In October 2010 I did a month-long blog tour to promote the release of Blue Fire. I did a few wrap up posts, and promised I'd get back with some more hard figures once we saw enough time pass to get good figures. It took me a tad longer than expected (blame Darkfall) but I have them now and they're not what I would have expected.
Here are the other posts for those who want to refresh or catch up with all the info.
First, a little context...
Since its creation in March 2009, the blog has shown an average of 13% growth per month. There were several major jumps, the two biggest being a 60% jump October 2009, which coincides with the release of The Shifter, and another of 90% in January 2010. Again, probably due to the release of the first book and all the press around that. It's also when the blog started getting linked to by some notable bloggers like Charles Tan, and later SF Signal. (and a quick shout out to say "thanks a lot for that!)
I went on the blog tour during October 2010, posting between two and four guest posts on other blogs per day. I linked to those posts here, and gave a brief description of what I'd be talking about elsewhere. Considering the large jump the book release got the first time, I expected the numbers to go up, though probably not quite as high since more folks know about me now than in 2009.
But they didn't. In fact, they went down.
There was a 20% drop in October that continued into November by another 5%. December rose again by 30%, with another 30% rise so far in January. My 2011 January numbers have been the highest since the blog's creation.
As for book sales, The Shifter got a 20% bump the first week of the tour, and a 110% bump the second (which coincided with the release of Blue Fire), and a drop back to the regular numbers the following week. Blue Fire was pretty much the same. A bump during release week, then back to consistent sales numbers. But no sales were recorded from the links to book vendors in the blog tour posts themselves.
So, overall, the blog tour did not appear to boost book sales or increase blog traffic. It actually appears to have hurt blog traffic, and there's a good chance my numbers now would have been considerably higher had I been offering fresh content for any new folks that found me during the month.
There's no way to know for sure about book sales, and that major bump could have been because of the tour, but it's probably more likely due to the release of Blue Fire. And if the bump was due to the tour, it didn't last very long.
I can't see doing another blog tour for Darkfall. However, others have had more success, so I'm not going to give up on blog tours altogether. I think a lot of it has to do with the right book and the right audience. My target audience is in the middle school range (though older teens and adults also read it), which has a lower online readership. J.A. Konrath did a 100-stop tour and found it a valuable experience and got very different results. Bear in mind though, that he has a much bigger readership and blog than I do, so that probably played a role as well.
For those who want to do a blog tour, I have some advice.
1. Tour on blogs different from what you blog about.
I posted on a lot of bloggers who already read me, so I was very likely reaching the same people. Had I gone to totally different readership, I might have seen better results.
2. Don't ignore your own blog during the tour.
Not everyone clicks over (I really thought they would). And since I wasn't posting on my regular blog, the traffic-driving links I usually got weren't linking to me. In fact, I had one of those regular bloggers comment that I was on hiatus and hadn't been posting anything. (It was saying why they were light on links that month. Two main resources were on tour). But I wasn't on hiatus, I was actually putting out three times the amount of content, just not on my blog. And they didn't link over to the tour posts. I found this very interesting as a study in click-throughs.
3. Decide what the end goal for the tour is.
Part of me wanted to promote the book, the other part the blog, and doing both didn't work. I would have been better off promoting the book on blogs with different readership and done more general guest post or invited bloggers from other writing sites to blog here. Bring their readers to me and see how many stay.
4. If you want to see how the tour is doing, set up your tracking software well in advance and keep track of it.
I didn't have good numbers from before the tour to compare with during the tour vs after the tour. I was able to track some things, but the specific posts and who came from where I didn't get.
So there ya go. A bit disappointing for sure, but it's good to have some numbers and another experience out there folks can look up if they're thinking about a tour. I do think there was networking value in it, as I got to meet more bloggers and anything that lets you connects with fellow writers is a good thing. And it was fun, even though it was a ton of work.
I can see me trying this again with another book aimed at a different market. MG is a tough market to reach online, so when I have a YA out there, I'll have access to more online venues and that could make a difference. If/when I try it, I'll be much better prepared to track it and will try some new things. And I'll let you guys know about it.
So, was doing a blog tour worth it? Maybe not in the way I would have hoped, but it was an invaluable learning experience and I think it'll be worth it in the long run.