One Great Way to Promote Your Book: A Blog Tour

Once upon a time

Once upon a time in a century long past when an author wrote a book his or her publisher might send the writer on a book tour.  The author would visit media outlets in various cities promoting their book and conduct book signings.

Oh, this still sometimes happens if the author is enough of a celebrity to merit so large a capital investment on the part of the publisher.  Other authors with outgoing personalities traveled the country promoting their work, sometimes at their own expense.  While this method worked, it was difficult for new authors.   Newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations were not anxious to use their copy space or airtime on an unknown writer.

As the age of the Internet developed, many new authors would promote their book through on-line forums, message boards, groups and chat rooms.  These formats encouraged potential reader and book buyers to consider the book.  Many times the author marketed their book through these sites by simply making a short sales pitch as they signed their name to their comments.  While this method is useful and generated grassroots support for a book it was extremely time-consuming and could be disheartening for author and publish because it requires a large amount of work for minimal return.

Today’s realities

Today with the economic recession and minimal dollars available for publishers or even self-published work and for those with family situations which include children or the need to keep their day job other options for promoting their work need to be considered.  A new opportunity emerged with the dedicated book or author website and blogs.

The most exciting of these new opportunities is the blog.  The name blog comes from the word weblog.  This is an online journal.  The purpose of a blog is three-fold.  It educates and entertains the public while allowing the readers the opportunity to provide immediate feedback.  Today professionals also run blogs seeking a targeted audience.  The professional’s goals include building standing and name recognition while making money.  Blogs have the added benefit of being inexpensive, easy to set up and support, and simple to find through search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo!

An author promotes their book to get people talking about their book and its message, to make some money, and to sell enough copies of the book for the publisher to keep it in print. A blog tour can be used as a great way to promote your book.

What is a blog tour?

While you ultimately want to increase your book sales, the purpose of a blog tour is to generate interest about your book. A blog tour allows cross-promotion of your book with the blogger’s site. It’s a great way for them to get free content for their blog while promoting your book.  It allows the author the opportunity to target the correct audience.

How do you set one up?

You begin by contacting suitable blogs.  You ask if they would be interested in being part of the tour. If so, a book can be sent to them to give away in a lottery type drawing, and review.  They can invite you to write a guest post or even interview you.   A schedule is created and the book is featured from two times a week to every day of the month. Determine your target blogs.  Make up a list of potential blogs. This will take a little research.  You can search for book blogs with emphasis given to those that focus on the genre you write. I write for three blogs that include regular book reviews.  They are Kepler’s Military History Book ReviewsWriting After Fifty, and Kepler’s Book Reviews.  I have contact information on my blogs for requesting book reviews.   Almost all blogs have a listed a way for contacting the blog.  My blogs are shared as examples.

Next you approach the bloggers via email.  If they have interest preparations are made for a date and an agreement of exactly will be done.  Books need to be sent to them well in advance.  Your publisher may take care of this.  Almost all authors or publisher I deal with do this.

I urge reviews.  When I review a book I always include reviewing it on my site, on Amazon.com, bn.com, Twitter, goodreads.com as well as all my personal sites like Multiply and Facebook.    On my personal site I always include a link where the reader has the opportunity to buy the book.  I like to include the publisher website when possible where the publisher can make largest profit on the sale.

Interviews require less writing than guest posts.  The author and blogger can agree on a set number of questions.  When I ask an author for an interview I send them no more than ten questions.  I draw the questions from the book and the author’s life and interests as I know the author.

Put it on the calendar

Schedule your book blog tour calendar.  You not only promote it on your site, but promote it on the sites of the participating bloggers.  Almost all blogs have calendars of upcoming events.  Make sure you book blog is included on their calendar. Bloggers work hard for free.  They promote what interests them.  They are a key element of the new media.

Don’t stop with one book blog tour.  After your first blog tour is completed make sure you host a second one a few weeks to a few months later with a new group of blogs.  The second time around you can try something different.  Instead of doing a second interview maybe you would want to share excerpts from reviews of your book, maybe post 2 to 3 question interviews conducted by you of the persons who a few of the persons who positively reviewed your book. It could be a fun way to get the reader to see how other readers enjoyed and benefited from  your efforts.  Your personal creativity can come up with other ideas.

Have fun!

Once upon a time in a century long past when an author wrote a book his or her publisher might send the writer on a book tour.  The past is behind us.  Welcome to the future called today. I think Book Blog Tours can be a fun to promote your work.  In the twenty-first century you as the author are going to have to take a more active role in marketing your book.  Why not try a Book Blog Tour? It allows you to talk about yourself, your book and who knows you just might meet some interesting bloggers, develop an audience and following, and sell a few books along the way. That will make you and your publisher happy.

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One Great Way to Promote Your Book: A Blog Tour by by Jimmie A. Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Poem: My Sidewalk

Sidewalk

My Sidewalk

In my neighborhood
there is a sidewalk.
It’s greets me every day.
In front of my house,
It goes to the east
Toward the sunrise
And it goes to the west
Toward the sunset.

I can get on my sidewalk
and walk to the end of the street.
There it is met by another sidewalk.
It provides a path
pointing toward other destinations.
My sidewalk is old.
It is cracked, wrinkled, broken and uneven.
It is aged by both weather and time.

My sidewalk has allowed
children to roller skate,
ride their scooters,
and their skate boards, and
girls and boys to play hopscotch,
but mostly girls played it.
Boys and girls painted pictures
On its surface with colorful chalk.

Bicycles are ridden up and down the sidewalk.
Families walk on it together
pushing babies in strollers.
Teenagers hold hands
learning of life.
Old men and women hold hands
as they walk together
sharing their life.

Policemen walk down it brining bad news.
The parson walks on it
bringing comfort after the bad news.
My sidewalk takes me everywhere
Like to my library
Where I meet a world without care
It may be just cement to you,
But my sidewalk is my friend, true and true.

Jimmie A. Kepler
2008

My Sidewalk was originally published in:
Words…Rhymes…Poetry & Prose

April 6, 1862

Battle_of_Shiloh_Thulstrup152 years ago today the Battle of Shiloh in the US Civil War began. My great-great grandfather Jacob Kepler fought in the Battle of Shiloh. He was a private in the Company C, 53rd Indiana Infantry. He was one of the older soldiers. He was born in 1820.

He served in the Army of the Tennessee under General Ulysses S. Grant. My great-great grandfather’s regiment joined the Army of the Tennessee in March 1862. They marched from Indianapolis where they had guarded prisoners. On March 15 they were ordered to Savannah, Tennessee where they took place in the Battle of Shiloh which is just south of the town of Savannah. Next they advanced on and and took part in the siege of Corinth, Mississippi from April 29-May 30, 1862. The unit’s next movement was a march to Memphis, Tennessee via Grand Junction, LaGrange, and Holly Springs, Mississippi between June 1-July 21, 1862. They were on duty in Memphis until September 6, 1862. While at Memphis my grandfather passed away from illness as did so many soldiers during the Civil War. He is buried with the Union soldiers in Memphis.

Here is my direct relationship. My father is Jimmie Kepler, grandfather Thomas Aaron Kepler, great-grandfather Emery Hall Kepler, and great-great grandfather Jacob Kepler.

Jacob joined the Army at age 41 to keep an eye on his son James K.P. Kepler (born 1843) who had enlisted. James is my great-great-great uncle. James survived several weeks following the Battle of Shiloh before dying. His date of death was May 27, 1862. Official US Government internment records show: Kepler, James K.P. Private, Co C, d.o.d. 27 May 1862, Section F, Grave 1408, O.I. Savannah, Tennessee. This is the official Shiloh National Cemetery. The online record is at: http://www.shilohbattlefield.org/cemetery/results1.asp?LASTNAME=Kepler&Submit2=Submit

For those that don’t know, The Battle of Shiloh was a major battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. A Union army under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had moved via the Tennessee River deep into Tennessee and was encamped principally at Pittsburg Landing on the west bank of the river. Confederate forces under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard launched a surprise attack on Grant there. The Confederates achieved considerable success on the first day, but were ultimately defeated on the second day.

Photo credit: Chromolithograph of the Battle of Shiloh, American Civil War. The date is 1888. The Author of the picture is Thure de Thulstrup (1848–1930). It is in the Library of Congress.

“Sacrifice On the Steppe: The Italian Alpine Corps in the Stalingrad Campaign, 1942-1943″ by Hope Hamilton

As a lifelong history buff, military history enthusiast, former US Army officer and holder of a BA degree in history, I find myself pleasantly surprised from time to  time when I encounter a book that fills a void in my historical education. “Sacrifice On The Steppe: The Italian Alpine Corps in the Stalingrad Campaign, 1942-1943″ written by Hope Hamilton and published by Casemate is one such book. The idea for the book originated when the author listened to her uncles’ reflections of his participation in World War II.

When Hitler had Germany invade Russia in June 1941, Prime Minister of Italy Mussolini declared war on Russia. He quickly sent a hastily organized Italian Expeditionary force of 62,000 men to join the Russian campaign even though Adolf Hitler discouraged such a move. Italy was unprepared militarily. Mussolini’s motivation was to join Hitler in receiving the spoils following an imagined rapid Nazi victory against Russia.”

Hope Hamilton’s book draws on personal interviews, exhaustive research and the written accounts of Italians who participated in and survived Mussolini’s tragic decision of Italian involvement. Mussolini compounded his mistake by sending even more troops the following year. The author does a good job of showing the human side of the Italian involvement on the Russian front. This is not a scholarly work on the tactics and logistics of the Italian involvement. Rather, it is the story of the people who made the terrible trek from Italy to Russia to support their German ally. The German’s had little trust of and kept the Italians minimally informed and I believe misused the Alpine troops by not maximizing the troops mountain fighting ability by their placement along the Don River.

The author does a great job of telling the soldier’s story. Her writing style focuses on the individual accounts of the soldiers. She discusses how the Alpine Corps was caught up in the German campaign capture Stalingrad in the autumn of 1942. She takes us through the Soviet offensive that followed in late November. We experience the collapse of the entire Axis front and the Alpine Corps’ withdrawal to the Don. I could have used a more background about the Stalingrad Campaign. The book does not take a strategic view of the campaign. Little attention is given to the big picture. The story is told from the Italian point of view instead of looking at it from the Axis point of view.

The book includes good notes, is well indexed, and has a great bibliography. I enjoyed the book. If you are looking for an after action report of the Italian participation or a critical analysis of the campaign this is not the book for you. If you’re looking for a good overview and an understanding of what the Italian soldiers experienced then you’ll enjoy the book. I give it four stars. It is a must addition to any military historian’s library. It is a good first volume to fill a long void of an English language account of the Italian involvement on the eastern front.