Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Blog Tour Coordinators: a real-life case study

© Maos | Stock Free Images
This whole blog tour coordinator business has really got me riled now. Having had a lovely discussion with a reader on my last post, I decided to seek out some cold hard facts about the results a writer can expect for the fee he/she pays a blog tour coordinator.

*Dislaimer* I have compiled the information below from an actual tour coordinator's website, but it is a sample size of One (the tour coordinator who contacted me). To gather evidence from many would mean I wouldn't have time to write. But what I've found has made my skin crawl ...

The tour coordinator in question boasts about getting writers exposure for their books, and a tour package of 20 blog sites costs $749.

So I did a bit of digging. I chose one of the books this coordinator is promoting this month to look at in more detail.

The book has had 11 reviews posted so far in June. Eleven reviews, that's great stuff!

Except that virtually no one is reading these reviews. I've looked at each site on www.alexa.com (which measures worldwide website rankings according to daily traffic). A ranking of 20 million or more (or no data) means the site gets less than 10 hits a day. TEN HITS A DAY.

Guess what? Of the 11 blogs that hosted reviews for this book, for which the writer paid $749:
  • 4 of his reviews were seen by too few people to measure, i.e. virtually no one except the writer himself.
  • 5 blogs have rankings above 25,000,000. These are virtually unread.
  • The remaining 2 blogs aren't dedicated book blogs but more general 'review' blogs, both of which tout their PR friendly attitude and strongly advertise their sponsorship opportunities. Yes, their website rankings are lower, which means they are getting lots of people looking at the site, but these people might be interested in recipes or tinkerbell costumes or canvas prints (all of which figured in the recent posts on the site).
This writer's book has an Amazon ranking of more than 175,000, i.e. the book is selling a few copies a week.

And for the privilege of being hosted on 11 blogs that virtually no one reads (and another 12 of similar traffic rankings)? $749.

Writers, there may be good tour coordinators out there, but do your homework very carefully. If this one is any indication of the market, they are not worth the ether they exist in.

By the way, this is in no way a negative judgment on the blogs that host tours - there are lots of wonderful, highly trafficked blogs that do. Just be careful that you aren't paying a coordinator for empty promises. 


  1. I must say, the concept of fee for service blog tour co-ordinators - to me - is the modern day equivalent of snake oil salesmen. If writers are shelling out that kind of money - or indeed any significant amount of money - they need to re-examine what they're doing or, to put it another way...

    They need their heads examined.

    1. Agreed, Dean, it smacks of the old vanity publishing days ... very sad. I think though that lots of new writers don't know how to market their books and people are exploiting that. I also see lots of websites now professing to market your book on twitter for a fee.

      There's a big push (rightly) to convince self-published writers to get their cover professionally designed and to have them professionally copy-edited. Perhaps paying someone to be their publicist is something they think they should be doing.

      Shame on the tour coordinators who promise quantity over quality, I say!

      I'm sure there are reputable outfits out there, because I know several very good blogs that host virtual blog tours. This is a case of buyer beware - writers need to do a lot of research before choosing these services. And if you're going to do all the research you need to to ensure that the blog coordinator you choose is targeting the most effective blogs, you may as well just approach the blogs yourself.

  2. I do feel like the majority of blog tours are a waste of everyone's time and money, except for a few of the larger tours run by the more experienced tour sites. I don't know what other peoples blog stats are like but the last tour review I posted received 237 views. BUT it was the right age group and genre for my blog, and there was a giveaway included.

    So I think the main problem is the books not reaching the right blogs. I skip over most blog tour posts that I see in my Google reader because seriously? WHY is a paranormal YA blog posting a review of a Scottish Highland romance?

    That said, I also wouldn't recommend an author setting up their own blog tour. Only once have I worked directly with an author like that and honestly it was kind of crazy! I ended up with at least 30 emails, correcting things, changing dates, triple checking stuff... whereas when I work with a tour coordinator, I receive 2 emails max and it's all sorted.

  3. You're right Nicola, getting the book in front of the right audience is the key to success. I too was baffled when I looked at the blogs that the tour above was using to host historical fiction ... lots of general blogs that wouldn't have a lot of historical fiction fans, and some that were clearly posting out of their genre. It comes back to quality over quantity. Your 237 views from the right age group and genre was very valuable for that book!

    In general I don't think a 'tour' is the way to go for writers. Bloggers want fresh content; I imagine that being one in a line of 30 in the course of a month would put many off.

    I disagree with you however about authors not setting up their own blog appearances. I've worked very effectively for nearly three years with more than 100 blogs to offer my books for review, or guest posts or Q&As or giveaways. Yes it requires coordination and professionalism so that bloggers aren't inundated with rewrites and changes, but writers should be well-coordinated and professional. We are professionals at the end of the day, so you should expect that and we should deliver.

    1. Oh, I didn't mean blog appearances in general! Those have always worked fine for me and the authors have been great. I just meant authors attempting to copy what blog tour sites do. I've only worked with one, who tried to set up a 50 blog tour for one month and it was a disaster. But I imagine a more organized author wouldn't have a problem with even that. It's just my bad experience that would put me off doing it again!

      And I agree, the tour idea probably isn't the best. Being bombarded with the same book 6 times a day for several months in a row (something I've seen done even by 'The Big Six') has put me off several books just because I get tired of seeing it.

      It's an interesting discussion, really and not an issue I've really seen many people address!

  4. Goodness, a 50 blog tour, what was (s)he thinking?! Even an experienced author would struggle to pull that off.

    I hope we see more people talking about blog tours since it's the kind of thing that could potentially cause the blogosphere to become intermediated like the traditional publishing industry is.

    While it's understandable that publishers want gatekeepers in the form of agents to help them sift through likely books for publication, and bloggers might want the ease of having tour coordinators bringing them the books they review, I hope it doesn't go too far.

    Lots of bloggers, like yourself, are already too overwhelmed by their TBR piles to accept new books, and others have already closed their lists to all but tour operators. My concern is for the authors who don't want to, or can't afford to pay the tour operators to get their books to the reviewers. Especially when my gut tells me that most tour operators are not worth their fees.

    If it's a topic you'd like to talk about on your blog, I'm happy to help in any way I can!

  5. I just ran across another author on twitter who's nearing the end of a blog tour ... checked into the blogs featuring the book and all but one get too little traffic to even register on Alexa. The one that does have many visits covers everything from chick lit to YA to blog posts about being a mom, videos of her kids eating KFC, and recipes for cooking moose. Not exactly the author's core audience, given that the book isn't aimed at chick lit loving teenagers who love KFC and moose.

    The book is ranked above #250,000 on Amazon, meaning it's getting virtually no sales. And the author clearly put a lot of time, and money into the tour, writing several interviews for the blogs.

    This makes me so so sad.

  6. Thanks Michele and Nicola for this info. I'm about to publish my first chick-lit book and I have investigated a couple of Blog Tour Operators and had the same hunch. Nice to know it's somewhat confirmed. Nicola - you might be hearing from me soon! Thanks for all the helpful words of wisdom. So great for us newbies...
    Susie Schnall


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