Virtual book tour tips

Man going on virtual book tourToday’s guest blogger, who is sharing his experience with a virtual book tour, is Denis Ledoux. He’s the author of Should I Write My Memoir? How to Startwhich is the first book in the seven-part Memoir Network Writing Series. Learn more at his website. (If you’re not familiar with virtual book tours, download this free report, Virtual Book Tour Basics.) 

Virtual book tour tips

By Denis Ledoux

As I explored options for marketing my new Memoir Network Writing Series of six books, I kept hearing about virtual book tours.

I was intrigued, but I was also intimidated. Could I pull it off? 

When I viewed the concept less in terms of a traditional “real world” tour and more as what it is – a series of blog postings – I thought, “I’ve done a lot of blog posting. I can do this.” The problem of handling a big tour came under control.

Selecting the tour length

Some sites suggested several stops a day over just a few weeks; others, one or two stops per week over many more weeks.

I knew I could wrap my attention much more easily over a number of months rather than a few weeks. Plus, I still had my company to run and several books to promote, so a longer tour made sense.

In fact, the tour could not end before the last of my books was produced and available for purchase. Publication stretched from November (at this point, one e-book was already published) until the end of June. I decided to start on February 9 and end on June 30, 2015.

So now I had a loose working plan, but…

Would anyone want to host me?

The nitty-gritty of list building

To get myself beyond my very real fear of “what if I threw a party and no one came,” I did the following:

  1. I made a list of every blogger I might have some “claim” on. I began with guest writers on my Memoir Writer’s Blog and others with whom I had had contact over the last years. Then I added a few names of people I might never have connected to except as a commenter on their blog. I ended up with more than 40 names – that was promising.
  1. I wrote a template letter announcing my blog tour. I would personalize the template for each recipient. If individuals were interested, could they send me posting dates between February 9 and June 30 that would work for them.
  1. I prepared an Excel spreadsheet to record data: name of person and blog, date contacted, the response date and content, notes [“get back in touch in two months].
  1. I collated end matter—bio, photo, links, illustrations—into a document.
  1. I set up a webpage as a promo for site visitors. The page also contained a tour itinerary. The upcoming sites were listed and as soon as posts were up, links became live. The itinerary would extend the life of the tour and serve as a credential for prospective hosts.

The tour begins

After sending my letters, I soon had three or four people who wanted blog posts within the same 10-day period. To get more posts scheduled over the next several months, I began telling people I was looking for a stop in a specific month. It worked.

I inserted confirmations into a three-ring binder with monthly tabs. The binder did wonders to create a sense of control.

Still, I needed more tour stops. To get them, I contacted blogs I had skipped over and did more research to uncover others that were appropriate. I also networked with LinkedIn contacts to find hosts.

What I’ve learned so far

  1. Think of a series of posts rather than a “tour.” It’s less intimidating.
  2. Leave your comfort zone when asking for postings. Bloggers are approachable.
  3. Since I am often excerpting from my books, I am not likely to run out of text.
  4. Do organization work early on before things get out of hand.
  5. Accept that this is a work in progress that will be tweaked often.
  6. Go beyond your usual audience. For example, this buildbookbuzz.com post about virtual touring (not memoir writing) reaches beyond my regular audience to writers who might benefit from the series.

Denis LedouxHas organizing a blog tour been difficult?

It has not, but organizing a tour requires attention and some nose-to-the-grindstone work.

Has the tour produced the results I am hoping for?

I don’t know yet, but I believe it will.

What’s your best virtual book tour tip? Please share it in a comment.


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18 Responses to Virtual book tour tips
  1. Flora Morris Brown
    March 10, 2015 | 8:37 pm

    Denis,

    Thanks for making a virtual book tour doable by reframing it as a series of blog postings. What blogger couldn’t do that?

    Your step-by-step process makes me confident that I can be successful with my upcoming virtual book tour.

    Every tip in the nitty-gritty of list building section is gold. Then you added the ever-wonderful, never-fail old school idea of creating a binder to organize the confirmations.

    It’s been great to learn about your books and programs on your site. Look for an email from me.

    • Denis Ledoux
      March 11, 2015 | 12:55 am

      Flora, I am so gratified that the post tied some things together for you about virtual touring.

      Yes, a series of blog postings. No need to make things more complicated than they are!

      The three ring binder is almost embarrassing in this age of technology and apps but it sure works for me.

      Good luck with your own tour.

      • Sandra Beckwith
        March 11, 2015 | 2:21 pm

        I think one of the other gems here, Denis, is how you explained how you got over the fear that I think many authors have — “Will anyone want to host me.” Good for you!

        Thank you again for such a helpful guest post!

        Sandy

  2. Connie (Corcoran) Wilson
    March 11, 2015 | 4:47 am

    My Virtual Tour begins on March 13th. It will involve 15 bloggers and be tied in with a KDP Kindle give-away for one new book Hellfire & Damnation III for 4/24, 4/25, 5/2, 5/3 and 5/4 and I’ve now thrown into the mix 3 half-price days for Hellfire & Damnation II (the May dates). There is a 10-week lead time required for someone to set up your blog tour, if you don’t want to do it yourself the wayou described.I don’t know 40 people to contact who would do blog reviews for me, free and gratis.

    I went on LinkedIn to get just Amazon reviews. Six people SAID they would review the book. One has. I arm-twisted almost everyone I know to do am Amazon review so that I could begin posting the news that my book was going to be free.I also posted it on my own blog, http://www.WeeklyWilson.com and on my Twitter account and my Facebook and Pinterest accounts.

    (Some blogs, like “The Fussy Librarian”) require 10 reviews be up and good before you can post such a notice on them.) I have neither the time nor the organizational patience or ability to be as organized as what you describe.

    I’ve used 3 blog tour people who do book tours—for a fee. One was far better than the other two, and it has cost me around $300, so far, for her to get tour hosts lined up. Now, I am working with that person (a Canadian) and my part-time web girl in Louisiana to get the news that the book is going to be on a KDP Kindle give-away out, using every blog we can qualify for. There are 3 of us doing this. I worked on it till 4:30 a.m. this morning.

    The woman being paid the $300 to organize and ride herd on the unpaid bloggers is responsible for 10. I took 10 and then divvied up 5 to my web girl. Some sites we were not that familiar with and some will not take you unless you are practically Stephen King, so we’ll see how many we end up with when all is said and done. I got the names of the blog places from an article online and they were listed as an alternative to eBookBub, which turns down 80% of the applicants. The list is at http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2015/02/35-alternatives-to

    After the FREE part, the idea, as I understand it, is to follow up with a reduced price or not-completely-free thing. All I know is I now have 10 five-star reviews on Amazon and if all 15 tour hosts post that will be 25. There are also the 6 people on LinkedIn who have NOT done as they said they would and at least 5 people who have been sent “real” books, which I think will be reviewed by them in due course.

    I’ve never heard of a Virtual Tour going on for months and months. Mine will go till the end of April. I did well purchasing something that Joanna Penn recommended a long time ago, but it no longer exists (or is affordable). It was affiliated with Amazon and was the “Silver” level. Pixels of Ink is not accepting anything now and that was her last recommendation.

    What I’ve learned from doing Virtual Tours is that I can move a lot of FREE books. People like FREE. The trick is to move them into the PAID column, which I hope to do with a “follow-up” tour of sorts.

    I’ve been writing for pay for 59 years, but only started writing books in 2003 (with the exception of one I wrote while in the employ of a teacher training firm that came out in 1989).

    Sincerely,

    Connie (Corcoran) Wilson, M.S.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      March 11, 2015 | 2:33 pm

      Connie, it sounds like your tour will be successful — good luck!

      For what it’s worth, I’ve never done a giveaway for any author I’ve hosted on a book tour, whether the book is fiction or nonfiction. That is clearly the model you’re using, but when you get some time, you might want to try a tour that focuses on some of the nonfiction nuggets in your book, zeroing in on specific topic audiences rather than blogs that are built around a genre. You can pull from settings/locations, professions of your characters, character hobbies, etc. and find blogs covering those topics to interview you about why you chose that real small town as a setting, or that profession for the main character, etc.

      It could open you up to new audiences that you won’t reach with the other approach.

      Sandy

  3. Denis Ledoux
    March 11, 2015 | 2:41 pm

    Connie, First of all, I want to wish you much success with your tour.

    Let me add a few thoughts that are not highlighted in the above article, but which I think may be helpful to you and to other readers.

    1. Think long term with this promo. Your blog posts will be up on the web for years and working for you over a long time. Not only with back links but with exposure to new readers.
    2. A virtual tour helps to establish and maintain some branding for yourself.
    3. The relationships you form with your hosts will survive and both you and your host will help each other again. That’s what relationships are about.
    4. There are people who will not respond to you now but when they see another post of yours archived on the web and a third it will become time for them to respond.
    5.Make your tour be a fun challenge. This is not, of course, “ha-ha” fun but a satisfying gratifying time of outreach.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      March 11, 2015 | 2:44 pm

      Where’s the “like” button when you need it? ; )

      Thanks excellent advice, Denis. Thank you.

      Sandy

  4. Bob Friedman
    March 11, 2015 | 8:35 pm

    I wanted to get word out to readers about a new model reading light. Busy with lots of other tasks, after doing some research, I hired a virtual book tour company. The tour organizer signed up 20 quality book blogs each with a good number of readers posted their review on their blogs and on Amazon, announced a giveaway across the 20 blogs, and we had 2 “book blasts” done. It was well worth the cost for the tour organizer to handle all this and I feel she did a better job than I would have. There’s a lot of people doing book tours so its important to find one that fits for your genre and is reasonably priced for what you want to accomplish and who can cite satisfied clients. I used Kathy at Iamareader.com. She was great.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      March 11, 2015 | 11:27 pm

      Thanks, Bob. I’m glad you found a good resource for your goals.

      What do you mean exactly when you say you had to “book blasts” done?

      Sandy

      • Bob Friedman
        March 12, 2015 | 1:19 am

        To promote our reading light for the holiday season, we arranged with Kathy for one Book Blast in early November, then the Book Blog Review Tour from early November to mid-December, and a second Book Blast in early December.

        Kathy’s website bookblastours.com describes book blasts as:

        Book Blasts
        A Blast is designed to get your book in front of lots of people. It helps builds your social media followings (twitter, goodreads, pinterest etc). Your book information gets posted on multiple blogs over the course of a couple days. Included is an amazon gift card giveaway that encourages people to add your book to their goodreads shelf, follow your twitter, add your book to their amazon wishlist, etc. Exposure is what a blast is all about, don’t expect to see a dramatic sales increase. This is simply a tool to gain exposure for you and your book.

        • Sandra Beckwith
          March 12, 2015 | 1:25 am

          Thank you, Bob. This is helpful.

          Sandy

  5. University Near Chandigarh
    March 17, 2015 | 12:43 pm

    I wrote a template letter announcing my blog tour. I would personalize the template for each recipient. – See more at: http://buildbookbuzz.com/virtual-book-tour-tips/#respond

  6. Denis Ledoux
    March 22, 2015 | 11:30 am

    Dear University,

    Thanks for the pingback.

    I just want to mention that templates are important to me on two scores: 1) they make sure that I get all the information out that I want to get out (and I don’t miss anything) and 2) since most of what I have to say is the same for almost everyone, it saves me a whole lot of time.

  7. Cortez Law III
    April 7, 2015 | 11:17 pm

    Nice article, Denis. It so happens I’m in the midst of scheduling my blog tour as well. I started a bit later than I wanted to so I’m hustling. As of now, three of the seven contacted look locked in and just need dates and details. Timely article that I will read again. Thank you, sir.

    • Denis Ledoux
      April 9, 2015 | 4:11 pm

      Dear Cortez,

      Good work.

      A lovely feature of virtual book touring is that you can continue to add on venues. They need not all be scheduled when you begin. I have added venues since I wrote the above article. I am still looking for one or two for May and for the same number of June—when my tour ends.

      I would urge you to create a tour page on your website so that the venues continue to get traffic as your visitors click on the live links. If you want an example of an itinerary set up, here it is: http://thememoirnetwork.com/memoir-writing-books-series/#itinerary

  8. Connie Corcoran Wilson
    May 3, 2015 | 4:49 am

    The tour I was working on organizing when I wrote the first post is now underway.
    On April 24 and 25 over 1313 people downloaded “Hellfire & Damnation III.” More importantly, the sales of H&D I and H&D II were spurred, driving it to #1 in the Kindle store for certain categories (short sotries by a single author; horror short stories).

    It is now May 2 with May 3 and 4 upcoming. So far, there have been not quite 1,000 downloads of the book in this latter half of the virtual tour.

    One surprising thing: I went out and collected/inveigled/begged friends and others to post Amazon reviews, thinking I’d get 15 and the virtual tour would provide 15, since bloggers are generally expected (although not REQUIRED) to cross post. I have 15 reviews up. Thirteen of them I got on my own. The virtual tour bloggers are 2 in number at this point, although I have hopes that they will post—–late. This is a new experience for me; usually the bloggers are quite good about cross posting to Goodreads and Amazon, but if I had not worked as hard as I did, would I even have 15, only 2 of which are from the virtual tour, so far? Hopefully, this will improve.

    T The getting-it-up-on-free-blog sites was a lot of work and took 3 of us. I am hopeful that the long-term results of promoting like this will be good for ALL my works. Two days remain to get a free copy of “Hellfire & Damnation III” as I write this, so download a copy if you like suspenseful short stories. It will be the only book you’ll download from an author who was bitten by a scorpion on April 17th. (See WeeklyWilson.com for details of that!) And the irony is that the first story (“The Cave Robbber”) involves a spider!
    Sincerely,
    Connie (Corcoran) Wilson
    http://www.ConnieCWilson.com

    • Sandra Beckwith
      May 3, 2015 | 10:11 pm

      Thanks for the update, Connie. I hope the bloggers get those reviews up for you.

      Sandy

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