Virtual Book Tours
First let me emphasize that the following is based purely on my experience. It is not intended as the perfect model, but simply a list of things that worked for me during my August 2007, virtual book tour. Keep in mind that there are several sites available that offer to help authors coordinate and schedule virtual tours for a fee. However, with a few basic communication skills, a little time, and some careful planning, it is not only doable, it is an inexpensive and fun way to meet potential readers and promote your book. My tour kick-off was July 30, 2007, with a live interview on Internet Voices Radio. The following day, the hits on my website jumped by 44%. To listen to the interview visit, http://www.martastephens-author.com/interview.html.
The key word is NETWORK and RELATIONSHIPS, but don't wait until your book is published to begin building a communication network. I joined my first author forum several years before Silenced Cry was released in April 2007, by BeWrite Books (UK). I've built my network of friends and contacts through membership in about 20 sites. These sites represent more than 16,000 members and potential readers. The number of readers increases when I add in the number of people who visit my website, my pages in NING groups, Facebook, Myspace, Gather, Squidoo, Authors' Den, Amazon, and other such sites. Also not included in that figure are the friends and family who are on my mailing list. What's more important is that you will also meet potential virtual book tour sponsors on these sites as well.
Join diverse groups that provide different focuses such as some general author forums where anything having to do with writing can and is discussed. Other groups may have a membership with focused interest on your preferred genre, while yet others focus on discussions about marketing, agents, and publishing.
Several people have asked me how I find time to stay current with the various posts and keep up with my writing. As mentioned in my previous article, getting involved within those networks doesn't mean you have to devote hours a day to each one, but do make yourself known to others. Get involved in the conversations that are of interest to you and ones that you can contribute to. Think of how many people you know and come in contact with every day. Each member in these sites probably knows as many or possibly more people than you do. Get to know them. Pay attention to what is being discussed and follow the links they mentioned. You never know where they may lead you. If a certain link is not to your liking, go on to the next one.
So, the day of your book launch has come and gone and now you feel it's time to beef up your promotions. Great! Roll up your sleeves and prepare to work for several weeks on nothing but your virtual book tour.
Don't be shy to ask for sponsorship. You'll find that most authors or site owners will be more than happy to showcase you. It's a win/win situation. The site owner wins because you're doing all the work; writing the articles and promoting their site. You win because you will be able to promote yourself and your book to a target audience that you might not have had access to prior to the tour.
Write a basic announcement and customized it to fit each site based on their criteria for self-promotion. Beware; there are author sites that frown on self-promotion. Make the announcement short, sweet, and to the point. Mention that you are making plans for a virtual book tour (give the dates) and indicate that you would like to know if anyone would be willing to sponsor you on their website or blog.
Within hours of my announcement, I began to receive e-mails from some of my contacts with an "I'd love to sponsor you-please send..."
Remember, everything about the tour is entirely your responsibility.
- Study the sites of those who have invited you to be a guest writer. Read what others have posted to those sites. What can you write about yourself, your book, your characters, etc. that will fit the site's format?
- Don't make the mistake of accepting the offer to post if the site doesn't fit your schedule. I turned one offer down because they wanted a book review. I was reading a book at the time, but I wasn't going to have time to finish it and write a review in time for my tour.
- Get a calendar and write down the names of your contacts and the blog's name and URL. Don't over commit. If you can't write more than four or five articles, don't promise to do seven or eight. It's better to add events to your tour than to commit and not follow through.
- I found it helpful to create an e-mail folder titled Virtual Book Tour. I moved all my e-mails (received and sent) into that folder so I could find important e-mails easily. I also printed the final e-mails confirming the date/time of the event and placed them in a manila folder in event date order.
- Create a folder in your favorites and save the links to each website and/or blog that is sponsoring you so you can find the links quickly.
- Try to do a variety of events. Ask if you can write an article for some of the blogs, ask others if they would like to interview you. If they've read your book, perhaps they will be willing to write a review. Check to see if a group has a chat room and would be willing to schedule an hour chat with you and their members. Check into other media opportunities such as radio and television. Be prepared to send a picture of your book cover or banner to some of the sites. Remember to include a few local blogs in your mailing if they are available, such as local library or book club blogs.
- Start writing. Type, type, type-breathe-type, type, type-breathe again! Vary the topics of your articles. Your sponsor will more than likely makes suggestions. They may want to know what inspired you to write. Others may want you to discuss specifics about your book. Take their lead, but if they leave the topic up to you, one idea source is to review some of your previous interview questions. Maybe there's one that is particularly thought provoking that you would like to expand on. Check your work. Don't expect your sponsor to proofread or edit your work and don't expect them to post an article that is riddled with typos.
- When you e-mail your article to the website owner, be sure to remind him or her of your purpose, the name of your article, the agreed date to post the article, and which blog to post it in if they have multiple blogs.
- If time permits, check what other authors are doing to attract readers to their tour. Some offer to draw names of those commenting on the tour posts for a free autographed copy of their book. Freebies always attract readers. Think about a variety of give away give away options and decide which will be best for you.
- Create an events page on your website and post the tour schedule and links. Join a site such as http://www.booktour.com/ (mention my name if you join, please!). Book Tour is a super easy site to work with and it has a nice, clean look. It allows you to link to your website and book trailer (if you have one). There may be others, but this one has some other nice features such as allowing visitors to send reminders of the tour dates to their e-mails or websites.
- A few days to a week before the tour, prepare another standard announcement to post on the various websites you belong to. This time, list the details of your tour and/or the links to the sites that lists your schedule.
- Two-three days before each event, contact your sponsors and remind him or her to post your blog. This is also a good time to send out private e-mails to everyone listed in your address book to remind them of the tour. Be sure to ask them to post comments on your blogs and to forward your e-mail to a friend or two.
- Once your article or interview has been published, check your posts for comments and be sure to type a response to each.
- After each article has been published on the host site for the day, post it on your own website and/or blog. This way, your article will appear on the search engines via the host site as well as yours and your work will be available in one convenient place for visitors to read.
You will instinctively want to measure your success in sales, but sales aren't the only measuring stick of success. My tour attracted the attention of critical reviewers, additional interview opportunities, a screenplay writer, and invitations to write for other sites which translates into credibility and more exposure. For a new author, the experience and contacts can proved to be invaluable.
Nothing will get you an invitation to post on a site again like a heart-felt thank you. Your sponsor will appreciate it as much as a reciprocal offer from you to return the favor.
All of the articles and interviews from Marta's August 2007 Virtual Book Tour are available on her personal blog
In February 2008, Marta and three other mystery authors launched an authors’ group blog, MURDER BY 4 . If you are considering a virtual book tour, stop by and request a feature.
Good luck and have fun setting up your virtual book tour.
Was the Virtual Book Tour Worth It? An article by Marta Stephens on her 2008 book tour for The Devil Can Wait
- Developing an Internet Presence: An Author's Website
- Developing an Internet Presence: The Public Author
- Developing an Internet Presence: Book Trailers
- Developing an Internet Presence: Spread the Word
- Developing an Internet Presence: Virtual Book Tours
- Developing an Internet Presence: The Hometown Advantage
Marta's debut novel, Silenced Cry, was published by BeWrite Books in 2007.
Her second novel, The Devil Can Wait, was published by BeWrite Books November 3rd 2008.