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

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. It’s all based on my experience hosting and participating in tours books, and like everything in publishing, your mileage may vary. Also, I write YA 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. Sometimes these bloggers have friends, though, and a good recommendation can go a long way. Some bloggers are quite enthusiastic about books, and it’s a great idea to connect with them.
  • A giveaway. Please consider including a giveaway, especially for blog tours. You can require readers to follow you on social media, sign up for your newsletter, etc. It’s a neat way to gain followers.
  • SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. This is more for blog tours. Google considers backlinks when ranking sites and pages. A blog tour will give you links to your website, Amazon page, Goodreads, page, etc. It helps those pages rank higher and helps Google recognize you and your book on their search pages. Something else you might consider is that Google penalizes duplicate content, so blog tours with different posts (guest posts, interviews, etc.) might be more work but will make your book show up more.
  • 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). A tour company has a list of contacts, so they can reach hundreds or thousands of bloggers and bookstagrammers at once, and the bloggers who are interested sign up for the tour. Sure, you could try to reach them yourself, but just try to imagine how long it would take. Keep in mind that some of these companies send emails to thousands of bloggers and only get a handful of interested participants, and try to imagine how long it will take for you to reach these same thousands of bloggers, with whom you don’t have a relationship yet.

Book tour companies also produce graphics, which can be super helpful. For bloggers, participating in a tour with a company is better than directly with the author because they’ll also get backlinks and they can trust that the tour will be well-organized and they’ll get all the material they need.

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. For instagram, it’s a good idea if they have giveaways, as it will help you grow your account on the platform.

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, blog/ instagram, 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 vet the books they’ll accept. 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. 

Literary Bound Tours: Good company. Good graphics and good tours connecting with some great hosts. They are indie-friendly and used to be more affordable. They also accept other genres, including contemporary romance.

MTMC Tours: They’re organized by The Reader and the Chef and Paperfury, two great accounts, each with more than 70k followers. Their graphics are great and they reach some huge accounts. They are trad-leaning but accept indies (usually based on cover) and book in advance.

Storygram Tours: They have 96k followers and their pictures are gorgeous. Their organizers are two accounts with more than 120k 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. They also need to be booked in advance.

Book of Matches Media: Good company for indies with pro covers and they connect with good hosts. They don’t produce graphics for the tour participants but have great participation with excellent hosts.

MLC Tours: (Mostly YA and some fantasy) They host international instagram tours. Some good hosts.

Read the Book Tours: Their organizers have accounts with 41k and 61k followers each. Australian based connecting with some good hosts.

Starlight Book Tours: They reach some good hosts. Last time I checked I thought they were a bit pricey for what they offer, but that might have changed.

Empire Book Tours: Brand new, affordable. Growing company connecting with smaller bookstagrammers (but it’s cool to connect with smaller accounts).

Feather and Dove Tours: Brand new, very affordable. Connects with some medium and small hosts.

Readz Book Tours: Free/almost free. Indie friendly and accepts many genres.

RBN Tours: New. Very affordable.

Blog tour/ Instagram companies:

Tour Banner Koi&b (1)

Favourite Pages banner for Jill Criswell’s novel.

These companies have a strong blog presence, but most of their action ends up being on Instagram. They connect books with reviewers. Highly recommended for YA.

For YA, I strongly suggest participating on an Instagram tour or Instagram/blog tour. Many reviewers are there, and it can help you grow your instagram account. Sometimes you have to send physical copies, and it can make the tour pricey, but physical copies are a nice gift for bookstagrammers and you might be able to reach better accounts by sending print books. But it’s usually up to you.

Favourite Pages (YA): They connect with great reviewers and have well-organized tours. This is mostly for YA, some fantasy and NA. A little trad-leaning, and I think they vet their books. Still, recommended.

TBR and Beyond (YA): Some good reviewers. It looks like a great company, but I’ve never used it. It looks like it’s trad-leaning and might vet books, too. Good reviewers and great blogs.

Booktamins (multigenre): New company, looks promising. Open to indies.

SOT – Storytellers on Tour (fantasy and sci-fi): This is not so much for YA, but more for Fantasy, especially high fantasy, and science fiction. Good company, good hosts. Indie-friendly.

Turn the Pages (YA): New company, looks promising. Trad-leaning, I think they vet books and they are booked for the near future.

Terminal Tours: They host some trad books but they accept indies. They might vet books. Good tours and good hosts.

 

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. All the companies listed here are indie-friendly but you won’t get many reviews. Even if these companies have some Instagram presence, it’s smaller in comparison with their blog presence.

Silver Dagger Book Tours (multigenre): They have some small instagram presence, but they have mostly blogs. I think their tours don’t have that many reviewers, but they have tons of blogs posting excerpts, spotlights, etc. It’s a very good tour company for hosting a giveaway. Their graphics are excellent.

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 good.

Rockstar Book Tours: (mostly YA but they now also do NA and some romance) Good graphics and a good company to host giveaways because they reach some big blogs.

Chapter by Chapter: (YA) It might look like they’re dead, but they still host tours and they’re good. They host some trad books and connect with some big blogs.

YA Bound: I think they’ve had better days, but they host some good tours sometimes.

Jean Book Nerd: (Multigenre) They have some good tours with good hosts.

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Can you pick more than one company?

It depends. If they have similar audiences, like say, Chapter by Chapter and Rockstar Book Tours, I find that it can get confusing for hosts, and you’ll get no advantage from having two companies. Maybe you can pick one company for a blitz and another for a tour? But again, I don’t see a lot of advantage in picking two companies if they have similar audiences. Check the blogs they reach and notice if there’s a lot of overlap.

Remember that it takes work to do the graphics, send the emails, organize the tour, and if you have more than one company reaching similar hosts, they might compete for hosts and it’s not nice.

For Instagram, since they tend to pick only 7 to 15 accounts for each tour, it’s fine to pick more than one company. Even then, make sure the tours don’t overlap and that the sign-ups don’t overlap.

You don’t want a tour company outshining the other or competing with the other.

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What are the most common types of tours?

Blog tours: They have reviews, interviews, blog posts, excerpts, etc. Don’t complain about answering a couple interviews or writing a few guest posts. Remember that varied material is good for SEO. Not all tour companies request all this material, though. Check their previous tours to see what kind of posts they have.

Book Blitz: Instead of reviews, all hosts post just the cover, links, excerpts, etc. You can reach more blogs with that and it’s good for the giveaway but you won’t get reviews or much SEO benefit.

Cover Reveal: I used to think these events were stupid, now I get it as the green light to start promoting a book. I think they can be effective on bookstagram. You can also do giveaways, etc.

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.

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

Yes. I host them on my blog and I find that I have more traffic since I started hosting tours. I don’t review, though, so I won’t be accepted for prestigious tours, but I do interviews, guest posts, etc. Either way, it’s a matter of applying. The worst that can happen is getting a no. I only pick books that I think 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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