Virtual Book Tours

Virtual book tours became prevalent very quickly. I’ve heard how great they are — mostly from the major publishers who don’t want to spend the money to send their authors on an unvirtual tour — that I wonder how worthwhile blog tours really are. I know the most popular book blogs do help get the word out, but it’s hard to get a guest spot on those blogs unless you have a publicity department behind you. Some people who have done tours think the tour helped with sales, other says not. Me? I’m still not sure. I did two tours, and neither seemed to make any difference in sales.

I’ve read that for most authors, the real benefit of doing a book signing in an offline store is the connection one makes with the bookseller, and perhaps the same holds true with a virtual book tour. I’ve made connections with other bloggers, introduced my books to people who would not otherwise have discovered them, and talked about my books with those who have read them.

Setting up a blog tour is easy, though time-consuming. You need to research blogs to find the best fit, and then you need to query the blogger. If you are invited to be a guest on the blog, you need to find out what is expected of you — an article, an interview, a giveaway — and you need make sure that every article you write, every response in an interview is different and appealing.

People will not follow your blog tour if you keep recycling the same article. Make sure you send your guest post, a bio, a photo of you, a photo of your cover days in advance. Then on the day the article is posted, you need to visit the blog several times and respond to comments.

A disconcerting aspects of my tours was how few bloggers did anything beyond posting the article. No mention on Facebook, no Twitter, no promotion of any kind. So, the main thing is, make sure you do what you can yourself to promote. Which meant, for me, two blog articles a day, one for the host, and one for my blog to promote the host. Plus Facebook status updates, posting the link on my profile, and Twittering.

The tours were fun and challenging, and I’ve certainly did what I could to launch my last two novels, but will I do it again? Possibly. I have a hunch the benefits of a tour are long term, and the more one does to get their name out there, the better the chance of getting known, but I’m still not convinced they were worth all the effort.