Thursday, November 11, 2010

Blog Tour Effectiveness, Part One: The Overview

I'm still collecting numbers, and I want to see how the post-tour 30 days goes, so the figures wrap up will be at the end of the month. For now, I have some general thoughts about the blog tour.

I bet what most folks want to know is: Was is successful? Did it sell books?

There are many ways to define success, so I'll cover a few different measurements.

Did I Enjoy Doing it?
Yes. It was hard work, but I had a lot of fun writing all the posts and chatting with folks in the comments. I've been trying to be more chatty and respond directly to more comments now, as I found I really liked doing that. I think regular blog readers liked the tour, and I think they liked having me visit their blogs. As a networking and connecting exercise I feel it was a success. I got to know some of my fellow bloggers and readers a little better and that was nice.

Did it Bring Readers to the Blog?
A major surprise to me, was that my daily hits dropped by half during the tour. I expected them to go up as new readers found me on the tour sites and came to see what I was all about, but that doesn't appear to be the case. My followers per week did triple, going from an average of 1-3 per week to 9 per week. Since the tour ended, it has dropped back down the 1-3 per week. I have seen a lot of new names in the comments, though.

I think one reason the hits dropped is because I wasn't doing a regular post, so my usual referring links weren't sending folks to me. My numbers have started climbing again as I've gotten back to regular posting, but they still aren't where they were before the tour. 

I also stopped posting on Absolute Write in October, because I was too busy keeping up with the comments on the guest posts and getting more posts done. AW is my third largest referring site to the blog, so that clearly hurt my numbers more than I expected.

Conclusion: I think it did bring in new readers, and the guest posts will continue to do so, but it wasn't a huge bump. Since I posted on sites of readers, odds are I was already reaching a lot of those readers anyway. 

What would I do differently next time: I'd make sure I did a regular post here, then linked to the tour posts. I'd also keep up with my regular forum postings. Reaching out to new sites unconnected to me would also be a good idea.

Did it Bring Readers to My Website?
I'll have more figures on this later, but there was an increase in web traffic. However, that started to drop off as the month continued. So I think as folks followed the tour, they stopped clicking the links because they already had earlier. And because my regular blog traffic slowed down, the web traffic slowed down. 

Conclusion: It did get my name out there, but it may not have kept it out there. It'll be interesting to see what the post-30-day numbers look like. 

What would I do differently next time: Not sure anything can be done differently concerning the website, except maybe create a more sales-focused intro blurb for every post. 

Did it Sell Books?
This is what everyone really wants to know, right?

The Shifter sales averaged about the same in October vs September (the paperback released Aug 31). So far, sales look about the same for November, but we'll see how the next few weeks shake out. There was a big spike in sales the second week of the tour, but that was also the first full week of the Blue Fire release, so I have no way of knowing if the tour spiked sales, or folks seeing Blue Fire on the shelves, then looking for book one did.

Blue Fire had a spike that second week, but that was also release week, so again, who knows what affected sales. Since then, it's evened out and has been steady every week. It's only been out a month, so I have no other figures to compare it to.

Blue Fire  is selling about 10% better than The Shifter (paperback) so far. So folks are picking up book one almost as much as they are book two. That does indicate new readers are discovering me, but I have no way of knowing where those readers found me. 

Conclusion: I'm waiting on website buy bottom click-through numbers, but what I've seen so far is inconclusive. If click-through numbers show a high percentage of folks that bought the book after clicking on a link in the the tour posts, then I'll know it sold books. If not, all I'll know is that folks didn't buy books from clicking on the links. I don't know if they went to the store to buy it or bought it at another online vendor. 

And this is the problem with marketing, because you really don't know what works and what doesn't. I could have had a ton of folks read a tour post and put my book on their holiday gift list, and those sales will show up in December. I just don't know. But aside from one spike that may or may not have been caused by the tour, I didn't see a huge difference in sales. 

What would I do differently next time: Being more sales focused might result in more sales. Most posts had the book info at the bottom because I didn't want to be in-your-face-pushy about it. But a marketing-type blurb intro might have done more to get folks to click over to a buy site.

I also think that targeting my tour posts to more than just writing sites could have made a difference. With a MG audience, it's hard to find online venues that reach that age group. But I could have done better reaching out to teachers and librarians, parents, more teen sites. A much wider variety of sites could have reached a wider group of readers.

I'll have more on Monday, and talk about what I'd do differently over all and what I felt worked more effectively.


  1. I think your blog tour went great. All your posts were different and interesting. I don't think you should try to write blog posts while on tour. I think it's a given that your own blog will have less comments during that time. I also think getting info out on your book may not result in an immediate sale, but could do so in the future.

    I agree, it is harder to market to middle grade audiences on blogs because there aren't as many out there as for YA. But yours is a higher level middle grade, so you could tap into the YA book review blogs and there are some out there for middle grade. I'll look them up from and post some links in case you don't know them.

  2. I thought your tour was particularly great for the writing community. But I didn't see it as a sales effort--rather, sales would be one of the (hopeful) side benefits of the tour. What I mean is, the tour allowed you to engage with others, get to know bloggers and commenters, and that's really where the value lies. You get a closer relationship with far more bloggers--and then we start mentioning your book to others as time goes on.

    I think the tour must have supported your overall name and book recognition, while giving you an opportunity to strengthen relationships. As an example of that-- last year I did an interview with you for The Shifter. But this year, for Blue Fire, you did a full-on, huge tour. And I got two posts from you, and I also feel like I know you better and we had some great private dialogue. I really valued that. All that was a result of the traction of the two books, but also the increased effort you made for Blue Fire.

    Imagine the bonanza book #3 will be!

  3. Lydia & Livia: Thanks! I hope to have more over the next few weeks.

    Natalie & Sierra: I do think it was a success as far as making connections with other writers. And since relationships are becoming more and more important for book sales, that can only help. I plan to do another tour when book three comes out, and I'll be better prepared for it.

    I'm not sorry I did it, and I think I did go into it with broad goals. And all marketing, especially online, is a long-term investment.

    The one thing I did learn is that I want to start tracking a lot more information. What posts do well, where my readers are coming from, etc. And get a much better base of info before the next tour or PR push, so I have a better sense of what changed. If nothing else, I'll get good material for the blog :)

  4. Ooo, thanks for the rundown! I appreciate seeing an honest & open rundown of the results, even if it's a bit inconclusive. Also, sounds like you had fun, so yay! :)

  5. Thank you for posting your wrap up. Looking forward to more of this.

    Personally, I went to a bookstore and bought your book after being reminded it was out through seeing your blog tour posts.

    I agree with the need to branch out to new blogs. My concern with a tour is having the same readers (though, all the bloggers I know are very awesome) be the only ones to play.
    Thanks so much for sharing this!

  6. First of all you got a great review on Writer Musings. Tabitha doesn't always give great reviews so it's even better. Here's the link

    Greenbean queen sometimes reviews middle grade

    So does Ms. Yingling reads and Mundie Kids and The O.W.L.

    Project Mayhem is a group of middle grade authors as is From the mixed up files

    Shannon Messenger is an aspiring author and one of the founders of WriteOnCon. She's trying to promote middle grade authors & books more and does a feature on Mondays

    I'm sure there's more out there but hope some of this leads to something for you.

  7. Seriously? You could have handled blogging her everyday IN ADDITION to all those blog posts??? Wow. You are scaring me lady. I can't imagine being able to handle what you did and add even more onto that. Do you do a lot of school/library visits?

  8. Kristan: Most welcome. There's not a lot of info out there on blog tours (at least that I found when I was planning the tour) so I figured at the very least, it would be a good searchable post :)

    TerryLynn: Thanks! I feel better knowing that.

    Natalie: You are a GEM, thank you!

    Melanie: Oh gads, no, LOL. I was barely holding on as it was. I'd do fewer posts overall if I posted on mine as well. I haven't done a library visit yet, but I do school visits. Probably six or eight last year, and it looks like about that many so far this year. I expect more after the holidays.

  9. This is really interesting info. Thanks for reporting back! You're right that MG books are harder to market online -- hopefully that will change in the future!

  10. I bought both The Shifter and Blue Fire at Barnes and Noble, and I'm rereading The Shifter right now before I read Blue Fire. Once I read Blue Fire, I'll review it on my blog.

    I really liked the blog tour. The post that you did on my blog really fits my writing life, and it was very helpful. :)

  11. Thanks for being so up front about your experience! These are exactly the types of things writers need to know when planning their own, especially their first, blog tour.

  12. Anna: With luck, I'll be able to find some good ways to help market MG. We'll see how the year goes!

    Brittany: Thanks so much! I hope you like them. I'm glad my tour post on your blog worked for you. I tried to write something that fit the kind of thing you wrote about.

    Elle: I try to be as candid as I can. I know there are things I want to know and can't find info on it, and I doubt I'm the only one. The more we understand how all this works, the better off we'll be, right?

  13. It's great that you are posting all this, Janice. I'm really amazed at all the work you did for this tour. Your energy level is super-human. I hope the numbers eventually prove that the tour helped significantly.