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.
Updated April 2020.
While you might find PR services out there who can book you on a solid virtual book tour — your mileage may vary. You’ll likely have better luck putting in the time to book a virtual book tour of your own.
What is a virtual book tour?
A virtual book tour is a way to promote your book to an online audience without ever leaving town — or your office, for that matter. Instead of traveling to promote your book at in-person events (libraries, bookstores, school assemblies, etc.), you make virtual appearances on a number of blogs, websites, podcasts, and Internet radio stations over the course of one-to-four weeks — going for a critical mass of online media coverage in hopes of boosting your sales, your name recognition, and Amazon rankings!
What constitutes a virtual book tour?
An effective virtual book tour can be composed of a number of different kinds of “events,” including:
- Guest blog posts
- Podcast or radio appearance
- Social media contests
- Zoom, WebEx, or Google Hangout event
- Video content posted by blogs
- Book excerpts
- Book reviews
In fact, the more varied the 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” and the wider the net you cast.
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 as many fish as possible. 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: Be prepared 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,” don’t take it personally. There are a hundred reasons they may have 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 15% of them say yes, that’s a two week virtual book tour right there (assuming you spread your appearances out one per day)!
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 a new writer recommends his/her top five favorite books. Another site might like to run an advice column answered by a guest author. Keep notes of these details.
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. You’ll want to include:
- Your name, book title, and any special, relevant expertise. Put this in the first two or three sentences.
- Your proposal. Are you proposing a book review? An author Q&A with the blogger? An author Q&A with blog readers? Spell it out.
- Timing. When is your virtual book tour?
In addition, be sure to mention your familiarity with their content, and why you’re a great fit for their audience.
Launching your virtual book tour
To see a virtual book tour email-request template, check out “How to Plan Your Virtual Book Tour” (which I’ve borrowed from here) written by Sandra Beckwith.
Once you’ve booked your book tour, 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.
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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