Okay folks. Here's what you've been waiting for. My official wrap-up summary of The 19th Element Book Tour. What went well. What didn't. What I expected. What I got. And whether it was worth the effort and cash.
We'll start off with a statement from my blog tour hostess, Dorothy, at Pump Up Your Book. I invited her to say whatever she wanted for this post. Here's what she said:
Comments from the Tour Company.
It has been such a pleasure having John on board. His Amazon rankings have been great and we've gotten him on the first page of google with his key search words. Overall, the tour is a success in the regards that now John has the online exposure we were after. Long after his tour is over, people will still be finding out about him using different key search words and that's what Pump Up is really all about. We don't just throw you on stops...it's a lesson in online marketing, using key search words strategically and having the author walk away knowing we both worked toward making it a success. As John will attest, putting an online book tour together for 2 months is not an easy feat. He has had to write guest posts and answer interviews until his fingers fell off but the hard work is definitely going to be well worth it. I feel it's not enough to have a tour consisting of mainly reviews, but reviews are a large part of it. Without the interviews and guest posts, the public wouldn't have ever found out all about John and his book from his personal perspective. I had an author tell me the other day that she never knew so much about her book before she went on a virtual book tour and that's another plus. In the future, John will know what to say to reporters or journalists because they basically will be asking him the same questions. It was a long journey for John but I hope he walks away knowing he is set up in the search engines and that Pump Up Your Book came through for him. We wish you much success, John, and keep pumping up that book!
CEO/Founder Pump Up Your Book
My Take on Dorothy's Self-Evaluation
I agree with Dorothy on several major points.
1) My key search words will get my book on the first page of Google -- depending on which ones you choose to search for.
If I remember right, Dorothy and I chose the following words as my keys for this tour -- al Qaeda, author tours, bestselling book, blog tours, book marketing, book promotions, book publicity, book tour, Createspace, doomsday, international terror, James Becker thriller, John L. Betcher, Minnesota, mystery, nuclear, nuclear power plant, nuke plants, online book promotion, online book tour, Pump Up Your Book, Red Wing, suspense, suspense author, suspense novel, Terrorist, The 19th Element, Three Mile Island, thriller, thriller author, thriller novel, U.S. government intelligence, virtual book tours, volleyball coach, youth volleyball.
It's a long list. Only some of the words were used with each tour stop. But if you Google --Minnesota thriller author -- you will find two of my tour stops, on page 1. So the tour did give my book more search engine exposure than it had previously.
2) Dorothy's also correct that I wrote tons of interview answers, and blog posts about myself and my writing, and about writing in general . . . many more than I ever would have written without the tour. This is mostly useful material that I can employ again in various promotional situations in the future.
3) I don't know what Amazon rankings Dorothy considers to be "great." But that's because I know how little those rankings really mean about whether a book is selling well. So I guess I have a "no comment" on that statement.
My Additional Comments About Pump Up Your Book
I have to say that I was pretty impressed with Dorothy's organizational skills. And she was always very polite and encouraging to me when I had questions about my submissions for the tour. And she did manage to line up 30 blogs for my tour - covering every business day for six weeks.
Some of the blogs, I think, either belonged to or were affiliated with PUMP. So what . . . as long as they have Followers.
I do question a couple of the choices Dorothy made for blogs to post reviews of my thriller. The blogger on one such site seemed to prefer reading chicklit, romances, and cozies to thrillers. The text of her review was very complimentary in all respects. But she gave the book a rating of 3 out of 5 with no explanation. My guess is that thrillers aren't her thing (which is cool . . . except for a thriller book tour review).
Another reviewer gave a less complimentary review, rated the book at 3 out of 5, and actually said that someone who enjoys thrillers would probably enjoy the book. So I'm pretty sure that thrillers are not her favorite books to read. Again . . . normally I would say, "different strokes." But I was on a book tour for a thriller and I don't think this blogger was a good choice to do a review (since she admittedly doesn't really care for thrillers).
I was pleased with the other two or three 5-star reviews I got on the tour. But two additional reviewers were a no-show entirely. I can't say that this was Dorothy's fault. The reviewers had the books in plenty of time, they just didn't post reviews as scheduled. Nevertheless, it's two less reviews than I had anticipated -- and nothing for me to post on Twitter or FaceBook for those days.
The tour also had some other hiccups that I didn't expect. I can't say whose fault they were. But I wasn't too happy when they occurred.
On several tour dates, I had to email Dorothy to actually get the scheduled post displayed on the appropriate blog site. I missed quite a few hours of potential blog exposure time to these delays. Plus I didn't enjoy having to always be the one to follow up when the bloggers didn't do their jobs. I would have preferred Dorothy take care of checking those things for me. I was paying for the tour after all.
One post went up on time, but it turned out to be poorly formatted and really in rough draft form. This was particularly disappointing to me because I had been proactive and had asked Dorothy the day before if everything was ready to go for the next day. Uggh!
I have to say, in Dorothy's defense, that in every single case where I had a question, complaint or correction to report to her, she did her very best to correct the issue promptly. So no complaint there. Just too many things that needed fixing (in my humble opinion).
What did I expect? What did I get?
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a book tour when I set out on this one. I assumed there'd be some reviews by reviewers who read my genre. And there'd be an opportunity to gain exposure to the Followers of the blogs on which I appeared. I hoped maybe I'd see an increase in action on my author website. And I dreamed that maybe I'd see a small increase in book sales during the tour.
Most of those things didn't seem to happen for me -- at least not yet. In fact, I tried to engage blog Followers during the tour by posting a "thank you" comment on each blog and inviting any questions from readers. Many of the bloggers had their comments set to post only "after moderation." Unfortunately, they weren't doing any moderating. So even my own posts never showed up, let alone any dialogue with Followers.
I saw no increase in my website traffic. In particular, I saw no direct links from any of the blog sites on the tour. And I didn't sell any more books per week than I had before the tour.
But as Dorothy notes in her comments (above), all the posts are out there for search engines to find indefinitely. Maybe I'll see more action in the future. Maybe not.
I paid PUMP $495 to organize and execute this tour. I also spent AT LEAST scores of hours completing materials for the posts. This is the single largest marketing expenditure I have ever made in my short publishing career.
Despite Dorothy's sincere efforts, I DO NOT feel that I got out of this tour the value I put into it. Would I do another book tour someday? Maybe. Probably not through PUMP. And not for $495. I might put one together myself, though, now that I've had the experience of a chauffeured tour.
Bottom line -- NOT WORTH THE COST TO ME.
Hope you found this enlightening. Of course, there's nothing saying your tour might not work out better than mine. But my tour was what it was -- a disappointment.
That's it for today.
All the best!