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Today, please welcome Kathy Carlton Willis of Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. As a publicist, Kathy is sharing with us some of her expertise in blogging and blog tours.

How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into an author’s overall marketing plan?
+ Blogging by the author helps set them up as an expert on certain subjects-each blog should fit a niche. It develops a readership and a platform. It also allows the author to network with other bloggers and trade services such as blog tours.

+ Blog tours fit into the marketing plan because they develop a grassroots level exposure to the book, creating buzz thanks to the oldest PR method on the planet, “word of mouth.” Other bloggers will reach readers the author couldn’t reach any other way.

Do you require or encourage authors to participate in blog tours to promote their books? Why or why not?
I do not require it, but I recommend it very highly. I offer it in most of my PR campaign packages because I believe it is a great way to get the word out about their books. Some choose not to take me up on this offer, but most are excited to utilize this method of exposure.

What type of blog tour do you suggest and why? (e.g. a short, blitz-type tour mimicking more of an online press release; a longer, multi-stop tour mimicking a physical book tour; or other structure.)
Normally I use an e-blast that has the press release of the book, including the author bio, the photo of the book cover, photo of the author, and a Q & A style interview with the author. Then, there are times that we add one more element that is customized to fit the theme of the book. We also offer contest giveaways.

What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
I wish I could track SALES, thanks to blog tours, but I’ve never figured out a way to do that! So, we just look at the readership for each blog and the comments listed from their readers. When I have a high number of bloggers who agree to participate in the tour, it seems more successful than those when I have less volunteers. My goal is to use the blog tour method to create additional exposure for the book. I encourage blog tour hosts to write their mailing lists to let them know the blog tour has posted. This is just one more way to increase traffic.

What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
I have no data or analysis, but I do know that word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways to create interest in the book. Many consumers need to hear or read about a book multiple times before they ever consider purchasing it-so this helps to increase the number of times consumers hear about the book. It also helps create an appetite for the book-especially when the blog tour host offers to add a book review to the tour. And as a bonus, they also post the review to amazon.com and other online bookstores. So, I’m getting additional book reviewers in the process.

What do you think are the big mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
They don’t blog consistently enough to develop a following.
They don’t blog on topic, losing some readers along the way who just want to read about their niche.
They aren’t relatable to the readers-who are looking for a level of transparency and genuineness from the author in order to relate to them in some way.

Do you think the benefits to an author’s writing career are worth the costs of blogging? Why or why not?
I do think it is beneficial because compared to running ads or other forms of marketing and PR, blog tours are relatively inexpensive to run (the cost of the blog tour coordinator, books to give away to the hosts, books or other items to give away in contests, and shipping).

Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
I would highly recommend authors be willing to post blog tours for other authors on their sites, to develop a network so that when their own books are ready to go on tour, they already have a long list of blog tour hosts ready and willing to return the favor.

Thanks so much for being a part of our series, Kathy!

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.

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Kelly Blewett (WaterBrook Press) and Liz Johnson (Multnomah Books) graciously agreed to participate in my interview series. You can check out their publicity efforts on their blog WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity.

How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into an author’s overall marketing plan?
The obvious answer is that it depends a great deal on the book and the author. For fiction titles, especially new authors, blogging and blog campaigns are an integral part of the campaign. For authors working to establish themselves in a genre or the CBA market, blogging is an excellent grass roots way to create a buzz about their book. Personal blogging can also tie in with other publicity and marketing efforts. For example, if an author has a booksigning or interview coming up, he or she can blog about it before and after the event, adding excitement for those reading the blog and those able to participate in the event. For nonfiction authors or more established fiction authors with a strong platform, personal blogging is important so that fans can keep up. Fans like to feel involved and connected to favorite authors and reading an author’s blog can be like reading an interview with them everyday.

Do you require or encourage authors to participate in blog tours to promote their books? Why or why not?
We always encourage our authors to participate in the blog tours, leaving comments and reading posts. It’s a great way for the author to see how his or her book is affecting the reader. As we mentioned before, it’s also a great way for the blogger, maybe a new fan, to feel connected to and appreciated by the author.

What type of blog tour do you suggest and why? (e.g. a short, blitz-type tour mimicking more of an online press release; a longer, multi-stop tour mimicking a physical book tour; or other structure.)
At WaterBrook Multnomah, we’ve modeled our blog campaigns similarly to groups like the CFBA—offering a short, blitz-type tour. Ours are usually 4 to 5 days long. From our experience this can have great results in increased sales and better Amazon.com ranking numbers, giving the book more credibility on certain sales sites. For example Jeffrey Overstreet, author of Auralia’s Colors noticed more Amazon activity during his 5-day blog tour than he did over 25 radio interviews. Often repeated words and phrases in a blog tour can also affect Search Engine Optimization, which is key to hitting the first page on Google or Yahoo.
We haven’t tried the more extended blog tours, although several of our authors enjoy running those and feel that they get good results from month-long, or longer, campaigns. Logistically, our publicity department is better able to serve our bloggers and our authors by running the shorter campaigns.

What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
The goal of a blog campaign should be to increase the awareness that leads to sales of the book that is being toured. There are several ways to measure awareness, including Technorati.com, which offers graphs and numbers of mentions of a specific word or phrase over a given time period. This is a good indicator of awareness—who’s blogging about the book. Sales departments can often offer information about sales by month or week. We noticed specifically an increase in the number of books purchased by Amazon the month directly following a 2007 CFBA blog tour of Sally Stuart’s Christian Writer’s Market Guide. This told us that they had sold so many books that they needed to restock.

What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
As mentioned above, awareness and sales should be the accomplishment of a blog tour. We’ve seen increased awareness in every blog tour we’ve done and sales data has shown increased sales via online venues in many of our campaigns.

What do you think are the big mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
From a publicity standpoint, we’ve found that it can become easy for authors to think blogging is the only promotion they need to do. The truth is that it’s very important, but definitely not the only thing to focus on. As writers are given the chance for radio interviews, to write articles for other magazines, or other opportunities, we encourage them never to turn down an invitation—unless there are extenuating circumstances. Every publicity opportunity is important—you never know who will listen to or read something. Smaller media can lead to bigger media!

Do you think the benefits to an author’s writing career are worth the costs of blogging? Why or why not?
Usually the highest cost of blogging is time. Authors are usually on tight deadlines, so blogging can take away from precious writing and editing time. But within reason, it’s a wonderful thing. Each author needs to carefully examine his or her schedule and see how much time can be dedicated to blogging. But making that time is important for reaching new fans as well as keeping those who wait a year or sometimes more for the next book. Even if an author blogs just a couple times a week, fans will appreciate the time and the author gets the chance to begin building excitement over upcoming projects.

Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Thanks for the opportunity to share with you and your readers!

Thanks, Kelly and Liz!

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.

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As we move into the next phase of interviews in this series, I’m excited to welcome Jeane Wynn of Wynn-Wynn Media. Jeane is a publicist (not to be confused with publisher), and I’m excited to share with you her perspective on blogging and blog tours.

How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into an author’s overall marketing plan?
Every type of media is essential to book promotion these days, from print to broadcast to online venues, especially blogs. Blogging is really just good, old fashioned grassroots word-of-mouth marketing. It enables us to get books directly in front of particular audiences who are smart, inquisitive, well-read, and amazingly discerning.

Do you require or encourage authors to participate in blog tours to promote their books? Why or why not?
Yes, we certainly encourage author to participate in blog tours. Though we have never had an author refuse, we have had authors who might not have initially grasped the enormous potential and the positive impact a blog tour can have. In those cases, we are able to cite specific examples of blog tour successes and once they have a full understanding of the importance of blogs, there is genuine enthusiasm for blog tours.

If yes to the above question, what type of blog tour do you suggest and why? (e.g. a short, blitz-type tour mimicking more of an online press release; a longer, multi-stop tour mimicking a physical book tour; or other structure.)
We have done both types of blog tours and had successes with them, but we really prefer the short blitz-type tours done in conduction with the books’ release.

What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
Our goal for a blog tour is to provide opportunities for blog owners—who are increasingly becoming experts in certain niches and specialties—to have an opportunity to be among those who shape opinion and have a say as to the quality of what is being published. As the popularity of blogs increases, amazing regular people are able to build and grow audiences who come to trust and respect their opinions. So, in addition to the many traditional media members who get to express their opinions and exercise their influence, we are thrilled that many of those in the new media are also able to do the same. The general goal of all publicity campaigns is to increase exposure of the author and their title. That goal can be, and in fact is, furthered by the number of—and quality of—the blogs that cover an author and their works. We represent the best authors working today, so we know that when we get their material in front of bloggers, the results will be positive.

What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
Blog tours are the modern-day word-of-mouth promotion. It’s really that simple. For years, Ron Popeil has offered discounts on his products if buyers would just tell their friends about his products. He did that (and became a millionaire) because he knows that we are more likely to trust our friends’ and family members’ opinions than we are slick advertising and high-priced spin. Likewise, blogs are online communities whose readers are invested in the opinions of the blog authors. They may not agree with everything the blog owner posts, but they come to know them, trust them, and respect their opinions. And, though it can be hard to pin down hard and fast numbers, especially in an area that is truly still emerging, we are able to come up with approximate numbers regarding blog tour successes, and we’re very happy with them. All buzz is good buzz, and blogs definitely produce a buzz.

What do you think are the big mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
Authors’, and indeed all bloggers’, biggest mistakes are usually that they do not post often enough. Authors should blog about their books, release dates, reviews, and anything else that pertains to the book. Authors need to make sure they schedule time to post several times a week, especially as their release date approaches.

Do you think the benefits to an author’s writing career are worth the costs of blogging? Why or why not?
They definitely are. Just think about it; as far as reader care goes, an author can’t ask for a better opportunity than having their readers come to them. For years (not that long ago), to have the kind of contact authors are now able to have relatively cheaply via a blog, one would have to invest great sums of money in mailing lists and direct mail campaigns. Some of the most affordable aids to success are often overlooked because they are so simple. We encourage authors to take advantage of the huge opportunities they have in blogging because it enables an author to connect with their readers and peers with immediacy. That said, there are times—when a writer is on a tight deadline, for example—that it is certainly okay to slow blog posts, though they should not be abandoned altogether. The ability to connect with readers and to have a reader to be able to see what is happening with their favorite author is truly invaluable.

Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
If an author is hesitant to blog because he or she doesn’t want to share personal information, they shouldn’t hestitate because blogging does not have to be about personal things as much as it is about connecting with readers who want to see into the lives of writers they admire. Who among us hasn’t thought how thrilling it would be to sit near a fire in a cozy British pub discussing Narnia or Screwtape with Mr. Lewis himself? No one would think of asking him about the mundane personal duties of his day, but most would love to get a glimpse inside the brilliant mind. Blogging is one of the best modern equivalents of that fireside conversation, wherein readers are privy to immediate information that isn’t the “official” marketing or catalog copy, press release, or standardized meta data. Blogs are the perfect place for writers to write and share just for the sake of connecting, and that’s why they are worth an author’s time and efforts.

Thanks, Jeane! Hopefully Jeane’s new website will be up and running soon. Bookmark it and check back.

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.

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Marcus is another friend I met through blogging. He did a series on what worked and didn’t during a blog tour, so when I was asked to coordinate Mary’s tour, I immediately contacted Marcus to gain some insight. We’ve been friends ever since. I appreciate Marcus’s desire to give back to the writing community and the fact that he’s just an all-around great guy. I encourage you to get to know him!

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I’ve been blogging at GoodWordEditing.com since December 2006. Before that I had a blog called HillCountryWriter.blogspot.com, from September 2005 to December 2006. Before that, I had a LiveJournal account, though I don’t even remember the name of it. I blogged on LiveJournal in 2003 and 2004 before I left teaching. I didn’t even know to call it blogging at the time.

2. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books through blogging?

Blogging is just an easy vehicle for participating in viral, word of mouth marketing. In order for that to work well, Andy Sernovitz says you need 1) something people want to talk about, and 2) an easy way to share it.

So blogs (as a tool) and blog tours (as a strategy) are the easy way to share. But they don’t give you anything interesting to say necessarily. You must have something interesting to share.

Some people like to say the medium is the message, and that’s true to a point. But that doesn’t mean you can expect the medium to perform without any message at all. You must have something interesting to share. You must.

3. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?

They don’t comment on other blogs enough. They don’t link to other blogs enough. They expect the community to come to their site like they would go to a book store. And that doesn’t work.

You want to know a blogger who does this well? L. L. Barkat. Her comments are EVERYWHERE. Mary DeMuth and Camy Tang are really good at it too.

And I am always surprised at the authors who go on tour, and then never leave comments at the blogs of the people who are promoting them! These authors are telling bloggers that they don’t care about what we say. Probably, they just don’t fully understand social media. It’s social. You comment. You respond. You engage. You discuss.

When authors stay out of the discussion, it feels weird at best.

4. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?

Become a real person to readers and bloggers. When bloggers know you, they want to buy your books. When blog readers know you, they want to buy your books. They can get to know you through your comments, posts, interviews, etc. on a blog tour.

You can also think the direct marketing route of building email lists and recruiting RSS subscribers. If you are dedicated to providing information through those routes–like Randy Ingermanson has proven to be–that can be really successful.

Thank you so much, Marcus! Great insight here.

Be sure to go explore Marcus’s blog. He has a ton of great resources on there!

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.

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LL Barkat is one of those friends whom I met exclusively through blogging. We’ve never met in person, although I do look forward to the day that I can sit down with her and a cup of her homemade tea. I was originally attracted to LL’s blog because she can take everyday experiences and draw out a spiritual truth. I also appreciate her commitment to building community and “spurring each other on toward love and good deeds.” I love her perspective on blogging.

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?

18 fascinating months. As to why I started, can I quote my own blog post?

Here’s what I said in part:

“Over a year ago, I heard Andy Crouch’s public declaration: ‘Blogging is a waste of time.’

His declaration coincided neatly with a bit of advice I received from a Simon & Schuster Director of Marketing and Promotion. ‘You should start a blog,’ she said. ‘We ask all our authors to start blogs.’

The S&S person’s enthusiasm tempted me to begin blogging post-haste. But I admit it was the nonconformist in me that provided hidden energy. I wanted to confront Andy’s bald-faced statement. I wanted to become a blog scientist of sorts, to test out the veracity of his assertion.”

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
Can I be honest? Many blog tours bother me. When I’m blogging and I come across them, I tune out. Worse, I often have this odd sensation that it’s not for real. I feel like it’s a “rigged” effort and I’d rather come across posts from people who just blogged about a book because they really loved it. Bottom line: blog tours tend to lower my respect for the book being highlighted.

One exception is the Sci-Fi tours I often come across when I visit my colleague Mark Goodyear‘s blog. Maybe these tours don’t bother me because I feel like they are a club kind of thing. Sci-Fi people talking to sci-fi people. I never read the full posts, but I always comment on something in them, because I respect Mark and support his efforts regardless of whether these fit with my own interests.

As for how blogging fits with my marketing plan, I feel that an author must respect the medium. It’s a social affair. I show up week after week and if people like me and my work, then they do. If not, well, I can’t force it.

If people are attracted to my writing, this may ultimately turn into book sales, but my experience has been that blogging is more likely to create unexpected and important connections. Would I, for instance, have met Scot McKnight if not for blogging? And would he have given my book such a strong endorsement? I doubt it. Yet even with that, it is not something I could have “planned”. We happened to meet, to genuinely like each other’s work, and so it went.

Beyond this, I think blogging is part of marketing at a much different level. It’s not about me selling to people. But I do learn what sells, what interests others. And this is the early part of marketing . . . finding ideas that the marketplace has a positive response to. In fact, my latest book idea, which you can see here: God in the Yard came from this kind of “market research”. But of course that’s almost a ridiculous thing to say. I never set out to test the idea. Rather, it was an organic occurrence. I did a series of posts on Wendell Berry and living small and focused, and people showed a deep interest. Bing. I realized there was something deeper that just might be worth exploring in a longer work.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books through blogging?
It remains to be seen whether my book will be a success due to blogging. In fact, I expect blogging will only be an enhancement to what my publisher is doing. I’m happy to be with InterVarsity Press because they have reach into established groups, and I think this will be the main cause of my book’s success.

4. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
Self, self, self. Bloggers generally want authentic connection, so the promotion of self is inappropriate to the medium. That doesn’t mean that a writer can’t talk about his life work and books. I do. But it’s just a small part of what I discuss. My larger focus is on other people, their cares, sorrows, dreams and struggles. As I’ve said elsewhere, I write to love. It’s really hard to do that and always be talking about one’s self.

5. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
For this, you must go to my Mount Hermon co-presenter Mark Goodyear. He’s the stat man. And as I recall the stats weren’t so great. On the other hand, he and I have discussed the success of a book that tipped to best-seller status as a result of about 300 blogger’s efforts. This is mentioned in the book The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

That said, I don’t think the bloggers that New Rules mentions participated in a tour. They received books and maybe they blogged about them and maybe they didn’t. The effort had, I believe, a more natural feel to it from the user side.

6. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
Hmmm…. As you can probably tell, I don’t have plans to do a blog tour. It would be a compromise for me to do so. That doesn’t mean I won’t engage my blogging community in ways they find affirming. For instance, you can take a look at my two book club efforts to see how I plan to serve my readers in what may be understood as a reciprocal relationship.

This site is mostly for readers who just want to say something about their experience with the book: Stone Crossings Book Club Blog.

And this site is for readers who really want to go deeper, approximating a true book club experience where people can hear and see each other and participate creatively: Stone Crossings Book Club Wiki.

For someone who chooses to do a blog tour, I would simply suggest considering different forms than what’s been classically done. So. If blog tour participants are enabled to engage creatively and they actually achieve this, then I believe that’s a measure of true success, because it will buffer some of the “rigged” feeling that’s problematic.

7. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Just to encourage people to respect the medium. As I said before, this is a social medium. It’s important not to be anti-social at this great blog party we’re privileged to attend. To paraphrase a famous bible guy, “Let everything you do be guided by love.” Even blogging for promotion.

Be sure to stop over at LL’s blog and witness community in action.

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.

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To be honest, I don’t know Dillon Burroughs personally. He heard about the series I’m posting from his publicist and kindly offered to participate. Immediately, I appreciated his willingness to share his experience and insight. A quick perusal of his website reveals an impressive resume. Also, in this interview Dillon offers an additional perspective on using Facebook which I think you will find helpful.

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
Four years. I’ve been horrible about starting a blog on a topic or book and then ending it to start a new one. However, blogs are not a diary for me. They serve a specific purpose and I kill them off as soon as that purpose is completed.

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
Blogs currently play a secondary role. Speaking and direct, face to face contact is still the most effective form of communication, but online communications are right in there at number two for getting the word out.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books through blogging?
1. Personal: I switched to Facebook almost exclusively at one point because I knew every note would be seen and likely read by the 350 people on my list. It’s only 350 people, but they are people who know me and will spread the word to others.

2. Accurate: Accuracy still counts. If I misquote a person, link, or key fact, there could be big problems…like people not being able to find my book.

4. Why do you focus on Facebook and how effective it is in meeting your goals?
Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. I work on building friends, not sales. Then I post the latest info just for my friends (359 as of today) who pass along via facebook and word of mouth what they think is worth sharing. This results in reaching thousands of people every time I send a note about a radio interview I’ve done or a newspaper that has featured my book. Word gets around without me even leaving the office.

The other factors are that I am trying to focus on a younger audience, most of whom are on facebook, and the fact that facebook is simple to use. Myspace and blogs are great, but at one point I have five different blogs to keep up. Now I have facebook and I copy and past blogs occasionally to my account at myspace. This has been the best combination to date on keeping it simple and spreading the news to the most people in my target audience.

5. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
They write for people who will never read their blogs. Blogs are most effective for people already connected with you, not strangers. They’ll just look at your bio or watch a video clip for ten seconds and decide based on that.

Dead blogs are also bad. I had to put a note on my Amazon blog telling people I had quit using it, so my friends wouldn’t ask when I was going to update it. If your blog hasn’t been updated at least within the past two weeks, shut it down or update it. Blogs work because they are personal and instant.

6. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
I’ve never done a blog tour. Again, I blog to get the word out to my existing contacts so my friends will tell others.

7. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
Exposure and book sales. If these cannot be measured based on a blog tour, why do it?

8. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Blogging is great, but you have to be aware that what you write is there for good. Don’t make comments about your boss or mother-in-law unless you can handle seeing it ten years from now.

Thanks for sharing with us, Dillon.

Please be sure to check out Dillon’s website, as well as his work at the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute.

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.

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I met Camy last year at Mount Hermon through some mutual friends, but we unfortunately did not have much time to get to know each other. I do remember always seeing a smile on her face or catching her laughing, though! Camy’s energy and passion are evident even through her blog, and I admire and appreciate her desire to help other writers.

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I originally started blogging because I like to talk! LOL Seriously, I love journaling and writing and the idea of my stuff out there on the world wide web. But a year or so into blogging, I realized how great a marketing tool a blog can be if done correctly. I took a few workshops and talked with professional blogger friends and started targeting my blog toward my marketing “brand” and my reader demographic. Now, I blog about fun, funny stuff and Asiana, which fit with my tagline of “Romance with a kick of wasabi.”

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
I blog 5 days a week, and I draw readers to my blog with both fun content and Christian fiction giveaways. People are usually drawn to my blog because of the book giveaways, but most keep coming back because they like my posts, which I try to make entertaining and targeted at my reader demographic. I’m hoping my blog readers will go out and buy my book and tell other people about it.

I did a very successful blog tour last September for my debut novel, Sushi for One, and I’m about to launch another one in March for my second novel, Only Uni. I like to have original content on each blog so there’s something interesting for people to read at each “stop” on the tour. Lots of new readers found out about my book and my blog through the blog tour. I like blog tours because they don’t really take that much time and it’s fun to interact with readers.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books (or other products) through blogging?
1) Blog in your marketing brand. I blog about fun stuff–nothing serious–because my books are humorous women’s fiction and romance novels, not deep literary fiction books. I also blog about Asiana, since my novels all have at least one Asian American character. I think this is key for people who use blogging for promotion.

2) Blog consistently. It’s best to blog at least 5 days a week, but some people blog 3 days a week and their blogs do well, also. Some people are frightened away by that kind of time commitment, but I have two tricks I use: (a) Each post is only 250-400 words max–any longer, and readers’ eyes start to glaze over, and (b) I take one day a week and do all my blogging for the entire week. It’s the most efficient use of my time, because I can crank out 5 short blog posts in a couple hours, max.

Have fun doing it. I always tell people that if they try blogging and don’t like it, then don’t do it. People can tell if you’re not enjoying blogging, and a bad blog is worse than no blog at all.

4. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
By thinking that a blog is ALL ABOUT THE BLOGGER. It’s not. Really, it’s all about your blog reader. I focus my posts on my readers and encourage interaction. Of course, I talk about things that happen to me, but I always try to have something for the reader–something funny, entertaining, informative, or a chance to respond. Randy Ingermanson has a good phrase he uses–“value added.” Your blog should have “value added” for your blog readers–something for them, a reason for them to visit your blog.

5. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
My blog readers liked my last blog tour because the different stops enabled them to see different aspects of my books or my personality that interested them. I also gained a lot of publicity about my book, which I enhanced with a newsletter contest running concurrently with the blog tour. The blog tour got more people aware of me, my books, and my contest, which gave away an iPod Nano and lots of Christian fiction books. I had lots of people sign up for my newsletter as a result of the publicity about it from my blog tour.

I’m doing something similar in March–right now, I have a newsletter YahooGroup contest for huge boxes of Christian fiction books, and only newsletter subscribers can enter.

6. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
For me personally, my blog tours are primarily to entertain. While I know the tour is publicizing my book and my contest, I mostly want to just entertain whoever’s reading. I think that when I go into the blog tour with that attitude, it makes for a funner tour. I also like giving away copies of my book during the blog tour, because who doesn’t like a free book? LOL.

Blog tour success is relative. I think a tour is successful if I have lots of people signing up for my newsletter or if I see a jump in my blog readership, but those are just numbers. I love it when people say, “I won a copy of your book from your blog tour and couldn’t put it down!”

7. What are the components of a successful blog tour?
I firmly believe that original content on each blog is really important. Otherwise, the blog tour just becomes a bunch of blogs posting the same piece of advertisement, and that’s not fun for a blog reader if they’re coming from your blog on the stops on your tour. You don’t need to write a book–short guest blog posts or a limit of 5 interview questions is usually good, in my opinion. Also, original content allows the blogger hosting you to insert their own blog’s marketing brand in the questions they ask you or the topic of your guest blog post. A tour with original content generates excitement about each stop on the tour from blog readers, and that’s always key.

8. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Even though I like blog tours, I don’t think authors or anyone else promoting something on a tour should feel that they HAVE to do it. Same thing with blogging–people don’t HAVE to blog in order to market. Lots of people will disagree with me. However, I firmly believe that a bad blog is worse than no blog. People can choose what to read on the web, and why would they choose to read your blog or your books if they don’t like your blog content?

Thanks for having me here!

Thank YOU for being here, Camy! I appreciate all of your insight.

Be sure to check out Camy’s blog. In addition to great content, helpful reviews, and insightful interviews, she also runs a ton of give-aways!

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.

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