Most authors turn to Virtual Book Tours, which are online book events around the time of the book launch, as an alternative to bearing the expense of a live book tour around the country.
Creation of a virtual book tour includes an online promotional schedule for a month, soon after the book is launched, seeking to connect with bloggers who will read and tout the book. You can also attempt to get interviews through radio and podcasts, participate in on-line prearranged chats and hold teleclasses or web casts. The aim of these events is to both sell books as well as get a whole new group of interested people to sign up on your web site for further communications, just at the time the book comes out.
To be effective, a virtual book tour takes some strategic thought and preparation time, but it can be well worth it in terms of book sales at minimal expense. The goal of a virtual book tour is to sell books, but also to draw attention to the author and the author’s web site so that new names and emails are captured for the database. There are ten steps to success when you plan a virtual book tour.
Strategy for Success
1. Brainstorm and research blogs, podcasts, web sites, radio shows and other interview and connection venues that have already attracted the same audience as you are attracting with your book.
Use these links to use to find blogs, podcasts, review sites and more.
Internet Radio Stations
Online Book Review Sites
Broadcast Radio Research
Social Networking Sites
Use the Virtual Book Tour Log or create your own to document what you find.
2. Make sure the book/author web site or pages are all they can be, including an online media kit with interview questions and news-relevant press releases. You want your home page to list your other virtual book tour stops or have a special page that will do this.
3. The campaign should be set for the 30 (or 60) days following the publication date. You can make the greatest impact if you set the publication date at a time when the book is most newsworthy (such as a holiday or national week of X) and that is relevant to your book.
Also, make sure you have a lot of free time during that same period of time so you can book interviews.
4. Besides getting notice by bloggers, podcasters, radio interviewers and others, it is great to do your own events during this same period – teleclasses, contests, etc. –anything that makes your site more interactive and interesting to readers.
The Two Months Before the Campaign
5. Create a book trailer, which is a short video advertisement for the author and/or the book. The simplest book trailers are still photos with captions set to music. Book trailers can also be produced with video and professional voice-overs and can cost thousands of dollars to produce.
6. Create the pitch letter and send it out . The most important thing you need to do in the pitch letter is to tell the reader how much you enjoy/appreciate his or her work. The more specific you can be, the better. The pitch letter should also offer a copy of the book and other freebies for the blogger/podcaster or his or her readers/listeners. Insisting that you (or worse, your book) are perfect for the reader’s audience/listeners is not your best approach. Everyone does that. Provide easy links to your site in the letter.
During the Campaign
7. Send out confirmations of your participation on shows/blogs and make sure you know what they want and expect of you.
8. Enjoy the process, even with the glitches that inevitably happen. If you get bumped or canceled, don’t react negatively with the show producer/podcaster/blogger. Try to reschedule as soon as you can. Be fun and interesting on and off the air.
After the Tour
9. Send personal specific thank yous (emails are fine, regular mail is better) to everyone who interviewed you or linked to your site. Offer to help them as they have helped you.
10. Follow up and pursue the additional opportunities that you learned about during the virtual book tour. This is one of the most valuable parts of the tour is the new connections you make.
11. Book promotion is a long-term process and takes a very winding road, so be happy with the connections you made. Sales may happen as a result of the mp3s and blog links you now have on the author’s site as a result of the tour, so a virtual book tour is worth a lot in the long run, regardless of the success of the tour for immediate book sales.
Watch a Slidecast
Download material for your notebook