Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blog Tours, Blog Tours, Blog Tours

Blog Tours, Blog Tours, Blog Tours.  Funny how two little words could fascinate me so much, but when I was in the process of starting The Gal, they definitely did.  I had seen a few book bloggers I followed do them and they just looked awesome - like book tours, where the authors go into local bookstores and meet the readers, sign books, sometimes even do a reading - just without all the travel and the hand cramps.  
          How could I not love this?  Ever since I was young and watched Jessica sign books on Murder, She Wrote, the idea of going to a Book Signing or Reading or Meet-and-Greet with the Authors has always been, like, the coolest thing ever (haha).  (Sadly, I have not been to as many as I wish, but I did meet Anne Rice once upon a time and she signed Interview with a Vampire for me.)
          Blog Tours have taken the place of all that, especially for the Indie and Self-Published Author.
          I am a researcher (a blessing and a curse) and I have read everything I could find on blog tours. I wanted to be able to explain them to other people (if they didn't know) and also know what I needed to do in order to be a part of the fun.  Now, I know people who say they would never be a part of these - and I will NEVER be one of the people who are working with the author to set these up (some authors are, um, strong-willed) - but if I get an email from one of the three blog tour companies I am signed up with (or Red Adept Publishing, who I LOVE), if it looks like something I wouldn't hate, I sign up.
          Now, for those of you who are not aware, the email thing is how it works.  A blog tour company (or group, or one person, or whatever) sends out an email (usually to people who have signed up to be on their list, but two of the companies I deal with are ones that reached out to me because they liked my blog) that gives all the pertinent information a blogger needs on a tour - title and author, book description, dates, etc - and they follow the link to fill out the form.  The blogger deals with the person planning the tour, not the author - which I find to be both a good and a bad thing (sometimes I would like to meet the author and add him or her to my list of amazing authors, but at the same time, I have heard horror stories about how authors are again, um, strong-willed).  
          A lot of times the blogger has the opportunity to sign up for something other than just the review - an interview, a guest post (where the author writes a post on the subject they are given) - and that, to me, is the best part - I get to ask the questions that I want the answers to, and usually my questions are more on the author than on the book (I read a lot of interviews on a weekly basis that are based on the book itself and, to be honest, the interviews are amazing, but if I want to know all that, I'll read the book - me, I'm interested in the gal or the guy behind the book).  I have a list of basic questions and, depending on the author and what they've written, sometimes I add more to the list or take some away (I find it easier to interview someone I've had a few conversations with), which I give to the person running the tour, and soon they get back to me with the author's answers.  Easy peasy.
          Sometimes - and this is a great feature that 1) I don't think enough people utilize and 2) I don't think enough people try for - there are giveaways where you can win a signed book (SIGNED BOOK?!?!  *swoons*), author swag (I love author swag so if you are an author and you don't have any - get some!! - bookmarks are great, easy to sign and cheap to mail out), and/or gift cards to Amazon.
I know what all of you are thinking (especially my followers who know that every rant has a reason) - what happened to bring on this post?  Two things....
          First, I've had a lot of authors ask me what a blog tour is (thank God for all that research, huh?) and I wanted to give the basic gist to anyone who may not be so sure, especially since I do a lot of them.
          Second, I had my first, um, "author on a blog tour issue."  (Originally I was going to say "blog tour issue" but that's not true - I have left two blog tour companies because of the fact that there were always issues based on the fact that  they were not organized.  At all.)  

I recently signed up for a blog tour - to do a review and an interview - and when I got the answers, the blog tour company let me know that the author had made a few changes to a few of my questions based on the fact that they wrote a non-fiction book.  (Note: There is only one question I ask that would not work for a non-fiction book and that is "Which character is most like you?" which he could have omitted.  The rest of the questions, as I mentioned before, are based on the author, some even on the author's process.)
          I kind of shrugged as I read this and scrolled through the questions+answers to find out what she was talking about.
          Let's put it this way - I was so shocked that I went to Facebook to vent.  He did not make a few changes to a few of my questions.  He changed EVERY question that I asked COMPLETELY (except for one which is similar to what I asked, but not exactly - and he actually asked the same question twice with two very different answers).  Stunned...shocked...homicidal.   Let's just say that I was not (and still am not) a happy camper.
          Several of my awesome author friends informed me that they would never have done this to me or anyone, several of my reviewer/reader/blogger friends were appalled at this man's obvious ego issue.  (I was glad I wasn't just crazy and getting upset over something insignificant.)
          Over the next few days, I has a couple of conversations via email with fellow bloggers who were giving me their advice on the situation.  Several told me to just quit the tour - no review, no interview - but I feel that bloggers should have some professionalism in order for them to be taken seriously (there are several bloggers I no longer read because of the fact that they lack this  professionalism) and I love my blog too much to destroy it in that way (plus the person who runs this blog tour company is amazing).  A few told me to do the review and leave out the interview, but one made a lot of sense - the interview is good, though not mine, so I should still post it, but put a disclaimer at the top that this is not my interview as my questions were changed by the author.
          I discussed this with the blog tour company and have decided that is what I'll do (professional and nice, I am), but I felt like some explanation had to come before that and, once I began writing this, decided that this could not all be the intro into an interview (you guys would never read it!! haha).  As I said to her when we spoke, I've had authors not want to answer a question so they just deleted it from the list (like I wouldn't realize that, right?), but this is the first time I've had an author do this to me and I certainly hope it's the last.  (I do want to point out that, because of this situation, this particular blog tour company is going to, from now on, inform the authors that they cannot change blogger questions.)

For authors: Bloggers put a lot of time, sweat and tears into their work.  Yes, they may not be writing a novel, a trilogy, or a series (how could we?  we're busy helping you promote yourself and reading what you're writing), but we do a lot of work, it takes a lot of time, and it can be very stressful.  It is something that we love and that's why we not only do it, but continue doing it (some of those bloggers have been doing it for YEARS).  We do what we do for free.  You hand us a free book and we're willing to bend over backwards for you - advertising your book, talking you up on all our social networks, suggesting your book to people - and this is after we read it and review it, after we interview you, after we set up guest posts for you, and more.  We also go and buy the rest of your books when we love the one you handed us for free.  Please remember all of this when you decide to treat us as if we're insignificant ... because without us, there would be a lot of readers that would have never even heard of you and your book(s).  We are human too and just like you want us to treat you with respect and courtesy, we expect the same thing.

For bloggers: Professionalism.  Remember that.  Look it up.  It's a big deal.  You and your name are part of your blogs "brand."  Your behavior and attitude effects that blog - and effects the rest of us, who get looked down on because the few are not as smart, intelligent, professional, or ethical as the many.  (Another word: Ethical.  Very important.) 
          I find it funny when I hear a blogger complain about the behavior of some authors and how it ruins things for the other Indie and Self-Published authors out there.  Not funny ha-ha, funny sad - because it is so true, and yet that is what a lot of bloggers are doing to other bloggers out there.
          There's a thought that always pops in my head when I'm getting ready to do things: Would you do this in front of your mom?  THAT right there will stop you from doing a lot of things haha but maybe people should seriously start behaving that way (you can insert Dad, God, or whoever else in there if you choose).


Spurts said...

An author changing your interview quesitons = wrong. I'd post in the interview section of your part of blog tour something bland like "I have not yet received the author's answers to my interview questions. I apologize for disappointing readers."

Then give them zero attention more than required by blog tour. Of course you did right discussing with the blog tour company. And can do whatever you damn well please on your own blog.

An author skipping a question they did not want to answer or because at that instant didn't have a good answer is perfectly okay. Adding extra comments that weren't specifically a response to questions but may have been thought of in response to questions - sure (your choice to use or omit from the interview if you felt it took up too much space, was too much straight sales pitch or whatever but, it's an interview so them speaking off the cuff and giving additional material is usually a good thing).

Meghan H said...

I actually like it when an author gives me extra information - and I even have one author who has asked me a question coming soon - both make for a fun interview.

It is okay when they choose to ignore a question, but at the same time it does sort of bug me, especially when it's a really good question.

Another thing that bugs me is when they put no thought at all into the answers. I had one interview I refused to publish because they answered every one of my questions with just three to four words each. Tell me about yourself and you only answer with four words? Not even a sentence and your an author? It came across as if my interview meant nothing to her.

I ended up posting the interview, but let my readers know that it was not, in fact, my interview with a link to here.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts :)