Being published by a small press, I knew I’d have to work that bit harder to bring my book to the attention of readers. Having hosted a few promotional posts and blog-tour stopping-off points on my own blog, I knew this was a well-trodden path. So when I published my cover-reveal post, I included a list of potential guest-post topics. It wasn’t long before the offers from my fellow bloggers came flooding in.
Fortunately, Sugar and Snails is a portmanteau kind of novel which can be considered from a range of perspectives, so I had no shortage of ideas for topics for posts. Those ideas, in interaction with the questions raised by blogging friends and comments from early readers, bred other ideas so that soon my mind was whirling as much when I’d been living inside my novel. I was introduced to more potential hosts through my publishers, and other generous lovers of literature I discovered through Twitter and following links from other blogs. While still engaged in the final tweaks to the novel, the promotional possibilities had become enormous. Could I get it all together in time?
I wanted to produce quality content (as much as I’m able) for the bloggers who’d offered to host me. I wanted to make each post unique, even if there were some overlap in the themes. I wanted to schedule the posts to create a steady stream from the week of publication and beyond, although I never envisaged it running to five weeks.
Just as with my real-life epic walk, this virtual tour required some juggling. While my hosts were extremely supportive and amazingly accommodating, I couldn’t expect absolute adherence to my plan. Slots would be filled and then changed, as life intervened. Bloggers (sensibly) had their own preferences: publication day or one of the Twitter hashtag days, #MondayBlogs or #WWWBlogs, while I was aiming for a spread across the week. I also had to discipline myself, composing the posts that were imminent even if my head was full of thoughts about one scheduled for a little way ahead.
When friends imagined me awaiting publication day in the garden with a glass of champagne, I was at my computer composing another guest post or adding text to my cover image to create a JPEG of that week’s itinerary. Looking at my blog tour page, I wonder if I’ve spawned a monster. Or overloaded my plate at a buffet. But, while arduous, the process has been immensely rewarding. I’ve travelled to Poland, Switzerland, India, the United Arab Emirates, Australia and the USA without the hassle of boarding a plane. I’ve been deeply moved by the generosity of my hosts. Where I’ve had feedback on the amount of traffic my posts have generated, I’ve been impressed by the numbers. Whether it’s made a difference in getting my novel to readers, I can’t say. But, consistent with my “just do it” marketing strategy, I’m glad I’ve tried.
When I announced week 5 of the tour here last weekend, I genuinely didn’t know whether this would be the end. Although hard work, it’s become strangely addictive and I felt a stab of nostalgia as I emailed the text and images for what has turned out to be the final post of the tour. Yet it’s come to a natural end as I’ve found myself more able to look outwards, to host a post by another writer and knuckling down to some reviews. It’s also time to discover different kinds of promotional strategies rather than getting stuck in a blog tour rut.
I’ll be putting together a post on what I’ve learnt from this process and advice for others considering embarking on a similar (or more sensibly sized) tour. But in the meantime, a huge thank you to my twenty-four hosts and countless other readers who have followed the tour.