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Posts Tagged ‘promotion’

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.

Read Full Post »