I recently did my first book blog tour and found it to be a very valuable experience. It was a joint tour with fellow children’s author Marion Adams, which made it even more special. The tour gave us great exposure and led to loads of great reviews, and it was all organised by one lady: Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources. To show my appreciation, I thought it would be nice to interview Rachel here on my blog. I hope it will be useful to any authors reading this who are still on the fence about blog tours!

Hi Rachel! Welcome to my blog – I hope you had a great holiday last week! As you know, I was very pleased with the blog tour you organised for me. To be honest, before my friend Audrey Davis mentioned that you’d organised hers and how pleased she was with it, I didn’t realise blog tour organisers existed! So my first question is: how did you become a blog tour organiser?

Hi Nick, it’s a pleasure to be here on your blog and I’m delighted that you are happy with the tour. 

A couple of years ago, I did a publicity and marketing internship with Authoright, and one of my roles there was to gain a blogger network and to help organise blog tours. After the internship was finished, we realised that was where my strengths lay, and I was working freelance for them for the next 18 months or so purely organising their blog tours.

I was unhappy in my main job in an unrelated field, and blogging and books were clearly where my heart lay, so after procrastinating and researching competitors etc for the best part of a year, Rachel’s Random Resources launched and I haven’t looked back. Easily the scariest but most fulfilling decision I ever made, and I’m just delighted that everyone seems supportive of what I am doing.

How many bloggers are in your network?

I’ve currently got over 400 bloggers across a range of genres. I always filter my master list by genre, age range and book format to match what I have available for a tour to the bloggers that have at least expressed an interest in the genre etc.

As a book blogger myself, I know there is nothing worse than being asked if I want to review or take part in tours for books of genres that I just have no interest in reading or featuring on my blog.

Did it take long to build up a network?

I am incredibly lucky that between my previous freelance work and the fact that I am active in the blogging community, I had a lot of people willing to trust me initially, and I am continually trying to grow my network. After all, I don’t know everyone in the community and new bloggers that may be brilliant are cropping up all the time.

What would you say are the three main benefits of doing a blog tour?

Gaining exposure for your book – not necessarily sales as that is never guaranteed, but a blog tour should give you widespread visibility for your book over a week or longer across all social media in addition to the bloggers’ own followers. The more people that you can make aware that you have a book out, the greater the chances some may purchase it!

Blogger reviews – please note I say blogger reviews and not Amazon. Although I know Amazon reviews are highly sought after for authors, and bloggers will often post to Amazon too, there is never a guarantee, especially in light of Amazon regularly making it trickier for anyone to post a review. In my experience on both sides of this, it is far more tempting for a blogger to take part in a tour, to commit to a date and know there will be extra buzz about the book and the feeling of being part of something, than potentially trying to get them to review the book as and when.  Although those reviews are useful and fabulous, if other bloggers have the same size review stack as me, if not larger, then I know how hard it is to fit everything in that you may have agreed to!

Plus bloggers tend to have great social media presence and really know what they are talkinga about to tend to give you quality reviews.

They are great fun – OK, maybe not a benefit, but I know I have authors who have said it’s rather addictive to wake up each day for a week while their tour is in progress, knowing there will be people on the tour shouting about their work as loudly as possible, often in a very positive way.   Who wouldn’t want a nice ego boost? And it doesn’t matter how long your book has been out, either, as tours are great at revitalising interest in a book or coinciding with a price promotion to try to boost sales.

What are the main challenges that you face when you organise blog tours?

Getting enough bloggers to take part. Some books and tours such as yours are mega popular, and I will be inundated with replies within 24 hours. Other books, even amazing-sounding ones, can be slower to fill. I think it just depends on the mood of who reads your email on any given day. The key which is something I need to remind myself of regularly is not to panic; I generally will find plenty of willing people, I just need to give it some time.

The other main challenge is making sure all the posts are live and shared while the tour is running. I normally spend anything between one to three hours on Twitter each morning before I do anything else, scheduling shares for all my running tours and their posts, while making a note of who I need to revisit later in the day and hope the post is live.

Are all of your clients indie authors? Or do you work with publishers too?

The majority of clients are authors who have come to me directly, whether they are self-published, with an indie publisher or digital first publisher. I am working with a couple of publishers directly and there are a few others who seem incredibly happy with what I am doing for their authors. To me it doesn’t matter how big or small you may be, a blog tour can potentially do wonders for you.

Your website is called Rachel’s Random Resources. What other services to you provide alongside the blog tours?

The other services I provide are cover reveals, blog blitzes, which are more-condensed blog tours over a shorter space of time, potentially even a one-day blitz for publication, or a book birthday, which can be frantic fun on the day and really does cover social media for 24 hours with news of your book or cover.

I also do some graphics. I create Facebook and Twitter header graphics for authors, and social media shareables, either with review quotes on them, or price drop info or coming soon – whatever I am asked for. I am also willing to create blog tour banners if an author has put together a tour for themselves but is graphically challenged!

The other resource I have on my website is my Book Giveaway Bank, which is where authors and bloggers can submit their giveaways which involve books into a central place for book lovers to use and enter, gaining you potentially more entries and interest in your book giveaway than you may get otherwise.

What do you like doing when you’re not sorting out blog tours for authors?

I have four main loves in my life – reading (obviously), going to the theatre – I love musicals and live in London so can get to the West End as regularly as I can afford, plus other live entertainment – and I love watching sport. Thanks to working for myself now I am in the great position of being able to sit and work and watch the World Cup at the same time. I’m in my element at the moment.

My fourth love is unsurprisingly going on holiday. I try to get away at least twice a year if I can afford to, and am hoping to come up with a great trip from my next birthday, as I promised myself after my 30th that every five years I would treat myself to a big birthday holiday!

What’s your favourite genre and what’s the best book you’ve read this year?

My favourite genres are chick lit, women’s fiction, romance with occasional forays into the dark side of psychological thrillers, crime and mystery.

Hmmm, best book of the year … I have no idea how people can ever answer this question, so shall I just go with the creepy, flattering answer that Sarah’s Shadow is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year for the 4+ age range?!

Our House by Louise Candlish is definitely up there among my top reads of the year so far, Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan, An Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan and A Family Recipe by Veronica Henry, to name just four top reads for the year so far.   I have read so many amazing books this year as I do every year, questions like that are impossible to answer.

Thanks very much for your time, Rachel! That was very enlightening. I will let you get back to your very busy schedule now!

You are very welcome, I will stop rambling now and go have some lunch, before getting back to work!