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My recent blog tour - a few rambling thoughts.

I’ve recently been the star of a blog tour for my new book, The Future Can’t Wait which ran for over two weeks. It’s a popular form of online publicity which helps to create a real buzz around your newly released book and is the virtual equivalent to a physical location, bookshop or library, where traditionally the author  would turn up to talk about their book and sign some copies. For many authors, published by small independents or self-published, this is a model that isn’t working unless there are sufficient numbers to make it worth their while.

            This exciting form of promotion means authors can reach a much wider audience, either by offering up a guest post or asking the blogger to post their reviews of the book which will hopefully be supportive. I found the reviews of my book to be an author’s dream.

            My blog which ran from Nov 2nd to 17th 2017 was managed by an organiser, (you can find her here) https://annebonnybookreviews.com/ throughout the whole period and whilst authors can approach bloggers independently, I found this to be very helpful as it took pressure of me and let me do what I do best… write.

            Each blogger on the tour took a slightly different approach and picked out issues in the book that resonated with them personally. This meant that every review was not a rehash of someone else’s. It was clear that a lot of time and dedication was devoted to each blog even if the genre I was writing in wasn’t a particular interest of theirs.

            When I was informed about who would be participating in my blog, I took some time to look at their websites and without exception, have to say all are beautifully laid out and professionally presented. I am amazed at how much reading these bloggers are able to do, particularly as publishers are constantly sending them books and authors are bombarding them for help. It’s good to see that they’ve drawn up some clear guidelines on the practicalities. Agents and publishers have specialisms and rules of engagement so why not bloggers. They are a valuable part of the publishing business.

            I didn’t realise how much work was involved for the author. Quality guest posts of between 500 – 1000 words need time to plan as these will create an impression about the author. If you throw something together because the blogger is reminding you time is running out, then what’s it going to say about your book (which may be fantastic).

            Authors need to remember that they are not the only ones the blogger is working with over a given period of time.  Your blog organiser and the team are doing you a huge favour so co-operation is necessary to make the tour as successful as it can be. If you want it to be the start of a professional working relationship, then good communication, rapid responses and getting involved with the frenzy of retweeting and uploading or sharing their posts to your social media is a part of the process. It is tiring but also exciting. I woke with trepidation every day during my tour to see how the book had been received by total strangers but real readers, many of whom consume hundreds of books in a year. They know what appeals and they’re good at picking out what makes a novel “tick.”

            What really impressed me was the way the organiser took several quotes from the reviews throughout the day and flagged them up on social media, Twitter in particular. They’re carefully selected to be inspiring and encourage followers to check out the book with a view to purchasing. It’s a soft sell approach with an emphasis on connecting authors to readers as people not as another product.  

A few tips for authors on a tour

  • Help out with the promotion banners – post them to your social media and shout about it.
  • Keep track of your own tour and be sure to thank the blogger that day.
  • Engage with the buzz throughout the tour but be subtle.
  • Keep your publisher informed. He/she has many other authors to look after and can’t always be following every mention of your book.
  • Agree guest posts well in advance and send them off early.
  • Be flexible if there have to be changes.
  • Whatever you do, don’t engage in an argument because you don’t like what the blogger/reviewer has said about an aspect of the book. Everyone has their own opinion. Accept it.
  • Enjoy it… it’s great fun and I have made some new contacts some of whom have become friends whom I hope to meet next year.

Don't Fear those Book Reviews!

  • Published in Writing

You’ve agonised over plot, characters and dialogue, driving your household or friends crazy as you divert conversations away from them and back to your book:  your wonderful debut novel which you are sure is going to reach great heights. Dreams of Hollywood fill your star-gazing moments.

Your family indulges you, oohing and ahhing over your opening paragraph, then express amazement when you tell them you’ve written 80,000 words. ‘But it’s so hard to get a publisher these days,’ they say with a smirk and a wave of insecurity hits you. A year’s work or more could be all for nothing. ‘Well, I can self-publish,’ you hit back. Millionaires are made on the back of a 99 cent erotic thriller.’

Whichever way you go with your book, traditional, independent or self-publishing you will have to face the day when that  great creation  you’ve   given a painful birth to, nurtured and had to let go to find its own place in the wider world. That is unless you are happy to simply store it under the bed for secret readings in the early hours.  

Who knows, it might be discovered when the kids are clearing out the house and it wins a cheeky posthumous award and they fight over the resulting royalties.

Most debut authors fear negative reviews. It’s like starting your first job and being shredded during an appraisal. Self-doubt creeps in, fragile egos get massacred and recently printed pages of that second novel get tossed in the air.

When The Cruelty of Lambs hit the marketplace last week, there’s no denying I was nervous. I’ve been in a creative business long enough to know that not everybody likes or wants your product. As writers we have to accept that.  Reviews are like a one way missile. Sensible authors don’t retaliate or demand from the reviewer a blow by blow account of why they didn’t like it.

Reviewers not only provide a valuable service to potential readers but also to authors. I appreciate the time a reviewer has taken to read my novel and the careful crafting of their response to it. If there is something in there I can use for future books then even better.  A criticism might sting for a minute or two but it won’t throw me into despair or an emotional breakdown.  Quite the reverse.  As Hillary Clinton said recently, Anger isn’t a plan.

A plan should be to keep improving and polishing your craft, learning from more experienced authors and write, write, write. It’s tough. It’s a marathon not a sprint and no matter how much work you put into it, it’s guaranteed that a percentage of the reading public might not like it.

So, what should you do if you get a bad review?

In a word, nothing. It’s still a review. Focus on the positive ones. Definitely don’t rush to a social media site to complain!  Remember why you write. Many of us are driven to put fingertips to keyboard.

Those words are busting to come out. Make sure they are not loaded with poisoned arrows at reviewers who have been kind enough to give up a few hours of their day to focus on your work. It’s not personal even if it feels like it.

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