Saturday, April 8, 2017

Blogs, Bloggers, and Blog Tours

     When my first published book, Goals for a Sinner, came out way back in 2010, my publisher encouraged me write a blog about writing. Not too keen on the idea, I said in the very first one that I felt like I was speaking to myself in a dark closet. I rarely got a comment and still don't, but to my surprise 100-150 people do look at my blog each month--if they aren't foreign hackers just bouncing their stuff off my site. I've often wondered about that. I post only monthly, and for a few years also wrote monthly for which is now defunct. Blogging about sports or writing takes times and effort and often research. I much prefer my brief daily posts on Facebook under Carla Lynn Shurr Hostetter, where both fans and old friends can find me under either name to post a friend request.
     I've often been a guest blogger at various sites. If you plan to do so, be sure to have your press kit ready. A very basic press kit includes a fairly professional photo of your face, a brief biography, your books covers, and blurbs for said books. Often guests are given a long list of interview questions to  answer, or you are asked to write something fresh just for them. Their followers are urged to make a comment. I have to say I've rarely solicited a comment on these guest spots either. All in all, the blogger gets a break from their column, and you get some free publicity.  It does take work on your part and time away from whatever you are are writing at the moment. While I have meant and become friends with some lovely bloggers, I honestly don't think this effort has ever sold one of my books.
     Recently while sitting between two writers at an Author's Row, one of those multiple author book signings with sometimes up to fifty authors participating, all competing for the attention of a thin crowd, mostly the friends and families of specific people, we discussed blog tours for lack of anything better to do.  The lady to my right was eager to try one. Jaded as I am, I said with my experience simply guest blogging the whole idea of doing dozens of these in a row simply horrified me. I'd never seen any financial return, and the tour organizers expect to get paid, sometimes pretty much. Whenever I get such an offer from a company doing this for money, I just delete the message. If an individual asks me to do a free spot, I might, but my expectations won't be high.  I don't think they sell books.  If you've had big success with this, let me know and I might reconsider, but I doubt it.
     I've also sat on numerous Authors Rows that usually require some travel time and a lot of sit time. I believe places like Barnes and Nobel and libraries sponsor these to get the self-published and/or little known authors off their backs for a book signing. I place myself among the little known small press authors. Simply put,with the ease of printing a book nowadays, we are too many. While libraries provide a free spot, B & N charges 40% of anything you sell. It is possible to lose money if you only get a 35% discount on your print copies, but they benefit by having your friends and family walk to the back of the store full of temptations to reach your table. The best I do is usually two books sold to friends who came to support me. I do make new contacts among the authors and hand out lots of book cards. Sometimes, a sale on Amazon crops up later from a person who'd rather read the work on their Kindle and get it at a cheaper price.  That is perfectly fine with me.
     I've yet to discover a gimmick that really sells books, doesn't cost a fortune, or take up tons of time better spent writing the next book.  I am all ears if you know of one.