Here’s the real value of book bloggers and online book tours

I’d stopped book blogging on Monday to focus on health issues but then I came across a twitter/facebook discussion questioning the value of book bloggers and online book tours. Which reminded me that I’d posted on facebook recently that this was a topic that I wanted to cover.

I’ve taken part in one and two week long online book tours and enjoyed the experience, but didn’t take part in more because I preferred to do my own thing.

When the tours went to one month long or more I did wonder if they would create a sense of overkill, but they didn’t, instead they’ve done something fascinating.

I’ve been observing my own responses to those extended tours for some time and here’s what I found:

  1. When there are numerous bloggers posting about the same book I may read the first couple of posts, or watch the vlogs I spot and retweet them if I like them, or if I think other readers in my timeline might appreciate them.
  2. After a while I note the posts that follow but I’m unlikely to retweet, however this does not mean the blogger has wasted their time for two reasons. Firstly because I’ve noted that post much in the way I’ve registered advertising on TV. Secondly because the post may be picked up by someone else on their timeline who may have missed other posts on the same topic.
  3. Here’s why the combination of points 1 and 2 have value. When I’m online every book that has been mentioned by a book blogger/vlogger that I’ve been attracted to, either in an individual post or especially as part of a tour automatically catches my eye. When I walk into a bookshop my eye is automatically looking for them again, whether or not I intend to buy them. At the moment I’m constantly on the look out for Louise Beech’s The Lion Tamer Who Lost in every bookshop I go in because that Orenda book tour and online campaign has been so effective.lion-tamer
  4. In the world of retail this is known as brand recognition.
  5. The mistake is when you expect sales to immediately uplift during a book tour or as a result of an individual post. Sometimes there will be a lift and sometimes there won’t. Plus, not every interaction or influence can be measured by data linked to a blog tour.
  6. Some people will buy the book immediately, while others may not, possibly due to other pressures on their finances. However, because the memory of these books is embedded these readers may go looking for the book in their libraries, or they may wait for the book to be on an offer in their favourite bookstore or online and buy it then. They may buy it secondhand, in which case the author has benefited financially from the original purchaser and still might benefit from the secondhand purchaser if they are online, or even in the future should their financial situation change.
  7. Once the reader has borrowed or bought the book they may post online that they have done so, increasing brand recognition again, and when they’ve read it they might add their opinion to various social media and book review sites, yet again influencing brand recognition.
  8. Every single post online by anyone: reader, book blogger, author, publisher or publicist increases brand recognition. Even something as simple as an image of a book cover with a comment can reach thousands of people and start the embedding of a brand. For example, I recently posted what I thought of Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce. I’ve not been the most prolific book blogger this year due to health issues but this tweet was still viewed 7,147 times due to being picked up and shared (thanks to everyone who did that). Blood Orange
  9. The win for anyone who wants to sell books is to cultivate brand recognition and to recognise that every single person who posts positively about the book adds to that, because it tends to ripple outwards. Book bloggers and well organised book tours are an effective way to start doing this, plus they help to develop loyalty to that brand and the brand becomes associated with great reads.
  10. Here’s another reason the success of a blog post/vlog or online book tour can’t be measured in obvious ways. When I’ve been standing in a bookshop with friends (or even complete strangers who’ve struck up a conversation) all that brand recognition rolls through my head: every blog post, every image, every book that a publicist has been excited about, plus author opinions and vlogs. My memory (when the health issue is behaving) automatically sifts through it all flagging up likely possibilities and dismissing others so I can make a recommendation, confident that they will like it and buy it and they generally do (massive buzz).

Developing brand recognition is something that passionate readers have inadvertently done for hundreds of years, long before social media arrived, via word of mouth and letters. What social media does is magnifying the opportunities. That is the true value of book bloggers/vloggers and book tours, and many of them do it for free, purely for the love of books. 

Now then, I’m no longer a book blogger but I hope that this post goes some way to helping people understand the value of book bloggers, vloggers and online book tours and what they do.

Farewell all and keep up the good work!




Review of In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

In Her Wake is a profoundly moving story of loss, grief, depression, acceptance, In-Her-Wake-Vis-4-2.jpgforgiveness and renewal that is beautifully written and deeply humane. Jennings dives beneath the surface of her characters to reveal heart-breaking and tragic moments of self-awareness that lead to the decisions they make, characters who have no concept of the waves of physical and emotional devastation that they will leave in their wake at the time. It’s one of the most subtle and immersive psychological thrillers I’ve read in long time.

After Bella’s father dies she finds herself in possession of a terrible secret, one that has had repercussions throughout her life. Compelled to leave everything she thought she knew behind, including her controlling husband, Bella embarks on a search for the truth and arrives in St.Ives in Cornwall full of fear and hope.

There is a dreamlike quality to the writing as the story of Bella is woven through the myths of St.Ives. Jennings draws you into a sea of complex emotions as Bella goes in search of half-forgotten truths and a sense of identity. This is also a multi-sensory tale as the stunning expanse of the Cornish coastline is evocatively evoked and contrasted with the cosseted, suffocating and claustrophobic environment that is all that Bella has known before she embarks on her journey, albeit in the name of love.

Storms of anger and misunderstandings roll in and explode with the ferocity of a Cornish thunderstorm, then recede with the tide leaving a clear path formed from the light of new understanding. Bella is not the only character who has lived in the shadows of what might have been, letting in the light is a key them in the novel as the darkness of the past is gradually washed away. Stunning and unforgettable, Jennings has truly found her voice.

Published by Orenda Books

Follow the author on Twitter: @MandaJJennings

Find out more about the author: Amanda Jennings

The novel will be published as an ebook on 10 February and in paperback on 1 April. Limited, first edition, signed hardbacks are available from Goldsborough Books from 29 February but you can pre-order now.

Review of How To Be Brave by Louise Beech

The tears were running down my face as I read the final few Unknown (4)paragraphs of this wonderful, mesmerising novel that celebrates the fragility and strength of the human condition. 

Rose is just nine years old when she is diagnosed with a life threatening illness and she is having trouble accepting the lifestyle changes she’s going to have to make. Her mother, Natalie, is understandably terrified of losing her wilful daughter and struggles to find a way to reconnect with her. Both Rose and Natalie are set adrift in a sea of unknowns, learning how to survive each minute, hour and day as they come to terms with the huge changes the diagnosis requires.

Both are also haunted by the sight of a man in brown suit, who feels familiar, a man who has something for them.

It’s through the magic of storytelling that Natalie and Rose find a way to come together, as they are transported to the atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat where one of their ancestors survived for 50 days. The true story of one relative’s courage during the second World War transforms their relationship, giving both Rose and Natalie the emotional, mental and physical strength to cope with Rose’s diagnosis, which demands everything they have to give.

The writing is incredibly evocative, I felt like I was sitting along side Rose and Natalie’s relative. I could feel the the boat rising and falling on the waves, taste the thick flesh of the all too rare raw fish on my thickened thirsty tongue and feel the intense heat of the sun as I lay exposed to the elements with the other crew members, as they grew weaker with each passing day.

I also felt Natalie’s fears as though they were my own, my heart was banging for her when Rose announced her rebellious intentions. Beech is brilliant at taking you into the world of a furious, frightened nine-year old girl, who uses adult terms, detachment and rejection as a defence mechanism.

Beech has written a novel that will reach out to anyone who feels cast adrift by a medical condition. Through these duel story lines, How to Be Brave will show you that it’s okay to be angry about the limitations of a long term medical diagnosis, that it’s okay to feel scared and that it’s okay to feel depressed for a while while you grieve for the life that you had before. Then this marvellous novel will show you how to live and find joy despite your challenging new circumstances.

This is beautifully written transformative storytelling that will reach into your heart, change your perspective and bring you safely back to land. Highly recommended, especially for anyone coping with a long term health condition, plus carers, friends and family.

Follow the author on Twitter: @LouiseWriter

Publisher: Orenda Books

I bought my copy from Waterstones, Nottingham.