The 6 Steps to Successful DIY Blog Tours

Pumpkinacindermamastory

This is a must-read guest post by romance author Ines Johnson whose Pumkin: a Cinderama Story was released on March 10. If you want to save money and prepare successful blog tours on your own, a how-to guide follows.

For a full presentation of Pumkin: a Cinderama Story including an excerpt, I prepared a post on my promo blog.

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DIY Blog Tour

If You Publish It, They Will Come

That may have been true ten, five years ago in indie publishing. It is no longer the case today. Readers have a lot of authors and books to choose from. They don’t know you, so you have to do something to get their attention.

Okay, but what something? After visiting Google, I decided to do my own blog tour. I went to listservs and chat rooms for authors and asked questions. Established authors said a blog tour was a waste of time. But new and indie authors said to go for it. I had nothing to lose, and no money to spend, so I did it myself. Here’s how I did it.

1. Build a MEDIA KIT

Honestly, this wasn’t the first thing I did. I realized I needed it as responses started rolling in with bloggers requesting the same materials over and again. But I recommend it be the first thing you do.

A media kit is everything a blogger could possibly want or need in order to host you on their webpage. Include in your Media Kit the following:

  • Your book blurb. I included different lengths of my blurb, including the full blurb that’s up on Amazon. A shorter three sentence blurb. And a one sentence blurb. My debut book was erotic romance, so I also had to be sure and include a PG version of my blurb for bloggers who also showcased YA books.

  • Book excerpts. Choose one to two scenes that you feel would get readers engaged in your story. I recommend the excerpt should start somewhere in the middle of the scene and end before the scene is over at a high point of tension. If you choose well, this tactic would naturally lead a reader to push the ‘buy now’ link so they can find out what happens next. Again, make sure you have a PG excerpt for bloggers who showcase YA books.

  • Guest Posts. I wrote three guests posts for my tour. I found that bloggers liked craft pieces, writing tips, and social commentary. So, I wrote one of each. I also found that some bloggers wanted you to answer their list of questions instead of using your posts. I complied, and then saved each question and answer. I included these Q&A’s in my media kit and made them available to all subsequent bloggers.

  • Author biography. Be sure to include the bio you’ve written for yourself and posted on your website. I found that some bloggers preferred a one sentence bio, called a tagline. So, I paired my long bio down and included two options in my kit.

  • Links. Be sure to include your store purchase links, your website url, and all social media links and handles. In my ebook, I have fancy graphic links. I assumed the bloggers would do something graphical with my link, but few did. Instead they just left the entire URL up under my name. I didn’t like that, but I had to realize that many of these bloggers weren’t graphic artists or any more tech savvy than your average person. Moving forward, I’ll need to think of a better way to list these links.

  • Images. Attach images separately, as well as in the body of the kit. If you have a lot of images, make them available upon request.

That was a lot of information, but I suggest you get started on that before contacting bloggers. Many get back to you straight away and begin making requests.

2. Find BLOGGERS

Once your media kit is assembled, you need to start finding blogs to host your amazing information.

I began my search at the Book Blogger Directory: https://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/

I made certain to check for bloggers who were in my genre.

I also checked their sites to see when their last activity happened. You don’t want to spend time querying a blogger whose last post was in 2013.

3. Make CONTACT

Once I had my list of vetted bloggers in my genre, I began to contact them. Be aware that some of these bloggers have handy Google Docs. They’d prefer you use these instead of emailing them directly.

For those I emailed directly, I made a form email, but I sent each blogger an individual email with their name in the salutation. I also tailored the form email to each blogger where possible. For example, if I saw that a blogger was only interested in author interviews, I didn’t mention that I had blog posts and excerpts because I knew they wouldn’t be interested in those items.

Here’s an example of the basic form email that I sent out:

Dear [Book Blogger],

I write erotic romance, paranormal romance, and fairytale retellings under the pen name, Ines Johnson. My newest release,Pumpkin: a Cindermama story, which is a fairytale retelling of the Cinderella story will hit the print and virtual shelves on March 17th.

I’ve planned a book tour throughout the month of March to create some buzz and garner a bigger audience for my book. I’d love to make a stop at your site. I’m happy to do a Q&A, a blog posting, submit my book for your review, or any combination of the three. I’ve prepared three posts for the occasion. If you feel that one of the topics might interest your readers, I would be happy to make it available to you any day during the month of March and April. Attached you’ll find my Media Kit for your convenience.

4. Keep RECORDS

It looks bad to contact the same person over and again. Or to forget that you agreed to give this blogger that post on this day. I kept a spreadsheet in Google Docs so that I had access to it at all times.

On the list I listed the blog title, the blog URL, the contact person’s name and email address. In other columns, I placed what each blog looked for from guest bloggers, when I contacted them, if they responded, if they said yes and what they wanted, when the post would be live, and when they needed the information by. You should also note if they want exclusive content, and if they want you to provide them a giveaway.

* a note about giveaways: try where possible to offer your book as a giveaway. I got my highest sales on the days I offered my book as a free giveaway. I didn’t want to offer a gift card, remember I was broke by this time.

5. Be SOCIAL

As the blog tour began, I made a fancy banner announcing the tour for my webpage. I linked to each blog that hosted me.

On the day of each tour stop, I tweeted and posted each blog. And I visited each site to try and interact with any commenters and responded where appropriate.

6. Send THANK YOU NOTES

But the most important thing I did, was mind my manners. After each post I wrote a personalized thank you note to each blogger. I told them how they affected my sales rank that day. Each one invited me back!

7. The VERDICT

I had phenomenal success with my tour! I was on thirty blogs over the course of my launch week. As soon as those posts went live, my debut novel was launched into the Top 100 where its stayed for a week after my launch. I could see the effects in real time. When a tour stop went live, an hour or so later, I’d see sales. I didn’t see much of a blip on social media (ie, my newsletter or Facebook Likes). My twitter followers did see some of an uptick, but mostly from the bloggers themselves as they tweeted about the post.

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Here’s more on Ines Johnson’s latest, super-cute fairy tale romance.

Pumpkin-3DBlurb

Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne has been searching for his soulmate all his life, whom he’ll recognize at first sight by a golden aura, that only he can see, surrounding her person. Manny doesn’t see gold when he meets Pumpkin, but the more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

Purchase Links

Amazon Purchase Link

Goodreads

Author Bio

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Connect with the author

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/ineswrites

Twitter

https://twitter.com/ineswrites

Website

https://inesjohnson.wordpress.com/

Publisher

http://heartspell.com/

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GIF Friday: Beat It #3 (Emma Stone)

Last week’s winner of a free book promo: C.H. Little for her newly released The SearchCheck out the other awesome offerings of last week’s Beat It #2 with Kristin Kreuk. This week’s star is Emma Stone. She has such a mobile face, I couldn’t resist.
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Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh?

Then this meme-type exercise is for you. Read on for a quick how-to.

SCULPTURE & ART (1)

  • Take a good look at the GIF below.
  • Using the scene set up I give you, describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing out the scene yourself.
  • Post your “beat” until Wednesday as a comment here, blog it, post on Facebook, wherever.
  • If you don’t post here, leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get FREE book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

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GIF FRIDAY: BEAT IT #3 starring Emma Stone

I led her on. I kept the stutter, blinked whenever she looked at me and let her choose from the wine list. She went for the $100 Château Clinet, her eyes twinkling, probably relishing the prospect of embarrassing me when the bill came. She kept her condescending air throughout the meal, her speech over-enunciated as if talking to a hearing-impaired toddler. Either that or my affected stutter was infectious.

“And what … are your plans after graduating? Will you … still live … at your mom’s?” Her nodding was nothing short of patronizing.

I took off my glasses and tucked them in my breast pocket.

Showtime.

“Actually, it’s my mom who lives with me. It’s temporary until she fully recovers from the accident. Jobwise, I’ll take over this restaurant, since I own it.” I held the wine bottle in my palm and shook my head. “This wine list needs serious upgrading.”

(insert beat)

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Well, turnabout is fair play, as they say. Here’s how writers described this:

Nicholas C. Rossis

Her breath exploded from her mouth. “Wow!” she mouthed, then turned away so I wouldn’t see her expression sour as if her Château Clinet had somehow turned into a bucket of vinegar. Somehow, I managed to keep my own face expressionless as I pretended to study a tiny crimson drop rolling down the inside of my glass.

David Prosser

She stood up her face reddening. “Hell” she said “”wow, I’m astounded. You do realise I’ve been teasing you all night don’t you”? She sat down again with her jaw still opening and closing from little gasps of breath like a fish out of water.Gradually she paled and her shoulders slumped knowing she’d gone too far.

Andrea Cooper

At my news, her eyes widened and “wow” popped out of her mouth like meeting a rock star for the first time. Then the realization of my words sunk in and her mouth stayed agape for a second too long. She glanced away with her face holding the appalling thought that she’d just blown it.

Vicki Jamieson

She recoiled from me as I spoke, the confidence draining from her body. She tried to hold my gaze and some measure of composure on her face, but as I finished speaking we both recognised my revelation had caught her off balance. She turned away from me, drawing breath and trying to compose herself, but she couldn’t hide the widening horror in her eyes and the way her shoulders slumped forward as her misjudgment sank in.

Anke

Her eyes grew to the size of saucers. “Wow!”, she yelped, all pretence forgotten. Then, als the impact of my revelations fully hit her, she turned away. She wasn’t as much amazed as outrightly shocked. Her mouth opened to let out a moan of incredulous surprise. She was defeated, and the vertical line that appeared between her eyes gave away the anger she felt at herself. She had chosen the wrong tack with me, and the horror at having missed her chance crept all over her face.

Rebecca McKinnon

Her eyes immediately widen in shock at the grossness of her misconception. Her shame is palpable; she can’t continue looking at me under the weight of it. She turns her head away and downward, her awkward reply making a circular O of her mouth: “Wow…”

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Thanks to all writers who came out and played this week!

GIF Friday: Beat It #2 (Kristin Kreuk)

Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh?

Then this meme-type exercise is for you. Read on for a quick how-to.

  • SCULPTURE & ARTTake a good look at the GIF below.
  • Using the scene set up I give you, describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing out the scene yourself.
  • Post your “beat” until Wednesday as a comment here, blog it, post on Facebook, wherever.
  • If you don’t post here, leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get FREE book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

Two science fiction writers are last week’s winners: Margaret Fieland and Nicholas C. Rossis, who will both get free book promos. Check out GIF Friday: Beat It #1 to see how they described last week’s GIF.

Would you like to join the fun? Then go ahead and “beat it”.

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GIF FRIDAY: BEAT IT #2 starring Kristin Kreuk

My temples pounding in sync with the banging, I reach the shed and swing the door open. Yup, I found the source of all the noise that woke me, and boy, is she worked up.

“Jesus. You assembled the bookcase by yourself?” I ask. The thing ate up the entire space.

(Insert beat) “What? You thought I couldn’t wield a crowfoot wrench? By the time you got around to doing it, it would have turned moldy-green.”

I scratch the back of my head. “Umm, okay, but how are we getting it out? It won’t fit through the door.”

She stands up and brushes her hands on her jeans. “Well, I’ll leave you to ponder on that. You woke up at two in the afternoon. I’m sure you’re full of productive energy.” Passing by me, she pinches my cheek. “Just make sure it’s in our living room by five, before your parents arrive,” she says oh so sweetly. “I did promise them you’ll have it on display today. They paid for it, after all.” She leaves, closing the door behind her.

I guess she found out Doug’s bachelor party wasn’t held at his basement.

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And here are the awesome offerings:

Nicholas C. Rossis

She blows off an errand strand of hair that tickles her nose. Her gaze bores two holes into my skull. Ants crawl up and down my spine.

C. H. Little

Those catlike eyes flash with fury she doesn’t bother to conceal. I’m in real trouble this time. An errant strand of the hair she never seems able to tame falls across her face and she blows it away impatiently, a challenge blazing in her eyes.

Rebecca N. McKinnon

She didn’t look up from her work so much as she could’ve broken her neck with the force of its upward trajectory. Her unblinking eyes bore into mine in silent challenge. She huffed powerfully, sending a loose strand of hair shooting above her sweaty brow.

Vicki Jamieson

She looks up at me, a determination I haven’t seen before burning behind her eyes. She fixes me with her gaze, pouts her bottom lip and blows an errant strand of hair from her face defiantly. Her eyes are hard and her gaze doesn’t shift; only a twitch of her eye gives away any emotion as speaks.

Anke

She looked at me defiantly. A loose strand of hair got in the way of her stare. Normally, she would sweetly tug it away behind her ear. Not now. She did away with it with a forceful blow of air from her mouth. The agressive, unyielding twitch of her eyes warned me not to mess with her, either.

GIF Friday: Beat It #1 (Robert Pattinson)

Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh? Well, I do, and I hope this meme-type exercise proves helpful.

I’m going through a phase of introspection writing-wise, and I’ve cut down on blogging and using social media as much as I did before (which was not much to begin with). BUT, I came up with this idea for a brand new meme that I think will be both fun and provide good training to that writing muscle of yours.

Image copyright: Jean Nelson (depositphotos.com)
Image copyright: Jean Nelson (depositphotos.com)

Here’s the drill: I’ll post a GIF every Friday. It will be a close up of someone recognizable. I’ll give you a brief scene setup, and if you want to take part, you’ll have to describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing the scene yourself. You can write it in the comments’ section, you can blog the meme using the same GIF, you can even post on Facebook. No weird linkies. You can post from Friday until Wednesday. I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media. The only requirement is for you to link back to my blog’s relevant post, and—if you don’t post here—leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get free book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

Sounds like fun? Then go ahead and “beat it”.

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GIF FRIDAY: BEAT IT #1 starring Robert Pattinson

A glowing red charcoal rolled out of the fire pit. I used a stick to push it back. “What about your parents?” He was finally opening up. This was my window to peek in.

He instantly sobered. “My dad passed two months ago. I was trekking the Andes, I didn’t get to say…” (insert beat)

tumblr_n7kxjiDOBX1qkbr8xo4_400
Image found on http://www.robsessedpattinson.com

And here are this week’s offerings:

Nicholas C. Rossis

He pulled his sleeve around his fingers and picked up the tin mug from the fire. He blew into the bubbling liquid. Steam surrounded his face as he stared at the mug with unseeing eyes. The rich aroma of his coffee hit my nostrils, making my mouth water. I said nothing, not wanting to interrupt his thoughts.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said in the end. “It’s too late now.”

Margaret Fieland

He pressed his lips together and a muscle in his cheek twitched. He blinked, glanced down. A second or two passed, and when he spoke again his voice was barely above a whisper. “I never got to say goodbye.”

MM Jaye

His mouth quirked, but there was no humor in it. He looked away. Then he blinked. Several times.

Were his eyes misting over?