I've received a few questions about the blog tours I participate in, how they're set up, what the purpose is, etcetera.
The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance was begun early in the summer of 2005. It was the brainchild of Tony Hines, who was looking for a way to promote current Christian novels, especially ones by unknown authors. Tony ran the show for about a year, but when his own first book, Waking Lazarus appeared on the shelves (and was duly promoted by the CFBA!) he was unable to take the time needed to continue the program. At that time Bonnie Calhoun took the helm and it has continued its rapid growth.
The purpose of the blog tours is to get people talking about specific books. We are to post about the novel on specific days and include specific links (usually the link to the novel at Amazon and to the author's website or blog). We have the links to the CFBA blogs and book reviews on our sidebars, and we are signed up at Technorati so that our blogging content is tracked. The CFBA has raised awareness of virtually ALL of the novels we've reviewed and promoted to become the most talked about novels on Technorati for at least several days running.
This is important in getting word out about new authors in particular. They have very few fans out there waiting in line to buy their novel the minute it is released. (Except their mothers, of course. And cousins. But I digress.) The sink-or-swim method for new books is brutal, but honestly, what else can publishers do? They can toss a lot (relatively a lot) of books out there and see what catches on or they can put out very few and spend the dollars promoting them like crazy. I think all of us hoping-to-be-published writers already figure the odds are stacked high against us. We'd rather take the chance of being discovered than not make it into a smaller cut. Getting a new book talked about--letting potential readers know it is available--is an important step. The book will still sink or swim on its own merit. If it sounds interesting to enough people, they'll buy it, and if it doesn't, they won't. It's very simple, but at least the book now has a chance to catch attention.
We want to give books a chance. That's all.
Do you want to help give books a chance? It's easy to participate. Just go to Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and sign up. You will be asked to place the links on your sidebar. You will have the opportunity to look through the list of upcoming promotions and determine which of them you want to participate in. In many cases, free review copies of the novel are available ahead of time. Occasionally there is a publisher or author who feels unable to pay the postage other than within the USA, but location doesn't appear to be a huge deterrent. I have to admit it takes longer for books to get to my Canadian address, but they will usually show up.
Featured books are lined up for several months in advance. The publishers themselves are beginning to see strong results from the CFBA and are now approaching Bonnie and asking for books to be included. In a recent box from Harvest House Publishers, I received one book that I had requested (from the upcoming list) along with three books that had not been requested. I presume this was in hopes that I would read, enjoy, and post. (These posts are upcoming.)
You are asked to post at least once in the three days of each tour, and there is a tour nearly every week. (We're encouraged to post each day of the tour.) The minimum is to post the specified links. If you read the book and liked it, please say so. If you didn't like it, you may say so (politely). You may say why. You're asked not to give away the ending. You may post a provided review. You are encouraged to interview the author directly in many cases, if you have questions. There's quite a lot of variation available to you if you wish.
Anyone can apply. The CFBA reserves the right to deny acceptance if they feel other content on your blog is inappropriate. They're not the blog police, but if every OTHER post is knocking Christianity or Christian books, why would they want to link you? :P
What to do with all the books? You may certainly keep them! Or you may loan them out. Donate them to your church library, your public library, a women's shelter, a hospital, a...whatever you can think of. You can use them for giveaways on your blog. They're yours. (Sometimes they're even signed by the authors!)
So most of the books that CFBA covers are contemporary Christian novels. There are romances, chick-lits, suspense, adventure...you name it. But you know that my personal and deepest love is for speculative fiction--fantasy and science fiction.
I belong to the Christian Science Fiction Fantasy Blog Tours as well. We are also looking for new members for this group with a more specific focus. Rebecca Miller is the ringleader for this group. The basic idea is the same as for the CFBA.
But let's face it. There aren't nearly as many new novels out in this smaller playing field. We have a monthly list instead of a weekly list. Some of the monthly features are websites instead of novels. But there is an impressive list of upcoming novels as well--the list is made up through May, and I'm thrilled and can hardly wait for every single one of these to hit my mailbox.
If you're interested in either one of these tours--or both--follow the links and sign up. If you've got questions, feel free to post them in comments or to email me. I'll see to it that Bonnie and Rebecca get them if they're not something I can answer.
Oh, and for the record, I haven't read the book that this week's tour is all about: It's called The Election by CFBA tour's own Jerome Teel. I'll find some info about it and post it up tomorrow.