We’ve all heard about an online book tour, also often referred to as a book blog tour. They’re a great book promotion tool (if done right) and can really enhance the exposure for your book with readers connected to these blogs.
But where do you start? Let’s dig in!
Different Types of Online Book Tours
There are many companies that offer actual “tours” of your book. Meaning that they have a start and end date for the tour with a calendar list of when the book will appear on a certain blog. These can be great, but they require a lot of scheduling and coordination.
Then you have online book tours that don’t have start and end dates. They just run for however long an author can get exposure for their book.
So what’s my preference? If you’re planning this on your own, I’d go for the latter. Don’t limit yourself or your book promotion to a start and end date. Just keep gathering exposure for your book as new opportunities appear. That’s a great way to keep driving book promotion and attention to your book!
Different Types of Bloggers
First, let’s consider your topic because not all online book tours are created equal. If you’ve written a self-help book, or a book about saving money, you’ll do well to target blogs specific to those markets. You could also consider going after the mommy blogger market, or health and wellness if you book fits there. Consider who your audience is. And, keep in mind your readers could be spread across different areas and those may all be worth targeting. You can download my reader profile worksheet here to really hone in on who your readers are.
But what about genre fiction like mystery and romance? Well, there are blogs that serve that specific market, too.
Then there are blogs that focus on book reviews, in general, and some of them have a variety of reviewers who cater to specific genres.
Start by making a list of different areas you can go after. Or, if you just want to start with one market, let’s say romance if you’ve written a romance novel, that’s fine, too. You can always expand your book promotion outward from there. Especially if this is your first time planning an online book tour, taking it one step at a time is always a great idea.
Different Blogs Offer Different Benefits
Not all blogs will review your book. Some may run an excerpt of it, and some may ask you to write something for their site, so as you start to pull your list together, you should consider that as well. Because not every outreach will result in a review. And to be candid, some may say no or not respond at all – be prepared for this possibility and don’t take it too personally.
One of the best things you can do to enhance the success of your online book tour is to get to know the blogger. The best way to do that is to read through their site, which is why I suggested earlier that you may want to start small. Hone in on one area and establish a relationship with those bloggers there. Then you can expand out to different markets, as you have time. Sometimes the best way to build your book promotion muscle is one step at a time!
Now that we understand the structure behind an online book tour, let’s look at some specific tips, related to planning one for your book!
When to Pitch Bloggers for Your Online Book Tour
Ideally, you’ll want to pitch your book as soon as it’s out or in some cases, even before it’s released. Waiting too long (past the six-month mark) can really impact your results. The reason is because bloggers get inundated with pitches and will, in almost every case, pick newer books over older ones. It’s not often easy to hit the ground running with your book promotion, so planning for your online book tour while your book is still in production is a must!
When You’ve Already Published
If your book is already out, then you should start pitching bloggers right away. Ultimately, you can almost always find some new bloggers, but the newer your book, and/or the more current and newsworthy your topic, the better your results will be.
When You’re in the Pre-Release Phase
What if you haven’t released your book yet? Most bloggers, especially the bigger, highly competitive bloggers who book up months in advance, prefer to have ARCs (advanced reader copies) in hand at least a month or two before publication. Many are open to eARCs, so if you don’t have a print version available in advance of publication, that shouldn’t stop you from advance pitching. (What else should you do in advance? Check out my recent article on this here.)
If the ARC you are sending isn’t final, don’t worry. When it comes to your online book tour, bloggers know that ARCs and eARCs are not the final copy so don’t worry if you still have one final round of editing left.
Pitching and Getting Blogger Requests
Although you want to build a buzz in the first months after publishing, there is no bad time to have a review published. If targeting a specific timeframe or if you have specific requests, definitely give bloggers as much notice as possible.
A word of caution here: make requests instead of demands.
Being courteous and saying “If possible, I’d appreciate XYZ,” goes a long way and you’re more likely to get that “yes.” You can certainly also request they post reviews to Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, etc., and include purchase links and author bios in their posts. However, each blogger does things a certain way. So if they say no, I’d encourage you to be gracious and thankful for every opportunity. Remember, as with anything in book promotion, it’s all about relationships.
I always say success builds on itself. Every positive interaction you have can pave the way toward more opportunities, not just with that blogger but also within their circle, and other outlets. And they do talk.
Following Up with the Blogger
Bloggers are not only super busy, but they’re often inundated with requests. If the answer is no, there’s a good chance the blogger just won’t respond. It’s worth a single follow up if you haven’t heard back from them within a week or so. Otherwise, don’t hound them. If you do, the answer will almost certainly be no. And you might also hear back from a blogger after several months have passed. While not a standard, this isn’t uncommon, so you’ll want to be open to these same opportunities down the road. This is another reason why I don’t like online book tours with end dates, because you never know what can happen!
Be Open to Different Opportunities
Because a blogger pitch may result in something other than a book review, I recommend having some supplemental material ready to go: sample author interviews, guest post ideas (check out my guest posting best practices here), and some killer graphics before you start pitching. That way when those fantastic feature or guest post opportunities come in, you can respond quickly with your contributions.
No opportunity is too small. So always be prepared to say yes!
How to Know Which Bloggers to Pitch and Which to Avoid
Some bloggers are open to being pitched and some are not at all. In other cases, a blogger may have stopped their blog, or are maybe on a personal hiatus. You’ll want to vet each blogger as thoroughly as possible. Are they current? Are they accepting review requests at this time? Do they like your genre? Be sure to check before pitching your book for your online book tour.
They may also have some specific requirements for review requests, so don’t miss checking each blogger’s review policy. Not everyone has one, but if they have taken the time to include a review policy (often on the home page or contact page), you should absolutely follow their guidelines to the letter.
Pitch the Right Bloggers for Your Online Book Tour
It sort of goes without saying that you don’t want to pitch a puppy to a cat person – meaning if you write romance, don’t pitch your book to someone who only reviews literary fiction. Or, if you’re indie published, don’t pitch a blogger who says they won’t consider an indie author. Remember, it comes back to checking out their review policy and guidelines.
Secondly, if someone says no, thank them for their time. You can let them know that you’re open to any other opportunities and would love to work with them if anything changes. But don’t try to sell them on why they will absolutely love this book if they’ve said they aren’t interested.
Be Prepared for Constructive Criticism
Some bloggers only post reviews if they like a book or can give it at least 3 stars out of 5. If you have any anxiety about a bad review, you might want to start with these bloggers and work your way into working with bloggers who will publish their review no matter what.
But don’t let fear of criticism stop you. (Read this article on what to do if someone doesn’t like your book.)
How to Find the Right Bloggers for Your Book
There are tons of bloggers out there, and many have a wide variety of interests. Many are more niche-driven. If your book fits into a particular niche or genre, definitely spend some time vetting and pitching those blogs. Especially if the idea of planning your own online book tour is overwhelming, start with one area and then expand out from there. As you start to plan who you’ll be reaching out to, my new blog outreach tracker will come in handy. You can download it here and use it to build your list and keep track of your incoming requests.
But where can you find these bloggers?
The Power of Hashtags
Don’t forget the power of hashtags like #bookreview and #bookstagram on Twitter and Instagram! They can be a fantastic resource for finding bloggers and influencers for your online book tour. I always recommend email pitching first, so try to track down their emails. You can pitch via DM on social, but this usually takes a little more time to build a relationship in order to get a yes.
Finally, as you find some great book blogs to add to your online book tour, remember that many have a blogroll, or list of their favorite blogs listed on their site. Go down the rabbit hole, and you will probably find some more awesome candidates for your book.
Your list should include contact info as well as requirements and key details and requirements, so that when it comes time to start pitching, you can really kick your efforts into high gear.
How to Get the Most out of Your Online Book Tour Blogger feature
A blogger has agreed to help spread the word about your book – CONGRATULATIONS! Your blog tour is off to a great start!
Don’t waste the opportunity you’ve been given.
If you just let the post sit on their page, that’s what it is, a wasted book promotion opportunity.
Yes, it will build buzz, but, without thanking them, without sharing it, without tagging them on social media, without linking back to it from your own author website, then it’s a huge missed opportunity for current AND future book marketing efforts.
The more you share the love (and their link), the more people you will reach.
And more importantly, showing gratitude and spreading the word, you build a stronger relationship with that blogger. They’ll be more willing to help you in the future (think: your next book and online book tour), and other bloggers and influencers will notice and be more willing to help out, too.
So take the time to be a sharer. It WILL pay off.
How to Double the Blog Placements You Get
Be personal. This may feel obvious, but so many people ignore it. Dig into the site and address your review request to the person who owns it or is in charge of book reviews. Occasionally, this information is hard to find or not listed. However, most bloggers make it VERY easy on you. So take the time to personalize your emails.
They’ll appreciate the time you spend, and you’ll build a stronger network as a result. Not only does it help you build a deeper connection, but you can be sure you’re offering them something they’re actually interested in.
Next Level Tip: Talk About What THEY Have Written.
Your request is about them after all, and asking them to do something for you. So take interest in what they are doing. If your blogger recently wrote about their favorite bookstores, and you’ve been to one (or all) of them, then include a short line about that in your letter!
The bottom line is that while an online book tour alone won’t catapult you into success, it’s a great tool for building exposure. Combined with a multi-pronged book marketing plan, an online book tour is a powerful tool to help drive exposure and build your buzz.