Hello friends! Today I’m finally writing a much-requested how-to blog post that I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. If you’d like to see my other how-to blog posts (this is becoming quite a series!) you can check out my Book Blogging How To tag. So far, I’ve written two: How to Balance Blogging and Working From Home and How to Make Friends in the Bookish Community.
I’ve worked with a very wide variety of book tours, both run by companies and by individual bookish influencers. I started out applying for book tours when I was a very new blogger back in 2018, and then in 2019, I started hosting some tours myself. Over the two years I’ve been on here, building my brand and engagement, I think I’ve collected enough information on tips and tricks for getting accepted onto tours!
However, I want to make it clear that I haven’t been accepted for every book tour that I’ve applied to be on. Mostly it’s been for reasons such as lack of a wide enough reach back when I was first starting out, but lately with the advent of book tours that want to prioritize own voices reviewers for certain books (as it should be!) that’s started becoming a reason for not being accepted as well. I’ll do my best to help out with the former, but for the latter, there’s not really a lot I can do (except perhaps urge you to accept the fact that sometimes, there won’t be room for you on a tour if the host is prioritizing own voices reviewers who would have a better outlook on the book than you!).
Let’s get started!
Have a place to put your reviews.
This is probably the most important tip I can give you guys. Make sure that you have a corner of the Internet where you can place your reviews. Book blogs are the most common, because they have enough space, manoeuvrability, and available customization. On book blogs, a reviewer can really go in-depth into what they liked about a book without worrying about word count, post-editing, timing, etc.
YouTube and Instagram are also places where you can leave reviews. However, both platforms have significant cons in terms of reviewing books that book blogs don’t have. Don’t get me wrong – YouTube and Instagram are both valid platforms on which to host book reviews. But there are certain hurdles to consider.
First obviously, Instagram has a word count limit, which really isn’t conducive to writing a book review. And naturally as an image-based platform, the available text is incredibly tiny and not particularly eye-catching. I’m not saying you need to be out here writing book reports, but you do need to be able to clearly state what is what you liked about the book, and that’s kind of hard to do when you have the limited space of Instagram.
YouTube is a more viable platform, since word counts won’t be a consideration here. However, you do have to keep in mind that it’s difficult to pin down “quotable quotes”, paragraphs, or sentences in book review videos – especially book review videos without closed captioning (although you really should be including closed captioning in your videos as much as possible!) – that tour hosts can use to promote your stop.
You can also look into book reviewing sites like Goodreads, Book Sloth, and The Storygraph, as well as retail sites that allow customer reviews like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Create coherent, thought-out reviews.
This one is related to the first tip. Having a good place to host your book reviews won’t help if the reviews themselves aren’t good.
But what exactly makes a good book review? To be honest, the whole, complete answer is a bit subjective (and I might write another how-to post on that) but the biggest thing that makes a good book review is that it needs to be able to leave the reader with an impression of why you liked a book, and not just that you liked it.
After all, book tours are, in the end, promotional tools. You need to be able to sell the book to your audience, and in order for your audience to believe that you enjoyed the book, you need to be explain why. Tour hosts need to know that you’re going to be able to promote the book, and the best way to really do that is to have coherent and well-constructed reviews.
The ability to write a good book review is important if you’d like to get approved to join a book tour, but don’t discount other ways of promoting the book!
Character aesthetics, fan art, quizzes, reading vlogs, live reading threads, Instagram photos, makeup or outfit looks inspired by the book cover, author interviews, and listicles are all great ways to show a book tour host that you can bring a lot to the table when it comes to promoting the book in question. And those are just some of the creative ideas I’ve thought of when it comes to joining a book tour. If you really thought about it and looked around a little bit more on the Internet, I’m sure you could come up with some more ideas!
Engage with your audience.
A huge following is not necessary to get accepted onto a book tour, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. When I first started applying to join book tours, I had less than 200 subscribers on my blog, less than 300 followers on Twitter, and my Instagram and YouTube didn’t even exist yet. But what I was able to do even with such a small following was interact regularly and genuinely with them, and that’s something that anyone in the bookish community can do. You don’t need to have more than 1,000 followers to have consistent engagement.
Why is this important? It lets book tour hosts know that you have a dedicated following for whom your opinion on a book is important. When you state positive things about a book, a genuine, consistent engagement with your audience, no matter how big or small, means that your audience will be more receptive to your opinions. Someone with 200 followers whose audience is genuinely, consistently engaged is a much more valuable promotional tool than someone 5,000 followers who doesn’t have engage with them at all.
This is heavily intertwined with the previous tip. Building engagement with your audience is the first step to having a genuine, more meaningful relationship with your followers, and that is definitely important in promoting books. After all, people are likely to listen to the opinions of someone they like or admire.
However, building relationships go beyond that. Audience interaction is important, but it’s also beneficial to you to build relationships with a wide variety of people in this industry: book tour hosts, publicists, authors, and fellow bloggers, booktubers, or bookstagrammers. Everyone in the bookish community is essentially engaged in a game of marketing, and in marketing, bridges are everything.
Don’t give your tour hosts a headache.
This is a pretty broad statement, but what this boils down to essentially is follow instructions. Make sure that when you fill out the form, you do so with the accurate, appropriate information. And this becomes doubly important after you’ve been accepted to a tour. Obey the deadlines you’ve committed to, and if you can’t because of real life challenges, make sure you inform the tour host beforehand. Also inform your tour host beforehand if you’re going to be rating the book negatively, and wait until after the tour to post your negative review.
Here’s the thing. People talk. And people in the bookish world? Sing like canaries. They tell their friends that so-and-so ghosted them by not posting anything on their tour stop date and then failing to inform them, or that such-and-such participant tagged an author in a negative review. And this can greatly hurt your chances at being selected by the host for another book tour, or even another host who’s heard that negative feedback about you.
Conflict can and will happen, but there’s almost nothing that can’t be solved by good communication. Shit sometimes goes down, but sometimes solving it as simple as sending the tour host an email or a DM explaining what went wrong. And don’t forget – when you’re in the wrong, sincerely and genuinely apologize.
What did you think?
☕ Do you agree with my tips for getting approved for book tours?
☕ Link your favorite book tour companies and/or individual hosts in the comments!
☕ What was the last book tour you joined?