You're a host for several different blog tour services. What is process for becoming a host for blog tours?
I began by looking at services that were hosting books I enjoyed reading. Typically, if they're looking for hosts, they'll have a page outlining host requirements. Some will look for blogs that meet certain traffic requirements, or that cater to a particular genre. If it sounds like a good fit, you'll usually begin the application process by filling out a form that will ask for anything from general blog information and reading habits, to site traffic statistics and number of Twitter followers.
I was usually contacted within a few days. Then, I put the badge up on my site, and began receiving emails about the books going on tour and instructions on how to sign up. Hosts are expected to prepare anything necessary for the post and have it scheduled to go live first thing in the morning on the assigned date. Usually, organizers will also ask that it be your only or, at least, most prominent post for the day.
Blog tour services aren't the only route to hosting tours. The first tour I hosted was organized by a blogger friend of the author, and some authors organize their own tours by reaching out to friends or providing a signup form on their webpage. Keep an eye out, especially when authors you know are planning a release.
There are pros and cons to each system, but it all requires a good deal of organization and planning on the part of the individual bloggers.
What is the benefit to you for hosting blog tours on your site?
They're fun (and yes it brings in traffic, but what's the use of that if you're not enjoying it?). I interact with new readers and writers every week, and sometimes I make some great friends. It keeps fresh content on my blog. I get sneak peeks at new material and sometimes I discover books I wouldn't have sought out on my own. It's my "job" to pick authors' brains and learn from people who have experienced writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.
What types of posts seem to be the most effective in promoting a book?
It's usually combinations of posts and interactivity that are most effective (at least from my perspective of blog traffic). When authors are highly involved with their own blog tours, I tend to see higher turnouts and more comments. I also get more traffic when reviews are published with or within a day or two of a related guest post or interview.
Events--like "scavenger hunts" with a clue or part of a quote on each stop--are great ways to keep readers engaged as the tour progresses. I recently participated in a tour that released the first chapter via successive posts on each blog stop, and it turned out to be one of the most successful tours I've hosted. Higher engagement means readers are exposed to more information about the author and his/her work.
When you sign a publishing contract, what will be your plan for promoting your book?
You're really trying to put me on the spot! My plan is not to wait. I have talked about my manuscript a bit on my blog, and I've released a couple of excerpts here and there. Not too much too early, but I hope to begin drawing in some interest before I even get to the publishing stage. Hopefully, having an active blog and social media presence will give me a nice starting point since I'm already networking with a group of people with similar interests.
In preparing for the release of my book, my primary goal will be not having an anxiety attack. If that succeeds, I'll call on some of my lovely blogging friends to set up a blog tour. There will definitely be a scavenger hunt. :) Then again, I might just take a long relaxing vacation and make the characters take care of it all. I'm sure they can run the blog for a couple of weeks. Connor must have some great firsthand insight into folklore. . .
What advice would you give an author who wanted to promote their book? Anything you would warn them against doing?
Do interact. Blog Tour services are a great resource for authors who don't want to go through the trouble of arranging every detail, but if that's the avenue you choose, make sure you have the tour schedule, and make at least one appearance at each stop to share the post and respond to comments.
Don't promote. (What?) I'll rephrase, don't think of it as promotion. Think of a blog tour as an extension of you, your characters, and your book--an opportunity to invite people into your world. If we want readers to fall in love with our style and creativity, they're far more likely to do that when we're being ourselves and having fun. Don't be afraid to do something new or unexpected.
I really enjoyed reading your responses, Fel! Thank you so much.