I have a question that's been troubling me since the time I started organizing blog tours. I have found organizing a blog tour time consuming and a lot of effort. Not to forget, the 100s of emails that go back and forth with the bloggers who host the books. I am thinking of ways to make it easier but first, I would like to know if you all face similar problems and how do you manage it. So, two questions:
1) What are the basic problems you face when organizing blog tours? - Emails? Changing dates? managing available dates? communication with bloggers? etc.
2) How do you manage it? - Better emails? Using any apps? etc.
I would be really grateful if you take couple of minutes to answer this. I want to make organizing blog tours easier. I use surveymonkey to cut down on initial emails and manage dates. Here is an example:
Looking forward to knowing more about your experience!
I organized and ran my own blog tour last month. It is a full-time job. There is no easy way to go about it, besides being more organized with emails and contacts, creating a spreadsheet of the bloggers participating in the tour, and reminding bloggers the night before they are scheduled to post. I think that the more distanced an author gets from the bloggers (i.e. using apps, generic emails, etc.), the less organized and effective the blog tour will be.
I believe that authors should organize and run their own blog tours. Blog tour companies do not allow for the personalized and rewarding experience for the author and bloggers that running one's own blog tour provides.
Hi there, I'm one of the bigger blog tour companies so maybe I can help? A lot of authors come to me because they either don't know how to approach the bloggers or they just don't have time or they don't have the connections. It doesn't make their tours less personal. The bloggers know I will get all their information to them before the tour starts but they are still open to the idea of having a personal experience with the author while they are on tour and encourage commenting so forth.
The basic problems we face regarding organizing blog tours would probably be doing so much and not feeling like it's enough. Sometimes emails get buried. It can get crazy but it helps if you have help. I have 4 other lovely ladies who I have hired to help and that helps tremendously. Organizing blog tours is not for the feeble that's for sure. You have to be on top of things because you have your authors to answer to. If they're not happy, you feel as if the world has bottomed out. My advise would be to not have a day job and devote all your waking time to this. I sleep, go on an occasional trip, but I'm at the computer the rest of the time. You have to or you'll get behind.
I'm a tech, so my answer to this is technical.
If I were a Blog Tour organizer, I'd use an auto-responder (newsletter email tool) to create lists for each genre. Bloggers could respond to an initial contact email by checking off genres in a form to add themselves to the appropriate invitation lists.
Then when I have a tour for a specific genre, I'd just send out a newsletter to the appropriate list, with response links that go to a sign-up form that triggers an automated email containing pre-formatted post content, ARCs, etc. depending on context.
I'd also do this for media contacts, feed aggregators, facebook walls, etc.
So they'd sign up, pick a date, and get emailed ARCs, or guest posts or interviews, press releases etc. in HTML format, thus making things as easy as possible for the Participating Blogger.
I recently had a somewhat spirited exchange with a Blog Tour Organizer who told me,
"no blog tour company will do this for you. Your posts on your blog is your own. All a blog tour company will do is give you the information"
"I can not write your posts for you. That is not what blogging is"
... but it seems to me that that's exactly what a guest post is, or should be.
Not only is this approach simpler for the Bloggers, and thus more likely to get a positive response from them, it's ultimately easier for the tour organizer as well.
From what I've seen of Blog Tour Organizers, although your product is high-tech, you're all in the stone age when it comes to business processes.
I don't see how any of you can make any money at it, given the ridiculously low rates most of you charge and the incredibly time-consuming nature of the work.
Regardless of how much you charge, you're creating open-ended obligations by promising a fixed number of reviews or guest posts or interviews or what-have-you, when the fulfillment of those obligations is largely outside of your control because it depends on the actions of others who aren't on the payroll.
In my mind, that makes what you do a stress-inducing hobby, not a business. The numbers just don't work.
What I'd do to fix that:
In addition to the automation outlined above, is make an effort to solicit blogs that are willing to give me as a blog tour organizer, or my authors, their own Contributor account.Then all the Blogger has to do is edit and/or approve posts by me.
So I'd not only be able to guarantee delivery on my promises to Authors, but I'd be able to manage the risk by knowing exactly what I can guarantee and how long it will take to deliver, since I'd be doing the posts myself or having an employee do it.
Bloggers might resist the idea at first because it's new, but early adopters are out there and the rest is just a matter of marketing.
(Aside: I've set up a menu item on my blog http://www.savagelullabye.com/ labeled "Join Me!" that allows you to do your own guest posts. ;)
The only way to control your margins is to control your business processes, and price your service based on known factors that are within your control. If you can't control your margins, your business is a hobby, and an expensive one at that, not least because of the high opportunity cost and lost time. Life's too short.
This sounds like a lot of work, but it isn't really. Not when compared to all of the unknowns involved in the way people seem to be doing it now.
It's something that may take a few weeks to enable fully, but once it's done, it's smooth sailing and a workable business model ever after.
In my view, the point is to drive traffic to your author's book and convince people to give it a read, not to waste endless hours chit-chatting with time-wasters who can't help your business or can only do you a small favor here and there.
You may think that the whole structure outlined above de-personalises the process too much, but the opposite is true.
Doing it this way frees up your time and allows you to be relaxed in your approach, so you can afford to really pay attention to the few high-value contacts you need to cultivate, and consider how best to deal with contacts who are special cases that merit attention.
If you don't do the above or something very like it, you're not going to stay in business for long, unless your existence is somehow subsidized or you enjoy poverty.
I'm currently enabling a system like the one described above for one of you. I'm bundling the toolset into a WordPress installation.
Once I'm done and she's satisfied, I'll explain how to do it on my blog and offer my services to any who aren't willing or able to follow my explanations.
Great question, by the way! It's something I've given a lot of thought. I hope this answer doesn't come across as harsh or condescending, it's just some of my honest conclusions after studying this issue for a couple of months and thinking about how to solve it.
Very very interesting thoughts. While I do not think the blog tour company should write the posts but I see your logic in making it easier to deliver the content to the blogger's site without them spending time to do it. Adoption will take longer but if a bigger company starts it, it would be smoother.
Now coming back to the technology part of it, I so hear you. I have been thinking the same thing. Having a tool that helps sign up bloggers and organize blog tours is so essential to remain efficient especially for bigger companies. The emails bury the joy of organizing a tour that makes a difference to the book. I am delighted that you are working on something like that. Can you please notify me once it is ready? I would love to try out any automation that makes this easier.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is very helpful.
Pretty much any industrial-grade CRM package will allow you to do something like this.
The difference in what I'm doing is that instead of setting it up as a subscription service (SAAS is the biggest scam going), I'm doing it using WordPress and a custom set of plugins.
That way I can explain how to do it on my blog and people can do it themselves, or hire me to set it up for them and make it a one-time or occasional expense instead of being held hostage forever by the company that owns their CRM solution.
Sounds like a good plan to me. Will look forward to it.
I run my own blog tour company and PR business called Jitterbug PR. I would love to answer your questions below.
1)What are the basic problems you face when organizing blog tours? - Emails? Changing dates? managing available dates? communication with bloggers? etc.
The basic problem I've been having is emails not going through for some reason. But, its not really a huge problem because I have blog tour hosts that let me know.
2) How do you manage it? - Better emails? Using any apps? etc.
I just manage it by getting a better email company. Which I'm working on now! lol
If you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask.
1) The basic problems are people saying they can't do this or that at the last moment. It happens to all of us - family emergencies, or maybe they just can't finish the book, etc. - and then that leads to dates when nobody posts. So I've come up with a few "emergency hosts" who will host an excerpt, guest post or interview when someone drops out at the last minute.
I find little or no problems in emails or managing available dates anymore. I used to have that when I started out, but the longer you're in it, the less problems you have with that. Good communication with tour hosts is a must - I insist they can ask me all questions, and always try to respond in a timely manner.
Also, when they email you, don't read it and go "I'll answer this on a later date". Answer right away, or you'll forget it. Happened to me before. :P
2) I'm not a big fan of apps for this kind of thing. I like personal contact with tour hosts, and some of them have even become friends. I send out an email with tour dates and the kind of tour stops we're looking for, then people respond and I make a schedule. I send out reminder emails when needed (unless they've already mentioned they scheduled the post) and I try to make sure the guest posts and excerpt posts are scheduled before the tour starts or soon after.
The longer you do this, the easier it gets because you know all the things that could go wrong and work to avoid them. You also learn to work more efficiently. Keeping to-do lists works great as well.