Blog tours are the thing in book publicity right now. As a publicist, I've ran them for a while, but I've been signing up for more and more on my various blogs and have discovered repeated habits (sometimes even by paid blog tour companies and publicists) that make me cringe.
If you're organizing blog tours for other people or yourself, here are some things I suggest you avoid. After all, you want those bloggers to want to participate in the next blog tour, too, right?
1) Sending the post info the day before.
Bloggers are busy. Authors are busy. Nobody does this full time. If you send me your post at 10pm the day before it goes up, there's a good chance it's not going up on time.
Give at least a few days lead time, preferably a week.
2) Include info on every book you've ever written.
I signed up for a book blitz or cover reveal for one book. Please don't send me blurbs and covers for the last five books you've written that aren't even in the same genre, much less series.
On a related note, twenty pages is not an "excerpt," it's a novelette. Keep it down to 1-2 pages.
3) A "ready to post html-formatted document" that has nothing I need in it.
Authors/publicists who create ready-to-post html formatted documents where I can just copy and paste into my html window are amazing and I will sign up for every single thing they want me to publicize. (Click for a great example)
However, some of y'all are faking us out. If something is a "ready-to-post" it needs images (linked, not embedded) and formatted links. If it's just messy text with some things bolded, that doesn't help. IMO, it's actually worse than not offering a html formatted document.
And DO NOT get me started on html posts with no line breaks.
Additional note from a friend: Make sure to remove unnecessary html & formatting, such as text color or background color.
4) Buy links
First: Send them. Second: Send them when you send everything else (see #1). Don't send three different emails the day of the post as the links go live. Honestly, you know what your inbox looks like and the bloggers' inboxes aren't any emptier.
Believe me, I totally understand that it's hard for indie authors and publishers to get a buy link live at a certain time. However, to be blunt: that is your problem, not a blogger's. Adjust your strategy so that you behave and look professional.
One solution: Create a book landing page on your own site like this one that the bloggers link to with a phrase like "Purchase the book". You can update the links on that page as they go live, instead of emailing every blog host multiple times throughout the day. This way: you're not bothering them and you can be sure readers know where to buy your book, in case the hosts can't update that day.
Another solution: Your "release date" doesn't have to be the same date you upload a book to Amazon/B&N. You can have a soft release a few days before any publicity starts.
4a) Buy links - again
This doesn't necessarily upset bloggers, but I wanted to mention: when you provide link urls, they shouldn't look like this:
At the very least, shorten them like this:
(Anything after the ten-digit ASIN is click-tracking info for Amazon and can be removed.)
Even better, there's this:
Why? There are bloggers who will simply post links like this instead of formatting them. It looks messy to readers, making your book look unprofessional.
5) Not attaching images
I won't go into details, but depending on the blogger's blogging platform, if you only embed the images you want used for a post in a Word document, you are creating one or two extra steps for the blogger. Attach any images you want used in the blog post.
6) Vague file names
It may seem like a small, inconsequential thing, but imagine a blogger who hosts ten authors a week. They're scheduling blog posts and they go to pick out your book cover and author photo to upload and see this:
|I kind of hate all of you right now.|
Name your files something more descriptive. Things like: "Sarah Nicolas headshot.jpg" and "Dragons are People Too Cover.jpg"
Bonus: Naming them like this will increase your visibility in google image search results!
7) Not mentioning the date.
From an email I got from KP Simmon at Inkslinger a few days ago: "Thank you for agreeing to take part in the Release Day Launch February 6th."
See how easy that was?
Please, do bloggers a favor, and mention the date we're supposed to post somewhere in the email. Maybe I should be more organized and have a blog calendar that I can cross-reference and search, but honestly? This is a hobby and bloggers are helping you out. So help them out. Please.
8) Add me to your mailing list.
If I want to receive future updates from you, I will sign up for your mailing list (pro tip: make sure the link to do so is in your signature). You can even mention it in your email with the post materials.
However, a blogger signing up for a cover reveal does not imply permission to add them to your mailing list.
It may be hard to believe, but not everyone has a new and shiny Microsoft Office Suite. If you save a document as a .doc, almost everyone can open it with no problem. If you save a document as a .docx, some people have to run it through a conversion and it is likely to screw with some of your formatting and text.
10) Not giving me an option
The Google doc forms most people use for blog tour signups are great and I love them to death. BUT...
Let me explain something first: most of my blogs have a relatively small audience and I know this. I don't review books on any of them. I also don't want an author wasting 30 minutes to an hour of their time drafting a unique blog post/answering interview questions when there is little pay off.
So give me an option besides "review," "guest blog," or "interview." Leaving an "other" option is great. Simple spotlight posts are a really easy way to gain exposure with little effort, so don't leave them out.
While I'm on the subject, either don't make the question "What format would you like to receive a review copy?" mandatory - or provide an option for me to decline to review. If I have to choose between helping you promote and reviewing or not helping you promote, I'll go with the latter every time.
Book bloggers are awesome people and they do so much for the book industry while making no to little money. As authors and publishers, how about we make it as easy on them as possible? A few minutes paying attention to detail can make a blogger one of your raving fans, so why not put in the extra effort?