So, today’s topic is (again)
Virtual Book Tours
This is part III of my (ridiculously large!) insider’s guide to virtual book tours I, II. Today we’re talking about what virtual book tours have to offer for you as a host and why I love them myself.
The main question of the day is what’s in it for you as a tour host if you do participate in one and why I love tours. Here a few things that come to mind…
In one word: traffic. By definition, virtual book tours are online events focused on creating a buzz about a title. To do that, organizers and authors are trying to create a buzz about each stop through their own platform. All that effort is added to you regular daily views, and you might end up gaining new readers and even blog followers. Depending on what sort of tour it is and if it has some cool giveaway, you’ll gain even more love from your regular readers since you’ll give them the chance to enter that cool giveaway while hanging out on their favorite book blog (:D).
Goodies for your readers!
Let’s face it, we’re all here because we’re book nerds and proud of it! That means we love everything about books, reading them, having them, having swag that revolves around them and their awesomeness. There’s no shame in admitting we love the goodies, that’s what they were made for after all 😀
Book tours often come with some goodies, because authors wanna make us happy. So they’ll tell us about their book, but also offer to give one or more lucky winner some goodies: book/ebook copies, giftcards, swag. I’m talking about the goodies that you, as a host, can give your readers a chance to get by hosting that tour and having a Rafflecopter giveaway to embed in your post, or a link to it, or some copies&etc to give away on your own as part of the tour and so on.
Goodies for you!
Of course, you just might get some complimentary goodies yourself – like the review copy of the title, mainly. There might be some other hosts-oriented event going on, like host-appreciation kinna stuff.
Some bloggers feel iffy on that, because it begins to feel like paid advertising for those titles they’re hosting. This is an interesting point, and one I think you should consider before embarking on hosting any of these tours. Does hosting tours make it advertisement? Does it mean your space is up for sale, except you’re not really getting paid in $ but some other form?
Does that make my post ad space?
My answer is no, not really. But this a subtle difference that I make between ads and featured content for the sake of the content and not any gain.
Who’s in charge?
The blogger, if you ask me. This brings us to my take on the tour stops: they’re not ad space, because neither the organizer nor the author control the content at all. I do. I decide what type of content will or won’t go up, I’m under no obligation whatsoever to put up something if I don’t want to. And I’ll put up that content however I choose. This, to me, negates the very notion of ads which is, in my mind, content controlled entirely by the buyer of the ad.
I’ll host you if I said I would, because I’m a person of my word. But I’m under NO contractual or such obligation to. And neither the author nor the organizer can do anything about me not holding up the part I’d volunteered for. The harshest the organizer can do is drop the host from their list of hosts.
If an organizer tries to force more control over the content than that blogger is willing to give, the host might quit the organizer. This may or may not be a big deal for the organizer, they very well could have zounds of other hosts so one more or less won’t kill their reach. But online behavior is public behavior, so be careful what you’re making yourself known as 🙂
If an author tries to force more control over the stop content than the host is willing to give, the host can very easily cancel that author’s appearance on their blog, or any future ones.
Do review copies, gift cards or anything swag or related consist of payment, or a ‘bribe’ of sorts for hosts? You might think of them that way. I don’t, personally. I host tours because I love books and I want to promote reading, equality of chances and diversity. You’re not bribing me to do anything, I’m volunteering to help you out because you’re basically a means to my end. It’s a mutual-benefits sort of collaboration, and it has nothing to do with material gains on my part as a host.
But then again isn’t the promise of increased traffic also a ‘bribe’? If you’ll start thinking down that path, anything might be a ‘bribe’. The philosophical and moral aspects tangent to these questions turn confusing and convoluted, maybe.
I like to keep it simple: if you – the blogger and host – control the content, you’re featuring, not advertising. Anything else is tour prop, nothing else.
Why do I do it?
In my case, I offer authors the chance to show up on the blog with spotlights, guest posts and such by contacting me directly. So authors who reach out to me through a tour organizer don’t get any preferential treatment, all the same rules apply and they all have the exact same chances.
I never ask any author for anything in order to show up on the blog, the sole criteria is the same for deciding what I wanna read: does the title look like something I’d be interested in? Does it look tempting to me? If the answer is yes, and I can’t find the time to read it in the foreseeable future (because us book bloggers have reading schedules and boy do they get tight!), I wanna mention that title somehow. Because maybe my readers will have the time to give it a try; they might or might not find out about it from someplace else, there’s no way for me to know. But if I mention it, I know for sure I did my part. From there on, let the chips fall where they may, hm? 🙂
As I’ve said before, you have to decide on all these things for yourself. It’s a personal choice, and you set your own rules, limits and definitions. You’re in charge. Always keep in mind what makes your blog special: you. So do what feels right to you, and how it feels right to do it.
So, the pros…
So the upside of tour stops is you’re likely to grow your own platform thanks to all the attention. Now, of course, this depends on the level of daily views your blog already has and on the buzz that author & tour organizer can build up. Sometimes you’ll benefit from their online reach, sometimes they’ll benefit from yours. But you will also learn a lot from the contact with the organizers, authors and other bloggers. And no matter how much you think you know, there’s always a lot to still learn. That’s one major part of life I really like, in my never-edning nerdy-ness: there’s always so much more left to learn!
You might also give your regular readers the chance to enter some fun giveaways for cool stuff.
You’re bringing to their attention a title they might have missed otherwise, because let’s face it: there’s a jungle of new stuff out there every day.
If you ask me, when done right, tour stops are a win-win all around.
… and cons?
There’s also a downside, maybe. If you’re a host for many tour organizers, that means your gonna be promoted on all of their platforms (a plus), but also that you’ll have a more promotional-flair blog than a personal one (maybe a minus).
I’m not saying it’s an automatic happening, because it all depends on how often you host tours and how many organizers you’re collaborating with, so this is why I’m saying this: the essential thing is to always keep a balance. Think about your blog and what you want it to be like, then go for that without reservations. But be sure to think about it and draw some rules for yourself. If you don’t, you might realize before soon you’re swamped by tour stop requests from all sides the better your blog is doing, and your visitors might slowly start to drift away.
Never forget what really draws them to your blog: books, of course, but also your voice, your comments on books, your thoughts and how you express them. Make sure you’re still making yourself heard. 🙂
Next up, June 20 or 21, we’ll talk Virtual Book Tour Manners, because I like the idea of good practices on all sides of any activity. Again, these posts are based on my subjective experience and opinions, so take them with a pinch of salt.
And, unless questions pop up in the meantime, that will be the last post on the book tours topic. What are we going to talk about next? I dunno, but I will know by next time 🙂
Have a fab Friday!