I’m very exited to have this interview to share with you today. I know the Indie Book World is changing so fast heads are spinning. And with all this change come doubts about how you spend your advertising dollars, what works, what doesn’t, and it can be overwhelming and confusing.
I’ll start this post by saying I’m a HUGE proponent of cover reveals and release day book blitzes. I have been using Giselle for FIVE YEARS. I don’t actually know how many times I’ve hired her – but it’s a lot. Over 50 times for sure and probably closer to 80 or a 100 if you add in all the cover reveals. So we decided to put together this interview to help new authors make a decision.
So hey, welcome Giselle! So, so happy to have you on my blog today to talk about book blitzes, tours, and cover reveals.
My first question is:
How did you start in the book promotion business?
GISELLE: I started a book blog back in 2011 and it had me realized how awesome a community the whole book blogging world was. I would chat with and become friends with authors who’s books I loved – which had me completely in awe. I made really close blogging friends. I got to experience BEA which was an amazing experience.
It made me realize this was something I wanted to be a part of for a long time. I loved the whole blogging world; the book world; the “I get to connect with authors” world. So I started looking into even more ways of helping authors over reviewing and blogging. I had participated in blog tours before, and they were really fun and made me feel part of something. I decided to give a shot at organizing them. I started Xpresso Book Tours on a whim, really – it went from an idea to a reality in about 3 days. It was a really crazy hectic week and I had no idea what to expect, but I was loving every minute of it and really just went with the flow. There were a lot of learning experiences at the start, but it became something I looked forward to doing every day and eventually grew into a career I love and hope to keep doing for many years to come!
JULIE: It’s funny you should say that because back when we first “met” online I was feeling the same thing. And that’s how I started my blog New Adult Addiction. I was fascinated by this “secret world” book bloggers had (especially the young adult and romance bloggers). It was like it’s own little secret society and they did all these cool things like blog hops and memes. I just loved it. And I blogged on New Adult Addiction for three straight years before I just didn’t have time to keep up with it anymore.
What kind of books to you promote with your services?
When I started I focused on YA and NA only. So those genres still remain very popular amongst my hosts as I have a lot of YA/NA bloggers that have been with us since day 1. As the years passed I started to branch out into more adult books as well. 18+ romances are a big hit every time. Adult Paranormal and UF are also very popular. I honestly don’t refuse many genres – if I do get queried for a genre that I don’t think will work (like hard sci-fi and high fantasy) I do have a few blog tour companies that I highly recommend and am able to point them to. I can put absolutely any genre on our NetGalley catalog, though, so even if a genre doesn’t work for blog tours I offer that option instead.
What is the difference between a blog tour and a book blitz? And which one do you recommend and why?
Blog tours are virtual book tours where, every day of the tour, the author/book is scheduled to appear on specific blogs on each day. You will see a mix of reviews, interviews, guest posts, and excerpts, along with a giveaway. The promo posts are uniquely written for the bloggers on the tour. So it’s a fully personalized, managed event with daily social media promotion of all stops and advertising perks via Xpresso Reads. Since spots are limited on tours, each participants is hand picked (I query the most reliable bloggers first) and is given a specific date to spread out the stops equally on each day.
Book Blitzes are promotional events (“parties”) normally to spotlight a book release or special deal/sale price. These posts are quicker, and usually the same on all blogs. Some bloggers may choose a different excerpt to share, but besides that it’s more or less the same posts, meant to give a quick spotlight on a book. Each blogger decides which day they want to post during the blitz, they’re not assigned a specific day like on a tour. So there could be days where more blogs post than others. Lastly, but what makes it the most popular event we offer, there’s no limit to how many blogs can participate on a blitz – it’s a open invite, meaning anyone who signs up gets to participate. It’s less of an exclusive, intimate event, and more like a release blast/open house party.
Blitzes are the most popular amongst bloggers and author alike. They can be planned short notice, unlike a tour, and we always get tons of participants for a big release/sale splash!
Do you feel like cover reveals are necessary to get the best exposure for a new book? (I do!)
GISELLE: I read somewhere that we need to see a product 7 times before we get truly interested. They call it the rule of seven. So the more exposure you give your book from day one, the more eyes it will reach, and the better foundation it will build. So yes, use anything in your power to give your book some exposure, cover reveals included. A book need to be constantly promoted especially during its first year – so the earlier you start, the bigger chance of success you’ll give it.
A cover reveal is often the first announcement of an upcoming release. It’s a great way to build pre-release buzz, so that when the book is finally out it won’t be the very first time people hear about it. I recommend doing a reveal anytime from 6 months to 2 months before release. That way you can keep promoting with short teasers, sneak peaks, anything really just to keep your book “out there” before it’s even out. Plus bloggers love the opportunity to be able to show the cover off for the first time, so the event is hit all around.
JULIE: I think the cover reveal is critical for exactly the same reason. I think they work best if you have links up for a pre-order but you really can’t go wrong with a cover reveal. There is reality where a cover reveal hurts you. (Unless your cover sucks! So don’t have a sucky cover!)
What are some mistakes you see from authors when they send you a media kit for a blitz?
GISELLE: I’ve learned early on that authors lead a crazy, chaotic, often disordered lifestyle – honestly I don’t know how they do it lol – so I’ve also learned to be real specific on what I need for blitzes and reveals. I make lists (which are relatively short) and send reminders. So I don’t get a lot of mistakes other than a missing detail or two which is just another email away. The author photo/bio is the most overlooked. More is always better! Feel free to include things like advanced praise, teaser images, tag lines, anything that can be used to pimp your book – send it to me! 🙂
I do think one thing that’s worth mentioning is get a great cover designer! A cover is the first impression people will get of your book. We always say don’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s not kid ourselves we all do it! A very well designed, attractive cover can do wonders for a book. It catches the eye, stays memorable, and can make people give a new book a try. If your budget is tight, there are alternative options like pre made covers.
JULIE: Just speaking from my own experience as a blogger I know I used to get media kits from other organizers (most of which went out of business years ago!) that were very hard to use. Like weird formatting and stuff like that. So if I have one tip for authors it’s – make that kit easy to use.
What kind of giveaways do you recommend for authors so they get the most out of their blitz or tour?
GISELLE: Many love to give personalized prizes like signed copies, book swag, t-shirts – I even had one give a box of cookies once – and they’re really fun, unique prizes. However the prizes that consistently get the most entries are gift cards. Everyone can use gift cards, plus it can be sent internationally so it give everyone a chance. Plus it saves shipping costs as well as the hassle in general (who wants to face the outside world to mail stuff!?).
JULIE: I will agree 100% here. I know signed copies are good giveaways and every author starts out thinking their baby deserves to be cherished by everyone ( 🙂 ) but gift cards are something everyone can use. And a share is a share, ya know? You should not care if the person sharing your post is dying to read your book. You’re just thankful they are sharing your post with their friends. So gift cards are especially good for new authors who don’t have a lot of fans yet.
What kind of feedback do you get from bloggers when they participate in your promotions? Both good and bad.
GISELLE: I actually sent my Facebook link to my bloggers last month for them to leave a review on my page so other bloggers (and authors) could get their feedback. The response was overwhelmingly sweet and I adore them so much! Feedback that was repeated was they liked that I offer events in many genres, and how the kits are always sent in advance. You should see my iCal I have 11 different calendars that I use to organize what needs to be done for when and apparently it works well haha! They also like the pre-made html I do up for them so they can simply paste it in their blogger template for really quick post formatting.
For the bad, to be honest after so many years I’ve smoothed most of the cracks, and rarely get bad feedback except for those isolated cases where there are late review copies etc. I try my best, and the authors do as well, but sometimes delays happen and they get in a little later. The most common complaint, however, is about missed emails – spam filters are my worst enemy and because I send a LOT of emails I get flagged on occasion. So it does happen than a blogger who signed up for an event doesn’t receive the kit or review copy. I normally get an email and resend and they always get it the 2nd time, though. Adding me to their list of contacts in their email can help avoid this.
How has the book blog world changed since you first started Xpresso Tours?
GISELLE: It seems to grow and grow, to be honest! When I started it felt like we were just a few of us, and now the community has gotten huge which is really awesome to see! I love it when I see new bloggers join the ranks. It’s such a fun experience and even if it’s just for a little while, they’re sure to meet great people and make friendships that will last for years! One of my best friends is a blogger I never even met in real life (she lives on the other side of the country) and we’re as close as my local friends! I think every book lover should experience this blogging universe. So many changes every year. Simpler blog designs, more discussion pieces, more co-blogging, unique reading “challenge” events. It’s fascinating how creative bloggers can become to switch things up. Though the feel of starstruck when we get retweeted or replied to by an author we love will never change!
What kind of changes do you see coming in the next year?
GISELLE: The book world is constantly evolving. I think more and more publishers and authors are seeing how being active and involved in the blogging community really makes a difference. I’ve been seeing a lot more interaction between them. I also see a lot of teamwork, authors getting together for big boxed sets, sales, charity events and I think that’s really great! It’s a great way to focus on building a rapport and fan base instead of just thinking about sales sales sales. You’re also selling your brand, your personality, and your image, not just a book anymore. Who wouldn’t recognized Stephen King walk past them, you know.
What is ONE thing authors could do BETTER to get the most out of their promotion?
GISELLE: Oh this is a tough one. Authors work so hard already which is the most I could ask for. I feel like I’m repeating myself with this (lol) but honestly BE THERE! Reply to tweets, fan emails – make sure you have a contact email or page on your website so you can be reached. Be approachable! Thank mentions on Twitter, chat up those who posted about your book. Be active on social media. Have a Facebook page and use it at least a few times a week (share teasers, sneak peeks, word count updates etc). Share posts or tag a few participants here and there from your promotional events. They very much appreciate that as well as thank you comments on their posts or tweet. I know it can feel overwhelming with 60+ participants, and I’m not saying spend hours going through it all, but do what you can to show them you’re out there and you noticed!
JULIE: THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking time out of your busy schedule! And for anyone who missed my video series on book marketing you can watch the one about book blitzes and cover reveals by clicking below.
COVER REVEAL VIDEO
RELEASE BLITZ VIDEO
ABOUT GISELLE and XPRESSO TOURS
Giselle has 14 years experience in customer relations and client service, 6 years in web design (16 years in Photoshop/graphic design), and 6 years in Public Relations. She graduated top-tier of her class with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. This experience and knowledge gives her the skills to insure Xpresso Book Tours is a reliable and well maintained business.
With connections to thousands of blogs and millions of readers,
Xpresso Book Tours will give your book the exposure it deserves!
Over 2,200 Xpresso Book Tours Hosts (who receive all event invites via email)Social media:Blog – Xpresso Reads Stats:
*Advertisement on Xpresso Reads included with all tours – length varies*
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