Even prior to COVID and quarantining, gone are the days when authors had to pack up and hit the road for a book tour. With so many opportunities accessible online, authors are now able to conduct a successful book tour right from the comfort of their own homes.
Virtual book tours, or what we call “VBTs,” have become an industry standard for generating media buzz following the release of a book. In the simplest terms, VBTs allow you to get the word out about your book without going anywhere or even talking to anyone.
There is no travel involved, it’s not strenuous like a physical book tour, and everything is at your fingertips.
The idea behind a virtual book tour is that you are getting book bloggers, podcasters, Amazon and Goodreads reviewers, bookstagrammers (people who talk about books on Instagram), and the occasional influencer who doesn’t charge to talk about your book. This gives a nice groundswell of digital buzz going about your book, which raises your awareness online, ideally all within that first week of publication.
Here are 5 steps that will get you started with running your own virtual book tour:
1. Pick a Date
Virtual book tours typically happen in a five to six day span around your publication date. So, if your publication date is Tuesday, March 2nd, then your virtual book tour would typically run March 1st through the 5th.
However, if you have already published your book, you can center your virtual book tour around a special date or awareness month. For instance, if your book talks about mental health, then it would be beneficial to schedule your virtual book tour during a week in May, which is Mental Health Month.
The key is to be very strategic with the timing of your virtual book tour. A timely date will give potential outlets a call to action, which will make them much more likely to come on board.
2. Find your Outlets
Of course, you will have to spend time figuring out who will be included on your media list and how you will reach out to them. This can be time intensive.
You will need to do some Google sleuthing to find these people online. Again, you should be going after bloggers, podcasters, Amazon and Goodreads reviewers, bookstagrammers, and influencers.
Now, there’s a lot of different categories of bloggers out there. You want to hone in on the bloggers who fall into the specific categories that pertain to your book. Often, a blog will be much more likely to join the tour if their topic directly relates to your book.
3. Write a Pitch
Once you have figured out who you are going to reach out to, it’s time to create a virtual book tour pitch that makes it exciting for potential outlets to get on board.
It’s imperative that you write your virtual book tour pitch to make it sound like something that people will want to get involved with. You will want to let them know that you have assets available for them that will make it very easy for them to join.
Keep in mind that this is just a hobby for a lot of these people. This is likely not their full-time job. So, you really have to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes and get on board.
Ideally, you want them to commit to a certain day of the week during your virtual book tour. In your pitch, you want to provide a menu of offerings for them to use. Here are a few things that you should always include:
- Press materials that can be turned into a review
- An electronic copy of your book that you can send so that they can do their own review
- An offer to send them a physical copy of your book
- A prewritten Q&A (think pre-written interview) for them to post
- An excerpt from your book
You will want to put all of these documents together in a Dropbox, which will make it very easy for them to access through a simple link. As soon as someone commits to joining your virtual book tour, you need to make sure they have access to this Dropbox.
In the weeks leading up to your tour, be sure to remind everyone who commits to joining your virtual book tour about their responsibilities. Be sure to ask them if there is anything else they need and if they can confirm the date that they will be posting.
Keep in mind you will likely have people who don’t end up posting on the day that they said they would post. Life happens, and that’s OK. Just follow up with them and very kindly ask when their link will be up.
But for the most part, you’ll likely get 100% follow-through eventually. It’s very important to engage with everyone who participates, and that means responding to their audience.
Make sure you follow their social media platforms and respond to comments when they pop up. Also, you will want to share the links to the blog posts or podcasts on your social media platforms. If you do your part, it will make it a win-win for you and the outlet.
5. Say Thank You
It seems simple, but you can’t forget to say “thank you” to everyone who participates in your virtual book tour. It’s always a nice thing to do the week after your tour concludes.
If you have any statistics that you can share with outlets on visitors to your site or number of books sold, then be sure to include those in your thank-you email. The goal here is to build a lasting relationship with these bloggers, podcasters, and reviewers so that you can reach out to them in the future for coverage. A genuine “thank you” always helps.
If you want to learn more about running a virtual book tour, among a host of other topics related to building your platform and publicizing your book, check out the Author to Influencer Accelerator, our DIY membership community for authors who want to take a hands-on approach to marketing their books.