Pat: Hi, Holly. Maybe you can help me with my newest blogging adventure. I recently began featuring weekly guests as well as hosting virtual tours (blog book tours) for authors. My regular guests write to a theme, but what about authors on tour? The author is there to promote his book, but as the host, I'm interested in entertaining and informing my followers. Should I provide firm guidelines, or give the guest author free rein?
Holly: How about finding a happy medium, Pat? I can’t imagine an author who wouldn’t appreciate your suggestions. You know your blog and your readers best. The author is there to promote a book, but isn’t the first rule of writing to “know your audience”?
When I’m hosting an author, I’d like for them to bring fresh ideas to the table, too – after all, I’d like to believe they didn’t just pick my blog out of a hat, without knowing what it’s about. Do you ever ask an author, “Why do you think my blog would be a good fit for this tour?” How do you pick the blogs you ask to host you, when you take your books on tour?
Pat: I honestly hadn’t thought about screening author requests. Up to now, I took all guests who would write to my “path to publication” theme. You’ve given me something to think about, which will also be helpful if I decide to do a tour of my own in the future.
Pat: Holly, we talked about the tour from the host’s point of view. But what about the guest’s responsibilities on the day her post is published?
Holly: I’d really like for the author to show up and co-host the event in person. It’s not absolutely essential, of course. I had a lot of fun hosting James Patterson’s Daniel X: Watch the Skies. I knew that he wouldn’t drop by and participate in person, though it would have been fun for my son and my readers. But there were no demands or rules, either – I had free rein. I didn’t love the book, but my son had his own opinions. We played it like the Siskel and Ebert of the literary world, and we had a blast writing the post together. What about you, Pat? What do you expect of your authors the day of the tour stop?
Pat: I definitely like the guest to show up and respond to comments, even if she can only drop by a couple of times during the day. I get up early to make sure the post publishes on schedule, send an e-mail to the guest with the permalink and shortened link, and I post to Twitter and Facebook. I also expect the guest to promote the appearance on her own blog and whatever social media outlets she uses. You’ve done a tour, right? What are your thoughts as author?
Holly: When I’m the author on tour, I like to have suggestions from the host. Communication is so important, but it can be a little awkward at first. Some of the best, most fun and creative ideas have come from first-time blog book tour hosts who admitted they didn’t have a clue what they were doing. We’d brainstorm and toss ideas back and forth, and they’d have an “Aha!” moment and go off and do something new and surprising. I even had one blogger who spontaneously hosted a book tour stop! He did such a fantastic job of promoting my book to his readers – how could I not drop by and participate?
It’s a good to plan ahead, though – you don’t want to be totally blindsided by an author or a blog host. Both should know what to expect on the day of the tour stop.
Of course, the bottom line for both the host and the author should be their mutual desire to provide a delightful experience for the blog’s readers. With any luck, that will convince them to read the book, too. To me, it’s all about the readers – we’re the actors and the stagehands, and it’s not about what we want.
More from Patricia and Holly next time!