Recently Lisa Day, an author friend suggested adding a virtual book tour, sometimes known as a book blog tour, to my author platform’s arsenal. Always looking for a way to pump up weak book sales, I searched the internet to find out more. This is what I found.
A virtual book tour is similar to going to stores or signing events in hopes of finding new readers. Instead of making personal appearances, the author goes from one blog to the next. During the length of the tour (usually one to four weeks), the author makes “tour stops” on various blogs, book review websites, and internet radio shows. On these sites, the author guest posts, has video interviews, and does podcasts with other authors. Often they offer prizes like ebooks, signed copies, or other book-related swag. The purpose of the media blitz is to increase sales, name recognition, and ranking.
Do the virtual book tours work? Author Fiona Ingram, comments on the Savvy Book Marketer:
In my experience the answer is a resounding yes. My tour literally propelled my author profile into the stratosphere and I still get Google Alerts from it.
Why blog tours are effective
The most obvious reason is getting your name out to people who don’t necessarily follow you. Appearing on different sites and providing different content on each increases your audience reach and provides you with opportunities to spotlight different aspects of you as an author. This exposure is a wonderful opportunity to connect with readers in ways you may never have thought of before.
As each tour stop spreads the word about you via their social media, interest in you and your book skyrockets, and hopefully so do your sales.
Spin-offs are possible. If someone likes what your say, you may be invited to guest post or make a appearance on their blog.
How to create a successful book tour
The most important thing you can do is plan. Make your preparations two to three months before the tour. Book reviewers need time to read the book and write the review. You need time to answer questionnaires, write guest posts, and create or organized other content.
Assuming that you have already identified your ideal reader, search for sites where they most likely hang out. Become participative on these sites: comment on posts and provide links to interesting blogs via your social networking. This interaction increases your exposures to the website owners and to their readers. Besides being good PR, having this name recognition may help when you contact the site managers about your book blog tour.
Focus on book review sites; readers ready to purchase books come to these specifically for the reviews. Google “book bloggers” and search the lists for relevant sites. Look at Goodreads for authors in your genre to participate. Search LinkedIn and Facebook for potential hosts.
To add variety to the tour, select sites that differ from others. Some sites have you fill out a questionnaire, write a guest post, read or provide excerpts, discuss why you wrote the book or choose the main character. Perhaps you can join an author’s panel to discuss your genre. Be creative and make the tour fun for your readers. Varying the content, keeps the audiences’s attention, and they may actually follow the entire tour.
Start a spreadsheet listing these sites, the type of content they use, and contact information.
Once you have chosen the target sites, contact them to pitch your virtual book tour. In your proposal letter, list the dates of the tour, the type of content your can provide, if you will be offering books or swag as giveaways, a brief intro, and a press release for the book–anything that can help them determine if you are a good fit for their audience/website. Always follow up with a thank you note. Your book may not be the right fit at this time, but might be a fit in the future, or you may have another book to pitch.
Whether you hire a company to make the arrangements for you or you plan the tour yourself, you need to promote the events. Tell your fans where and when you are appearing and the kind of content you are providing at each stop. Create an event calendar on your Website and promote the tour via social media. If you currently do not have a lot of followers, start developing them so they can help promote your tour when the time comes.
Creating an effective blog tour seems like a lot of work, but I am going to give it a try with the release of my next book. Timing is everything, so I guess I’ll get started now.
- Booking Your Own Virtual Book Tour
- Blog Tours for Authors – Do They Work
- How to Plan Your Virtual Book Tour
- A list of top 50 Books blogs by Blog
Have you done a virtual book tour? What advice would you give me as I start planning mine? Please comment.