I’m so pleased to be able to share with you this guest post by Stephanie Barko, a literary publicist who specializes in promoting nonfiction and historical fiction. Stephanie offers many valuable services to authors, whether self-published or in need of support for a book released by a publishing house. I encourage you to check out her blog, linked below in her bio, to find out more about Stephanie and to learn from her advice!
You’ve probably heard about virtual tours, but maybe you aren’t sure exactly what they are. A virtual tour takes a book through online sites that feature content about the author and title during a short length of time. Virtual tours became popular when the value of book bloggers’ followings became apparent in terms of exposure, promotion, and book sales. By comparison, ground tours seem like a poor return on investment for the level of money, time and risk expended, especially when readers do not show up for signings and author events. Usually an author can do a virtual tour for half the cost of a ground tour with the same number of stops.
What happens during a tour?
Depending on the topic, the book is toured on blogs, forums, social networking pages, frequently updated websites, and video sites. Sometimes the content submitted by the Provider is passive, meaning no action is necessary by the author after it posts, and sometimes the content is active. With active content, the author has the opportunity to interact with a site’s followers, as in a chat room or a site with comments enabled.
Content during a tour may include interviews, excerpts, author videos, book trailers, podcasts, original reviews, review snippets, endorsements, cover art, headshots, candids, author essays, articles, book giveaways and guest blog posts.
How long does a tour last?
Density of content over time is important in a tour, so stops are usually completed within a 30-45 day time frame. And all from the comfort of your own home, which makes them very attractive to authors and lower in cost than the live, multi-city tours of old.
Where does the tour go?
Virtual tours go to both genre-specific and general book blogs and websites. In tours that I book, only sites and blogs that get 200 or more hits a day are selected to host stops. This guarantees a minimum exposure per tour to 2,000 new readers. While some tour providers put up their own websites and blogs as tour stops, I select both niche and general high-hit sites whose hosts I know to have proven reputations in their field.
What does an author need to do to prepare for a tour?
The author must email any interview responses or files that are requested by the Tour Provider and check in online when active content is running. Content requests can include synopsis, bio, Q&A, images and custom material for a specific host. Because comments may require ongoing participation (at least for a while), it’s a good idea to make time in your schedule to check up on your content periodically during the tour and for a little while after.
What are the benefits of a virtual tour?
First, the author is going directly to his audience. Second, everything on the net leaves a footprint, so unlike print media which is here today and gone tomorrow, your blog, podcast, or book review will stay on the net forever—or as long as the site archives exist—which means new visitors to a site will still be exposed to your message months down the road.
As for documented results, I can report that one historical fiction client completely dominated the first 13 pages of Google for her title and pen name after her tour. She was then signed on by a traditional publisher. Several nonfiction authors I did tours for acquired 600-700 more “to-reads” on sites like GoodReads for their title. Halfway through his tour, another client’s Amazon sales rank rose to the point that his title made Amazon’s “Top 100 Best Selling Westerns” for the first time. Another novelist said that during the v-tour of his noir historical, the novel four times hit # 5 in its Amazon Kindle category.
Last but not least, over 79% of the media now find their experts online, so virtual tours have the power to attract the media, especially for nonfiction authors. With a virtual tour, you are leaving a bread trail for both the media and new readers to find you.
Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist was voted Best Book Promotion Service in Preditors & Editors’ Readers Poll. In addition to her blog, she currently writes a book marketing column for San Francisco Book Review. Her award winning clients include both traditional and independent nonfiction and historical fiction publishers and authors. For more information about custom Virtual Tours and Stephanie, visit Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist.