4 Reasons I Rarely Participate in Blog Tours

blog tours

1. Bloggers are asked to commit to a blog tour without having read the book.

This means that at the point I have to commit to posting something for a blog tour, I think and hope I will enjoy the book in question, but I have no guarantee I will.  And if I don’t actually like the book, I’m left looking flaky and trying to back out of the tour, or I’m stuck providing promotional content for a book I might not actually recommend.

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2. Some blog tours have really tight turnarounds.

Tight turnarounds for some blog tours contribute to the fact that I may not be able to pull out of the blog tour if I don’t like the book because the organizer will not have time to find another blogger.  Tight deadlines also put pressure on me when I am doing a service entirely for free. I once agreed to a blog tour where the publisher sent a digital ARC on Friday afternoon and asked me to send author interview questions by the end of the weekend, essentially giving me only two days to read the book and come up with thoughtful questions.

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3. Publisher and author provided content is hit-or-miss.

Some blog tours come with a whole package of information, while others kind of leave bloggers scrambling to get graphics, find an author bio, etc.

Also, if you are posting author-provided content like an interview or guest post, the fact is that some authors put more effort into this than others. I once had an author guest post topic that was to the effect of “ways to survive a desert island” (I’m making this up because I’m not actually trying to name or insult the author here) and got back a list of five items that had no explanation. The author-provided content was less than 40 words.  It was not particularly interesting or useful to readers and was not the type of quality content Krysta and I usually try to post.

I have also been sent content I am supposed to post the day before it is supposed to go live. This is stressful to me because, again, this is a hobby and I have other things in life that take priority over formatting blog posts, and I may not be able to put the content up when the author or publisher wants if they do not get it to me in a timely manner.

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4. I get practically nothing out of participating in blog tours.

Blog tours often come with a lot of stress and planning for me, but I don’t personally get any benefit out of it.  A lot of blog tours are moving to e-ARCs, so I don’t even get a “free copy of the book;” I’m actually reading a PDF of the book on my laptop, which I do not really enjoy.

I also have to admit that blog tours tend to get less traffic and less interaction than other posts on the blog.  Since Krysta and I together have managed to post practically every single day on the blog for the past two years that we’ve been blogging, I don’t need these types of posts to add content to the blog.

I know a lot of people see their purpose as bloggers as being “support authors,” and I do like to support authors, but I admit I blog primarily for myself and for other readers. Being given a strict two-day deadline to read a book and then post specific content that may or may not be engaging and that will not contribute to my blog stats is not really a super-fun deal for me.

What is your experience with blog tours? Do you like participating in them? Do you like reading them?

Briana

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65 thoughts on “4 Reasons I Rarely Participate in Blog Tours

  1. What's She Reading? says:

    I’ve found one blog tour (company?) that I really like to work with. They got a little flakey last year, but then they got another person to help and it’s been running smoothly ever since. I only ever sign up to post reviews and if I would rate it less than a 3, then I let them know and switch to a promo post. I still don’t LOVE doing the promotion, but I committed to promote the book regardless of whether I was going to like it or not. I like that most blog tours include giveaways so I can “host” giveaways without having to actually spend my own money on it, if that makes sense. Does that make me sound like a cheap blogger? It’s like you said though, this is just a hobby for me so I can’t really afford to host giveaways (shipping is killer).

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I think that’s part of my issue. I feel weird doing a “neutral” promo post if I didn’t like the book because it still looks as if I’m, well, promoting it. I wish it were possible to back out completely and let someone who liked the book have my spot!

      I also like when they do giveaways. I’ve mostly done book tours directly with publishers and none of them have had a giveaway attached. I think giveaways are what helps get the posts actual traffic though, and I think it’s completely fair to want the author/publisher to take the cost of that since we don’t get paid!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall says:

    This is such a great post, Briana! I personally don’t participate in blog tours very often, for many of the reasons you listed above! I find the pressures of reading a blog-tour book in a relatively short period of time, daunting. I’m awful at staying on a strict schedule, and don’t like committing myself to reading a novel, that I might not even enjoy or wish to recommend. I do enjoy in participating in them from time to time, and have had great experience with the Fantastic Flying Book Club. They often provide me with a digital copy of the book (via Netgalley or Edelweiss), months before its release.

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  3. Peachy says:

    I am very selective in blog tours I participate in. I make sure not to participate in too many because as you mentioned, it is super time-consuming. Lately, I only really participate in blog tours of books I was already thinking of reading… so I get the benefit of getting a free copy, interacting with the author (almost free access), getting to read it in advance, and also it motivates me not to just add it to my endless TBR pile.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I do try to do them mainly for books by authors I’ve read or books I was looking forward to anyway and am pretty sure I would enjoy, but there’s still no guarantee I’ll like the book, which is disappointing. Two of my most anticipated books this year ended up being two star reads for me, so I can just imagine having signed up for a blog tour for them, assuming I would love them…

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  4. L.M. Durand says:

    I participated in a few recently and started to feel exactly what you described. Now I do participate in tour when I read the arc on NetGalley and really enjoyed it. I feel like it’s a good compromise.

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  5. Lila @ Hardcover Haven says:

    i used to participate in some blog tours but don’t much anymore. i had a bad experience when an author i was supposed to interview never sent me the answers to my questions. i sent not one but two emails notifying the people running the tour but they never got back to me. then the day after i was supposed to post, they sent me an email notifying me that i missed my deadline and to post my interview asap—despite the fact that i still didn’t have an answer from the author or from them. :/

    but that was only one experience and other than that, i had pretty decent experiences. the major problem i have with blog tours is that they’re not disability accessible (or if they are, they don’t make it well known). i have several disabilities that make it easier for me to use audiobooks as a first choice, physical books as a second choice, and e-books as a last resort. so tours aren’t the easiest for me to do because of that.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Ugh, yes! This is exactly the sort of thing that drives me nuts! You’re providing free marketing for them, and then they don’t come through! And both the organizer and the author dropped the ball!

      That is a good point about access, as well. I’ve been getting PDFs lately, which are annoying to me to read. I can’t imagine someone who might need an ebook where they can make the font larger or someone who needs an audiobook. Those don’t really seem to be options.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. debjani6ghosh says:

    I am going to participate in a blog tour in May (that’s when it’s scheduled), so I really can’t provide any insight as of now. I have seen blog tours dominating the bookish blogosphere, so I wanted to have a taste of what it is. Let’s hope I enjoy it. 🙂

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I do try to do them mainly for books by authors I’ve read or books I was looking forward to anyway and am pretty sure I would enjoy, but there’s still no guarantee I’ll like the book, which is disappointing. Two of my most anticipated books this year ended up being two star reads for me, so I can just imagine having signed up for a blog tour for them, assuming I would love them…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. alilovesbooks says:

    I very rarely take part in blog tours mostly for the reasons you list. They are far too stressful. I have made exceptions for fave authors but even that stressed me out as I knew there was a fair chance the author would see my review.

    I’ve done a couple of Q+As, one was fine the other less so as I didn’t get responses till the last minute and they were incomplete.

    Blog tours have also been my worst performing posts regardless of content which surprised me. Maybe it’s because they’re seen as publicity but yeah really not popular.

    I’ll no doubt still do the odd one here and there if it’s an author or event I want to support but I’ll be keeping it to a minimum.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I do try to do them mainly for books by authors I’ve read or books I was looking forward to anyway and am pretty sure I would enjoy, but there’s still no guarantee I’ll like the book, which is disappointing. Two of my most anticipated books this year ended up being two star reads for me, so I can just imagine having signed up for a blog tour for them, assuming I would love them…

      I think people do think they’re just promo and unoriginal content and don’t read them. I personally don’t read most posts labelled “blog tour” for this reason, even if I know that there’s no difference between a review posted for a blog tour and one posted any other time. I just can’t get rid of the idea in my head that it’s an ad and not “real” content.

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  8. ashley says:

    I have very strict policies on my blog regarding blog tours and promotions for the reasons that you’ve listed. I’ve gotten two emails tbis year, one from an author asking if I would promote a book (which was one I would never read) and then another email from a tour company, I politely declined both. It was kind of annoying that my policies hadn’t been read.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I actually only deal with major traditional publishers for this, and this is what I get. I think I might actually have better experiences with blog tour companies (if I wanted to do that) because most are run by bloggers who probably know what it’s actually like to be on a blog tour.

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  9. Stephen Writes says:

    I am about to participate in my first blog tour, but it is not something I will do very much. I don’t like the thought of having tight reading deadlines, and especially the fact that most books come in the form of PDF copies which I would then read on my phone or laptop, neither of which are my preferred form of reading. Interesting post, Briana!

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      PDF copies are the worst. They are extremely inconvenient to read! I’d rather just wait until the book is released and read it in actual book form. I know some people get really, really excited over books, but to me being able to read a book a month before official publication isn’t a big deal. I can wait.

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  10. Nish says:

    I did one blog tour because everyone seemed to be doing them. Then I stopped, I didn’t enjoy posting the content, and I never enjoy reading such content on other blogs. I really don’t get what publishers hope to achieve with blog tours.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Honestly, the way some publishers treat blog tours make it look as if they don’t care about them and think they’re throwaway content. I get emails from one major publisher that are brusque and have no detail. They literally say things like “The blog tour dates for X book are y-z. Let me know what date you want.” The wording is so weird, like they’re just assuming I’m on the tour instead of asking me if I want to be on it. I’m not even 100% positive how I got on their blogger list, and the first time I got an email I was extremely confused and thought either they were confused that I had agreed to something I hadn’t or that it was spam. I was also on a blog tour for another well-known publisher that was organized by the intern, so clearly they don’t think it’s a big deal. But maybe they think they’ll throw something together for minimal effort and maybe it will get some traction and maybe the author will be pleased it looks like they’re marketing the book.

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  11. Lory says:

    I did blog tours when I started book blogging because “everyone” was doing them and I thought it would drive traffic to my blog. I found these were some of my least frequented posts! I think book blogging works best when it’s spontaneous and not driven by a publicity machine. Readers can sense if you’re under duress of any kind and it turns them off.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Agreed! I think there’s this idea that “successful” bloggers do them because publishers and authors wouldn’t interact with them otherwise (especially if you get on a blog tour for a big book from a big publisher), but the reality is these posts actually don’t much traffic and people prefer reading other content. I agree it looks too much like an advertisement, even if you know the content is original and might think it’s actually interesting if it weren’t labeled “blog tour.”

      Liked by 1 person

  12. mistysbookspace says:

    You make totally valid points some of which I 100% agree with and have experienced myself and I do participate in blog tours. I hate that if I don’t like the book and can’t rate it 3+ stars that I have to switch to a promo post. That to me is essentially lying to my followers. I am pretty good a picking the books that I want to read and review and most of the time I end up enjoying them. I have 2 blog tour groups that I work with and I enjoy both of them. For one of them I have up to 3 months to actually read and review the book. If I know I’m not going to have enough time to read the book before the promo date then I usually want sign up for them. Great post!!

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I’ve started kind of picking promo posts like author interviews and guest posts to hedge my bets. I don’t want to say I’ll write a review and then go back and say “actually, I hate the book so I can’t do a review….” But I agree posting a promo post for a book I didn’t really like does seem like lying, and it makes me uncomfortable. I wish there were blog tours shortly after the book’s release or something, so I would have time to read the book and know if I want to promote it. Or if the tours were organized in a way that allowed people to back out without judgement.

      I’ve only done blog tours with major publishers, but I think I might have a better experience with a tour group because most are run by bloggers who probably have a better perspective on how to work with bloggers.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. CHARIS RAE @ charisrae.com says:

    I’ve done a lot of book tours through Fantastic Flying Book Club and have had great experiences. I get an e-ARC in plenty of time and enjoy networking and reaching other audiences. I always do a book review which is just like another one of my reviews, so it’s been working for me pretty well. I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out for you!

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  14. Diana @fortunatelythebook says:

    This a great post! Sometimes I participate in blog tours, but I’m not happy with the company I’m currently working with because I’m “obliged” to give the book a 3 stars or more for rating and a positive review. If I cannot do this, they simply don’t know what the blogger needs to do. It’s so stressful.

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  15. Alex @ WhimsyPages says:

    I did a few blog tours more or less two year ago. From organizational point of view, I had a good experience – the ARCs were provided a few months before the actual tour; they replied to all of my e-mails and request very quickly and always tried to help in any way possible.

    I remember that one of the books I actually DNFed, and immediately informed them that I wouldn’t be posting a review / promotion or any other kind of post on that particular books, and they were very understanding.

    My main concern (which is probably silly) is that very often the graphics they provide don’t go so well with my blog aestethics 😀

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      A few months sounds fabulous! I’m starting to feel lucky if someone gives me like two weeks to read the book!

      It’s also great that they let you back out completely. It feels awkward even to do a “neutral” promo post because it’s still implying you liked the book.

      I agree the graphics can be hit or miss, and most don’t match anyone’s blog!

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  16. Bibi @ Bibi's Book Blog says:

    This is such a great post! I, myself, have only participated in one blog tour, but it wasn’t a success. My views dropped, i hardly got any content to use in the post – and as a new blogger I didn’t have much of a clue of what I was expected to do. I did receive an e-ARC of the book ahead of time, and I did like the book, but the rest didn’t leave me with the best experience. I’ve seen other posts on the subject, questioning why bloggers should participate, as we’re basically just providing free publicity. That theory does fit with yours, especially as most is e-copies, there’s no payment, swag, or as you say: not even a free physical book in it.

    It’s an interesting discussion, where each blogger must do as they see fit, obviously. But it does raise a lot of questions 🙂

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes, some of the instructions can be so vague, so if you’re not used to doing blog tours, it’s really confusing! I also always get decreased views when I do a blog tour so, I agree that we’re basically providing free publicity basically at our own *loss.* I see some authors who think that, if they provide like an interview or something, that they’re doing the blogger a favor by providing content. but I don’t struggle to come up with original content for my blog, so it’s not really a favor to me at all. (And interviews still take work in terms of reading the book, asking thoughtful questions, formatting the post, etc.)

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Clo @ Book Dragons says:

    Love, love this post Briana! I’ve only particpated in one blog tour to date and that was only because the author was one of my favs and I adore her books. I really struggle reading ebooks not only because I don’t have a suitable device for it, but I disconnect with the story in eformat and I just don’t feel like starting a screen for reading. Blog tours are huge pressure with little benefit other than supporting the author/book in my opinion. I support those who do them but honestly, unless I’ve read books by the author before or the book really catches my attention. I’m fine not taking part in blog tours.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I don’t love reading on screens either, and it’s worse when it’s not even an ebook but a PDF. Usually I have to read the whole thing on my laptop, which is irritating.

      I also totally agree that the most benefit goes to the author/publisher. It’s so much work and I basically get…decreased stats for the day. I think a lot of authors/publishers think they’re doing the blogger a content by “providing content,” but I don’t struggle to come up with enough stuff to post on my blog, so I don’t really need their content, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

  18. nsfordwriter says:

    Great post! I rarely do blog tours because I’d have to really like the book or I’m going against my principles in promoting it…
    And actually from a blog reader’s perspective, I’m not so keen on reading blog tour posts, unless it’s a book which intrigues me.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Exactly! I feel very uncomfortable participating even if it’s an author interview or something if I didn’t like the book because the implication is still that I’m recommending it.

      I also don’t really read blog tour posts. I’m getting that impression from a lot of the comments here, that they’re not very popular.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nsfordwriter says:

        It’s a problem isn’t it? How are books, particularly indie ones, to be promoted on people’s blogs when no one likes reading the posts… I also feel that sometimes there aren’t enough of the blogger’s opinions in the reviews, just blurbs and bios, which I’m not interested in. Anyway, interesting discussion 🙂

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  19. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I’ve stopped doing blog tours largely for the same reasons as you! I’ve had a few tours where the blurb sounded great but I ended up disliking the book and unlike NetGalley, I can’t decline to post a review.

    I don’t think I’ve done a tour in over a year, but I won’t rule it out – if an author who has written books I love has a blog tour, I might participate if my schedule fits. But I haven’t really come across that much :p

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  20. Annemieke says:

    I’m not a fan of blog tours either. I think I’ve done two and I once had an author do a guest post on the blog. But that is about it. If I am really excited about a book I might consider but mostly not haha. I rarely read blog tour posts so why would I offer them to my readers?

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I’ve had the problem recently that two books I was really anticipating ended up being two star reads for me, so now I feel as if nothing is safe and I don’t want to commit to promoting anything I haven’t read yet!

      I also don’t really read them, and a lot of people are commenting that they don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Grab the Lapels says:

    Getting a PDF of a book is the worst! The author likes to claim they’re so broke that they can’t send a actual paperback or e-book. When I said no more PDFs, authors started running the file through one of those e-book generators, which in every case just sent me a jacked-up e-pub file.

    I used to coordinate book blog tours on my own. The author and I would generate content together, and if I felt it wasn’t strong content, I’d push them to revise. I was also good at getting folks inspired by using carefully selected questions (I did teach rhetoric for 10 years!). However, I was charging something like $175 for a one-week tour, and the time and stress just wasn’t worth it after a while. I’m proud of the tours I did coordinate, though, and my husband made amazing original banners for each tour. Here is an example: https://grabthelapels.com/2014/06/02/what-happened-here/

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  22. Samantha Duffy says:

    I feel like for all those reasons, I would also really hate doing blog tours. And to be honest, I mostly avoid those types of posts on other blogs unless it is for a book that is already on my radar or of interest to me.

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  23. Milliebot says:

    I agree with all your points! Fortunately I don’t get offered lol. But yeah it’s a lot of commitment for very little. And they tend to feel….disingenuous as a whole

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  24. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan says:

    I used to do blog tours until a while ago but then I stopped for all the reasons you have mentioned. To top it off there are agencies that would not let to post a ‘not great’ (read as 3 star) review which started annoying me and I felt I was not being to my readers. So I stopped altogether, unless if I am helping out a fellow friend.

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