Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To Pay or Not to Pay For a Blog Book Tour

Would you pay good money for a blog book tour?

If you don't mind spending time to research popular blogs to make sure they get enough hits and are the right ones to promote your book, you don't mind contacting their owners and asking if they'll host you, you don't mind doing all the advertising yourself, have a very tight budget, then maybe a do-it-yourself blog tour is for you.

Then again, if you don't have the time or the patience to do the research, don't like making direct contact with hosts, don't believe your own advertising is enough, have enough money saved up for such a promotion, then maybe you'd prefer to leave it in the hands of a professional.

Either way you choose, you'll have lots of work ahead of you getting topics and blogs ready beforehand. During the tour, to make the most of your opportunity, you should be commenting on your hosts' blogs to establish your presence, plus tweeting and sending emails to Facebook and your egroups, and other spots.

With my recently completed Killer Career Blog Book Tour, I practiced a hands-on approach, but I had a great advantage. I not only belonged to the blogbooktour egroup run by Dani Greer, but also the pumpupyourblog egroup, run by Dorothy Thompson - The first being an immensely informative hands-on, do-it-yourself group, the other a group comprised mainly of hosts and guests of Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours. I've made wonderful friends in each group, love them both, and respect their methods. Although I didn't pay for my own tour and arranged it all myself, many times I've served as a host for Dorothy's tours and enjoy doing so.

What about you? Do you prefer to pay for a blog book tour and leave the driving to people like Dorothy at http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/? Or are you a do-it-yourselfer?

What are your reasons? Please share with us.

43 comments:

  1. I've done both (and even used Dorothy's service) but I prefer to do it on my own.

    Many book bloggers say they prefer contact with the author instead. With a tour service, it's a complete stranger who's never commented on their blog visiting. I think it all comes down to relationships.

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  2. I prefer to do it on my own, because I value real reviews more than paid reviews, both as an author and as a book buyer. When you're paid, it's hard to resist the pressure to say something nice. I do think hosts should receive a free copy of the book (eBook or PDF, if the budget's very tight), because I don't believe they should have to PAY to review, either, unless they already own the book.

    I feel a bit differently about paying someone to organize a tour and run it, but something's lost there - you don't usually get the kind of personal interaction on large blog tours that you do on more personal ones. I recently participated in a tour for a well-known author's book, and there was absolutely NO interaction with the author. I enjoyed adding the book to my library, and had fun writing the review, but I don't think it was as much of a "success" as a virtual book tour as one where the author is more intimately involved.

    Sure, it's a lot of work - and work deserves compensation. I just have mixed feelings about who should be doing the work, I guess.

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  3. I haven't done a book tour yet for "Following the Whispers," but when I do, I will do it on my own, for all the reasons mentioned so far.
    Karen

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  4. I belong to Aussie Blog Tours, so I don't pay anyone. I do host tours for others on my blog, though.

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  5. To me you are getting a service, people are spending time working on your behalg, even charaties have overheads. Sure you could arrange a blog tour yourself sending to bloggers and arranging it for one week. But that takes time, and a virtual tour is not just blogs. From my own experiance, my posts also got picked up by Chicago Sunday Times, LA Times and the Wall Street Journal amonsgt others, plus other I can't rember now. I did my own share of promotion at the time as well, but without the guidance of experiance virtual tour people I would not have been able to cover a fraction of the area I did, gain the knowledge I did and make the increase in Soical networking I did, or meet so many wonderful peple.

    To me payment should be made, unless you have the hours to put in, unless you have the connections or the knowledge thenof course you can set your own tour up.

    HOWEVER.. where I do think so many companies out on the net vary is what they supply for how much. You only have to look around and find groups that charge up to $1000 for afew weeks tours, charging extra for blog radio shows, always asking for books etc. I have seen 5 stops being charge $200-300. This is where the virtual tour raises issues.

    I have always said ..(check any interview, blog or radio blog) that PUYB is one of the best bang for your bucks that you can get for a virtauk tour. The amount that is charge is a fraction of some other, and what you get is normally a lot better service than some I have seen.

    Don't forget these tours do not magically put themselves together and I can only guess at the work that goes behind the scenes by the five ladies (I think that's right)

    So in short.

    If you have the knowledge, time and skills sure set up your own virtual tour. If you don't then expect to pay, BUT.. whatch what you pay who you use and what you get for your payment.

    As for contacting the people hosting your tour, that is down to you I know I tried to contact the host ever stop I made. And as stated you will always have overheads of sending books out etc, unless it's an interview. And are you really paying for a review? Perhaps sending a book out is as well?

    This will not make your fortune and perhaps not sell books, there is no magic wand. But what it odes do is get your name out there.

    Check my 5 day blog on book promotion on a budget.

    Go to

    http://acrossthepond-storyheart.blogspot.com/

    And search for
    "BOOK PROMOTION ON A BUDGET"

    Barry Eva

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  6. I've done both and will also do both for my upcoming Oct 27 release SINS OF THE FLESH.

    When I pay for a tour, it's because I know the tour operator will have vetted the sites to make sure they are appropriate for my work and are likely to generate traffic. I never saw it as paying for a review since oftentimes, the blogs we set up are to talk about more general things rather than review the novel. Getting reviews should be done by sending ARCs out.

    Having someone handling the tour helps me remember what to do when, especially when I am on deadline.

    Why do I also do tours on my own? It's nice to support friends and sites that have been helpful in the past. Visiting those sites is one way of doing that.

    So, there is no right or wrong to the blog tours, only what will work right for you in terms of budget and deadlines. If you don't have a lot of time or connections, it might be best to arrange for someone to set up the tour for you. I've used PUMP UP YOUR PROMOTIONS on several occasions due to deadline issues.

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  7. Hi, I've done a ton...and I do mean a ton...of promo over the years for books I have coming out. Even did the RT front page ad for 6K one time but that was for an anthology so I had help. I've paid a lot of money for online ads and banners and newsletters and contests etc.

    This time for my Nov release of Hot and Irresistible I did ads in RWR, RT and a bunch of other online sites mass mailings to bookstores and bookclubs (my postage is over $300). And also decided to get a publicist to cover what I didn't cover. After getting quotes for 6K I went with Pump Up Your Books. I think it's the best bang for the buck of any promo I've done because it takes me to places I normally don't go.

    It's all about growing your reader base and the best way to do this is to get your name out where they've never heard fo you before. Dorothy of PUYB has a ton on contacts I don't have and great ideas that I never thought of and I get a video of my book with distribution. Distribution is the key to a video.

    Sure you can do all this yourself but if you are under contract or trying to get a new proposal together and be on facebook and twitter and all the other stuff out there you don't have the time and you don't have the contacts...IMO.

    Of all the money I've spent PUYB was/is a real deal!

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  8. Barry, you raise some very good points. I don't think that a free copy of any book is likely to sway a reviewer - certainly not MOST reviewers.

    I've reviewed products and books on my blog. I refuse to review anything I haven't used or read, and if you come to me asking me to review your product or book, and I've never used or read it, I'm not likely to run out and buy it (unless I'd already planned to do so) just so I can do you this favor. There's not a product out there that's worth selling my integrity for.

    But it's still hard to resist the impulse to be "nice." For a book, I can resist. For a car? Hmm... well, if it's a clunker and I end up pushing it out of the street, I'm going to say so. But it does get to be a thornier issue as the value of the thing goes up, doesn't it? The real danger is that I'll love it, but that because of the compensation, the credibility of my review would always be in question - even if it were 100% honest and fair.

    Ideally, you have a situation like a newspaper book reviewer - they're paid by the paper, not the author. The publisher may buy advertising in the paper, but isn't dealing directly with the reviewer. And I think that there's an awareness there that even critical opinion (maybe moreso than strictly positive reviews) is good publicity.

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  9. As someone who hosts authors on my blog, I prefer working directly with the author rather than going through the tour service contact. That puts another step in the process and can cause glitches.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  10. Morgan, what a surprise this morning! I'm having a blast reading these comments...for the record, we do NOT use paid reviews and we do NOT coach the reviewers for what to say and not say. The one good thing about the reviewers I do use is that they have learned how to write good reviews. If they do not like a book, they will say so...but...they will find something positive, too. That's good reviewing in my book and I look for that when choosing my reviewers. I'd be more than happy to answer any questions if anyone has any. I do also want to say I admire authors who have the knowledge to set up their tours themselves. We are here for the authors who don't have the time to do it or don't know how to do it.

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  11. I believe most of you know that I work for Pump Up Your Book Promotion, but just in case, I wanted to toss that out there first.

    My first children's book will be coming out in 2010, and I've already begun interviews at blogs so that I am planting that tiny seed about my work. I'll be planning my own tour solely because I have experience in doing it. If I were a first time author, however, I would give some serious consideration to a VBT company, especially if I didn't have a lot of blogging friends.

    The other issue to consider is time. We all only have so much time in the day and many of us have jobs outside of our writing, so that leaves a limited amount of time for book promotion; and effective book promotion requires a large time commitment. If I have only 2 hours a day to commit to my writing career, do I want to spend it searching for blogs to host me during my tour or do I want to spend it writing? I'm the person who would rather spend it writing, so a VBT company would be good for someone like me.

    I, do think, like Diane said, that bloggers like that personal contact with the author. But a good VBT company will nuture meaningful relationships with bloggers too, and that's how Pump Up has secured many regular bloggers to host their clients.

    While I stand behind our business and all that we do, I also applaud those go-getters who take the bull by the horns and put together virtual book tours by themselves instead of paying a company to do it. I know how much work it is.

    No matter what anyone decides to do when it comes to book promotion, my sincere hope is that they are successful and achieve their dreams.

    Cheryl

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  12. For some of us, it is impossible to do it ourselves due to either online ignorance and/or a demanding day job so the ability and resources of the folks like Dorothy Thompson are well worth the investment. I have great admiration for her keen sense of placement and passion for the work and rely on that to compliment the areas I have no time and expertise in. Thanks for asking this question. Mary Patrick Kavanaugh, author of Family Plots and happy client of online tour!

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  13. If you ask a Cordon Bleu chef if it’s better to prepare the Duck a l’Orange herself or hire someone to do it, the answer is obvious. If you ask someone who’s still in the how-to-boil-water phase, the dinner guests might appreciate the alternative answer. Look: we didn’t grow up in the computer age, so everything we do (like learning basic HTML and SEO because we couldn’t afford to pay a pro) has been like two water-boilers figuring out the duck thing. We do love to write, however, and we think our book – Football is for Lovers – is funny and interesting and informative. So we’d like people to read it. Preferably sometime during the current millennium. If we wait until we’ve figured out social networking on our own, this is not likely to happen. Some of your posts make us feel guilty: sounds like we don’t want to have relationships with our readers. Actually, we do. Which is why we want them to read our book. Which is why we’re on one of Dorothy Thompson’s Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours even as we type. For the record, guys, it’s fun, amazingly affordable, and only calls on the skill we already have – and love: writing. So – thanks, Dorothy!

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  14. I have had two successful blog book tours that I have created on my own for my two anthologies - Swing: Adventures in Swinging by Today's Top Erotica Writers and Iridescence, Sensuous Shades of Lesbian Erotica. I plan on creating a third for my third anthology - The Cougar Book. I would never pay for a blog tour service.

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  15. I have tried in the past to promote my own book. This time around my publisher paid for Dorothy Thompson to arrange a virtual book tour, which will take place in November. I see nothing wrong with paying someone to help organize things, since most authors (like me) have day jobs, personal commitments, and other things taking up their time.

    It's great if you have the time and resources to do it yourself. I'm glad to have someone taking the pressure off, so I can concentrate on other things. With five books already published, one book I'm currently writing, three blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and my day job to think about I'll take any help I can get!

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  16. I've used a paid blog tour service three times and have been well-pleased. Cheryl, who works for the service I've used, Pump Up Your Book Promotions, and I have become good friends though our association.

    I've also become friends with several of the people I've stopped to blog with. This time around I gave Cheryl some suggestions for blogs and we'll see how that works out.

    Frankly, I just don't have time to do it myself.

    Really, I don't think of it has having paid for reviews--I get plenty of those on my own. If someone wants to read the book and give a review that's great, but not all the blog stops have reviews on them.

    Marilyn
    http://fictionforyou.com

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  17. Pump up Your Books did my tour last September and did a great job. There was still a lot for me to do, and I can't imagine the work involved in setting it all up. I will definitely go with them again when my next book comes out.

    I still do as much guest blogging as I can and arrange that myself, but it can be very time consuming.

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  18. I've talked to a friend who has done it both ways. She feels like the paid tour not only saved her endless hours of time but also got her onto sites she couldn't have managed on her own. I am seriously thinking of paying someone to help me with this. After reading your comments, I'll check out PUYB first.

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  19. This is fun hearing everyone's comments. I never even thought about the paying for reviews angle. From what I can tell, most stops don't feature reviews. It would be a boring tour if they did. When I did mine, I may have had one or two reviews, but I tried to vary my posts.

    Usually, no matter where you get reviewed it is a courtesy to offer a free book to the reviewer. If they ask for a pdf that's great, but the offer for a print book should be made unless it won't be out in print. If it comes out digitally first, then in print, I'd still offer a print book for later if the reviewer prefers to have one.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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  20. I forgot to add, many of the comments mention the Pump Up Your Book Promotion group. Have your say to two of the founders tonight...

    Tonight a special hour long chat show where the special guests are so special we will have not one but two hosts. Barry Eva (Storyheart) and Kim Smith will be chatting with Dorothy Thompson and Cheryl C. Malandrinos two of the wonderful people behind Pump Up your Book Promotion amongst many other things, and both authors in their own right. So many people want to chat to these two ladies it will take both Barry and Kim to try and keep the show in order during the one hour special. I have been doing some research and it's amazing what you find........

    TUESDAY 7pm EST

    A BOOK AND TWO CHATS

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Across-the-Pond

    To dial in and talk to the Dorothy and Cheryl....Call In Number : (347) 237-5398

    The show will be archived after for people to listen to who can't make the live show

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  21. I'll be short and quip, the math is worth every penny, literally: the expertise, the goodwill, the exposure, the education, the information, the connection, let alone the time, patience, determination and effort (that you may not have)! Would you be willing to do the same value for free? I didn't think so.

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  22. Thanks so much for the plug, Barry! Both Cheryl and I are honored and are very excited..maybe we can clear up a few misconceptions about virtual book tours through a paid service..unless you want to talk about haunted cabins, lol.

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  23. Barry, you're the best. I can't actually take credit for founding Pump Up, as I came along after Pump Up began. Dorothy started this business all on her own and she did a great job before I came along; so great that it was impossible to continue her one-man show and I came on in October 2007. I was actually a blog host for Pump Up for several months before coming on as staff.

    Since then, we've added three more people, and we will tour a record number of 26 authors next month.

    It's been one wild ride for sure. I can't tell you how many wonderful people I've met as a result, just like Morgan, Meredith, Diane, and some others who have commented here, and you.

    I'm enjoying this discussion. Thanks for bringing up this topic today, Morgan.

    Cheryl

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  24. TBH, I'd never even thought about paying for a blog tour! Interesting, though. I'll have to give it some thought.

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  25. For the record, Cheryl is fantastic. I started out with one client to test the waters. She was on social security and I knew she really couldn't afford publicity and she just had a new book come out about military brats - something I could relate to! So off we went. Now it's escalated to no less than 20 authors per month. What I teach my authors is what I've been doing with Pump Up...making sure people find out about you. Either they are interested or they're not but at least you can say you did your part.

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  26. I'm a do-it-myselfer out of financial necessity.

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  27. Diana Rumjahn12:47 PM

    Hi Everyone,

    I am okay with paying for a book tour since I am very busy. My tour is with
    Dorothy Thompson and the experience is great.

    Diana Rumjahn

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  28. I was a tour host long before I became a tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book Promotion. I know that there are many authors out there that are more than capable of creating their own book tours. But, most authors have a schedule that doesn't allow them the time necessary to coordinate all of the aspects necessary in creating a tour that is beneficial. That is where virtual book tour companies come in. Great post, I have enjoyed reading all of the comments!

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  29. I decide to use and pay for a service that had been highly recommended by several other authors of historical fiction. That service is "Pump Up Your Book" run by Dorothy Thompson. With everything else going on in my life, plus writing anothet book, I have neither the time nor the iclination or the expertise to resarch and contact blogs on my own. My tour is currently in progress and I belive it is money well spent.

    Douglas W Jacobson
    Author,
    NIGHT OF FLAMES: A Novel of World War Two

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  30. I have no book I'm trying to promote as yet -and if I don't someday get off my duff and finish the research I was doing, all that stuff, and start putting it together, I never will have that book.
    But, should that ever happen, I have this information you provided about ways to publicize my efforts -the pros and cons of going either route and would like to thank you for providing this for me and for probably a whole lot of other "slackers" like myself out there who dream of having a book of their very own someday. Good job, Morgan!

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  31. www.booksicals.com1:39 PM

    I decided to pay for my virtual book tour. Having a professional promoter with experience running my tour was key to getting the word out for my new picture book. Dorothy Thompson from Pump up you Promotions was recommened to me. We spoke and I saw the amount of blogs, interviews and reviews that were included in a tour and realized right away that a publicity packet such as hers that is usually much more expensive. Pump Up Your Promotions was reasonable and affordable. I wanted to PAY to have someone professional do all the research as to which sites were appropriate for my book. I preferred to spend MY time doing the interviews and c rather than researching the vast number of blogs and internet sites to find appropriate blogs etc. Time is of the essence when a book is released and in a few days Dorothy Thompson of Pump up Your Promotions got me on a plethora of blogs, online radio shows and children's review sites so I could start immediately to PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE! The results were very professional and very useful on all my marketing material including websites. I believe if you pay for something you can demand excellence. It is also not true in my experience that paid reviewers give good reviews. IF they don't like the book they will say so! That is my advice.
    best of luck to all!

    Susan Chodakiewitz
    Author of Too Many Visitors for One Little House.
    Founder, Booksicals, Encouraging a love of reading through the arts.
    www.booksicals.com

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  32. I'm happy to pay someone else to do all that work.

    At the moment I'm simply too busy trying to finish my second Mike McCabe thriller (A follow-up to The Cutting). I think Dorothy's worth it.

    James Hayman

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  33. I don't think I'd pay for a blog book tour per se, but I'd pay a professional publicist/promoter to line up various events and promotions (including blog book tours) for my books.

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  34. I am a busy tenth grader and I have a hectic school schedule. Pump Up Your Book is doing the virtual tour for my debut book "Ginger High" in October. I do not have the time to arrange all the tour stops. It is definitely worth the money for the tour to be arranged for me.

    Dorothy has been great during the preparation stage and has been very supportive.


    Melissa Burmester
    www.gingerhigh.com

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  35. I joined the book chat groups, advertised on the book websites, contributed to book discussions, and reached my personal limit as to how to do marketing. Dorothy Thompson took my marketing to the next level and helped me to gain a presence on blogs I may never have discovered. I am well pleased with the service.

    And besides, Dorothy is just SUCH a BABE! How could a guy resist?

    Yours,

    Randall Lang

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  36. Anonymous10:55 PM

    Hello!

    I write historical romance and had need, with the release of my fourth novel, for a quick marketing fix and help with promotion. I've done some blogging and touring on my own in the past, but this time ... well, I didn't have any time to set up a virtual tour. When I came across Pump Up Your Book Promotion on the Net, I was immediately "hooked" on seeing if they could help. They could and they did!

    For a minimum fee, I received gold treatment and bang for my buck. I hit the national circuit through blogs, newspapers, posted reviews, and blog radio. Despite my first three books receiving good reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and Romantic Times, I was in a jam with my fourth release, Meggie's Remains. I didn't have time (for reasons too many to note here) or the know-how to put together a decent, professional, virtual tour. From my first contact with Dorothy Thompson, I was "hooked" on her professionalism and willingness to put together the best tour possible for me. Yes, I had some homework to do but I never minded this. Ms. Thompson was nothing but professional, helpful, energetic, communicative, prompt, friendly, supportive ... hmmm ... I guess I liked her ... I really liked her!

    I'm considering working with Ms. Thompson again on my Civil War series, out next year. If nothing else, our names and our book titles hit the national scene under Ms. Thompson's expert hand!

    This has all been win-win! No losers need apply, heh heh.

    My very best,

    Joanne Sundell
    www.joannesundell.com

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  37. I'm putting together material for a 15 or so book blog tour. I'll go it alone. I can;t see paying someone to do what I caould do for free. Besides, I like to learn everything I can about something, and doing it yourself provides that opportunity.

    Oh, and I'm wearing my favorit T-shirt.

    Stephen Tremp

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  38. Great comments everyone. I'm so glad many of Pump Up's clients chimed in here because we like to know how we're doing. And Joanne, I sure hope you come back with your Civil War series because I really want to read those books.

    Hi Stephen, good to see you around here too. Best of luck with your book. See you at The Dabbling Muse.

    Cheryl

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  39. I've worked with both authors and publicists at Pop Syndicate's Book Addict blog. The publicists are in house, or hired - like Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

    It's been good and bad working with both. Sometimes authors don't understand deadlines for tour posting, and sometimes publicists aren't familiar with the process and leave me hanging.

    On the flip side, I have several really terrific publicists AND authors who are just spot on when they drop by. They are organized, efficient, get their stuff in well before the post date and understand the importance of driving traffic to our blog.

    No matter which method authors chose, they STILL need to be familiar with the process. It is a good idea to do a small, seven-day tour to get your feet wet, to understand the process of how to set up and promote your stops, before you hire someone to do it for you. With this understanding, you can hire the best person for the job, plus be proactive with information needed for the tour.

    IMHO, of course. =0)

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  40. What a great post, Morgan! Tons of excellent input from everyone commenting as well. Since I work with Dorothy and the girls at Pump Up with being a blog/tour host, I have such fun. I have also worked with authors who put their own tours together and either way, I feel that it is a lot of work for everyone involved. One thing, I think, is that if you go through a company, you will have a wider exposure to publicity, etc. Though, I imagine that all depends on how much time the individual author wants to put into all the background work of the tour themselves, or would rather skip all of that and focus on their book and getting it out there and really making a strong effort on the tour stops that are set up for them.

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  41. Hi! I'm going to pop in here a little late and to play devil's advocate as well...

    I am a tour coordinator and I love my job. It has its moments, but so does every other job. But, I will acknowledge that some authors...just don't need us.

    It comes down to two things: time and knowledge. If you have the time to set up your own tour and the knowledge of how to do it, then have at it.

    Otherwise, we're always here... :)

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  42. Morgan, you sure do know how to get people to comment! I want to thank you for this thread...there are people who need people and there are people who are self-sufficient and prefer to do it themselves. It would be kind of sad to note there wasn't anyone out there who was an author and didn't know how to promote themselves. My kudos to those who at least have the confidence to think they can do it themselves. They perhaps will be the most successful at this. For those authors on a deadline, etc., then well, we're more than happy to show them the way.

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  43. I already have so much to schedule with writing deadlines and signings, and what feels like a million other things, I can't imagine putting together a blog tour on top of that. There comes a point in a writer's life when she needs to delegate some of the chores of the writing business. I am happy to delegate this chore, especially to someone as well-connected, hard-working, and competent as Dorothy.

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