For What It's Worth

Monday, May 14, 2018

my monday musings: Book promo



Last week the Tell Me Something Tuesday topic (hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings) was Excerpts – to read or not to read?

Most readers, including myself, said they don’t read them or only read them in certain circumstances. Which got me thinking… what type of blog book promo does get your interest?

All book bloggers, no matter their reach, do this because they love to read and want to share that love with other readers. We’re hoping to introduce new authors and books to readers.

The cold hard truth…

1) I used to do a feature called Saturday Spotlight where I allowed an indie/small press author to do a guest post, interview and/or giveaway on my blog. I had also participated in quite a few book cover reveals and blog tours for small titles or publishers.

They were always my least popular posts. (even reviews are one of the least viewed posts on most blogs unless it's a popular title)

The lure of a free book didn’t bring people in. I had maybe 10 entries max. More like 3-4.

2) Even the simplest cut & paste promo post can be a lot of work for a blogger when you factor in graphics, code and links.

So if no one is reading it – why bother? And how do we get the readers attention instead?

What I like in a promo post:

I like personalized promo where the blogger has read the book or is at least interested in the book (has read the author in the past etc) so they can add a few thoughts about the book before the promo - "I stayed up late reading this awesome book! I think you'll love it too!"

I follow certain bloggers because I trust their opinion – so I tend to think of a promo post as an endorsement of sorts.

That’s not always the case, of course. For example – I have done promo posts for authors I have read and loved in the past but haven’t had time to read the latest book but would still like to help out. I do try to be clear that I haven’t read it yet though so there’s no confusion as to why I’m posting about it.

And there have been certain kinds of books that are not my cup of tea – like fantasy – but I know quite a few of my blog readers would enjoy it.

I also love guest posts that show an authors personality. It doesn’t have to be a big deal – in fact the shorter the better. Honestly, a smart/funny/passionate author will make me read a book faster than an excerpt.

It could be a Top 5 list – favorite authors, snacks, tv shows. This Shelf Envy feature, where authors show their bookshelves, from Joyous Reads is fabulous! A This or That style interview is always fun. It sounds counter-intuitive but sometimes not talking about your own book and showing what you love can grab my attention more.

I enjoy quotes because they’re a quick read and help set the tone of the book. (Anna from Herding Cats & Burning Soup hosts Quote-tastic every Monday. That would be a fun thing to add to a generic cover reveal or blog tour review.

Not quite *new* book promo  but  Books from the Backlog hosted my Carole’s Random Life in Books is a great way to feature older titles!

What I don't like in a promo post:

Anything long. Visiting and commenting on blogs can take HOURS. Keep it short!

Blitzes. Most of us visit dozens and dozens of blogs - seeing the same post over & over makes us glaze over and take a pass on the post.

Too many pics, links and information. Pick a few things to focus on. The cover the blurb/buy links and one other item - not all of the above plus author info, excerpts, 10 photos...

So these are MY thoughts on book promo posts but really I only know what I like/don't like and what has or hasn't worked on my blog.

I'm genuinely curious about what readers want to see more/less of. I would like to dabble more in to book promo again. I quit doing it during my blogger burnout phase a few years ago and dipped my toe back in a bit last year only to be disillusioned by the newer tour groups and publishers. Basically you do all the work and they vanish at posting time.

Like I said - these posts take time so I want it to be worth the effort. Not so much in page views but for the authors.

So what would you like to see more/less of when it comes to promo posts?

43 comments:

  1. I agree- a personal promo post or an enthusiastic blogger review or whatever definitely gets my interest, but most sponsored or blog tour things- I just skip right over. Very occasionally if it's a book I like or want to read badly I'll stop by, but by and large- not really. Guest posts by authors though I often do like to check out.

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    1. I used to read them years ago until they became impersonal blitz's with the same thing posting on literally hundreds of blogs on one day.

      Even if a promo post does grab my attention these days I tend not to read the post itself but go look the book up on Goodreads to see if anyone has read it yet. Which I guess is helpful - because I wouldn't have looked otherwise but it's a n awful lot of work for both the author and blogger just to be ignored.

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  2. I totally agree about overly long promo posts. I'm just not going to take the time to read a whole lot of information. Keep it short and simple and to the point - especially since we now all know that none of us are reading the excerpts! LOL I don't do a lot of promo posts but when I do it's almost always because I've read the book or it's a favorite author that I'm happy to help. When a blog seems to consist of *nothing but* promo posts (and there are plenty like that) it's a turn-off. Where is the blogger's personality in all of that?

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    1. I do one or a two a year and that's only for authors that I have read and liked.

      I really wish I new what the answer is for an engaging post because new authors need the exposure but it's a lot of work to put in if no one is reading it.

      I think it helps if it's endorsed by the blogger (you know they enjoy the book) but what about helping authors you may not have read yet?? I don't have time to read everything but would like to help. I don't know...

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  3. Great topic. I do these types of posts every now and then, but definitely not as often as I used to. I don't mind interviews or guest posts, but yes, keep it short! And don't make it ALL about the book, authors - we want to get to know YOU too. :) I think quotes are awesome; those get my interest more than excerpts, etc. I think just making the post a bit unique to your blog - as much as you can - is the way to go!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I don't mind them but there has to be something personal about them or endorsed by the blogger.

      I find random book rec's are better suited for Twitter.

      maybe it's just an attention span thing?? We're so used to just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling lol

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  4. Great Discussion Post, I don't do promo post that aren't reviews! I know I don't enjoy seeing them too much myself. I think author interview post are great but only if the blogger has read the book and tailors it to that

    Tori @ In Tori Lex

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    1. I've done a few tours recently but I chose reviews too.

      I've played around with different ways to help indie authors but nothing seems to have struck a chord yet. I think readers can tell that it's not something I personally read and loved so if it's not attention grabbing = they take a pass.

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  5. I prefer a personal touch to a promo post as well. The random ones that I see everywhere (book blitzes) are ones I typically skip right over. There just aren't enough hours in the day. Occasionally a cover will hook me into reading more but I usually skip excerpts too. It's a time thing again. I've had a very small number of spotlight spots (maybe one, haha) and it was only because it was a new book from an author I previously loved. For me, they're just too much work to put together. I'd rather spend that time reading a book from my tbr pile. I do read interviews on occasion but if they are boring I will DNF (ha) and will read an interesting author piece if it's short and hooks me but that's about it.

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    1. I used to do the cover reveals ad they were fun at first but then they started hitting 100's of blogs in one day and you literally just scroll through the blogs without reading on those days.

      Blogging is so different now and more about branding and beautiful pictures so I'm not sure that way of promoting even works now.

      I'm starting to get emails about Instagram blitzes and if that starts showing up in my feed I quit lol

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    2. Nooooo! I like the random bookish and pet pics on Instagram. I don't want to see blitzes on my feed. Those people will get unfriended.

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  6. I have a few promos here and there...very seldom. And only cos I get a really nice email and think why not.
    But I do not really like them , cos yeah no one read them, and I do not like them myself! So therefore, like a few a year ;)

    But those things you say are things that do make me stop and read.

    Short, fun, innovative

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    1. I do a few and I really want to be helpful to authors I love.

      I know a lot of small/self pub authors beg for guest posts thinking it gets a lot of views but I find that only works if the blogger actually likes and recommends the book themselves.

      But that's just how I feel and what I hear from others - I don't know for sure.

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  7. I completely agree Karen, copy and paste promotional posts only catch my interest the first time. Seeing the same content on multiple blogs per day becomes frustrating after a while. I used to post a lot of promotional posts and reviews for book tours when I first started blogging and it helped to carve out a small audience back then. Of course blogging wasn't competitive as it is now. I think it comes down to just wanting to read original content. Such an interesting discussion though Karen, looking forward to going back and reading your replies ♡♡

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    1. I think it was different when we started. There weren't as many blogs and authors (even books) weren't as accessible back then. So blog tours were a fun way to find out about books.

      But then the cover reveal/blitz posts started and now we have instagram etc and I wonder if they're just unnecessary now. Unless you can find an innovative way to do it (like Joy's shelf post).

      I glaze right over blogs that only do promo and only read if it's a blogger I trust.

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  8. I don't do tours anymore unless it's a review for a book I am excited about. I don't understand why people post literally 10 posts a day, 1 is plenty of work and I'd rather have 1 quality post vs 10 ehhh ones that take forever to do.

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    1. That's my thought. Even a cut and paste post runs into some damn problem! lol And who has time for that when no one is reading it???

      Maybe to keep in the good graces of publishers? Or to have some type of content up every day? (I don't mean that in a judgy way - I'm genuinely curious)

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  9. Shari and I have made the transition from doing all sorts of spotlights, blitzes, and cover reveals to only taking a limited amount of tours that have to have original content (guest post or interview). This is true of another blog I guest at, too (Steph's Fangs Wands and Fairydust).

    I might pair a spotlight with my review, but just spotlights by themselves are a rare thing now. There are occasions when we'll host a tour post interview with a new author to us and the blog, but its usually with an author we've already read in the past or are interested in reading later.

    This is all be/c, like you, we've discovered that people weren't commenting or stopping to view the cookie cutter blitzes and other copied style posts. Can't blame them because I don't really get interested in them, either. :)

    Great discussion!

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    1. I think your blog is an example of where I DO read them so I'm glad you commented.

      I always feel like you guys have read the book or can vouch for the author so there's a level of trust there. You've also done fun guest posts that weren't cut and paste. Because I do like learning about new authors.

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  10. I agree about blitzes. I used to participate in a lot of them, way back when I first started blogging. It didn't take long to realize that no one was actually reading them! :/ It's bizarre to me that authors pay for blitz promotions when it doesn't feel like they make much of a difference. Great post!

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    1. It wouldn't be so bad to dot hem if I felt they worked but it seems like all the effort is wasted.
      I think our personal endorsement or a short/fun post by the author goes farther to help sales.
      I know the tour groups can get word of mouth out there but if I see any one thing too often in my timelines I glaze over - especially if it's from people I don't know.

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  11. Ugh the cutting and pasting IS a lot of work to get everything formatted correctly, which is why I rarely participate in blog tours. And those posts end up being super long with all sorts of quotes of praise about the book.

    When it comes to reading them, I like reviews from bloggers I follow. I don't care for lists if it's an author whose book I've never even read. I like interviews if the questions are tailored more about the book/author, but I'm not all that interested in the generic question interviews. Guest posts can be interesting, but it really depends what the author is talking about. If the post is just the cover and blurb, then I just don't even know what I'm supposed to comment. So it's really hit or miss for me I guess.

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    1. It really is! It seems like it would be easy. Cut.Paste. lol But it NEVER is!

      I don't mind interviews or lists if it's revealing and says something about how the author thinks. Then I'll take the next step and check out the book or read a few reviews.

      But it's hard to grab my attention for something I have no prior interest in.

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    2. The way I see it, an author is just a random stranger I don't know? So I don't really care what their fave movies are or w/e. Unless I've read some of their books, in which case they seem like less of a complete stranger, and I might be curious to know more about them. But that's why I generally prefer interviews/guest posts that focus more on the book or something related.

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    3. I find those posts fun when I'm looking for a romance author for some reason. I love humor and a lot of those lists give me insight to their personality and the way they write. Event hen though - it has to be something that grabs my attention and it's rare.

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  12. i used to do all the cover reveals and blitzes for any book that piqued my interest, but then i got tired of putting them together especially when i ended up not liking the book as much as i thought i would when i finally read them. so i stopped doing them altogether. then i decided i'm only going to do cover reveals and blitzes for my favorite authors because i do want to to highlight these books that i am genuinely anticipating despite not having as many views. they're more self-serving than anything else i guess because i do like going back and seeing the books i was excited for in the past.

    btw, thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting. sorry it took me so long to reciprocate

    -Michelle
    Undeniably Book Nerdy

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    1. This is what happened to me. Something looked good so I would help promote it then hate it and feel like a jerk if someone bought it thinking I rec'd it.

      I do them very rarely and usually for authors I have worked with before or I know I love the book.

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  13. I totally agree with you on all of your points and I love Carole's new post Books From The Backlog. I am cutting back on promo/spotlight posts from tours and only have a few scheduled in June. Great post!

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    1. Thanks. It's weird because I think they did work years ago but maybe there are just too many or we're all too busy...I don't know but it feels like a waste of time now.

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  14. This is an interesting one. I much prefer it when an author isn't promoting their book, like you say. I want to see them and see if I like them because I can read about their book anywhere. In fact, I wanted to read Whitney Gardner's You're Welcome Universe after she did a New Year post over at Pop Goes the Reader. I mean, sometimes it's fun to see someone talk about the inspiration behind a book or to see an excerpt but, as a whole, I like to get to know the face behind the book and find out their influences or read an bloggers thoughts about why they're excited for a book.

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    1. I'm much more inclined to read a book when an author is doing something completely unrelated to their book. A fun personality goes way further for me to give them a try.

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  15. Sorry I'm late...but this (fab) post deserved a little more time and ease for me to comment.

    In 5 years and a half, I've only posted 25 Blurb/Cover/Excerpt Reveals-Guest Posts-Interviews-Book Teasers. Most of them were for favourite authors/authors I've developed a close relationship with (B.C. Johnson, Erin Callahan and Troy H. Gardner). Only in a couple of instances I hadn't read the book prior to posting. I can't care less about having a promo post just for the sake of numbers, even if it wasn't hard work all the same (formatting, as everyone has already pointed out, is a living hell) and if it enhanced my stats (which, everyone admitted, is not likely to happen). I will admit I'm guilty of posting long interviews or excerpts occasionally. I realise know that anything too long is not a blogger's friend...though even my reviews are too long...but I digress.

    Personally, I may look into a promo post of sorts if the book sounds up my alley. But (as everyone seems to agree about) it's got to have a personal touch. I do believe blitzes are bound to backfire at this point, because our feeds are full of stuff, and to have duplicates of said stuff on top of that is kind of annoying. Plus, if they're just blurbs or the same 3 excerpts recurring, see one, see all. It's not like having the same book shoved at me repeatedly in a few hours, or even days, will convince me to read it (quite the contrary LOL).

    So, the general consensus here seems to be short personalised posts, fun (and equally short) interviews and maybe a few quotes...I'll keep that in mind for the future 😉.

    As for fresh ways to promote books, I don't know...I hosted a Making the Cover guest post once, but it's not like it got many hits. I suppose it's the thing you should expect when people haven't heard of the book already, but isn't it the point of promo posts? to spread the word about unheard-of novels?

    Juicy post! 😃

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    1. I'm so curious about it though. Like...it must work in the sense that ads etc do sell books (& all things or else no one would do it). If you see something enough it's now on your radar - for good or bad. Maybe we're a jaded group??? So it doesn't work on US??

      Of course, the promo posts did work years ago when there were less bloggers and it felt fresher. Now it's a well oiled machine that feels more slick and curated than fun.

      But like you said - it's really hard to promote those smaller/indie reads. They need coverage but if no one reads it unless they already like the author...I don't know where to go with that. My indie promo posts went nowhere! And they were so much effort to put together.

      I still think that the promo that does work is when someone specific - a blogger (usually a bigger one) etc personally endorses/likes the book. Then people start paying attention and the hype begins.

      *shrugs* I really don't have an answer. But keep it short and fun seems to be the consensus of where to start anyway.

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    2. Quote: "Maybe we're a jaded group??? So it doesn't work on US??"
      LOL, very likely!

      Quote: "I still think that the promo that does work is when someone specific - a blogger (usually a bigger one) etc personally endorses/likes the book. Then people start paying attention and the hype begins."
      That makes a lot of sense. That's why I'm sad about being only a small fish in the blogging sea...Then again, how many times a bigger blogger endorses an underhyped/unknown book? Not to be snarky or anything, but usually it's us smaller ones who care for stuff hardly anyone else seems to know about LOL.

      (My) quote: "I realise know".
      Aaargh, the awful typo.

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    3. But I think there's a trickle *up* factor too. I know I've mentioned books to people with more followers and then they blog about it and then it passes up the chain so it all helps.

      But also, some books just aren't going to appeal to large numbers of readers. I've blogged about books from all levels of the publishing spectrum & there are certain tropes/genres etc that take hold and others don't except for niche readers.

      Like I said in my post - I did posts about smaller titles (and this was back when I had a lot of pageviews in general) but those posts got next to nothing in comments and views unless I really gushed about them but even so - if it's not what people are into at a given time it doesn't matter.

      For example - I read/review quite a bit of M/M romance. I could scream from the hilltops to you about how great a book is. You are not going to read it (& neither are most of my followers).

      I don't know...I don't think it's quite as simple as being popular (although it helps - but then again why are they popular? Are they already talking about what everyone wants to read and then sneak in a few smaller, less publicized titles?).

      Ok....I'm rambling now and my train of thought is running all over the place but there are probably several reasons (like short attention spans, various platforms are more popular than blogging) and answers to this so I'll just stop. lol

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    4. Quote: "but then again why are they popular? Are they already talking about what everyone wants to read and then sneak in a few smaller, less publicized titles?".
      Ah, to have the answer to that question. I've often wondered about the reason why some bloggers are popular...except, more often than not, I suppose their being popular is more of a "getting a lot of hits from friends and the likes" thing than anything...not being real "influencers". Because as you said, maybe a very small percentage of those friends actually buy a book they recommended...

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  16. I don't do a lot of these, tbh. I only do a yearly one with Simon & Schuster for their Timeless Tour. So unless I get invited, then accept their blog tour, I always try to do something other than the norm.

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    1. I like your Shelf Envy posts (I linked to it) because those tell me so much about an author and I've looked up almost everyone you've featured so far.

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  17. I like to promo books that I like the look of and want to read. I also like to post upcoming books from authors that I have enjoyed in the past (if I think the new release looks interesting). I never use the quick copy/paste html posts that promo companies send out as I like to cut out some of the junk and make it work for me and my blog.
    I think promo posts are important for getting lesser known authors some visibility. I realise that some will just ghost over them - and they do get less comments - but I don't mind. :)

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    1. I don't care about the pageview drop so much as I'm genuinely curious as to what *would* work. It's so much effort and if the goal is to get people to try the book and no one reads the post...

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  18. Ahh! Thanks for the mention! I'm not big on the promo tours. It really is hard after 2-3 of the exact same post to visit yet another to support a blogger friend and come up with something to say. And when they do hundreds of participating blogs with the exact same thing. Ah! lol

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    1. Yeah. They've gotten pretty generic. When I do them I tend to stick with reviews and only for books I'm truly interested in or authors I've loved in the past.

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  19. I'm not the biggest fan of promo posts, mostly those that are cookie cutters. Blitzes sound like fun but I don't find them to be effective. I like promo posts that provide unique content like playlists, interviews, mood boards, things like that. I definitely wish that publishers/authors care more about the posts too.

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