Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Benefit of Blog Tours

I've been a member of two blog tours, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy Tour, for over two years now. I've had the privilege to review many good books and enter into some great discussion with others out there in the blogosphere.

Even though this has benefited me, what about the authors? Do the writers who have offered up their work for review get a measurable boost from the coordinated focus of a blog tour.

So far I'd have to say there's no direct benefit to a blog tour.

I come to this conclusion from from two sources. Brandilyn Collins has been involved with the CFBA tour since its inception, and I recall her blogging that she hasn't seen specific movement of more books associated with a blog tour. However, with her marketing experience, she knows the value of getting her name and books out there with visibility.

Also, I was involved with a tour for Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture by Mary DeMuth, and Mark Goodyear tracked measurable stats regarding the tour. They tracked how many books were sold directly through Mary's site. His conclusion was that there wasn't a large increase in sales from the well-organized tour.

However, does this mean blog tours aren't worthwhile?

I would say that there are benefits to blog tours that aren't easily measurable, at least not directly. Maybe people don't rush out and buy the book from Amazon right away, giving noticeable statistics.

My argument is that it is worthwhile for authors to do blog tours in order to get their book out there and find some people that could turn into influencers. I suggest this can be a big benefit for authors.

I can think of several authors whose books I would not have read if not for getting their book for review: Rene Gutteridge, Lisa Bergren, John Aubrey Anderson, and Tom Morrisey to name a few. All of these authors have won me over with the quality of their writing and their interesting stories. What has happened is I have become their advocate. I continue to think of them as I refer people to good authors.

Not only that, but I support them more than I would have earlier. Even though through the blog tours I generally receive the books from the publisher to review, I have purchased books from the writers above. Either I've purchased other books in their catalog, or I buy the books I've already read to give away to others. I also lend out books so others can given them a try and hopefully get interested enough to purchase other books in the future.

Of course this can happen randomly. Maybe I would have picked up one of these books in Barnes and Noble (I have no local Christian bookstore). I do recall looking at Anderson's first book, Abiding Darkness, at B&N. But I never bought it. I don't think I would've walked out with any books from the others I listed there. But I've purchased all of Anderson's work since to give away. I just bought an older book of Gutteridge's, outside of the series I've been enjoying so much. I reviewed Bergren's first book for a tour, and made sure I bought the others so I could finish the series. Early this year I purchased Robin Parrish's Merciless because I couldn't wait an extra month for the blog tour to get it.

Just last week I read a new book from Tim Downs, Less Than Dead. I had read his book Plague Maker on my own and really enjoyed it, but had forgotten about Downs until reading his latest for the tour. I was so delighted to "rediscover" him that I fully plan on completing my collection of his books.

Maybe I'm strange (no comments Mark...), but I can't help but think this type of situation happens with others for blog tours. My conclusion is that an author won't know what type of people they will reach with a blog tour. If they get the right person, they will have an influencer who will carry on promotion that goes beyond the investment the author made by sending some books out for a blog tour.

If anyone reading this has been influenced by any of my posts, I'd love to hear from you on this topic. If you have any thoughts on blog tours, I'd also encourage you to speak up. Coolness.


  1. I so agree with you as a reader. I love telling people about authors I love. And I've tried several through tours who have become favorites.

    As a writer, I focus on getting my name out to new places. I think they're kind of fun. Especially when interviews are added to the mix.

  2. It's a Catch-22 thing for me, Jason. I love the CFBA tours because I'm a voracious reader and love to share opinions on novels. However, I've got two reviews, one today, one in a week, which are not good. No recommendations. I could've copied the "stock" announcement, but I take the review thing kind of seriously. After all, I got a free book under the premise that I would feature/review it on my blog.
    And I only read reviews after I've read a book because I don't want any spoilers.
    I don't know that my opinions influence any readers which stop by my blog, but I do push the novels I think are worthy of attention.

  3. I agree with you! Well said.

    While a blog tour may not spike sales immediately, the information is out there forever.

    A unique Google may bring the blog page to people's attention.

    It's the idea of giving yourself a presence. Blog tours, interviews, etc, are a great way to do this. The more books you write, the more blog tours, the more you develop a presence.

    Another key is to get creative. While we have great sites like CFBA (hey, remember to blog about a book if you say you will!) there are other blog tour specialist who help reach a variety of bloggers who may have a different audience.

    They key is consistency. Keep your name out there and blog tours are great for doing that.


  4. Howdy, Jason. Thanks for your post. I've tried to find the post on Forensics and Faith which you are apparently remembering--I wanted to quote it here. But I can't find it, even after searching my blog. I do agree generally that blog tours may not typically show a direct rise in sales, but fact is, many marketing campaigns don't. I don't think various marketing programs can be looked at by themselves. All together they help get the word out about the author. I certainly have reached new readers through blog tours and will continue to be a part of them.

    One thing you can do, if your book is going on blog tour, is offer something more through the tour. I did this with Crimson Eve, third in the Kanner Lake series, and I do think it worked to gain me new readers. I mention the Crimson Eve blog tour--what I did and how it worked--in my post of June 16, 2008.

    Thanks, Jason, for your thoughtful post.

  5. Thanks for the responses so far everyone!

    Cara - I've enjoyed it from the reader side, nice to see it is enjoyable for the author.

    Nicole - I'm totally with you. The risk is having people NOT like your books. I decided early on I wouldn't sugarcoat a book just because I got it free. I've had some interesting posts off of it (you may recall). I also try to avoid other reviews also. I hope a few people have checked out books I've recommended just through reading the blog.

    Rachel - I've seen some Christian authors say they leave the marketing to the Lord as He's going to do what He wants with it anyway. I don't think there's anything wrong with getting the word out, as long as people don't lose focus of why they're doing what they do.

    Brandilyn - Do you mean I made up a fictional post for you? How ironic :P Hmm. I could swear I've asked you that before. I'm glad you still agree with me!

    The marketing posts you referenced were quality reading.

    And I've bought your Bradleyville series for my wife based off of reading your suspense (and based off my wife being a candidate for the BHCC).

    Anyone else? Oh, BTW, did this post get sent around? I'm getting a lot of traffic (NOT that I'm complaining, LOL).

  6. Brandilyn


    I found where you talked about it - on Charis Connection! I knew I didn't imagine it...

    It wasn't exactly as I described. Maybe there's more hidden info out there in cyberspace.

  7. Well, as you might figure, I have a thought or two about blog tours, Jason. However, I think the most telling info comes from a blog tour for a Web site, not a book, because there is a measurable way of seeing how people respond to the tour. This from Jeff Gerke after the recent Marcher Lord Press tour:

    “I've loved reading all the blogs and reviews by the CSFF members. Thank you for featuring Marcher Lord Press for your September blogtour. I've gotten a big upswing in registrations and of course a massive Google boost ...