A lot of people complain that book tour organizers only allow 3+ or even 4+ star ratings on reviews as part of their tour. In fact, it seems like there have been a lot of posts about it recently. But here’s the thing, I totally get why this is enforced. I think it makes perfect sense!
A blog tour is a marketing campaign
A blog tour is basically a big, ongoing advertisement. It’s a marketing campaign to help genera hype, buzz, and sales. Ultimately, it’s an investment that the author makes in order to earn more money.
Just so we’re on the same page in understanding what this is, let’s look at some other examples of marketing campaigns:
- TV commercials
- Billboard advertisements
- Newsletter articles
- Online advertisements
And what do all these things have in common? To generate sales. More sales = more money. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is.
Think about the ads you’ve seen—they all include positive testimonials
Imagine a commercial for a weight loss program. What might you see?
- A description of the program
- Impressive before and after pictures
- Testimonials from participants talking about how “it was so amazing” or “it changed my life” or “I lost 20 pounds!”
Now think about what you DON’T see.
- You don’t see a customer appear on the advertisement to say, “It was only okay.”
- You don’t see a customer appear to say, “I didn’t even lose any weight! It was kind of a waste of time.”
These advertisements aren’t about providing diverse opinions on the product. They’re about selling the product, and that means showing off the best “testimonials” they can find.
Think about the blurbs by authors/reviewers/publications in books
You open up a book and might see a bunch of quotes from other authors, famous reviewers (like Kirkus), or publications. These quotes all praise the book and talk about how amazing it is. You don’t open up a book to see a quote that says:
“This book really wasn’t for me. I hated the insta-love. But if insta-love is your thing then you might like it.”
“I can see what the author was trying to do with this book, but they just didn’t pull it off.”
“I don’t know… it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It just didn’t totally click with me.”
When you flip open that book, you’re going to see the best of the best. You’re going to hear from people who loved the crap out of that book. You’re going to see things like:
“I can’t remember the last time I was this hooked on a book.”
“I ADORED it from start to finish!”
Honest, critical reviews are totally fine—but they don’t belong in a marketing campaign
There’s nothing wrong with posting an honest, critical review. Go ahead and write them and post them on your own time. That’s why tour organizers always say you can post your negative reviews after the tour. But given that a tour is a marketing campaign, it makes sense that they don’t want you posting negative reviews as part of that.
“But I hate promotional posts!”
If you end up not liking a book, the tour organizer usually gives you a promotional post to publish instead. And that can be a problem if you hate publishing promotional materials on your blog. I know I do. It makes me feel like I’m lying to my readers. I have to promote a book to them that I didn’t like. But the very fact that I’m promoting the book makes me feel like I’m endorsing it. And that feels like a lie.
However, from the tour organizer standpoint, it makes perfect sense. When they sell packages to authors, they usually make a guarantee like “20 blogs will participate”. They can’t have people dropping out and lowering that number, because then the author isn’t getting what they paid for. So instead of having you post a review, they just shift you over to a different kind of post.
If you don’t like promotional posts, then you have two options:
- Don’t participate in blog tours. Seriously, that’s an option.
- Read the book HELLA early. Like ASAP.
You do realize that you don’t HAVE to sign up for tours, right?
I rarely participate in blog tours for the above reason: I hate promotional posts. I don’t want to have to post them if I don’t like the book. I hate feeling like I’m lying to my readers. But I understand why these organizers insist on positive ratings, so I do my part and just stay away from them. You don’t HAVE to participate in them, you know.
I tend to only sign up for tours under these circumstances:
- I’ve already read the book and LOVED it, but I haven’t published my review yet. This way there’s no risk.
- I’m REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY excited about a book. More often than not, I like the sound of a book, but it’s not my #1 OMG MUST HAVE book. I can wait. It’s rare that a book is something I’m so massively looking forward to that I desperately want to take a “risk” on by signing up for the blog tour.
Or, read the book early for a better chance of bowing out.
If you wait until the last minute to read the book, there’s no chance for you to bow out of the tour. You’ve made a commitment and there won’t be enough time for the tour organizer to find a replacement.
But, if you read the book as soon as you get it then there might be a chance that you can bow out of the tour, and the organizer will still have time to find someone to take your place. I’ve done this once or twice now. I read the book as soon as I can, and if I don’t like the book then I email the organizer, explain that it wasn’t for me, and say that my first choice would be to bow out of the tour if possible.