by John Peragine
Next month my book Max and the Spice Thieves launches, and one of the main events, especially during the time of Covid, is a virtual book tour. The days of slogging a trunk full of books from bookstore to bookstore are far and few unless you are a celebrity. Traditional Publishing houses don't pay for them like they used to, and the turn out at many events can be a little depressing.
Virtual book tours have taken up the slack and are growing in popularity. These virtual tours help an author get their book in front of the right people: book lovers. In addition, they are connecting to people who like books in the genre they write.
What is a Virtual Book Tour (VBT)?
A VBT is when an author shows up on a blog during a particular period of time. VBT times vary. Some last a day (Book Blitz), and others run a month or longer. Most tours last a week or two and often occur right before a release to create a buzz.
There are few different ways you can appear on a blog during the tour:
- A blogger reviews and rates your book.
- You write a short guest post on the blog.
- An excerpt of your book appears on the blog.
- You are interviewed.
- You share your top ten list (usually the theme is picked by the blogger).
- A blog features your book trailer.
One way a book tour can engage people (readers) is with a raffle. Authors give away copies of their books, swag or a gift card. In order to be entered, the reader is required to like a FB page, or follow a Twitter account, or give their email address. Tours often utilize Rafflecopter, which collects the entries and picks a winner at random.
Should You Do It Yourself?
My short answer is no, unless you have a lot of time and connections. There are thousands of book blogs and it could take you forever to organize a great tour. You must find the right blogs for your book, contact the right people, and set up a date to promote your book on their site.
If you do chose to try to set up your own VBT, here are some things to consider:
- Be very very specific about your genre. Not all book blog sites provide reviews.
- When was the last time a blog was posted?
- Do the books on the site look like yours?
- What is the response of people to posts? Is there any engagement?
- Is there a fee?
- Do the posts look professional?
- What country are they based?
- How many posts do they have?
- How long has the site existed?
- What are their rules for book reviews and blog tours?
You must decide when you want to do your blog tour and then you can reach out to the blog owner to see if they are willing to be a stop. You will have to coordinate the raffle, all the blogs, the interviews, excerpts, and everything else. A successful book tour is often set up a month or two in advance.
There are sites that list other sites that do blog tours and book reviews. Often these sites have outdated information and many of the blogs no longer exist or haven't had a post in six months or more. The other way is good ole searching for blog sites through Google, which can mean a lot of kissing frogs before finding your prince or princess.
A Note About Reviews
I wrote a blog about book reviews in January here at WITS, sharing my thoughts on bad reviews. When your book is being reviewed for a book tour, you might get a bad review. It is a risk you take, so you might ask to read the review before it appears on their blog (and before featuring it on your blog tour).
Be sure to send the reviewer your book in plenty of time to read it and get a review back to you. Not everyone is going to love your book, but remember that you can choose whether to promote them as part of your book tour.
Preparing for Your Blog Tour
Most blogs are not going to announce ahead of time that you are going to be visiting their site, so it is up to you to promote your tour. You may want to create a banner, and promote it on all of your social media channels. When you are closer to your tour date, release your tour list with links.
Let the readers know about the prizes. Share that they will be able to get some great behind-the-scenes looks at you and your book.
Hire a Virtual Book Tour Company
If you are like me, you'd rather be writing your next novel than trying to set up a blog tour. There are a number of sites that offer blog tours. They do all the hard work for you. They have relationships with many bloggers and post your book for bloggers to sign up to be part of your tour. This means that they are used to doing book tours and more importantly they are interested in your book.
The price tag for these tours ranges from (approximately) $80-$300, depending on how many blog tour stops you want and if you want any extras. Often these blog tour companies concentrate on particular genres, so again check out their other tours. Read the information carefully about what the tours consist of before you send any money.
Here are my top Virtual Book Tour companies. (In no particular order)
When it's all over, remember to thank your blog hosts. This is extremely important because (a) is it polite and (b) they are the gatekeepers of your potential audience. It's always important to be respectful of the gatekeepers!
Have you done a Virtual Book Tour? What was your experience? Please share it with us down in the comments!
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John Peragine has published 14 books and ghostwritten more than 100 others. He is a contributor for HuffPost, Reuters, and The Today Show. He covered the John Edwards trial exclusively for Bloomberg News and The New York Times. He has written for Wine Enthusiast, Grapevine Magazine, Realtor.com, WineMaker magazine, and Writer's Digest.
John began writing professionally in 2007, after working 13 years in social work and as the piccolo player for the Western Piedmont Symphony for over 25 years. Peragine is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. You can learn more about his books at JohnPeragineBooks.com.
His newest book, Max and the Spice Thieves, will be released on April 20, 2021. Click here for a free first chapter.