Good morning! Today I'm turning over my blog to J.P. Barnaby, creator of the emotionally charged series, Little Boy Lost. Not only has she painstakingly planned and executed a blog tour to promote the final installment, she's here to share with us exactly how one goes about such an undertaking.
Take it away, J.P.!
Coordinating a Blog Tour
The 30 Days of Little Boy Lost Blog Tour was supposed to last two weeks. I had planned to hit a couple of familiar blogs the week before the release of Little Boy Lost: Sacrificed and the week after. I sent out invitations to a list of people, hoping that I could actually fill those 14 spots. When they all came back with resounded yesses—not only was I completely shocked, but now I had 28 spots to coordinate dates and posts for. It’s been very a interesting and rewarding process so far—one that I would definitely do again.
The Blog List
The list of invited blogs came from several places. First, I added the blogs that had reviewed the Little Boy Lost series well. In our small genre, the bulk of advertising for a novel falls to the author. Word of mouth is generally our best form of advertising, so I started with those blogs who enjoyed the series. Next, I went to the list of blogs compiled by one of our Dreamspinner Press authors who wanted to host on blog tours. I made a list of all the blogs I’d heard of. Finally, I went to each blog and searched for an email address in order to contact them, which is not as easy as it sounds.
Finally, I had a viable list.
Over the next few days, I wrote and revised the email that I would send to each of the blogs. I knew that I would get only one shot to convince them to be on the tour. As I mentioned, I only expected about half to agree, but I needed to make my case anyway. With the email drafted, I sent it to each blog individually addressed to them rather than a mass mailing because I wanted them to know that I was asking them personally.
In the pitch, I gave the blogs a list of topics from which to choose for the post. So, as the answers came in, I got a few specific dates and a few specific topics, but generally, I just got a “yes”. So, I printed out calendar pages from Outlook and got to work nailing down dates and topics for each stop. It took about a week, but since I’d started well before the tour was due to begin—I didn’t need to scramble.
Writing the Posts
When everything was scheduled, my breakdown looked like this:
Interviews: 7 (some with me, some with my characters)
Posts about Writing: 13
Posts about Gay Porn: 5
Social Issues: 2
At approximately a thousand words per post (some more, some less) that was a novella that I had to write in order to pull off this tour. Some of the topics took more thought and planning than others. Topics like this one about putting together the tour, for example, where I had to think about and analyze a process were harder to write than, say, an account of meeting porn stars.
Most of what I know about coordinating a blog tour, I learned from being on them. Marie Sexton & Heidi Cullinan are masters at it (or mistresses if you prefer). On Heidi’s tour, she had templates for us to use when we posted about the tour – it was cut and paste this and then add your post – very easy. I wanted to make things as easy as I could not only on the bloggers, but on myself. So, I created separate .rtf files for each thing I needed to send, and I put them, along with the posts, images, and covers into a single blog tour folder to keep everything neat and organized. Inside each post, I tagged where I wanted pictures to go and added captions so the person posting wouldn’t have to guess. I copied and pasted a promo for the tour at the end of each post, so the blogger wouldn’t have to do it. I sent an entire package, which included the date of the post in the subject line, the post, my bio, a promo for the Little Boy Lost series, and covers for each book. I followed up with an email or tweet to let them know it was coming, and most importantly, I thanked them for being on the tour and helping me to promote my books.
Day of the Post
When each post went up, I followed a series of steps to make sure that each stop got as much attention as I could give:
1. Tweeted about the post (tagging the publisher and the blogger for retweets)
2. Blogged about the post (so it would go out to all of the affiliate blog sites)
2. Facebooked the post (to give it the maximum exposure)
4. Put links to the post on Goodreads (m/m Goodreads group, Dreamspinner group, etc)
5. Followed up and acknowledged every comment
Remember that the bloggers are doing you a favor by helping you promote your new release. Be kind, courteous and flexible, and remember that if someone bows out, you always have your own blog to post on, so don’t panic.
Tips to Remember
1. Start early – leave yourself enough time to schedule and write your posts. Also – some bloggers book up to a month or more in advance so respect their time.
2. Be polite – this is not the only tour you’ll ever do and bloggers talk to each other just like authors do. Don’t be that author.
3. Be specific – don’t make your hosts guess at what you want to do, and don’t make them email you asking questions. Give them what they need.
4. Decide how much time you can devote to your tour – remember that you have to write posts, coordinate things, promote the tour, and respond to comments. If you have a demanding day job, or a book coming due to the publisher, take that into account.
5. Give your bloggers a wide range of topics to choose from – you can only write about yourself and your new release for so long.
6. Prepare your posts – caption and place pictures, send the post in an .rtf to strip out Word’s obnoxious formatting, include everything they need, and provide clear requests for how you’d like your post formatted.
7. Respond to reader comments politely – this is not your blog, it’s some else’s blog with someone else’s readers, so treat them with respect. Answer every comment, even if it’s just a thank you –and answer them nicely, even if they aren’t nice.
8. Thank your bloggers – they have helped you reach a segment of your target audience and introduced new readers to you – the least you can do is thank them.
9. Be consistent – don’t just promo and answer comments when you get around to it. Do it every day.
10.Remember to promote your book – I know that sounds odd, but there is so much going on that sometimes you may lose sight of the actual goal—promoting your new release.
Promoting your book through a blog tour is a lot of work, but it’s also very rewarding. It’s an excellent way to network within the genre and make new friends.
The Little Boy Lost blog tour continues June 25th – July 24th . Make sure to comment at each stop for more chances to win some really great prizes such as an entire series autographed to you by J. P. Barnaby. For additional entries – tweet about the tour including @JPBarnaby and #LittleBoyLost.
Tour Schedule: http://www.jpbarnaby.com/?p=637
Little Boy Lost is a coming of age story about two teenage boys—Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield—growing up gay in rural Alabama. The six book series chronicles their lives as they navigate through peers, parents, and porn, desperately searching for the perfect combination of circumstances in which they can be together. Through their journey, they find friends, pain, acceptance, loss, and most importantly, themselves.
July 2 – July 9th, Dreamspinner Press will offer the first book in the Little Boy Lost series for free on their site (http://www.DreamspinnerPress.com) and books 2-5 at 20% off in celebration of the release of the final book, Sacrificed.
Reviews for Little Boy Lost
This is a compulsively readable book. I sat down with it the other day, intending just to skim it for this re-review, but within a few pages I was pulled completely into the story just like I was last year. Brian and Jamie are wonderful characters, beautifully drawn and realized. They experience the wonder and excitement of their first love, going through each step: a touch, a kiss, an embrace, and more. At the same time, they are terrified of what might happen to them should anyone find out about their relationship. They live in a very small town in Alabama where faggot jokes and homophobia are the norm. How do they reconcile their feelings for each other with the reality of the time and place in which they are living? – JesseWave
What this author does in ABANDONED is just amazing, it is a pure and honest kind of writing that bares the soul of a seventeen, going on eighteen year old. It offers the worst of circumstances in which various forms of love can ignite, nourish and inspire Brian on his journey. I never expected to experience such a strong connection to the person Brian is. I’m still amazed by it and savoring it every chance I get. ABANDONED blew me away as J.P. Barnaby continues the story of memorable characters who just go for your heart. This is just about as good as it gets in the M/M genre! – Leontine’s Book Realm
About J. P. Barnaby
As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.