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Organized Chaos with Lori Caswell, Host of Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

I would like to welcome Lori Caswell, Host of Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to my blog. I met Lori when she hosted Granny on her tour of the Blog World. I remember the first time I heard of guesting on a blog. I was amazed that someone actually arranged a tour for me. And Lori couldn’t have been a better tour guide. I thought my readers might like to know all that happens in putting together a book tour. Thank you Lori for being here.

Dollycas 2I am so honored Julie asked me to guest post on her blog.

She asked me to tell you about the organized chaos that has become my life since I started Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

I thought I would start with a little background for those of you that may not already know me. I have done a lot of jobs over my lifetime, accounts payable clerk, office manager, and home builder, just to name a few. In 2001, I was in a motor vehicle accident where my spinal cord was pinched leaving my right side 98% paralyzed. Unable to drive and unable to work a typical job for 8 straight hours I was stuck at home, usually by myself. I did help at my church with the bookkeeping but my job was eliminated in 2009. Upset and depressed an online friend talked me into starting a blog and as they say “the rest was history”.

In the summer of 2013 another blogger contacted me and told me she had to quit blogging for medical reasons. She wanted to know if I would want to take over her Virtual Book Tour business. I quickly agreed. Since then my life has changed in so many ways.

There are two things I have found to be essential for me to stay organized not only for the book tours but my blog too.

  1. A Calendar
  • I use Google’s Calendar but I also export the data into my Microsoft Outlook Calendar each week so if I lose access to one I have a backup. It’s happened so better safe than sorry. My calendar shows my reading/blog schedule and all the tours.
  1. Microsoft Spreadsheets
  • I have a Master Spreadsheet that lists all the tours and has columns laid out to track my progress.
  • Each Tour also has its own spreadsheet with a list of bloggers participating, date they will post, what they are posting. I also use this to track guest posts, interviews and giveaways.
  • For my blog I have a Spreadsheet with my Book List. It tells me the title, author, when I received it, where I received it from, date the book will be released and where it fits in the series if applicable. It also has a column for the date I post my review.
  • I have a Reading Diary on a spreadsheet. This is broken down by months and lists title, author, my rating, where the book is set and any challenges it qualifies for.
  • The last spreadsheet keeps track of my giveaways and winners.

great escape button160Great Escapes hosts 15 – 20 or more tours a month with anywhere from 7 – 30 stops.

Every morning I start out by promoting all the stops for the current tours on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and tsu. When I do this I update the tour pages with direct links to the posts.

Then I tackle my email. This is the biggest task of the day. I try to scroll through and take care of the most urgent matters first and then handle the rest. This leads right into emailing any tour guests posts and interviews to the bloggers or sending interviews to the authors. Some days there are so many I really need to prioritize.

Next I handle other tasks including creating emails to announce new tours and booking blogs for new tours. Checking on my Challenge groups on Facebook. Add any new books that have arrived to my Book List and be sure they are on my calendar.

Then after all the above is completed I start to work on posts for my Escape With new escape button160Dollycas Into A Good Book blog. I try to work 2 – 4 days ahead to give myself a little breathing room. The posts can be memes, guest posts, reviews, spotlights, giveaways or a combination. Posts including a review take the longest because I try to get them just right and include all the facts I can without any spoilers.

When that is complete, I send out final tweets of the day for all the tours that are running or starting soon. I do a final check of my emails and check on personal and family things on Facebook.

That usually brings me to supper time at our house. Time to push away from the computer for some family time. This usually includes a bit of mother/daughter television watching. Of course we both find ourselves reading during the commercials. This usually ends about 10 p.m. Then it is time to get serious about reading. I try to read 3 – 4 books a week and my reading speed has slowed a bit this past year. Most nights the lights go off between 2 and 3 in the morning or when I finish the current book or find a good stopping place.

Weekends are just a little different. Fewer emails and no tours are announced. This leaves me time to make tour pages and set up Rafflecopter giveaways. I also update my reading challenges and my Reading Diary and do any needed blog maintenance and review cross posting. It also allows me to spend time with my family, especially my three grandchildren.

My days are very full and I like it that way.  The side effects of my injuries help to remind me to take breaks during the day. My paralysis causes my bad leg and foot to swell if I sit here at the desk too long so I do have to take time to elevate it when I can or get creative in ways to elevate while sitting at my desk. Typing with just one hand also takes its toll, when typos start to crop up like weeds, I know it is time to get away from the desk even just for a few minutes.

I love what I do, reading, blogging, sharing my thoughts and promoting books. I have always been a bookworm, but I never imagined what a huge impact it would have on my life.

Short Bio

Lori Caswell is married to Jeff.  Mom to Kristopher, Katherine, Elizabeth and Jaymeson. Nana to Kaden, Natalie and Remington. They have two Border Collie/Blue Heeler mixes who are sisters, Oreo and Nera Belle. Lori has been blogging since 2009 and her reviews can be found on Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes and Noble, Midwest Book Review and Powell’s Books.

Links-

Blog – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/escapewithdollycas/ and https://www.facebook.com/GreatEscapesVirtualBookTours/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/dollycas

Google +  – https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/117330676990722681198/+Escapewithdollycasintoagoodbook/posts

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/dollycas/

Linked In – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lori-caswell-8b204541

Tsu – http://www.tsu.co/Dollycas

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4770012-lori-dollycas-caswell

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A1FJFLAAQD5WH2

Take time to visit Lori’s site and learn about all the wonderful authors she hosts. Reading her posts makes me tired but she has the skill, expertise and heart for her blog. As an author I know I can represent those she has helped when I say, Lori, we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you.

24 thoughts on “Organized Chaos with Lori Caswell, Host of Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

  1. As a blog tour organizer myself I thought it very itneresting to read about how you handle your business. I recently signed-up as a tour host for you as I am reading mroe and mroe cozy mysteries lately.

    I also use google calendar a lot and thanks for the mention of backing it up, I never looked into that, but just did that to make sure I have a back-up. You can never be too carefull. I also make spreadsheets for each tour, but I don’t have a progress list for all the tours going on. I mostly remember what I still need to do and write things down in my calendar, like send out media kits for tour X on the day they have to go out. It might sound a bit weird, but it works for me.

    You sounds so organized with both your blog and tour organizing business. I write down deadlines and tours and such in my calendar for my blog, but I keep considering to make a spreadsheet for the books I received, I use my shelves on goodreads for that now. I also try to stay ahead with my blog, it’s so nice to have a little breathing room.

    Great post and it was really interesting to read about how you handle your blog and blog tour business!

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  2. I’ve told you this before, but I am so thankful for the work you do–from arranging the tours, to making sure everything turns out the way it was planned on the day-to-day blog visits. Anyone promoting a cozy mystery needs to be a part of your “chaos”!

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  3. Wow, that really is a full-time job!

    Had to laugh about the calendar back-up. My back-up is a big paper desk calendar. I find that I may not remember to look at the computer version, but the stuff on the desk blotter is hard to ignore 🙂 My blogging life isn’t so complicated, but I have a number of jobs and volunteer gigs, so my calendar is pretty complicated sometimes!

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  4. Sounds a lot like my day too. I have tons of emails, promoting author spotlights/giveaways, finding the time to read review books, reviewing the books and products. The time I spend on a computer a day is from when I get up until late afternoon early evening. Then it is supper, watching tv with hubby and at night reading for an hour or so in bed then sleep by 2-3am. I am also disabled and had to stop working in 2009. Sounds like we are a lot alike, except I don’t have the tour company! Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself Lori!

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  5. Just a note about backing up your calendars, etc. A few years ago I had used Google’s Blogger for my blog and I did something they didn’t like, never was explained what, but they locked me out of all my Google accounts. I lost my calendar, email, contact list, docs and my blog. I went crazy, they had no customer service just forums. The people in the forums told me to just wait them out but I had commitments to meet. I rebuilt from scratch and started my blog over on WordPress. Then 8 days later everything was back, but I had moved on. I do like their products but never again will have have “all my eggs in one basket”. So everything I have on Google I back up everywhere I can.

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  6. Lori, I really enjoyed reading this! I am proud to be one of your book tour reviewers. You do an AMAZING job booking great mystery tours and keeping in touch with all the authors, reviewers, etc. I really enjoyed reading more about your daily life here. I am in awe that you read 3 – 4 books a week, especially with all the work you do. That is great! – Trish

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  7. Organized Chaos is Accurate! Anyone who thinks that running one book tour, let alone several simultaneously, is easy just needs to take a good look at your descriptions. Your juggling ability to keep so many balls in the air is flat out amazing. 🙂

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  8. You are amazing, Lori! I have so appreciated being able to participate in your blog tours and while I knew you put a lot of time and effort into them, I had NO idea of the commitment you pour into it. Thanks for sharing…you are an inspiration!

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  9. I didn’t know you were disabled, I have a disc because of a drunk driver, and some other issues. I love my foot stool to elevate and my heating pad!! You do so much! You also answer bloggers asap and are really helpful… Thanks for everything you do! Vicky @ DSA

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  10. Awesome post guys! I can honestly say I’ve had the pleasure of working with Lori on several tours and she’s a gem. Always reachable, there to answer a question our bounce ideas off of. Even when her world has been anything but peachy, she keeps her team informed and makes arrangements for its smooth management. Hats off to this fine lady and for those just being introduced, welcome to the fan club. ^-^

    Liked by 1 person

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