“Homespun” blog tour post-mortem

I really meant to do this before four months went by, but somehow the year got away from me and now, unexpectedly, it’s 2014. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN.

Anyway … I did my first blog tour for my novella Homespun last fall. I planned all along to do some post-mortem blogging afterwards, dissecting my experiences in order to figure out where I succeeded and failed, hopefully to improve my experience next time — and perhaps it will be useful to some of you, as well!

Overall I’m really delighted with how the tour worked out. People were great and supportive, and I feel like the novella did very well considering that it was my first time and I didn’t have a backlist to draw  upon. (I’ll be straight-up honest: I did not expect Homespun to do as well as it has done! I have no idea what to compare it to, or what constitutes “successful” for a first-time author with a pretty short novella, so maybe my own idea of “success” would be another author’s idea of failure, but I’m really pleased with it and energized to get out there and WRITE MOAR!)

Things to do differently next time:

  • Have fewer tour stops. This is the big area where I think my newbie-ness was showing. I ended up having a tour stop nearly every weekday for four weeks. And it took time — time to write the posts (so much time, omg), time to communicate with blog owners, time to check and answer comments. It’s definitely better to be over-enthusiastic than not enthusiastic enough, but I think next time I’ll keep my tour dates more limited. A couple times a week is probably enough. Towards the end I doubt if I was picking up very many new readers; there’s enough readership crossover between blogs that most people had probably seen my promos already. Really, I think that having fewer tour dates and spending the extra time on writing would be a better use of my time. However, I do think that spreading the tour over a long time is a good idea. In the future I think I will probably spread it out just as long, but have fewer dates per week. (One reason why this happened is because I freaked out slightly about not being able to get blog tour dates if I didn’t commit early, so I asked EVERYONE. Next time I think I should be a bit more laid-back about it …)
  • More effective promotion outside the blog posts themselves. I did my best, but I really could have done more to push my blog tour outside my own blog — especially on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. To be honest, by the time it got around the actual posting of the blog tour posts, I was so worn down from writing all of them, getting my DSP release party blog stuff ready to go, and trying to stay on top of the whole promotion machine that I ended up just sitting back, letting the posts go up on their respective blogs, and doing a weekly roundup of them … and that was it. Well, I mentioned it on Twitter a couple of times, I think. I really could’ve done better at getting the word out more widely.
  • Better organization/promotion of my giveaways. I had some pretty cool prizes, I think, but the way I handled it was kind of a mess, and I could’ve gotten more mileage out of those prizes than I did by promoting them better. (Though I feel like I did pretty well with the scarf giveaway, in that area at least.) Plus, I made it harder on myself than necessary by allowing people to enter by commenting on any blog post, which made it a long and arduous process to collect everybody’s names and emails when it came time to pick a winner. On top of that, I didn’t make any provision in my rules for choosing a new winner if the selected person didn’t respond. Definitely gonna do that next time …

Things that worked:

  • I am pretty happy with my organization for the blog tour. I had a master spreadsheet with all my tour stops, dates, blog owners’ email addresses and what topic I was sending them. As I got each one mailed off, I bolded it so that I knew I was done with that one. I had a folder of promotional stuff to send to every blog on the tour (this was an idea I got from someone else who had a tour stop on my blog; I saw her press kit and went OH YES, TOTALLY DOIN’ THAT!). Then I had each tour post titled with its destination blog and subject matter, and as I sent each one, I turned it green so I knew I was done with that one. (I’m not entirely sure if you can do this on a PC, but on a Mac you can change the color of a file, and I often use this to remind myself which file, in a list of them, has been processed, whatever “processing” means in the current context — submitted to editors, usually.) Images for the individual blog posts were moved to a “done” folder after they were sent. I had a total of sixteen blog posts and had no trouble at all keeping straight what I was sending where. The only mistake I made was a name misspelling on one of my press kit files, which I did not notice until I’d sent nearly all of them. Next time, double-check everything!
  • I started early and turned in everything on time! I started writing my blog tour posts at the same time that I started emailing to arrange tour dates, about a month before my release date. I worked on it intermittently over the next few weeks — I didn’t do it all early — but I had enough time to revise and proofread my tour posts, so as to put my best foot forward as much as possible. Also, having gotten most of them done ahead of time, I was able to shuffle the order of blog posts so that I mixed it up a bit and didn’t have, say, two photo posts right after each other, as well as being able to tailor the content of each post as much as possible to the blog where I was sending it. (I suspect this also goes under the heading of “overthinking things”, but I like being detaily …)

That’s all I can think of right now. I’ll edit more things into the post if they occur to me later! Overall the blog tour was a good experience, but I would be very interested to hear about other people’s experiences, and any tips people have to share. Also, I really appreciate people giving me tips and information when I was first looking into getting blog tour dates, since it was all totally new to me. Thank you!

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I'm a writer and artist living in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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Posted in Homespun, Promotion, Writing
8 comments on ““Homespun” blog tour post-mortem
  1. Wow, you were really on top of things! I had my first blog tour recently too, and I did some of the same things you did only on a smaller scale. I had a guest blog appearance about once a week for two months, I think. Some were just a “press kit” type post with the cover and buy links and blurb. Others were posts about various aspects of my novel and how they related to my real life. A couple involved giveaways of the book. And a couple were interviews. There were excerpts thrown in there occasionally too. I also kept a list of where I was supposed to post, the day, the topic, and the link. During that time I also had a Facebook chat, but I forgot to change the banner of the DSP page. And I flubbed (wrong email address) my last guest blog appearance by not confirming with the author, so it went up a day or so late. I was happy with it overall, though, and hope to do better next time. Congratulations on a successful tour, Layla! 😀

    • Layla Lawlor says:

      Thank you – and congratulations to you on a successful tour, as well! 🙂

      Hmmm, that’s not a bad idea about spreading it out over an even longer period; I was figuring a month for my next one too (just with fewer tour stops) but now I’m thinking that maybe extending it would be a good idea … it’s all about getting our books in front of potential readers’ faces, after all! 😀

  2. B. Snow says:

    I’ll read in more detail later, but thanks for posting this — my debut novel’s blog tour went absolutely nowhere — I literally couldn’t give away my book in one case. So I’m hoping to learn from you!

    • Layla Lawlor says:

      Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear it. Hopefully the next one will be much more successful!

      I think giveaways were what I had the hardest time with, honestly. I didn’t get nearly as much interest as I was expecting on most of them! It’s possible that people are simply a little bit burned out on them, since there are so many of them going on all the time. As promotions go, though, I can’t come up with a good alternative.

  3. annebarwell says:

    This was an interesting read, especially about what you felt worked and didn’t. It’s difficult to find the time to promo on top of the time to write and often harder to sit down and work out what to proritise re the different ways to promo. Thanks 🙂

    • Layla Lawlor says:

      Thank you, Anne! (And so sorry it’s taken me so long to reply.) I’m learning on the job and I hoped that this would be helpful to others. 🙂 And yeah, finding ways to squeeze promo time out of ever-scarce writing time is really difficult.

  4. […] noted in last year’s blog tour post-mortem, I feel as if I spent way too much time on the “Homespun” blog tour writing guest […]

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