PUBLISHED AUGUST 2017
by Maria Dismondy, Founder, Cardinal Rule Press –
As a publisher, author, public speaker—and mother of three young children—it’s impossible for me to attend every conference, event, and speaking engagement I’m invited to.
Instead, I make selections that work for my current business and family plan. Those of you reading this article are at different places in your publishing journey. You may be at the beginning without a steady income. You may be further along but still not keen on spending big bucks to travel to conferences and networking events.
I am here with an alternative solution for you. There are ways you can market your platform virtually, leaving large costs and travel behind, no matter where you are in your career.
Virtual Networking Events
Last year, I began hosting virtual networking events that were very beneficial. Let me paint you a picture: First, I scheduled the date and time on a video chat platform. Next, I began marketing to my target market. For my most recent event, it was female entrepreneurs who wanted to work on goal setting for the new year. I prepared an agenda, along with some fun ice breakers to keep the feel of the meeting both positive and connected. To wrap it up, I followed up with the attendees and made sure to connect on various social media platforms.
Virtual networking has many benefits, including strengthening working relationships, providing a source for fresh ideas, increasing brand exposure, expanding your contacts and connectivity, and getting satisfaction from helping and sharing with others.
Disclaimer: Networking events in person are always better, but virtual events are a wonderful alternative.
Authors are now visiting schools across the country from the comfort of their own homes. They are using video chat software such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype to “meet” with fans far and wide. The typical session runs for 30 to 45 minutes and usually includes a short reading of the author’s work, some visuals of upcoming projects, and samples of their writing process on a program like PowerPoint or Keynote. Authors are charging anywhere from $75 per visit to $497 (yes, I’ve witnessed this!). Do your research and read about different formats that authors are offering. Design a program that is just right for your readers and begin marketing it to your network.
The benefits of virtual visits are getting in front of a large group of fans and readers for a low cost, building your speaking credentials, and being able to offer a lower-cost speaking service to schools and groups that otherwise could not afford the travel expense to have you visit in person.
Disclaimer: Being a dynamic speaker and having an engaging program that will keep your audience’s attention are key to the success of a virtual visit.
Virtual Book Tours
Imagine spreading the message about your newly released title across the country without having to travel to any events outside your hometown. It’s possible with virtual book tours! Leave the large costs of travel behind and plan an online book tour. You can do it yourself or hire an agency to plan and execute the tour.
The first step to planning a virtual book tour is to begin connecting far in advance (six to 12 months out) with influencers who reach your target market. In the past, I would suggest bloggers, but now that other social media channels are just as popular as blogs were five years ago, an influencer can be someone with a large following and consistent engagement on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Send out invitations to participate in your virtual tour two months before the release date. Be sure to explain what their role will be and what they will receive as a participant. We typically give away a review copy of the book, a giveaway option, and some swag. We promise to share their review and posts on our social media channels to give the influencers exposure to our audience.
Once we’ve scheduled (we try to expand it over seven to 14 days, one to two posts per day) those interested in helping us launch our book with their honest reviews, we send them everything they need to participate. We set up a DropBox folder of files the reviewers can use to create their post, such as book images, author and illustrator biographies, book summaries, etc. We also create an automated set of e-mails to remind participants to post on their specific date. We always reach out after all is said and done to thank the participants and to encourage future collaboration.
THE JELLY DONUT DIFFERENCE by Maria Dismondy
In April, we hosted a virtual tour for our children’s picture book new release, The Jelly Donut Difference. We had close to 30 educational influencers participate, some with over 50,000 followers on social media. The cost to our publishing house was two review books given to each participant, along with one class set of bookmarks given to the teachers.
The benefits of a virtual book tour: All reviews, blogs, and social media posts are archived and can be accessed for weeks, months, and years into the future online.
Disclaimer: The success of a virtual tour depends on exposure, so be sure that the bloggers and reviewers with whom you connect are influencers to a large number of followers in your target market.
Virtual events are an amazing addition to an author’s marketing plan. It should not be the only way you are marketing, but it is a low-cost addition to gain exposure and to increase revenue.
Maria Dismondy is an award-winning author and founder of the publishing company, Cardinal Rule Press. She inspires and educates others in the book industry. Her background in early education and research enables her to touch lives the world over while touring as a public speaker in schools, community forums, and at national conferences. Find out more about Maria’s coaching services at firstname.lastname@example.org.