In the past two days I've received so many "How did you ever think of that?" and "How is it supposed to work?" e-mails from people who are interested in my Free Books for Bloggers promotion that instead of answering any more of them individually, I'm just going to blog about it.
Author "blog tours" are not a new idea. You've probably noticed authors making the rounds in the blogosphere to promote their books. Sometimes those appearances are the result of an author calling in favors from a few of her blogging friends, and other times they're concerted efforts involving paid promoters who approach the bloggers and set up a touring schedule. My idea for the book giveaway sprang from something a little different from that.
In the spring of 2005, a bunch of writers over at the faith*in*fiction message boards began discussing ways to promote Christian fiction in the blogosphere. Wouldn't it be great, they said, if we got a bunch of bloggers--at least a dozen--to pick one Christian novel and blog about it during a two- or three-day period? They'd post reviews of the book or interviews with the author, as they desired. They might post photos of the author or of the book's cover. But all would provide links to the author's website and, most important, all would link to the chosen book's page at Amazon.com.
If enough bloggers did this within a very short period of time, the book would make a good showing on the Popular Books page at Technorati.com. If the book was nudged up into the top ten most-talked-about books, untold thousands of Technorati users would wonder what all the buzz was about, and surely some of them would take a look at one of the blog posts or even click over to Amazon.com to check out the book. Because Technorati keeps score by counting inbound links to books at Amazon.com, each blogger would have to link to Amazon, not any other bookseller, for the plan to succeed. But directing potential buyers to Amazon would spread a very sweet icing on the cake: every book purchase through Amazon would ratchet up the book's rating there, creating even more of a stir.
Everyone agreed that it could work, so that handful of faith*in*fiction members formed an alliance led by the guy who posed that first "what if?" question--author T. L. Hines. In July of last year The Christian Fiction Blogging Alliance promoted their first book. Since then they've spotlighted one book each month for some very grateful authors.
Several members of the alliance are regular readers of my blog, and two of them approached me with the suggestion that their group blog my upcoming book. I was wildly flattered, but as I am only an admiring friend and not a member of the alliance (promoting books other than my own is outside the scope of my blog), I didn't think they'd want to sign me up.
I was wrong. My blog tour is scheduled for March 1-3. That's perfect timing, as my new book will be available in stores beginning February 28.
To assuage my guilt about asking these fine people to promote my book when I won't be joining their alliance and returning the favor to another Christian author, I promised free copies of my book to the participating bloggers. So far, fifteen people have requested copies.
And that's what got me to thinking: What if I posted on my blog that I'd give a free book to any blogger who agreed to promote it sometime during the month of February? That would make a nice warm-up, wouldn't it, for the organized blog tour in March?
Twelve hours after I posted the offer, sixteen bloggers had taken me up on it, and I've been stuffing and addressing packages ever since. Three of the bloggers have already sent me lists of interview questions.
What do I expect to gain from all of this? I'll never be able to measure how many books are sold as a result of this promotion, so I'm not going to bother guessing. But this will certainly increase my profile in the blogosphere; in a couple of weeks you'll begin seeing my name and my book's title and cover image everywhere. Those things will be stamped on the brains of people who didn't read my first book and have never visited my website or this blog. A few of those "strangers" will click over to Amazon and place an order, and others will recognize my book's cover and my name when they glimpse the book in WalMart or Barnes & Noble. "Increased awareness" is what I'm aiming for, and judging by amount of mail I've been getting in the past two days, I am absolutely on the right track.
Thanks to everyone who has written to ask me about this. I've been both surprised and gratified by your interest. If you have any other questions, please leave a comment on this post.