Have you noticed that blog tours are becoming ever more ubiquitous? Of course I get why they are a thing. While the organiser will be paid, most book bloggers review for free. By tying them into a blog tour the publisher can rely on a book being promoted across social media at a time of their choosing. Review copies sent out do not get lost amidst the ever growing piles of books to be read by reviewers. From the publisher’s point of view harnessing book bloggers, who already have an audience interested in finding their next good read, makes perfect sense.
Recently however I have cut back on my commitment to tours. Much as I remain eager to work with publishers on promoting good books, I have encountered issues that have, at times, been stressful. In this post I share some of my experiences and attempt to explain my reasons for choosing to limit my involvement in blog tours, for the time being at least.
The initial contact from a publisher’s designated organiser is an invitation to take part. Due to busy schedules these invitations are typically sent out many weeks in advance, often before the book is available to read even as an ARC. Decisions must be made based on a brief synopsis designed to sell the book.
If I agree to participate I will sometimes request author content for my stop on the tour. I will email my interview questions or ideas for a guest post within a few days of accepting the invitation, to allow time for responses to be put together. Very occasionally I agree to host content that I will receive blind. This has only been an issue for me when what was provided turned out not to be original, making me feel I may as well have hosted a link to wherever it first appeared – this is not what I want on my blog.
A good blog tour organiser will ensure a copy of the book is sent out well in advance – several weeks before the tour starts. As I require a hard copy, problems with print runs can delay this. So long as I am kept updated I will always do my best to accommodate. I have never yet missed my stop on a blog tour but am obviously happier when not reading under pressure.
As books also get lost in the post, more often than seems reasonable but this is a thing, I will chase if I don’t receive my review copy, a situation that is frustrating for everyone involved. Were I not committed to a tour non-delivery of a promised book would be an irritation but not a concern.
As the tour date approaches I look to the organiser to email a digital copy (.jpg) of the book cover, author photo and blog tour flyer. Ideally the latter will include the hashtag they wish to use. It takes time and effort to prepare any blog post and this increases if covers and author pictures must be searched for on the web where image quality and usage can be problematic.
I generally have my blog posts prepared and scheduled at least a week in advance. Receipt of any author content is required to allow for this. If I am listed on a tour flyer and have nothing to post it reflects badly on my blog. I have had to chase for content many times but have only been entirely let down once.
I have numerous examples of reviews, interviews and guest posts on my blog and assume the organiser is happy with my format and writing style or they would not have invited me to participate. I will always post honestly – integrity matters to me. I wouldn’t have accepted the book had I not expected to enjoy reading it. Nevertheless, some books disappoint and I will not pretend otherwise.
While the blog tour is running I will try to share other participant’s posts. I never share a post I have not read and lose interest if there is too much repetition across the tour. How much I share also depends on the time I have available to seek out and read. For the long blog tours – some last for weeks – I will likely only manage to share a fraction of the stops.
There have been tours where my participating post, even when positive, has been ignored by author, publisher and organiser. My fellow book bloggers are always generous in sharing content but I expect some interest from those who benefit more directly.
Some have suggested that negative reviews have no place on a blog tour and bloggers should withdraw rather than post anything but praise. Late withdrawal strikes me as reneging on an agreement. Such action would also dilute the worth of the tour. Why would a reader click on multiple posts about a book that are known to have been filtered in this way?
Whilst my enthusiasm for tours has been subdued recently the main reason I have cut back on participation is the limit it places on my flexibility to choose the books I read. By filling my schedule with agreed dates I commit myself to particular titles, most of which I have not yet received at the point of commitment.
For publishers reading this post it is worth remembering that, whether or not I am taking part in a tour for a book, if I am sent a review copy I will do my best to read it in a timely manner and then share whatever publicity it receives from multiple sources. Once I have posted my own review I will share other’s thoughts on the title, whatever they may be. I blog about books to make readers aware that they exist, to share the book love.
Do other bloggers enjoy taking part in blog tours? I love talking about books but, for now, desire greater freedom to read titles of my choosing, in an order that suits me. I am, after all, more likely to react positively to a book if it is the one I feel like reading at a given time.
I totally understand where you are coming from on this. I hear authors talk about the current saturation of blog postss turning people off- the usual story of when there’s too much we don’t want more. Next week will be my first experience of being on a tour as an author and I shall ensure that I thank each and every blogger for their input as I always do.
Great post Jackie I hardly do any blog tours these days. I still feel I’m doing my part for authors and publishers, but it’s great to pick up a book that “I want to read” rather than a book “I have to read” I found it’s more enjoyable and less stressful. x
I’m still doing tours but I find it very frustrating to chase up materials for my blog.
Cogent points. We have wound down on tours and it is quite a relief not to have so many deadlines or the stress of chasing, and are enjoying a better balance of reading and reviewing….
Blog tours have definitely reached saturation point.
I now rarely share more than a couple of posts for the same book I see being toured. When I see those really long blog tours, they might be good for mass exposure, so if they work in terms of sales then carry on, but they’re not for me.
If I take part in a blog tour I post a book review, but it will be an honest review and recently I’ve had a spate of books that weren’t great. I personally have very little interest in a tour post that is an author interview or a book extract, but that’s just me.
Blog tour info certainly does vary, the best is an easy copy and paste option will all the buy links neatly hyper-linked, author pic, bio, book description, book cover and blog tour poster. Plus of course getting the book a month in advance in a paperback or mobi file. I get very frustrated with a PDF as so often the formatting gets distorted upon upload.
Totally get that. Overload.
I’ve never done a book tour, they seem overwhelming. I’d be happy to send my novel to a reader who might enjoy an imaginative quest that doesn’t slot into a genre. I’d be grateful for a comment here and there, or even an interview. Thing is, I don’t know where to start without getting lost in lists of book blogs, which seem to grow like mushrooms.
Really insightful – fully understand what you are saying and sympathise too – you have to be able to read what you enjoy – or it becomes a job and a chore – yes it must be nice sometimes to get something outside what you would have chosen to read and find you liked it but how often does that happen? – look after yourself first, or there will be no blogs because why would anyone choose to post them?
My goodness, it could have been me writing this.
I have only participated in a few tours in all the years I have been blogging for these very reasons.
I’m fairly new to blogging, but enjoying being part of blog tours. I don’t commit to reading books I don’t think I’ll enjoy. I haven’t had any problems with not getting either books or promo material on time either .. but then, I’m usually out of step with everyone else!!
I’ve only ever been a part of one blog tour. The organizer was Aimee Brown of Hello Chick Lit and she was an awesome organizer! I had everything I needed way in advance. I would work with her again any time. On that note – I haven’t done anymore since the first but have recently been approached and agreed to two more. I feel I’m picky about these!! I want to know I like the book first. I decided awhile ago I would never officially sign up for an author interview, blog tour etc if I didn’t know I liked the work – part of that integrity thing! I will not schmooze an author or publisher by faking a review – ever. I don’t think I see myself doing more than one of these, maybe two, in a month. I like the freedom to choose what I read and blog about and I’m bad at forced deadlines. What I have a problem with is other bloggers and publishers kind of view you as “less legit” if you don’t do all these tours, cover reveals etc and I just don’t want to be yet another sheep blogger doing the same content.
Makes me very glad that Crime Review purely focuses on reviews and on interviews done to our formula.
Quit blog tours a couple of years ago after a negative experience. Refused to be bullied into praising a text I thought was fundamentally flawed.Was placed on the naughty step and there I remain.
Now it’s overkill. For some blogging is all about promoting. The blogs I regularly read take a more critical approach. People are openly talking about muting the #blogtour hashtag. Via my academic research, I have evidence that suggests the more aggressive form of marketing is damaging authors’ profiles and may be impacting on sales.
I’ve never done one and (probably) never will. I only accept review books “for consideration” – ie I will consider reading, and if I read it, I’ll consider reviewing. That’s how it works at newspapers and literary journals, and it works for me… if I’m agreeing to do work, with a due date, at that point, it’s a job and I’d like to be paid!
As a new blogger (of just two months), I found this post really interesting. I’m taking part in two forthcoming tours in order to gain more experience of the whole thing, and I guess I’ll see how they go before I commit to any others 🙂
I can completely agree with your post. I never really got caught up in blog tours but found myself declining lots because I was being asked to commit before there was any chance that I would have received, let alone, read the book. They seem to have expanded exponentially over the last year or two and I wonder if there is much interest outside the blogging community in the tours – which would just be a waste of all that effort by bloggers.
And reading should be a pleasure and for most of us reviewing/blogging is a hobby – none of us want to feel pressured to read a book to a deadline.