Monday, June 22, 2009

Nightmare Authors Make Virtual Book Tours Hell

Most of you know I did a 50 day/50 blog tour at the beginning of the year. It was great fun and I made a number of new cyber-friends. As a result, I get lots of queries from other authors about how to do a blog tour and what to expect. I thought it might be helpful to hear from the other side of the fence, from someone who runs a blog site dedicated to authors and books. One of my many lovely hosts was Angela Wilson (pictured above) of Pop Syndicate(which was recommended to me by Erin Galloway, Dorchester's marketing guru.) Angela is here today to share what she does and how sometimes, authors make her job much harder than it needs to be. As always when I have a guest, my words are in bold, my guest's in italics type. It's all yours, Angela!

I love virtual book tours.

They are a fantastic way for authors to promote themselves online in posts that will appear for as long as the Internet exists. It is a ton of fun for readers and writers like myself to network with other authors, learn from them, grow from their experiences and share them with other readers and writers.

We don't charge authors a dime for appearing at Pop Syndicate. It is our privilege to host authors at Book Addict.

In turn, myself and our contributors don't get paid a dime for all the hours we put in to booking authors, doing biography research (not always easy), asking questions, tracking down and resizing photos, coding and posting the final product - and praying the servers sync on time for the tour dates.

I don't think a lot of people realize this is a hard truth for most review and interview sites. These are not major money-making schemes, but labors of love.

However, some authors and publicists have decided to treat our site - and many, many other free sites - like they are paying a million bucks for a day-only slot. The work they expect is sometimes outrageous. Some demands would rival the diva-like behavior of Oprah.

And the egos - my goodness, the egos! I've discovered through experience that the author with the fewest sales, who self-published their work, have the biggest egos of all. They tend to be the worst people to deal with - and the peskiest. I can guarantee that each one of these authors I've dealt with was never satisfied with what we did for them - FOR FREE - even if everything was correct in the post. They send a slew of e-mails with ridiculous questions that never had to be asked if they'd just READ the information I sent to them.

I'm to the point now where I can spot trouble within the second email. There is a difference in the approach of the Bad Author than an author who truly has questions because they forgot what they read, or, for some reason, did not receive the information I sent to them.

Bad Authors are condescending, downright rude at times, act like YOU should be selling your site to THEM (even if they pursued you hard in the first place), book a slot and then act like your site won't be worth their time, they start making demands like we are their virtual book tour publicist....

The list goes on and on.

One author actually sent me a questionaire with about 25 questions asking how I planned to promote the one day stop and a bunch of other nonsense. I had to fill out the questionaire BEFORE the author would consider the site for the tour, the email said. And I had a deadline to meet for the answers.


That email ended up in my virtual File 13.

Another author's post didn't show up and the author immediately started talking badly about our site. This author didn't bother emailing right away about what happened. They took it upon themselves to be our nemesis without getting the facts.

Luckily, Pop Syndicate has a good reputation and many folks knew right away something else was amiss. However, what if our site was new and fresh? That would have ruined our credibility. Imagine if an author were to do this to an individual who just wants to help them out? As a former journalist, I have thicker skin than most individuals. Keep that in mind before you send out scathing messages about virtual book tour hosts.

Luckily, most of the authors I host for virtual book tour stops are incredible. They promote their stops, they thank me for hosting them, they refer other incredible authors to the site. These authors are so cool, I can never do enough for them. They make my full-time, no-pay job a joy. They remind me why I do what I do on the days I get a Bad Author. They are the reason I do what I do.

When you set out to promote your books online, don't expect someone else to do all the work for you. Be kind and respectful to your virtual book tour hosts. Most of these folks are doing you a favor - for free.

When you can, return the favor. Be sure to tell others about your best experiences and refer them to the host site. Hosts will love you for it.

Emily here again: Words to live by! Do unto others, karma, whatever you want to call it, sounds like just being decent to each other makes the cyber-world run much more smoothly. Thanks for being here with us, Angela.

If you have questions for Angela, please leave them here and I'll track her down! And pop by Pop Syndicate when you get a minute and check it out!


Teddyree said...

Thanks, that was a really interesting post. Common courtesy on both sides of the fence goes a long way doesn't it?

EmilyBryan said...

You're right. I still think problems often crop up because we writers simply don't know what to do. Promotion is a whole different skill set from writing a novel. When people are feeling overwhelmed, they are never at their best.

Teddy, I couldn't have been better treated by my blog hosts than I was by you and the rest of the Royal Court last week at Royal Reviews. EMILY BRYAN WEEK was such fun! Thanks again for having me.

PS. Everybody else--Be sure to check out Teddy's personal blog The Eclectic Reader for more of her insights!

EmilyBryan said...

Ooops! Bad link. Try this one instead: The Eclectic Reader

Penny Watson said...

Thank you Angela and Emily for continuing with the "good manners in cyberspace" discussion. I am a big supporter of good manners, being polite in public, and generally acting in a civilized way. In fact, my biggest gripe about moving to Boston after living in Vermont for 5 years was the complete lack of civilized behavior I encountered, on the roadways and in public. I, too, have been shocked by the open hostility and lack of respect from readers and writers both...but I must happily admit that all of the writers I have dealt with on my blogs (so far!) have been extremely gracious and thankful. I even got a hand-written thank you note from a very well known author for one of my old-fashioned and delightful! Angela, thanks for this post...Pop Syndicate looks like a fabulous site.
Graciously yours, Penelope
p.s. Emily, I also totally agree with your "do unto others" are a wise woman!

Christie Craig said...

Hi Emily and Angela!!

It's so great to see familiar faces here. As my grandma always said, "You get more flies with honey than vinegar."

When I guest blog I see it as free PR.


Donna Marie Rogers said...

Thanks Angela & Emily! Wow, I cannot believe the egos some people have, it boggles my mind. I'm always worried about coming across arrogant, to the point I'm half afraid to post a good review or reader response. LOL Good manners definitely go a long way.

I'm doing a virtual blog tour through Goddess Fish from July 15-31 for the release of MEANT TO BE, my sequel to THERE'S ONLY BEEN YOU. I'm extremely grateful to all the blog owners who offered to host me...though it sure is hard trying to make 15 different interviews sound fresh and new...LOL

Barbara Monajem said...

I can totally relate to the overwhelmed-author syndrome (my first romance comes out next year, and it's a struggle to embrace the promo thingy) but it's no excuse for bad manners. I had a teeny tantrum a few weeks ago on a loop I belong to, and I felt TERRIBLE afterward. Gotta stop, breathe, think clearly, and always, always assume everyone's doing their best.

Question for Emily - however did you come up with 50 days worth of blog topics? I'm hoarding blog topics for my launch next spring... Not sure how many I'll do, but I can't imagine 50!!! How did you manage it?

Barb H said...

Thanks, Angela and Emily, for a really interesting post. I'm always surprised at the rudeness of others, certainly of people I think should know better--creative authors!!

With the increased presence of online promotions, blog tours are becoming so very important. Sites like Book Addict are a boon. I discovered too late that Emily was at Royal Reviews. Would loved to have dropped in on that.

Jane L said...

Emily and Angela,

It is so true using a few good manners and reading and asking key questions, will save the author and the bog hostess/host a lot of bad feelings down the road. I think sometimes in our blogs,emails any on-line conversation we need to be mindful of how we write it and how another reads it, may be two different things. So a little consideration goes along way! Thanks for the advise ladies! Have a wonderful week!!

EmilyBryan said...

Penelope--I'm sorry to hear that you too have experienced hostility from authors and readers on Penelope's Romance Reviews. Of course, we'd all love to have "out of the park" reviews all the time, but life just isn't like that.

I too have been impressed by Bostonian expressiveness. Every time I get behind the wheel, I receive welcoming honks and friendly hand gestures.

Christie--You have a wise Grandma! (Except I always wonder about that saying. Why do I want more flies?)

Donna Marie--I know how you feel. I was extremely grateful to the hosts of my tour. Good luck on yours. The best advice I can give you is be yourself and have fun.

Ok, Barbara, I can so relate. I tend to stress about what I need to do to promote my books, but the truth is, we can only do so much. And don't let it take you away from your real job, which is writing the next book.

How to do 50 blogs--by the time I was 10 days into it, I was ready to kiss the feet of the blog owners who sent me questions to answer instead of expecting an original post. Then later on, as I settled into daily blogging and I had developed a faithful following of "blog touristas" (bless your hearts--YOU know who you are!) I began to realize it's not about hyping my book. It's more about letting readers see who I am and being interested in who they are.

So let your readers get to know you. And have some fun together. (Check out Christie Craig and the rest of the gang at Killer Fiction for an example of crazy fun!) No blog post is going to make or break you. Breathe.

Barb H--Sorry you missed joining me Down Under with the Royals. We had a great time! I'm always sure I'm promo-ing over the top on my loops, but maybe not.

Jane--You are so right. So much of our communication is non-verbal and that's all lost online. Wish I had a fun little emoticon creator here on my blog. That might help.

Adele Dubois said...

I just completed the first leg of an extensive blog tour to promote my new release, which I planned and executed totally on my own. The time and effort put into the tour was astronomical. Sixteen to eighteen hour days were not unusual.

Our friend, Emily Bryan, was one of my gracious hosts. If I had help like yours putting my tour together, I'd be ecstatic. Send you a year's worth of chocolate.

I appreciate everyone who has helped me along my career path. Kudos to you for the work you do.

Best--Adele Dubois

EmilyBryan said...

Adele- You were a great guest, but a funny thing happened. One of my writer friends saw your post and for some reason thought that I had acquired yet another pen name (Adele DuBois!)and was writing for Ellora's Cave now. (LOL! As if I had that kind of heat in me!) Everyone loved the hot pics of your Native American hero, but from now on when I have guest authors, I'm going insist on a headshot of them--just so no one thinks it's me hyping my own books under a new pen name!

Rowena Cherry said...

Thank you Diana, and Emily, and Angela. Some of Angela's excellent points about courtesy really do need to be made.

Adele Dubois said...


When I return to promote my print release, I'll include my pic. :)

Thanks for hosting me! 'Twas fun!

Best--Adele Dubois

Sandy said...

Thanks, Emily, for allowing us a chance to get to know Angela.

It's hard to realize that people can be so rude when someone is willing to help them for free.


EmilyBryan said...

Rowena--Thanks so much for stopping by. I've always appreciated being on your internet radio show. Bet you have a few tales you're too well bred to tell on some of your guests there. Check out Rowena's books here!

Adele--LOL! I'll look for your pic when you come back in Sept!

Sandy-- I bet lots of problems would be solved if people just counted to 10 before they hit "send."

Hot Ash Romance Novels said...

Holy Cow,

I'm suprised by how poorly you've been treated by a few Divas and I hope they don't ruin it for the rest of us who've learned how to play nice!

It really should be automatic, but as my f-i-l says, "It takes many different blades of grass to make up a lawn."


Angela said...

Emily -

Thanks so much for hosting me!

I had such a terrific time writing that post, and sharing info (hopefully in a way that doesn't terrify newbie VBT authors!).

You guys left some terrific comments. Authors get overwhelmed a lot, and I think most VBT hosts get that and try to work with them when things seem to bottleneck. We can usually tell the difference between a diva and someone feeling the pinch of promotions.

I write a lot about promotions (and manners) at my personal blog,

For the most part, authors are terrific to host. (Emily and Christie!) And, I'm always accepting queries for more authors, so don't hesitate to contact me at angela AT popsyndicate DOT com.

You all take care!

(Please forgive me for not getting here yesterday. Rural Internet has been unreliable the past few weeks, so I got the bare minimum done yesterday before it pooped out once again.)

EmilyBryan said...

I'll be heading for rural areas myself later this week, so I empathize about slow connections. We city folk are pretty spoiled that way.

Thanks again for being here with us, Angela!

Teddyree said...

Thanks for your very sweet comments on your week with us 'Down Under'. We had the best time, putting you up in Royal Digs lol.

You have set high standards, I hope all our authors are as nice and as much fun as you!!

Thanks for giving my blog a toot
and also for the advice answering my author/blogger etiquette questions. {Hugs}

Terry Cordingley said...

Unfortunately, attitudes like these are far too common. Many people forget that no media outlet or bookstore owes them anything at all. In fact, they are doing the author and publisher a favor by helping them promote their book. Good manners and gratitude go a long way.

Liane Spicer said...

Wow. Unbelievable. Thanks for this post, Emily and Angela.