Something a lot of writers struggle with is promoting themselves. You can write an amazing book, but if no one knows that it exists they can’t read it. This week’s guest bloggers, Shannon Baker and Jess Lourey, discuss their decision to set up a joint blog tour, and how one could help you!
Hellloooo, Killer Nashville — she says in the rock star voice she uses in her dreams — thanks for icing up that sweet tea and having us in for a chat. Actually, can I have a dollop of bourbon instead? I’m not overly fond of sweet tea. Jess? Tea or bourbon?
Jess here. As a lifelong diplomat, I say we throw back a Long Island Iced Tea as a compromise, only we call it a Nashville Iced Tea and make it out of gin, tonic, and three limes, which is my summer drink of choice. Back to you, Shannon.
Okay, now that we’re settled in, let the introductions begin. I’m Shannon Baker and this is Jess Lourey. We discovered we had books due for the same September launch date (mine is Stripped Bare while Jess has Salem’s Cipher; both books are available for preorder) and with high hopes and much enthusiasm which might or might not have been a product of a late night at the bar at Left Coast Crime, we launched the Lourey/Baker Double-booked Tour.
We’re both mystery/thriller writers, and between us, have published 19 books (more on Jess’s side of the scale), a barrel of short stories, a zillion articles, and we won’t even try to count blog posts. It’s safe to say that writing is a big part of our lives. So today, we’re going to talk about not-writing.
Specifically, what to do after the book is done. As writers, we know we’ve got to promote ourselves. If no one knows we have a book out, they don’t know if they want to read it. It’s not like we’re peddling snake oil that might kill someone. There are readers who would love our books, and we need to get the word to them. And yet, it takes time and energy and different part of your brain to promote, not to mention sales-i-ness, which most writers do not come by naturally.
Shannon: I might have been grousing about setting up a blog tour when Jess and I figured out we had books launching on the same day and we started to brainstorm about how we could work together. Doing a joint tour makes so much sense to me. First of all, it cut the work load by half. We both queried blog and review sites and we both wrote interview questions and edited.
Jess: We are productive grousers, aren’t we? I agree that setting up a joint blog tour was one of the best marketing decisions I’ve ever made. As you say, it cut the work in half, but it also made it fun. Like most writers, I hate to market. It feels like swimming in grease—I’m not good at it, I never get anywhere, and I end up looking oily. But doing it together, it felt more like collaboration, like hanging out with a good friend, like drinking our way across cyber space and talking about books. Shannon, how much do you normally market your books?
Shannon here: I am a marketing disaster. Generally, I’m not one to procrastinate, but I can put off soliciting blogs or asking for reviews until deadlines fade into memory. So pairing up with a friend, someone I didn’t want to disappoint, gave me incentive to get on the ball and get my end done.
Jess: Sweet. Good old peer pressure. It doesn’t die after high school, it morphs. Shannon, anything unexpected in setting up this joint blog tour?
Shannon: What surprised me was how much fun I’ve had. It wasn’t quite as lively as sitting in the conference bar with a cold beer in front of me bantering with Jess, but ‘pert near it. There were times I spewed my beverage when I read a response of Jess’s to something I’d asked.
Jess: Back atcha. As far as productive advice for other authors thinking of setting up a joint blog tour:
- Do it.
- Check out the event schedule of other authors on book tour to find out which sites are amenable to hosting blog tours.
- Reach out to a mix of blog reviewers and blog hosts who want you to write an article to spread out the amount of writing you have to do.
- Be clear about who is querying where so you don’t double up, make sure to pitch unique ideas to each venue, consider a book giveaway, and keep the book tour within a discrete period of time—2 weeks to a month is good—to ramp up the excitement.
- Have a sense of humor. (Not a requirement, but a bonus.)
- End each blog post by saying where you’ll be next to build up an audience for each of the sites kind enough to promote you.
- Get your posts plus photos to them early so they don’t need to stress.
- Consider each writing a short story as a gift for anyone who preorders your book and forwards the preorder receipt to a dedicated email account (the email account can be set up to automatically respond with the short story).
- Watch the preorders roll in! (Right???)
Jessica (Jess) Lourey is best known for her critically acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.” She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft’s 2014 Excellence in Teaching fellowship, and leads interactive writing workshops all over the world. Salem’s Cipher, a breakneck thriller about a race to save the first viable U.S. female presidential candidate from assassination, is the first in her thrilling Witch Hunt Series, and hits stores September 2016. You can find out more at jessicalourey.com, or find Jess on Facebook or Twitter.
Shannon Baker is the author of the Nora Abbott mystery series from Midnight Ink, a fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian mysticism, environmental issues, and murder set in western landscapes of Flagstaff, AZ, Boulder, CO, and Moab, UT. Seconds before quitting writing forever and taking up competitive drinking, Shannon was nominated for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2014 Writer of the Year. Buoyed with that confidence, she acquired an agent who secured a multi-book contract with Tor/Forge. The first in the Kate Fox Mystery Series, Stripped Bare will release in hardcover September 2016. Set in the isolated cattle country of the Nebraska Sandhills, it’s been called Longmire meets The Good Wife. Visit Shannon at Shannon-Baker.com
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