PUBLISHED AUGUST 2016
by Nina Amir, author
The days of book tours are over. It’s becoming less and less common for publishers to spend time and money sending an author from city to city to do signings or to encourage shoppers in physical books stores to purchase a new release. Today, book tours, like everything else, have gone virtual.
Virtual book tours allow authors to stay in the comfort of their homes but hop virtually from blog to blog, podcast to podcast, and social media event to social media event as a means of meeting their target audience. This means authors can make 30 tour stops or more in a month, exposing themselves and their books to people from all over the world.
How to Prepare for a Virtual Book Tour
Preparation plays a key role in the success of a virtual book tour. You must choose tour stops and invite hosts, but you also must plan the content your authors will provide. Additionally, you need to prepare your authors to determine how to make time to produce extra blog posts—anywhere from two or three to 30. And you need to keep track of all the moving pieces: hosts, deadlines, content, social media promotion, and appearances.
This means you need to manage a lot of moving pieces. Planning helps you keep any of those pieces from falling through the cracks. To ensure your virtual tour goes smoothly, specifically plan the following five aspects of a virtual book tour.
Let’s say the tour includes 20 stops in 31 days—15 blog posts or interviews and five podcast appearances. You and the author need to plan the time to produce that content.
Tour content requires a large amount of extra writing, especially if your authors already have a blog to keep up or any other writing projects. They must schedule in time to meet this new, short-term commitment.
Don’t forget to schedule time for authors to prepare for media appearances, such as radio or podcast shows, webinars, and Google Hangouts.
One of the most important planning steps involves brainstorming the possible blog posts authors can provide to virtual book tour hosts. Your team should review each chapter of the book and develop ideas for posts. Give each a tentative title.
When you complete this process, your authors will have a list of potential posts with titles to offer hosts. Hosts can choose from this list, and you can mark off the posts as “taken” as authors complete and submit them.
3. Stops and Progression
Sometimes a tour stop doesn’t happen, or a publisher or author forgets to send something out to a host. That’s why it’s important to know when your author and book are scheduled to appear on a site or show.
Plus, the author needs to publicize every post and stop by the blogs to check for comments and leave a reply. This requires tracking as well.
Create a way to keep track of:
- Tour stops and dates
- Content the author agreed to provide to each site
- Additional bloggers to contact
- Additional media to contact
- What e-mails authors need to send out (invitations, follow-ups, or thank you notes)
- Social media (e.g., sharing posts numerous times during the tour, commenting on posts, thanking those who share the posts on social media sites)
You can use a mind map for this task or a Word document or Excel spreadsheet; this allows you to monitor what you and the authors need to do, how much you’ve done, and what still needs to be done.
4. Your Virtual Blog Tour Kit
The last thing you need to prepare is a virtual blog tour kit. Much like a media kit, it includes an author bio, head shot, a summary of the book, a list of potential questions and/or talking points, a book pitch, and all the pertinent information about the book, including:
- Number of pages
- ISBN number
- Release date
- Name of person who wrote the foreword
- Links to purchase the book
Also include an excerpt of the book and be prepared to send along a PDF, an e-book version, or a printed copy of the book to all the hosts if requested.
5. Keep Virtual Book Tours in Your Promotion Toolbox
Most publishers and authors use virtual book tours to increase the visibility of their books upon launch. This is a fabulous tool for getting the word out about a new release; however, there are many other reasons to use this marketing tool, and they don’t all pertain to a book launch.
Here’s a list of 13 reasons to go on a virtual book tour at any time:
- A virtual book tour increases author visibility as well as the visibility of their book, blog, or business. If someone’s posts or interviews appear on 30 different sites, people will start to say, “I see you everywhere.”
- A virtual book tour introduces the author and their book, blog, and business to a different—hopefully larger—audience in your target market: the audience of the blogger who hosts their post.
- A virtual book tour introduces your author to an audience in a new target market.
- A virtual book tour makes the author and the book more discoverable. The more mentions on the internet, the more times search engines catalog these, making it easier for people to find.
- A virtual book tour helps authors achieve expert status. When their posts and interviews appear on other respected bloggers’ sites, they gain authority by association. Additionally, when their expert content is found over and over again in search engines, they appear to be a thought leader.
- A virtual book tour helps build a mailing list. At the end of each guest blog post or interview, you can provide an incentive for readers (or listeners) to visit the author’s blog and sign up for your mailing list.
- A virtual book tour attracts more visitors to the author’s blog or website. If posts and interviews always include a bio with a link or the URL to their website or blog, people will click on it to find out more about them.
- A virtual book tour helps build social networks. If authors are allowed to include another link in their bio, such as one to Twitter or Facebook, they gain new followers. Often, a blog post will include a Twitter handle at the beginning of the post with the announcement that it is a guest post.
- A virtual book tour helps you sell more books. If authors include a cover image of the book, mention the book, or hyperlink to a site where the book is for sale, people click through to purchase.
- A virtual book tour helps create a brand. If the messaging is consistent and authors always use the same head shot, bio, and tagline, people begin to perceive them a certain way.
- A virtual book tour helps attract more media attention. The more visible and discoverable your authors are on the internet, the more likely it is that the media will call on them as an authority.
- A virtual book tour helps authors become bestsellers. Many authors conduct their tour on a single day to become an Amazon bestseller for that day.
- A virtual book tour can land an author or publisher a number one Google search engine results page spot. Enough content on one topic and links to one site help achieve this. And it makes finding the author, the book, the blog, or business easy for those who might be interested in what you have to offer.
With preparation, your virtual book tour can go off without a hitch during launch or at a later date. You can manage it without much disruption, as well as without too much stress. Plus, you’ll find a book’s visibility increasing, which means sales go up—and that’s the point.
Nina Amir is a nine-time Amazon bestselling author of such books as How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual. She is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month and the Nonfiction Writers’ University. Her third traditionally published book, Creative Visualization for Writers, will be released by Writer’s Digest Book in October 2016.