Of all the questions I am asked regarding marketing, the first and foremost is: "How do I set up a virtual book tour?" (Well, generally the very first question is, "What the heck is a virtual book tour?") I decided to take a couple of minutes to answer those questions today.
When you go on a virtual book tour, you have essentially arranged for several different blogs and websites to feature you in some way. They might do a book review, they might interview you, they might just talk about you - but they all do it to help you promote yourself and your book. It's like going on a book tour from the privacy of your own home, hence the name, "virtual book tour."
VBTs can help you in many ways.
1. They can help you become more familiar to the hosts of the sites you visit.
2. They can make your name more recognizable to the buying public.
3. They can garner you reviews on your book that otherwise might be difficult to get.
4. The more times your name appears on the Internet, the more special you look. And special = sales.
5. They can drive more traffic back to your blog and your website, helping the reader learn more about you = sales.
So, how to go about setting up a VBT?
A. Talk to your publisher and find out how many review copies of your book they are willing to send out. Some publishers will give a stack of books to the author to mail out themselves, some publishers mail the books for you, and some publishers will give a discount on copies for the author to purchase and then mail out. In fact, some publishers won't assist in this at all ... but we won't focus on that. Talk to your publisher and find out their rules.
B. Now that you know how many books you can send out, you need to find the right reviewers for you. Go to Google and type in blogs and then your search term. If your books is about shopping malls in the Amazon, put in blogs Amazon shopping malls. Up will come a list of blogs that talk about your topic. Or put in blogs book reviews. Of course you can customize your search in any way you like. Once the list comes up, click on each link and find those blogs that seem to be the best fit for what you're looking for. Leave a comment to establish a good relationship, and then look for a contact link or the profile link, which will lead you to a way to contact. Politely ask the blogger if they would be interested in hosting your tour, offer them a free book, and thank them for your time. You do not have to pay the blogger for the review - the free copy is their thank-you gift.
C. When the blogger replies to you, establish with them the date upon which their review will appear. You want to spread out your reviews so that the fervor you create will be sustainable - if you schedule them all for the same day, you'll make a big splash but it will peter out quickly. You should schedule your tour far enough into the future that your publisher has time to mail out the books and the reviewer has time to read their copy. If your book will be in the warehouse on April 1st, schedule your tour for the middle of May.
D. Five days before a review is set to appear, e-mail that blogger and remind them (again politely) and then pop them a note the night before. When their review appears, copy the link and post it on your own blog or website, and invite all your readers to go take a look at it. You can then send your publisher a list of links, and they can link from their website to the review.
These are the basic steps to setting up a blog tour. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you like. I recently did a huge contest in connection with my book release, as did Annette Lyon. Some authors choose to send out books and let them speak for themselves with very little additional hoopla. What you do is up to you. But the Internet is the way many people are doing their shopping these days, and if we take the time to learn how to use it for marketing, we'll be riding the wave of the future.