Wednesday, June 24, 2009
JRW: Today, Jungle Red welcomes Chester Campbell who writes two mystery series featuring private investigators. The Surest Poison, first book in the Sid Chance series, deals with a chemical pollution case. He is working on the fifth Greg McKenzie novel, featuring a retired Air Force investigator and his wife. Chester is here to tell us about his recent experience with a blog book tour. Welcome Chester!
CHESTER: Thanks! Jen Forbus recently featured my six-word memoir on her blog: “Took the plunge; never looked back.” At Hank’s suggestion, however, I’ll ignore it and take a look back at the blog book tour I did for my new Sid Chance mystery, The Surest Poison.
I visited 15 blogs between April 15 and May 1. I had viewed bits of tours and read author tales before setting off on mine. Tours for hire were available, but I ran across a site (http://blogbooktours.blogspot.com) run by Dani Greer that offered free instruction.
Under Dani’s tutelage, I set up my own blog (Mystery Mania) and wrote daily during January to get a feel for regular posting. She had us sign up for Facebook and Twitter to make our presence known around the social networks. I researched subjects other touring authors had dealt with and drew up a list of topics. The final step involved contacting potential hosts. I fished about for popular blogs that should have good readership.
One of the lists mentioned Book Roast, and I set my first stop there. It’s a popular site and brought the most comments of any blog. I did three interviews during the tour. One involved an interview with me, another with my protagonist, Sid Chance, the third with his associate, Jaz LeMieux. Some days I covered writing topics such as setting, style, dialogue, subplots, and POV. At other stops I discussed promotion, electronic rights, and keeping mysteries free of sermons.
You can read the full schedule with links to the blogs and the subjects covered at http://bit.ly/KJnO.
The tour turned out to be a lot of fun but a lot more work than I had anticipated. With everything else I was doing to promote the new book, which came out five days before the tour started, I felt like a one-armed driver with a stick shift in heavy traffic. Some of the posts were written only a few days before they appeared on-line.
I conducted two drawings for people who posted comments. At the mid-point of the tour, I gave away two copies of The Surest Poison. On the last day, I awarded one copy of the new book and a set of all five of my books, which included four Greg McKenzie mysteries. I had to check each site the day after my visit to harvest all the comment writers’ names. There were about 180 in all. I tried to get total visitors for each day, but several hosts didn’t have stat counters. Needless to say, it would have numbered a lot more than the comments.
The question everyone asks is was it worthwhile? I believe it was, particularly from the standpoint of getting my name and the name of my book spread around. Did it sell a lot of books? I can’t say, at least not until I get my sales figures. My Amazon ranking went down early in the tour, then gradually climbed back up. And who knows what that means?
I learned a few things you might consider if you do one of these tours. Number one is start your planning early. I began four months out with Dani’s on-line blogbooktour course. You should begin planning at least six months before the tour begins. And start writing those posts two months out. It’ll save a few strands of gray hair. Although each had a contingent of readers, the blogs that hosted me directed their articles primarily at writers. Writers are readers, too, but try to find some blogs compatible with the subject of your novel aimed toward non-writers. You’ll sell more books that way.
JRW: Thanks for all those tips Chester--we're exhausted just listening! Now Chester is standing by to answer your questions...And don't forget to come back Friday to visit with literary agent Paige Wheeler.