Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?

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Lately I’ve seen a few discussions on Goodreads about blog tours, mainly from people looking to start blog tour companies. First off, I think if someone is organized and connected enough, a blog tour company is a great business idea. Especially if that company can provide an impactful service for authors who aren’t connected enough or who just don’t have the time to organize their own blog tour.

But for authors: are paid blog tours worth it? I can tell you from personal experience that my feelings about them are mixed (I had a few of them last year when I released my first novel). I won’t disparage anybody here, but let’s just say that there are blog tour organizers who aren’t able to deliver what they promise and who also don’t have the best followup skills (but that’s a story for another blog post).

What types of things should an author consider when looking at blog tour companies? There are several things that come to mind:

Price. I’ve seen tours range from $50 to $800. What is “reasonable”? Well, I think that depends on an author’s budget, but also consider this: what kind of return are you getting on your investment? If you don’t get at least a few sales during your tour, increased page views, etc., then you might decide that it’s not worth it to book a blog tour for your next release and just roll up your sleeves and do your own marketing.

What’s being offered? I think the main thing that authors want from blog tours is reviews, so how many will you get?

Number of tour stops (The more the better.)

Amount of traffic/page views/comments for participating blogs. I don’t mean to suggest that participating blogs need to have thousands of readers, but if nobody is reading that blog, then you’ve pretty much wasted your money. My personal thoughts? Even if that blog only reaches one person who bought your book, depending on how much you paid for the tour, that might still be worth it: if that person likes your book they will tell their friends, and their friends will tell their friends, and so forth.

Another thing that might help an author decide is the “success” of  a company’s past clients: how many reviews do their books have? If a blog tour promises 5 reviews but the book has zero (or only a couple) reviews, that might be something to consider. Side note: blog tour organizers are normally up front about reviews: they can’t promise that reviewers will post them, but if very few reviews are consistent across the board for their past clients, that says something about their blog tour hosts (and not something good).

Does the blog tour organizer have a decent social media following? If they don’t, then you might want to have a conversation with them about how they are going to reach bloggers and help you spread the word about your book (or pick somebody else).

I think that blog tours are a great way for authors to get exposure for their books. Blog tour companies are good for authors who are short on time but I strongly believe that a well connected author can successfully organize their own blog tours. Heck, even an author who isn’t so connected: all you really have to do is gather a list of bloggers, tell them who you are, don’t be spammy, and pitch them your blog tour idea. I also think that an author should consider what a blog tour company can offer them and weigh that against what they can do for themselves. If there’s not much of a difference, then it might be worth it to save that money you were going to spend on a blog tour and use it towards something else (like towards the cost of a good book cover for your next novel).

What about others? What’s been your experience with paid blog tours? Do you recommend them? Any horror stories? (I hope not!) I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Also, for anybody looking for a blog tour company,  I had a very fun (and from what I could see, successful) blog tour with Chick Lit Plus. The organizer, Samantha March, was by far the most organized and professional blog tour organizer I’ve come across. Her followup skills were impeccable and she let me know what to expect pretty much everyday.

Here’s a couple of other companies I’ve come across in my search that seem to be pretty reputable:

Pump up Your Book. Their prices are waaay out of my range but during my research I discovered that indie author K.L. Brady used them for her debut novel, The Bum Magnet. She eventually ended up getting a traditional book deal (probably not as a direct result of the blog tour, but definitely something to consider).

Fabulosity Reads

Bewitching Blog Tours

As always, before booking a blog tour with anyone, do your research! 

29 thoughts on “Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?

  1. I honestly don’t think much of blog tours. I go to a person’s blog to read about what they’re doing, so seeing an entry just about someone else’s book kind of makes me less likely to read it. >_< I know it's not a great attitude to have and I'll surely be eating my words if I ever do a blog tour, but still. And I don't think I'd ever pay for one.
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..It’s A Small WorldMy Profile

    • You know, I’ve been thinking the same thing: I’ve seen many a blog tour but how many of those books do I actually buy? If I’ve built a relationship with an author through blogging or other means, I’m a lot more likely to buy their book. Or, if an author I know gives a book a favorable review, I’m more inclined to at least read the blurb for that book or the first few pages.
      Quanie recently posted..Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?My Profile

  2. I did a blog tour when my book came out and was very disappointed. I didn’t pay, though, but honestly? As a blog reader I’ve found that I’m very unlikely to buy a book based on seeing it listed on a blog. The exposure a book like Crystal Collier’s is getting right now is more likely to make me buy it, mostly because I’m just seeing it SO often. Same with many others–Medeia Sharif’s books, for instance. And all of their books were featured for free…why? Because they take the time each day to read lots of other blogs, comment them, and feature other people’s covers on their blog. That’s a lot of work and people don’t want to do that, so they think shelling out some money will get them that exposure.

    I think perhaps the blog tour may get your book cover in front of some extra eyes…but will they buy the book? I don’t think so. I think that money would better be spent hosting a giveaway on Goodreads or their own blog…
    Stephanie Faris recently posted..Cover Reveal: Soulless by Crystal CollierMy Profile

    • I have hosted many book tours, and I do buy them, not every one of them mind you, but when the cover is stunning (I’m a cover artist by trade, and I am a very visual person) and the blurb is quite catching, I will go buy it, and often my readers will tell me that they’ve bought a certain book.

      If there’s a book I’ve heard about, and I’m conflicted, and see it on the blogs I follow, I will read the blog reviews, and more often than not I’ll buy it. I don’t go by Amazon reviews, but rather blogger reviews.
      Viari Rose recently posted..Seeing Stars by Ellie PottsMy Profile

    • Hi Stephanie,

      I agree. I think that’s the key here: building genuine relationships with other bloggers and supporting them so that they support you. Building relationships does take time, but it’s so worth it. I have featured several bloggers and their books here on my blog. I love helping them celebrate new releases.
      Quanie recently posted..Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?My Profile

  3. I had difficulty finding a good service to host mine, because many don’t accept or don’t have enough blogs willing to post western historical. I finally found a good one to accept, but it fell through at the last minute. (Something must’ve happened to the tour co. organizer – she was very good/organized and abruptly stopped posting on any of her social media sites. I’m quite worried about her, actually.) Thankfully, I hadn’t yet paid.

    Anyhow, it was a blessing in disguise for me. I ended up running a couple of paid e-book ads instead. One of them shot my book to #1 in western. I doubt any blog tour could have done that.
    Melissa Maygrove recently posted..Blog Hop Challenge: Bella’s Point by Elizabeth SeckmanMy Profile

    • Hunh, that’s something: a paid e-book ad. That’s something that I hadn’t really thought about, so thanks for that tidbit. I didn’t realize some blog tour companies weren’t willing to take on western historical. News to me. Well, luckily for you the blog tour that never happened turned out to be the best thing that never happened:)
      Quanie recently posted..Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?My Profile

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience with blog tours Quanie. I’ve always wondered if they are worth it or not. I agree that research is so important before choosing a blog tour company. You have to weigh the amount of time an author would have to invest to do it themselves vs. the monetary cost of paying someone else. I’ve noticed that some of the most successful independent authors spend just as much time marketing as they do writing, so that just goes to show just how important marketing strategies like blog tours are.
    Faith Simone recently posted..Sometimes You Don’t Need A Plan…My Profile

  5. Hi Quanie,
    You must have been reading my mind. I’ve been contemplating the blog tour and had just started listening to a woman who has a webinar about virtual book tours. Claims these tours are the boost every book needs.
    Thank you so much for this post. It’s great to hear the pros/cons and personal experience you have with these tours. I think you’re right, with research and an informed decision, it could be a valuable resource.
    Cheers! and thanks again.

  6. Thanks for the blog tour rundown! I haven’t used any paid blog tours but I had wondered how good/worthwhile they are. For my first book, I had a list of bloggers and a blog tour that rocked in comments, but very little in sales. For my second book, I quailed at the thought of organizing a tour and didn’t. So far, I had fewer first day and first week sales, but I’ve had a continuous small trickle that equaled what I had for my first book blog tour (minus the first week). Thankfully, about five bloggers have offered open guest spots since I released my book, and I’m taking up those offers. It’s not an official blog tour, but I am “touring” slowly.
    When I release my third book, I hope to have a first week blog tour followed by a slow ongoing guest post list . . . I really think that might works as a perfect combo – or so I hope.

    BTW – would you like to stop by my blog for a guest post or interview in September, October, or November?
    Tyrean recently posted..Book Signing Ups and DownsMy Profile

    • Hi Tyrean, I think you have a great approach: slowly but surely. That’s how I approach things. I think the real key is building relationships with others who will eventually help you spread the word about your book, either via social media or word of mouth. And I think that there is nothing wrong with a continuous small trickle. Sometimes I scratch my head, wondering how people are finding my book, but hey; slowly but surely! And I would love to stop by your blog for a guest post this fall! Definitely. I’ll be in touch.
      Quanie recently posted..Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?My Profile

  7. Fantastic post, Quanie. I don’t have much experience with blog tours but I would definitely like to participate in them more.
    I do, however, have a lot more experience with reviews and giveaways hosted mostly by parenting blogs and avid books readers on their blogs. As authors, it’s imperative to do the research before investing both time and money into anything for the future of our books. And for most of us, those two things are non-existent; especially when first starting out in this business.
    Personally, I have spent money on blogs with bigger followings and had a lot of success with one of them. I think I sold around 50 books or so. And to me, that is a success! LOL
    Gina Stoneheart recently posted..For the Love of the Publishing GameMy Profile

    • 50 books? Honey, I’d be dancing barefoot in the rain. I mean, from one blog? That’s pretty darn good! I think THAT is definitely worth it, depending on the cost. But I guess there’s no real way to measure how effective any particular tour is going to be, or how many people visiting a participating blog will actually go out and buy an author’s book, so I think our best bet is to just write the best book we can, build genuine relationships with other authors (and help them promote their books), and try every doggone thing we can and hope for the best.
      Quanie recently posted..Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?My Profile

  8. Hi Quanie:

    I’m a book publicist and have set up blog tours for a number of my clients. They’re a good way to go for those who prefer not to do personal appearances and/or would like online exposure to reviewers and readers that they may not be able to reach on their own. But blog tours can be expensive and time-consuming. If you decide to do your own (and there’s no reason why you can’t), be sure to research the blogs where you’d like to appear and take time to read and follow the bloggers’ submission requirements. Send a professional query with a press release or prewritten Q&A (I send both for my clients), an author photo, and the book cover art. Also, keep track of those you’ve contacted. When I’m doing tours for my clients, I create an event schedule, so we can keep track of tour dates and remember where we’ve sent copies for reviews or giveaways. I think that if they’re done correctly, blog tours can be a great way for authors to gain exposure and meet bloggers and other readers who otherwise would not have heard about their books.

    • Hi Paula,

      I totally agree with you that blog tours are a great way for authors to gain exposure for their books. And if an author is short on time (and has the money), there’s no reason they shouldn’t reach out to someone to organize that tour for them. I think it just depends on what works for an author, their budget, organizational skills, etc. I also think that the more people you can reach outside of your circle, the better. Thanks for stopping by!
      Quanie recently posted..Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?My Profile

  9. I’m a blogger, not an author, and in the three plus years I’ve been blogging I’ve hosted for around 20 tour companies, some are very good, some not so much.

    Goddess Fish is damn good. They have a huge host list.
    Book Enthusiast Promotions is another that good.

    That being said if you doing a one day book blitz, a smaller company will do you just fine, I find their prices are lower, but that doesn’t mean they are not as good as the others.

    There are so many tour organizers out there, myself included, but you can do it yourself, if your going to use a company, make sure their within your price range, and check out their past tours. Many times, there’s several authors who have toured many books with that specific company. Give them a contact, see what their experience was like. And most importantly ask questions, know what your getting into before that invoice is sent.
    Viari Rose recently posted..Strangers on a Bus by Rob ManaryMy Profile

  10. I think paid blog tours are better for authors who have the money to put into one and also for ones who find looking for bloggers to do a blog tour tedious.

    Even traditionally published authors are responsible for their own promotion unless you’re, let’s say Rick Riordan. So many times traditionally published authors are left with no budget to promote their books, so usually it comes out of the authors pocket. 🙁

    Some book bloggers and I are starting our own book tour company that hopefully will get more exposure for diverse books. It’s a group of 4 of us and are splitting the responsibilities, so we hope to be organized and professional. Wish us luck, lol.

    • You’re right: if an author has the resources but is short on time, then that’s probably the best thing for them. And please feel free to leave the contact information for your blog tour company in the comments section. I’m sure your company will do fine, so best of luck to you all!
      Quanie recently posted..Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?My Profile

    • Agreed! Chrys, if I had to do it again I wouldn’t pay for a blog tour per se, but perhaps other advertising services if I thought they were worth it. But the good thing about using a blog tour company is that you can reach people who may be outside of your circle, and that’s always a great thing.
      Quanie recently posted..Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?My Profile

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