Notes From the Self-Pubbed (Issue #8)

THE BLOG TOUR ISSUE!

My Virtual Blog Tour ended earlier this month and I’m ready to share the goods and the bads and the ups and the downs. The Tour was arranged by Goddessfish Promotions and began in late December and continued until the middle of April. What would happen was Goddessfish would coordinate with a book review blogger to schedule a day where that blogger would post an advertisement for my book or interview with me or an excerpt from one of the books or some other piece of content relating to Grant Scotland. Then all of that blogger’s followers would see the post and comment on it in order to be eligible for an Amazon Gift Card. Goddessfish scheduled on average about two bloggers a week, generally Tuesdays and Thursdays, but sometimes Mondays and Wednesdays, and each one was pretty good about posting something different so followers were encouraged to “follow” the tour from one site to another.

Sounds great, right? I had been skeptical about the true advertising power of this sort of thing, since I found it difficult to imagine there were that many book-blog sites, not to mention active members who visited them frequently. I mean, do you visit blogs that talk about books on any sort of regular basis? I mean JUST books. This site doesn’t count, since it’s my personal blog where I also talk about being an author – I rarely talk about what I’m reading/have read. I’m talking about “fan sites” for fantasy, romance, sci-fi, etc. Do you ever go to these sites and hang out and talk about books?

 

“Hey, everyone! I just found out about this great book called The Necronomicon! I can’t wait to get my hands on it!”

 

Yeah, neither do I. Nevertheless, a blog tour was something I had to try, since I couldn’t very well claim I was taking this self-publishing enterprise seriously if I didn’t try it at least once.

It turns out once is enough. Probably more than enough. That is to say, I’m never doing anything like it ever again. Not on my dime, anyway.

First off I want to say that Marianne and Judy at Goddessfish were very nice and professional. I have nothing but good things to say about them. However, I can’t recommend their services, because my own results were so disappointing. In fact, so bad was my experience that I feel I have to warn other self-published authors to save their money and keep away from blog tours in general.

So, what was so bad? Well, mainly the biggest problem became apparent fairly early on. After the first few stops on the tour, it became obvious that each time a blogger hosted a blog post about Grant Scotland, the same 6 or 8 people would comment – on every site. That is, there didn’t seem to be separate followers on separate sites. It was always the same names, no matter if it was a site that claimed it mostly liked romance books or mostly liked fantasy books. Oh, and almost all of them mostly liked romance books, judging by their style and sidebar content and advertising.

 

“Where is the ripped bodice? No ripped bodice = no sale.”

 

So, the audience was frustratingly small, but that’s okay, nobody was buying anything anyway. I ran kindle countdown deals on all four books and Goddessfish made sure the deals were advertised on every site where Grant Scotland was featured, but not a single sale was recorded (not entirely true, but let’s just say I noted no “spike” in sales). Well, unless some sales happened during the Bookbub promotion period, but the tour had already been going on for almost two months by that time so I find it unlikely.

But I had heard blog tours were a great way of generating reviews and I had sent out free e-copies of all the books, so I was looking forward to getting a few Amazon reviews at least. Nope. Not one. I did, however, get four very enthusiastic reviews on Harlie’s Books by someone who clearly actually read all four books. So, that was nice, but it would have been nicer if those reviews had made it on to Amazon.

But did I make any new friends, at least? Hard to say. I know I have new followers to the blog and Facebook pages, but whether those people are here for the content or the promise of giveaways, it’s impossible to tell.

Well, I guess it’s not impossible. I could always just cancel the giveaways and see if anyone sticks around. In fact, I think I’ll do that. I’ve been mulling it over and doing extra reading about mailing lists and giveaways and authors and I’ve come to the conclusion that mailing lists and giveaways are GREAT ways to get a ton of followers, but they don’t do squat in terms of building an audience. An audience is composed of readers and they’re not the ones making the rounds from site to site trying to get free stuff. Those are internet gypsies. Additionally, every person I’ve seen advocating for mailing lists and giveaways ultimately turns out to be someone trying to sell me something. Sure, they may also be an author (although I’m highly dubious of this in each and every case) but they always put way more effort into talking up some pay-to-play service instead of what’s cool or interesting about their books, writing, etc.

 

“You want to know about my book? Well, it’s very successful. But wouldn’t you rather know how I made it so successful?”

 

So, no more mailing list. You’re just going to have to bookmark me or sign up to follow the blog by email (although I’ve found in my personal experience that wordpress emails often get filtered to the junk folder) and just keep an eye on the blog. I’m sure at some point in time in the future I’ll give away free stuff in some off-the-cuff contest, but doing the whole Mailchimp/Rafflcopter/Twitter Ads route just isn’t for me.

As for Blog Tours, Goddessfish offers some very reasonably priced options if you’re a self-pubber and you’re thinking that maybe you can change some internet gypsies into book buyers and fans. I chose the biggest/most expensive option because I figured in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound and obviously can’t at all recommend it. Maybe stringing together a few cheaper tours might yield better results for you.

I just re-read what I wrote and it sounds like I’m down on self-publishing and I’m not. Absolutely not. Although the industry is swarmed by pirates and snake oil salesmen, it’s still very rewarding to have almost complete control over your own work. I am, however, almost certain at this point that a hybrid approach is the best way to go. If I can get some stories or novels traditionally published it will make it much easier to get my self-published stuff in front of a much wider audience. I guess to look at myself as objectively as possible, I’m moving away from being a true self-publisher and towards being an author who self-publishes. True, this really only works for authors who have already attained some measure of success in traditional publishing, but I’m glad I went the self-pub route first. This entire experience has been very interesting and has given me a lot of confidence in my writing that I realize now I desperately needed in order to take myself seriously. Also, I think if I hadn’t tried it first, I’m not sure I ever would have.

I’m still deeply suspicious of traditional publishing, though. I’ve heard many horror stories from many authors about being badly mishandled and then having to live with not having rights to their own work when their publisher drops them. That makes me cringe and it’s something I’ll never let happen to the Adventures of Grant Scotland. I’m way too invested in that series to ever hand it over. Well, never say never, I guess. At any rate, I realize I should start writing a stand-alone novel (not related to the series, but probably a sci-fi or fantasy book) and see if I can attract an agent, but I’m committed to getting AoGS to six books first. Right now the plan is to keep writing Grant Scotland (outline and first chapter of book 5 done so far) but also crank out at least two more short stories by year’s end and put those on the magazine merry-go-round with the other two I’ve finished.

But I might start putting together something for an agent sooner rather than later. Probably should. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Happy spring, everyone! A great time to make new plans and start new projects!

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” – Vernon Law

Want to see my author profile and my books on Amazon? Check it out!

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4 thoughts on “Notes From the Self-Pubbed (Issue #8)

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I enjoy your voice and do read your blog as a result of finding you on the tour. It wasn’t a COMPLETE wash. As a reader, I am actually getting sick of all the authors who are trying to “buy” my review and/or attention with unending contests and such. I am “unsubscribing” from blogs/newsletter every day because I am so loosing interest. I want to read books, not my email. 😛 And frankly, so much of it these days seems to all read the same, advertising the same books and authors. Those I actually read don’t do that. They are like yours with something to say other than buy ALL these books. You mentioned your books, and that is okay. Your blog, you have the right to. But that wasn’t the main topic of your blog, and I have noticed that it usually isn’t. I like that. Don’t get me wrong, I do subscribe to a few review sites too. But I KNOW they are review sites and expect a list of books hitting the market. But an individual blog – not so much. So, thank you. I enjoy reading your opinion and hope you don’t mind that I submit my two cents.

    Unfortunately, I have not gotten, or read, your books – yet. They are on my radar and I do have an interest in them, but the fixed income only stretches so far. That is why I do take advantage of contests from authors who interest me – as you did. So hang in. You are on the list. Next gc I win . . . from someone else . . . 😀

    WordPress does have it’s quirks, but I think I have finessed most of them so the blogs I actually want to read – and yes, yours is one of them – faithfully come to my email box. So, you keep writing, I will keep reading – and some day it will even be your book.

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    • That’s so great to hear! Thank you, Pansy. I’m very happy to hear there are some real book lovers to be found on a blog tour. I honestly wasn’t sure until now. And your comments are always welcome! I need all the “two-cents” I can get. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, this is Harlie from Harlie’s Books. Thanks for the reminder to post the reviews on Amazon. I’m so bad about that and I need to be more diligent.

    And yes, there is good and bad with blog tours. My one and only book bombed and I’m a blogger. Don’t ever give up. I’ve reviewed top NYT writers and the tours have bombed.

    Oh and yes, the same people comment ALL.THE.TIME. It’s frustrating to a blogger, too.

    Marika/Harlie
    owner, Harlie’s Books

    p.s. I read the books and LOVED them. James Bond/Indiana Jones…keep in mind though, I cut my teeth on Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum.

    Like

    • Hey there Harlie! Thanks for swinging by. I deeply appreciate your taking the time to read and review the books. It sounds like you really understood what I’m doing with them and appreciated it. The other sites (at least, most of them anyway) didn’t seem interested at all – like they were just putting in the time. I wish there were more like you! And Clancy has good fast-moving spy-thrillers, which was the spirit I was trying to capture with Grant. More “movie” Bond than “Fleming” Bond. Not that Fleming Bond is bad at all, but I wanted that aspect to be part of the action/backdrop rather than the forefront. Never read Ludlum, but from what I’ve heard I probably should. Hope you get more followers like Pansy and less gypsies. I’m not knocking gypsies, mind you – the internet is a great place to surf around and pick up free stuff, you’ll get no argument from me on that. But it’s always preferable to find the people of like mind about your material.

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