Getting Real Value from Virtual Tours – Part 1

Today, the Wednesday publishing legal series begins a three-week “mini-series” on virtual tours, aka “blog tours” for authors.

Today’s post will discuss the basics, which apply whether you’re “touring” with friends or with paid blog tour companies; next week, we’ll look at setting up your own tours, and the week after that, we’ll focus on tour companies.

Live signings and national book tours are beyond the budget (and scheduling capacity) for many authors, especially since publishers don’t usually pay for book tours. Also, live signings often don’t sell many books unless an author is established enough to draw a crowd (most of whom were buying that book anyway).

However, virtual (online) book tours are great for raising awareness, increasing exposure, and introducing authors to new readers and potential fans. Virtual tours are also less expensive than airplane tickets, hotel rooms, and restaurants, whether you’re scheduling one yourself or working with a reputable company.

A virtual book tour increases awareness by introducing the author (and his or her books) to blog readers. Choosing the right number and kind of blogs (and tour content) helps increase the chance of converting those “eyes on the cover” into readers, and maybe even fans. Some authors book their own tours (independently or with a publicist’s help), while others pay professionals to arrange a tour on their behalf. Some authors (present company included) do both.

Let’s look at some Blog Tour Basics that apply to both author-scheduled tours and those booked through online tour companies.

1. Plan a tour with the maximum possible reach that still focuses on your book’s target audience. Not everyone will want to read your book, so plan to tour with websites that your real audience probably reads. For example, if you write cozy mysteries, you might want to pass on erotica websites–unless your book falls into that category too.

Be sure to think outside the box. Readers may enjoy multiple genres, so don’t confine yourself only to blogs that address your specific genre or topic. For example: I write ninja detective novels, and ninja fans overlap with readers of speculative fiction – so I asked Tammy Salyer if I could scribble on her wall during my tour for Claws of the Cat.

2. Schedule Tours Early – 6-8 weeks before your book release. Many tour companies require 6-8 weeks’ notice to plan a tour, and bloggers also prefer to have their content booked in advance. Many bloggers have only a limited number of tour spots or guest posting slots available. Don’t miss your window by waiting too late to schedule!

3. If possible, arrange for a combination of interviews, guest posts, and book reviews. Some bloggers may offer to review your book on a certain date around release. Be sure to thank them–and be willing to accept an honest review!

4. Don’t Recycle Tour Posts during the tour. If someone gives you space on their website, give them unique content. It’s tempting for authors to cut and paste the answers to interview questions, or to use the same guest post for multiple tour blogs. DO NOT DO THIS. Readers may “follow” your tour and visit several different websites-and you don’t want them finding stale content when you get there. Also, re-using content is disrespectful to the people who offer you space on their websites.

5. DO promote your tour, and every individual blogger or website host, on your website & social media. Your author website should have a page called “Articles and Appearances” or “Virtual Tours” that lists & links to every website you’ll be visiting, by name & date. Not only does this help promote the tour, but it lets your readers find you, and information about you, even after the tour ends. Once I finish touring, I move the articles to another website page, where readers can find them permanently. Here’s an example:

On the morning of an appearance, mention the blog or website, and share a link, on your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google+). It’s polite, and your readers will appreciate it!

6. Interact with commenters on the tour stop blogs and websites. If the blog or website doesn’t allow comments, this isn’t necessary. But if the blog lets readers comment, stop by at least twice on the day of your post or interview to interact with commenters.

7. Last, but NOT least: remember to say “thank you.” Whether you work with friends or with a tour company, everyone appreciates–and deserves–a thank you for hard work done on your behalf.

Thank you for joining me for today’s post on virtual book tours. Join me next week as we look at how to schedule and plan a tour on your own – and the week after that for a talk about booking with tour companies!

2 thoughts on “Getting Real Value from Virtual Tours – Part 1

  • May 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Book tours are a great opportunity to interact with new readers, and it’s so much fun! I loved guest posting on your site…thanks so much again, Susan!

    Cozy erotica? Hmm… 😉

    • June 1, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks Kathy! I loved having you here, too – I’d love to host you again when your next novel comes out, or if you’d like to guest post just for the fun of it!

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