Archive for the ‘lessons learned’ Category

I met Mary a few years ago at Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference, and I am so thankful that she has become a dear friend since then. Mary is the reason I ventured into blog tours since she asked me to coordinate her tour for her book, Authentic Parenting. Mary is diligent and tenacious in her marketing efforts, and I admire how much she gives back to the writing community. I know you’ll enjoy her thoughts today.

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
Three and a half years. I started to keep our prayer/financial supporters updated on our missionary journey as church planters to France.

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
I will always do a blog tour for every book release.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books (or other products) through blogging?
Give away free books. Developing ancillary products that I advertise on my blog. (For instance, 150 Conversation Starters. They also tie into Authentic Parenting).

4. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
Thinking it will make for big exposure and sales. It’s more micro than that. It’s said that a customer needs five touches to make a purchase. Blogging or blog tours is simply one touch.

5. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
See this article.

6. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
You have to tie it into actual sales. The only way to do that is to sell actual books on your blog or website. Then you can track them. Amazon numbers are fickle and do not necessarily give you the hard data you need.

7. What are the components of a successful blog tour?
Check out this article.
8. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Do not send out the same content to fifty blogs. Totally boring. Do exclusive interviews or write fresh articles.

Thanks for sharing your insight, Mary!

Mary has two great blogs you will want to check out: Her personal blog, Relevant Blog and her blog for writers, So You Wanna Be Published.

To read the other interviews in this series, click here.

You can read the summary posts and discussion of what I’ve learned through these interviews over on my personal blog, click here.


Read Full Post »

Our very first interview in this series on Blogging, Blog Tours, and Publicity features Randy Ingermanson. Randy talents come from both the left and the right side of his brain. He’s a physicist and an award-winning author who mentors and teaches others in the art of writing. His ezine reaches over 11,000 subscribers, making it the largest ezine of its kind in the world.

Randy shares some great insight and thinking into this thing called blogging, so grab a pen and paper to make some notes!

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I started in April 2007 because I felt it was time. Up till then, I’d had other things that were more important, but I thought the time was ripe.

I teach people how to write fiction on my web site (www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com) and I write a monthly electronic magazine that now goes out to over 11,000 people. It’s the largest of its kind in the world.

But I thought it would be good to have a more interactive forum for discussion. A blog gives you immediate feedback. If people love what you said, they’ll comment on it. If they hate it, they’ll comment. If they fall asleep, they won’t say anything.

Those comments can be incredibly useful. People will ask questions that expose a whole new topic I’d never thought to teach about. Or they’ll say something that makes me see things in a whole new light.

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
Blog tours don’t play a major role for me. But blogging has proven to be a powerful marketing tool. I host my blog on my web site, so traffic to my site increased as soon as I started blogging. Google pays more attention to web sites with a blog on them, so it raised my rankings for some of my key pages. So now my site is in the top 5 results if you search on quite a number of keyphrases related to fiction writing. Because of that, the search engines are bringing me more traffic.

I would estimate that my traffic has roughly quadrupled on my web site in the nine months since I started blogging. Part of that is due to my blog, and part is due to some other things I’ve done, such as moving my “super-article” on the Snowflake method from my personal web site to my Advanced Fiction Writing web site.

For those who only care about numbers when they have a dollar sign attached, I will say this: the passive revenue from my web site has more than doubled since I started blogging. I didn’t know that would happen. I didn’t plan it. It just happened. Part of the reason for this is the increased traffic, and part of it is presumably that frequent blogging increases the level of trust people feel for me. Trust is something you have to earn and keep on earning.

The four key aspects of my marketing strategy are these:
1) My products (you can’t market without a product)
2) My web site (with articles and product-info pages)
3) My e-zine (maintains my visibility monthly)
4) My blog (daily visibility plus feedback plus relationships)

Every one of these is critical.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books (or other products) through blogging?
I will launch a different blog in the future to market my books. At the moment, I only have one blog (The Advanced Fiction Writing Blog) that is key to marketing my “how to write fiction” products. Here are the keys to my success:

1) A fast start. I had a huge platform already with my e-zine and its many thousands of readers. So my blog launch was amazing. I had about 6000 readers the first day.

2) Consistency. I blog five days a week, and people know I’ll be there. They know how much I’ll write in a blog post. They know what quality it’ll be.

Interactivity. I encourage comments and I often respond to the comments. If somebody asks for help on a particular problem, I’ll either give advice right there in public on the blog, or I’ll ask my blog readers to make suggestions–and I’ll offer a prize for the best suggestion. This has fostered an enormous sense of community on my blog. I could die and my blog readers would still care about each other and give each other support, advice, encouragement. That’s pretty cool.

4. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
Here are the main mistakes.

1) Blogging for promotion. The fact is that nobody wants to read a blog that’s about promoting you and your products. How many times have you ever turned on the TV saying, “Gosh, I wonder what great commercials I’m going to see today?” I’ll bet you only do that during the Super Bowl. If your blog exists solely to promote you and your stuff, then shoot that blog in the brain, because it’s just a commercial. You should be blogging to give people something–information or entertainment or whatever. If you are blogging so people will give you money, then switch to something more lucrative, such as selling tofu to tigers.

2) Inconsistency. Ever come across a blog where the last entry is six months ago? I have. Do you ever go back? Nope, of course not. Why should you? There most likely won’t be anything there. If you leave a comment, you can bet nobody will read it. So you don’t bother. Have a set schedule for your blog, let people know what it is, and stick to it.

Hosting the blog anywhere other than on your own web site. I host my blog on http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com, not on Blogger.com or Blogspot.com or WordPress.com or any of the other public hosting sites. Why should they get my traffic? I want my blog readers ON my site, where they can see what else I’ve got. I want Alexa to count my blog readers as traffic on my site. I want Google raising the ranking of all the pages on my site because it’s got a blog on it. This is a key mistake that I see even big-name authors making sometimes–hosting their blog somewhere else. It’s a little more work to host it on your own site, but you reap the rewards forever if you do.

5. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
That depends entirely on the blog tour. I’m not overly amazed at the effectiveness of blog tours.

I did participate in one last year when Allison Bottke launched her novel ONE LITTLE SECRET.
I was kind of nervous, because I was the lead blog in the tour. So I didn’t want to mess up. It turned out pretty well. Here’s why:

I gave people some serious incentives to buy Allison’s book that very day. For people who bought the book, Allison and I gave people a 50% discount on a CD that she and I had created. The discount was actually larger than the cost of the book, so it was like getting the book for free. Allison’s Amazon ranking reached about #2000 during that day, and she and I also earned quite a bit of money during that 24 hours. (Isn’t that a cool concept–earning a little money by running a marketing campaign?)

So I think blog tours can in principle be useful, if they’re run right. It all depends on whether the bloggers on the tour have a decent platform and on whether you’re able to create what the marketing-droids calls a “Unique Selling Proposition.”

6. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
I can only answer that for myself, since I’m sure other people will have different goals. If I ran a blog tour, I’d want to see strong trackable sales of the book. “Strong” means hundreds or thousands of copies sold per day. “Trackable” means that you have an exact count of how many.

How do you do that? You create an irresistible offer that includes the customer buying the book on Amazon via a specific link that you can track and also includes giving the customer some freebies during a specific launch window. If the offer is truly irresistible, then people will buy the book in droves.

7. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Blogging is not some magic cure-all. It should be part of a well-defined integrated strategy. I believe that marketing for a book starts months or (preferably) years before your book hits the bookstores. A blog is part of that, as long as it fits in with your brand, your web site, your e-zine, etc.. It is possible to make your blog a very large part of your strategy, since a blog can fill the role of a web site (if you have links to your products) and it can replace an e-zine (if you use an e-mail notification scheme like FeedBlitz.)

The most important thing to remember with blogging (or any web-based marketing) is this: “Content Is King.” If you have good content on your blog (or web site or e-zine) then it will practically market itself. So focus on creating good content and then use all the marketing techniques to get the word out.

Thanks so much, Randy for participating kicking off our interviews. Be sure to check out Randy’s latest discussion on websites and blogs, as well as the other great products and information on his website.

To read the other interviews in this series, click here.

You can read the summary posts and discussion of what I’ve learned through these interviews over on my personal blog, spaghettipie.

Read Full Post »

Marcus posted an interesting interview with author Austin Boyd today on the effectiveness of blog tours. Read it and see what you think.

Read Full Post »

I know it’s been some time since the end of Mary DeMuth‘s blog tour, and you’ve all been waiting patiently for the results, right? Well, your day has finally come! After six weeks and eighty-five blogs worth of posting and tracking, Marcus and I have some lessons to share with you about this thing called Blog Touring. I surveyed our participants and received a 36% response rate detailing what went well, what didn’t, and overall how participants felt about the tour. I’ll share about that here with you, and Marcus will give you the low-down on the actual statistics and what they mean.

The participants would tell you the overall tour was a success. The factors they seemed to use in determining that metric were the following list:

1) Ease of participation. From the blogging newbies to the technically challenged to the just plain busy, almost every single respondent to the survey mentioned at some point that Mary’s tour made it easy to participate. I’ll talk more about the tour elements we utilized that made it so.

2) Great book, great author. (In fact, if you still haven’t gotten your copy. . .) You can’t get around having a great product. And it helps that Mary DeMuth is not only a great author but a wonderful person. The majority of the participants became involved because of their relationship with Mary or their admiration for her as a person. They also really enjoyed and appreciated her book. They considered any opportunity taken to help promote Mary and her book a success.

According to participants, what went well:

1) A centralized website. Every single participant who gave feedback agreed that having a centralized website containing all of the information needed to participate in the tour was not only helpful, but key to making it easy to participate. Several people commented this was the best tour in which they had ever participated. I attribute that to the website being well-organized and chock full of information. We housed links to example postings, the excerpt, photos, and all the participating blogs. We included detailed instructions for participating in the tour, as well as the schedule and pre-written HTML codes for nearly every aspect of the tour. People appreciated being able to get what they needed without having to send a bunch of emails back and forth.

2) Options, options, options. We gave participants the option to use a canned interview, personal interview or no interview at all. Some conducted book reviews while others wrote their own commentaries on parenting or being authentic. Some people simply posted the book cover and a link to buy Authentic Parenting. A few people never even mentioned buying the book. We made an excerpt, a photo of Mary, a photo of the book cover and the canned interview easily accessible. Bottom line? Blog authors could tailor their “stop” in whatever way fit the tone of their blog.

3) Clear communication. We sent an introductory email explaining the tour, a reminder email to the blogs participating each week and a follow up email summarizing all of the blogs participating each week. Nearly every respondent to the survey stated this was the right amount of communication, and all were particularly grateful for the email reminders.

4) Blog tour director. Many people appreciated the fact that Mary had someone directing her blog tour. They received quick answers to their questions, and they didn’t feel like they were bugging Mary for stuff. As the director, I was able to help several people with technical questions so they were still able to post, allowing Mary to concentrate on the interviews and guest blogging.

5) A centralized website. Oh, did I say that already? Truly, this was key not only for the participants, but even for my sanity.

6) Contact with other blogs. Several people commented that they really enjoyed the exposure to other blogs they might not otherwise have found. I know for me, personally, I continue to read many of the blogs that participated in the tour.

Of course, they had to point out some things to improve, right? Here were the biggest complaints (although I must say, no one really complained. . .suggestions for improvement might be better way to say it):

1) Didn’t receive a copy of the book. Mary gave away 30 books, but due to the overwhelming number of participants in the tour, that didn’t even cover half of the people. It’s wonderful that everyone wanted a copy to have or give away. Hopefully they found the book worth buying themselves. A few suggested at least sending bookmarks or postcards.

2) Overuse of the canned interview. Many bloggers used the interview like an Associated Press news release: they posted it verbatim. While that is certainly convenient, when eighty-five blogs post it over six weeks’ time, well, it gets a little old. (Remember, this is feedback from the participants themselves!) I don’t really know how to address this in the future because bloggers used it enough to make it an essential tool. I guess you need to really encourage people to personalize it or use the data, but not post the interview itself.

3) Nothing else. Seriously. Not one other suggestion or complaint! I don’t say that to brag but to highlight the excellent teamwork that went on between the participants and the APT blog tour team.

I’ll try to get two more posts up this week: Anatomy of a Well-Structured Blog Tour and The Cost of Blog Touring. If you participated, I’d love to hear any additional thoughts or feedback. If you’re just interested in blog tours, tell me your thoughts about what we learned.

To read a summary of all of the participants on the blog tour, click here.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts