Twelve Steps to a Better Virtual Book Tour
By Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz
Copyright © 2010, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz, All Rights Reserved
In 2003, I published my first middle grade novel, Ghost for Rent. Unfortunately, I didnít know much about marketing. Last year, after attending an online writerís conference, I learned about virtual book tours (VBT). Here was a way to market my book, while avoiding going out in public, something I wasnít keen on doing since I am what Hope Clark refers to as a ďshy writer.Ē The VBT is a inexpensive way to promote your book and your name but with a wider audience than traditional bookstore signings.
1. Find appropriate blogs. You can do this by doing a net search, asking your writing groups, or social networks. If you want to spend money, you can hire a virtual book tour company such as Pump Up Your Book Promotion (http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/) or Goddess Fish Promotions (http://www.goddessfish.com/).
2. Decide how long and when to tour. Most VBTs last from one week to a month. Some bloggers are willing to post a review, an interview and a guest post from you, so your exposure on that blog is longer than just a day. Time the VBT for a holiday or release of your book.
3. Approach your targets. Send an email request to the people you feel would be good hosts for your book. Include your name, email, a short synopsis of your work, and when you want the VBT.
4. Send information. Once people confirm, send them a copy of your book (check with your host, some reviewers donít accept pdf versions). Send an author photo, a cover jpg, a full synopsis, an excerpt of your story, and sample interview questions.
5. Prepare a calendar Make a list of where your book will be hosted, including the date, the web address, the hostís name, and when you sent the information. You can create a spreadsheet on your computer or use a calendar.
6. Answer interview questions. Spend time making thoughtful responses. If your book will be hosted at ten different blogs, you donít want the same information on all ten blogs. Vary your responses and make it helpful and interesting. Return these to in advance of the tour date.
7. Write guest posts. If you have been invited to write guest posts, make sure you do a professional job. People who havenít read your book will be reading your posts. Make sure they will also want to read your book. Create posts appropriate to the subject matter of your book.
8. Decide if you want to offer a giveaway. While not compulsory, some writers offer a promotional gift to one or more people who leave blog comments. You will need to have blog hosts obtain contact information.
9. Promote the tour. List tour dates on all of your social networking sites as well as your own blog and web site. Send daily tweets during the VBT. Start before the tour and continue promoting during the tour. Send press releases to local newspapers.
10. Remind tour hosts. A few days before each stop, send a reminder to the blog host. Be flexible if you learn the host is ill and canít post or another problem has arisen.
11. During the tour. Visit the host blog daily and respond to any questions which readers may leave for you.
12. After the tour. Be sure to thank your tour hosts and offer to reciprocate when they are promoting their own books.
Following these steps should ensure you a successful VBT, resulting in greater exposure and sales of your book.