Chatterbox: Why I’m Picky with Blog Tours & Promo Posts

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Blog tours and book blitzes are a great way for authors to promote their book on blogs that already have a captive audience. Bloggers love signing up to these posts because you get review copies for free, you get to promote giveaways to your followers and it requires very little effort as most of the time the content is provided to you.

When I was new to the blogging world, I immersed myself in the world of blog tours and book blitzes. But it wasn’t until blog tours were actually interfering with posts that wanted to put up, that I began to rethink book blitzes and blog tours.

Firstly, as a book blogger I get tens of emails every week on book blitzes, blog tours, review requests, publisher catalogues, and more. I felt like my inbox was getting spammed, and it seemed that other bloggers seemed to feel the same way as the subject lines got more and more desperate for bloggers to promote content. Some blog tour companies would behave badly, using caps, exclamation marks and demands in their subject lines and emails, or the big no no – revealing their full subscriber list by accidentally not putting their emails in the BCC column. We as bloggers aren’t obligated to sign up to tours, especially if we aren’t being compensated or at the very least receiving proper email etiquette.

Secondly, I realised that I usually skipped over similar types of posts on other blogs, especially if a bunch of other bloggers had exactly the same content. Why would I want to check out a guest post or cover reveal for a book/author I knew nothing about or wasn’t interested in? There are exceptions of course, like if a review or interview was posted as part of the promotional post, but most of the time I skip over them.

The final point that made me rethink my approach with blog tours was the ethical dilemma. Often blog tour companies don’t let you post a review of 3 stars or below on the book. If you didn’t have anything good to say about it, you could skip the review and just provide promotional information. Often this meant that books I read from blog tours were mediocre and disappointing, which would result in me trying to fork out some good words about a book I didn’t enjoy, or promote a book I didn’t want to on my blog.

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As a blogger who prides myself on my honest (sometimes brutally honest) reviews, I just couldn’t make myself go through that moral dilemma anymore.

These days, I only participate in book blitzes or blog tours that I am really interested in or that offer giveaways specifically for my blog. Xpresso Book Tours often offers giveaways that you can post on your own blog courtesy of the author, and they are pretty much the only tour company these days that I work with.

After all, a blog is for expressing your opinion, and I subscribe to them to read your individual views on books, blogging and life in general.

What is your stance on blog tours and book blitzes? Do you participate in them or read them on blogs?

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80 Comments

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head there, I think. I too happily skip over the cover reveals and hoo-ha that appears simultaneously on multiple blogs. In fact if I see a cover appearing too many times within a few days in my inbox, I generally tend toward negative feelings toward that book…and that’s before I’ve even looked at the blurb!!
    Definitely a wise idea to be picky. And I agree with your problem about thinking you’ll like a book and signing up to a tour and then realising that you don’t actually like it and trying to balance that with the fact that the tour is set up to promote the book….sigh. Blogworld problems, hey!
    Bruce Gargoyle recently posted…For the kid inside the grown-up suit: Nurturing one’s jaded inner child…and a Fi50 reminder!My Profile
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    • Yeah, I’m the same I think, I’ve heard from authors that they don’t work too well for publicity either. I’m not sure though, because they do well in letting us know about it. Yeah, it’s similar to spamming isn’t it?

  2. I don’t do a lot of tours at all anymore. I don’t like reading them (the posts are kind of impersonal and what’s the point of reading character interviews/book excerpts if you’ve never read/heard of the book?!!), so I stopped signing up for them. At first they were kind of an awesome way to get ARCs. Buuut, I don’t know. I haven’t even HEARD of most of the books that go up for tour. I want to be on the tour for awesome book that I’m highly anticipating. And the whole it-must-be-4-stars…well, I’ve had to pull out of tours for that. I understand why they do it, but it’s awkward to be all signed up and then have to pull out!
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Double Review: A Corner of White & The Cracks in the Kingdom (and Cait’s sanity goes POOF)My Profile

    • Yeah, I thought I should bring that up because a lot of people aren’t interested in the posts. Now they kind of compete with my review schedule. Yeah, I’m the same, they usually sound good but when you read them it’s like uh oh, why did I waste my time. It is kind of awkward.

  3. The only blog tours I participate in are those of my writing/blogging friends who have books releasing. First of all, I have no idea how to even sign up for them, and even if I did I would probably have the same problems as you. I’m happy as I am sometimes requesting books that catch my eye, and having the rest of my slots to discuss bookish things :)
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…Little Women and when classics are awesomeMy Profile

  4. It sounds bad, but it’s quite rare for me to comment on or even read book tour posts / blitzes / cover reveals / anything like that. I just find them boring, repetitive, and they lack any sort of heart, you know? A lot of the time it just seems like the blogger quickly wrote them up an put no effort in.

    IMO, I think those types of posts are the most boring, so I rarely even click on them. Unless it’s for a book I’m super stoked about (like The Lunar Chronicles or something). But most of the time they seem to be of random books I’ve never heard about before, which also means I’m not interested in reading character interviews etc.
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  5. I currently don’t participate in any Blog Tours or Book Blitzes and half of that is because I just don’t want to, and the other half is nerves I think. I think that generally I have enough on my blog at the moment with the memes I do, the reviews and the discussions, I have enough trouble scheduling my own posts, let alone having to move them around for tours and such. The most I will do is have a discussion about a cover reveal, I’ll never actually reveal it. I’ve also been seeing the fact that 3 stars or below and they don’t want you to post it, which for me, defeats the object of asking for a review. It then leaves the blogger with a post about a book that people more than likely won’t read, at least, I know I don’t tend to, and then the blogger is left with an empty day with content they don’t really like on their blog, while the publishers are minus a review. I find them pretty useless personally.
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    • I know, I don’t like review copies being offered with the expectation that we’ll post something positive, because that’s misleading. I do understand the promotional aspect of tours, but only if the review is something up the bloggers alley.

  6. I’ve only done two blog tours in the 10 months I’ve been blogging. No blitzes or cover reveals, because I never read those. There are a couple of authors I would do a cover reveal for, but I haven’t been asked, which is fine, because I don’t care for those posts (but to promote those authors, I’d do it).

    I have two tours coming up, spaced about a month apart. I only do tours if I can post a review because when I read tour posts, those are the ones I read. Of course then you run into the problem of what to do if you don’t like book. The thing is, every time I see a spotlight post on a tour, I think the blogger must not have liked the book. Whether that’s true or not, that’s the impression I get. Then I want to know why. I’d rather read their reviews than see a spotlight post that I’m just going to skip.
    Jenna @ Rather Be Reading YA recently posted…Throwback Thursday: Retro Reads – The Girls of Canby Hall #8: The Big CrushMy Profile

    • That’s a good idea, at least it doesn’t clash with your schedule too much. I’m the same, and I think, it kind of sucks that you are pressured into posting a book blitz if you didn’t like the review. Sometimes I post them just for the giveaways though.

    • Sometimes I scan their tour post to see if it does have a review and if it does, I usually comment on it. Yeah, it does crowd the schedule, when there’s a post of your own to put up or a tour one, it’s your own content straight away.

  7. Totally agree with you Jeann. When I evaluated my reading year last year I counted up the number of blog tours I had been on and was shocked to discover that number: 22!! That means I read 22 books and maybe 5 of those were good. The rest were indies and a complete waste of my time. So these days I will never join a tour unless it’s a traditional published book, and I never do blitzes. I’m with you. If I see the word “blitz” in a blog post title I don’t even read it.
    Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy recently posted…Sweet Insect Love: THE OPHELIA PROPHECY by Sharon Lynn FisherMy Profile
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    • Woah, that’s a shame that lots of the indies weren’t very good. I was getting infuriated because I love supporting indies and if I love them, I really do love them but unfortunately many of them were a waste of time.

  8. I gave up on them completely. As you said, I do not want to promote something I don’t like, especially because tour hosts ask to not post reviews under 3 stars rating. I find that… deceiving.

    Great post.
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  9. I agree with you 100%. In March of 2013 I scaled back from blog tours, cover reveal and book blitzes. And I rarely accept ARC’s. I literally post new covers for authors I know or who have asked politely to share on my blog which in that case I will do. I’ve had two authors get very upset with my ratings during a blog tour and one even asked me to change my rating! WTF?!?! One author stopped talking to me because I said I wouldn’t write a review but that I would do a spotlight instead. It was only then I retreated into my safe world which meant scaling back and frankly, it’s the best decision I ever made. I rate my books freely without worrying what an author will think. Great post my friend! You hit the nail on the head! ♥
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    • Thanks Cristina! I can understand why authors wouldn’t like seeing negative reviews or feedback in tours but yeah, it is our blog and opinion. I don’t accept ARCs either direct from authors (except from my favourites)

  10. I have been participating in (far too many) promotional blitzes and tours. I try to participate only in those I’m really interested in, but sometimes I get “roped into” participating in a few simply because people are needed to promote the author. I do not like being told to hold my review. I’ve actually had a few books that were so very horrible I couldn’t get past the first few pages. I don’t feel honest promoting those books in any form or fashion on my blog. I want to tell my readers, “BEWARE!! Poor writing, excessive grammatical errors, no plot, and cookie-cutter characters abound!” Of course, I wouldn’t be quite that blunt, but I would be honest.

    Now, I’m planning to substantially cut back on tours. I simply can’t maintain the pace I’ve been holding. Plus, I’ve had no time to read the books I really want to read for my blogs. It’s time to do what I originally planned to do: read and review books of interest to ME.
    Michelle Willms recently posted…TRAPPED BY ELLA JAMES – RELEASE DAY BLITZMy Profile

  11. I’ve cut down on blog tours a whole lot too and I’ve never been a fan of book blitzzes. Nowadays, I only sign up for tours from a select few blog tour companies and they are only for tours of books I know I might enjoy.
    I agree with you on seeing the same content on different blogs. That’s not something I enjoy reading to be honest.
    And yeah, I’ve had some bad experiences with a few tour organizers who’ve been basically rude by either ignoring me or by just coming across as jerks.
    Great post!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Movie Review : Veronica MarsMy Profile

    • So have I, I usually only post tours for books I need to review anyway or book blitzes for the giveaway (everyone loves giveaways). Yeah, you would think tour organisers would at least adhere to being polite or email etiquette, especially since you are doing them a favour but nope! Thanks Nick.

  12. I totally get that. At the beginning of this year Jennifer and I commited to doing less Book Tours and Promos. I remember I really didn’t like a book, and had to ask to be taken out of the tour. It made me feel horrible because I was basically shoving a horrible book down people’s throats. Now I only participate if I’m absolutely certain that I feel comfortable promoting this book. Great post. :)
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  13. I’m pretty selective when it comes to blog tours. Most of the blog tour organizers only wish to see good reviews (>= 3 stars) in their tours. Obviously this doesn’t always work out for me, in which case I will have to ask them to remove me from the tour. It always makes me feel bad even if they find a substitute tour stop in time. So now I’m pretty careful when committing to blog tours and only really approach organizers for things I’m positive I will like. As for promotions/blitz/cover reveals/etc., I rarely participate in those. For me, they feel like fluff posts bloggers post just for the purpose of posting instead of, you know, sharing thoughts and what not.
    Angel (Spare Reads) recently posted…Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: The Wolf’s Cry (The Semei Trilogy, #1)My Profile

    • Yeah, I think I had so many instances when I wanted to be removed from the tour that I decided not to bother anymore. I feel the same way (and it looks like a lot of other people do) about the fluff posts too.

  14. I’ve never participated in a blog tour for those reasons. Because half the time bloggers do the same tour and I hate seeing on my bloglovin’ feed the same thing over and over again. I want to do it at least once but judging from what you say about it it’s not the best thing ever! And what’s the point in posting something when I don’t read on other blogs because obviously I’d get the same feedback.
    Francoise recently posted…Stacking the Shelves 16/03/14My Profile
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  15. I don’t even deal with that stuff anymore, and it had reduced my blogging time considerably. But I also did it for reasons you mentioned. The only ones I do now are for a book/series/author I already love and can fully support without hesitation. I tend to work directly with the author or publisher though, I’m over tour companies. I’ll only work with one specific tour company occasionally when there is a book I already know I love, and that’s because she is a friend.
    Christy recently posted…A Little Too Far by Lisa DesrochersMy Profile

  16. I have done book tours and blitzes, but last year I went overboard a bit with them… I’m trying to be more selective and making sure I don’t add an even bigger load to whatever review books I have pending!
    I also mostly work with Xpresso Book Tours, and I’ve also done a blog tour with Rockstar Book Tours.
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  17. Yes! I completely agree! When I first started blogging, I signed up for every single blog tour I saw advertised. But eventually it just got so boring and so hard to keep up with. Now, I only sign up for blog tours of books that I was interested in reading BEFORE the tour was even announced, and I try to keep my tour list down to as few as possible.

    Anyway, thank you SO much for posting and sharing this Jeann! Such a great discussion topic! :D
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  18. I would like to give you two thumbs up for this discussion post, Jeann! :D I definitely agree, especially with the second and third points! I generally skip over promotional posts as well, unless there’s a review or giveaway I’m interested in. And I really don’t like that we have to rate them 3 stars up for the review to be posted with the promotional post, because then there’s a chance that I’ll just be copying & pasting what should be in a post, without the review, since I’m a critical reader! It’s just frustrating. I’ve only participated (and completed) in 2 book tours as of now, and neither of them were hits for me, so I wasn’t able to post any unique content in those posts. T_T I’m definitely picky when going through tour invitation emails now. :) Lovely post, dear!
    Aimee recently posted…Review: Above by Leah BobetMy Profile
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  19. When I first started blogging I loved blog tours, but now I barely participate in them. Like you, I get tons of emails from people about joining a tour, but most of the time I have no interest in the book. Unless it’s an author that I like or maybe an actual publisher then I consider it, but other than that I don’t really bother with them. Great post!
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  20. I’ve been blogging for about two years now and I have probably only participated in two or three blog tours. When I was new to the blogging community I thought they were so cool because I could have post up on the blog and they wouldn’t require all that much from now but I quickly realized that those posts I was planning on putting on my blog were the ones I typically skimmed through or ignored on other blogs. They were all the same and I realized I didn’t want them on my blog if I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I had good things to say about them. I see what your saying and completely agree! great discussion post.
    Lily
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  21. You got everything right here, Jeann. Each and every one of them is exactly what I feel. I skip over book blitzes, cover reveals, promotions, especially when the same content is available in many other blogs. And if I find a blog that’s full of that stuff, I’m more likely to not visit as often as I won’t find any real discussion or review to participate in. I guess it’s a great way to launch yourself into the community, but unless you make your own content, your own insights, and opinions, you won’t be able to stand out in the crowd :/

    Great review nonetheless!
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  22. Thanks so much for this post. I was feeling a little guilty that I had cut back on blog tours and now I am thinking of cutting them out completely or at least to only 1 or 2 per month. I have had several where I had to cancel my post and refuse to post a promotional post because I am not going to ask my readers to pay for a book that I wouldn’t even want to read myself. I see why authors and publishers want to use them but I am not sure how effective they are. Like you I tend to skip right over them. I guess it goes back to quality over quantity. I am wanting to get back to quality content on my blog even if that means I post less often. Thanks again for the great post.
    Ginny @ Gin’s Book Notes recently posted…Book Review and Giveaway: A Medical Affair by Anne McCarthy StraussMy Profile

    • No problems, I think a lot of people were feeling the same from the looks of things. I didn’t like having pulled out of a post, and then being pressured into posting a blitz post anyway especially if I didn’t enjoy it. I totally agree about the quality content because that’s what your readers are there for.

  23. I agree with many of the points you made! However, we do participate in many of these promotions.
    There are four of us that review for my blog and we do many blog tour reviews. We don’t necessarily do them for the free review copies, but more for the increased blog traffic they bring. I don’t like to do promotional only blog tours unless I already know and love the Author and can link to a previous review. As for having to promote a book we don’t like, that happens very little, and if the book was that bad we will just cancel instead of promoting it.
    We do other promotional posts like blitzes and cover reveals mostly for Authors we have already read and enjoyed, or are popular and we know our readers have enjoyed.
    I enjoy promoting Indie Authors and I think this is a great way to get the word out for them. I guess there are negatives and positives o.O
    Stacy (StacyHgg) recently posted…Blog Tour Review ~ Poughkeepsie Enhanced Collector’s Edition App by Debra Anastasia *Giveaway*My Profile

    • Great answer Stacy, it depends on what you are trying to achieve for your blog. If that works for you then no problem at all, they are a great way to promote indie authors (provided you are happy to spread the word on their work).

  24. I can’t stand blog tours and blitz and cover reveals. I always skip them. They seem to be like total spam to me. There I said it. I have never participated in them. I knew when I started blogging that they just weren’t for me. Blogs must get some type of reward from them though if they all keep doing them. Free books? More followers?? Something.
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  25. I have my own clients that I work with so I definitely like blogs that will do book tours or promotional posts, but I also understand that too many can be annoying. I don’t mind personally taking part in them if it’s every once in a while. I don’s sign up for everything I’m offered, but I do try and help spread the word here and there because I know that it helps authors and sometimes I feel like my readers might like something that I wouldn’t or just don’t have the time to truly invest more time in (like taking on a full review).
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Audiobook Recommendations!My Profile

  26. I no longer participate in book blitzes because they just have the exact same content for every blog but when it comes to blog tours, I do participate in a few. I normally do reviews for them though, or a guest post/interview occasionally. They are also only for books that I have been interested in some time now. For instance: Disruption by Jess Shirvington.

    Lovely post, Jeann! <33
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  27. I totally know how you feel girl. I’ve been part of so many blog tours when I started blogging that I put to much into it. Lately I have being part of blog tours only organized by Giselle cause she is professional and amazing and Strange Chemistry cause I love their reads. I totally agree with you when it comes to email, I just skip them sometimes. Great post, Jeann :)
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  31. I’m so much pickier now, I prefer to just take part in blitzes for books I am genuinely interested in or that have a bit of character to their posts. I hate those Blogger HTML templates that have zero personality to them and blog tours…yeah defo pickier after awkward exchanges with hosts when the book didn’t work for me.
    Danielle recently posted…Wait for You by J.Lynn | ReviewMy Profile

    • I’m the same Dani, I think we were both feeling it with the blog tour reviews a while back. Since then I’ve pulled back a lot, I do blitz every now and then and blog tour and provide a review to give something ‘meatier’.

  32. When I first started blogging I participated in blog tours, but even then I was quite picky. I only subscribed if I knew I wanted to read the book and provide a review because I knew that no one actually reads book blitzes or promotional posts that have the same content and appear on all blogs. However, lately I’ve been avoiding blog tours. It’s not that I don’t find books that really pique my interest, but I have so many review requests that it would be silly to take even more books to review. I don’t have enough time to read as much as I would like. I still subscribe for blog tours when the authors organize them, because there are some authors I’ve kept in touch with and I’m always happy to help them.
    Oana recently posted…Book Review: Serpents of Sky: Nine Stories of Dragons by Heidi C. VlachMy Profile

    • Good on you for knowing what you wanted on your blog. I felt the same with that amount of review requests as well! Why would we review for blog tours when we had a huge impending TBR review pile? Great idea supporting the authors though.

  33. It’s like you’re in my BRAIN sometimes, Jeann, I swear.

    We are pretty picky with blog tours, too, and I only do promos once in a blue moon. And even those usually have something going on with them other than just a jpg and a blurb. There’s nothing wrong with doing those if you enjoy them, but like you, I skip past most of those posts that are the exact same content if I see them on blogs again and again, so I’d rather keep the attention on our blog on the stuff that is really important to us personally.

    I get a ton of emails about tours and blitzes, too, and the majority of them end up making me VERY cranky because my contact info is on the same page that explicitly states our promo and blog tour policy. Why waste your time and mine? And MAKE ME CRANKY TO BOOT?
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Discussion: The Luckiest Girl + April book announcementMy Profile

    • Happy to be thinking the same thoughts! I actually think half the time, the people that email you don’t even read your blog/promo policy which is such bad practice. They are probably just spamming a bunch of blog’s emails. I know for sure people don’t read mine because I still get review requests, when it clearly states I don’t take any from indie authors. Cranky indeed!

  34. I totally know what you mean about the “ethical dilemma”, because exactly, why do you want to promote a book you didn’t enjoy? I’ve definitely gotten more picky with promo/blitz posts because they’re usually the same and I try to only do blog tours of books I know I really want to read. Or if I’m already planning on reading it. I never did understand the “must be 4 stars” reviews :/
    Great post Jeann!
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  35. Originally, I was really keen on blog tours. I’ve never been keen on other promotional posts, though, unless I know the author personally (which happened once with a cover reveal I did because I was legitimately excited about sharing it). I liked finding new books, and hosting a giveaway for readers. In all honesty, I found two of my really beloved books through blog tours.
    But now I don’t really go near them. Like you said, they were interfering with what *I* wanted to post on MY blog. Can I say: what? I mean, yes, i know I signed up, but what if I really wanted to post a discussion that day, or something else? I like deciding what to post and when, which is why I stopped. And also the very annoying emails, and the ‘no negative reviews’ thing, and the reading books by ‘x date’ thing. A whole lot of things, come to think of it.
    I’ll only ever participate in tours know if I know the author. This is because I’ll know there’s a really good chance I’ll like the book, and I also want to support an author I know personally. But other than that, I am pretty much through. I like reading at my own pace, and posting things when I want to post them.
    And I usually don’t read them on other blogs. which doesn’t particularly bode well for me, does it?
    I do think they’re a pretty good mechanism by which authors can get their book’s name out there, but they’re really just not for me, any more.
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    • Good on you for sticking with what you think works from the beginning. It’s the same, I sign up in the future but when I don’t know what’s happening it’s easy to commit. When they come up they are usually clash with what I want to post. A good idea if you know the author and want to support them, that way you won’t be disappointed with their writing. Thanks for your comment Chiara!

  36. I love blog tours but I have sort of a different relationship with them. Often I’m contacted by the author or a publicity company that sends out lists of requests to a team of bloggers. You can decide whether or not to participate and the post doesn’t have to be the top post of the day. Often the ones I post do have giveaways. If I don’t enjoy the book, I will contact the publicity people and refrain from posting a review directly during the tour and wait until after because I do understand that others make like a book I strongly disliked. I really love teaser pictures and excerpts that come in blog tours and I like that reviews are requested as well as being gifted e-ARCs but really I always looking for something new to read. I typically will only agree to something in the YA genre unless it’s from an author I really like. Like you, I’ve found some of my fav new books from tours and read things I would have never probably been exposed to otherwise.
    Jordan recently posted…Review: Red at Night-Katie McGarryMy Profile

    • Blog tours are great to post if they offer giveaways to your readers, I find that’s a great way to increase followers as everyone loves giveaway. I’m glad you’ve been able to find quite a few new reads from giveaways alone, as you’re right, we probably wouldn’t have heard about them otherwise.

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