The Looooooooong Book Tour

We’ve all experienced it. A new book is released, and the author hits site after site after site to promo it.

It doesn’t take long to bore the crap out of everyone in the community with this tactic. The first day, we’re thrilled. The second day, we smile and nod and may even read the post. But as the tour progresses, more and more people shut down to it. “Enough already! You have a new book out. I get it. I even bought it. During the length of your book tour, I’ve read it twice!”

Unless you’re a die-hard fan of the author, you probably don’t hang in there until the end. I bet even the author is sick of it by the time the last stop on the tour is reached.

Why do they do it? To reach readers and rack up sales. There is no other reason. But the problem with the long book tour is 99% of your audience have seen the first two or three tour posts and aren’t interested in the rest because they are in the community. They’re plugged in, they get the news and hear the rumors, so any tour lasting longer than a few days, a week tops, is pointless and, worse, annoying. 

The real trick is to get outside the community and reach readers who have never heard of you. And if you think I have the answer to that, you haven’t been paying attention. I don’t rack up impressive sales. I sell a few copies of every new book I release, and almost every day, I sell one copy of something off the backlist. But that’s it. Obviously, I haven’t discovered how to get news of my books outside the community to people who would enjoy reading them if only they knew they existed.

I’m talking about some real numbers here, not a copy or two here and there. Guests posts aren’t gonna do it. Giveaways are only interesting to those few people who don’t care much about the book in the first place; if they did, they’d buy the damn thing and give me a little money. Author interviews? Please! If I was that interesting, my blog would have ten thousand followers.

Remember how well The Haunted Maze did? I made a couple thousand from sales of that novella–the most I’ve ever seen from one of my releases. And why? Because of fluky things that happened in tandem with Amazon and Halloween. I didn’t engineer it in any way, and since then, my sales have sunk to pre-Maze levels, if not lower.

When you think about it, it’s sad an author has so little control over their product they can’t even put it in front of the audience outside the community who might want it. The book tour doesn’t do much, and neither do all the other things authors do that emulates jumping up and down and screaming, “Buy my book!”

Every time one of us discovers a trick to get noticed, it inevitably becomes overused and stops working. Remember how cool it was to list a book for $.99 on Amazon and sell a zillion copies of it? Yeah, neither do I, but that’s because I missed that party. Currently, the Big Thing is to advertise on BookBub, but they don’t accept just anyone, ya know. I tried to get them to list Precog in Peril and Transgression multiple times, only to be turned down continuously. And now they’ve raised their rates so high, I can’t justify the expense.

Eventually, BookBub will die and something else will take its place, but in the meantime, authors are struggling to deliver news of their work to readers who might be interested. If any of y’all find a way to do that, let me know.


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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21 Responses to The Looooooooong Book Tour

  1. I hear you. I scheduled two blog blitzes last month for two different books. I feel like I wasted $100 by the time I paid for the blitzes and for the print copies I gave away. I think I sold five or six e-books and one of those was returned to Amazon. But, as the saying goes, “Live and learn. I won’t be doing that again.

    • I did the same thing with Phoenix. Paid for a week-long book blitz and saw ZERO sales from it. The problem is everyone is doing it and readers become immune to it much the same way we have become immune to the horror of mass shootings. It happens so often, we merely yawn and move on.

  2. I know I, for one, was totally glad when my tour(s) were over, but talking about “me” is my least favorite thing in the world to do. I kind of think the long tours that you simply can’t avoid seeing *do* work. I’m starting to think it’s the 5-10 stop ones that are kind of worthless. I don’t know that anyone actually clicks on the tour stops themselves, but just seeing the name/book on my timeline over and over and over again keeps me from forgetting about it. Do I get sick – really sick – of seeing it? Yep. But I don’t forget about it. 😉 There is no doubt, in my mind at least, that keeping a book in front of everyone pays off more than never talking about it.

    • I’ve been publishing for six or seven years now. I’m no more well known now than I was then. I admit I’m disappointed I haven’t been more successful, and I have given serious thought to radically changing what I do with my writing. Because I do enjoy writing and telling a story, but I despise the marketing/self-promo part to the point where I avoid it.

      I just want to write. I resent knowing I have to work as hard or harder to get my titles out there.

  3. Helena Stone says:

    Funny you should post this today just when I’ve reached the ‘I should probably start thinking about promoting that book’ stage for my new release in Nov/Dec. I’ve no idea what, if anything, I’ll be doing yet. While I don’t necessarily want to do a tour I would like to garner a few reviews, because I think they can make a difference. A lot of blogs like to combine the review with a guest blog though, so I may not be able to avoid that. What ever I do, it won’t be long. I thought I had a wonderful idea and while it may still happen I now fear it may not come to anything. Shrugs. Live and learn I guess.

  4. Lindsaysf says:

    Once upon a time – and maybe still – that’s what publishing companies did. They bought ads in major publications. They arranged the tours and the pr at the stops. The real drawback of self-publishing, whether in print or electronically, is that you have to do it yourself. Which is a whole different skills set from writing. According to friends, even paying one of the DIY companies to promote you doesn’t do squat. They just don’t have the connections or motivation.

    • Only the Big Five take out ads and set up book tours anymore, and even then, only for their “names.” All other publishers, including the online ones, expect the writers to do all that work. Considering how much they rake off the royalties, I think that sucks.

  5. A.M.B. says:

    That’s frustrating. I can’t say I’ve really experienced the endless book release–my reading/writing tastes don’t put me in a clear “community”–but I can imagine how annoying that is. I don’t think there’s a good way to advertise a book. At the moment, though, I’m more interested in reaching new blog readers than people who would be interested in my books.
    Good luck!

  6. diannegray says:

    I was nodding all the way through this post. There are a couple of times I’ve looked at blog posts and thought – “stop it already! I’ve read your book and left comments and left a review and now I’m sick of hearing about it. Talk about something else now, you can’t hit the same audience over and over again with the same message.” I think it’s important with all the work floating around out there to let your audience see you’re actually a real person instead of a marketing machine. For some reason people think there is money in writing – yet, you’re probably more likely to win the lottery 😉 Thinking about selling and making money should be the last thing on a writers mind when they’re creating. I know that probably doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, but it really shows in the words of a book when someone is focusing on their finances instead of just enjoying the process of telling a great story.

    • You’re right! When people write for money, it’s pretty obvious. But sadly the general public doesn’t care. They buy it anyway.

      There is money in writing, but I haven’t hit on the exact confluence of things that might make that happen. That being said, I kind of wish someone would offer me a monthly magazine column or something. I knew a writer who wrote one short column every month and was paid $400. I was incredibly envious! A setup like that would allow me to do all kinds of things.

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