Please help me welcome author Dani Collins to the RU campus! Nowadays, blog tours go hand-in-hand when you’ve got a new release, and Dani’s here to give us pointers on managing your sanity and your blog tour.
Welcome to RU, Dani!
You’ve achieved your dream of publishing a novel and it’s about to hit the shelves. Everyone tells you a blog tour is a must. (It is pretty darned important.) You’re on deadline for your next book, you still have a day job, your family still needs a hot supper and clean socks… How do you wrestle a dozen blog posts into your busy schedule?
That is my life. While I can’t say for sure that blog tours sell books, I know for a fact that people cannot buy a book they don’t know exists. Promotion of some kind is necessary. Do you need to pay someone to organize your blog tour as I did? No. If time permits, you can approach bloggers yourself or go through some wonderful free blogging exchanges. There are tons of posts on how to put a blog tour together so I’m not going to cover that here.
No, my struggle was not the setting up of the tour. I panicked when it came time to fulfill this new set of deadlines. First of all, how do I keep these things straight? How do I maximize this opportunity the blogger has given me? What do I write?
Here’s how I’ve come to stay organized (and calm) as I promote my books through guest blogging.
- Make a list
My table is simple, including the date of the guest post on the left, the hosting website (with url and email contact) in the middle column, and the expected content (eg. Guest post or interview questions or Giveaway.)
You could get fancy and use more columns, perhaps add checkboxes for WRITTEN or SENT. I have a personal pet peeve with Excel for Mac or I’d do exactly that. For the moment, I have the schedule printed at my elbow and I write on it as I finish the posts and send them. I also note which ones I’ve thanked and the date that I send the Giveaway.
- Make a template
This sounds daunting, but all I’m talking about here is preparing the standard content you’ll want to include with most posts. When I send a guest post, I always include:
- Bio (approx 100 words)
- Blurb (back cover copy)
- Buy Links
- Social Media Links
When I send, I’ll also attach my head shot and book cover so you may want to copy those into your Blog Tour folder. Now you don’t have to chase this info unless you want to offer an exclusive excerpt or make some other change.
- Prepare The Posts
Begin saving your Template under an appropriately named folder so you have one document prepared for each of your guest blog posts. For instance, I have a main folder called Blogging. It has subfolders for each book title/tour, eg. MoreThanTour. I title my actual blog posts with the date of the post and the name of the hosting website (eg. 131209RomanceUniversity.doc) Note that I use the .doc extension. Some ask for .rtf, but .doc is pretty safe.
After this prep work, you should have documents ready for all your committed posts in one place. You’re ready to write the posts and you can pick away at these as the deadlines come up. As a rule of thumb, send the content a week ahead of your posting date.
- Prepare The Content
This part can be a challenge. Brainstorm content ideas ahead of time. Use your Who, What, Where, When, Why, How questions. Using Where, I came up with a post on settings that allowed me to quote some praise from one of my revision letters. Do you have a positive review/fan letter/critique partner comment you can use to anchor a post?
What makes your book stand out among the rest in that genre? In that month? From your other books? You can also:
- Interview your characters
- Interview yourself
- Provide unknown backstory on the characters
- Provide photos or songs that inspired you
- Link the story to an upcoming holiday or something in the news
- Describe your process
- Ask your spouse to read the cover blurb and ask you ten questions about the book
- Expand on the this book’s place in a series
- Provide a recipe or craft project that relates to the book
- Talk about how the magic works if its an imaginary world
Or offer lists of things like:
- Books that inspired yours
- Authors you love
- Places you’ve visited or want to visit
- Favorite quotes
Taking an hour to make a list of topics can save you a lot of time and anxiety when you’re due to write and send your posts.
- Review Before You Write
This is really important. Review the content on the hosting website before you write and submit your post to them. If you’re organizing your own tour, you’ll have done this when you approached them to guest. I always take time to read several posts on a site to get a feel for what they like to post. I also want to be sure I’m not rehashing a recent post on Marriages of Convenience or another topic that might have been covered recently. You want to have a fresh angle even if it’s a common topic.
Before I wrote this post, I combed through RU’s archives and the web. It seems loads of people want to tell you how to organize a tour and why it’s important. Very few want to tell you how to actually be the author in the trenches making the tour happen. I figured that could be my niche and here I am, hopefully standing a little apart from the rest of the crowd.
- Write, Revise, Engage
Yep, just like sending a manuscript, make sure your post is as sharp and clean as you can make it. Be professional, always. Be sure to add a question to engage the audience, particularly if you’ll be offering a giveaway. One of my most successful questions to date was asking whether readers preferred to read a series in order. Your hosts love to see activity on their site. Do your best to engage them.
As stated above, you’ll want to send your post a week before its posting date. Be sure to include:
- The post (with all those goodies like bio and blurb on the bottom)
- Your head shot
- Your book cover
- Any other art (that you have rights to use)
In my cover email, I like to thank the host, repeat the posting date, advise what content I am attaching, and let them know I’m comfortable with their discarding anything they don’t need. Some sites have limits on how many buy links they will post, for instance, but I have all the Amazon, Kobo, etc links on the bottom of my template in case they’re willing to use them.
I usually mention the Giveaway in my cover email, being clear to state the terms. Something like, “I’m happy to giveaway a signed copy of More Than A Convenient Marriage to one of your readers, but I would prefer to mail it within North America.”
- Promote Your Visit
One of the primary reasons bloggers host guests is to build their own fan base. Let your followers know where you’ll be. If you’ve written solid posts, they will want to read your behind-the-scenes peek at your books. Guest blogging is not all about expanding your own audience, but also about feeding your loyalists.
If you’re a working writer like me and won’t be home the day the post will come out, schedule it with Hootsuite for Twitter and Facebook. I’m about to write a blog on my own site with all my upcoming visits listed. Getting the word out about these great sites you’ve visited is a nice Thank You to your host.
It’s posting day. Say hello! Again, I’m often out of the house by 6:15am. For the sake of my career, I do not try to engage with anyone that early in the morning. But I do make a point of visiting later in the day to explain why I wasn’t able to reply to comments throughout the day. You don’t have to reply to every single comment, but do offer proof of life.
- Send The Giveaway and Thank Your Host
I like to do this in one email, confirm that I’ve fulfilled my side of the bargain while thanking them for upholding theirs. If you have some bookmarks or other swag you can offer to pass it along as an additional thanks.
Blog tours are an excellent way to reach out to new readers, but they are work. Maybe not everyone is as OCD about staying organized as I am, though. How do you take some of the stress out of blog tours? Do you have some favorite topics you like to hit when you’re talking up your books? Please share. I’d love to expand on my own list.
On Wednesday, December 4th, historical romance author Nicola Cornick presents: “From Hot Starts to Famous Last Words. The importance of a great first line and an awesome ending for your book.”
Rich, powerful and with a beautiful wife to boot, it seems like Greek shipping magnate Gideon Vozaras has it all. But little does the world know his perfect life is all a façade…
After years of disguising her pain behind a flawless smile, untouchable heiress Adara Vozaras has reached breaking point. Her marriage, once held together by an undeniable passion, has become nothing more than a convenience.
But Gideon can’t afford the public scrutiny that a divorce would bring and if there’s one thing his harsh past has taught him, it’s how to fight dirty to keep what’s his…
Gideon Vozaras used all his discipline to keep his foot light on the accelerator as he followed the rented car, forcing himself to maintain an unhurried pace along the narrow island road while he gripped the wheel in white-knuckled fists. When the other car parked outside the palatial gate of an estate, he pulled his own rental onto the shoulder a discreet distance back then stayed in his vehicle to see if the other driver noticed. As he cut the engine, the AC stopped. Heat enveloped him.
Welcome to Hell.
He hated Greece at the best of times and today was predicted to be one of the hottest on record. The air shimmered under the relentless sun and it wasn’t even ten o’clock yet. But the weather was barely worth noticing.
The gates of the estate were open. The other car could have driven straight through and up to the house, but stayed parked outside. He watched the female driver emerge and take a moment to consider the unguarded entrance. Her shoulders gave a lift and drop as though she screwed up her courage before she took action and walked in.
As she disappeared between imposing brick posts, Gideon left his own car and followed at a measured pace, gut knotting with every step. Outraged stung his veins.
He wanted to believe that wasn’t his wife, but there was no mistaking Adara Vozaras. Not for him. Maybe her tourist clothes of flip-flops, jeans chopped above the knees, a sleeveless top, and a pair of pigtails didn’t fit her usual professional élan, but he knew that backside. The tug it caused in his blood was indisputable. No other woman made an immediate sexual fire crackle awake in him like this. His relentless hunger for Adara had always been his cross to bear and today it was particularly unwelcome.
Spending the week with her mother. This ain’t Chatham, sweetheart.
He paused as he came alongside her car, glancing inside to see a map of the island on the passenger seat. A logo in its corner matched the hotel he’d been told she was booked into. And now she was advising her lover where to meet her? Walking bold as you please up his million-dollar drive to his billion-dollar house? The only clue to the estate’s ownership, the shields welded to the gate, were turned back against the brick wall that fenced the estate from the road.
Gideon’s entire body twitched with an urge to slip his reins of control. He was not a poor man. He’d got past envying other men their wealth once he’d acquired a level of his own.
Nevertheless, a niggle of his dock-rat inferiority complex wormed to life as he took in what he could see of the shoreline property that rolled into a vineyard and orange grove. The towering stone house, three stories with turrets on each corner, belonged on an English estate, not a Greek island. It was twenty bedrooms minimum. If this was the owner’s weekend retreat, he was an obscenely rich man.
Not that Adara needed a rich man. She had grown up wanting for nothing. She had a fortune in her own right plus half of Gideon’s so what was the attraction here?
The insidious whisper formed a knot of betrayal behind his breastbone. Was this why she hadn’t shared that stacked body of hers with him for weeks? His hands curled into fists as he tried to swallow back his gall.
Dreading what he might see as he looked to the front door, he shifted for a full view. Adara had paused halfway to the house to speak with a gardener. A truck overflowing with landscaping tools was parked midway up the drive and workers were crawling like bees over the blooming gardens.
The sun seared the back of Gideon’s neck, strong enough to burn through his shirt to his shoulders, making sweat pool between his shoulder blades and tickle annoyingly down his spine.
They had arrived early this morning, Adara off the ferry, Gideon following in a power boat he was ‘test-piloting.’ She’d been driving a car she’d rented in Athens. His rental had been negotiated at the marina, but the island was small. It hadn’t surprised him when she’d driven right past the nose of his car as he had turned onto the main road.
No, the surprise had been the call thirty-six hours previously when their travel agent had dialed his mobile by mistake. Ever the survivor, Gideon had thought quickly. He’d mentioned that he’d like to surprise his wife by joining her and within seconds, Gideon had had all the details of Adara’s clandestine trip.
Well, not all. He didn’t know whom she was here to see or how she’d met her mystery man. Why was she doing this when he gave her everything she asked for?
He watched Adara’s slender neck bow in disappointment. Ha. The bastard wasn’t home. Grimly satisfied, Gideon folded his arms and waited for his wife.
Bio: Dani Collins spent twenty-five years dreaming of writing full time and finally made her first sale to Harlequin Mills & Boon in May of 2012. She’s still dreaming of making Romance Author her day job, but for now she writes around work, family, and enough exercise to keep her out of traction. For more information about Dani, you can visit her website, listen to her interview with Nice Girls Reading Naughty Books, or watch her interview on GFTV. You can also find Dani on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
- Weekly Lecture Schedule Dec 9-14
- How to Use Social Media to Your Advantage as a Writer with Carrie Smith
- Ten Myths About Editors – Theresa Stevens
- RU’s Changing of the Guard – Big News and Giveaways!
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for November 28-December 2, 2011