I’ve created this post for two reasons. One is that I needed a new topic to talk about for a feature, and I wanted it to be something positive. The other is that I have seen a bit of unfair criticism levelled at blog tours on twitter recently.
Whilst everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I think many of these thoughts have been generated with perhaps a little misunderstanding playing a part.
So here are 6 reasons I think blog tours are great!
1. Discovering great new authors
No matter how active on social media you are, there’ll be books you haven’t heard about. Blog tours are a fantastic chance to discover an author whose work you aren’t familiar with. Often this can turn out to be an awesome read that you might not have given a chance to before (or even heard about!)
2. Contributing to the reading community & meeting new people
Blog tours help make social media more, well, social! If you regularly take part in a tour you’ll get to know the others who do, too. Having a social and interactive experience on places like Twitter and Instagram makes it more fun and when you have different people that mutually support one another it improves everyone’s experiences and importantly you make some good friends!
3. Helping self published authors
Every successful author was once just someone in a room with a pen (or keyboard) and an idea. Some struggled through obscurity for years, others were able to find that catalyst that fired up their writing career. And sometimes that spark begins with a review.
How often have you decided to have a look at a book because you saw a few people talk about it during the week? Maybe you’re also a blogger and people have bought a book after reading your review. Sometimes brilliant authors will never get noticed and that’s frustrating.
But sometimes their book will be mentioned in the right place at the right time, and something will happen.
It’s not an easy industry at all to be noticed in, so I always say we should shout as loud as we can about books we loved. Being part of a blog tour amplifies that voice with a barrage of reviews from other bloggers. You’re part of a promotion and you’ve done your bit towards helping the author get their book read by more people!
4. Improving as a reviewer and getting to know yourself more
It’s a hobby for most but some of us still analyse our review styles and we’re all continually learning whether we notice it consciously or not. I learn stuff from other bloggers and just simply from myself when I look at older reviews of mine and what I liked and didn’t.
I feel like when we read a book we have bought ourselves, we can decide to leave a very short review – or none at all – especially when it’s a really well known book that everybody knows about. If you don’t feel this way, you’re totally entitled not to, but I feel an obligation to put a little more effort into the review and make sure I recommend it to the right readers, with a little more depth. I do this more for blog tour and review requests.
You don’t usually have to do this, but if like me you feel like you probably should, you’ll improve your analytical, writing and reviewing skills and at the end of the day, you have a right to feel proud of a particularly great review! You may not be in a newspaper column, but there’s the potential for hundreds, or even thousands of people to read it. I would challenge any blogger to say they don’t feel more accomplished after 10, 50, 100 reviews than they did for their first few.
5. You’re 100% allowed to be honest and picky.
So from what I gather, this is the thing that has attracted the criticism of blog tours. I’ve seen a number of SFF blog tours, and been a part of two different ‘tour groups’ for want of a better phrase.
All of them have been totally fine with honest reviews. Nowhere have I ever been encouraged to post a favourable review or to compromise my integrity as a reviewer. A lot of us are familiar with one another. After a short while it is very easy to gauge the type of books someone likes and how critical they are, and you can base your own impressions of reviews from this knowledge.
Readers are intelligent people; we can tell which reviews are genuine and feel the passion coming through in your review. Not many people are going to be fooled by a blog tour where everybody lies because there just won’t be enough love shown for the book.
Sure, some people are just very easily pleased and love everything they read. Some people are very hard to please and go all Ebenezer Scrooge with handing out 5 stars. Some people are very good at spotting what type of book they’ll enjoy. That’s why it’s great that blog tours feature several+ reviewers.
You don’t have to focus on one review. If it’s a blogger you tend to agree with, then cool. But you have the advantage of being able to check out the tour and there’ll be a consensus on what worked in the book. It will then be easier to see whether it’s something that would appeal to you.
I think what people can fail to realise is that a blog tour is a form of promotion for the author. An author pays to have their book featured. And (hopefully) it usually works out at good value. The tour that I am most involved in as an example – the two people who organise it work tirelessly and fully deserve anything they make from it. We roadies appreciate it but authors have also said on multiple occasions how grateful they are and how professionally done it was. There is a complete transparency here. There is nothing dodgy going on!
Would you really begrudge people a little bit of pocket cash for hours of hard work and on top of that, a solid contribution to something you presumably love? (The reading community). I don’t know how much clearer it could be made on this tour group (and in many others I’ve come across) that it’s fine if you didn’t enjoy the book; everyone is different, just save posting a less than 3 star review until after the tour has finished.
For me personally (and this is another great thing about the tour I’m involved in) I know what sort of books I like and I can pick and choose! There might be something that looks great and then lets me down – it’s gonna happen someday, but you get quite a lot of information to inform your choice. If you didn’t want to be involved in anything for 2 months, or probably whatever length of time you wanted a break for, you never have to review a book. It’s 100% your choice.
Sometimes a book might not appeal to me and other times there have been books featured by authors I speak to on twitter that I really wanted to read but just didn’t have the time so didn’t sign up. Nobody’s contacting me to ask why. So ultimately as the blogging crew, we have complete and utter control over what we decide to read, there is no word count, no obligation to say it was amazing if it wasn’t. You’re sent a little pack and you either ignore it or reply if you want to be involved. Win-win. Which leads me onto my last point…
6. Free books!
Being part of a blog tour is basically being sent an invitation of free books each month and asked whether we want to read them! Every single book featured on the tour I’m involved in has had an air of potential quality, whether I’ve signed up or not. These aren’t just any old rubbish and the organisers do everything – all I have to do is say yes or no. The only downside is having to turn some of them down to get the others that you’ve signed up for read (or occasionally eating into that TBR pile!)
Not everybody is in the position where they can buy books whenever they want or to get hold of library books. Blog tours will be a great way to read some great books in exchange for an honest review for people in this situation. Whilst I spend too much of my disposable income on books, I can’t afford everything I see. The blog tour is a great way to read something I might not have bought myself and be exposed to something I therefore may not have read otherwise. Like when I used to have a Cineworld unlimited card, often you’ll find a new favourite that you might have just watched/read because you were kinda bored. Besides any other point, who doesn’t like free stuff!?
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts.
I haven’t tagged you incase you don’t want the attention but I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the blog tour organisers I’ve been involved in, you’re amazing and you’ve done a brilliant job, keep up the good work! Thanks everyone and stay positive 🙂