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When an author writes a book, he or she needs to find a way to get the world to take notice and buy that book. Traditional means for generating buzz about their books work great for extroverts or authors without children at home, but what about authors who are too shy to stand up in public to discuss the topics of their books or don’t want to leave their children at home while they travel the globe promoting their books? How can they let others know about their books and still stay home—where they’re needed most?
In the past, I’ve used the Internet to promote my e-books by visiting forums, message boards, and chat rooms. I’d locate topics related to my e-book’s theme and then briefly answer the poster’s question and complete the post by leaving a two to three line sales pitch in my signature line about how my e-book could help answer that question in more detail. The only problem with this method is that it’s time consuming and there’s definitely a thin line between promoting your product and being helpful.
Interviews have also been a great way to promote my e-books and to build credibility, but trying to locate magazines willing to interview an unknown or up-and-coming author, let alone a self-published author can be daunting. Editors prefer to interview BIG name authors who can sell more copies of their magazine.
Then came the BLOG and a whole new world opened up!
If you’re out of the loop, a blog is an online journal designed to entertain and educate the public. They also offer the option of allowing readers to post comments related to each post, thus acting like an interactive forum.
In the beginning, blogs were run by individuals who enjoyed the idea of having a place to share their voice. Today blogs are also run by professionals looking for a way to interact with their targeted audience to build credibility and name recognition while increasing profits.
Authors who use the Internet to market their books are familiar with virtual book tours. Basically, you find a website that hosts author chats, and you set up a time to attend the chat to discuss your book. The problem with virtual chat rooms is that they aren’t easy to find and many readers don’t know about them.
Blogs, on the other hand, can easily be found through the search engines and often have a loyal base of readers. And more importantly, they’re viral. Great posts are often picked up by other bloggers and linked to through articles and websites. You can take advantage of the power of blogs by going on a virtual book tour.
While many authors believe the purpose of a blog tour is to generate more sales, nothing could be further from the truth. While you ultimately want to increase your book sales, the purpose of a blog tour is to generate buzz about your book. If you go into a blog tour with the preconceived notion that you’ll dramatically increase your book sales, you’re setting yourself up for a big disappointment.
A blog tour needs a strategy to be successful and that strategy starts with targeting blogs with target audiences that match your book’s target audience. In other words, if you’ve written a book on restoring vintage cars, you wouldn’t target blogs that discuss the every day life of a child. You’d target blogs that discuss:
Besides finding the right target audience, you need to limit the number of questions asked on your blog tour. Three to five questions per blog is perfect because it allows you to keep the momentum going, prevents you from answering all the good questions on one blog, and keeps your readers interested in your blog tour.
It’s important that every blog on your tour include a link to your book’s sales page. After all, visitors need to know where to purchase your book should they find your interview interesting. While some bloggers may not want to post a link to the sales page of your book if it’s not on Amazon.com or another affiliated program, it’s important that you remind those bloggers that by participating in your blog tour you are also providing valuable content to their blog at no charge, and you are increasing awareness about their blogs which creates a win-win situation. This by the way is known as cross-promotion.
You can enhance your interview by offering a photo of yourself doing something related to your book’s theme, a headshot, or a cover of your book. Just make sure you mention that you would rather they save the photos to their blogs and not link to the photo from your website as that could cause a major drain on your web space and dramatically increase your hosting fees.
In order to create proper buzz, your tour needs to build anticipation. Therefore, include a beginning and an ending date for your tour. When you email blog owners or announce your blog tour on your blog or in your news groups, make sure you include a deadline in which bloggers can submit questions for your tour.
Don’t just announce your tour on your personal blog, announce it in your newsletters, in press releases, and through traditional media outlets like radio interviews.
Once you’ve announced your blog tour through proper media channels and begun to line up a few blogs, it’s time to create a blog tour schedule. You can do this one of two ways:
While it can be rather costly to send out review copies of your books to every blogger in the blogosphere, especially if you’re not sure how popular a blog is, you can offer to hold a book drawing for every blogger who participates in your blog tour and then give away one to five books to whosever name you pull out of a hat—at the end of the blog tour. (You can even prepare a .pdf file of the entire blog tour, hyperlink to each participant’s blog, and then offer it as a free download once the blog tour has officially ended!)
After your first blog tour has taken place, wait a few weeks or even a few months and then host another blog tour. Only get creative the second time around. Instead of doing an interview, post a short excerpt from your book on different blogs, write a different tip for each blog you visit and call it the “# Tips Tour,” or share stories about the successes of those who’ve read your books and allowed you to interview them.
Blog tours can be a blast. Not only do you get to talk about your book, but you get to meet cool and interesting people along the way. The key to a successful blog tour is to provide real information, stay personable, and of course, mention your book!