Blog tours / instagram tours, what are they? Do you need one?

(Updated in Mar 2024)

Blog tours are mostly dead, so I only recommend IG tours.

All right, so you have a book on pre-order or ready to go, you’re considering your marketing options, and you’re wondering if you should do a book tour. In this post, I’ll  explain the advantages of blog and Instagram tours, why and when you might consider a tour company, and why it might be a good idea. Like everything in publishing, your mileage may vary. Also, I write YA fantasy and romantic fantasy so my list is very biased.

First off, let me get one thing clear: you don’t need a blog tour or Instagram tour for a successful launch. I don’t think they impact sales that much, to be honest, but they have other advantages.

Which advantages? Well, let me list them.

  • Editorial reviews: not all book tours will connect you with many reviewers, and not all books will draw reviewers’ interest, but you might pick up at least a few reviews. Even if they are small blogs, you can use quotes from those reviews in the editorial section of your book on Amazon and other retailers.
  • A giveaway. You can gain some followers with a giveaway.
  • Web presence: If you search your name and your book’s name, what do you find? Do you even find it? Having your book in some blogs will help it show up more.
  • Instagram Growth and presence. I think many readers actually find books based on what they see on bookstagram, and being on Instagram can help you grow on the platform easily and quickly, and might help with some print sales.

If you decide to participate in a blog or instagram tour, I strongly advise you to pick a tour company (or more than one, in some cases), unless you know many bloggers or bookstagrammers. A tour company has a list of contacts, so they can reach hundreds or thousands of bloggers and bookstagrammers at once, which would take you a lot of work.

Understand that all the company does is connect you with bloggers and bookstagrammers. The amount and quality of blogs participating on the tour depend a little on the company, for sure, but it will depend mostly on your cover, genre, and premise.

To pick a tour company, look at their past tours. See if they have books in your genre and look at the blogs participating in the tours. You want a book tour company that has hosted books similar to yours. See if the hosts review or not, if there’s engagement, look at the number of followers, quality of the posts, etc. Something else you can do while you’re looking at a blog or instagram account is check which other companies they work with, then check their previous tours to get a sense of the quality, etc.

I’ll list some tour companies that I think are good for YA and fantasy. I know that there are good companies for romance, mystery, etc. but I don’t know anything about them. The same tip remains; find companies, check their past tours, etc.

Nowadays, most companies work with both bloggers and instagrammers, but I’ll separate them in  instagram tour companies and mostly blog tour companies.

 

Instagram tour companies 

Curse Reveal Storygram

Cover reveal on Storygram

Some of these companies also have blog tours, but they’re mostly instagram-based. Some of them can be expensive but their reach can be huge. Many companies are picky about the books they’ll accept, but it’s usually based on the cover. For successful IG tours, a pretty cover can do wonders. I think this is the fastest and easiest way to grow your IG account and connect with bookstagrammers. I also believe they help with print sales. I don’t think they impact ebook sales much, so keep that in mind and don’t blow your budget here.

MTMC Tours: They’re organized by The Reader and the Chef and Paperfury, two large accounts. Not cheap, but they have a great reach and work hard on each tour. They have tours with and without reviews, with ebooks and physical books. They don’t have options with unlimited hosts but they can offer tours with 20 hosts, and it’s important to consider some of them are huge. You need to contact them in advance and sometimes they take long to reply or don’t reply. Great graphics.

Storygram Tours: They have more than 100k followers and their pictures are gorgeous. Their organizers are two accounts with more than 140k followers each, with jaw-dropping pics. They are trad-leaning and vet books, but they accept indie books depending on the covers. They don’t produce graphics for the tour participants, but they reach some huge hosts and have amazing pics on their main account. They also do tiktok/instagram tours. They accept multiple genres but lean towards YA/NA fantasy and romantasy. A little pricey  and, except for cover reveals, you have to send print books (but it’s usually US only). They don’t offer tours with reviews and their tours are small, with only 7 hosts (but we’re talking about some hosts with huge following).

Book of Matches Media: Very good cover reveals with great participation and they reach big hosts. They offer many types of tours, including custom-made. This is an excellent company if you want tours with wide reach, and if you want to reach indie-loving bookstagrammers. Also higher priced, but their reach is great and many of their tours connect with unlimited hosts. I actually think this might be the best company if you’re just started on Bookstagram, as they’ll allow you to reach a lot of accounts, and this is a great chance to connect with them. Since many tours are unlimited, they can reach both small and enthusiastic bookstagrammers as well as more established accounts (but interest will depend on the book). They have tours with and without reviews. A little unresponsive lately, but still might be a good choice.

Mignight Bibliophiles Book tours – new, fairly affordable and reaches big accounts. Recommended.

Once Upon a Time Tours – From two large instagram accounts. They do a good job. Recommended.

The Book Scenes Tours – Very affordable Indian company, good for review or other specialized tours. Very flexible and friendly. While they don’t offer tours with unlimited hosts, their packages are flexible and affordable enough that you could get a large tour if that’s what you’re looking for. They reach mostly small but enthusiastic accounts, but they also connect with a couple large accounts.

Sapphire Ink Press: Mid-priced and does a good job. I’m not sure if they’re active right now.

Hidden Treasures: Mid priced, indie friendly.

Paper Myths – This is for fantasy romance, so a it’s a good idea for adult romantic fantasy and fantasy romance, especially if it’s steamy. New and indie friendly, but not as established as other companies and doesn’t have a wide reach yet.  That said, they’ve been growing fast and it’s great that they’re so narrowly targeted in terms of genre. Priced similarly as the bigger companies, just slightly less.

Telepathy Book Tours – A little higher priced, but looks good.

Starlight Book Tours: Old company and they reach some good hosts It’s also an older and established company, higher priced.

MLC Tours: (Mostly YA and some fantasy) They host international instagram tours and reach big hosts. I’m not sure if they’re still active. It’s an older and established tour company and it’s mid priced.

Hidden Hollow Book Tours – Company by indie authors. Higher priced, but not as much as the top companies.

Book Tours 360 – A group of 3 huge Bookstagram accounts. Expensive, but with incredible reach and lovely content. I would only advise this tour for books with a large marketing budget that are also getting other tours and more promotion, so that this promo amplifies smaller promo efforts.

Booktour Gals – A group of five prestigious bookstagrammers with great reach. Advised for book launches with a high budget and more promo efforts.

Between the Spines Tours – Mid priced. Looks inactive.

Feather and Dove Tours: Might be inactive. Very affordable. Smaller reach than the big companies, but connects with enthusiastic bookstagrammers. They’ve been growing and do a good job. They have tours with and without reviews and often require sending physical books, but, again, they’re super affordable so it’s a good trade off.

RR Book Tours – older company, they also have blog tours, higher priced. Not all hosts know how to create or edit photos, so it’s a good idea to provide aesthetic photos for them. That said, they can have a good reach. It’s better to get one of their smaller packages.

Literary Media Tours – seems good. I don’t know much about it.

 

There are many smaller companies popping up each day, and I can’t keep up with them all. Edit: I think there have been fewer smaller companies lately.

My tip: if they’re new/small, the price should be proportional to their reach. Small/new companies can be fun and useful to connect with smaller accounts and to get reviews, for example, and smaller bookstagrammers sometimes are more enthusiastic about the books they get, so it’s good. Still, a company reaching smaller/fewer accounts should cost less. At the end of the day, a lot of this is an issue of cost/benefit. There are also some companies by established bookstagrammers. Watch out for the reach/quality/engagement and be careful not to spend too much.

Speaking of cost, if you’re blessed with a huge promo budget and want to get tours with more than one of the big companies (or even smaller companies), my suggestion would be to book the tours for different dates, that way you can increase the period your book is being featured on bookstagram. Still, don’t blow your budget on tours. There’s no guarantee these tours will help with sales, and if they help, it’s mostly print sales.

 

 

Blog Tour companies

Changedtourbanner 1

Xpresso tour banner for Vicki Stiefel’s novel.

These companies are great for your book to show up in tons of blogs. Some blogs might be small, but remember it counts for SEO and it’s also cool to have your giveaway in many places, so it can be a great social media builder. They usually have giveaways. Some of them don’t usually offer giveaways but are great for reviews. They also have instagram presence.

Rockstar Book Tours: (mostly YA but they also do NA and some romance) Good graphics and a good company to host giveaways because they reach some big blogs. Not expensive. Their Instagram presence is not great.

TBR and Beyond (YA): Great for reviewers and reaches many great blogs. Trad-leaning. Needs to be booked in advance. Great Instagram presence. They select the books they accept.

Turn the Pages (YA): Trad-leaning, They vet books and they are booked for the near future. Great instagram presence, lots of reviews.

Xpresso Book Tours (multigenre): I love the quality of the tours with this company. Each tour is carefully planned, with different types of posts. Their reach is huge, and even their instagram reach is decent. They don’t reach many reviewers, though. They’re also a little expensive. I don’t think they are worth it for YA and fantasy anymore in terms of cost/benefit, but they can be an extra push for a release with a large budget.

___

Can you pick more than one company?

It depends. If they have similar audiences, I find that it can get confusing for hosts, and you’ll get no advantage from having two companies.

For Instagram, since sometimes they pick only 7 to 15 accounts for each tour, it’s fine to pick more than one company. Even then, it’s best to make sure the tours don’t overlap and that the sign-ups don’t overlap. I’ve had tours overlapping and I find that it’s confusing for readers and for the companies and you end up not giving them your full attention. Be careful with your budget. There’s no guarantee you’ll see a return in sales from these promotions, so don’t blow it on tours.

____

What are the most common types of tours?

For Instagram:

Promotional tour: no reviews, just pretty pics. Don’t underestimate bookstagrammers’ love for pretty books.

Review or arc tours: has reviews. It might be better because then bookstagrammers can recommend the books. Either way, Instagram is very visual, so having people posting the cover is helpful regardless.

Cover reveal: it’s a good way to draw attention to an upcoming book.

Release day blast: many accounts post pictures of your book on release day.

_____

Can you host tours on your blog or bookstagram if you’re an author?

If you have traffic and a nice blog, it’s a matter of applying. The worst that can happen is getting a no. I used to host blog tours and only picked books that I thought my readers would be interested in.

If you have an instagram account and post about other books, with beautiful pics, you can apply for instagram tours too. Usually they want hosts with 1000 followers or more, but some tours are more open and some events like cover reveals sometimes accept everyone. It’s good to help you get more followers and more visibility.

 

 

12/27/2020 - Category: Marketing / Writer's life

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