Virtual Book Tours, also known as blog tours, are an excellent way for authors to promote themselves and their books.
- – Blog tours seem to use all the advantages of social media, plus the "tour stops" are recorded on the blogs and last far beyond the event date, so there's some real staying power involved.
- – Good tour hosts are kind to the authors and their books, but they are also honest, so readers know they can trust the blog host. That lends credibility to the tour stop and the reviews.
- – The biggest quandary for the modern author is deciding which is the biggest perk: how budget-friendly viritual book tours are or the fact that you can do them in your bathrobe and slippers.
In this month's industry interview, we spoke with Trish and Linda from TLC Book Tours. Here, Trish and Linda share all you need to know about the inside workings of a blog tour.
You bill yourself as a blog tour agent. What exactly is a blog tour agent?
A blog tour agent arranges the blog tour – from scoping out the blogs to making sure bloggers post on their scheduled date to fielding questions from the author.
It seems everyone is doing a "virtual book tour" or "blog tour" these days. What happens on these tours?
It is similar to a “real life” book tour in that the author is getting out there and marketing their book to potential readers/buyers, but in a 21st century way, on the internet rather than in book stores.
The author virtually ‘visits’ blogs rather than book stores. Each blog has its own unique audience of readers. This audience won’t be sitting in chairs, listening to you read an excerpt of your new book at their local bookstore. Instead they’ll be reading reviews of your book and learning more about you on their laptops/desktops/tablets/phones, etc., wherever they happen to be, all over the country.
What are some of the advantages, especially for new authors, of a virtual tour?
They can reach a wide audience without going out on an expensive book tour. The virtual book tour helps jump start the word of mouth recommendations that are so critical to book sales. Readers of blogs trust that blogger’s recommendation, and even if a blogger didn’t like the book, readers know the blogger well enough to decide whether the book might be a good match for them.
How can authors get noticed by bloggers and score an invitation to their blog?
Bloggers rarely invite an author on to their blog, but the best way to get noticed by a blogger is to become active on their blog – comment on their posts, engage with them in a way that a regular reader would. Do it without expecting that you’ll get anything in return.
Along the same lines, what's the best way to approach a book blogger? Give us a few do's and don'ts.
Be personable. Take a look around their blog and get a feel for who this blogger is. Be genuinely interested in the blogger as a person. Don’t send them a form email and don’t ask them to review your book via Twitter. Realize that cultivating relationships takes time and no one like to have a product continuously pushed at them.
What would you say are the 3 most important elements for a successful blog tour?
An engaged author, an engaged author, and an engaged author.
One of the disadvantages of a virtual tour is that authors don't get to actually interact in real life with their readers. What are some ways to bridge the gap between real life and virtual life while on tour?
We encourage authors to engage with the readers of the blog in the comments. You can address everyone personally by using their name, making things very personal. I’ve seen bloggers comment on Twitter when an author is engaged in a positive way in the comments, and not only does it make an impression on the blogger, it makes an impression on everyone the blogger tells about how the author is engaging their readers.
What are some of rules and expectations for author etiquette on a virtual tour?
The only expectation that we have is that an author won’t berate, name call, or harass one of the tour hosts. It’s inevitable that someone isn’t going to like the book, and nothing good ever comes from being defensive.
How can authors maintain a good relationship with bloggers after the tour?
Continue to visit their blog and interact. It means a lot to bloggers to have authors find them interesting and relevant.
Let's get down to some pragmatics. What is the typical cost of a blog tour?
The cost of a blog tour can run the gamut, but our prices are mid-range at $549 for a 10-blog tour and $699 for a 15-blog tour. The cost of a blog tour can run the gamut, but our prices are mid-range at $549 for a 10-blog tour and $699 for a 15-blog tour.
Does this translate at all into additional sales?
We know tours translate into sales because bloggers frequently tell us when a reader buys a book based on their recommendation. However, we're unable to quantify specific sales numbers for individual authors as we don't have access to that information.
And about how much time do authors typically have it invest in each tour stop?
There is no set amount of time that authors should invest per tour stop. Some bloggers will request special content (guest posts/Q&A's) which an author would need to spend time on in advance of the tour- and I can't say how long it might take an author to write a guest post or answer a Q&A as that would depend on the author. As the tour is happening, we recommend following along, dropping by the blog stops, thanking each blogger for the review in the comment section of the blog and responding to any questions/comments from readers. This might take perhaps 10-20 minutes on the day of each tour stop.
How can our partner authors reach you if they want some help with their tours? What are some of the services you offer them?