Can't Buy Me Love: Paid Book Blog Tours

There are several companies who will, for a fee, help an author take a "book blog tour." For a set price, they'll guarantee that your book will take a blog "tour" with a predetermined number of "stops."

When first I learned of this idea, I'll admit I was a little put off. Would I be paying bloggers to host my book?

As it turns out, the answer is no. It helps to think of these entrepreneurs as tour guides. As with a traditional tour guide, you're paying for knowledge and experience.

Most of the people who offer book blog tour arrangement are book bloggers themselves. Lisa Munley, of TLC Book Tours told me "I was a blogger for two years before I started TLC with my partner, Trish (also a book blogger).  As bloggers, we were inundated with requests from authors and publishers to review books.  I always found it strange when I would be asked to review books that I had zero interest in and I thought, why don't they look for bloggers who would be a better match for their book?”

In other words, pervasive mayhem encouraged a few entrepreneurs to bring order to the chaos. It is absolutely possible to arrange a blog tour for your own book. But if you aren’t quite sure how to approach bloggers, or if you don’t know how to find them, that’s when a blog tour operator can come in handy.

Says Munley: “For most authors, it's tough to get a book reviewed through traditional media.  It's also tough to know where to begin online.  Building relationships with bloggers and navigating the ‘blogosphere’ is a time-consuming and confusing challenge for many.  Authors could set up a tour themselves (and many of them do) but if they don't have time or they don't know how to go about it, we are there to help.  We have an extensive database of registered bloggers, sorted for preferred genres and interests and analyzed for traffic, and we register book clubs online so that we can share our monthly contests with them.”

If that sort of management is appealing to you, consider a book blog tour. Generally, book blog tours cost less than hiring a traditional independent publicist. I checked prices with several book blog tour guides and found prices between $350 and $1000.  Those quotes were for different services, ranging between 10 and 15 blog tour stops.

And what is a blog tour stop, you ask?  Says Munley: “Every tour stop is different.  Some include interviews, author guest posts, or giveaways. Some just review the book.  The incentive for a blogger to host a tour (aside from a free book) is access to the author through email.”

Another book blog tour operator told me she likes to read the book first, and that her package was for “approximately 15 stops, but at least 12.” This brings us to another point—most publicity help you can buy is on a “best efforts” basis. No guarantees. Book blog tours, on the other hand, usually guarantee a number of placements. But they don’t, of course, guarantee a set number of eyeballs. By definition, any tour operator’s blog arsenal will contain a highly varied selection of blogs. Some will have a terrific readership, and some will be newbies.

As a business person (and all authors are businesspeople, whether they know it or not) it is up to you to decide how best to spend your book marketing dollars. Hiring a traditional publicist is another alternative. It costs more (usually several thousand dollars), but may have wider reach.

And what about that nagging question? Are you paying for blog reviews?

“I don't think authors are paying for blog posts, exactly,” says Munley. “And (in case anybody thought they could) they can't "buy" a positive review, only honest opinions from bloggers.  They're paying for convenience and for online exposure.  They're paying for a minimum number of reviews and appearances on blogs, yes, but they're also getting the added benefit of book chatter.  Bloggers talk about what they read in a public way beyond blog posts; they frequently mention what they're reading on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and other online forums.”

In other words, you can’t buy love. But you can take it on tour.

WOW (Women on Writing)
TLC Book Tours


  1. From a blogger's point of view, Lisa at TLC does an excellent job matching books with reviewers. Thanks for the wonderful post on this subject! You are very correct when you say that bloggers go beyond talking about books just on their blogs. I tweet, post to goodreads, amazon, facebook and other chat groups about books I love.

  2. I recommend authors learn how to arrange one tour by themselves - then they know what to expect when they hire a professional service. This was the premise of all my free BBT classes. When I first started teaching the course, there weren't very many great services and they were often very expensive. That has changed, and your best guide is referrals from other authors. Here's a quick guide which is the basis for the e-book I'm publishing. I hope it's okay to share that link - it does relate to the subject line! ;)

  3. Always such great information here. Dani, you read my mind. I was hoping to hear from an author who'd tried such a service and you mentioned referrals.
    Thanks for the link, too.

  4. I had no idea such things existed.

    Which is why i still have so much to learn around here...

  5. I think TLC is one of the best blog tour companies out there. I also believe you get what you pay for and when I've worked with them as a blogger they have been incredibly professional.

    Great post!