Blog tours ... are they worth the time and effort?
Whether you use a tour service or plan, organize and execute the tour yourself, do you really reap a benefit from the time and effort spent? Or, does the cost of the tour, the associated raffle prizes, and time far outweigh any profit you may see in sales?
I asked five author-friends of mine who were about to embark on their own blog tours to track their time, their costs, and to monitor their Amazon ranking throughout their tour. As well, since I was doing three tours myself within a 4 month time frame, I kept close track of my own results. All total, between the six of us, we took part in 16 tours (12 through four different tour services and four self-arranged).
For those booked through a service:
Average length: 2 weeks; 12 blog stops
Average tour cost: $60 (not including hours invested)
Average prize cost: $18 (usually a gift card and/or book giveaway)
Average time spent: 10 hours (1 hr set up; 3 hrs completing blog posts/questionnaires, 1/2 hr per stop for comment response/viral sharing.)
Average boost in sales: No significant change in Amazon ranking for books at regular price. For those who put their book on sale during the tour, they did receive a slight bump in ranking. One author reported jumping 80K in rank on release day. However, it was not clear if that was related to the tour, or because the sales figures included possible pre-orders and the publisher's release-day discount.
For those authors who organized their own tour:
Average length: 1 week, 8-10 stops
Average tour cost: $0 (not including hours invested)
Average prize cost: $20
Average time spent: 42 hours (This included posting to Yahoo groups, FB groups, and sending emails requesting blog space, prepping blog posts/questionnaires, emailing materials to all hosts.)
Average boost in sales: Same as above for tours through a service.
What is the real value of doing a blog tour?
For the most part, it’s become the consensus that the value lies in introducing yourself to a new audience. However, even that has its drawbacks. The most recent tour I completed was a two-week, 13-stop tour. I saw comments from the same four to six people at each stop ... tour groupies out to win gift cards or books. I’m doubtful any of them would use that gift card to purchase my novel, but you can’t ignore them when they comment. Just in case.
The most valuable thing I got from the tour was that four of the bloggers also chose to review my book. And, fortunately, the reviews were good, great in fact. And, on the one day when the blogger gushed for even longer than my blurb and excerpt, I actually got a significant bump in sales, landing in the top 100 on Amazon!
An even better alternative?
Having been a bit disillusioned with the minimal benefits from company-run tours, and definitely not having the extra 40-50 hours to plan my own, I made the jump to becoming a tour host. I host an average of three guests per week. Set up for each tour takes approximately a half-hour. I do occasionally do review tours, which then increases my time to read and review the book. However, on the up-side, I’ve found some wonderful new-to-me authors.
My blog receives 50-100 visitors per tour day. My own books are advertised on the sidebars, along with the link to the corresponding excerpt/buy link page on my website. My monthly book giveaway has sold out each month. And, because my social media buttons are also prominent, I’ve received more followers to my blog, Twitter and Facebook from other authors’ tours than I did from my own!
Whether you’d rather be the tour, host the tour, or not tour at all is up to you. It’s all about exposure. You can’t sell what they don’t see. I still do the occasional tour of my own (now discounted because I host), but I’m finding a very rewarding satisfaction in promoting other authors. While still promoting myself, of course.
Please feel free to comment if you have any questions.
Until next month, stay happy, stay healthy, stay well read.