Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Paula Sharon Talks About Blog Hopping How-To's!

Today, I'm so pleased to bring you Paula Sharon and her post on Blog Hops.  I get lots of questions about blog hops, so I was excited when she mentioned this as a topic. 

I've been on one blog hop, but all I did was put together my site. Organzing the whole thing seemed daunting to me, but Paula has broken it down and it looks managable. 

And don't forget she has a excerpt from her latest book Waning Moon  on Saturday!  I can't wait to read it.

Thanks for having me today, Leslie Ann. Since April seems to be the season of Blog Hops and cross-promotional events aimed at catching the tide of spring book sales, I thought I would share my experience with your readers and answer a commonly asked question.

So, what is a Blog Hop?
Well, it’s kind of like a block party where a number of authors get together (more than five, less than twenty seems to work best, but as many as fifty is common), and readers can hop from one site to the next as if they are visiting all the houses on the block—in this case, author’s blogs.

The group decides on a theme that might attract their collective readership. If your target audience is adult females between the ages of 30 and 50 who enjoy reading Romance, Cozy Mysteries, and Contemporary YA, they might also be the kind of people who enjoy gardening tips and recipes. We wanted a seasonal theme that would appeal to our readers, so that’s what we did for the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop. Last year’s hop was so successful; we decided to do it again.

Here’s the how-to part!
A “landing page” is set up either on Blogger, Wordpress, or even on someone’s website.

The wonderful and fabulous Dianne Venetta has offered her site for our use. The landing page explains the event, shares links to everyone’s blogs, and offers a link to the Grand Prize page where folks can enter to win a predetermined grand prize (gift cards and e-readers are big draws).

 On your individual site you can create a rafflecopter for your own prize giveaway so that you can maximize the effects of having so many new readers visit your site.
Rafflecopters are easy to set up and you can give readers extra chances to win by having them do things like sign up for PJ’s Newsletter, Like” PJ’s FB page, Follow PJ on Twitter, Goodreads, etc.

Think about what you want to accomplish with this promotional effort. It’s important to remember that promotions like this aren’t always about selling books, but more about connecting to new readers, expanding your sphere of influence, and perhaps growing your mailing list/social media following.

If you don’t want to use a rafflecopter, you could simply offer your prize to a random commenter or require entrants to sign up for your mailing list to be included in your drawing. It’s okay to ask people to give something in order to get something, but make it as easy as you can for them. One click responses get the best follow-through from readers. If they have to jump through too many hoops, they may not participate as readily. Just make sure to clearly state your rules, including the deadline for entry.
Each participating author leaves their blog post up for the duration of the hop (which can be anywhere from three to ten days, depending on how long you want to run it). The Authors in Bloom hop runs from April10-19, which gives us time to cross-promote the event, and gives readers plenty of time to work their way through the sites and enter to win fabulous prizes.

In our case, we’ve pitched in $5 each, and are offering either a Nook or Kindle, and $25 worth of books for the Grand prize.

On each blog, readers will find a recipe or a gardening tip, and instructions on how to enter to win whatever prize the author is indivdually offering. Prizes vary from site to site. Examples are, swag baskets, free e-books, gift cards, signed books, or in my case, an audio book version of Heaven Is For Heroes as my big prize, and the FREE short story prequel to WANING MOON, called SOUL REDEMPTION, to everyone who leaves a comment.

Giving away the book you are promoting isn’t necessarily bad, but you want readers to be led to “buy” your book rather than just trying to win a copy. Offering related material as a prize might get you more click throughs to your book. On your blog, there will also be a link back to the “landing page” or links directly to everyone else’s blog. I like to have a list with links available to make it easier for readers to “hop” to the next site on their “neighborhood tour”. Really, you can get as creative as you like.
What we’ve done to encourage people to visit all the blogs on the hop is created a short story and had each participating author include key words within their posts for readers to find. To enter for the Grand Prize, readers have to have collected all the key words. Most readers find this to be loads of fun and they get lots of chances to win prizes and get to know some great new authors in the process.

I know all of this sounds complicated, but once you have the landing page and rafflecopter set up, the rest is up to each author and how they want to dress up their site and help advertise the event. Some pay for ads, others tweet about it, put it up on FB, and advertise on Goodreads. Just imagine the reach of fifty authors all promoting an event like this. Our sites can potentially get thousands of hits.

The other benefit of having such a large group is that many hands make light work. If you don’t know how to do something, chances are someone else in the group does. The writing community is full of awesome people with lots of know-how, and we are all in the same boat, paddling along together. The writer’s life can be a lonesome journey, so events like this are a good reminder that we are not in it alone.
So there you have it. Thanks again for having me today, Leslie Ann. I’d be happy to answer questions on any other details you or your readers would like to know.

LA: Thanks PJ, I do have a question, is a blog hop and a blog tour the same thing?

PJ: I’ve never seen a paid blog hop, whereas a blog tour in which you as an author visit a different review or blog site daily or 3x per week for 2-4 weeks to promote your book can be a paid blog tour or you can set up your own.
Paula writes as PJ Sharon and is author of several independently published, contemporary young adult novels, including Molly finalist, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, FAB Five finalist, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, a finalist in both the Sheila and the Florida Romance Writers Golden Palm contest. She is excitedly working on The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, a YA Dystopian trilogy. WANING MOON, Book One, is a finalist in the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards for the YA Category, and is now available on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.
Writing romantic fiction for the past eight years and following her destiny to write Extraordinary Stories of an Average Teenage Life, PJ is a member of RWA, CTRWA, and YARWA. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA.

Back Blurb:

In the year 2057, after a widespread pandemic has wiped out three quarters of Earth’s population and a global shift threatens the world with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Charmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily embarks on a journey into the city, leaving behind her younger brother, whose gift for “life-taking” is on the verge of maturing. Keeping Zeph under control is as much a challenge as keeping him safe, even in the tiny hill-town of Stanton in the Northeast Sector. In return for use of Lily’s gift, the town has kept them protected from the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit their abilities.
            Lily is accompanied on her journey by Will Callahan, a seventeen-year-old grifter who she rescues and heals after he’s fallen prey to one of her brother’s traps. But Will is on his own quest. He’s been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest and leveled his entire town. With his home destroyed and his mother and sister dead, Will is following a lead that his father may be located in the city. He agrees to travel with Lily as her guardian, hoping to protect her from the local bully who has his sights set on the strange girl with the brilliant green eyes. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put her in far more danger than travelling alone with the local constable’s son, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute he found her.   
Available at:

You can find PJ at any of these links:  

Book Trailers:

Follow PJ on Twitter: @pjsharon
“Like” PJ on Facebook:
Find PJ on Amazon’s Author Central page:
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  1. It's great to be here, Leslie Ann. I look forward to meeting some of your readers. To clarify, the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop has over 50 authors participating, all with prizes and giveaways. To make entering for the Grand prize of a Kindle or Nook easier, we've done away with the "key word collecting" and all you need to do is leave a comment on any site to be entered. The more sites you visit and comment on, the more chances you have to win! I hope to see you at the hop!

  2. Wow, PJ, besides writing great books you give awesome advice. Thank you,

  3. Thanks for the props:-)I'm glad to share what I've learned, Marian. Learning from others has gotten me this far:-) Paying it forward seems to be the writer's way. I'm proud to be part of such a fellowship!

  4. Welcome Paula,
    I'm so glad you picked this topic to post about. You make it sound feasible and fun to put together a blog hop. 50 people. WOW.

    And I agree, paying it forward is one wonderful part of the writer's way. It's one reason I have the blog and then it's compounded when authors like you share their information so openly.


  5. Hi Marian,
    Welcome to My Story, My Way.

    PJ's post is great isn't it? Makes me want to try to put a hop together. Imagine getting the chance to win a Nook or Kindle just for having fun visiting sites and following clues. Wow.

    Thanks for visiting.

  6. Wow, PJ, your Waning Moon sounds thrilling! Love the cover. I wish you the very best in your journey with it.

    You read my mind, Leslie Ann, in asking PJ the question about the difference between a blog tour & hop. Thanks, PJ, for clearing that up.

    I checked out your blog hop, PJ, and I'm "digging" to get back there to enter for those wonderful prizes. I wish you great success with it again this year.

    Oh....what do you say, Leslie Ann--want to start a blog hop? LOL!!!

  7. Hi PJ,
    Thanks for the information. Can I be nosy and ask for statistics?
    Just wondering how many participants hopping from blog to blog is considered a "Success". And did many of the 50 authors participating see a spike in sales after that? How big of a spike?

    To this nontechy author, it sounds like fun--but a NIGHTMARE to orchestrate.
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks Lisa. Glad to help clarify. I've done blog tours for a few of my books. One that I paid for,and two others that I organized myself. I have to say, blog tours are very time consuming and don't seem to have the attendance and results that they used to. I don't think I'll do a formal tour again as I have in the past, but rather, schedule a few guest posts on very high traffic sites.

    Hi Theresa. I don't have current stats for this years Blog Hop since we just started it and I was not in the planning, so I can't tell you if it was a logistical nightmare to set up. Dianne Venetta does much of the leg work and seems to have it down to a science. We have 62 authors participating this year. In two days, I've had half a dozen new folks leave comments on my blog, which rarely gets much comment traffic since I only use it for monthly updates.

    With any of these events, I think it's safe to say, it won't sell a lot of books. But if it gets some new people on my email list, folks following me on twitter, or FB, and my name gets in front of potential new readers, it's done its job.

  9. I've seen blog hops and blog tours before, but didn't understand some of the details. Now I do, thanks PJ! :-)

  10. You're welcome Lynn! Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Hi Lisa,
    You bet,I want to try one in Spring & Fall.

  12. Hi Lynn,
    I didn't either,which is why I was thrilled with Paula's post idea.

    Thanks for visiting the log!