February 22, 2010

Guest Blogger - Linda Poitevin

A Virtual Book Tour Adventure

It’s definitely a new era out there, folks, and the high-tech world we live in cannot be ignored…even by relative dinosaurs like me. I’m here to report, however, that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
My debut novel, A Fairy Tale for Gwyn, was released in December in trade paperback, and in January as an e-book. Excitement aside, I faced the dilemma of how the heck I was going to market my story. I thought it was a great book, but how to tell others? Especially when A Fairy Tale for Gwyn isn’t available in bookstores? Even to a technological dinosaur like myself (I still remember sending my first-ever email in 2001), the solution seemed obvious: if the book is to sell through the Internet, that was where it should also be marketed.

Phew. Problem solved. Or not.

The Internet is (as my daughters used to say) gi-normous. It’s colossal. Gargantuan. And intimidating as hell when your computer skills are limited to the above-noted emails, wordprocessing, and being able to Google stuff. Looking around, I could see many, many authors guest-blogging, being interviewed, holding online release parties, and participating in “virtual book tours.” It seemed like a great idea to me, but how did I get started? The thought of contacting blog owners and asking to be featured gave me heart palpitations. I did mention I’m a debut author, right? Well, who would want unknown me taking up space and time on their blog? Uh uh. Wasn’t going to happen.

Besides, what would I write? I had enough trouble coming up with (very) sporadic ideas for my own blog. And I was in the middle of home renovations and family stuff and writing and I didn’t have time to organize something like that and…

Well, suffice it to say that eventually I ran out of excuses – and across the most exciting concept I’d found yet: a tour organizer. Seems I’m not the only one who feels organizationally challenged out there in Cyberworld, and there are companies lining up to do at least a portion of the work for you. After due diligence (Google really is my best friend), I hired Goddessfish Productions to take over the planning for me. They would do a book trailer and banners, send out a press release, and organize a month-long blog tour with five stops per week (Monday to Friday).

Now, before you think this is an advertising plug for Goddessfish, let me assure you otherwise. First of all, I’m not affiliated with them in any way, and second of all, I’m going to be very honest with you about my experience with them – what I liked, what I think could be improved, and my thoughts on whether or not I would do it again.

What I liked

Judy and Marianne, Goddessfish proprietresses, were helpful, professional, and delivered everything in a timely manner. I loved my book trailer (see it here) and banners, and couldn’t believe the speed with which my schedule filled up. Judy provided a list of suggested blog topics to get me started, liased with blog owners who wanted interviews, and answered my questions promptly. When scheduling glitches arose later in the tour, they were handled as quickly as possible and compensation was offered without hesitation. Like I said: professional.

What I think could be improved

One of Goddessfish’s pitches to potential partners is the chance to increase traffic to their blogs. Tour stops are then given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Unfortunately, this resulted in some stops that had little or no following…which didn’t exactly mesh well with my goal of gaining as much exposure as possible for my book. Because I was the one who was actually paying the bill, I thought more attention should have been paid to my exposure rather than that of blog owners. That said, however, I must say that I enjoyed my visit to each and every blog along my tour, and found all the owners to be very supportive and friendly…which brings me to

Would I do it again?

Without Goddessfish to guide me through this process, I would never have had the confidence to launch my own tour – heck, I wouldn’t have known where to start. I don’t know how many new readers I gained from the tour, but having someone take care of the logistics and make that initial contact with the blogging world for me was, in my opinion, worth every cent. In assessing the overall value, I also look upon the intangibles: the blogging experience and the confidence I gained, and the warmth and support I’ve experienced from writers and readers alike. Following the tour, I’ve reached out to other blog owners, some of them commenters on my tour stops, and have arranged additional guest spots for the coming weeks…me, the technological dinosaur, all by myself. If that’s not an indication of value for money, I don’t know what is. 

So, in a nutshell, a virtual book-tour service may not be for everyone, but if you’re just starting out and don’t know where to begin, or if you’re technologically or time-challenged (in other words, just plain overwhelmed), it can be a godsend.

Bio: Linda Poitevin lives with her husband, three daughters, and a varied collection of animals. In her spare time, she gardens (organically), cans and freezes the family’s winter fruit and vegetable supply, knits (basically), crochets (better), and starts way more projects than she ever finishes. (Fortunately that doesn’t hold true of her books!) She loves spending time with her family, having coffee with friends, walking by the river and watching thunderstorms…in about that order. For more information about her debut novel, A Fairy Tale for Gwyn, visit her at http://www.lindapoitevin.com/


darkangelauthor said...

Anna, thanks so much for having me! I really enjoyed writing about my recent virtual book tour, and I'm hoping that others will find my experience helpful.

And I'm also hoping others who have toured will share their experiences here, too!

Have a fabulous Monday!

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Weclome, Linda. I'm glad you joined me today. Great post!

Katie Hines said...

My blog tour starts a week from today, so I read your article with interest. Mine isn't as long as yours (10 days), but what you posted seems to about be my experience, too. Thanks for sharing with us.

Ilona Fridl said...

I didn't know how to get started guest blogging either. Then I saw someone asking for guest bloggers and I hopped in. It wasn't as hard as I thought. Now, I had to cut back because I wasn't getting any work done on my WIP.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Linda, thanks so much for sharing this. Very helpful info for the inexperienced!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thanks for this useful article. I have a book coming out in July and need to think about scheduling a blog tour. Coming up with topics and the time to write them seems the hardest part to me. I've been keeping tabs of who likes guests so I can make my own queries. As you said, blog traffic is a consideration.

Mary Ricksen said...

Good luck with sales. Hope the tour works!!!

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Very interesting post. :) I just did my own mini tour for my first book. That's a lot of work to plan it yourself--writing the blog posts is plenty. So I think it's great you hired someone to do the legwork for you.

Hope all the hard work pays off in fabulous book sales!

darkangelauthor said...

Sorry for being so late to reply, everyone -- I was out getting put to rights after displacing some bones in my foot. Ouch. Walking may be good for you, but walking a very large, VERY enthusiastic 4-month-old puppy can be hazardous!

Katie, you're so welcome -- I hope your tour goes well. Drop me an email with your list of stops and I'll come visit! :)

Ilona, I know what you mean. The Internet can be a huge time-sucker if you're not careful!

Brenda, I'm glad to have been of help!

Good for you on making your own list, Nancy...you're WAY more organized than I was! Is this your first book? What's it called and when is it out?

Thank you, Mary! :)

Rebecca, congrats on your first book! Were you as excited as I was? :)

Thank you all so much for stopping in!

Alice Audrey said...

I've been wondering about hiring someone to set up a tour. Thanks for the info.

Virginia said...

Hi Linda, a book tour should do great! Most of the books I buy come from reading about them on the blogs. You find a lot of good books this way. Word of mouth works wonders! Congrats on your new book!


darkangelauthor said...

You're welcome, Alice -- I'm glad you found the info useful!

Virginia, that's really good to know -- and I'm sure other writers will appreciate knowing as well!


Debra St. John said...

I have a new book coming out in April, and I've set up what I like to call a 'mini-blog tour' on my own. Whenever someone posted about a guest blogging opportunity, I'd e-mail and ask if she had any spots in April or there abouts.

I'm just starting to organize and write all of the posts and answer all of the interview questions. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out!

Your tour did get your name out there. There were many days I followed you around!

darkangelauthor said...

Thanks so much, Debra! It's good to be known, lol! I'll be watching for your name on the tour circuit in April -- good luck with it. :)


Lydia Dare said...

Congrats on the blog tour, Linda! And good luck with your book. That's all so exciting.

I am getting ready to begin my own blog tour. I have back-to-back-to-back books coming out in April, May and June. I am so very fortunate that my publisher has put the tour together. Like you initially, I wouldn't have had a clue where to start on my own.

I think your story is so inspiring. Especially for those of us who are intimidated by technology. I love that you found a company who could help you wade these sometime scary waters. I think you're braver than I am.

darkangelauthor said...

Anna, it has been great being here today -- thanks again for the invitation. And can I ask how you got my book cover image to curve like that? That is so way cool!


darkangelauthor said...

Thank you so much, Lydia! Wow, *3* books? Way to go! It's awesome that your pub set up the tour for you...I hope it goes really well. I'll be looking for you on the blog circuit!


Caroline Clemmons said...

Linda, I'm now organizing my blog tour for a June 2010 release, OUT OF THE BLUE. It's a big job. When I started writing, I thought writing a good story would be enough. LOL The promotion takes almost as much time as writing the book--or so it seems right now. Good luck with your book!

darkangelauthor said...

You're so right, Caroline. A good part of the reason I hired someone to do it for me. Of course, I was also in the middle of renovating the house, moving a child back in, gardening/canning/preserving, and re-writing a 445-page manuscript, so hiring out the organizational stuff was as much an effort to preserve my sanity as anything else! :)

All the very best on your tour!

Jana Richards said...

I recently organized a blog tour for the release of my novella "Burning Love". It is a lot of work, especially when you're doing it on your own. Hiring someone sounds like a great idea, one I might consider next time around. Thanks for your insights.