So it’s Book Expo America this week, and many people are writing in with reports about various panels and what the “buzz” is. And someone just said something I enjoyed a lot:
YA marketing panel: “do blog tours & cover reveals!” My question: since EVERYONE does those, how is it not just noise? #bea12
What’s a blog tour? A blog tour is when an author is “sent” to various blogs that have accepted or even welcomed the author to the blog to do a guest post or answer questions. You might have anywhere from 5-15 stops on the tour (it really varies). Maybe the average is 5-10, something like that. I’ve been asked to go on several, and I say no. Here is why.
1. It’s a lot of writing. My blog posts tend to be long. It’s the way I am. They range from 1,000-4,000 words, depending on how CHIT-CHATTY I feel. But I only tend to write posts when I have something to say. Like now. But okay, let’s do the math. Let’s say I average 2,000 words, which I do. Let’s say I’m asked to do 8-10 stops. That’s 16-20,000 words. That about a quarter of a book. One time I did the math on a proposed blog tour and the amount came out to around 35,000 words. It takes me a REALLY LONG TIME to write 35,000 words.
2. But okay. Writing is my job. Let’s say I put in the week or two weeks and write these many words (because that is how long it takes me—maybe not full time, but a lot of time). Because I’m writing on the same subject (ME! MY BOOK!) the pieces are going to get VERY REPETITIVE AND BORING. I don’t really want to spam the world with my stories of me and my book. A few little things here and there, sure. If I have specific things to say. But I don’t want to just shout the same thing in various places. That makes me bored and those corners of the internet boring and I don’t want to do it.
3. But okay. Say I manage, through some miracle of science, to write ten pieces that manage to be different! And they’re sent out to ten blogs. It would only be right for me to support that blog that is publishing this thing I wrote. But again, I don’t want to spam the world and pass on ten links to ME TALKING ABOUT ME. Which isn’t going to make the people who kindly hosted my piece very happy. Plus, it’s not going to make anyone who follows me happy. And it definitely doesn’t make me happy. And then there’s awkward point number four…
4. Number four makes me feel funny, but I have to say it, for the sake of honesty and because I care. There are a lot of blogs, and some have a lot of readers, and some have a few readers. And while it’s good to do things that will build up good blogs … it’s kind of hard for an author to knock him or herself out to write a piece that sometimes only a few people will see.
5. Sometimes the scenario is reversed, and I am asked to host a blog tour. I refuse this as well, for a simple reason—not that I am a big, mean person who doesn’t want to help, but that I regard my internet space as mine. It’s not a marketing tool. It’s not for rent. It’s not for sale. It has no ads. That’s not what I do. I maintain it just so I can put up whatever crap feels RIGHT. Certainly, there are loads of sites that use their space differently, that have multiple authors and a different function. I’m not saying it’s wrong to host a blog tour! NOT AT ALL! I’m just saying it’s not for me. So I don’t do it. If I change my mind and someone says, “Hey, will you post this?” …well, maybe I’ll do it on an individual basis. But, you know. I just like having my own little playground to play in. (But an EXCELLENT example of a blog that regularly hosts other authors is John Scalzi’s Whatever, which I have been on, for his “Big Idea” series. it’s a thing he does, and it’s really good. But it’s an organized thing and he moderates it well.)
So, why are blog tours so popular? Why are they on just about every marketing plan? For a start, they don’t cost anything. That’s a HUGE advantage. There is, you may be surprised to know, precious little money for the marketing of books. And now there are a lot of questions about HOW to market books.
For a new author, a blog tour might be a good idea—or, at least, not a bad one. Some blogs have tons of readers looking for new books. But for authors with a following, I’m not so sure. And I think it may actually be harmful.
I know a lot of writers, and we tend, as a species, to really SWEAT over things. And I do think it’s important that in a time when the internet is seen as big and wild and all things are possible … that authors don’t get burned out. Because I’m seeing a lot of burnout, people trying to catch up with piles of stuff that never existed before. People trying to catch up by being on all platforms, answering all notes, fulfilling all requests, and writing large piles of extra stuff. And this is not whine, whine, moan, moan … this is about diminishing returns and general wear and tear.
I know I’ve felt it. I thought I could say yes to everything, and I tried to … and then I crashed and burned. It made me ill, and I realized I had to do something different, that my sitting in front of a computer 12 hours a day was maybe frying the juicy synapses of my brain. So a wise person named Holly Black told me her new relationship with the word “no.” She hadn’t really used the word until she too got in over her head, so she taped a huge sign over her phone that just said NO. She forced herself to look at it when considering doing something she didn’t feel she could take on.
The plan seemed crazy. Surely, if I didn’t just agree to everything I was being asked, ever, the entire world would explode, right?
I tried it out a few times. No. It felt kind of odd, but then I got the hang of it. Sometimes, I say no now. I try to say it a lot, actually. Nicely, and with the best of intentions, but I say it. Because I have to remember that I plan on playing a long game. I want to write for the rest of my life, and I want to go outside* and see friends and family and generally have one of those life things. And since I had these feelings on blog tours, I said no. The world did not end.
Sometimes, no means yes. Yes, I want to do lots of things. Yes, I want to write. And yes, I intend to work hard. But smart. And sometimes, I run around with my arms waving over my head. Because living and writing go hand in hand—one doesn’t drag the other along.
If you feel like you need it, maybe you can try the word NO? It can do magic things.
* well, “outside-ish”