Monday, June 22, 2009

Virtual Book Tours--Get Big Visibility for Your Book

Take Your Book on a Blog Tour!

Get High-Visibility, Low-Cost Book Marketing ...
Before Your Book is Even Released

Susan Kendrick

It's always exciting to find an author resource that does something particularly well and that we can pass along as a next book marketing step, one you can count on for results.

That was the case on May 18, when I received a Google Alert (which you know I am a big fan of) about WOW! Women on Writing. The Alert was about the importance of a powerful book title and book cover, but what I found was that the book featured was on a blog tour, and that's where the book cover came into play.

Since then, I have been emailing and talking with WOW! blog tour director, Jodi Webb,, about exactly how WOW! puts its blog tours together, the benefits of a blog tour, pricing, etc. What I discovered is that this group delivers exactly what they promise. They are specific, accountable, calendar-based folks who make things happen. They are my kind of people.

More Marketing Milage for Your Book Cover

Besides the fact that a virtual book tour can do so much so quickly for a new book, the other reason I am excited about this book marketing vehicle is that it is a way to immediately put your new book cover to work. In fact, much of what you will need to provide your blog hosts is already right on your front and back cover.

Because we like to see authors and experts get as much book marketing mileage from their book covers as possible--especially before the book is released--virtual book tours are a natural next step to completing your book cover.

Book Marketing at an Affordable Price

Another reason WOW! blog tours are a next step you should consider is that they are affordably priced, especially for authors who have already invested time and money in their book cover copy, book cover design, starting work with an interior designer, etc. We've heard about and seen first-hand how authors can spend large amounts of money on monthly retainers with PR companies and other marketing ventures that do not usually guarantee any results and therefore too often do not deliver. I realize this isn't always the case, but it is heartbreaking to see authors invest in something that does not give back to them and their books.

Here then is what I have learned through my conversations with WOW! about how you can arrange for a virtual book tour that gives you a full calendar of guaranteed book reviews, interviews, Q&A sessions, recorded interviews, and more, on blogs that are hand-picked to get you in front of the people interested in your topic.

At a Glance -- a Virtual Book Tour Enables You To:

_ Appear on up to 15 blogs in four weeks
_ Build a following for your you, your book, and your expertise
_ Get seen by the people most interested in what you have to offer
_ Generate leads for more appearances, review, and interviews

I will make a disclaimer and say that I know there are other groups and individuals who host virtual book tours, but WOW! are the people I have gotten to know.

Here is what I compiled as a result of my conversations with Jodi:

Susan: How Long Does a Blog Tour Last?

Jodi: Our blog tours last 3 to 4 weeks and include 12 to 15 “appearances” starting at The Muffin, the blog for WOW-Women on Writing where we hold a contest giving away a copy of your book. The appearances range from interviews (email or telephone depending on the bloggers preference), book reviews, articles by our authors either on writing or something related to their book or life, to a book giveaway (with an enthusiastic blurb about your book of course).

Susan: How do you customize these tours?

: Let's take Sybil Baker's tour with her novel The Life Plan* as an example. Her blog tour included writer's blogs, blogs written by women (the main character was female), blogs by expats (the novel was about an expat), travel blogs (she guest posted about her travels), blogs for travel writers (she traveled extensively).

Another was Rachel Dillon's children's nonfiction book Through Endangered Eyes.* She visited parenting blogs, librarian/teacher blogs, nature blogs (it was about endangered animals), travel blogs (the artwork was inspired by Australian native art), green living blogs, writer blogs, children's writing blogs.

(Susan: *Please note that while these two examples from Jodi are about fiction books, she also arranges an equal number of tours for non-fiction books and arranges tours for a wide range of books written by both men and women.)

Susan: What is the format of a blog appearance?

Jodi: Every blogger is different, but blog appearances usually take the form of an interview (conducted by phone or email), book review, guest post or article by the author, or phone interview posted as a recording. Interview formats, for example, generally consist of a recap of the book and and/or the author's life and 5-8 questions about some interesting aspect of the book or author's experience. But rest assured that each interview is completely different. We would never dream of sending the same 8 questions to each author! Although we do usually end the interview with a "What are you up to now?" opportunity to brag about their upcoming projects.

Susan: What else do you do to get exposure for the book and the author?

Jodi: We offer bloggers the opportunity of giveaways. However I tailor this to each author's wishes. Some authors will say, "I only have ARCs to give bloggers" or "I can only give away 5 copies but I can send everyone a pdf of the book." So I determine which bloggers we should offer the print copies to. Or, an author indicates they would prefer to do interviews instead of posts. So I "steer" the bloggers toward interviews during our initial emails.

Susan: It seems that the benefit to the author is that blog readers get to know the author in a more personal way. And, when you care about and trust the author, you care about and trust the book. And, when that happens, you ideally buy the book. Is that the general dynamic of the blog tour?

Jodi: Yes, we do feel the blog appearances are like a good friend saying "I just heard about this great book." Readers come to trust the blogger and their recommendations--that's why we try so hard to fit the right book with the right blogs.
Our authors have been very happy with the way WOW! Blog Tours present them to readers--often readers they may not reach doing publicity on their own. Authors also appreciate the time we save them--time to write their next book, be with family, or attend live events.

Getting Started ...

Susan: Great. So, how does an author get started working with you?

Jodi: The first step is for you to answer our Author Survey so we can get a better feel for you and your book and match you with the ideal blogs for you. Then we approach these blogs about your book and receive a list of dates. After the dates are set, we get all the information from the bloggers about what they need (book cover image, article, review copy, etc.) and remind you of what needs to be done. We also set up a Google calendar to help keep you on track.

Susan: How much does a blog tour cost?

Jodi: A WOW Blog Tour costs $250. The only additional cost to the author(or publisher) is for the cost and shipping for any books sent to bloggers or given as contest prizes. You can save money in this instance by having a pdf of your book available to give away.

The $250 cost for a WOW Blog Tour of 12-15 appearances includes the following:
• Locate highly trafficked/commented blogs related specifically to the author’s book and target audience
• Schedule the dates
• Help the author determine guest post topics
• Send author pics/excerpts/book cover images/book trailers to bloggers
• Set up a Google Calendar for the author
• Remind the author of dates
• Check to make sure the blogger posts what they promised
• Run interference between the author and the bloggers and any other advice or help the author needs
• Create and send out a dedicated e-mail newsletter to WOW’s subscriber base of 20,000+ subscribers
• Publicize the author’s tour on social networks
• Provide an events calendar that readers can add to their Google home page and/or blog
• The author is responsible for emailing guest posts, answering interview questions, and mailing out copies as needed in a timely manner. Postage and cost is responsibility of the author/publisher.

What You Need to Go on Tour

Susan: You will want to provide the following information / materials to each blog host on your tour.

_Book Synopsis
What is your book is about? You can use your back cover and flap copy to provide this “elevator speech” about your book

_5 Topics You Can Be Interviewed on or Provide Articles About
Provide the blogger with at least five topics you would be willing to post on. Please include two types of topics. Give each of these topics a great title, one that will capture people’s interest.
You will want to develop these like you would any good headline or media story angle. Let us know if you need help with this,

_Review Copies
Would you be willing to provide bloggers with review copies of your book, e-book copies or excerpts, or other promotional products for giveaways?

Also be ready to provide the following:
_ Book Front Cover
_ Author Bio
_ Author Photo

Related Considerations / Questions
_Who is your audience?
What is the main group that will be interested in either you or your book. Also, what other related facts about you or your book are of interest and to whom?

_Desired Visibility
What group would you like to reach that you haven't yet?

_Timing / Scheduling
Do you have a preference for when you would like to start a blog tour?

Do you have a pdf file of your book or a downloadable excerpt?

_Additional Appearances
During or after your 12-15 appearances on the blogs selected for your tour, you may get asked by other blogs to do additional appearances on their blogs. You can either arrange for these on your own or wait and use these requests to arrange another blog tour, with the same 3-4 week lead/prep time.

As you can see, a blog tour or Virtual Book Tour is a great way to get meaningful exposure to your target audience, sell books, and create leads for even more appearances. If you have questions about getting your book, book cover, or topics ready for a tour, please email us at or give us a call at 1-888-634-4120. We hope you will look into WOW! and Jodi Webb's blog tour services as a next book marketing step for your book at!


Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved., 1-888-634-4120.

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