February 27, 2012

[guest post] Marva Dasef and friends on promos and tours for writers

MIDNIGHT OIL: Book 2 
of the Witches of Galdorheim 
Series, by Marva Dasef. 
Shipwrecked on a legendary 
island, how can a witch rescue 
her boyfriend if she can’t even 
phone home? 
by MARVA DASEF

I just went through a 16-day book tour for my latest release. The second book in a series isn’t an easy sell, so I made an effort to combine concepts from both books into each guest post. Of course, there’s a ton of crossover between book one, Bad Spelling, and book two, Midnight Oil. The main characters are the same and the world is well established. When it came to giveaways, I offered random commenters a choice between the two books. Many chose the first book. That tells me that this book tour may have attracted a new audience. Now that the lucky winners have book one, will they be moved to buy book two?

Every author’s first book presents the hurdle of name recognition. Subsequent books have a bit of history readers and bloggers recognize. I’d like to say it gets easier, and it does! On the other hand, as an author gains experience and builds a network of fellow author/bloggers, it can also become more complex. If you think rounding up sixteen bloggers willing to feature your new book is easy, then you have another thing coming.

I’ve invited some of my fellow authors to offer words of wisdom and advise to help newbie authors along the path of promotion. They’re all experienced and have learned many of the tricks and tips you might use when you’re ready to speed out of the publishing starting gate.

***

Now, let me introduce to you some authors with experience in the promotion process.

KILLARNEY SHEFFIELD
GUILTY KISSES by Killarney 
Sheffield. All proceeds from 
Guilty Kisses between Dec 15 
and Feb 15 went to the charity
Everyone has their own take on effective promotion and promotion dos and don'ts. I, being the out-of-the-box kinda gal I am, decided to try something a little different when it came to promoting my first historical romance release, Guilty Kisses. I am a very creative, artsy person and love music, so designing a book trailer was something I took to like a duck in water,and I figured: what better way to promo a book than by having someone famous's music in it, right?

It took some doing, but I managed to get famous 80s rock star/singer/songwriter/Juno winner Gowan to loan me one of his lovely acoustic ballads. No easy feat, let me tell you. The trailer garnered lots of notice, 300 hits in the first month, but has it helped me promo wise? Well, according to my book sales for Guilty Kisses, no.

However, according to my second release sales, maybe it did, just a little. The results aren't in yet after the third releases sales. So what can I tell you about promotions? Absolutely nothing but have fun promoting any way that fits your personality. Cross your fingers that it works!

MARION WEBB-DESISTO (additional link)
SAMAEL’S FALL: 
The Angelic Chronicles
by Marion Webb-Desisto
He's handsome, charismatic 
and a radiant celestial being, 
but he's rapidly becoming 
a dark soul.
I had a blog tour organized for me last year for one of my fantasy novels that had just been released. It was a 15-stop tour. Some went well, while others didn't. I did offer book giveaways and I think this does encourage readers to comment and follow the tour.

One of the main problems with this tour was dealing with the different time zones of the blogs.

Example 1: By the time the ones on the West coast of the US were being posted, it was late afternoon or evening for me here in the UK. At that time of the day, I'm usually busy with other things and spend little time online.

Example 2: There were a couple of stops in Australia and, by the time I was getting out of bed, it was nighttime down under. One of the blog owners had actually posted her next day's blog, so my interview was no longer prominent.

After this experience, I would suggest that whoever is organizing the tour should make each stop aware of which country the blog tour author lives in so that they can adjust their blog posting/interview to coincide with when the author is available to answer comments and questions.

I also had a couple of blog owners who completely forgot they were supposed to be interviewing me.

My overall suggestion for blog tours is this: If you, the author, are not doing the organizing yourself, make sure you use someone who is familiar with organizing such an event, a person who is reliable and efficient.

LYNN CRAIN (additional link) (email)
A LOVER FOR RACHEL
by Lynn Crain. Rachel 
Hamilton comes to Stonehenge 
to celebrate her birthday on 
Summer Solstice, only to find 
herself trapped beneath massive 
rhyolite bluestones with sexy 
wizard, Dewin Kingston, who 
convinces her that she is the 
key to their escape.
Organizing a blog tour can be a lot of work. New authors who have cultivated relationships with other authors or bloggers can request a spot on that blog. When doing those requests, an author should remember that not everyone will say yes, so it is good to send out about double the number of requests as blogs that you want. For example, you want to appear in 10 places, then ask 20 blogs. If all 20 say yes, and you are a new author, the added exposure will only help get your name and your book out there.

Should you find that you don’t have the time required to recruit prospective blog dates, you can go to a professional group to do it for you. There are lots of reputable places and all offer something different.

A few notable ones are Bewitching Book Tours, Sizzling PR and Coffee Beans & Love Scenes Promotion. All three of these companies offer great services at reasonable prices and have come highly recommended from a variety of authors.

Swag and giveaways are absolutely essential for any blog tour. While you don’t have to give something away at every blog, make sure that it is sufficient enough to make the viewers enter via your own blog or website or through comments via the blogs on your tour. Make sure you ask for an email address to contact the winners. eBooks are always good, but more and more authors are offering things like eBook readers. Whatever you offer, check with other authors to see what has worked for them on similar tours.

Blog tour successes are measured a few different ways. One is a notable increase in sales while another could be an increase in your newsletter membership. Whatever the outcome, make sure you have planned for it. For example, say you planned for 100 comments and you got 1000, or vice versa, you planned for 1000 and got a 100. You need to know what your cut-offs are for giving away or not giving away the prizes. Always include a disclaimer when doing giveaways because you do want to make it worth your time and effort. More is always better but, sometimes, readers just aren’t moved by your words. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means you’ll need to try another tactic next time.

PENNY EHRENKRANZ (additional link)
MIRROR, MIRROR by Penny
Ehrenkranz. Lindsey Baker is 
intrigued by everything about the 
middle ages, but when she 
purchases an antique mirror and 
a costume to attend a Renaissance 
Faire, she suddenly finds herself 
transported back in time. There 
she finds she’s been called by a 
witch to right a terrible wrong.
I have never used a service to set up a blog tour. I have now done four different ones. The first was for my middle-grade novel, Ghost for Rent. The next was for a short story collection, A Past and A Future. The last two were for my romances, Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting and Mirror, Mirror. 

For each of these tours, my approach was slightly different. Since I didn't really know what I was doing with Ghost for Rent, I approached other authors I already knew who had blogs and asked them if they would review the book. I tried to target blogs associated with children's books or whose authors wrote for children. When I did my other tours, I already had a list of authors who were willing to blog about my books. This list was developed from authors I have spotlighted with interviews on my own blog.

Again, I contacted authors who specialized in the genre of the stories I was promoting. I sent an email introducing my book, asking for a guest spot, and letting the blogger know I'd be willing to do an interview, guest post or send an excerpt, whatever the blogger preferred. I asked for a spot during a specific two-week period of time and set the tour out a couple of months ahead to ensure spots on various blogs would be available. I kept a list of whom I contacted, the dates agreed upon and what was required.

At least two to three weeks prior to the post, I sent the necessary information to the blogger. I then scheduled tweets on Twitter and Facebook to inform my followers as to when I will appear at each blog. The day before the tour starts, I post on my own blog, giving the schedule of the tour. The day of the post, I stop by and thank the blogger early in the day. Then, periodically throughout the day, I will check to see if there are comments and answer each one.

I have offered giveaways during my tours. I did not offer anything for Ghost for Rent. For A Past and A Future, I offered a romantic science fiction short story, which was not included in the collection. For Love Delivery, I offered a short romance. For Lady in Waiting and Mirror, Mirror, which was a combined tour since they were released within a month of each other, I offered two prizes: one copy of Lady in Waiting and one of Mirror, Mirror. The last tour, I believe, had the most comments.

I'm not sure if that's because I offered a copy of the books I was promoting, or because my name is becoming more familiar, and I have more followers. Also, with the last tour, I posted on various Facebook groups to which I belong, which gave me more exposure.

At the end of each tour, I always thank the bloggers who hosted me.

6 comments:

  1. There is some wonderful information here. I hadn't thought about the different time zones, which is definitely something to consider. I have yet to figure out how to make a trailer, but Killarney's idea of using a known song writer makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing everyone.

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    1. LOL! If you ever need help making a trailer Penny just let me know, I'd be thrilled to give you a hand. (I am by no means a pro at it either ).

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  2. There are so many ways to get your name out there and one thing I try to stress to people is there are a million authors out there. If you don't stand out in someway you are just another fish in that great big sea. No matter how good a writer you are it comes down to selling books.
    Thanks for having me here today! Oh and a note, Guilty Kisses is now officially part of MusiCounts.ca and all sales until the end of the book contract go to help keep music in schools. Thanks!

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  3. Definitely agree about author recognition. Takes time and it's a sea of names your swimming with. Killarney...sounds like you got the edge!

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  4. Trailers definitely help with promotions and blog tours, I have a couple on YouTube. It was great being given the opportunity to offer some advice about blog tours so many thanks for that.

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  5. I was very happy to gather the thoughts of these writers. Thanks to Writers Rainbow for putting them out there.

    Sorry being late to post, but we just came back from Las Vegas for our 32nd anniversary. Since we married on 2/29/80, we like to really do it up right when we have an actual anniversary day.

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