Do you think a blog book tour is a good idea?Absolutely!
On a virtual/blog book tour, an author "visits" a different blog/website each day for several weeks. It's best to have it coincide with the release of your book, but any time in the first three months would be okay. Here's how you do it:
- Tell your publisher that you want to do this. They may have some good ideas or be willing to provide comp copies of the book or offer prizes for contests.
- Research various blogs that you feel would be a good match for your book. Look for blogs that talk about books in your genre and that get a fair amount of traffic. Determining traffic is sometimes difficult but a good indication of a blog's popularity is the number of comments on their posts. The more comments, the more traffic. (But take a peek at the comments to make sure they're made by individuals, and not a conversation between the blogger and one reader.)
- Contact the bloggers 6 weeks ahead of the tour to see if they're willing to participate. Get a tentative commitment from them but give them an out if they don't like your book.
- Send the bloggers a copy of your book. (You publisher may or may not be willing to supply the books. If they won't, then you must. It's hard to do a good virtual visit if the blogger hasn't read your book.)
- Contact the bloggers two to three weeks later to see how they liked your book and to set a date for visiting their blog. Make it clear that this is a serious promotional tour and you will be doing cross-promotion on your blog, so they will need to commit to posting your visit on their assigned date. (If they didn't like your book, this would be the time to exclude them from your tour.)
- Discuss possibilities with the blogger and decide what you will "do" during your visit to their site. Ideas: book review by blogger, blogger interviews you or one of your characters, you write a guest post for their blog, contests with prizes (your book) for their readers, online chat or live web-conferencing, real-time discussion board, recorded telephone or video interview, or anything else you and the blogger can come up with that will provide interesting content for them and positive exposure for you. (Some of these can/must be done ahead of time. Schedule them with enough lead time that they will be finished and ready by post date.)
- Schedule the dates of the different events to provide a variety of activities for
groupiesreaders who follow you from site to site. For example, if three bloggers want to do interviews, spread them several days apart. Also, try to arrange for some variety in the questions they ask you.
- List the dates and places of your visits with links on your blog and/or website (example here). If a blog, put them in the sidebar, in a static post at the top of your posts, or on a tab or link where it's easy to find and won't get lost among all your other posts. Start announcing your tour dates and stops 2 to 4 weeks ahead of the tour.
- Encourage the blogger to advertise your visit (with links to your blog/website) in their sidebar two weeks ahead time.
- Post on your blog about each visit the day before you go, talk positively about the blogger you'll be visiting, and describe what you'll be doing with excitement and energy. Provide links to the blog.
- The day of the visit, go to the blog and provide the interaction you have agreed upon with the blogger. Put your best self forward—be positive, friendly, supportive, kind, and all that other stuff. If it's not a real-time activity, leave a comment on the post thanking the blogger.
- Post positively about the visit the day after. (Even if it was a horrible experience, put a positive spin on it.) Thank the blogger in your post and provide another link to them.
- Send a personal thank you to each blogger after you visit them.
- When the tour is over, assess the results. You may not immediately see a jump in book sales, but you should see an increase in your blog/website hits. Make a note of the bloggers who were the easiest to work with and who provided the most hits back to your blog. You'll want to work with them again in the future.
Readers—If you've done a virtual book tour, let us know how it went. What did you do that worked really well? What didn't work so well? What would you do differently? Feel free to post links in your comments.
P.S. While I was googling "virtual book tours", I found the Book Tour site. If you're doing a real-life tour, you can list your events here. When someone visits the site, it lists the events in their area. Cool.