(Updated in Jan 2023)
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 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), 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
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 great accounts, each with more than 85k 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. Mostly YA or fantasy but they have toured 18+ fantasy books, so they accept adult romantic fantasy. They also have a good presence and graphics on Twitter and Facebook. I'd easily say that this is the company that puts the most work on their tours in terms of quality graphics. 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.
Book of Matches Media: Great company for indies, having worked with many great authors. 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 among the most expensive tour companies, 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 (and if your budget is large, otherwise, pick some smaller companies), 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 but they don't tour books with explicit sex scenes.
Storygram Tours: They have 96k 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 fantasy. A little pricey (more than MTMC) 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).
Nerdy Book Tours: A branch of the Nerdy Book Box, with tours for indie books. It used to be free, now they are mid priced/affordable.
Once Upon a Time Tours - New, from three big instagram accounts.
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, new, but does a fairly good job.
Katie and Brey PA: Good for reviews, the price is not low, but considering the amount of reviews, it's decent. They reach regular readers, not so much aesthetic bookish accounts, but the readers can be enthusiastic.
Literary Bound Tours: They used to be good, but look inactive.
Feather and Dove Tours: 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.
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.
Equality Book tours - New, affordable
Booktour Gals - A group of six prestigious bookstagrammers.
Between the Spines Tours - New, mid priced.
Starlight Book Tours: They reach some good hosts with huge following. It's also an older and established company, higher priced.
Hidden Treasures: Mid priced, new, indie friendly.
MLC Tours: (Mostly YA and some fantasy) They host international instagram tours and reach big hosts. 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.
RR Book Tours - older company, they also have blog tours, higher priced.
There are many smaller companies popping up each day, and I can't keep up with them all.
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 here. There's no guarantee these tours will help with sales, and if they help, it's mostly print sales.
Blog Tour companies
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.
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 it your full attention. Be careful with your budget. There's no guarantee you'll see a return in sales from these promotions.
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.
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.