Claire Maxwell is a freelance publicist, former journalist and a member of the BookMachine Marketing agency. She’s worked in the communications department of various publishing companies in the UK including Canongate Books and Icon Books, managing huge campaigns and securing national and regional publicity for a number of authors.
If you’re active online, particularly in a book-ish setting, you’ll probably have seen a Blog Tour popping up from time to time. As social media grows in power and reach and the books pages of our weekend newspapers shrink, it is no wonder that publishers are looking at an alternative online forum for their book promotion. You might remember the heady days of 2010 when blogs really started to take off. Everyone seemed to have one, and a lot of people devoted their corner of the internet to all things literary. As time (and ‘digital’) moved on, this space expanded and we saw BookTubers (bookish Youtubers) grow in numbers and in influence, closely followers by Bookstagrammers (bookish Instagrammers). Now, publishers have all of the above at their disposal – a large community of content creators with an even bigger reach.
The BookMachine Marketing agency organises Blog and Instagram tours for newly published writing. This month we planned a tour for The Devil’s Horn by Anna Nicholas, published by Burro Books, and it was a brilliant way to increase exposure of the book with authentic reviews and genuine engagement from their followers and potential new readers.
The online tour consisted of a week and a half’s worth of blog reviews, Instagram grid photos, Instagram stories, and a giveaway on the final day. In that time we hit over 35,000 combined Instagram followers and countless more blog followers.
The scope when organising a Blog Tour is huge. Both in terms of how many people you can reach, but also in the kind of content you’re getting out there. Q&As with the author work really well, as do giveaways and competitions. The review coverage you garner is also incredibly useful for endorsements on future editions of the book, or for general use on social media and press releases. A lot of book bloggers are happy to take part in exchange for a copy of the book, on the understanding that the review will be genuine, so this kind of promotion can also be particularly useful for campaigns with a small budget.
Earlier this year I organised a ‘cover reveal’ with a very popular Instagrammer. The publisher paid the Instagrammer a small amount of money to post a picture of the cover image six months ahead of publication, as well as a number of Instagram stories. This was the first time the cover had been shown online and we managed to create real pre-publication buzz online. As the book was fiction it went down particularly well with that particular online literary community. In just two days the main grid post had gained over 3000 likes and over 20,000 impressions.
This kind of book promotion is particularly beneficial when working with fiction, but it can also work well with commercial non-fiction. If you’re looking at an alternative way to publicise a book, and traditional forms of publicity don’t seem appropriate or possible, a Blog Tour is an excellent option. Bloggers and bookish Instagrammers have engaged followings, full of people desperate for their next book recommendation. They are an audience waiting for you to put your book in front of them.
The BookMachine agency creates outstanding events and unrivalled marketing campaigns for the publishing industry. The team will be taking on new projects from January 2020, so please let us know if we might help you from then.