Spotlight on Trish Collins

By Frances Caballo

Sometimes blogging can feel like a chore and other times it is a fulfilling platform to market your book, connect with your followers, and reach new readers. In the case of Trish Collins, owner of TLC Book Tours with her partner Lisa Munley, writing a book blog and reading and leaving comments on similar blogs was a hobby in July of 2007 that 13 months later turned into a
profitable company that organizes blog tours for authors.

When Trish started her blog, she was reading 75 books annually and wanted to convert a solitary passion into a social medium. In addition to the time she spent reading, Trish devoted 20 hours each week to reading and leaving comments on similar blogs. “That’s how you get known in the blogging community. The growth happens naturally but it’s a lot of work.” Over time, she attracted a robust following of 1800 subscribers.

Enjoying that type of success takes time that is, unless you’re Pioneer Woman (aka Ree Drummond), the wife and mother who started blogging about cooking, gardening, homeschooling and other topics and quickly garnered the attention of, well, everyone. Pioneer Woman now has a coveted spot on the Food Network and a blog following that continues to grow exponentially.
“She won the blog lottery,” Trish explains matter-of-factly.

Hey Lady!

Trish’s blog title began as Hey Lady! But she soon realized that the title did a poor job of conveying the purpose and intent of her posts. She soon changed it to the more focused Hey, Lady! Watcha Readin’?  Bucking the advice of every blog “expert” on the Internet, she eschews the practice of focusing on keywords and using search engine optimization techniques to reach new followers.

“I’ve looked into it a little bit but I think SEO depends a lot on whether you want unique traffic or whether you want people to keep
coming back. I want people coming back. I don’t care if people find me through Google. Blogs do best when they spread by word of mouth. I rather that people say, ‘Hey, you should read this blog,’ rather than someone just stumbling on it.”

Each time Trish uploads a post, her followers’ comments pour in. A recent post that veered into personal material triggered more than 30 comments. Generally, her topics include assessments of books she reads and her recommendations. “If people have read the book I’m writing about, it can turn into a mini book club discussion.”

TLC Book Tours

When TLC began, Trish and her partner started cold-calling authors via email. “That worked and we got business that way.”

Then they decided to ramp up the business so they attended the Book Expo of America in New York in May 2009. By then, publishers were starting to hear about their blog tours and monitor them. While attending the Expo, HarperCollins signed on as a client “and then it snowballed from there.”

“This type of business didn’t exist 10 years ago. I never would have imagined myself here,” Trish said.

Trish, now 33, is selective about which blogs can be included in her author tours. Working with established publishers such as Random House, HarperCollins, Penguin and others, Trish’s company only engages with experienced bloggers who have a certain number of followers. “My goal is to get reviews that are seen by a lot of people.”

Social Media

Trish has good advice for authors who use social media to promote their books. “I think what people miss about social media is that you can’t be pushing your stuff at people all the time. So when I’m on Twitter, I interact with people.” In other words, she keeps the social in social media.

She uses Twitter — her handle is @trishheylady — to interact with her followers and she uses Facebook personally and for her business. “On Facebook, we highlight the best reviews of the books on tour and try to highlight at least one review from every tour.”

Their Facebook page had 563 fans when I last checked. It is a popular page because the TLC partners make a point to promote both the books and the bloggers.

Her Advice for Authors

The most common mistake writers make on their blogs is that they write for other writers instead of for their readers.

“If you had a cooking blog or food blog and you were a chef, are the people reading you other chefs or people who like to cook and eat? Similarly, authors would have a bigger audience if they went for the reader audience and not the writer audience.”

She also suggests that authors write blogs that are interesting and that have a creative flair. “I’ve read quite a few author blogs and
people want to read something that’s entertaining and not dry.”

Since giving birth to her son Ethan ten months ago, Trish’s priorities have shifted. “If I’m not watching Ethan, I’m working on my
business. But I’m trying to keep my blog alive because there’s something special about it.”

About the Author: Sonoma County social media marketer, trainer and strategist Frances Caballo owns ACT Communications and has 22 years of communications experience. She specializes in helping writers, businesses and nonprofits with their social media marketing and public relations. Frances is bilingual in English and Spanish. Find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/fcaballo, Twitter (@CaballoFrances), LinkedIn and Google+.

Comments

  1. Again, nice job, Frances. I found this to be an interesting interview and one that edges me closer to actually doing a blog tour. I’ve always shied away from the idea as another way to lose money and gain little or no readership. It sounds like Trish cares about her authors and delivers the exposure they need. I might try it. Charles

  2. Thank you for this Frances. This is a very good interview. Trish is right when it comes to your audience. Blog or vlog for the reader, not the writer if you want to reach a bigger audience. I am just starting a blog of interviews with writers called All About Authors to attract the reader. Will let you know how that goes!

    • Thanks for taking the time to post a lovely comment. Yes, keep all of us informed about your author interviews on your blog!

  3. Wonderful interview Frances.

    I will go look Trish up on Twitter and read her blog too. I find it funny and interesting that she paid attention to enjoying her passion of reading and writing about books. What a sweet life.

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