What is a blog tour?
Honestly, I was asking myself that question about six months ago before I actually tried one out for myself.
Essentially, a blog tour is a way to generate interest in your book and get it out across the internet on a lot of different blogs. The general concept of it is: if getting featured on one blog is good, then getting featured on twenty must be great!
And, to an extent that is true. The only problem is: in many cases, the people running the blog tours are interested in making money and have to be able to bring in new bloggers to continue promoting books, which ends up being a somewhat counterintuitive strategy for releasing a book. This is due to one simple fact:
Not all bloggers are equal.
Getting featured on a blog that reaches one-thousand or more readers a day can be hugely beneficial for your book, but getting featured on a blog with thirty readers isn't likely to do much for you. The thing is, if those thirty readers are highly targeted in your genre and all buy your book, that was a better blog for you to get featured on then the one with a thousand if they aren't highly targeted readers or in the wrong genre.
Different kinds of blog tours:
This covers any sort of tour that is a one-day event to showcase something in particular. For example, when you launch a new book you could get a blast to let people know that your book is out. Or, maybe if you have a new cover and you want people to see it, a book blast might be the perfect option to generate some interest.
This is a specific tour of a length of time, usually with one post a day. For example, the first day you might be featured on blog one, then blog two the next, and so on for whatever length of time you pay for. This is designed to build a more sustained interest in whatever you are promoting and the build traffic to your content over time.
This is a much less common type of tour, and it is targeted specifically around generating reviews for your book. It usually happens during a launch, and often is intended to pique the interest of readers who might want more information about your book.
These are rare because often bloggers won't have enough time to actually read and review the plethora of books they are asked to promote.
The clearest downside is: these people are being paid to promote your book.
Imagine you pay twenty bucks for a tour to go on ten different blogs. Those blogs post your tour, but after about twenty minutes of being on the front page your blog post is pushed down to the bottom where it will never be read. That is because many blog sites just cycle through content as fast as possible and might work for five or six blog tour locations. That means your post isn't going to get any attention, no matter how many 'views' the website claims to get, because it won't be featured for any length of time.
Another downside is that many websites might get decent traffic, but it is nothing compared to the sort of traffic you would need to justify a service like this. For example, if your goal is to generate sales, you would be better off using the money and getting highly targeted CPC advertising to actually send people to your book page because you're more likely to generate sales through that.
That being said, that isn't what a blog tour is for. It is designed to generate interest, traffic, and 'existence'. Using a blog tour is a good way of declaring (especially to search engines and SEO) that you are alive. It also (except bad blog tours) generates permanent links back to your website and your amazon page that will help contribute to your SEO rank value to help you show up more often in searches
Should you do it?
Only if you do your research and find a blog tour you trust that isn't just blowing smoke. Many of them are better at promoting their own service then they are your book.
However, if you find a good site that offers great blogs your book and can generate a lot of long-term interest, then it is certainly a good investment.