Virtual Blog Tours Part 2 – Planning Your Own Blog Tour

Welcome back to our mini-series on virtual blog tours.

Today, we take a look at how to plan and schedule a tour yourself. Next week, we’ll look at working with a company to schedule a virtual tour.

Regardless of whether or not you work with a tour company, it’s always a good idea to use your personal network to set up some kind of virtual tour with authors you know. Here are the steps to planning and scheduling a successful virtual tour:

1. Identify the dates you want to “tour” – starting a couple of weeks before your release date and continuing for up to 8 weeks thereafter. Don’t try to push your tour too long – one week of quality content is better than 8 weeks of poor quality or recycled material. Decide how many guest posts you want to write, and plan for that number of tour stops. If you get offers for interviews, you can “expand” your tour to accommodate.

2. Make a list of the bloggers you want to ask about possible guest post spots. Be thorough. Consider your friends, authors you know, and also authors and bloggers who regularly open their blogs to authors around release. When preparing your contact email, remember – you’re asking for a favor. Be polite. The request email should include information about your book, release date, and a REQUEST to write a guest post. Don’t request a specific date in the first contact – offer a range of dates and ask if any of them would be acceptable to the blogger.

3. Try not to schedule multiple appearances on the same date, & calendar your appearances carefully. You’ll want to promote each appearance on your own website and social media (Facebook, Twitter, & anything else you do regularly), & that’s easiest if you’re only making one tour stop a day. 

4. Write guest posts, and answer interview questions, early and with unique, thoughtful content. The virtual tour is NOT the time to recycle last year’s post on “Why my first agent was an obnoxious jerk” or to air your political gripes. Write new posts that relate to your book and will appeal to the host’s audience. Follow the tour host’s guidelines (if provided). Try to get your posts and interview responses to the host at least a couple of weeks in advance of your tour appearance.

Remember: even if interviewers ask identical questions, you can vary the answers enough that readers will get some new and interesting content. Hopefully, readers will “follow” you through the tour – don’t disappoint that effort by giving them the same content they read elsewhere.

5. Show your appreciation by promoting the tour appearance, by reciprocating (if appropriate) and by saying “Thank you.” Tour hosts will appreciate your tweets, posts, retweets and shares–the more you can do to promote the appearance, the more likely it is to attract readers and spread the word about your book.

Ninja promotional tip: When you say “Thank you to [host] for interviewing me today about the release of [Title]: [link]” it doesn’t look as much like self-promotion. A polite thank you, or a fact taken from the post, along with a link to the appearance, is promotion, but not obnoxious promotion. This allows you to promote your release without having to shout “BUY MY BOOK” or “LOOK AT MY LINK.”

Have you got other tips for a successful virtual tour? I’d love to have you share your thoughts in the comments!