Updated: Feb 24, 2020
I’ve been a book tour host for a few years now. It made sense at the time since reading was – and still is – a favourite pastime of mine. What I didn’t consider was how much time reading and reviewing books would take, and I freely admit to over-committing in the early days to the extent that I often had 8 books a month to get through.
Who needs a social life anyway?
Hosting these book tours, however, gave me an insight into the reach of some bloggers when it came to promoting an author’s book. It was an eye-opener ... and the gem of an idea was spawned.
Why not take my own books on tour?
Or was it?
There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more – are self-published. Faced with that competition, how on earth would little ol’ me find readers?
Of course, social media was an obvious place to start, then maybe book clubs, and not to mention a zillion promo sites touting their wares.
The problem was, everyone else was doing the same thing too.
How could I stand out? Give my book a fighting chance without selling all my worldly assets?
Cue that gem of an idea.
I already knew a few tour providers, and after considerable thought, I chose a UK-based service because that was where my target audience was. I booked a 7- day tour for a couple of short stories that I knew, given the subject matter, would need the attention.
My two stories were complete and ready to go. But the theme was niche: fictional tales about dementia and loss - definitely not everyone’s idea of a “fun read”.
Most books on the tours I’d taken part in were genre fiction and, consequently, mine were very different. Were they too different? Only time would tell.
The call for book bloggers went out. Eek! This was really going to happen.
A week later, the 21 slots on my tour had been filled with eager bloggers. I was gobsmacked, thrilled, and more than a little nervous.
I sent the tour provider a variety of formats (mobi for Kindle, epub for other e-readers, and PDF) along with images of my book covers, blurbs and an “about the author” bio (which took me forever to invent) and then I waited for the tour to start.
The rule of thumb in book blogging is that if the reviewer doesn’t like the story, then they’re not obliged to post a review. It’s intended to be a positive experience for the author, and any blogger with a less than favourable review is asked to hold off from posting until after the tour.
Did I wake up every morning waiting for the tour provider to tell me that XYZ blogger wouldn’t be posting that day?
You bet I did.
Luckily, it never happened. The bloggers actually enjoyed my stories. I even made a few of them cry, and some contacted me to say they’d be happy to read more of my stories.
Dry mouth. Lump in throat. Misty eyes.
Happy dancing, though not as elegantly as this.
By the end of the week, I was a gibbering wreck. My gamble had paid off. My dearly beloved stories were getting 4 and 5-star reviews in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. As a result of the exposure, the first book in the series became a Hot Release on Amazon UK, and hit the top spot in its very niche category where it stayed for several days.
The effects of the tour weren’t long-term. To stay at the top requires consistent promotion, which is not my forte nor is it within my budget. Besides, I’d much rather be writing more stories.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. Just need to finish writing another book first in between all those book reviews!
About the Author: Lynne Fellows is a reader, writer, and freelance translator living in sunny Spain. You can generally find her with a book, a dog or two, and an unhealthy supply of cake. Follow her blog - Just 4 My Books - for book reviews and a sneaky peek at her stories.