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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Tour Wrap-Up

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'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!

Dorothy Thompson
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.

Book Reviews

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.

Bottom Line

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!



  1. Hi John,

    Nice job with the wrap up. This will be helpful to other authors thinking about a tour.

    Sounds like you had the same concerns with your tour as I did with my Pump tour in November 2008.

    Back then as with yours, some of the blogs forgot to post my Review/interview on the day or at all. Blogs that normally reviewed chicklit slammed my book but would not say more than "not their normal genre"

    It did increase my web presence. Some of the posts still show up on Google.

    I came to the same conclusion, NO Increase in sales. A bit more traffic to my sites. NOT worth the cost. I paid $300.

    Thanks for this post


  2. Thanks John! I was curious about what Pump entailed. Try going to crimespace. I joined since I write romantic suspense with crime/mystery aspects. More exposure can't hurt!!

  3. I am sorry for your experience but it gave me as a blogger good information.

    I always try to have a guest post ready set to automatically post at 12:01 a.m. on their scheduled day, but sometimes I am chasing the author or their rep for info until the last minute.

    I also try to include the author's website but I am not sure I did that for you on the latest post but did link the previous posts together with the newest one.

    Moderating of posts/comments is something to really be addressed by your rep, if the blog has the "after approval" feature they need to be available to approve on the guest post day or turn off that feature for your day.

    The keywords should help, I continue to update mine hoping for more followers.

    I didn't realize the price for the publicity but it is good to know and finding the right blog to connect with is key. I was surprised at some of the choices but Dorothy has the experience and is very good at her job. The holidays may have made blog connections difficult but as you say when a blog drops the ball it is very frustrating. Hopefully there were extenuating circumstances.

    John, you are a wonderful storyteller and once you get a true following there will be no stopping you. The 19th Element is still tied with Harlan Coben's Caught as my favorite Thriller of 2010 and this will be mentioned with purchase links in my 2010 wrap up post on January 1, 2011. I am not doing a TOP TEN like other blogs, just favorites for THRILLER MYSTERY, COZY MYSTERY and General Fiction. After reading more than 180 books this year it would be a gigantic headache to pick a top 10.

    You know how much I want you to succeed at this and I AM STILL YOUR BIGGEST FAN!!!!

    Relax and enjoy the holidays with your family, I feel there are great things ahead for you in 2011 and I will be thrilled to be watching from the bleacher seats!!!

  4. Thanks to all of you for the informative Comments. I think the more marketing/publishing experiences we all can share, the better for everyone.



  5. This was extremely informative, John. Thank you! For that price I'd have some high expectations, and I appreciate your honest review of the experience.

  6. Hi Jennifer,

    As you say, that's quite a bit of dough. And my expectations were to get more than what I got.

    Many bloggers will let you do a guest post or interview anytime. All you have to do is suggest something that's appropriate for their blog. They're happy to not have to write a post for that day.

    And I've already covered a number of ways and places to get reviews in previous posts.

    So while I DID receive a benefit from the tour, I didn't think it was worth the cost.

    In fact, I don't see a real advantage of doing a coordinated tour at all. Why not just do posts or interviews on a more random schedule over a longer time period? It should get you the same Google exposure.

    Thanks for commenting, Jen.

    Merry Christmas!


  7. John, thanks for this review! I have to admit I'm getting tired of the grind that comes with marketing... I'm tired from working 40hrs a week and then coming home to wrack my brain with marketing tactics.

    You took a financial risk and tried something new. Props! I can't imagine how tired you must feel after all that work. Hopefully it will bring you purchases later.

  8. Very informative John, thanks for the honest evaluation... maybe it would be worth the cost for someone with less time, more money, and poorer organizational skills.

  9. Belated thanks to both of you for your comments.

    Belinda - I feel your marketing pain. But it goes with the territory. So we endure.

    CB - I wouldn't shell out 500 bucks for the tour I got regardless of my resources. I can't possibly imagine that it will payoff -- ever!

    If I couldn't organize my own tour, I think I'd skip the idea and work on another approach. And as I mentioned, I believe sporadic guest posts or interviews would work as well. The less-organized author could get the same exposure that way. My two cents, anyway.

    Thanks for your thoughts -- and for stopping by!

    All the best to you both!


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