A virtual book tour is a great way to promote your book to an online audience: you make virtual appearances on blogs, websites, and podcasts.
There are plenty of marketing and PR services out there who claim to be able to book you on a solid virtual book tour — and if you have the funds, by all means, try ’em out! But if you’re promoting your book on a tight budget, it’s also possible to book your own virtual book tour.
What is a virtual book tour?
A virtual book tour is a great way to promote your book to an online audience.
Instead of (or in addition to) traveling from town to town to promote your book at in-person events (libraries, bookstores, schools, etc.), you make virtual appearances on a number of blogs, websites, podcasts, and internet radio stations over the course of 1-4 weeks — going for a critical mass of online media coverage in hopes of boosting your sales, your name recognition, and… oh yeah, your Amazon rankings!
What constitutes a virtual book tour?
An effective virtual book tour can be composed of a number of different kinds of “content,” including:
- Guest blog posts
- Book excerpts
- Book reviews
- Podcast or radio appearance
- Book giveaways
- Social media contests
- Video content posted by blogs
- and more
In fact, the more different kinds of content you create, the more fun it’ll be for you, and the more interested your audience will be in checking out each new “appearance.”
How do I book a virtual book tour?
Booking a virtual book tour is just like booking anything else; you’ve got to cast a wide net in hopes of snagging a few fish. At the same time, you’ve got to be targeted in your approach, making it clear to each blogger, podcaster, or reviewer that you understand their particular audience and content needs.
Important note: get ready for silence and rejection. People are busy; if they’re not interested, they might not have the time to write you back. Also, if they do write back and say “no thank you,” try not to take it personally. There are a hundred reasons they may’ve said no — and you’ll drive yourself mad asking yourself why. Instead, be thankful for those opportunities that DO open up. If you write 100 sites and 10% of them say yes, that’s a two week virtual book tour right there (assuming you spread your appearances out — one per day)!
Here’s how to get started booking your virtual book tour:
1. Compile a list of potential stops along your virtual book tour (book blogs, literary podcasts, radio programs that cover your topic of interest, etc.). Make a spreadsheet with contact info and a few notes about the exact kinds of content that perform well with their audience. One site might run an author spotlight where each week a new writer recommends their top 5 favorite books. Meanwhile, another site might like to run an advice column answered by a guest author. Keep detailed notes of that kind of thing.
2. Start interacting with those sites and podcasts. Leave comments. Share their articles on Twitter. By showing your virtual face early on, you’ll be increasing your chances of getting a positive response when you approach the same outlets with your virtual book tour pitch.
3. Book your virtual book tour! Set the tentative dates for your book tour and then write to everyone on your list individually (no mass emails!) asking if you can make an appearance on their site. Keep your pitch short and sweet (a few concise paragraphs should do the trick.) In addition, be sure to mention your familiarity with their content, and why you’re a great fit for their audience.
Next steps for launching your own virtual book tour:
To see a virtual book tour email-request template, check out this greatly informative article (which I’ve borrowed from here) written by Sandra Beckwith.
Once you’ve booked your book tour, then it’s time to have some fun, create great articles, videos, interviews, and more. And be sure to use that content for your own social media, email newsletter, and PR efforts. Oh, but that’s a whole other blog post, isn’t it?
Have you done a virtual book tour? How did it go? What challenges did you have booking it? Let us know in the comments section below.
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