’s not you it’s me case where you’d still be happy to promote it).

Whatever your freedoms are, you owe them to nobody. Most blog tour organizers will gladly communicate with you to find the best alternative (I personally love doing author interviews whenever a book in a blog tour doesn’t match with me for whatever reason or whenever I’m short on time).

Furthermore, a positive review doesn’t mean you only have good things to say about a book. And a negative review can carry its dangers, as some readers take personal offense to a story they didn’t enjoy and can get to hassling the author. They may be few, and promptly evicted from future tours, but they’re a possibility nonetheless. In these cases, focusing on positive reviews can also be a failsafe to safeguard the authors who follow their own tours closely.

But that’s a controversy for another time. I only have the mental capacity for one potential book-twitter-drama-inducing post.

Regardless, there’s always bound to be distrust of such events, especially since many blog tour organizers decide to monetize the insane amount of work necessary to shape an event like this.

Ah, there’s money involved?

TLDR:

  • Yes or no (but never maybe), it’s the organizers’ choice;
  • Blog tours are a fuckton of work. God, they’re exhausting;
  • In life, we sometimes get money for our time. It’s Humanity’s gift and curse. Mostly, its curse. I just wanna run naked in the woods;
  • A reliable tour service will have guidelines and regulations listed somewhere on its website. This is a book reading community! *Samuel L. Jackson voice* Read the motherfucking guidelines!
  • In life, walking away is a power move. And it’s not only because you get to show off your amazing ass. It’s because you’re establishing what you are/aren’t comfortable with and taking ownership of that boundary. And that’s super badass. If you’re not comfortable joining blog tours, just don’t do it. In short, be the bad bitch energy you want to see in the blogging community.

Ah, the million-dollar question (although blog tours are hardly a million-dollar business). And the short answer is, there can be.

All blog tour organizers provide a service. Some blog tour organizers choose to be financially compensated for that service. Some don’t. Like lawyers who occasionally do pro bono (IDK if that’s true, I only saw that in movies. It sounds true enough). Simple as that.

When we consider all the backstage work involved in a tour (author liaisoning, organizing schedules, pairing the reviewers with a good book,…The list is endless), is it really so farfetched that someone who has a whole other life beyond the screen of a computer asks to be fairly compensated for all the time expended? (Not to mention the mental exhaustion. Fuck, I’m getting tired just thinking about it!).

If reviewing is enough of a hardship, imagine organizing a whole bunch of reviewers into a coherent posting schedule, making sure nobody disrespects anybody (especially not the author) while still giving them enough freedom to do whatever they want, designing tour materials (there are banners, there are badges, there’s, goddamn, there are so many things), and so on so forth. I can only imagine how blog tour organizers keep it together, but what I do know is there is an immense amount of time, expertise, and effort behind the making of each tour. 

So is asking for a little money in return really such a dishonest thing?

Thankfully, I wasn’t put in this world (and much less in this blog) to provide answers, just ask (sometimes stupid. Fine, mostly stupid) questions. What I can do (and by the gods, I will!) is make you think about things so you can go as crazy as me trying to find answers.

I think about financial compensation in regard to book reviewing a lot. How some of us simply don’t have the luxury of time; the amount it takes to sustain such a time-consuming hobby escapes most people with full-time jobs, families, and, lucky bastards, romantic significant others.

In our world, money and time come hand in hand. And sometimes those hands clasped together tightly, for survival, and sometimes they are adverse to one another. Whatever your personal relationship with money is, it’s entirely your own. There is no clear-cut way to book reviewing, and there’s no clear-cut way to promote books.

If you’re uncomfortable with the fact that money’s being exchanged between the organizers and the author/publisher requesting a tour, my humble advice is that you simply don’t get involved. Your platform, your choice! Establish your comfort zone and stick with it, introvert style! If you’re not comfortable with money, don’t become a stripper, and don’t join blog tour services.

Always read the fine print, that is, the tour company’s guidelines and regulations, for a reliable tour service will have those listed (usually, you can easily find them on its website). Some of them even helpfully reiterate them in their confirmation emails.

Either way, I really recommend you hear it from the source. Contrary to the person writing this post, the universe was blessed with insight, and it bestowed it on a selected few of its people. Three of them are Kriti Khare from Armed with a Book, and Justine and Timy (yes, our very own demonic ruler–eh, I mean, loveable and totally-doesn’t-torture-employees-on-company-time Queen).

In a “behind-the-scenes” interview, these three powerhouses discussed blog tours and what it’s like to organize one. They said it better than I ever could.

Timy also wrote an article on Queen’s Book Asylum about blog tours from the organizer’s POV, and the things she learned in the first 6 months of running Storytellers on Tours (may it rest in peace).

What’s so good about blog tours anyways?

TLDR:

  • It’s not that long and it’s written in bullet points. Don’t be lazy!

In its majority, this question comes with personal answers. Reviewers join tours for all sorts of reasons and all of them are valid:

  • Free books are a fantastic way to make reading more accessible;
  • You’ve already read and enjoyed the author;
  • You want to discover new books they might otherwise never have heard of;
  • Tours motivate you to post on a schedule and read that one book in your TBR you keep putting off;
  • Great for people with little/no access to books (no libraries, low income, no bookshops, etc);
  • An opportunity to connect with like-minded readers;
  • Super fun to see the creative ways people shoutout a book;
  • Connecting with the author;
  • Discover new reviewers;
  • Since you can do a lot of ARC reading or cover reveals, you get early access to a book;
  • Your platform’s following doesn’t have to be astronomical or even big. Rejoice, size doesn’t matter;
  • May ease the anxiety authors get from requesting reviews directly from readers, as it’s up to the tour organizers to do it for them;
  • Reach more than one reviewer in one single sweep;
  • It’s fun, dammit!

It’s all sunshine and roses, uh?

It’s definitely not, if it were, it’d be disgusting. As with all things in life, blog tours have their disadvantages:

  • The pressure to post on a schedule (most organizers will understand if you’re occasionally late, but damn, it gets stressful! This is the main reason I stopped doing blog tours, for now at least);
  • You’re not comfortable with money swapping hands;
  • You can only read physical copies (most tours are pretty restrictive in that regard, meaning tours favor digital copies. Sometimes, when a big author/publisher is involved, they will offer options);
  • I’m out of ideas, you comment one.

So you’re saying I should join a blog tour?

I’m not saying anything, merely discussing and veering off into at least a hundred different thoughts, which is usually what happens when I go on a long rant. Here are some companies to start you off if this post piqued your interest:

The Write Reads, MTMC Tours, Compulsive Readers, Escapist Book Co.

As it takes its final breath, this post is not about me making a point or a stand (as it is, I’m so exhausted I can hardly stand. Ah!). It’s about starting up discussions, raising ideas, nourishing thoughts, and thinking about Henry Cavill in boxers painting Warhammer models while reciting Witcher lore.

And I leave you with that mental image.

Do with the wisdom I’ve imparted what you must.

If born in a fantasy world, Arina would have been some kind of neon rogue technomancer, a dangerously impulsive, bad-luck-attracting, sarcastic mix of mage-assassin. Or so she likes to believe. As it is, her love of tech led her to web development, and her passion for the art of storytelling to book reviewing. An avid advocate of all things weird and uncommon, she champions the gems of SFF at Queen's Book Asylum, alongside three other awesome nerds (don't tell the Queen I called her that). When not keeping an eye on the resident pet demon, she spends her very precious free time on MTGA and hoarding recipes for her many cooking sprees.

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