If you just had one of those, “Aw, hell no!” reactions to the title, let me begin by saying I’m writing this post more as a book blogger then an author wannabe. So this comes from the experience of having an active daily book blog that does do a lot of virtual book tour stops.
If you don’t believe me, just head on over to Butterfly-o-Meter Books and look at the latest 10 posts on the slider in the header. Now you see my point? A lot of book tour stops. And trust me, I’ve seen it all. Maybe I should write a post about how you should pick your tour organizers too? I totally gathered some pointers for that, so I’ll share them in the future. But for right now, let’s focus on this.
Now, many of the authors going on virtual tour I see are indie authors. I know it sucks to hear this, but it doesn’t make it any less true: this won’t work out if you don’t have a hands on approach. I mean, if you had an agent, publicists, a publisher who has direct interest in selling your stuff, so if there’s anyone out there bound to make a profit out of you selling your book, then maybe you can relax more, though I personally wouldn’t advise it. The writing books only days for authors are certainly myth, big market, extremely tough competition. You want to sell your book, you’ve worked on it for one year at least I’m guessing, right? Don’t flump it up right at this point, after all that work!
So you’ve hired someone, a virtual book tour organizer, to make the magic happen, right? Your end of the bargain for that tour has just begun, this is not the moment to relax and chill out waiting to receive the laurels of glory! Stay on top of things, find out your schedule, what types of tour stops you have and on what blogs! Work on everything and have it done ahead of time, check and re-check it to make sure it’s all good. Don’t force the organizer and the bloggers involved to harass each other and you to get your materials, that’s seriously unacceptable! Just as important, don’t go on the premise the people you hired will the best they can do by default, make sure they are doing the best they can for you by showing interest in the process. If you’re not interested in the tour for your own book, imagine the interest someone who does this all the time might show for it, you know? This matters, guys, this is the essential part of the whole thing!
Each book blog has its own thing going on, some are mature content ok, some are family friendly only. Know this when you send that excerpt, show respect for the bloggers helping you out.
When you’re sending out your book info, blurb, cover, excerpt, guest post, whatever, make sure it’s the best you can produce. Don’t do unproofed pieces with typos and no sense, your tour organizer is not your editor, you’re your own editor and you need to be good at it or hire someone who is gonna be good at it for you. Make sure your book cover is available as well as your book info (having it up on Goodreads is always a good thing, with complete info meaning a good blurb, cover, date of publication and publisher, look at other books and try to offer as much info as they have). If you’re sending the cover by email, make sure it’s a decent size image, one the size of an ant’s leg is not going to have a wow effect on the audience, if you know what I mean, and your goal should be to wow, nothing less.
I know, you want the tour organizer to handle all of it, that’s what you pay them for, and I agree partly. But they shouldn’t have to care more about your author image then you do, if that’s the case then there’s no point in doing this. They handle enough of it, but don’t expect them to do the work instead of you, they’ll just work for you. Don’t be fooled, they have at least a dozen more books on tour along yours if they’re successful, your book is one of many for them , it’s very special for you though so act like it. Do they make the bare minimum effort? Sure. Is that enough? Nothing is ever enough. But if you’re following up, asking questions about your tour stops, showing interest and acting like a professional, they’ll have good stuff to work with. If they don’t have good stuff to work with, don’t expect them to whip up a miracle for you, catch my drift?
Now, as a book blogger I’m telling you this: we’re very, very busy people. This is not bragging or tooting the book blogger’s horn, but a book blog is like a huge collage of many different things. The blogger has to keep active on all sorts of social media networks, socialize as much they can, take the time to visit others and keep those connections going, find ways to increase their traffic and readership, develop their platform so your book and all others featured get the most attention they could. Aside that, they’re juggling your book tour stop and probably 20 others for that month only, all of it out of the goodness of their heart and pro bono, they’re trying their best to read enough books to keep their content always fresh and interesting, they’re in contact with some publishers, publicists and authors to organize virtual book appearances that aren’t managed by a virtual book tour organizer, they’re keeping track of all the book giveaways and winners and prizes, organizing other bookish events, giveaways, blog hops, answering at least 20 emails per day, and staying on top of news and announcements concerning their target audience. This is the average day for an active book blogger like me, meaning a medium to smaller platform.
Now I ask you, with all this going on, should they be the ones to care the most about your tour stop on their blog? Should they be the ones to show the most interest in having all the relevant information and everything delivered in top shape and in a timely manner? If your answer was ‘yes’, you need a thorough reality check.
Keep in mind your book tour organizer gets paid to do this job, and you’re paying someone to do this job for you. The end line of this food chain and the spot where the info and all the effort matters is the book blog hosting your stop. Guess what, they’re not getting paid, and your book is one of maybe 20 others making an appearance that month. They’re volunteering their time to help you out, keep things in perspective here. Do they maybe get your book to read? Yeah, sure they do, but they do get a gazillion review requests for all kinds of books on a monthly if not weekly basis, so trust me when I say this, there is never a shortage of reading material for an active book blogger. Never. And the better the blog does, the more books come in and the bigger the flood of reading goodies coming their way. Ultimately, getting them to read your book is a competition in itself, don’t think that by booking a tour somewhere you’ll get that for granted, unless you’re booking it with that particular blogger I guess, you might have bigger chances then, but I’m not sure about that.
Keep in mind when you give away your book for free with promotions and such you struggle to get the word out and have readers actually pick it up and read it, even when given away. So the simple fact someone gets a free book might be very sparkly ground for the regular reader, for a book blogger it’s common ground. Don’t think to motivate them into making you any more favors just because they get to read another book, make your own favors and be the best you can be in this process!
Especially as an indie author, you want to take this chance and show those bloggers and their readers you’ll interact with that you’re professional. That doesn’t mean you have to be uptight or all in their faces, but that you treat this thing seriously and behave as if your book’s future depended on it… because it does.
I don’t care who publishes the book and through what means, your fairy godmother might have done a magic trick and had it all dolled up and done and out there, publishing something means you need to behave like a professional about it at every corner. So when you’re going on tour, you have to be professional as well, ok? It really matters.
Many book tour organizers have an established working relationship with lots of bloggers, some of which you might be able to get to on your own, but many of which you wouldn’t be able to get on a collaborative basis on without that connection. So now that you have the chance, take it and develop a relationship for your own connection with that blogger by being professional and treating them with respect. They might want to help you out without the book tour gatekeepers next time, and you really need all the help you can get.
Once you’ve booked your tour, be prepared to man up to your end of the deal. Have guest posts (also called guest blogs, sometimes) and excerpts on your tour? Have them written up, figured out, appropriate and sent to your tour organizer a week prior to your tour stop. Don’t think it’s ok to send them out 2 days before that particular tour stop, it really isn’t, ok? It’s unprofessional and it shows a lack of respect both for the organizer and the book blogger hosting you, and also for your own work and image – and it matters a lot what you’ll come across as.
Book bloggers are not twiddling their thumbs, wasting their time away looking out the window and acting all important, they’re busy people, they have everything you have going on in your life, plus managing this big, really big thing called a book blog. It takes a lot of work to manage it all. If you think writing your guest posts a week ahead of time is too much work, then imagine how busy the blogger is, they’re most likely writing a post per day all the time. Don’t make their life harder with your tour, you know?
If you have a social network set up already, small as it may be, use it. That’s what you have it for, get the word out. This is more of a personal advice, don’t think paying for a virtual book tour will make up for little to no other online presence, it should be the cherry on top not the cake itself.
Be sure to have everything sorted out before you publish your work and send it out for reviews as done not as ongoing project. Giving a reviewer a crappy unproofed pdf version of your book, with all sorts of typos and grammar bloopers in it, that’s not your way to stardom, let me tell you. I’m not going to review the idea of a book, I’m gonna review the copy of the book I got from you. If it’s crap editing, I’ll say so, I’ll think so and I won’t be buying your book or recommending it to others, either. Don’t be surprised. I’m not responsible for what sort of impression you want to leave your readers with, neither is the book tour organizer, and if you think 5 star reviews are gonna sprout out of the tour just because you paid for it, you’re gonna be in for a big surprise! Buy advertising space if you want anvertisments, book tour stops aren’t advertising space, wrap your head around that concept before booking one and try to work your angles to get the best results having realistic expectations.
If you’re sending out a review copy that is half-a$$ed because “it’s good enough, it doesn’t have to be perfect”, I hate to break this to you, but if it does get out there and it’s in a poor shape, everyone reading it is gonna think your book sucks, because obvious bad editing sucks. A typo or two somewhere won’t poke out anyone’s eyes, but 10 of them at every 3 pages is a fiasco. You have no control over what happens with response to it, but if your book is treated with care by you first of all, some of those guys out there might consider buying it because they appreciated it and they’ll recommend it to others, don’t convince them they shouldn’t spend their money on your work because you’re unprofessional.
And finally, after taking all of this in consideration, remember that the book tour isn’t a way to get reviews, it’s a way to get reader awareness. Everything you put out there must say, “Hey, this book is good, it was treated seriously through and through, it’s well done and cared for and it’s gonna knock your socks off!”, that’s what will get people to want to read it.
Keep that in mind and behave like a professional, everything matters, especially when you’re indie meaning on your own, more or less.